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Half-assed marathon training: can it be done?

OakLeaf2010-05-01 08:28:33 +0000 #1
I'm plenty happy with the results of my half-assed half-marathon training.

But I know a full marathon is a different animal.

I really hate to get obsessed with following a rigid training plan and needing to do X workout on Y day. I'd much rather do what I've been doing - more or less interval day, tempo day, long run day; strong emphasis on the "more or less," and building miles as feels comfortable with an eye on the calendar.

What do you say? Does full marathon training need to be full-assed?

Or can I get away with it?
Bike Chick2010-05-01 08:42:14 +0000 #2
I can't answer that Oak. How did you do on your half and when is your full marathon?
Urlea2010-05-01 08:39:45 +0000 #3
Well, FWIW I didn't follow a rigid training plan for my 26.2 or 50k this year.

In training for the marathon I printed off a program from Runner's world and modified it to what my body told me. My primary goal was to stay close to the weekly mileage it suggested & to make sure I had an easy, fast & long run each week. Speed-work isn't my idea of fun so I didn't do any. The only real speed/tempo runs I had was trying to keep up with the faster runners in my Thursday morning group run or when my runner's high said "hey, lets see how fast we can sprint & for how long". I never ran more than 3-4x a week and never more than 25-30miles total per week. My longest run before the marathon was 18 miles.

Did it work? Yep! Absolutely. I finished only 5 minutes behind of my A goal. There is no question in my mind I would have been right on target had I stuck to my hydration/fueling plan, but that mistake was beautifully corrected during my 50k & 27miler (A few wks ago.)

Would/Will I do things differently next season? No. I believe that training for a race should be just as enjoyable & at times just as hard as race day. That way if my race doesn't turn out to be everything I hoped it would be I'm not supremely disappointed because I had so much fun in the runs leading up to it.

In short, yes you can complete a marathon without a rigid plan. There is a difference between being half-assed in training or being more free-spirited about it though.

Just make sure you aren't lazy about the training. Still push yourself to see what you are capable of. Be prepared to run with your mind when your body starts to make you doubt & vice versa.

There is one thing I have to say about you awesome racing ladies on TE is that once you set your mind to something, you conquer it!

Good luck!
Syndirelah2010-05-01 08:53:13 +0000 #4

....but it might hurt a little more....

Just keep an eye on weekly volume and intensity. Too much intensity= bad. TOO much volume= also bad. Don't boost your miles too high from week to week and take a cut back week every few weeks.... theres lots of programs and variations, all meant to keep you focused and to the finish line healthy.

Ive known several ppl in my training group to only do long runs on the weekend, and that's it. I would be in a world of hurt if I did that. But they've crossed the finish line more than a few times this way. (whether or not they felt all that great, well thats another story... )

Keep us posted on your training! Im running RNR AZ in january.
teigyr2010-05-01 09:31:05 +0000 #5
From what I've learned, it's easier to be half-assed for a half-marathon than it is to be half-assed for a full. Of course you want to have fun in your training and for some maybe it's easier than for others, of course.

For me, I can get away with pretty much anything for a half. I've run with food poisoning (or rather I had been up all night with it), electrodes attached to my chest, and all sorts of other non-desirable conditions. For a full, I can finish in any condition BUT I like to feel good when I finish. I'm not rigid in training like it's all consuming and I like what I do but I also try very hard to be diligent.

The full is a different beast. You can do it but the more ready you make your body, the better you'll feel at miles 18, 19, 20...that and at the finish.
kacie tri-ing2010-05-01 10:41:45 +0000 #6
I dont' really know, but you are in great shape...I would imagine that if you got those long runs in you would be ok (though it might hurt :-) )
katluvr2010-05-01 09:49:24 +0000 #7
Interesting read, since many of you see my posts and know I am training for a full marathon. And I picked a very structered and (to me) agressive training plan. I run 5 out of 7 days. I had a bad 7 miler on Sunday. (How bad can 7 miles be??)

Not only is this my first marathon, but I have set a lofty time goal.

That being said, I may re-think that.

My decision to go very structured is that is what I felt I needed. Too often I think I'm to tired or I'll run tomorrow or blah blah blah. (Skip workouts) So I wanted to push myself.

That being said...week 3 of running 5/7 days and I am tried. I am so glad NOT to put the running shoes on today (my rest day).

So I think it depends on your goals.

How motivated you are WITHOUT a very structured plan.

And over all fitness.

OakLeaf2010-05-01 10:41:09 +0000 #8

I haven't signed up for a race yet. The two I'm looking at are Virginia Beach (3/20) and Cleveland (5/16). So a minimum of 19 weeks from now, a maximum of 27. I need to just make a decision.

I know "half-assed" is a little flip. It's the term I used this spring: forums.teamestrogen....29015&highlight=nuts when I wondered whether I could do two events this fall without killing myself. (Which I did. And had fun. And didn't get injured. And finished the half very close to my original goal time, which I'd given up hoping for when my training kind of fell apart this fall - around the 75th percentile for my age group.) I tried to be focused and consistent in my training, and to use the general principles of published training plans without adhering to any one. I gave myself the flexibility to take a rest day or an easy day when I felt I needed it - figuring that it was my body trying to tell me something.

I could use the term "self-coached," but you know what they say about a lawyer who represents herself, and I think the same goes for trainers.

I spent a lot of time last year asking people how long they trained for their first marathons. Most of the answers came back over a year... but I forgot to ask them, "starting from what?" I'm not starting from the couch - all the free published training plans give me plenty of time.

Part of why I want to do a spring marathon is that I can be a lot more consistent with my training in the winter when I don't have to teach aerobics. Part of it is that I don't ever want to feel like I can't take the time to ride my bike over the summer. Part of it is that I feel like I can be ready, so I should just do it.



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