Should I run a marathon in 2 months?

Discussion in 'Barefoot & Minimalist Running' started by Larry, Apr 25, 2014.

  1. Larry Barefooters
    1. Australia

    Member Since:
    Sep 13, 2012
    Message Count:
    467
    OK, this is a little self-indulgent, but I need a bit of advice and I'm not sure whether I should take the plunge or not.

    My brother in law is running the Gold Coast Marathon in early July (9 weeks away), and he wants me to join him. He's currently running fewer kms than me, but he's following the plan from "The Non-Runner's Marathon Trainer" by David Whitsett, Forrest Dolgener and Tanjala Mabon Kole and he's confident of finishing. I'm not so keen on the book's love of shoes, stretching and ibuprophen, but the mental side of it is interesting.

    I'm keen to run a marathon barefoot, but it's unexplored territory for me and I've been planning an ultra-conservative approach with a half this year and a marathon next year. I don't want to suffer through my first marathon - I want to enjoy it if I possibly can. He seems to think I have ample time left to prepare for this one, and peer pressure is being brought to bear. I don't know if I could handle a year of knowing he had one under the belt and I didn't. :) Honestly, I'll jump at it if I can convince myself that I can do it relatively comfortably, happily and not hurt myself long-term.

    So, physical state. I can comfortably run 15km, and last week I did 15km at a fast (for me) 4:45 km pace which suggests to me that I could go much further if I backed off the pace. My longest run in recent times was 18.5km, which finished with a bit of pain in the side of my knee that I needed a week off to recover from. That was about 4 or 5 weeks ago, and I've been OK since. I've been running almost exclusively barefoot for about 18 months now after a few false starts, and I seem to have worked my way through most of the usual BF niggles. My feet are pretty tough, but I have to admit that the bulk of my running is on hard sand on the beach, and not the asphalt roads that I'm expecting for the marathon.

    I'm left thinking I could do it, but not really knowing for sure if I'm kidding myself, so I'd appreciate a bit of advice from the marathoners on the forum.

    Question 1, obviously, is should I do it, or should I commit to a longer, slower build and do a half this year instead? I'm on track for some programs I know of, but I don't know if I should approach it differently as a barefoot runner.

    Assuming the answer to question 1 is yes, more questions spring to mind (actually, these will be relevant for the no answers too, as I guess I still need to work out how to approach the first marathon when I do it either way):

    - Should I consider a run-walk-run type approach for my first one? I'm Galloway-curious, and I like the theory behind this one, but I don't have time to prove it to myself in time for the GC, and to be honest I don't know if I will benefit from the walk breaks or I will find it tough to get going again. It could make things much better, or it could be a big mistake. I don't know. I will say that I will be happy to walk some of it if that's what it takes. No shame here.

    - What sort of pace should I try to run? I suck at pacing myself, and I tend to just zone out and run at my normal pace which I think will be way too fast. I'm thinking I'll aim to start very slowly and keep as much in reserve as possible, but how slow is too slow to be of benefit?

    - My go-to 'short run' distance is currently around 10km. My BIL's program has much shorter 'short' runs than what I'm currently doing - should I back off my short runs to match? I'm thinking a good compromise might be something like 4 runs per week of 6-11-8-<long> kms each week. How does that sound?

    - The book says that you only need to get the long run out to 18 miles before tapering for the marathon - is this realistic? Do I need to cover more than that to condition my feet?

    - Will my feet hold up? I guess this is relative, but for people who have done a BF marathon, is the biggest problem with your feet, or more to do with general fatigue?

    Maybe that's enough questions for now. To run, or not to run? That is the question.
    Bare Lee likes this.
  2. Sly Barefooters
    1. Française -...

    Member Since:
    Oct 8, 2013
    Message Count:
    255
    to run with ibuprofen ?

    wow, since I run barefoot I look at these marathons with a new eye and understand how crazy it became, people without knowledge nor good condition but with compression stuff, cardio, gps, gels, gatorade, adhesive stuff on the nose and on the legs, music in the ears. I didnt know about taking pills... and all these ads telling you that suffering is part of the marathon

    here in Portugal last week they organized a 10K race with pork riblets and wine all along the way

    sorry, these are not answers to your questions...
    I never ran a full marathon barefoot...

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  3. Larry Barefooters
    1. Australia

    Member Since:
    Sep 13, 2012
    Message Count:
    467
    Thanks Sly, not an answer, but an answer of sorts. I don't want to be one if those people.

    I have a general thought that I'd like to enjoy my first one and not suffer through it, but on the other hand I wonder if I'll ever do it if I insist on being able to do it easily before I try.

    I don't think I would finish a 10k with wine stops though. I would definitely suffer on that one!
  4. happysongbird Chapter Presidents
    1. Idaho
    2. Presidents

    Member Since:
    Jul 1, 2011
    Message Count:
    1,853
    I have been reading a lot about marathon training lately to get ready for my first in October. I have recently run 14 miles at a fairly comfortable pace and don't think I would enjoy a marathon in 9 weeks. I want to work up to the mileage gradually. Also, contrary to so many programs out there, I want to run the "race" distance at least a couple of times before the event. I know that approach made a huge difference in how I enjoyed and felt when I ran my first half last spring. If you are keeping a tally, I say, "No." Don't prepare for a race under pressure.

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  5. Spiderweb62 Barefooters
    1. Australia
    2. Deutschland-Ger...
    3. Française -...

    Member Since:
    Jan 7, 2012
    Message Count:
    582
    Personally I think 9 weeks preparation for a full marathon is a bit short, you have to build the distance over a longer period, specially if running barefoot...Ask George Carter, he did one last year barefoot, and it took him 6 month to run the distance. I am taking the conservative approach you mention...I'll stick to half for this year, and hopefully my feet will be well conditioned for a marathon next year, but I won't push the boundaries if I don't feel comfortable...As you say, it is all about enjoying the event...Not suffer for the right to brag that you've done it

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  6. migangelo Barefooters
    1. Oregon
    2. California -...

    Member Since:
    Jun 5, 2010
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    if you added 10%km per week you would be close to 30km long runs with a week to taper. get on the road and see if you can handle it.

    my answer would be no though. build to it. i've been running 4yrs and have yet to do a half. i'm in no rush. more important for me to build the strength to run comfortably than to suffer through it like most.

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  7. Tristan-OH Barefooters
    1. Ohio
    2. New York

    Member Since:
    Sep 15, 2011
    Message Count:
    1,180
    I did 3 halfs before my first marathon, and thought I was adequately trained to do a decent first marathon but it really kicked my butt. I did my first half in 2012, then the other two in May and August of 2013, and my first marathon October '13. Accordingly to some plans I wasn’t up to it yet, and was told on here I wasn’t quite there yet. Weekly mileage in the 30 mile range (longest was in the low 40's I think). Longest run was 22 miles, I think about 5 weeks prior.

    All that being said, I think I would have been mostly ok if I hadn’t pushed it so hard for a good time. But I really cranked it up the last 10k stretch, and that wicked sprint at the end, and then the sudden stop across the line into a crowd of people shoulder to shoulder. I could instantly feel my the muscles in my legs clenching tight, and desperately wanted to jog a little. By the time I got to a place I could jog, like 5-10 minutes later, I found myself unable to. Literally couldn't get my legs to hold flight. Things hurt that never had before... knees... IT band... plus things that usually hurt like calves. I was limping around work for a few days. Feet were fine though! I was planning on the 1/2 the one year, full the next, and 50k the following... but this year I don't even know if I want to attempt the full again. If I had a better work schedule I'd probably go for it and just jog it, but my schedule this year is much worse than last year.

    So thats a tough call for me to make. I still think I'd have been fine if I had just done it easy and not tried to race. My 22 miler a few weeks before at around a 10 min pace didn't leave me hurting, and just took my normal day for recovery if I recall. If I were to lean in any direction it'd be no, if you haven’t even run a half yet... I'd say its possible especially if you could do one later in the year but the timing on this one is very aggressive!

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  8. Larry Barefooters
    1. Australia

    Member Since:
    Sep 13, 2012
    Message Count:
    467
    Thanks everybody for the responses. I think the no's win this one, and I'm feeling the same way. I told my BIL that I didn't think I would be prepared to run it well from where I am now, and I don't ever want to try to run a half-arsed marathon - especially not my first. Next year for me.

    I worry about his training plan - I think it's not the way I would do it. It seems to me that it is designed for people who aren't runners at all to barely complete a marathon in the worst possible manner, but if it works for him I'll be very happy for him. I think he'll make it too - he is confident and stubborn, in just the right mix.
  9. skedaddle Barefooters
    1. United Kingdom

    Member Since:
    Sep 3, 2011
    Message Count:
    692
    There is always the option of entering the marathon with the mindset of gaining experience of the occasion, not to complete it.

    You only have to run as far as you are comfortable with and then bail or walk the remaining miles.

    Large participation running events are way different to solitary training runs and the more you are exposed to them the better off you'll be when you are ready for the full distance.

    The fitness will come with time, that's not the main issue as you have control over that, it's a process.

    What you don't have control over is the other competitors around you. Some will moan until they are blue in the face, others will zoom off into the distance, only to be found barfing at mile 16, some will constantly spit at your feet....... you get the picture.

    Learning to run your own race in a crowd is something that comes with experience so why not enter with this in mind. This way there is no pressure giving you space and freedom to absorb what's going on around you.

    Just a few thoughts to add to the pot.

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  10. rickwhitelaw Barefooters
    1. Utah

    Member Since:
    Apr 27, 2011
    Message Count:
    1,760
    Go for it Larry! My conservative self says no, but for the sake of a difference lets go though your questions. Keep in mind I am not very experienced at organized marathons (only 3, 1 barefoot), but I have become fairly good at the distance on my own terms (and shod). No idea if I'll ever do another barefoot, but I would like to someday improve on my experience.

    "Question 1, obviously, is should I do it, or should I commit to a longer, slower build and do a half this year instead? I'm on track for some programs I know of, but I don't know if I should approach it differently as a barefoot runner."

    One thing to keep in mind is you will vary from the normal progression of 5k, 10k, half, etc. Not saying that the shorter races are not fun, but once you achieve a certain distance, the shorter ones might be anti climatic. Yes, if you commit there will be considerations for being barefoot. Heat, cold, surface roughness, will be a concern where shod it is not.

    "Should I consider a run-walk-run type approach for my first one? I'm Galloway-curious, and I like the theory behind this one, but I don't have time to prove it to myself in time for the GC, and to be honest I don't know if I will benefit from the walk breaks or I will find it tough to get going again. It could make things much better, or it could be a big mistake. I don't know. I will say that I will be happy to walk some of it if that's what it takes. No shame here."

    Yes. It sure helps break up the monotony of long distance. I have never used scheduled walk breaks, kind of let the terrain dictate where I walk. At the very least walk though the aid stations and after to let thing settle a bit.

    "What sort of pace should I try to run? I suck at pacing myself, and I tend to just zone out and run at my normal pace which I think will be way too fast. I'm thinking I'll aim to start very slowly and keep as much in reserve as possible, but how slow is too slow to be of benefit?"

    Slower than you think, but avoid the very slow run where your cadence slows too much. This is where the walk/run strategy works well. You have time to experiment on you long runs.

    "My go-to 'short run' distance is currently around 10km. My BIL's program has much shorter 'short' runs than what I'm currently doing - should I back off my short runs to match? I'm thinking a good compromise might be something like 4 runs per week of 6-11-8-<long> kms each week. How does that sound?"

    Can't help you out much here, I have never been good with schedules. Your main focus will be on you long run and take as many days as you need to recover after. You can shorten your short runs but make them hard. Hills or foot conditioning runs.

    "The book says that you only need to get the long run out to 18 miles before tapering for the marathon - is this realistic? Do I need to cover more than that to condition my feet?"

    Get rid of that book, you get much better advice here.;) No! 18 miles is not enough. Huge difference between 18 and 26.2. Get at least 22 in and similar or rougher conditions than the course. I got the mileage in before mine, but I didn't get the rough downhill miles in and that killed me.

    "Will my feet hold up? I guess this is relative, but for people who have done a BF marathon, is the biggest problem with your feet, or more to do with general fatigue?"


    Everyone is different. This is what your long runs will tell you. Any chance of backups if your feet get sore? Socks, sandals, packing shoes, having someone throw you shoes at mile 20. (when I was struggling in mine I had a bystander offer his, pretty nice, but I doubt he was serious. I was packing sandals but at that point I was committed to finish it bare.) For me, my feet got sore and then my muscles fatigued trying to absorb. Lack of fueling and the heat started the cramps.

    A few more comments: running the race, especially if it is a busy one, is very difficult with a partner. You will have different paces, goals, concerns. Start the race with him, but run your own race! Then find him and celebrate after your finish.

    skedaddle has some good points. You have to be able to tune everyone else out and run your own race.

    This is possible if you want it.

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  11. stjohnthegambler Barefooters
    1. Oregon

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2010
    Message Count:
    547
    Yes, do it. If you can get up to 18 miles, great, but if you do 15, fine. It's mental. By the time you're out there, you'll have the crowd and fellow runners to inspire. In fact, my advice is just go slow at first, don't get caught up in the adrenaline rush.

    Your feet sound fine, but for example I carried my VFFs for my first BF marathon, and ended up not using them. If you have a friend in the crowd, you can hand them off at a certain point. Or carry them, or huaraches, on a running pack/belt.

    The best training for a marathon is to run a marathon. If you can get a half marathon in before hand, or two, even better. You're totally set for a half marathon, and that will let you see that you can get way beyond.

    Also (as long as I'm pontificating) you might try 'doubles'. Run a regular route in the morning, and then that same night go out for a short mellow run. It gets your body used to functioning while sore and tired.

    Good luck!

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  12. JosephTree Barefooters
    1. Pennsylvania
    2. New Jersey

    Member Since:
    Sep 7, 2010
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    Feel free to run to your heart's content! ...but you have to really watch what it is that pleases your heart, and don't sucked get into the glamour and psych up of the idea "marathon." Take your long runs and see how they feel for you. You might not even like taking yourself past 15 miles, and that's just fine.

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  13. Bare Lee Chapter Presidents
    1. Minnesota

    Member Since:
    Jul 25, 2011
    Message Count:
    5,167
    The trick is time, not distance. I routinely run marathons over a week's time, no problem. A modification of Galloway's protocol, I call it the "run-work-eat-hang out-sleep-run" method.

    Butt seriously, I'm with Happy, I wouldn't do it unless it was already a fun and comfortable distance I do outside of races. The 'just finish' approach has no appeal to me, but then, I'm not a racer so who cares what I think? I've become an anti-racer -- running in the wee hours of the morning when there's no one around, no Garmin, no goals, no mind, just street debris, birdsong, and thoughts of coffee at the finish line to urge me on.

    Hmmn, no, on second thought, you should definitely go for it. I want to read the write-up.

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  14. Barefoot Gentile Barefooters

    Member Since:
    Apr 5, 2010
    Message Count:
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    Anyone can run a marathon, the question is how enjoyable do you want to make it? Personally for me when it comes to a marathon I want to be at that starting line feeling confident of my training, conditioned and ready to go.

    I think you should make your first marathon a good one, don't suffer through it.

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  15. skedaddle Barefooters
    1. United Kingdom

    Member Since:
    Sep 3, 2011
    Message Count:
    692
    There is also the idea of running for a charity which can be hugely rewarding, help others, give focus and dimension to your run.

    So many possibilities, you just have to recognize the right path for you then act on it.

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    dharmadan likes this.
  16. JosephTree Barefooters
    1. Pennsylvania
    2. New Jersey

    Member Since:
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    On the other hand, you can give at the office and go have a pint....

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