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Apr 15, 2012

Half marathon to gauge your full marathon

Rest day on the schedule, I need it.  The legs are a bit sore today.

Next up - another half!
As I'm sure many of you do this, I typically like to run a half marathon before my full marathon to get a gauge of how I will do on the full marathon.  The only issue is that I really don't have a half marathon this year to help gauge that since the half marathons I'm doing this year (4) all seem to fall at the wrong time.

In my opinion, in order to gauge how I will do on my full marathons, I feel that I need to race the half marathon to get a good idea of my fitness.  I don't think I'll be doing that in any of my half marathons this year.  Here's the reason's why:

  1. The half I did yesterday was part of a 20 mile run.  I don't think it's fair to compare this race to my actual fitness since I could have run this much faster had I not run before the race.
  2. I have a half marathon on Sunday, Glass City Half Marathon in Toledo, OH.  While I would love to race this since I only have 12 miles on my schedule for running, it's two weeks out from the full marathon and I don't want to take a chance in hurting myself and missing the full.
  3. I have a half marathon two weeks after my full marathon in May.  It's half trails and half roads so again not a great comparison for marathon fitness.  In addition, it's two weeks after a full and I'll be happy to just survive this one given all the running I will have done up to this point.
  4. I have a half marathon in August.  I don't count this one as a test to my marathon fitness because it's too far out from my marathon in October but also it's a trail marathon and I know that my time will be much slower than a road race.  Frankly, I'm just looking to take in all the scenery as well.
Ideally, I like to have a half marathon one month prior to my full marathon.  This allows me to race the half to get a great idea of where I stand.  Unfortunately, there are no half marathons close to me that are a month before my full in October this year.  Last year I ran the Capital City River Run in Lansing.  I thought it was a great course and I PR'd the half with a time of 1:39:18.  I'd love to run it again and maybe still will but it's three weeks out which falls on a 20 mile training run weekend.  I really felt I gave 110% effort for the race last year.  The following month I ran the Detroit Marathon and was able to achieve under 4 hours.  Perhaps it was just having confidence going into the marathon since I did so well at the half but I believe the half gave me an indication that I would do well on my full.  Frankly, with that half time I should have done better.

Of course, if you look at calculators like McMillan Running uses, I should be much faster in the marathon.  I just can't seem to be close to the numbers that this model predicts.  It says I should run a 3:29:25 marathon based on my PR for the half but my PR in the marathon is 3:58:45.  That means I either suck at the marathon distance or perhaps I need to change my training for the full to include more hills and speedwork - neither of which I like.  The question is do I want the lower time more than I want to work that hard to get it?  Even if I did achieve a 3:29 marathon time, what does it get me?  Bragging rights? Eh...  I still can't get into Boston unless I run a 3:20:00 and more likely need to be even faster.  This is why as I continue to train for marathons, I'm considering running a 50k.  Maybe endurance is a better goal for me than speed?

Question of the day:  What do you use to gauge your fitness for a race?  It does not have to be the full.  Perhaps you use the 5k for the 10k race?  Or the 10k for the half?  Or nothing?

Have a great day and....Keep Running!!!!


  1. I try to rest up a bit for my last long run, and to pick it up and see how fast I can run the last 5 miles or so as a predictor of marathon pace. Also, I have heard your racing half marathon time doubled plus ten or fifteen minutes.

    And yes, I am sore too. And I looked closer at the Ann Arbor course, what was I thinking! It is all hills, with a 528 feet or something of gains. Compare this to about 210 feet of gains for Boston and its hills.

    And I hear you on trying to run faster times. It's nice to have them but sometimes you have to ask yourself 'why?' and the goal turns into just enjoying the runs more.

  2. Why run faster times, because we are competitive and we can't alway race for the front of the pack, but the clock is always there...

    So how does one get to run faster? train more...

    Lots of speed work, lots of hills, lots of tempo runs, and weekly long runs of 14-19 miles, even if you only have a 10km (or 5km) race on the program. (OK every 4-6 weeks you can have off).

    If your body holds up to it I would have you running 50 miles a week (and that is before upping the miles for a marathon.) but not everyone: a) has the time, b)body holds out, c) wants it that bad, d) is like me who loves running that much that I just get to 50+ miles every week!!!

    Good luck with the training.

    1. Oh, believe me, I know coach. I'm probably in the C category and maybe a little of B. I can find the time by getting up even earlier(or stop blogging) and you know I love to run.