Friday, December 1, 2017

running multiple marathons per training cycle - by Liz

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The best way to train for a marathon is to run a marathon. I'm pretty sure I'm quoting Jeff Galloway there, but I can't quite remember the source. It's totally true though, nothing prepares you for the marathon distance like running the marathon distance. It would make sense that it was Jeff, since even his beginner marathon plan takes you up to 26 miles before race day! But as any runner knows, training miles and racing miles are very, very different things, even if you are using a race as just a training run.

I'll be dividing this up into a couple of posts, because, let's face it, there is a lot to know about running just ONE marathon, let alone balancing multiple in a season. In both 2016 and 2017 I ran a Ragnar Ultra and three marathons within about 7 weeks. I'll share what I did, what I learned, and my plans for 2018. First up, some advice for heading into your multiple marathon season!

Prepare:

Plan Your Season


This is one of the best takeaways from Coach Jenny's column about running multiple races per training season. Planning is really critical to success here. In both 2016 and 2017 I ran multiple marathon/ultra distance events during the fall season. Sure, I wasn't a newbie to the marathon distance. I started the 2016 fall season with marathon #6 and the 2017 fall season with marathon #10, but I think that any runner that has been running for at least 12 months prior to beginning marathon training can run multiple marathons within a season, if they plan accordingly.

I like to start fall marathon training on May 1. It gives you FIVE FULL MONTHS of training for your early fall marathons {like Steamtown - or as Dale and Naomi will tell you, the downhill marathon that's uphill the last 10k - and Chicago}, and SIX+ MONTHS for later favorites like Marine Corps and Richmond. While it is possible for a non-runner to start on May 1 with a goal of a first marathon in the fall, I would personally have newbies start no later than March 1. Those two months of base building can make all the difference!

Set Realistic Goals


The marathon distance is not something to be taken lightly. It seems like most newbie runners go into the marathon expecting it to be easier than it is. Even experienced runners fall into that trap sometimes too. But the one thing to remember is that ANYTHING can happen over the course of 26.2 miles. By setting realistic goals and managing expectations, you'll be MUCH more pleased with yourself at the end of the race, than if you set a lofty goal and miss it.

There are some great marathon pace calculators out there now (I have always used this one from Slate, but I think Runner's World has one now too), that give you a more accurate prediction of what the average recreational runner can do for a marathon. When I was training for my first marathon I was told to double my half time and add 5-10%. I can tell you from my own person experience and my years of helping people through their first marathon training cycle, this does not work. It artificially makes you think you can run faster than you can, which just leads to disappointment, when you should be super excited that you FINISHED a marathon!

Do The Work, but ENJOY Yourself

Marathon training is hard and stressful on your body all on it's own. Sure, you need to put the work in and run the miles in your plan, but don't beat yourself up over your training. I know it seems counter-intuitive, but you have to relax and not take your training so seriously, even if you're a newbie, and especially if you're experienced going for a lofty {realistic} time goal. Yes, you need to train, but you don't have to run every single run exactly the way your training plan tell you to. Sometimes, you just get time on your feet in, and that has to be enough. Sometimes, resting a nagging pre-injury is more important than running. Listen to your body, train smart, and relax.

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LB and Liz at "The Bean" the day after the 2017 Chicago Marathon


Preparation is really the key to success in any endeavor. I'm excited to expand upon this topic as well as provide my tips when it comes to run/walk intervals, since I believe that they are part of the key to my success.

  • Have you ever done multiple marathons in a training cycle?
  • Is it something you're interested in trying?
  • What are your 2018 running goals?

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