Posted by: David Stewart | June 19, 2009

Run a fast race? Or run many of them?

Yesterday, one of my friends sent several of us the following email:

I am getting the bug to sign up for the Portland Marathon and use it as a training run for Cal Intl Marathon in Sacramento in December. Will someone talk some sense? I was only going to do one marathon this year. Is this pride or stupidity talking?

The mail went out to about a dozen people, and most of us chimed in with our various opinions:

  • There is no way you would run a marathon distance as a training run for another marathon, especially if you want to do well in your goal race.
  • If you enjoy running marathons and you don’t care about your finish times and you remain healthy, just run as many as you want. Be a Marathon Maniac!
  • Figure out what you enjoy about running and let that be your guide.

I decided to join in as well, based on my experience of 15 marathons in 16 attempts over the past 11 years. 

Based on analyzing my record of lifetime marathon finishes:

  • The most marathons I have ever run in a 12 month period is 3
  • Each time I have run 3 in a 12 month period, I have always run the third marathon faster than the first.
  • A few years ago, one of my chiropractors told me that "at my age" I should not run more than two marathons a year.

So it seems like I have been successful at running more than two marathons per year, if I want to better my time.  But I’m also being told that it could be a mistake for my health.

For many years, I ran marathons mostly to have a tangible goal hanging out in front of me. If I have a goal of some sort, I’m more motivated to keep running. My recent push for a Boston Marathon qualifying time (also known as a “BQ”) is a short term project I think (which I hope I achieve this year or Deb will likely kill me).

If I do make it to Boston, I’m not sure what my future race pattern will be. Maybe I will go back to running for pure enjoyment and marathoning for a tangible goal. Maybe I will just add donuts to my diet and not worry about it.  Maybe I will take up fly fishing or sky diving and forget about this running thing. Who knows?


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