First Time Marathon Strategy

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Captainblood
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First Time Marathon Strategy

Post by Captainblood » Thu Oct 08, 2015 9:53 am

I think it would be complete folly to plug in times from shorter races and expect to complete a first time marathon in whatever time the calculator spits out. I think an obvious goal for a first time marathon would be to finish in a reasonable time without turning things into a sufferfest. But what do you experienced marathoners tell first timers in terms of training goals and pacing for the actual race?

Are there some key workouts that would give you some idea of what you could run? It seems like a common workout (thanks to Shorter) would be something like 10 miles easy followed by 10 miles at marathon pace.

Personally I would be very happy with a BQ (3:25 for my age group) which would be 30 minutes slower than the calculator indicates based on my shorter races. I have comfortably done my 15 mile runs at 8:00 pace and I do all of my recovery runs at that 8:00 pace so 7:50/mi for a marathon certainly seems achievable.

Just wondering what experienced marathoners and people who have watched many people try, succeed, and fail with different strategies think?

dilluh
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Re: First Time Marathon Strategy

Post by dilluh » Thu Oct 08, 2015 1:01 pm

I have not met a runner who, on their first marathon, ran what a calculator said they "could" based on a recent 5k or 10k time. The training is just so different that I'm not sure it's wise to use that as a goal pace. I lump training in two general categories: (1) training to race from 5k to HM and (2) training for any race lasting longer than 90 minutes. The energy systems required and pounding accrued between those two regimes, I've found, are quite different.

Tinman has said that being in good 10k shape will set you up for success in the marathon but the training does change and become more specific to the demands of the marathon. I've found that being in good 10k shape will generally result in running well anywhere from 5k to HM but I'd never trust being in the best 10k shape to cut it for the marathon. Though, I've only run two marathons. While I did ok (the times do not lining up with what my HM, 10k or 5k, would suggest I could run) I don't find that I'm well suited for the distance so take what I say with a grain of salt.

dilluh
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Re: First Time Marathon Strategy

Post by dilluh » Thu Oct 08, 2015 1:27 pm

I’d like to add that there are far more variables to consider in running a good marathon time than that of any shorter distance race. Weather, course, fueling regimen during the race, travel (if one is doing a destination marathon) among some others. Some of these can be dealt with just having experience with running marathons but others are out of your hands and can have a major impact on how the race plays out. In a 5k or 10k - there’s a bit more room for “error” so to speak.

Gabe1
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Re: First Time Marathon Strategy

Post by Gabe1 » Fri Oct 09, 2015 2:58 am

Captainblood wrote: I think an obvious goal for a first time marathon would be to finish in a reasonable time without turning things into a sufferfest.
This.

I will never forget the shock, in my first marathon, of finding myself totally drained of all energy and with legs cramping up and realizing I had 12 km left to run. It was probably the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, those last 12 k. And I was unable to run for a month after that race because my legs were hurting so much.

Now I have run 5 marathons and in the last one I was finally able to run almost even splits (1:28, 1:29) and finished strong without cramps or without feeling totally drained.

Marathon takes time to understand and you have to teach your body how to deal with it for a couple of years.

So my recommendation is to run your 1st marathon for fun. Run it easy and try to enjoy the race and just get a feel for it. In marathon nr 2 you can start looking at calculators and times.

Tinman
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Re: First Time Marathon Strategy

Post by Tinman » Sun Oct 11, 2015 11:50 am

Yep, run the first marathon for fun and learn about its nuances. If in doubt, just add 10% to your recent half-marathon time and use that pace as a goal. That's still a challenging goal, by the way. Very experienced, very well trained runners only run 5% slower than their recent half-marathon pace when doubling it up for a marathon. Recent means within the 8 weeks before the marathon race. And, recent assumes that you've not dealt with injuries or illnesses that compromised your fitness and marathon readiness.

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dkggpeters
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Re: First Time Marathon Strategy

Post by dkggpeters » Mon Oct 12, 2015 10:53 am

I concur that you should try and just have fun on your first marathon. You have no way of knowing how you will react until you have raced a couple of them. On my first marathon, I went out with a lofty goal and the wheels came completely off. It was a death march for the last 8 miles and I hated every step. I said that I was never going to run another one in my life. It took me 10 years before I attempted another one.

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