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question for marathoners / long-distance runners(24 posts)

question for marathoners / long-distance runnersJS Haiku Shop
Jan 7, 2003 6:13 AM
one of my goals for this year (since yesterday, LOL) is a marathon--my first. longest i've ever run is about 5 miles. two years ago i was running several times per week. longest i'm running now is 4 miles at 9-9.5 minutes/mile, on the treadmill, and this is only limited by time. at that pace, when the session ends, i feel as though i could have run indefinintely at 9.5-10 mph, after around 40 minutes on the run.

at the office we have a small workout facility with several treadmills, a set of free weights, and weight machines. i also have a mag trainer and set of free weights (and bench) at home. i've been running 2-3 times per week (mostly treadmill) at 3-4 miles each, including since last weekend a cross-country off-road run series. my weekly schedule includes 1-2 road rides and 1-2 trainer sessions, plus 1 session of strength work.

my questions are:

what advice do you have about fueling while running for extended periods of time? since i've only ever run at most for about 45 minutes, this has not requried me to eat or drink while running. i have, however, done many long rides, and am comfortable eating and drinking on the bike.

also, what observations or lessons learned would you share about running a self-supported marathon distance? the closest in my date range is a couple hundred miles away, and is $80 to register.

and, is 16 weeks, starting from a base of about 10 miles per week, a recipe for disaster, or a realistic plan? i'm not worried about badly suffering, only about injury.

finally, how will the run build-up affect riding? i'm doing the run training over a 16-week period, this week as #1, increasing mileage at or less than about 10% per week. (the plan was thrown together from my understanding of riding up to "longer" distances, not from any websites or book plans.) at the end of week #8 and week #12 i have a 200k bike ride and 300k bike ride (respectively) scheduled. i've done as much as a double century last year, so neither will be a problem as far as fitness, but time in the saddle is important leading into a 300k.

thanks in advance for any input.


btw, i'm not worried about a timely marathon-distance run, only a successful one. getting fast is not a concern.
re: question for marathoners / long-distance runnersmorency
Jan 7, 2003 7:09 AM
best way is not to eat or drink while training, only afterwards, the week before the race you do 2-3 times a 15 miles without eating or drinking, also afterwards as little as possible, on the last training day (3 days before race) you take as much calories as possible (spaghetti-spaghetti-spaghetti). In this way you make it possible for your muscles to stack a lot of energy. One warning, try this in advance because it is possible that you end up having diarea

realistic mileage per week should be at 80 miles a week

riding won't be affected in a bad way (a lot of riders swear with running in the winterperiod as a good alternative(Roger De Vlaeminck in his time, Nico Mattan and all the Planckaerts did it too).
the only problem is that you use slightly different muscles.
re: question for marathoners / long-distance runnersJuanmoretime
Jan 7, 2003 7:47 AM
JS, I have to disagree with the previous poster, I've run 8 marathons and all under 3 hours. Plus I started a marathon training group for my running club 10 years ago and have helped approximately 200 runners complete their first marathon. Forget about solids while running, you may want to carry a gel with you and it will help you out should you hit the wall, bonk. Find out what sports drink you could expect to recieve from the aid stations at the particular marathon you are running and that should be you what you drink while training. This allows your system to get used to that particular sports drink. Get a water bottle carrier, one of the types that straps around your waist. Find out the distance betwwen aid stations in the marathon and caculate your target pace and that will determine how frequent to drink. I.E. Aid station every 2 miles and running at 6 minutes per mile, drink every 12 minutes. Also drink plain water as well as the sports drinks during the marathon. Get off the treadmill and get outside on the roads. Treadmills have cushioned decks and it's just not the same, otherwise the road will trash you during the marathon. If your capable of building your long run up to 20 miles and get in at least two of them, with the last one two weeks out from your marathon, you will get through it OK. TAKE YOUR TIME, run your first marathon and learn what it's all about, race your second if you wish. Going out too fast in a marathon will only lead to not finishing. Marathon training will only compliment your riding provided you don't get into being overtrained.

If your interested in talking live, email me at and send a number where I can contact you and best time to call.

re: question for marathoners / long-distance runnersmorency
Jan 7, 2003 8:04 AM
sorry, but I did not mean not drinking while running your marathon, but the system I was explaining is used by Marleen Renders and was used first by Vincent Rousseau in the 9tees (very succesfull). You must drink high energy drinks while you are racing, but while training, stick to plain water, cheaper AND better!
I used this system a couple of years ago, did not meet "the wall" and ran for my first marathon 2h23m.
also very good training is runing in the mornings without eating before, will help your body to be able to burn fat quickly.
Number one tip -- dring lots!PT
Jan 7, 2003 7:55 AM
Fueling: I can ride a long time at high intensity and drink only a bottle. If I run for an hour, I do much better if I consume a bottle during the run and chug another immediately after the run. That helps with muscle soreness and recovery. For runs over 90 minutes, I use a gel pack every 30 to 45 minutes. Other than the greater need for fluids, fueling is much like cycling. On long runs, I'll stash bottles at likely points or run a route that takes me back by my office, home, or bike.

Distance running from a cyclists perspective: IMHO, a cyclist can run a marathon on less total running mileage than Runners World would have you believe. We're generally a fit lot, but we need to run enough to get the muscles/joints into shape to take the beating. I've never gone over 40 miles a week in training and have done several marathons (although only one organized marathon) and lots of distance trail races. Consequently, IMO your 26 week plan is realistic. I also like that you have access to weights -- I think that working on your upper body with light weights really helps running. If your upper body doesn't get tired so easily, everything about running will be easier.

Running effects on riding: If I have enough time to ride as much as I want, I'm at my fastest. If I don't have enough time to ride as much as I want, I try and split my training efforts between running and riding and I find my riding shape to be _almost_ as good as when I can ride a lot.

My forte is long distance mtb races. One of my best races (over 8 hours in the saddle) came within a month of my marathon date. I think that running and riding are very compatible -- if nothing else, running will take off a few extra pounds and help you in toughening up for climbing.

Good luck and have fun.
Helpful hints for hopeful heroes...Asphalt Addict
Jan 7, 2003 7:57 AM
It's great that you want to challenge yourself but I would highly recommend that you lower your sights to a 10k before you take on the marathon. I'm speaking from the experience of running since 1974. Go to the runner's world website or and get some serious training hints. Good luck! AA
re: question for marathoners / long-distance runnersPEDDLEFOOT
Jan 7, 2003 8:09 AM
I've trained and completed several marathons and from what you've described I think you will need to get your weekly miles to at least 20-25 with you long run at 10 before you start a 16 week program.

The problem won't be as much cardio fitness for you as muscular endurance.You need to condition your muscles and joints to the stress and pounding that they take from running long distances.Running outside is completely differant than on a treadmill.Your cardio system adapts to the trainig quicker than your legs will.Thats why you need to slowly increase your distaces even though you might think you can go further without getting tired.

Your main focus should be the long run.If you want to successfully complete the marathon and aren't concerned with your time then don't do too much interval or speed work.Focus more on some hill training only after you have established a base of 25-30 miles a week.

Keep incrementing your weekly miles and long run no more than 10% and make sure that you get some rest and recovery days in there.The legs need alot more recovery from running than from cycling.You should also decrease your weekly miles every fourth week to allow your body to recover.Then start increaseing the miles again.Your longest run in training should be around 20 miles.You may want to do 2 or 3 of those but get at least 1 in.

If you need to eat and I would suggest you do then my suggestion would be gells.They digest quickly and store easy.Get yourself a water belt that will hold a bottle and has pockets for gel packets.Use this in your training so you are comfortable with it.It takes a little time to adjust to the belt around your waist but you will get used to it.

Lastly remember to taper off the final two weeks before you run the marathon.You may feel as though you need to keep running up to the last week but that will do more harm than good.By that time you will be ready but your body will need the time to heal and recover.Get shoes from a running specialist store and tell them what you are going to do.They should be knowledable enough to get you the right shoe for your foot and stride.Use a HR monitor and keep your HR around 65-75% on your long runs.

Godd luck.If you need a detailed training program try RunnersWorld website.They have many for all types of runners.
re: marathon questionsdzrider
Jan 7, 2003 8:13 AM
You'll need far less than 80 miles per week to finish a marathon. Your cycling counts and there's no reason to give up riding altogether while you train. 16 weeks should be plenty of time to finish as long as you take your time in the race. I recommend doing a long run every weekend and adding 15 or 20 minutes to the length of the long run every other weekend.

An 80 dollar marathon should not be self-supported unless you choose it to be. You can reasonably expect aid stations every 2 or 3 miles. I'd carry a small water bottle and a gel bottle in case you need something immediately, but count on the aid stations for most of what you need.

Get off the tread mill and out on the roads. In part you need to toughen up your feet and get used to a crowned road surface. You also need to learn to run softly if you want to survive on the pavement. The treadmill is much less fun. Pick interesting and challenging places to run and go out and enjoy it.

It shouldn't hurt your cycling unless you're trying to win races. For randonees I find that fitness, patience, and mental toughness are the same running an ultra or riding one. I hope to do a 50k road run in April, a trail marathon June 1 and ride Quadzilla this year. We'll see if I'm full of shite.
clarification...JS Haiku Shop
Jan 7, 2003 8:20 AM
thanks. clarification: i'm considering running a self-supported/solo marathon distance on the road instead of driving 2.5 hours and paying $80 for entry fees. i'm sure i could get friends or family to meet at select times/points with supplies for refueling, if necessary.

thanks again for the info!
Jan 7, 2003 8:41 AM
If youre doing it alone and can get friends or familly for support along the way that would be very helpful.I would suggest you try to arrange that.26 miles solo is along time!!

From what I've read in the responses you are getting alot of good information.
A couple of additional points...retro
Jan 7, 2003 8:45 AM
I'm not sure I agree that you'll need "far less than 80 miles per week" to finish. The reason I STOPPED running marathons, which I loved, was that the training took so much time. The old rule used to be that your "collapse point" was one-third of your weekly mileage, which would put you close to 80. It worked for me for nearly 15 years.
I do agree that you need to get off the treadmill and get on the road--you can run in almost any weather, unlike cycling. It may be too slippery, but unless you're in Minnesota I don't think it ever gets too cold.
As for a "self-supported" marathon, that's no big deal--I've done hundreds of training runs in the 20-mile range. If you're not concerned about speed (and you shouldn't be, the first time), once you're in shape for 20 at a moderate pace, you just slow down a few seconds per mile and run an extra 45 minutes....
We aren't all the same.dzrider
Jan 7, 2003 9:01 AM
I doubt that I've ever had a 60 mile training week. I've finished quite a few marathons on roads and trails and a few ultras - none of them very fast. De-emphasizing speed dramatically changes the nature of long distance running. The mental ability to stay out there for a long damned time without being demoralized becomes more important than the number and quality of training miles.

For an unsupported, solo marathon I'd get a CamelBak that fits like a fanny pack. I can't remember the product name but it holds 45 ozs. I would plan my route to include convenience stores. The same plan I use for a long training ride.
re: question for marathoners / long-distance runnerstarwheel
Jan 7, 2003 8:47 AM
Running used to be my primary exercise, with cycling and swimming for cross training. I had to quit running about 10 years ago due to foot injuries but still miss it. There's no better way to get cardio exercise in a short period of time.

I only ran one marathon about 20 years ago, so take my advice for what it's worth. I was able to complete that marathon at a fairly decent pace (3:26) despite only running about 40-50 miles a week through vigorous cross-training by cycling and swimming on my off days. Cycling helps build your quads, which are very important in distant running. Swimming helps keep you loose, and cured a problem I was having with shin splints.

Most of my daily runs were in the 4-6 mile range, but I did at least one long run every week while training for the marathon. I gradually increased the distance of my long runs up to about 18-20 miles, and then tapered off a couple weeks before the race. During the race, I withstood the temptation to start out fast, but just tried to maintain a pace I felt I could sustain. I finished with no problem and still had some kick near the end.

Back in the days when I ran, there was not as much awareness about fluids, energy drinks, energy bars, etc. (or I was just clueless) I can't believe the distances I routinely ran with little or no water, and I never ate during runs or shortly beforehand. Not that I would recommend this to anyone. My negligence may have contributed to developing a kidney stone in later life. Anyway, if I were you, I would buy a nice belt pack that holds water bottles, and get used to running with a good supply of water and perhaps some gel packs and energy bars.

Don't overdo it while training. It's better to postpone your goal a few months than to sustain an injury that could keep you off bike.
re: question for marathoners / long-distance runnersKEN2
Jan 7, 2003 9:04 AM
Unless you're a social recluse, I'd recommend paying the $$$ and joining a sponsored marathon. I've done 5 marathons, and in training I've done up to 22-23 miles, and the marathon is much more enjoyable with all the cameraderie and hoopla, plus most announce your name as you finish, give out a medal and race tee shirt, etc.

You do need to commit to a hotel room the night before, but if family support can come they'll enjoy it as a holiday too, rather than just driving around the countryside feeding and watering you solo.
A marathon is a 10K after running 20 miles...DINOSAUR
Jan 7, 2003 9:36 AM
And the last six miles will hurt. I started running back in the Jim Fixx running boom days. But I started at the wrong end. I started running marathons and worked my way down to 10K's. I should have done vice versa. You should run a bunch of 10K's then do a couple of half marathons before attempting a full marathon. And I'm talking about just finishing and not a fast pace.

You already have a bunch of good advice, but take heed that running is an impact sport and it will pound the heck out of your joints.

But if you must, work on that long run one day a week of around 20 miles. It's like riding a century, you can't go the full distance if you aren't used to running for that length of time.

Oh, wear good shoes and STRETCH..

Wish I could still run, but cycling is my pleasure in pain now....
re: question for marathoners / long-distance runnersbrurider
Jan 7, 2003 9:45 AM
FWIW, I have done 2, both organized runs (Pittsburg '86 & York-Lancaster '96). One recommendation is to do an organized run, the crowds and camaradarie are great. I used Geoff Galloways book as a guide. Basically after building up a base, you do a long run every other week, the long run getting longer by two miles until you reach marathon distance. In between long runs, speedwork (ideally) should be addressed. My goal was 4 hours, did both in about 4:30, due to heat, getting older (33 in '86, 43 in '96), and maybe nutrional ignorance and maybe poor genetics.

In hindsight, I think I ran my race two weeks before the event when I did the long run at the beginning of tapering off. If I ever do another (doubtful) I would make the race my longest run. Another thing I would change would take some GU gel packs with me. Last June, on a 178 mile ride, that goo was like Popeye's spinach for me when my bloodsugar (I suppose) was crashing. The GU goo really brought my legs back to life, and that with 48 more miles to go.

The nutrional aspects of endurance events is a tough part of the deal. It takes time to know what works with you and what doesn't, and hopefully those concerns are resolved before the event. Like my Double Century coach emphasized, the key is PACING, PACING,PACING. And as Clint said, a man has to know his limitations. Train well, run within your means, and enjoy it as much as anyone can doing such a crazy thing.
I've run four, but the last one was '84 or so.Spoke Wrench
Jan 7, 2003 10:23 AM
If you can run 5 miles withoug stopping, you can run 10. If you can run 10 miles without stopping, you can do 15. Somewhere between 15 and 20 miles, the rules change. If you are planning to run 26 miles or farther, I'd suggest doing a sponsored event because the other people will help to carry you through the last 6 miles.

I think that there are two components to running that far. The first is aerobic conditioning. I think that bicycling will contribute to your aerobic training. The second is the pounding that your legs and ankles take when you run. Bicycling won't help that part. I think that as long as your 16 week program includes progressively longer runs of up to 20 miles, you should be able to complete your marathon.
Maybe you should re-think the timing of this.MB1
Jan 7, 2003 11:25 AM
Last month you listed all your cycling goals for 2003. It was a very ambitious list.

Training and running in a marathon will have many unknown and unknowable effects on your cycling(and likely not good).

I'm not saying you should not do it, but I suggest you hold off until the fall (after the cycling season). Don't rush into it and build up your running really gradually throughout the year. Then do a nice long run in the late fall/early winter.

BTW Miss M and I have both run Marathons and gave it up long ago. All of our running friends have had major lost time injuries. Our cycling friends rarely do.
LOL!!!JS Haiku Shop
Jan 7, 2003 12:00 PM
for a high-mileage junkie, you're consistently (and surprisingly) my "voice of reason".

MB1 "double century riders: your longest pre-200 training ride?.." 8/19/02 8:29am

JS Haiku Shop "Yo, E-Dog! howzabout a first double century ride report? nm" 9/9/02 6:42am

putting all my positive energy toward "no running injury". hoping running like i'm chased (not "chaste", mind you) and sitting on a trainer like i'm trying to hatch an egg will suffice for the brevet series. getting my active goals accomplished early in the year. michelin axial kevlars, $19 each. thousand yard stare: priceless.

"Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will."

hasta la rasta,

re: question for marathoners / long-distance runnersdirthersh
Jan 7, 2003 11:30 AM
I'm kinda in the same boat. I'd like to do a duathalon in June. 56 mile ride and a 13 mile run-give or take.It would be cool to train with someone with the same goals. If anyone lives in the Seattle area and would be interested, e-mail me and maybe we can work something out.
re: Join a training group such as "Team in Training"sam-g
Jan 7, 2003 12:38 PM
Having run 6 marathons, the most recent in May '02 at age 52 in 3:47, I wholeheartedly recommend the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's "Team in Training". All your concerns about fueling, water stops, weekly milage and the all important "long run" will be addressed by their program. They can set you up with a training group at your approximate pace for the long run which is essential for your mental sanity once you pass the one hour mark. Plus the biggest benefit is the self satisfaction that comes from training and fund raising for a worhty cause.

Initially, my biggest concern was the fund raising, however the $1200 fund raising goal for the Cincy Flying Pig Marathon was fairly easy to meet unless you're a total hermit. TNT has chapters in most major cities, if not check out other organizations such as the American Heart Association or Juvenile Diabeties.

Good Luck.

Sam G
Training Plan and AdviceMisJG
Jan 7, 2003 12:41 PM
Go to scroll down until you see "Marathon Training Plans" and you can find Hal's plans from there (you'll probably want the "Novice" plan).
Eating and drinking advice: Don't wait until race day to try something new. Use what you plan to use in the race when training. I eat pop-tarts (works for me) in the morning before long runs and the marathon and take in a gel every 30 - 45 minutes. I drink half-strength gatorade while running. Try for a water bottle an hour. For long training runs, nothing beats a water bottle holder you wear around your waist. I have one that holds two bottles and has pockets for gels, bars, whatever. On Race-day, the belt is optional as there will be water/energy drink on the course, but if you want to carry your gels, figure out how to do it in training.
Don't wear new shoes!! Run in them for at least a month before the race. Double bow your laces!!
There's a lot to a marathon. Don't be afraid to cry when you cross the finish line (like you'll be able to stop), it's a life changing experience.
Twenty milers, and a warning.tma
Jan 7, 2003 3:50 PM
(1) Like everybody said, don't train very much on the treadmill, you don't use your muscles like on the road. You also need to learn how to run with a very light, quick step basically a high speed shuffle and the treadmill is no help.
(2) Better than a water bottle belt is a Camelback like deal. I run with a 50 ouncer full of whatever on the long runs. The belt bounces and for me, screws up the weight distribution, the pack I forget is even there.
(3) I'd be a little concerned about 16 weeks starting from 10 mile weeks. Running has footstrikes and your body has to get used to it. Your cycling fitness will easily make you do more than your body can take in the jarring. Plus, and this sounds crazy, you need to learn how to run efficiently! A good running stride is learned, it just comes from practice.
(4) Absolutely key is that you can go for three hour runs, however far that is. That's about the top end for us recreational types in training: 22-23 miles or three hours. If I can do four or five weeks with one every weekend I know I'm ready. Typically, my long weeks were 55 miles or so with a 20 miler in there.
(5) Give yourself time to taper. You'll gain some weight as you rebuild tired legs and pack in energy. Don't worry. It'll all go on race day.
wowJS Haiku Shop
Jan 8, 2003 6:10 AM
way more feedback than i even imagined. thanks very very much, all, for the input. much to consider!

of course i'll be back with more questions, or a run report.

thanks again...this is all my asked--and unasked--questions answered!