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Running marathons as marathon training

984 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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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.
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