Skip navigation

17611 Views 47 Replies Latest reply: Jan 16, 2011 2:23 PM by MelissaGraham7 1 2 3 4 Previous Next
RunCookie Rookie 6 posts since
Aug 1, 2010
Currently Being Moderated

Aug 2, 2010 1:01 PM

Marathon in 5 months?

I'm brand-new to running and want to do a marathon in January.  Is it possible for me to be successful at it?  I know I won't "run" the whole way...   I need ideas for good training programs (trying to raise money for a charity & don't want to spend a bundle).

  • Kyle39 Legend 202 posts since
    Sep 8, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    1. Aug 2, 2010 1:14 PM (in response to RunCookie)
    Re: Marathon in 5 months?

    Ok, don't hate me, but although it is certainly possible to do this, I would advise against it if you are new to running.  Although running is a great form of exercise, it puts a lot of impact on your body, and ramping up from zero to 26 miles and 385 yards over a 5 month span will put you at risk of injuries that could keep you from being able to exercise for a while, such as stress fractures, plantar fasciitis, tendonitis, etc.  Does the race that you're looking at have a half-marathon as well?  That would still be a stretch for a newbie, but much more doable.  I would recommend that, and look at the marathon the following year if all goes well.


    I certainly don't want to discourage you from running, it's a great way to stay fit, but I just think that's too short of a time period and I'd hate to see you get burned out or injured, and then turned off from running.  Most marathon training plans span about 4-5 months, but expect you to already be able to complete a 6 mile run and have a mileage base of 15-20 miles per week for several months before that. Hal Higdon ( has a number of good, free training plans that I have used successfully.  Good luck with whatever you decide!

  • JasonFitz1 Legend 578 posts since
    Jun 19, 2009
    Currently Being Moderated
    2. Aug 3, 2010 9:55 AM (in response to RunCookie)
    Re: Marathon in 5 months?

    You can certainly complete a marathon, but I think as a new runner you should focus on getting in shape and enjoying running. The stress/pressure of following a marathon training schedule when you just started might deter you from continuing with the sport! It might also be too much for you to handle.


    I'd advise at least a year of consistent running before you attempt a marathon. Give your body time to adapt and enjoy the shorter races first.


    - Fitz.

    Strength Running
  • runningchew20 Amateur 11 posts since
    Jan 15, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    3. Aug 3, 2010 12:38 PM (in response to RunCookie)
    Re: Marathon in 5 months?


    I agree with both of the above.  If you are new, the long runs will be tough both physically and mentally.  The motivation to stick with the training schedule might be tough as well if you decide you don't enjoy running all that much.


    My suggestion if you go forward with this is to read a lot of marathon books to get you/keep you motivated and informed.  Also, learn to take scheduled walk breaks with your longer runs.  This will help you a lot.


    Good luck and I hope you enjoy your running whether you are training or just out for a short run for fun!!

  • msmithmd1 Rookie 1 posts since
    Feb 22, 2010
    Currently Being Moderated
    4. Aug 4, 2010 9:29 AM (in response to RunCookie)
    Re: Marathon in 5 months?



    I have to agree with the above posters.  My perspective for you is that I also recently came back to running- in January '10- after about ten years off.  I worked up my mileage slowly and ran my first half marathon "to finish" in April, then ran a second one as a race in mid-May.  I am just now finishing ramping up for my first full marathon- in September.  And yes, many people would say that 9 months from "couch to marathon" is even too much.


    What I have to emphasize to you is that a full marathon is SO MUCH more than a half.  The old adage is that 18 miles is halfway through a marathon effort-wise; i.e. that last 8.2 takes as much out of you as the first 18 does.  I just finished my first 20-miler training run last weekend and I still feel some lingering effects from it four days later.  Don't get me wrong, I am glad to be doing it, but unless you are in great shape now, you could probably complete one in 5 months but will hate it by the end.  Try the half marathon first, it it no joke for distance.


    As to your 'walk part of it' mention, that is a good idea for a "to finish" goal.  Use Jeff Galloway (google his name and go to his site) for the proper ratios.  As your strength and experience comes up you can transition to longer running and less walk- to the point where now in a 20 miler I just walk 30 sec every 2 miles while taking water breaks, to help it get in me, rather than on me.


    Above all have fun with your running so you want to keep doing it.  If you are already in excellent condition, you start ramping up on a training program and doing great, run a half marathon in November and really feel like you have a lot left in you- then maybe you could try the full in January '11 as you are considering.  For most mortal humans however, the risk of a serious injury or serious burnout is just too great.  There is a reason completing a full marathon is a life goal type accomplishment.  You will understand this fully once your training runs reach 18 miles.


    Best of luck!

  • Marykb Legend 1,347 posts since
    Jan 16, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    5. Aug 4, 2010 10:28 AM (in response to RunCookie)
    Re: Marathon in 5 months?

    This is just an idea I'm throwing out here:  if this event is to raise money for charity and you want to be involved, then why don't you volunteer at the race?  That way you can make a contribution to the cause and at the same time see what running a marathon really entails.  I've heard it said that if you volunteer at a station about 20 miles in the race you WILL learn to respect the distance!


    Couch to Marathon in 20 weeks is a stretch for almost anyone.  There is a whole world of running goals to conquer between running your first mile and finishing your first marathon.  A sensible approach would be to cover those bases one at a time.  At any rate your body will soon let you know whether you will make a marathon goal in that time frame no matter what anyone else has to say about it.  Although it is theoretically possible, I think it is pretty much a long shot.


    (And yes, I know several people are going to come on here and tell you not to pay any attention to those of us might discourage you.  But still I will stick my neck out and try to give you a realistic answer rather than just tell you "You Can Do It!")

  • PeteTheRunner Amateur 21 posts since
    Apr 6, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    6. Aug 4, 2010 11:13 AM (in response to RunCookie)
    Re: Marathon in 5 months?

    I've been athletic all my life but not much of a runner other than as a means to an end.  10 years ago I flirted with the idea of a marathon after completing a 5 miler and looked at a couple of training programs concluding that 'those people' were nuts.

    at 48 yo I undertook to run my first marathon.  part of what inspired/allowed me was a PBS(I think) program which took a dozen or so basically sedentary people from various athletic/running backgrounds.  they took 12 months as I recall and all completed the boston marathon(again as I recall).  I started to believe.

    I concluded that if I could complete the training injury free that I could complete the marathon.  at first my goal was to finish.  that remains my primary goal always as I begin training for my third marathon.  then it became under X number of hours with, at race time for my first, a goal of under 4 hours.  I missed it but did hit that goal in my 2nd marathon.  it's been my experience that the best way is to pick a training program and follow it religiously.

    not knowing anything about your background, health, etc., I'd find a training program whose goal was to simply finish.  you'll learn alot about yourself and the unintended consequences i.e. weight loss, improved diet, etc. are fabulous.

    in hindsight and with my limited experience I'd say that if you don't commit you won't do it and there's nothing wrong with that.  if you do commit, as I said follow your routine religiously and I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at the results.

    GOOD LUCK!!!!


    P.S.  find a mentor/experienced runner...someone you can go to with questions or when you're experiencing the dog days of summer

  • Moriates Legend 292 posts since
    Jul 19, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    8. Aug 4, 2010 12:02 PM (in response to RunCookie)
    Re: Marathon in 5 months?

    Good for you.  Have fun training and remember to not exceed the 10% increase in training volume a week.  Keep the intensity low and rock the race.


    Your awesome.



    GCM Endurance

    Team/Club Xtreme Multisports, Inc.


    Become a Fan:!/pages/Xtreme-Multisports/117254468321101?ref=sgm



    VCRC Bikes | FFWD | Synergy Sports| SportMulti | Skins USA | Rudy Project | Athletes Honey Milk | Honey Stinger | Tri Life Gear

  • Dog-lover Legend 373 posts since
    Mar 5, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    9. Aug 5, 2010 10:24 AM (in response to RunCookie)
    Re: Marathon in 5 months?

    After doing it, I'd have to say looking back I wish I would have just started running and then done some 10k's 1/2 marathons and then finally the full.  BUT, I didn't do it that way.  I watched my son run his first marathon in fall of 2007 and was super impressed.  I made the mistake of saying that I'd like to do one someday.  At Christmas he gave me a book on beginners marathon training and asked if I would run a spring marathon with him.  Sucker that I am I did it.  It was a 50th  birthday thing and if I'm being honest I probably wouldn't have ever run a marathon had it not happened this way.  The training was hard and often times discouraging.  My goal from the start was to just finish and work on becoming a better runner safely as well as avoid injury.  I made it and looking back, I'm so glad I did.  I've run three more marathons since and have another coming up this fall.  I love running and hope to continue improving my running every year for as long as I'm able.  I enjoy running so much, like I said, if I hadn't just gone ahead and done it I probably wouldn't be where I am today.  If your going to go ahead and do one just focus on training safely, listen to your body, keep realistic goals and most of all have fun.  Biggest recommendation is to educate yourself on proper training, rest, diet and hydration and be honest with yourself.  Good luck and have a blast!


    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

  • skypilot77 Legend 1,077 posts since
    Dec 16, 2009
    Currently Being Moderated
    10. Aug 5, 2010 10:40 AM (in response to Moriates)
    Re: Marathon in 5 months?

    Moriates wrote:


    Good for you.  Have fun training and remember to not exceed the 10% increase in training volume a week.  Keep the intensity low and rock the race.


    Your awesome.


    Trying to train for a first time marathon in 5 months will make it very difficult to do any of those things -- the schedule will dictate high intensity; huge volumes of training with very little rest --- it will be really difficult to rock the race.

  • 00HokieRunner Pro 124 posts since
    Feb 7, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    11. Aug 5, 2010 11:47 AM (in response to RunCookie)
    Re: Marathon in 5 months?

    I would agree with the crowd above who says that zero to Marathon is not a good idea - even if the goal is just to finish it. I could probably make a list a mile long about why, but I would say the biggest reasons are: 1) You don't know your body well enough. This alone can be make or break in training and completing a Marathon. You need to understand nutrition needs, hydration needs, weaknesses in your anatomy and how to deal with them - amongst other things. 2) You need time to develop running form - this won't happen in one Marathon training cycle. People often forget that it isn't just the legs that have to develop, but all the stabilizing and core muscles as well. This just takes time and in most cases years. This matters a lot in a Marathon as your body weakens after the 20 mile mark. 3) Your risk for injury is exceptionally high going from no running to relatively, a lot. Both distance, and pace take a lot of time to develop (unless you're one of those who are lucky enough to be born anatomically a runner). This could be a short-term injury, or could be a "career ender". I don't want to scare you, but it's just the reality long-distance running brings with it.


    I'd really consider backing off this, and training for a few shorter distance races before you take this on. This will give you time to build, get you used to being in races and everything that comes along with it, and get your properly in shape to go for the Marathon.


    I personally started with a 5k, and I worked my way up through each distance until I got to the half Marathon - which I ran 6 times before thinking about taking on a Marathon. All told, it took 2.5 years before I attempted a Marathon and I'm glad I did it this way. I have had no major (or really even minor) injuries and I credit the progressive build-up for that.


    Whatever your choice, best of luck.

  • Marykb Legend 1,347 posts since
    Jan 16, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    12. Aug 5, 2010 12:21 PM (in response to 00HokieRunner)
    Re: Marathon in 5 months?



    Even though your advice is sound and well intended, I have noticed after being on these forums a couple of years that anybody who comes on here and asks some variation of the following:  "I just started running and I want to run a marathon in 4 months/6 months/whatever.  Can I do it?" invariably has already made up their mind.   Many experienced runners will give a reality check and advice like yours only to be ignored in favor of the rah-rah folks - "You can do anything!  Don't let anyone tell you that you can't!"

    I've taken the attitude that time will tell no matter what anyone has to say about it.  Either it can be done or it can't.  And nearly every single time, without fail, you never hear back from these folks.  I have yet to hear a successful marathon race report from one of these over enthusiastic newbie runners.  So....we'll see.  I wish the OP good luck in her endeavor and I hope that if she does indeed do the marathon she WILL come back and tell us about it!

  • 00HokieRunner Pro 124 posts since
    Feb 7, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    13. Aug 5, 2010 12:23 PM (in response to Marykb)
    Re: Marathon in 5 months?

    It's true! All I can do is offer my advice and move on. Like I said, regardless the decision I wish the best of luck. I just want running to be a challenging, educating and enjoyable experience for everyone as it has been for me. Set yourself up for success, and you will succeed.

  • Marykb Legend 1,347 posts since
    Jan 16, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    14. Aug 5, 2010 12:26 PM (in response to 00HokieRunner)
    Re: Marathon in 5 months?

    00HokieRunner wrote:


    Set yourself up for success, and you will succeed.

    Yep!  And set yourself up for an unrealistic goal and you are in for a world of pain and frustration! 

1 2 3 4 Previous Next

More Like This

  • Retrieving data ...