i am going to be whiny for a minute… bear with me.

monday marks 12 weeks until my next goal marathon. i have two revised training plans sitting in front of me that i am deciding between for the next 12 weeks. the major difference revolves around this one doubt…

the san francisco marathon

i signed up pretty quickly after san diego when i was on my post marathon these-are-so-fun-i-can-do-anything-and-run-all-the-marathons high. it made sense at the time, and still definitely could make sense, i am just having doubts.

take a walk in my brain…

it would qualify me as a marathon maniac…
i would get another marathon medal…
it would be fun with lots of my friends and on one’s birthday!…
it would be a long “training run” with water stops, crowds and lots of runners…
there isn’t any speedwork in the week following SFM, so i could just run really easy for 50+ miles…
san francisco was my first marathon, so it will always be a special race…
5th marathon finish, i learn something new from every one…

what if what i learn is NOT to do these as a training run…
26.2 miles is still 26.2 miles…
SFM’s 26.2 miles are HILLY ones…
i am going to be sore and need to recover, but will also be in the middle of training and not want to cut my miles back…
running 50+ miles the week after a marathon isn’t going to be easy no matter how easy i run them…
what if it will interfere with my training, and i don’t want to do something stupid that might hurt my chances at a potential BQ…
there are only 7 weeks for real quality training between SFM and tapering for cowtown, if i am recovering one week, that will take a week out of there…

so that is where i am stuck. i know i don’t have the problem of not racing it, that’s not the issue. i just don’t want to it take away from training for my goal race.

i know there are a number of you who have done marathons as training runs for other marathons. are you glad you did? did you see positive results? was recovering hard?

i think the hardest thing for me is knowing that i CAN finish it and that i said i would do it, but admitting that it might not be the best/smartest thing for me to do.


so do i run the FULL in place of a 20 miler OR do i go off the other schedule (which still has as many 20 milers, just at later times) and run the half and add a few miles on to the end for the scheduled 17 miler?

somebody tell me what to do please. what would you do?


had a nice slow recovery run this morning with my 2 pups (3 miles each)! my legs definitely felt like being slow and i did not push them. i actually think this is closer to the pace my recovery runs should be based on the mcmillan calculator.

it was a beautiful morning and always fun to be out running with the girls. they did much better than last week :)

6.0 miles/59:20/9:53 avg pace

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54 Responses to doubts

  1. copiaverborum July 8, 2009 at 2:22 pm #

    This is a tough one. I wish I had sound advice, but I've only run 3 marathons and none of them were run during the training for another.

    I'm the type that if I chose to run the SFM and did NOT BQ later, I would wonder if SFM had anything to do with it. On the other hand, if I ran SFM and DID BQ later, I would wonder if the SFM had anything to do with it as well!

    What I'm saying is, I am NO help, whatsoever. Whichever decision you make is going to be a good one because it will be one you learn from, good or bad.



  2. Mark July 8, 2009 at 2:29 pm #

    Aron, you will make the right choice. I remember when I did the Galloway method (marathon #2)I actually did a 26 mile training run but I did walking segments. That is an option. You will recover quicker and could use it as a confidence builder…?

  3. Running and living July 8, 2009 at 2:29 pm #

    Hey Aron,
    I agree, this is tough. For myself, I would probably run the 1/2 at a strong pace (e.g., go for a PR) and add the 7 miles after. I think for me it would be hard mentally and physically to run another marathon in 7 weeks. But, I also don't care about being a maniac…and I get injured easily. Sorry I can't be of more help. Regardless of the decision, be sure to make a pact with yourself for no regrets! Ana-Maria

  4. Mel -Tall Mom on the Run July 8, 2009 at 2:40 pm #

    Don't ask me I am a Rookie and know nothing about 26.2…LOL!! What I would suggest, soleley based on the stress level I am reading through your post, is that you do the half at a bit faster pace. Then follow later in the day with the makeup mileage if you see fit. That way you will be challenged, but not feel the STRESS of the 26.2 decision..

    But you are close to a Marathon Maniac…so???

    Up to you…can't wait to hear what you decide.. You are a Rock Star either way..

  5. runningcommentaries July 8, 2009 at 2:45 pm #

    I'd either do the marathon with 3 miles slow, 10-15 at goal pace and then cool down 2-3 miles and see how you feel and maybe drop off if you are dying or finish if you're not. Could be SO fun, but could also spell recovery disaster…

    btw I think I'm doing the 1st half.

  6. Mica July 8, 2009 at 2:47 pm #

    Yikes, I have no advice for you on this one. Since you're working hard to achieve a BQ, I'd say make that your primary goal and don't compromise with another marathon seven weeks before. Actually, I don't know anything and shouldn't be giving you advice, so ignore me. :)

  7. kristen July 8, 2009 at 2:47 pm #

    I wish I could give you a straight answer, but I have only run one marathon. The only insight I can give you is to think about your final goal. If it's BQ – do everything to supplement THAT gaol. You can always be a maniac later.

    You'll do the right thing.

  8. marathonmaiden July 8, 2009 at 2:48 pm #

    as i've only run one marathon i'm definitely not qualified to answer your question. i think i'd be tempted to replace a 20 with the full to be honest. i also think that if you ran it slowly/carefully enough you might not need as much time as you think to recover. but take my thoughts with a HUGE dose of salt.

    it seems, however, that youre leaning toward the half idea? if that stresses you out the least (which is what it looks like) do that. you definitely do NOT want to be overly stressed. running should be the fun stuff!

  9. runliveandenjoy July 8, 2009 at 2:53 pm #

    I'm sorry but I don't really have any advice since I am not exactly qualified to answer it. It's up to you and it all depends what you are comfortable with. If you were me, I would run the race as a training run and see what happens. But that's me…

  10. Denise July 8, 2009 at 2:56 pm #

    I hear my coach in the back of my head right now…I recently asked to run a marathon as a training run during my marathon training for a BQ. So yea, I'm not running that marathon training run…

    Stick with the half, focus on the BQ and maybe I'll see you in Boston!!

  11. Pandesaldreamer July 8, 2009 at 2:59 pm #

    I'm a HUGE rookie as I've never done a marathon before. Mine's will be in October in SF, nonetheless. Buuuut, I would follow your gut feeling. Sounds like based on reading your post is that perhaps doing the half is the way to go for you in the SFM. Girl, I know you can come to the right decision. Good Luck!

  12. robinbb July 8, 2009 at 3:20 pm #

    I guess I am in the minority and say, I would run SFM. Pfitz calls for a 22 mile training run in the 18/70 program which is only 4 less miles than the marathon. You could always walk those additional 4 miles if you feel like you can't handle it. As long as you run SLOW, your body should be able to recover. I would also think that if I DIDN'T BQ in October and didn't run the marathon then I would be mad at myself even more. I have not ran a marathon as a training run, but did run Honolulu Marathon and Disney which are 4 weeks apart and improved by 3 minutes at Disney. Honolulu was a 30 minute improvement from the marathon I did 10 weeks before that.

    Good luck on deciding. Listen to your body!

  13. rob horton July 8, 2009 at 3:37 pm #

    go for it!

    i did a 50k two weeks prior to my first marathon event (those two got me my maniac status).

    i like the advice of throwing in some walk segments to speed recovery.

    run with your heart (the bq will come to you).

  14. Brian July 8, 2009 at 3:59 pm #

    I'd race the half (really race it) and not worry about missing the 17 miler. You are a marathon maniac, and you already have a good base built up. You're more in danger of over training than anything. So, don't worry about taking your weekly mileage down a little bit that week. Substitute quality for quantity and get a feel for racing.

    I'm planning on doing the same thing by racing the Disney half marathon in January before the Gasparilla full marathon in February. I actually plan on tapering my mileage down before the half, racing it hard, then going back to peak for two weeks before tapering again for the full.

    If it doesn't work out for you, I might reconsider :P.

  15. Kim July 8, 2009 at 3:59 pm #

    I say go for it.
    IF you can take the San Fran Marathon EASY.
    You've covered the distance.
    You know what's ahead.
    You just need to take it easy and not get caught up in running a fast marathon.

  16. Chic Runner July 8, 2009 at 4:18 pm #

    Aron, It's a really tough choice and I know that you will make the right one. I know for me, I would just run the half and tack on extra miles after but that is because I was in so much pain I couldn't even imagine running 50+ miles later. That is just my opinion though and I know we are twins but our running varies slightly :) Good luck on your decision. Hey, I'm running the half :):)

  17. Meg Runs July 8, 2009 at 4:30 pm #

    I did Boston this year and then, six weeks later, did San Diego Rock and Roll..

    Boston was for time, San Diego was not. I just ran for fun with my husband, trying to help him qualify. I agree with Kim above, if you can do San Fran easy go for it. The ONLY thing I have to say is that when I did SF, it was a hard race because of the hills…I had a LONG recovery from this race.

    GOOD luck, maybe I'll see you in SF!

  18. Lisa Slow-n-Steady July 8, 2009 at 4:37 pm #

    i have nothing to offer, but hope you figure this out and end up happy with the decision. :-)

  19. The Happy Runner July 8, 2009 at 4:40 pm #

    I wish I could help but I've only run one marathon so I've got nothin'!

    My instinct would be to go for it, but use some walk breaks to make sure you're taking it easy.

  20. Marci July 8, 2009 at 5:18 pm #

    Aron this is a toughy. As someone who is a Maniac, and has run my best marathons the week after another I say go for it! On the other hand I found recently in multiple marathoning that I did slow in progressive races, I'm working on gaining speed again now. I think you can do both though- but you have to be comfortable with your choice! Good luck!

  21. Kaolee Hoyle July 8, 2009 at 5:22 pm #

    girlie, i wish I can help you here! but I have yet to set foot on one!!!

    You are such an inspiration!

  22. jen July 8, 2009 at 5:55 pm #

    I personally would never run a full marathon except as my goal race. Since you asked.

  23. EricaH July 8, 2009 at 6:28 pm #

    Sorry I have no advice because 3.2 is about the longest race I am even thinking about at this time. but I did want to say thanks for the mcmillan calculator link very neat tool.

    Also I have a giveaway going on right now on my running blog if you are interested.

  24. Nicole July 8, 2009 at 6:30 pm #

    You make very very very wise points. This is a big decision. I know you will make the right one. Your a smart girl and i think you know what you should do. :)

    However, if this were me & i was as awesome as you… :) I know how BADLY you want a BQ…do you think this would hurt/help your chance of getting that? I'm no marathon pro by any means but If this were me & you had a goal race I would 1st- do the half and add on the mileage OR I would do 17 'pace' and jog/walk the rest. I know thats quite a ways to walk- but if you were to do that, you could have your cake and eat it too… in a way. :) Either way, I support you 110%! :)

    I hope all this rambling makes sense! Can't wait to hear what you decide to do. :)

  25. trialsoftraining July 8, 2009 at 6:33 pm #

    Ehh – I haven't run a FULL yet either, and have NO idea what to tell you! From your thought-process – I would say maybe go with the half, enjoy the "Race" and then add your own miles so that you can decide how far you want to go/push it. That way you still get the race experience, it's still a training run With water and fuel, and you don't run the risk of "over-doing" it. ?? Again, coming from somebody who hasn't run a marathon yet. :)

    keep us posted!!!

  26. Tara July 8, 2009 at 6:35 pm #

    waaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh what did i get myself in!!!! haha kidding i surely might die :(

    I think you know what you want to do in your heart, but sometimes it's just hard to give into that…as much as I would love for you to run the full with me I also will need someone to scrape me off the ground when I am done :) <3

  27. I Run for Fun July 8, 2009 at 7:41 pm #

    That is a touch one for sure! I know you have the answer…you know what's good and what your body can handle. Wish I had some advice to offer, but I know you will make a wise decision, either way. Good luck!

  28. Kelly's runner July 8, 2009 at 8:11 pm #


    That is a tough decision. I ran back to back marathons a couple of years ago and I didn't feel to worse at the time. Week 1, the weather was incredibly humid and it turned into a 26.2 mile training run. Ran the following week in Denver where I live and actually felt pretty good. Since the week before was truly a LSD run, I ran about 35 minutes faster the second week. The bigger issue was going right back into training for another marathon, hurt my knee about a month later and I have struggled on and off for the last couple of years.

    I am sure you can do it. You have age on your side. I think you just have to follow what your heart wants you to do.

    Whatever you decide will be the right decision :)

  29. Jo Lynn July 8, 2009 at 8:12 pm #

    You probably don't want me answering that question. LOL
    My advice isn't even good for ME.

  30. teacherwoman July 9, 2009 at 3:15 am #

    Aron, I am sorry I do not have enough "experience" to help you with this! I have faith that in whatever you decide to do will be the right thing for you! Listen to your heart!

  31. D10 July 9, 2009 at 3:58 am #

    So here are my thoughts. If you are worried at all that running SF will hinder your chances of a BQ than just do the half.

    Also, how do you usually feel after a marathon? How much time do you usually take to fully recover? You don't want to risk any injury.

    It is a tough decision, but I am sure you'll make the right choice for you and your goals.

  32. lindsay July 9, 2009 at 4:51 am #

    welll…. you know my thoughts. i just went for it personally, but then again my real goal race was only a half. i'm sure that could have made a difference. yeah i had to continue running long in order to survive the full at goofy too but i could run it as easy as needed without pressure.

    i also know that everyone is different. i know that boston is a huge goal of yours, and i can definitely side with the argument of going for the goal that means the most to you.

    of course i secretly (or not-so) want you to go for it – i have no doubt that you'd keep it slow and easy and recover the following week. i don't think having that week a little short on miles would kill your cowtown shot, but then again there are the unknowns and what if's…

    i also want you to make the best decision for you though, and i won't be hurt if you decide to race the half instead. in that regard, i'm totally with brian – race the half hard and forget the 17 miler :)

    unfortunately i can't give you the ultimate answer – you know yourself and your running best! either way you choose, you will get your bq and become an official maniac sooner or later :) good luck my friend.

  33. Jess July 9, 2009 at 5:42 am #

    Sounds like you don't really want to do it, and you should want to do any race. Drop to the half, if you can, and focus your sights on your "A" race.

  34. Marlene July 9, 2009 at 5:49 am #

    Sounds like a great morning recovery run. What a nice way to start the day!

    As for SFM… I would be sooo tempted to do it because the "pros" are really appealing, but honestly – if you're worried that there's a real possibiliy that it will interfere with your trainingand goals for your true goal marathon, it's probably not worth it…

    Good luck with the decision.

  35. The Laminator July 9, 2009 at 6:42 am #

    Hey Aron,

    I think everyone's annectodal evidence is really an experience of one, and obviously no one is going to know one way or other what will work well for you. Having said that, here's my two cents:

    Having run SFM last year, I agree that it's indeed a treacherous and very hilly course. What I've learned from running that race is that it was the steep downhills in the last 10K that tears up your body much more than the uphill climbs. I was at the beginning of NYCM training when I ran it last year and it took me about 2 weeks to get my legs back, so to speak. So I'm thinking that it'll probably take you at least 1 week to taper a little and another week to recover from that marathon, even if you were going to treat it as a training run. So having a deviation of 3 weeks from peak training may not be so advantageous if you're racing to run a specific time in your goal marathon. (As an aside, I don't think doing 50+ miles the week after running SFM would be such a smart idea, even if you could do it. You'd be prone to injury and would have to run those miles really slow anyway, so how much benefit would that actually serve in the big scheme of things?)

    On the other hand though, I can see why running SFM would be important to you, and I'm not really trying to convince you not to run it, but if you are going to run it, then you have to convince yourself that it might hamper your BQ expectations a little bit…which is perfectly okay. Being an athlete is all about negotiating your expectations with practicality.

    I hope whatever direction you finally decide that you just be at peace with yourself on that, because there is no right or wrong answer here.

    Best of luck in rest of your training, aron!

    Sorry for being so long-winded.

  36. RBR July 9, 2009 at 7:21 am #

    I ma wholly unqualified to respond to this post and offer any advice so I will just say YAY! For the runs with the doggies and leave it at that.

    Of course, since you asked for advice, pictures of said doggies would have been nice. ;o)

  37. Alisa July 9, 2009 at 7:26 am #

    Well that is something to wrestle with!

    I know at least 3 people that have done marathons as training runs and PR'd at their goal race. I think the idea of using it as a training run is still a good one especially since it's so far out from your actual goal race. I think the other folks used it as their last 20+ 3 weeks before.

    Your concern over recovery time is certainly warranted, 26.2 is 6.2 miles further than 20. What does the week after SFM have planned? Lots of hard miles? 50+ miles is a lot on tired legs but I think I also remember you mentioning once that you were considering Pfitz's next step up (which is something crazy like 60 or 70 miles).

    Only you know your body best but the one piece of advice I'll bestow that I can attest to is, putting lots of pressure on one race doesn't necessarily make it the best race. Cowtown won't be your last marathon, right? Some amount of pressure and pushing yourself is needed to achieve race goals but too much and I think it becomes too much (at least for me) on my mental capacity, makes it too much do or die, which it isn't (and I don't think should be).

    You are an amazing runner and have so much talent. Look at how far you've come in such a short running career.

    Alright, I'll get off my soap box before I say something offensive. Really though, you are really inspiring to all of us but only you know your body =).

  38. Katie A. July 9, 2009 at 7:48 am #

    Wow lady, you really know how to stir things up! :)
    With that being said, I think you already know what you need to do. I usually apply to my life the thought that if I have any kind of doubt, it's probably wise to abide by it.
    But…on the other hand, you are a smart runner, and I think you are capable of running the SFM smart. Make it an LSD run, with some walk breaks in there, too. You will learn a lot from yourself I think from this marathon.
    I don't think you will be hurting your chances for a BQ. I am doing almost the same thing as you in Oct – Dec, I want CIM to be my BQ, but I have a half and a full in Oct and Nov I am using as training runs.
    I am sure you will make the right choice, you are a smart runner and I think that SF will be a great learning tool to you either way.

  39. Billy Burger July 9, 2009 at 8:14 am #

    Tough one Aron. If you can truly hold back and run it at a conservative pace, I say go for it. If you think it will compromise your training…well, you know what to do.

    I would probably do it if I were you, but I'm more about enjoying these races and the camaraderie that comes with it these days than chasing fast times.

    I will be running in my Maniacs singlet for this one btw!

  40. RunToFinish July 9, 2009 at 8:15 am #

    ok you have some seriously amazing comments already so Im' not sure I would be offering you anything better than all of these smart folks…but I like to hear myself so..

    all of the running books I have read recommend doing races during your goal training…but not the full distance. So I think it probably truly comes down to how well you know your body…how much recovery will you need and will that one week of doing 26.2 ( a much longer training run) make it ok to cut back some the following week?

    good luck with your decision

  41. Marathon Maritza July 9, 2009 at 8:18 am #

    I think that if there is a doubt, than you'll always wonder about skipping this full or not and so you have to go with your gut and heart, like Tara said.

    It's a tough choice but you are a smart runner and I know you'll do what is best for you. You know we all will support you 100% no matter what. ♥

  42. Jeri July 9, 2009 at 9:12 am #

    Wowsers. I suppose it comes down to how quickly your body can recover from a slow/fun marathon to get back into training. If it wipes the whole next week, it might not be worth it for your ultimate goal, but would be a heckuva experience I'm sure. Best of luck deciding.

  43. RoadBunner July 9, 2009 at 9:20 am #

    I totally see your points for both sides of this decision. I personally do not think running SFM will hinder your performance in October. I definitely think that running SFM will hinder your training the week immediately following the race. Even if you run it slow you would probably have to cut back either mileage or effort the following week.

    I ran Goofy in Jan 2008. I was very torn up afterwards and much more sore than any "normal" marathon (even a race effort marathon). I took an easy week of recovery runs then got back into training the following week. I PR'ed at Napa 6 weeks later.

    Do what your gut tells you to do! I agree with what others have said, though. If you run SFM be prepared to not follow your training plan to a T the week after. If that worries you for your BQ effort, do the half or walk in the full!

    Good luck!

  44. seejessrun July 9, 2009 at 9:42 am #

    I don't have experience with running a marathon during a training cycle, but if you do, I suggest modifying your plan so that you take the next week VERY easy.

  45. Punkinrunner July 9, 2009 at 9:46 am #

    Hi Aron! What a tough choice, but I'd recommend being conservative and skipping the SF Marathon (race the half or make the half an LSD with the tacked on miles) to ensure that you are properly rested and injury-free for your BQ! I ran three marathons last summer and got burned out trying to do too much (two of them were back-to-back weekends. Needless to say, I didn't BQ or PR. My hipflexors were tight for a month afterwards. I'm sure you could run the SF as a training run, but your body will still need the 26 days of recovery.

    Good luck!!!

  46. Carolina John July 9, 2009 at 10:06 am #

    i know what you mean. people are already asking me about spring marathons. i will make no decisions before my half ironman in november. do what you feel is best.

  47. Heather July 9, 2009 at 10:21 am #

    I don't have any specific advice for you, except for to go with your gut. If thinking about running the full at SF makes you uncomfortable or nervous, then skip it. You have a lot of years of running left to enjoy all sorts of races for all different reasons!

  48. runner26 July 9, 2009 at 12:09 pm #

    As everyone has said, this is a tough decision. I'm sure you'll make the right choice, but I figured I'd offer my thoughts. I think it you're going for Boston, then that should remain your "A" goal and your training should really only focus on that. A marathon, even for fun, is really tough to recover from. If you do decide to run SF, it might be good to really cut back on mileage the following week. Best of luck with this! It's all very exciting ;)

  49. Jamie July 9, 2009 at 12:44 pm #

    I'm late to the game on this post… it is a tough decision that only you can make. really, really weigh the pros and cons of each then go with the gut. You know what is best for you! Good luck and there is no wrong decision!

  50. J July 10, 2009 at 7:18 pm #

    It is a tough choice, im a little behind on the reading of posts so Im not sure anything I say is really worth it now. I think you should go with your gut.

  51. Adam July 12, 2009 at 8:16 pm #

    Of course, there are the caveats of "everyone is different blah blah blah" but I DID run a PR in Fargo while incorporating a marathon in Arkansas as a training run. I say go for it!

  52. Roisin July 14, 2009 at 6:48 am #

    You're a much better runner than me, and I know you could do it if you wanted to. But personally, I wouldn't. No matter how much you say it'll be a training run, you'll want to race it. I kinda look askance at the whole "marathon maniac" concept anyway.

  53. rob horton July 14, 2009 at 7:20 am #

    roisin – "marathon maniacs" might not be for everyone. some can participate in marathons with a more recreational approach and enjoy that 26.2 mile journery without always resorting to race-mode. cheers – maniac 1495

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