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1st Marathon Training Plan - Taper length differences

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1st Marathon Training Plan - Taper length differences

Post  Stephanie on Sat Feb 18, 2012 12:21 pm

So... it looks like I caught 'a bug' from my half marathon back in January and I registered to run my first marathon this fall... Twin Cities. Very Happy I have a minimum of 2 more halfs this May & June, and I am looking at a few options for training programs. I would love your input on which one to pick.

I am running 5 times a week and my long runs are around 12 miles right now. For my next half in May the plan I am following will keep my long runs between 12-14 miles. What that means is that after my half in June my mileage will easily fit into about week 4-8 of most beginner & some intermediate plans I have been looking at.

One difference I have noticed between plans is the taper. I think I have narrowed my choices down to 2 plans, and the final weeks are as follows:
Plan 1: 20, 12, 8, marathon -> 3 week taper
Plan 2: 22-23, 12, 14, 10, marathon -> 4 week taper

Thoughts? Recommendations? Experiences with different taper lengths?
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Re: 1st Marathon Training Plan - Taper length differences

Post  mul21 on Sat Feb 18, 2012 2:54 pm

3 week taper at most. A lot of the faster folks around here are using 2 week tapers and I'm on the fence as to which I think is best. Don't do your last 20 miler any more than 3 weeks out or you may end up feeling stale. I know even on a 3 week taper I start getting antsy with a week to go until the marathon because I've cut mileage so much. I can't even imagine how nutty I'd be if I went 4 weeks,
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Re: 1st Marathon Training Plan - Taper length differences

Post  Michael Enright on Sat Feb 18, 2012 3:28 pm

I've done two week tapers and three week tapers, and both were fine. Can't fathom doing a four week taper.
I think for your first race, I'd tend toward the longer taper.
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Re: 1st Marathon Training Plan - Taper length differences

Post  Chris Coleman on Sat Feb 18, 2012 3:34 pm

Four weeks seems too much. I have only run two marathons, but was happier with two weeks than with three.
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Re: 1st Marathon Training Plan - Taper length differences

Post  Michele "1L" Keane on Sat Feb 18, 2012 4:41 pm

I guess Jim thinks I'm a faster folk as I use a 2 wk taper; however, for your first marathon, I would use a 3 week taper and honestly, I would not venture beyond the 20 mile mark for a long run. Your main goal should be to "Finish standing up and smiling" and the rest is just background noise. Obviously, we all like to have time goals, but you will have only run a few half marathons and I certainly do not want you to a) get hurt and/or b) hate your experience so much you quit running. The goal of your 2nd marathon should be to work on "bettering" the first.

Others here may disagree but I do train a lot of first timers and like I said above, your goal first and foremost is to finish happy and loving running. (Now if you were an elite it might be different, but even the elite runners, especially those moving up in distances make mistakes in training and running marathon races. Many have goals that they think they should attain but do not, and many even get injured.)

Twin Cities is a great race, and I'm very excited for you. Based on that we need a Stephanie blog to keep our 2 cents in your face Wink
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Re: 1st Marathon Training Plan - Taper length differences

Post  JohnP on Sat Feb 18, 2012 4:42 pm

I too can't imagine a 4 week taper. Taper is more than just the running schedule. It's final planning, extra rest, preparation, mindset, etc. I think 4 weeks is too long for all that and 3 weeks is good both physically and mentally.
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Re: 1st Marathon Training Plan - Taper length differences

Post  carleenp on Sat Feb 18, 2012 5:04 pm

Do plan one. 3 weeks is fine and there is no need to run over 20 for a long run, especially for a first marathon.
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Re: 1st Marathon Training Plan - Taper length differences

Post  Mike MacLellan on Sat Feb 18, 2012 7:20 pm

Carleen summarized the sentiment of the thread, and I'm +1'ing that.
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Re: 1st Marathon Training Plan - Taper length differences

Post  Stephanie on Sat Feb 18, 2012 9:03 pm

Sounds like a 3 week taper is the way to go. I wasn't sure if Plan 2 was truly a 4 week taper with the mileage going back up to 14 miles but I'm glad I ran this past you all. Thanks to everyone for their input!!

Michele "1L" Keane wrote:I guess Jim thinks I'm a faster folk as I use a 2 wk taper; however, for your first marathon, I would use a 3 week taper and honestly, I would not venture beyond the 20 mile mark for a long run. Your main goal should be to "Finish standing up and smiling" and the rest is just background noise. Obviously, we all like to have time goals, but you will have only run a few half marathons and I certainly do not want you to a) get hurt and/or b) hate your experience so much you quit running. The goal of your 2nd marathon should be to work on "bettering" the first.

Others here may disagree but I do train a lot of first timers and like I said above, your goal first and foremost is to finish happy and loving running. (Now if you were an elite it might be different, but even the elite runners, especially those moving up in distances make mistakes in training and running marathon races. Many have goals that they think they should attain but do not, and many even get injured.)
I definitely want to finish my first marathon smiling!! One thing I found about a lot of the beginner half marathon plans out there was that there was only one, maybe 2 10 milers and then it was race time. I am very glad I made my training program longer so that I could put in several 10 milers and a few 11 & 12's. I think this made my first half much more enjoyable. I was wondering if this approach would also apply to the marathon but based on what everyone has said I will keep my longest at 20 miles. Would I benefit from doing a couple of 20 milers spread out towards the end of my program but before a 3 week taper? I have time to play with extending a program but if I am playing with fire I will behave myself.

Michele "1L" Keane wrote:Twin Cities is a great race, and I'm very excited for you. Based on that we need a Stephanie blog to keep our 2 cents in your face Wink
Thanks Michele! I am pretty excited too... and hopeful! I may just be able to be talked into a blog once my halfs are finished and I formally enter marathon training. Stay tuned... Smile
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Re: 1st Marathon Training Plan - Taper length differences

Post  Julie on Sat Feb 18, 2012 9:15 pm

I agree with Michele, max out at 20 miles and have a 3 week taper. And plan to keep your brain busy the 2 weeks before, especially, to keep from being too "taper mad." So post here every few minutes and pick up a forgotten hobby or something.

Exciting times! I ran Twin Cities Marathon in 2008 with my husband (his only marathon). I hope you have fun!
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Re: 1st Marathon Training Plan - Taper length differences

Post  ounce on Sun Feb 19, 2012 12:03 am

My recommendation would be to do the 20 miles, as long as one is spending 85% of the anticipated finishing time doing running. This would apply to runners expecting to have a finishing time near the course cut off time.
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Re: 1st Marathon Training Plan - Taper length differences

Post  Michele "1L" Keane on Sun Feb 19, 2012 9:56 am

Again, Stephanie, my first gut reaction concerning multiple 20 milers for your first marathon is "no". However, I think you need to play this by ear and see how the Spring races and training goes. We all like to put the cart before the horse, but in your case, you have us, and although our opinions may differ with experience, that is why we are here. I believe a program like one of Hal's Intermediate ones incorporate more than one 20 miler, and I think that is where you should be - training with a program like that, but again, since I never had all this advice to digest back then, I would err on the cautious side in the beginning. I also believe that you may have had an injury issue in the past - am I correct there?
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Re: 1st Marathon Training Plan - Taper length differences

Post  Stephanie on Sun Feb 19, 2012 11:42 am

Julie wrote:I agree with Michele, max out at 20 miles and have a 3 week taper. And plan to keep your brain busy the 2 weeks before, especially, to keep from being too "taper mad." So post here every few minutes and pick up a forgotten hobby or something.

Exciting times! I ran Twin Cities Marathon in 2008 with my husband (his only marathon). I hope you have fun!
Hahaha I look forward to taper madness Julie... good advice on keeping myself busy.

ounce wrote:My recommendation would be to do the 20 miles, as long as one is spending 85% of the anticipated finishing time doing running. This would apply to runners expecting to have a finishing time near the course cut off time.
Sounds like it comes down to time on my legs. I will cap things at 20 miles for sure!

Michele "1L Keane wrote:Again, Stephanie, my first gut reaction concerning multiple 20 milers for your first marathon is "no". However, I think you need to play this by ear and see how the Spring races and training goes. We all like to put the cart before the horse, but in your case, you have us, and although our opinions may differ with experience, that is why we are here. I believe a program like one of Hal's Intermediate ones incorporate more than one 20 miler, and I think that is where you should be - training with a program like that, but again, since I never had all this advice to digest back then, I would err on the cautious side in the beginning. I also believe that you may have had an injury issue in the past - am I correct there?
Gut reactions are good and they are normally right. I will definitely play things by ear this Spring. And yes, there was an injury in the past - a really bad one - I lost a year of running, so I don't ever want to go through that again!! I read Hudson's 'Adaptive Running' awhile back and it totally changed my mindset about following training plans. The biggest lesson I took from it was the next run is determined by how you felt after the one you just finished. It's a healthy way to look at plans instead of thinking you are bound to the schedule.
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Re: 1st Marathon Training Plan - Taper length differences

Post  mountandog on Sun Feb 19, 2012 9:48 pm

Stephanie wrote:
Julie wrote:I agree with Michele, max out at 20 miles and have a 3 week taper. And plan to keep your brain busy the 2 weeks before, especially, to keep from being too "taper mad." So post here every few minutes and pick up a forgotten hobby or something.

Exciting times! I ran Twin Cities Marathon in 2008 with my husband (his only marathon). I hope you have fun!
Hahaha I look forward to taper madness Julie... good advice on keeping myself busy.

ounce wrote:My recommendation would be to do the 20 miles, as long as one is spending 85% of the anticipated finishing time doing running. This would apply to runners expecting to have a finishing time near the course cut off time.
Sounds like it comes down to time on my legs. I will cap things at 20 miles for sure!

Michele "1L Keane wrote:Again, Stephanie, my first gut reaction concerning multiple 20 milers for your first marathon is "no". However, I think you need to play this by ear and see how the Spring races and training goes. We all like to put the cart before the horse, but in your case, you have us, and although our opinions may differ with experience, that is why we are here. I believe a program like one of Hal's Intermediate ones incorporate more than one 20 miler, and I think that is where you should be - training with a program like that, but again, since I never had all this advice to digest back then, I would err on the cautious side in the beginning. I also believe that you may have had an injury issue in the past - am I correct there?
Gut reactions are good and they are normally right. I will definitely play things by ear this Spring. And yes, there was an injury in the past - a really bad one - I lost a year of running, so I don't ever want to go through that again!! I read Hudson's 'Adaptive Running' awhile back and it totally changed my mindset about following training plans. The biggest lesson I took from it was the next run is determined by how you felt after the one you just finished. It's a healthy way to look at plans instead of thinking you are bound to the schedule.

Hmmmmmmmm Stephanie. From one Canuck to another. I find this whole thread interesting because one's first marathon is just so exploratory. Yes you can follow great advice and still have a tough experience or go it more random and succeed. I ran 2 (20s) and 1 (22) before my first marathon following a Bart Yasso Intermediate plan, didn't know much about what I was doing and qualified for Boston. My daughter followed a much less intense Hal plan while going to school and qualified as well. I think following a plan is great because most of them consider recovery time between runs, speed work, total miles, variety vs. boredom, etc., which I could never have done at the time, and if you can stick to them great. I also agree with Hudson that you have to be flexible and take what your body can give you.

I say follow a plan, but adapt when your body or senses tell you to. Enjoy the ride and the process. You only get one first time. Smile
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Re: 1st Marathon Training Plan - Taper length differences

Post  Chris M on Sun Feb 19, 2012 10:55 pm

I'm siding with the more conservative on here who are recommending only one 20 and certainly nothing longer than that for your first. I did one and only one 20 before my first and did a 3 week taper. I was really really ready and then stupidly tried to lower my goal by 10+ minutes during a "feels so good" first half of the race and hit the wall hard late so DON'T do that! Despite all of that, I was still smiling at the finish and got hooked on trying to get more aggressive with plans for future marathons. But for that first one:

- I would do one and only one 20 miler 4 weeks out from the race. Slow slow slow on that run. Getting 20 done is the ONLY goal.

- I would then have a longish (16?) final weekend run pre-taper where the last 4 are at desired race race. That's 3 weeks out from race day and the end of a pretty big mileage block of 2 weeks of peak with that 20 and 16 (with fast finish) being the big runs.

- Then 3 week taper and hit the starting line fresh and really ready to enjoy it all the way through the race

- DO NOT lower your time goal during the taper or (even worse) during the race itself when you are feeling great.
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Re: 1st Marathon Training Plan - Taper length differences

Post  Admin on Sun Feb 19, 2012 11:08 pm

Plan 1 works if your average weekly mileage is in the 40s or below.

Plan 2 works if your average weekly mileage is 50s or above.

Honestly, that close to the marathon there is little you can do that will REALLY HELP YOU on race day, and a lot you can do that can REALLY HURT YOU on race day. If you're lower mileage, then go conservative with 20 and a 3 week taper. If you're higher mileage, then go with a 22 miler and a 4 week taper (though I'm not a fan of 4 week tapers... ever).

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Re: 1st Marathon Training Plan - Taper length differences

Post  Stephanie on Tue Feb 21, 2012 4:33 pm

mountandog wrote:Hmmmmmmmm Stephanie. From one Canuck to another. I find this whole thread interesting because one's first marathon is just so exploratory. Yes you can follow great advice and still have a tough experience or go it more random and succeed. I ran 2 (20s) and 1 (22) before my first marathon following a Bart Yasso Intermediate plan, didn't know much about what I was doing and qualified for Boston. My daughter followed a much less intense Hal plan while going to school and qualified as well. I think following a plan is great because most of them consider recovery time between runs, speed work, total miles, variety vs. boredom, etc., which I could never have done at the time, and if you can stick to them great. I also agree with Hudson that you have to be flexible and take what your body can give you.

I say follow a plan, but adapt when your body or senses tell you to. Enjoy the ride and the process. You only get one first time. Smile
Sounds like there are some good genes in your family my fellow Canuck!!! I plan on erring on the side of caution and will most likely follow Hal's Intermediate 1 or one of his Novice plans if my Spring doesn't go as well as I hope it will.

Chris M wrote:I'm siding with the more conservative on here who are recommending only one 20 and certainly nothing longer than that for your first. I did one and only one 20 before my first and did a 3 week taper. I was really really ready and then stupidly tried to lower my goal by 10+ minutes during a "feels so good" first half of the race and hit the wall hard late so DON'T do that! Despite all of that, I was still smiling at the finish and got hooked on trying to get more aggressive with plans for future marathons. But for that first one:

- I would do one and only one 20 miler 4 weeks out from the race. Slow slow slow on that run. Getting 20 done is the ONLY goal.

- I would then have a longish (16?) final weekend run pre-taper where the last 4 are at desired race race. That's 3 weeks out from race day and the end of a pretty big mileage block of 2 weeks of peak with that 20 and 16 (with fast finish) being the big runs.

- Then 3 week taper and hit the starting line fresh and really ready to enjoy it all the way through the race

- DO NOT lower your time goal during the taper or (even worse) during the race itself when you are feeling great.
Gotcha! Good tips!! I will try not the make the mistake you did but it's probably human nature to want to pick things up like you did. I also think I will be printing this thread out so I have these key tips in plain view when it comes time to implement these long runs. Smile It's nice to be able to learn from the mistake of others.

Mr MattM wrote:Plan 1 works if your average weekly mileage is in the 40s or below.

Plan 2 works if your average weekly mileage is 50s or above.

Honestly, that close to the marathon there is little you can do that will REALLY HELP YOU on race day, and a lot you can do that can REALLY HURT YOU on race day. If you're lower mileage, then go conservative with 20 and a 3 week taper. If you're higher mileage, then go with a 22 miler and a 4 week taper (though I'm not a fan of 4 week tapers... ever).
I have a feeling I will be on the lower mileage side of things and if I creep into 50+ miles by early summer, I will reassess the plans then. Thanks for pointing this out - it seems like a reasonable guideline to follow.
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Re: 1st Marathon Training Plan - Taper length differences

Post  Jerry on Wed Feb 22, 2012 11:10 am

3 weeks.
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Re: 1st Marathon Training Plan - Taper length differences

Post  T Miller on Wed Feb 22, 2012 11:14 am

Jerry wrote:3 weeks.

+1
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Re: 1st Marathon Training Plan - Taper length differences

Post  Ben Z on Thu Feb 23, 2012 6:24 pm

I'll say this one and only one time: I agree with Jerry
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Re: 1st Marathon Training Plan - Taper length differences

Post  Kenny B. on Thu Feb 23, 2012 8:26 pm

Ive done 3 weeks

20 17 12 marathon

20 14 10 marathon (Did my best with this taper)
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Re: 1st Marathon Training Plan - Taper length differences

Post  Stephanie on Fri Feb 24, 2012 4:25 pm

T Miller wrote:
Jerry wrote:3 weeks.

+1

Ben Z wrote:I'll say this one and only one time: I agree with Jerry
Hahaha Laughing

Kenny B. wrote:Ive done 3 weeks

20 17 12 marathon

20 14 10 marathon (Did my best with this taper)
Nice! Good to know!
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