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Running marathons as marathon training

988 Views 18 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  Coach Craig
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>
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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!
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