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Running marathons as marathon training

991 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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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.
... 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.
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