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Least amount of training for a marathon?

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Least amount of training for a marathon?

Post  JohnP on Mon Feb 11, 2013 5:22 pm

What is the least amount of training you have done to run a marathon? (In terms of number of weeks)

Some background: I run 2-3 marathons a year and have been in pretty good shape, but overdid it last year. This resulted in an 11 week rest/recovery phase from mid-November till last week. I've run 5 times in the past week without the pain or swelling I had before so I think things may be OK. In these five runs, I've been pleasantly surprised that while I have lost fitness, it is not a lot (no long runs though, I'm sure I lost there).

So my thoughts are turning to a marathon I had written off - Boston. Can I train enough in the next nine weeks to run it? Since you can't defer, it's use it or lose it, so I'm thinking of using it. What advice do you have?
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Re: Least amount of training for a marathon?

Post  Ben Z on Mon Feb 11, 2013 5:31 pm

@JohnP wrote:What is the least amount of training you have done to run a marathon? (In terms of number of weeks)

Some background: I run 2-3 marathons a year and have been in pretty good shape, but overdid it last year. This resulted in an 11 week rest/recovery phase from mid-November till last week. I've run 5 times in the past week without the pain or swelling I had before so I think things may be OK. In these five runs, I've been pleasantly surprised that while I have lost fitness, it is not a lot (no long runs though, I'm sure I lost there).

So my thoughts are turning to a marathon I had written off - Boston. Can I train enough in the next nine weeks to run it? Since you can't defer, it's use it or lose it, so I'm thinking of using it. What advice do you have?

I'm glad you said 'run it' John. With your background you can absolutely run it, probably pretty well, and finish it. But i think it would be tough to try and PR. Stranger things have happened but I still feel that a 12+ week buildup is necessary for anyone trying to PR. Unless you are coming off a phase where you trained for a half or an ultra.

If you decide to go for it I would try to build up to 2-3 20-22 mile runs in training. Maybe do 20 the weekend of week 5 and then 22 the weekend of week 6. If you can handle that then your fitness is probably good enough to run Boston pretty well.

I would also take one day off each week to make sure you are not pushing too hard this time. Taking the day off after the weekend long run would probably be smart since that run will most likely beat you up the most since your body is not quite used to them right now.

Good luck amigo!
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Re: Least amount of training for a marathon?

Post  carleenp on Mon Feb 11, 2013 7:14 pm

I did minimal training for the Goofy Challenge at Disney. Maybe 8-10 weeks or so. Plus, I never ran longer than a single 18 miler. I think my long run progression was 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, and 18. I had previously ran the Portland Marathon 3 months before the race, so I had a decent base already there, Now, I had no intention of racing it, and I did indeed just goof off during both races, and stopped for pictures etc, but I felt pretty darn good during them and probably could have had a decent race time in the full had I wanted to run it all out. Not a PR or anything, but I bet it would have been an OK average time for me had I wanted to go for it. I was surprised at how good I felt before and after the race. So, I think when you have some of that racing history there, it makes a big difference.
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Re: Least amount of training for a marathon?

Post  Seth Harrison on Mon Feb 11, 2013 8:00 pm

I agree with Ben. With your base, you should be o.k. to run a decent Boston. Along with trying to get in those 2-3 important long runs, I'd also concentrate on making your training course specific. In other words, get your legs as ready as possible for the descents before you get to the Newton hills. In my first Boston two years ago, I was coming off of knee surgery, and while I was able to stretch out the training to about 16 weeks, it was not consistent as my leg was just not in good shape after the surgery. As a result, I didn't do the requisite hill training (especially the crucial downhill training), and by the time I hit Newton at mile 16, my quads were trashed, and the last ten miles were a disaster.
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Re: Least amount of training for a marathon?

Post  mul21 on Mon Feb 11, 2013 8:05 pm

I would definitely be more concerned with being prepared for the downhill pounding than covering the distance. You've done it before and know what it takes to make it to the finish line, but I think if you prepare yourself for the hills you'll be fine. For Chicago in 2009, my longest run was 17 due to some weird things I had go on during my training cycle. I had almost a full month from the end of July to the end of August where I only logged about 20 miles and still made it to the finish in one piece and that was only my 2nd marathon.
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Re: Least amount of training for a marathon?

Post  JohnP on Mon Feb 11, 2013 11:50 pm

Thanks for the comments. I agree, if I do this, it won't be a PR attempt. I don't think Boston could ever be a PR course for me as it's so flat where I am at, I just cannot get the hill work I need. Those are good points about the hills - last time I put boards under the treadmill for that and I should do that again. The hills are definitely going to keep me very honest, should this work out, as it will be hard to train for those now.
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Re: Least amount of training for a marathon?

Post  wrichman on Tue Feb 12, 2013 12:55 am

I agree with the above. You can run it - not "race" it. Do a few long runs - 18-20 or 22 miles and you'll be fine. You can even (gasp) walk if you need to. Who cares? Do it for fun and really enjoy the experience!
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Re: Least amount of training for a marathon?

Post  Michele "1L" Keane on Tue Feb 12, 2013 1:34 am

In 2009, I ran about 10 wks prior to Boston with a week of skiing thrown in (no running) and some travel (no running). My longest run was 15 miles and I ran a half marathon 4 wks out. I finished without any issues since I just "ran" the race and had fun. You should be fine - just start of slow and controlled and listen to you body (especially that knee and be prepared to bail if you have to - there is no shame in that). Hopefully we will meet up that weekend before the race, and I can give you my Mom's number in case you only get to Natick.
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Re: Least amount of training for a marathon?

Post  JohnP on Tue Feb 12, 2013 10:47 am

Thanks Whitney and Michele. Yes, if I can safely do two 20 milers, then I'll feel very confident. I did 11 last Sunday without any issues but 20 is a different story. And since I walked quite a bit last year there due to the heat, it will be a big win if I can reduce that drastically. I think for my own sanity, I have to target 4 hours or so but I should take your mother's number just in case
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Re: Least amount of training for a marathon?

Post  Mike MacLellan on Tue Feb 12, 2013 12:05 pm

More input saying basically the same thing:

I was out from Oct 2011 to mid-Jan 2012 with a knee injury. I went from running 0mpw to Boston in ~12 weeks. I did a lot of cross-training on the bike (to "replace" my early long runs, 2-3hr rides).

Then it was 89 degrees at the start and the race sucked. But I digress!
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Re: Least amount of training for a marathon?

Post  Michele "1L" Keane on Tue Feb 12, 2013 5:41 pm

There is no shame in walking - I did planned walks last year due to the heat and finished in 4 hrs. The year I had no base, I ran slowly and finished in 4 hrs.
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Re: Least amount of training for a marathon?

Post  Jerry on Tue Feb 12, 2013 7:09 pm

I don't know if I have all the data in Garmin Connect, but should've most of it. So here is what I did after BQ at 3:19:41 in January 2009:

February:66
March: 42
April: 5th - 17 miles with 11 @half marathon pace, the longest before the race.
20th-Boston 3:39:12

Did I mention I ran Boston again? lol!
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Re: Least amount of training for a marathon?

Post  Chris M on Tue Feb 12, 2013 9:36 pm

Whatever training you get in, John, you'll be way ahead of me. I had knee surgery today and probably won't be back to any kind of jogging until shortly before the race. I still plan to go up there and would like to log a finish to keep my Boston streak alive (this will be #4) but its likely to be pretty bad. But the chowdah will still taste great so lets go for it as best we can!
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Re: Least amount of training for a marathon?

Post  fostever on Wed Feb 13, 2013 11:56 am

I'd say go for it John. I've been struggling with my left leg after spraining my foot on a trail in November. It's now an achy slightly strained hamstring that I aggravated at the Disney marathon as well as a touchy foot/ankle. I'll be doing 16 this weekend on a 12 week plan. I'd say you're probably still capable of enjoying your experience and finishing respectably, just ease back into your training gradually and use it as a stop on the road to getting back to where you want to be. Hope to see you there again.
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Re: Least amount of training for a marathon?

Post  Michele "1L" Keane on Wed Feb 13, 2013 12:29 pm

I'm coming back slow as well, John - so we might just be able to run some of the race together - at least for as long as I can keep up with you.
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Re: Least amount of training for a marathon?

Post  JohnP on Wed Feb 13, 2013 4:33 pm

Thanks for the replies, you guys have definitely made me want to do this. And John is right, I have to be sure to come back slower and not jump full-speed into this. I can't get ahead of myself here, need to put in rest days until this is fully healed. Michele, I'll check-in with you as we get close, in case I am able to do it. Of course, I just looked at hotels, the one left is $499/night, sheesh. I might stay further out instead of in the city if I go.
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Re: Least amount of training for a marathon?

Post  Chris M on Wed Feb 13, 2013 4:45 pm

@JohnP wrote:Thanks for the replies, you guys have definitely made me want to do this. And John is right, I have to be sure to come back slower and not jump full-speed into this. I can't get ahead of myself here, need to put in rest days until this is fully healed. Michele, I'll check-in with you as we get close, in case I am able to do it. Of course, I just looked at hotels, the one left is $499/night, sheesh. I might stay further out instead of in the city if I go.
Priceline it!
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Re: Least amount of training for a marathon?

Post  Jerry on Wed Feb 13, 2013 11:36 pm

@Chris M wrote:
@JohnP wrote:Thanks for the replies, you guys have definitely made me want to do this. And John is right, I have to be sure to come back slower and not jump full-speed into this. I can't get ahead of myself here, need to put in rest days until this is fully healed. Michele, I'll check-in with you as we get close, in case I am able to do it. Of course, I just looked at hotels, the one left is $499/night, sheesh. I might stay further out instead of in the city if I go.
Priceline it!

Or sell the bib for $500 .......
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Re: Least amount of training for a marathon?

Post  Schuey on Thu Feb 14, 2013 12:06 am

John I think it is great that you are going to run Boston. I think 9 weeks is plenty of time. I ran Chicago on less training this year. For Boston I'm in the same boat as you.

My training has finally become training again but I realized I have a long way to go. So my approach is that Boston is a part of my training for my 50 mile race in August and Chicago and JFK 50 in Nov.. I'm looking at the big picture and a big race in Beantown will have to wait until 2014. So this year I'm going to make the best of it and let the race be what it is going to be time wise.
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Re: Least amount of training for a marathon?

Post  Michele "1L" Keane on Thu Feb 14, 2013 10:48 am

John - don't ask but I still have two hotel reservations. One is at the Hilton Back Bay for $369 per night - Sat-Mon. I have not let it go yet.
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Re: Least amount of training for a marathon?

Post  fostever on Thu Feb 14, 2013 12:00 pm

Those prices are jacked up for that weekend and have been perpetually. I finally settled for a Medford Hilton and in the $200 range, I'm going solo this year. The town has a T stop. If you are traveling with your wife maybe Michelle's offer would work for you. If you want to share a room I think I can request a room with 2 singe beds if you are solo this year. Just a thought.
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Re: Least amount of training for a marathon?

Post  Seth Harrison on Thu Feb 14, 2013 2:37 pm

@fostever wrote:Those prices are jacked up for that weekend and have been perpetually. I finally settled for a Medford Hilton and in the $200 range, I'm going solo this year. The town has a T stop. If you are traveling with your wife maybe Michelle's offer would work for you. If you want to share a room I think I can request a room with 2 singe beds if you are solo this year. Just a thought.

It's unbelievable how the hotel prices get jacked up. There's no way I can justify paying hundreds of dollars a night for a room. I made a reservation at the same hotel I stayed in two years ago. It's a Fairfield Inn (Marriott property), in Revere, which is about ten miles out of downtown. It's a perfectly comfortable hotel, slightly above $100/night, and I may end up using points anyway. I do have to figure out how I'll get into downtown to catch a bus to Hopkinton. Last time my coach ended up coming to the race since there was a few runners from our club running. He bunked in with me the night before the race and drove me and a couple of other runners to the start. I'm not sure if he'll be coming this year, so I do need to come up with a plan. I'll probably end up driving into downtown and parking my car for the day. Spending upwards of $500 or more for two nights in Boston is unfortunately not part of the plan.
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Re: Least amount of training for a marathon?

Post  Michele "1L" Keane on Thu Feb 14, 2013 3:59 pm

Well, Seth - Revere is scary enough that you'll be able to run fast enough to get to the Common (hehehe - this from a true snobby western suburb Bostonian).

Anyway, I hope we can all meet up for the buses out as I will be in town by myself this year. First time that my daughter gets to see me at Boston, so I just hope to make it to the Fenway bridge where she and her friends will be!
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Re: Least amount of training for a marathon?

Post  Seth Harrison on Thu Feb 14, 2013 5:33 pm

@Michele "1L" Keane wrote:Well, Seth - Revere is scary enough that you'll be able to run fast enough to get to the Common (hehehe - this from a true snobby western suburb Bostonian).

Anyway, I hope we can all meet up for the buses out as I will be in town by myself this year. First time that my daughter gets to see me at Boston, so I just hope to make it to the Fenway bridge where she and her friends will be!

No doubt Michele. It's a pretty ragged area. I've also stayed in this hotel when I've been in the Boston area for work. It's close enough to the city that it's a decent option since I (and my company when it's a work trip), don't want to pay top dollar for a hotel room. I certainly don't spend any time there other than to sleep!
Meeting up for the buses would be great. I'm sure we can make some plans as it gets closer.
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Re: Least amount of training for a marathon?

Post  JohnP on Thu Feb 14, 2013 6:48 pm

@Michele "1L" Keane wrote:Anyway, I hope we can all meet up for the buses out as I will be in town by myself this year. First time that my daughter gets to see me at Boston, so I just hope to make it to the Fenway bridge where she and her friends will be!

I hope we can too - I was really surprised last year at how early you had to be out there to avoid a huge line for the buses. There was a long wait after 6:30 AM despite them trying to stagger the loading. Seems almost everyone went early. Of course, I wound up sitting next to some smelly guy.


Last edited by JohnP on Thu Feb 14, 2013 11:28 pm; edited 1 time in total
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