Quanity vs. Quality: Trying to PR with Multiple Marathons

Quanity vs. Quality: Trying to PR with Multiple Marathons

2012. What a year. I do not plan on racing anymore this month so in the next few weeks many of my posts will be reflecting on random running/ race stuff that happened this year as well as some of my goals for next year. 

When the year began my marathon PR was a 3:35. My main marathon goal for 2012 was to break 3:20.  I wasn’t sure if I would do it the first time around but I planned on running in 3 different marathons over the course of the year.  I was able to accomplish my 3:20 goal with my first marathon in January and at some point (I don’t even remember when) I signed up for a 4th marathon so I adjusted my goals a little.

I know many people enjoy the challenge of the distance itself.  They are not always out to PR.  They would prefer to run several marathons a year and the time on the clock does not necessarily matter to them.  Huge confession- I am not one of those people.  If I’m going to run a marathon I’m going to be racing.  Yikes- I hope that doesn’t sound too selfish because I don’t mean it to be.  I’m just in a place right now where I want to put it all out there.  I just turned 34 and I know that is not “old” in the running world but I’m no spring chick either.  I spent the majority of my 20’s pregnant and nursing.  If I’m going to shoot for a sub 3 hour marathon then this is the time. For some reason it took me four marathons to realize that I don’t want quantity to get in the way of quality.

Basically my year had two different marathon seasons.  The first contained my winter marathons- Houston (mid January) and Little Rock (beginning of March).  They were spread out by 7 weeks and I must say that I really liked the spacing.  I had time to recover after Houston and also put in a few weeks of training (which included one 20 miler) before the taper.  It was perfect.  The second set was only 4 weeks apart and a little too close for comfort (for me).  D & L was my NYC replacement marathon and I went into the race extremely unprepared.  Don’t get me wrong- I was prepared physically but not mentally for that race and we all know how mental a marathon can be.    There was just a lot of drama surrounding that week and I know the stress got to me.  I registered for D & L just 36 hours before the race and did not have a clue about the course.  I knew based on my training and recent half marathon that I should be able to PR as well as break 3:10.  Unfortunately, I was not as focused as I should have been during this race and I let it slip away.  I was very happy to PR but I knew deep down I could have done better. Twenty-seven days after D & L was St. Jude, my final marathon of the year.  Overall, the race went extremely well until the last few miles when I hit the wall. Fortunately, I had enough time banked and was still able to meet my main goal.  I know I gave it my all and have no regrets about this one. 

Below is a little chart I made of my four marathons this year.  You will notice that the majority of paces were in the 7 minute range.  It took me 11 months to shave off ten minutes and drop 22 seconds per mile, bringing my 3:19 to a 3:09.  If I was able to shave off another 22 seconds per mile next year that would give me a sub 3 hour marathon!  Yes, I know that’s a lot to take off and I know it gets harder the lower your times get but I’m prepared to work for it.

2012 Marathons


Mile
Houston Marathon
January 2012
Little Rock
Marathon
March 2012
D & L Marathon
Nov. 2012
St. Jude Marathon
Dec. 2012
1
7:49
7:27
7:15
6:58
2
7:34
7:12
7:01
7:06
3
7:37
7:19
7:02
6:57
4
7:38
7:16
7:08
6:47
5
7:33
7:25
7:14
6:51
6
7:34
7:26
7:06
7:04
7
7:32
7:24
7:00
7:01
8
7:30
7:22
7:03
7:01
9
7:34
7:12
7:03
7:00
10
7:33
7:17
7:04
7:01
11
7:27
7:27
7:06
6:54
12
7:36
7:17
7:09
6:55
13
7:30
7:11
7:15
6:58
HM
1:39:51
1:37:00
1:33:33
1:32:00
14
7:30
7:31
7:23
6:53
15
7:22
7:42
7:08
7:02
16
7:33
7:18
7:09
7:10
17
7:23
7:13
7:07
7:15
18
7:37
7:12
7:24
7:19
19
7:35
7:21
7:27
7:23
20
7:30
7:26
7:36
7:09
21
7:28
7:35
8:22
7:16
22
7:35
7:16
7:39
7:34
23
7:37
7:18
7:34
7:37
24
7:31
7:31
7:41
7:42
25
7:40
7:45
7:31
7:45
26
7:35
7:47
7:06
8:01
26.2
6:38
7:11
6:50
7:19
Time
3:19:18
3:15:17
3:11:20
3:09:17
Overall Avg.
7:36
7:28
7:18
7:14

Can you PR while running multiple marathons?  Yes, but I think spacing makes a big difference. In my case, the second marathon each time around seemed to take more out of me.   Especially this last time. 

Next year (barring any injuries) I have 3 marathons on my schedule.  In the spring I plan to run the Little Rock Marathon on March 3rd.  Six weeks and one day later is the Boston Marathon on April 15th.  I really want to shoot for something around the 3:05 time range on these but that will mean getting my last 4 miles under control.  Next fall I am going to do a few Half’s and focus on one target marathon– St. Jude.

And now for some random marathon tidbits…

2012 Marathons

Best course- Houston (Runner-up was St. Jude)
Most challenging course- Little Rock (Runner-up was D & L)
Most challenging hill- D & L
Best crowd support- St. Jude
Worst crowd support- D & L
Prettiest course- D & L

Houston Marathon- January 2012
Little Rock Marathon- March 2012

D & L Marathon- November 2012
St. Jude Memphis Marathon- December 2012
 
Do you like running multiple marathons and if so, what is your ideal spacing?

10 thoughts on “Quanity vs. Quality: Trying to PR with Multiple Marathons

  1. You are a beast! Love how much time you have taken off your marathons in one year. Amazing. And I am with you–I will go with quality over quantity any day of the week. So for me, that means no more than 2/year. I am old and need more time to recover than you!

  2. I can not imagine running marathons as close together as you did, I’m still at a stage (and low enough mileage) where a marathon takes a LOT out of me. So impressive that you managed to shave all that time off with 4 marathons this year!
    And now that I’m signed up for Houston, I’m thrilled to see that you ranked it as the best course!

    1. I know what you mean. I feel like they take a lot out of me too but I just don’t realize it until afterwards and I’m wiped out. The 2nd one of a back to back always hits me worse.

      Anyway, I’m SO excited for you and Houston. I LOVED that one. Wish all the courses were that nice!

  3. Love this post and how you put it all together! Sub 3 is right at your fingertips, 2013 is your big year! I ran five marathons in 12 months, November to November – the third and fourth were my worst times ever. I ran my first two of the five like you – four weeks apart. I feel like a lot of people PR on that one that comes on the heels of the first one. I don’t plan on running more than two marathons next year – just because there are not more than two on my radar. I plan on running a lot of halfs and 10ks. If we lived closer, I would LOVE to rock one of those marathons with you!! Can’t wait to see what 2013 brings for you – you are such a strong runner, mind and body – big things coming!!:)

  4. I loved this post and your attitude. You’ve got it right. Now is your time to go for it. I wish that I’d had your motivation when I did my PR at age 36, with a 3:30. I qualified for and I ran Boston. I was thrilled with that at the time and never set another running goal. But now, 22 years later I regret that I settled for a 3:30 and didn’t keep going. Having said that, I’m back running again and I’m determined to give it my all this time and re-qualify for Boston by next year. I have a blog about my “come-back” http://www.runangerun.com Your dramatic improvement is a big inspiration! All the best for 2013

  5. You have had an amazing year, Tia!

    I think that 2 marathons per year is ideal for me at this point. It takes a lot out of me and the training is SO time consuming. I tried training for a May marathon right after I ran one in January 2012, and I got injured, so… I think my next one after this upcoming one in January won’t be until the fall.

    1. That sounds like a good plan. I wish they didn’t take so much out of me but they do! HM’s are the way to go but there is just something addicting about marathons… 🙂

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