To marathon, or not to marathon?

On Monday, I said I’d sign up for the Houston marathon after I got a pain-free 18 mile run in. The plan was to run it this weekend, but after looking at our calendar, I opted to get it in yesterday morning instead.

I was not confident that I would actually go that far, but decided to see how my legs felt.  I started out at a 9:30 minute pace, going nice and easy to ensure that my shins would warm up to this idea.

I chose an out and back path, so the first half felt pretty long, but as soon as I hit 9 miles and turned around, my pace improved and my energy picked up.  Maybe it was a mental thing, knowing I was over half way done? There was a bit of wind at my back, so I also think I was fighting wind without knowing it in the first half.  My final 9 miles were an average of 8:35 pace, with the last mile at 8:00.

And my shins felt fine!! So… now what?

Pros/Cons:  I’m thrilled that my body handled it so well, but honestly, getting in the 18 miler reminded me how much time marathon training takes, and I started doubting if I really want to do this…  Ideally, I would get in at least two more 20 milers, and I don’t have a lot of time for much else. If I’m increasing miles, it means I’ll decrease intensity and speed work to prevent injury, so I would need to scale back my expectations.

However, I do love big races, and I’ve been wanting a re-match with the marathon for a year or so now.  I could register through the charity program and raise money for the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation (you may remember I did this last year, as my dad has MS and this was really meaningful.)

Or I could skip it, do several more half marathons for the winter and I would be content with that as well.

Summary: I think I’d like to do it, but I know I need to be cautious with the training and I tend to get very competitive with myself.  So if I go for it, I need your help to remind me that it doesn’t have to be a pr race (ha!).  There will be more marathons, and other seasons of life with more time for training.

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Thoughts? Does the thought of marathon training ever equally excite and terrify you?

88 thoughts on “To marathon, or not to marathon?

  1. Nice job on the 18! Great to negative split like that.

    Tough call! If you feel like it would cause you lots of stress due to the time factor/or b/c you can’t train as you’d like, then skip it for another year. If, however, you can go into it w/ a take it as you can attitude, then go forward. Good luck with the decision!
    misszippy recently posted..Final long runMy Profile

  2. Seems to me like you are ready.

    (btw…I tried the tofu pumpkin pie…I don’t have a food processor so I had to mix the tofu the best I could with the traditional mixer ;-/ then, I think I needed to add more spice…it was kind of bland for my families taste) I of course I ate it all up…kind of like Goldilocks and baby bears porridge…and I will try it again with more spice b/c a healthier pumpkin pie is a good thing!


    • Did you make it with one or two cups of pumpkin? I made mine with one, but later found other similar recipes calling for two cups so I added that option… but I think I’ll go back and note that spices and sweetener should be increased as well. Thanks for the feedback!
      Laura recently posted..To marathon, or not to marathon?My Profile

  3. I think you will PR no matter what. Your speed is where it needs to be. You can cut it back at this point to prevent injury and put the miles in that you need. You don’t know more speed because your speed takes you way beyond a PR.

    As for having time, I totally get that! I would hesitate if you are worried about the time commitment. I always see my training as necessary and would lean toward the marathon if I were in your shoes. I know how much time I need to train for races but the happiness I get from training and racing is worth it. I am totally squeezed for time right now but I never hesitate to run. 🙂

    Good luck on your decision!
    Robin recently posted..Mommy BribesMy Profile

  4. Oh man, I have no idea what to tell you! I sympathize with your competitive drive. I’m always looking for that PR even though I am *trying* to remind myself that each race doesn’t need to be a PR. And yes, training for a full is a HUGE time suck. Good luck with whatever you decide!
    Allison @ Johnson Jocks recently posted..Fall Update!My Profile

  5. I have mixed feelings about marathon training. The weekend of my half part of me was really wishing I was running the full. But the time involved in training for a full with 3 young kids would be tough. I know it is doable but I don’t know…
    I’ll be watching for your decision!
    Jamie @ Thrifty Veggie Mama recently posted..Vegetarian Pumpkin ChiliMy Profile

  6. I say do it!!!! Just take it easy in traning and back off when you feel that it is necessary. If you can run 18 miles you can run 26.2, plus you still have about 2 months of training time which is good for the base that you have now.

    I loved running in Houston and thought that the course was good. Of course I only ran the 1/2 so I am not sure what the full course was like. I will run Houston again someday and maybe even tackle the full. There is just something about the full marathon, love it and hate it at the same time.

    What is the worst that can happen? You don’t run?
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  7. I’ve actually never run a marathon before. I think I’ve done a couple of 5ks, but that’s it. I used to run daily until my IT band started acting up and have never been able to go back to consistent running because of it. Truth is I probably don’t spend enough time with the foam roller, but for now I’m content with my HIIT sprints. Good luck with the decision! 🙂
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    • You’re probably a lot healthier sticking to the HIIT splits. 🙂 Marathon runners get sucked into farther, faster, etc but it can take a lot out of our bodies. I would like to do a few more, and then stick to the half distance for the long term.
      Laura recently posted..To marathon, or not to marathon?My Profile

  8. oh. Tough decision. Committing to marathon training does take away some many other fitness “freedoms” but it also is alot of fun to set a goal and go after it (even if the goal is just to finish it). Good luck. Looking forward to reading about your decision!

  9. I forgot about all the time it takes to train for a marathon and I didn’t even get through all of it! I think you can handle it easily. But I know how hard it is to quiet the inner competition. Good luck whatever you choose!
    Angela @ Happy Fit Mama recently posted..The First SnowMy Profile

  10. Sounds like you had a kick-butt 18-miler! Marathon training does take time, but I didn’t feel like it was too bad last year for NYCM…mainly the weekend long run, but I managed to get the weekday runs in before work in the early morning. At the same time, you have to do what’s best for your body. If you can train for a full without getting too caught up in speed and competition and possible over-doing it, then go for it!
    christy (txrunnermom) recently posted..Oilman 70.3 Race Report (Post from the Hubby)My Profile

  11. Nice run, it’s great when we have a satisfying long run. I’d register if you really want to do it and then decide on your goals as your training progresses. If you decide to run without PR just leave the watch at home that day and enjoy!
    Robin recently posted..5 Peaks Season ChampionshipsMy Profile

  12. So happy to hear that you got in the 18 miles and that your shins didn’t bother you!! It’s a tough call. The idea of training for another marathon does excite me but it’s the time commitment that terrifies me, especially now with the kids. I agree with Miss Zippy – that if you think that it’s going to add a lot of stress given your schedule, school, family and injury, then put it off for a year. There will always be another race. But if you can put aside the competitive part and just do it for the fun of it, then go for it! Either way, totally here to support you!
    Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted..Friday Round-Up: Tonsils and ChobaniMy Profile

  13. I so understand the marathon dillema! It takes so much time, and it’s super hard not to get obsessed with time. I agree with other posters though that you will probably PR even without putting in any more speedwork. Great job on the negative split by the way!
    kathy recently posted..Friday 5My Profile

  14. I think the prospect of marathon training is always equally exciting and terrifying. If I were you, I’d use an easy training plan and go into the race with the attitude that you’re just going to complete it. Start conservatively, and if you feel great at the halfway point, you can finish strong. And you’re in such great shape right now, you’ll probably PR without even trying. But it might be nice to not put too much pressure on yourself, so the training doesn’t become too much of a chore.
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  15. Don’t forget – Houston is pancake flat! I think the 18-miler is a good indicator of your readiness level. Given how humid yesterday was with those splits, I really think you are ready. I also would love to run the Houston Marathon with you (on a selfish note 🙂 )

    Why don’t you toss a coin? And you will have your answer the moment before the coin hits, because you know which answer you would be secretly hoping for, and go with that one.

    Good job and I think you should be very proud!

    • Thanks, May! I don’t know why I’ve been back and forth so much with this decision… I guess I’m nervous about re-injury and getting set back. I was honestly so surprised that I had no pain, since short speed work has been making my shin hurt… so I guess it’s a speed thing. Maybe my form changes? In any case… I am definitely leaning toward it. But I don’t think I’ll be keeping up with you. 🙂
      Laura recently posted..To marathon, or not to marathon?My Profile

      • To be very honest, I’ll take a 18 miler run over the speed workout any day. That’s why I really like having running friends like you and the others in the club to push me along through the evening speed work.

        Off the record, I am more worried about keeping up with you in a marathon! You are one strong, speedy runner! Keep up the great work.

  16. I think that as long as you’re not trying for a PR then you should be fine. You can always slow down right?? maybe like the above person said wait till you hit 20 🙂
    Ali Mc recently posted..Dog or Child?My Profile

  17. Way to go on 18 pain-free miles! (And a nice negative split to boot!) If you can work in the time I’d say go for it but I am probably the wrong person to ask since I love marathon and marathon training in general. Plus Houston is an AMAZING course, one I would LOVE to do again if it were closer to my house. 🙂

  18. Big call! I’m going to be a fence sitter and not say either way, but I know what you mean about wanting it…and then the time and sacrifices you have to make.

    I get the feeling its always worth it at the end, but you rally do have to want it. Running, why must you be so complicated?!

    And congrats on the 18 miler! That’s a big deal, especially injury-free.
    Kate recently posted..Chocolate Buttons and the Gym BromanceMy Profile

  19. Weighing in late on this one….You definitely have the fitness to manage Houston, but I have to say, I’m glad I don’t have to train through Xmas this year. Last year I had a 24-mile run on Christmas Eve–I won’t miss that! Can’t wait to hear that you’ve signed the dotted line…..
    Terzah recently posted..Guest Post: Kyria’s Tips for CIM!My Profile

  20. I commented on this mentally while reading it on my phone and cannot recall if I ever actually commented. HA. I couldn’t find it – so I’ll weigh in now. I think you are certainly capable of running the marathon. The question is – do you want to be training over Christmas? I also think it can be very difficult to race without going for that PR. Either way – I’m excited to see what you decide!
    Mandy recently posted..Buckeye Classic RecapMy Profile

  21. I think it is awesome that you are thinking it through like that and not just doing it to jump in and do it! I love how you have thought it through and tested your body out before making a decision, you rock!
    Courtney recently posted..weekly reviewMy Profile

  22. I just stumbled upon this post after reading the munchkin meals link. I don’t have any advice, but I did want to tell you that I’ll be bookmarking your blog for inspiration/motivation! I am a marathoning mom to an 11 month old. I had him in Dec and have done 2 half marys and 2 fulls this year. I can’t for the life of me decide if I want to start a training cycle for a spring marathon. I’m logging about 25 miles a week as it stands and just PR’d a half (1:44:55) a few weeks ago, so i feel like I could do the transition, but those long runs are just so time consuming for my family. ( mentally, then the few hours out there, and then the rush around dance when I get back trying to eat, stretch, rest, recover, you know, blah blah). I am on the fence. I think we are going to try for baby #2 soon, so this would be it for me for awhile, as far as longer distance goes…I’m competitive too, so if I train I want to give it my all! I’ll be watching to see what you do. I like your blog already!

  23. Oooh…decisions, decisions. I would probably do it, but I don’t always do the smartest thing when it comes to signing up for races. I would advise you to follow what your body is telling you. I would sign up and it you need to take it slow, do that!
    Travel Spot recently posted..Looking ForwardMy Profile

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