Thoughts on Strategy for my Next Marathon

The first time I ran a marathon (Oct. 2016), it was about completion. Since I have one marathon experience under my belt, the goal this time around is to shave some time off. The question is: how much? Do I want to focus on JUST getting that BQ or do I want to try and really push it and go for a giant PB? 

I have had a good start to the year in the races I’ve participated in, 3 PB’s in different distances. My training has been consistent and my workouts have been strong. I think that sets me up well for the Eugene Marathon. The concern with running a much faster marathon is this notion of “blowing up” that other runners talk about. I have not experienced this myself, and I am not sure I want to take the chance of having it happen. 

If I were to plan on running fast and did end up “blowing up”, my BQ might be at stake. I don’t think I want to risk that. At the same time I think, sometimes you have to push yourself outside your comfort zone to get the results you are capable of. I do believe that to be true, I am just unsure of whether this is the race for that. 

Sometimes I wonder if expecting a BQ in my second marathon is a tall order. The reason I expect it is that I have worked hard and my first marathon wasn’t far off at all (3:35:16). I know I am more than capable of taking off the few requisite minutes to qualify and have a buffer. But I have been reading Long Road to Boston and the author felt prepared on many occasions but circumstances arose on each marathon and it took him 21 tries to BQ. I don’t like to think there’s that little control over the situation. I have commited to training, eating well, practicing race fuelling, and recovering, but still, there seems to be this sense of “anything can happen in a marathon”.

There is exactly one month until race day, I plan to finish up the last bit of this training cycle strong and really embrace the taper. I still have time to decide how I want to race this event. So for now, I’ll keep doing what I’ve been doing and closer to race day make a decision taking into account the weather and anything else that might impact my race. 

Have you ever “blown up” in a race? What happened?   

2 thoughts on “Thoughts on Strategy for my Next Marathon

  1. I had a nasty cold when I ran the Forest City Marathon in London, Ontario in 1998. My sinuses were plugged and I felt miserable. I’d been enthusiastically training so hard after my back-to-back October and November marathons of the year prior and felt strong for this Spring marathon, my 5th. And it was Mother’s Day and my birthday. Part of the course along the river had been flooded out by rainfall, so there was a last minute course deviation, but the rain had stopped and it was a brilliant day. I used the water stations to helped me down the gels I carried in my flopping fanny pack, but not much more than that. My race unfolded as I’d hoped until about 4 or 5 kilometres from the finish at the University of Western Ontario’s stadium. I was running on a trail beside a creek when I became dizzy and gelatin-legged. Staggering to a stop, I sat on a large rock with my head between my knees, listening to the feet of runners passing by. Under normal running circumstances, I’m either amused or annoyed by encouragement-intending cries of “You can do it!” and “You’re almost there!”, but staring at the damp matted grass at my feet, these words from passing runners got me standing up and then running. I ran and then ran some more, getting faster with each kilometre and entered the stadium sprinting in at 3:28:28. I blew up but not out of the race, and got a PB.

    There is a fine line between focussing on the goal and focussing on the potential roadblocks; the difference will determine the outcome you want. Anything can happen in a marathon but only you decides whether anything will stop you from succeeding.


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