It’s Marathon season


By Fred Deckert


The passion for marathon running is in full fall swing around Tallahassee. With lots of big name fall and winter marathons in the offing, it seems every other runner is in training for one. There are so many good marathon preparation programs out there, this column will not attempt one. But, (you knew it was coming!) some guidelines are worthwhile. First, don’t try your first one without a good base of training. 6-8 weeks of fairly high mileage (40-50) weekly miles is a good start. Of course you need to run a long run, 18-20 miles, once a week at least 4 times before the big event. And, be sure to taper down that last week so you’ll feel fresh at race time. Big races are better for new marathoners since they give you more mental support via crowds of fellow runners and observers. But, the small ones are often very rewarding in their variety and more unusual locales. Save these for your later efforts.

The veteran marathoner needs little advice since he’s probably made most of the mistakes already and has learned that way. A new long distance runner should approach with caution to minimize the chances of a really bad experience. One of the cautions is to seriously plan his race pace. Realize that even an expert marathoner is not going to run the marathon any faster than 90% of his 10K pace. That means if you run a 43:30 10K, you should be looking at 3:32 for a maximum effort at the marathon. (You can approximate your 10K time by doubling the 5K time and adding an extra minute.) That means you run about 7 minute miles at the 10K, you better run a 7:40 pace or slower at the marathon distance. Remember these numbers are redlines, like on your car’s tachometer. Especially on your first marathon effort you should be considerably more conservative. A 9 minute per mile runner shouldn’t even think of running a 10 minute marathon pace until they are seasoned. Unlike a bad 5K, a bad marathon can really be painful so it’s well worth being cautious to minimize your discomfort. You don’t want to go to the energy ATM and get the message, “no funds available”.

Does every runner need to do the marathon? Of course not! But you all know a friend who has done it so the devil temptation lures you to see if you can do it too. The great majority of us can do it and it can make a nice memory if you are careful. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water!