Tuesday, August 01, 2006


First off today, I have exactly 3 more years until I become a master.

Where did July go? Seems like just the other day I mentioned that I wanted to run in the upper-200s for mileage. With last night’s easy 5 miles, I managed 291 miles for the month. That’s a PR for the month of July, by 25 miles. I ran 30 of the 31 days and doubled up 4 times. While I’m happy with July, especially considering I “lost” May and June to injury, I’m hoping for better numbers in August.

During this morning’s easy 6 mile run, I was thinking back to my first marathon. I thought I’d post what not to do, for all the other first-time marathoners out there. In 1996 I was just coming off my senior year of college track, so I was in pretty good shape at the beginning of the summer – probably 17:00-17:30 5k shape. In June I ran just over 1:20 for a half marathon. Then my training or lack there of, took over. Being a new college graduate and looking for a job, living with my future in-laws and not “having” to prepare for cross country had a major (negative) impact on my training.

By the time race day rolled around, 17 miles was the upper limits of my long run, which I ran once. To compound my lack of training even further, I went out too hard. I can’t remember the splits off the top of my head, but I know “we” (yes, you know who you are) were running sub-7 pace through 8 miles before I decided to back off. At halfway I must have been around 1:32. I continued to run, albeit slower, until mile 20 or 21. Everything after that is a blur of walking and jogging. I survived to finish in just over 3:20. Not terrible, but given where I was at in June, I could have broken 2:50 with proper training.

One of the reasons I bring this up is that there are some first-timer blogs out there. They seem to be in really good 5k shape, but may or may not be prepared for 26.2 miles. Sure they may be following a decent plan; whether it’s a beginner, intermediate, or advanced plan doesn’t really matter. What matters is that their goal matches the plan. There’s nothing wrong with following a beginner’s plan, but you can’t expect to run an aggressive goal off that kind of plan.

The one thing I remember about training for my first 2-3 marathons is how hard it is to build up your long runs. Now that I’ve done a bunch of marathons (and long runs), running 20 miles is not a big deal. But the first time I went from 13 to 15 to 17; it was tough.

Back in 1996, I didn’t have access to a bunch of other marathoners and their thoughts. But with blogging, we’re able to read what others are going through. That can be good and bad. It can help motivate us, but it can also lead to unrealistic comparisons. Just because you have a similar 5K PR to someone doesn’t guarantee that your first marathon time will be similar to their marathon PR.

So today’s advice is as follows; if you you’re running one of the many fall marathons out there and it’ll be your first one, make sure your goal matches your training.

Quote of the day;
“Everybody talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it.” - Mark Twain


Greg said...

Great post Zeke. I can take your account of your first marathon, change the name and use it as my own.

It's amazing how many of us make the same exact mistake. I have never heard a first-time marathoner, actually any marathoner, complain after a marathon that they went out too slow.

Love2Run said...

love that weather quote!

On my 1st marathon at age 43 I ran slowly with a bit of fear for the 1st 20 miles and then finished strong. It's never been like that since!

Mike said...

Thanks Zeke

i already can feel the anxiety starting to build towards my first and hopefully not last marathon...

it's easy to understand how a person can go too fast.

Trisaratops said...

Very true! Good info.


Chad said...

Greg, sometimes you gotta learn for yourself - just like everything else in life.

Mike P., some people never have that "finished strong" feeling.

Mike, yeah when you're used to running "fast" at shorter distances, the first half of the marathon can feel like a cake walk.

Thanks Sara. I was beginning to think I was too subtle with my birthday reference.