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3926 Views 11 Replies Latest reply: May 14, 2010 4:58 AM by 00HokieRunner
Ali-Gator Expert 43 posts since
Jan 2, 2010
Currently Being Moderated

May 12, 2010 1:29 PM

Should I sign up for my 1st marathon?

Hi everyone,


I'm a fairly new runner.  I started the Couch to 5K in January, ran a 10K a couple of weeks ago, and signed up for a half marathon in October.  So far, so good.  I'm running a pretty easy 6+ miles on my long runs right now.


A friend suggested that I run a full marathon with her in January 2011.  Is it a wise idea to run a full marathon after only one year of running?  Or should I wait until I have a couple more half-marathons under my belt before taking on a full?


Thanks in advance for your advice!

3/7/10: Seaside School Half Marathon & 5K  --  28:53

3/27/10:  March for Misty 5k Fun Run  -- 28:47

5/1/10: Fiesta of Five Flags 10k -- 1:01:46

6/5/10:  Billy Bowlegs Night 5k --  27:18

10/2/10: Epcot Wine & Dine Half Marathon  -- 2:20:53

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  • ActiveWatches Dave Legend 207 posts since
    Apr 13, 2010
    Currently Being Moderated
    1. May 12, 2010 2:42 PM (in response to Ali-Gator)
    Re: Should I sign up for my 1st marathon?

    That's a tough call.  But I believe you can do it.  The number of half-marathons before the marathon is not an issue for me.  I've run about 10 marathons and I've never run a half-marathon. 


    The issue is the short amount of time you have to train for the marathon; unless you train for more than a half-marathon before October, you have about only two months to ramp up to a full marathon.  Without knowing the full details of your current half-marathon training program, you'll probably have to increase the mileage of your long runs in a short amount of time.  But, again, I think it can be done, especially if you have the discipline and you train properly. - The Place for Sports Watches

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  • Roccco Amateur 15 posts since
    Nov 6, 2007
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    2. May 13, 2010 1:16 AM (in response to Ali-Gator)
    Re: Should I sign up for my 1st marathon?

    With a full year of training, you should be able to run a marathon providing you put in a full marathon program of training rather than trying to make the jump from half marathon to full marathon.  Although race distances are hard to find between the two distances, if you are willing to try trail running as part of your training program, it is much easier to find distances such as 25k and 30k...and, believe me, a 30k trail marathon on certain trails is nearly as tough as a marathon but without all the wear and tear on your body...unless you fall off the mountain.

  • Dog-lover Legend 373 posts since
    Mar 5, 2008
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    3. May 13, 2010 6:28 AM (in response to Ali-Gator)
    Re: Should I sign up for my 1st marathon?

    You can do it but you really should follow a full marathon training program.  If you are doing a training program for your half marathon it will give you a little better idea of what your up against.  The first race I trained for was a marathon and it was very hard to get my body used to the long 15-20 mile runs.  I did a 26 week program and that helped but having a year of running under your belt should help a lot. I would recommend getting into your longer runs in preparation for your half marathon before committing to doing a full.  Once you get in a couple double digit long runs look at a marathon training program and ask yourself if you want to commit to the higher miles.  Congratulations on your progress,  running is great, Enjoy!

    Quote from Bob Moawad  " You can't make footprints in the sands of time if you are sitting on your butt. And who wants to make buttprints in the sands of time"

    2008 - Grandma's marathon - 4:51            2011 - Get in Gear 1/2 marathon - 1:46

    2009 - Get in Gear 1/2 marathon - 1:49    2011 - Green Bay marathon - 3:51

    2009 - Grandma's marathon - 4:13            2011 - Grandma's marathon - 3:45

    2009 - Twin Cities marathon - 4:02           2011 - Minneapolis Pride 5k - 21:31

    2010 - Grandma's marathon - 3:58 ya hoo!

    2010 - Twin Cities marathhon - 3:55

  • JasonFitz1 Legend 578 posts since
    Jun 19, 2009
    Currently Being Moderated
    4. May 13, 2010 7:46 AM (in response to Ali-Gator)
    Re: Should I sign up for my 1st marathon?

    I think you have a choice.  You can run the half-marathon in October and not run the marathon in January, or skip the half and start training for the marathon now.  I would divide up your training into two blocks: 1st one is from now until end of August.  Take a short recovery week, then your main training block is September-January.


    You can run both races if you don't race the half-marathon and if you train through it.  Otherwise, I think you're too early into your running career to skimp on training for a marathon.  It's a tough race...


    Cheers, - Fitz.

    Strength Running
  • Durunner Pro 92 posts since
    Jun 29, 2009
    Currently Being Moderated
    5. May 13, 2010 8:39 AM (in response to JasonFitz1)
    Re: Should I sign up for my 1st marathon?

    I agree.  The only way to really do both is to use the half as a shorter race during marathon training.  Otherwise, run the half now and pick a full marathon for next spring.  That'll give you plenty more time.  I am just a year into my running now and about to run my second marathon.  I wouldn't recommend taking that aggressive of a schedule though.  It has taken me a lot of commitment to get this far and it sure hasn't been easy.  It is definitely better to ease into it.

    Chasing Boston

    2009 Philadelphia Marathon 3:48:12

    2010 Pocono Run for the Red Marathon 3:14:31

  • Kyle39 Legend 202 posts since
    Sep 8, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    6. May 13, 2010 9:01 AM (in response to Ali-Gator)
    Re: Should I sign up for my 1st marathon?

    Personally, I'd advise waiting until next fall until you go after a marathon.  That gives your muscles, bones, joints, etc. more time to toughen up for the task.


    But you probably can do it in January.  If so, get a training plan for the marathon and stick it on a calendar.  Any marathon training plan for January will start before your October half.  Look at the weeks during the period where the training plans overlap.  Which one demands more mileage at that point?  If the half marathon plan demands more mileage, use that plan, go a little easy the week after your race, then jump into the marathon plan at whatever week you need to in order to finish the training on schedule.  If the marathon plan demands more mileage, then follow the marathon plan throughout and substitute the half marathon for the scheduled long run that week.  When you do this, don't push the half marathon too hard - treat it more like a training run.


    I hope this makes sense, if I'm not clear, let me know and I'll pull together an example.


    Good luck!

  • skypilot77 Legend 1,077 posts since
    Dec 16, 2009
    Currently Being Moderated
    7. May 13, 2010 9:39 AM (in response to Ali-Gator)
    Re: Should I sign up for my 1st marathon?

    I would take the conservative approach.


    I really believe in building up the base of miles and speed which strengthen the body for the stresses of the Marathon.


    Divers build themselves up to the stresses their bodies endure. Jet pilots build themselves up to the g-forces their bodies endure. I think the same thing is true of marathon running.


    Sure, a person can train and run the race but at what potential cost? Injury? Discouragement?


    Part of the lasting positive effect of running a marathon is the road traveled (literally, and symbolically) through the training to get to the finish line.


    But then, maybe I get too philosphical about the whole thing.

  • 2power Pro 91 posts since
    Jan 5, 2010
    Currently Being Moderated
    9. May 13, 2010 12:04 PM (in response to Ali-Gator)
    Re: Should I sign up for my 1st marathon?

    My answer is yes. Here's why: I am far from an expert, I usually ask more questions than give advice on here, but I will  give you my opinion anyway I would say one of the main things is your current overall fitness. You are a new runner, but do  you consider yourself kinda fit? or at least been regularly exercising and/or strength training of any kind? running 3 miles at a fairly decent pace where you feel comfortable? If you have the time and the drive to work HARD towards your goal...I would do it. But that's me, everyone is different!


    I wouldn't recommend doing what I did for my first marathon, but I'll share: I had 2 1/2 years of running 3-6 miles 5 days/wk  behind me before I ran my first marathon, but the only thing I did other than my routine 3-6 mile runs was a 13 mile, a 9 mile and that was IT. I knew nothing about marathon training. (hey, that was 9 years ago, I've wised up) I didn't even know to wear a watch, I had no clue what time it was until I crossed the finish line. (told you I was clueless) anyway, I was happy with my chip time of 4:35 but wonder how I would have done if I had actually TRAINED.


    For my 2nd marathon next weekend, I actually trained...I compiled several beginner's programs and wrote my own running plan/schedule based on my fitness at week one, the fitness level I knew I could achieve, the time I had available to complete the runs, my ambition & goals. I completed every run except 3: two were time restraints and one was the horrid 12 miler gone wrong I whined about in another post a month ago (I didn't eat enough the two days prior to my run).  I want to add that this time around my fitness isn't quite what it was the first time:  I had a baby last year and only started running again this past Nov. before I began marathon training in Jan. I was back at the beginning: being able to run 3 miles without stopping at about 11 mm miles. Slower than the old days, but looking at all the "rookie" running plans, that was the minimum base needed. Time will tell next Saturday if training with less base fitness will be better than next to no training with good fitness from 9 years ago. I am very comfortable running 10:17 mm now going in to my taper.


    Why did I drone on about myself? just to share a different perspective and give an example of what I went through.....and to say don't do what I did. (Train, girl:) If you have some decent fitness going on and the drive to work hard towards your only have to get yourself over the finish line, you by no means have to RACE it!      

  • Violina Expert 42 posts since
    May 10, 2010
    Currently Being Moderated
    10. May 14, 2010 2:22 AM (in response to Ali-Gator)
    Re: Should I sign up for my 1st marathon?

    I would wait.

    I think getting your body used to running since Jan and working up to a half by this fall is a tremendous achievement.

    But after that, your body might need a bit of recovery time where you take it easy and run just for your own enjoyment or do smaller races.

    In every training, there are times of improvements and plateau times that allow your body to settle into the improvements you've made. So I think allowing enough time for these plateaus is important.


    Also, I think it's important to be fully prepared physically and mentally before running the first full, just to avoid a negative experience. I would focus on the half for now and make it the best possible experience for yourself. Skipping it might be skipping ahead too soon, and training for both isn't really realistic as someone else mentioned.


    Maybe the full would be a great goal to train for in 2011 - and just think you'll have a chance to run many, many marathons in your running life - there's no need to rush it and risk injury or burn-out. 

    And I think it's a great idea to aim for the half-distance again in Jan like what you said in your last post - that way, you can still be a part of it.

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  • 00HokieRunner Pro 124 posts since
    Feb 7, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    11. May 14, 2010 4:58 AM (in response to Ali-Gator)
    Re: Should I sign up for my 1st marathon?

    Anyone who asks me if they should run a marathon, the first question I ask them is how many halfs they've done? I look for at least 2 before I'll even consider a yes. I firmly believe you need to do at least a couple halfs just to get really comfortable with longer distance racing and strategy. Even if you're not trying to win - you still have to have fitness and strategy and there's no substitute for racing. Training at that distance just doesn't impose the same kind of stress and stimulus on the body.


    Also increasing distance so fast might be a recipe for injury depending on how injury prone you are. This is another reason I believe it's smart to run a couple halfs first and have a progressive buildup to longer distances. I personally ran 6 halfs before I decided to take on a full. This was over a 2 year period. To this point (knock on wood) I've been injury free and haven't missed but a handful of training runs.


    And like others have already mentioned, October to January is very tight. I would do another half early next year, maybe even two and then look to do a fall marathon. That'll give you some more long distance racing, some recovery and then plenty of time to train for the marathon.


    Hope this helps!

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