Runners Forum - Kick Runners banner
1 - 19 of 19 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
930 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I used to share the view that it was not smart to run the full distance during marathon training: my first several marathons, I maxed out at 22- or 23-mile long runs.<br><br>
But then last year I joined Marathon Maniacs, and my perspective on marathons changed. Now it feels like deprivation to go an entire marathon training cycle without running a marathon.<br><br>
Not only that, but last fall when I ran 4 marathons in 5 weeks, I noticed some surprising training benefits. Specifically, I'm often plagued by calf cramps late in a marathon. Over the course of those 4 marathons, my calf issues went from moderate to zero. So it seems like there was a definite beneficial adaptation. On the other hand, of course the first of those 4 marathons, my fall target marathon, was the fastest.<br><br>
So... with that in mind, what is the best way to use a marathon as a training run for a goal marathon? I'm running Boston this year, targeting ~3:10, and I'm using the Georgia marathon, three weeks earlier, as a training run. Options include:<br><br>
1. Treat it as a normal long run (~8:00 pace, ~3:30 finish).<br>
2. Treat it as an MP run: e.g. 1st 10 miles at 8:00 pace, next 10 at 7:15, last 6 easy.<br>
3. Go for my now-standard "non-target-marathon" goal of a BQ, 3:20.<br><br>
Plan 3 has the interesting feature that it can be combined with plan 2: if I do the first half at 8:00 pace, then the second half at goal MP, 7:15, that works out almost exactly to a 3:20 finish. However, if I just wanted to finish in 3:20, and minimize effort/damage, it would be smarter to run the whole thing at 7:38 pace. Plus the second half is somewhat hilly.<br><br>
Oh, and the schedule I'm on (Pfitzinger 55) calls for a 20-miler that day.<br><br>
One more thing... I'm also considering a half the week after Georgia (two weeks before Boston), as a full-effort tune-up race. I always like to get in a half as a marathon calibrator, and that one seems to be my only local option.<br><br>
Thoughts? Opinions?<br><br>
Thanks,<br>
Bob
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,652 Posts
Bob - when I've run a full marathon as a training run before a goal race I've usually done it one of the following ways:<br><br>
1. Pacing gig - the whole thing is run slower than I could conceivably run, anywhere from 60-90 seconds per mile slower than goal marathon pace<br>
2. Negative split - I'll run the first half 30-40 seconds slower than my goal marathon pace and try to run the second at MP<br>
3. Fast Finish Long Run - run a smooth pace (30-40 seconds slower than MP) for 20 miles and then finish at MP and see if I can dip below MP for part of that<br><br>
It depends on how far before my goal marathon - with a 3 week gap between GA and Boston, I would suggest #3. BUT - if you're looking to bust a fast time at a half the following weekend, just run the whole thing at a moderate pace (more like #1) and think of it as a strength workout. Then, you should be reasonably fresh enough (assuming a good base) to run well the following weekend.<br><br>
Doing the fast finish to me is the ideal - you don't beat yourself up too much, but you get some practice running the goal pace when tired. BUT - if you're like me, you may find it hard to switch gears quickly and therefore the goal pace might feel pretty challenging. Recognize that and don't let that take away any confidence before Boston.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
464 Posts
Timely post! I too am running Boston and using the Pfitz 55 plan. I'm running a 30k race that same weekend, adding w/u and c/d to make it 21 miles for my last long run in the training cycle. Also thinking about my pace for the run. My plan is to do normal long run pace for the first 10 miles (@9:15) and then pick it up to marathon pace (@8:40) for the last part. I always have to finish the long runs with an 8 minute mile or better for good luck, though <img alt="smile.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/smile.gif">. I'll be interested to see other replies to this thread, as I've never used a race for a long run and don't want it to be a bad idea.<br><br>
I just did a 22 miler this past weekend, and honestly I think that's as far as I'm willing to go in training. I was just knocking on the door of being too tired and sore to properly train this week. One more mile and I think the speedwork would have been a no go on Wednesday. Everyone is different though and hearing other people's training strategy is great and pushes me to try new things with my own training (just not tryin' it before Boston - I about killed myself to get my time <img alt="surprised.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/surprised.gif">)<br><br>
Not to hijack, but I have a ? for you, Bob. I am totally undecided on a goal time for Boston. My BQ time was 3:44, but I'm just looking to enjoy the experience. I am using the same training plan, so was thinking of shooting for 3:55. Does that sound like a reasonable time - i.e. I want to run a decent race, but still be able to look around and enjoy the experience. My 6 other marathons were all in the 3:55 - 4:00 range. TIA
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
930 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks, Chris. Sounds like good advice. I'm not sure I can make myself run the whole thing easy -- it would feel too much like not taking it seriously, not really running the marathon. The medal should mean something. Of course, not really racing it is the whole point. I'm having a hard time figuring out my ideal balance between running marathons for fun and for performance. Another thing is that I'm not shooting to PR at Boston anyway... so do I really need that half tune-up?<br><br>
Hawk, your Boston plan seems reasonable to me. Just don't get carried away in the first half, and be prepared to adjust your goal time based on the weather.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
230 Posts
i've done marathons as training runs for ultras, but not as race specific training for a marathon. my longest runs in those training cycles topped out at 22-24 miles.<br><br>
i'd go w/your mp option (#2). focus on getting in those 20 solid race pace miles. and, if you're feeling good at 20 - why not race it? you have 3 weeks to recover, and if your not racing boston, then it shouldn't be a problem.<br><br>
i'm also doing boston this year (and a fellow mm). good luck!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,979 Posts
how important is the 1/2 two weeks before?<br><br>
I like the idea of progressive. start at warm-up pace for 4 miles. MP the next 16-18then well, go on "feel" whether it be 1) reel it in 2) continue MP for 2 more and jog 3)blow it out of the water.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,393 Posts
I've done this twice (ok technically, 1.5 times since I haven't run my spring goal race). I like to run it as a training run with some other focus, like a negative split, and/or a certain number of miles at GMP. Usually, I put those miles in the 2nd half of the race.<br><br>
I've run the training marathon 5 - 7 weeks prior to the goal race. The thing that I find to be important is to not race it so hard that your recovery interferes with your workouts the week following. I've been able to run my miles with a little less intesnity but still do 50+ miles the week after the training marathon.<br><br>
But, I also ran those marathons 19 mins slower than my goal. I like it. So far, it seems to work for me.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
403 Posts
I like pacerchris's analysis. Having a pacer gig guarantees that you will maintain a reduced pace. If you can get an official pacer gig then finding someone who is trying to BQ at a slower time and being their pacer would have a double bonus.<br><br>
Not sure the value of the full half two weeks before. Especially if Boston is a goal race (high probability). Injury etc.. is a risk. A nice just slower than MP pace half would be good but the challenge would be to not try to go for broke. Hate to have you limping through Boston.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,596 Posts
bhearn - this is a great thread; I'm glad you started it.<br><br>
I too am running Boston -- goal for that day is 3:15. On 3/29 I am running the National Marathon in DC. Originally I had signed up for National as my spring target marathon but then in December I BQed at Charlotte, and my plans suddenly changed. So now National is going to be my final pre-Boston long run.<br><br>
The more I think about it, the more I like PacerChris' analysis. I've been going back and forth on what to do at National for the past few weeks but a few days ago I sort of arrived at a similar conclusion to his, i.e., take it fairly easy for 20 miles and go hard the final 10k. My official party line has been that I'll be happy with a 3:30 at National, but if I use the fast-finish approach I think I will come in under that. So I guess you could say my stealth goal for National is about 3:25.<br><br>
I don't know about doing the half 2 weeks out from Boston though. I think you really need to respect the 3-week taper rule; that's why I'm begging off the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler this year, and that's even though I consider 10 to be my best racing distance. CB is a week after National and 2 weeks before Boston, i.e., right in the midst of the taper window. If I recover well from Boston, I'll go for the Broad Street Run in Philly, 2 weeks post-Boston. If not that, the Delaware Marathon has a companion 10-miler on 5/18. Bottom line -- stay focused on the goal at Boston, then afterwards, coast on the great base you have built over the months to kick butt in shorter races!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,338 Posts
I think it is a great idea if you can control the pace and your competitiveness.<br><br>
I've used marathons as well leading up to 50M and longer events 2-weeks and even 1-week prior to the event with good success. Then again, the risk of injury factor weighed on me as well.<br><br>
Take my advice for what it is worth, but I'd go into the race using<br><b>"1. Treat it as a normal long run (~8:00 pace, ~3:30 finish)."</b><br>
-If you dip into the 7:40-7:50 for a few miles, it really isn't going to matter all that much. And you should be able to recover quite well from the effort. Just continue with your taper properly leading up to Boston and you should be set.<br><br><b>"One more thing... I'm also considering a half the week after Georgia (two weeks before Boston), as a full-effort tune-up race. I always like to get in a half as a marathon calibrator, and that one seems to be my only local option."</b><br>
I wouldn't recommend this if Boston is your goal race, but since you asked for it. I've done this twice. The first time I had a decent half in wet/cold weather (2003 St. Louis Half (1:26)) - I bombed at Boston 2-weeks later. The 2nd time I did this (2006 Holy Half (1:25)) - one week out from Boston(3:11). If your base is strong, can recover from the effort and are not injury prone then go for it. The effort will be harder on your body compared to a slower marathon. At least that is what I've experienced.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,299 Posts
Bob, I will be right there with you in Atlanta. We can discuss it for the first 10 miles @ 8:00 pace and then decide. <img alt="biggrin.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/biggrin.gif"><br><br>
Since Boston is more important to me, it wouldn't phase me if I ran the entire 26.2 at easy pace. Since it's a hilly course, it should be a strength building long run, even at easy pace. IMO, there is plenty to be gained from running it easy. Particularly in respect to physiological adaptations from the slower fat-burning pace.<br><br>
If truly using as a training run for a marathon three weeks later, I think a good approach is to run the marathon with a frame-of-mind to rebound in time for the next scheduled quality workout. I don't see any benefit of running the 26.2 in training if it takes me away from subsequent quality workouts.<br><br>
As an aside, I have backed into three of my best marathons because my A-race did not go well (once due to weather and another to flu.) Because I "pulled-the-plug" by mile 18 of my A-race, I was able to turn it around and re-race the marathon three weeks later. I applied the last 18 days of the Pfitz "Four weeks between marathons" plan as my template to make it work.<br><br>
My latest example was Grand Rapids (3:04) three weeks after Steamtown (3:16.) So, intuitively speaking, racing a marathon (three weeks out) for 18-20 miles could be argued as a good idea. Not sure I would recommend it, though.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,652 Posts
On the fast finish long run idea, you can also consider doing a few miles at the hard pace and then coast in for the last mile or two. My legs feel pretty creaky if I go right from a hard pace to a dead stop. By coasting in for 1-2 miles, it's like a cooldown and you may recover a little better.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
138 Posts
Marathons as training runs used to be quite common with elite runners. Now they almost never do it, to a large extent due to business reasons. Some will still do 26+ mile training runs, but that is less common now as well. A growing trend is to run 30K at marathon pace 3-4 weeks out.<br><br>
I think it is critical to understand that some people can handle at 26 mile training run, and some can't. This doesn't have much to do with how much mileage you run, or how fast you are. Some average people find 30 mile training runs work great for them, and some elites find anything longer than 20 to be counterproductive. Of course the reverse is often true as well.<br><br>
The thing that worries me is doing a marathon just 3 weeks out from the goal race. No matter how conservative it is run, many people (most?) won't fully recover in time. Throw in a hard 1/2 the following week and it really seems like too much at a time when ideally you would be sharpening instead of beating yourself up. I've seen plenty of people do the classic 30K at marathon pace 3 weeks out and find their legs dead on marathon day. As someone who has done 4 marathons in 5 weeks, you are probably the ideal candidate for a plan like this to work, but I certainly wouldn't recommend this to the general running public.<br><br>
Don't read too much into this example, but it is somewhat related and this running log happened to be sitting on my desk today. A local former elite runner (bonus points if you can guess who this is):<br><br>
Oct 1 - Runs a marathon as a workout in 2:25<br>
Nov 26 - 20 mile race at marathon pace<br>
Feb 11 - Runs a marathon as a workout in 2:23<br>
April 16 - Wins Boston
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
138 Posts
Local to me (Eugene, OR).<br><br>
Rodgers did race a lot of marathons. He had focus races, but the other ones weren't exactly "workouts" like we have been talking here. His low key races were often in the same time range as the goal ones. He was a rare example of someone who could race nearly every weekend at a world class level, including lots of long races. I don't have a list of his races handy, but I've seen it somewhere, and it was very impressive.<br><br>
Of course, Rodgers was not your average runner, or even a typical elite. But that is an example for Bob that it is possible.<br><br>
Getting back to the original question, IF I was going to do a marathon 3 weeks out, I would run it a typical long run pace, and not have any marathon goal pace miles in there. If you can keep from getting caried away, that is a great chance to practice hydrating and working out other race bugs before the real event.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
930 Posts
Discussion Starter · #17 ·
... except that April 16th was on a Friday in 1982, the only year Salazar won Boston. I guess it would have to be Jon Anderson, in 1973.<br><br><br>
Lots of great (and different) advice in this thread. I guess I still haven't decided how to approach Georgia.<br><br>
Re the half, no it's not strictly necessary. I just prefer to have a good target-time predictor. Other than the Georgia marathon and maybe that half, I think my only other tune-up race will be a 5K next weekend, which hardly counts.<br><br>
I guess the smart thing would really be to run the half at Georgia. But now we're back to my conflicting running goals: I want to run more marathons! If I thought I had a shot to PR at Boston it might be different; probably I will try to PR again in the fall, maybe at Chicago.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,979 Posts
Craig:<br><br>
How about a 1/2 marathon 9 days before a marathon for a person that's running about 2/3 normal mileage. Race director wants her there, coach wants to pimp runner out. <img alt="roll_eyes.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/roll_eyes.gif">
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
138 Posts
We have a winner. What you won I'm not sure...<br><br>
If your goal is to run lots of marathons, and not optimize your time at Boston, then there isn't much issue with Georgia. You can just run slightly conservative to make sure you can come back and do it again 3 weeks later. There is a big difference between racing two marathons close together, and running the first one as a training effort that does more good than harm for the 2nd marathon.<br><br>
What do you mean "2/3 normal mileage"? Is that because it is taper time, or his the runner has just been training less than typical for the marathon? My own coach likes having a 5K or 10K race just a week out from the marathon. This is full race effort physically, but not a race you would psychologically focus on. But a half takes longer to recover from, and 9 days seems close. If the half is run faily conservatively it should be fine. But a really hard half marathon can take 2-3 weeks to recover from.<br><br>
This all related back to taper theory. The way I like to think about it, I look at each specific type of run and figure the maximum recovery it could take. Then I work backwards from the goal race and make sure the workouts aren't within the maximum recovery time from the race. There are other things that need to be considered I don't have time to get into right now (accumulation of workouts, true vs. percieved recovery, excessive recovery, race sharpness etc.). Most times, a runner will feel fully recovered from a half marathon within a week, but they could still have residual fatigue that doesn't become obvious until they try another maximum effort or race.
 
1 - 19 of 19 Posts
Top