And So It Begins…

Marathon training. It’s happening.

I still can’t make up my mind about Chicago or MCM, so I’ve started to tentatively train for Chicago since it’s two weeks sooner. If I wind up doing MCM, I suppose these next two weeks can just count as basebuilding and I’ll restart the training plan? Which leads me to my next point:

Actually sticking to a training plan is making me feel like I don’t know how to run a marathon correctly.

Before I ever ran a marathon, my default distance was always 6 miles/about an hour of running, 5 days a week. When I ran New York, I basically stuck to this pattern four days a week and swapped out the fifth day for the weekend long runs that peaked at 22 miles. Since my half marathon time was 2:09, I assumed 4:30 was a reasonable goal time for 26.2 and I was happy to finish in 4:27. As I’ve said before, I was expecting similar, if not better, results at marathon #2, and I might have at least improved by a few minutes if not for the heat that day. I’m sure I would have been thrilled with a 4:26 in 2010, but sub-4 is the big goal this time around, and it’s going to take work to cut 28 minutes from my marathon PR. I already have the advantage of a half-marathon PR of 1:44, and I’ve managed to (mostly) stick to a training plan for my last few halves (halfs?), so I don’t think 3:59:59 is too far out of my reach.

As for the training plan itself, I finally settled on the Runner’s World Smart Coach calculator, which lets you plug in your PR, weekly mileage, and desired intensity level. Since I haven’t run a marathon recently, I plugged in my half time, 36-41 miles, and moderate intensity. Smart Coach promptly told me that if I start my easy runs at a 9:16 pace in week 1 and run 9:01s in week 16, I will run a 3:30 marathon with an average pace of 8:01/mile. I actually laughed out loud when I read that. In my personal experience, half-marathon pace and marathon pace are not the same thing, so since  my 2:09 half translated to a 4:27 full, I think a 1:44 half means a 3:5X full is within reach. That being said, “training” pace is supposed to be about a minute slower than race pace, which would mean dialing it way down to target 3:59:59 (9:10/mile). These days, 9:30s are on the slow side for me, so I’d say the RW recommended paces sound like a reasonable starting point. I think if I stick to them, I can easily shave some time off the sub-4 goal, but it will probably take at least one 20-miler to give me an idea of how much time that may be.

Anyway, first up on the training calendar was a long run of 12 miles at a pace of 9:16 per mile. Easy enough, right? Wrong. My splits were all over the place, with the main problem being that most of them were too fast:


It’s no surprise to me that the second mile was the slowest. This usually happens to me because my Garmin takes a while to settle into an accurate pace, so when I see something crazy like 11:30 pop up, I pick it up, my watch beeps with a too-fast warm-up mile, and then I’m tired during mile 2, which is closer to what the actual warm-up pace should have been. Oops. I will say that I was pleased with miles 3 and 4 because these included the climb across the Brooklyn Bridge. I’d say it’s a good sign that I can hit my target pace on the toughest part of a course and go on to run the second half faster than the first. However, I would really like to improve on consistency in this training cycle, so I’m hoping the next few long runs will produce better results.

7 thoughts on “And So It Begins…

  1. Good luck during this training cycle! Nice run to get back into the swing of things. if you do choose MCM, like you said use these weeks for some LSD running and get whatever base miles in that you can.

    Look forward to seeing how things turn out!

  2. WOAH you already have 4 posts???

    nice pace on the long run!

    I actually thinking when you break down a 3:30 marathon into a 8:00 pace it doesn’t seem do-able (and yes you will might laugh!) but when you think of an overall 3:30 marathon it seems more realistic. Some miles might be closer to 8:45 – 9 (sometimes you forget that you start slow!)

    Anyway can’t wait to run together this summer!

    1. I’m sneaky like that sometimes.

      And the thing about running 8:45s-9s and staying on pace for a 3:30 is that it would mean running other miles faster than 8 minutes, so that’s why I don’t really believe in it. Cutting nearly an hour from my marathon PR sounds insane! But we’ll see what happens when it’s time for the serious mileage.

  3. Girl, I hear you. I’m trying out Furman for this cycle because I have a specific time goal as well, and all of the paces are freaking me out a bit. My Garmin also likes to act up. My friend said that if you set it on the ground when it’s searching for satellites that it will pair better. I don’t know if that’s true or not.

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