Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Dear Running Abby

All right, people, I need your help.

My friend Mortie has a running situation. I’m gonna give you her background, let you know my two cents (which I’ve already told her in person), and then I’d like to see your 25 cents in the comments. Mortie reads this blog and I’ve told her to comment too should she feel the need for a rebuttal. Okay, here goes...

Mortie wants to run the Neolithic marathon on May 2nd. Here is her running background:
  • Except for a brief three month stint of running in 1990 when she was in the Navy, Mortie took up running when I coerced her into joining me for the Race for Life 5K in June 2008. No training really, she just showed up and ran on the day. She came in only a couple of minutes after me too.
  • Running was spotty at best for her for the next year. Then she joined me for the Blenheim 7K in May 2009. Her training consisted of only a handful of runs before race day.
  • After Blenheim, Mortie was running about twice a week for the next three months or so. This was when she ran her longest distance ever of 8K. Then things tapered off.
  • After suffering a whopper of a flu, she joined me in the Santa Run in December, again with no preparation. We ran together the whole two miles, but after we crossed the finish she felt a bit ill (residual effects of the flu) but she was fine after a few minutes and some water.
  • Since then, Mortie hasn’t run at all. Though she may have run this morning, but I’m posting this before I see her today, so I don’t know for sure. [UPDATE: She didn't run this morning. Neither did I for that matter. Stupid snow...]
The Neolithic marathon is 3.5 months away and she is determined to run it.

My two cents? I’ve told Mortie flat out that I don’t think she should do it. I think she’s going to get hurt and cause herself more mental anguish than is necessary in a marathon. On top of the minimal running prep time, Mortie has her real life to deal with. She is married, the mother of four children, the head of multiple projects, and working on her PhD dissertation. How she has time to deal with just her family life and her dissertation is beyond me, let alone everything else.

I’ve asked her if she’d be willing to be part of a relay team or to drop down to the half and she has declined both. She said she told various people last year that she would be running this race and she wants to keep to her word. I think these people would understand if she didn’t run it. But I can understand Mortie’s insistence. I am one of the most prideful individuals on this island and that’s saying something considering this is Britain. However, even with my pride-tinted glasses, I can still see how illogical this situation is.

The marathon has a six-hour time limit and Mortie is confident that she can complete it in that time, even if she has to walk most of it. It should be noted that most of the Neolithic marathon is on trails which have a good chance of being pretty muddy on race day. As for the limited training time, again she’s not bothered. She pointed out to me that Eddie Izzard started his marathon running extravaganza with only five weeks of training. I retaliated by saying he’s an idiot celebrity with the money to call in a team of physicians and the like to fix things when they go tits up. He also took about 10 hours to complete the first of his marathons. But still Mortie insists. You gotta admire her chutzpah.

So, now it’s your turn. You all have years of running experience. Tell my friend your thoughts and, if you think it’s possible, direct her to a running plan she can follow to get her through this in one piece. If you find your comments becoming rather lengthy, feel free to email them to me and I will forward them on to her.

Mortie is all ears, folks, so advise away.



I agree with you, but it sounds like she is determined to ignore your advice.

So I would recommend a slow buildup, and definately no less than 1 long run that's close to race distance.

I am also a big fan of walk breaks. 10 and 1's are excellent for training to finish a long event.

The key is consistancy. You may get counter advice, but from what I have read, 4 or 5 shorter weekly runs is better than 2 longer runs. But she has to get in the distance. There's no bluffing your way through 26.2 miles. Running or walking.

So that's my 2 cents.

GeorgiaSnail said...

14 weeks? Hmmm, It would be possible to get to the needed distance, at a very slow pace. I think entering into marathon training without a proper base is asking for an injury. If anything, maybe the Galloway Method. The walk/run method is proven to be easier on the body and the recovery.

Lily on the Road said...

Flatout Jim nailed it with "I agree with you, but it sounds like she is determined to ignore your advice".

If Mortie cannot run a solid 10K right now, well I would highly advise setting another goal...

and you KNOW ME....

RockstarTri said...

There is a big difference between just finishing and finishing (and training) injury free. Unfortunately she hasn't done this before so doesn't have a perspective on most aspects of it (ramping up training mileage, pain, etc). A half in this timeframe is more realistic but deep down she probably knows this. Is there a deadline on when to make the switch to half? If not, let her start her training and I expect she'll come around with the half as a bail option.

Jamoosh said...

Does Mortie not understand how wise you are? If she insists on proceeding, I would recommend Flatout Jim's approach, but I would reduce the run/walk to 5/1. I would also suggest nothing short of an 18 mile training run several weeks prior.

I am not sure if that is 25 cents worth, but that's all I got on me.

Betsy said...

Mortie has no idea how much harder it is to run a marathon than, say, a 10K. Mortie also seems completely unwilling to listen to the good and educated advice that you're offering her, so if I were in your (running) shoes, I'd stay out of it and let her make her own decisions.

Razz said...

I'm going to say no on this one. And I've got an IT band and PF to back that up. Too much, too soon...especially if you don't respect the distance.

My $.02.

K said...

No Mortie. No. I'll tell you why-- you might run-- you might complete the marathon with a lot of walking. But you will also probably damage your body permanently (i.e. chronic IT Band or Plantar Fascitis or hip issues) and you would not be able to play with your 4 kids, sit for long periods of time to finish your dissertation or get into those kinky positions for your husband. No Mortie, no.

Viper said...

Mortie is asking for injury. I believe it was Frayed Laces who broke her hip running her first marathon.

But if I know stubbornness -- and I think I do -- then there's no stopping Mortie. I say she is a prime candidate for the Galloway method, and she should shoot for a 5:59:59 effort.

Some people just want to say they did it. I'm sure she'll learn some valuable lesson from the experience. Unless of course she dies.


SteveQ said...

I've jumped into marathons at the last minute, but wouldn't recommend it and I know people who've finished marathons with absolutely no training. The best way to get where she wants to be is to run a long run each week, starting with 10 miles and building up to 18-20, done any way that gets her the miles done. Due to time constraints, she should run only one other time each week, about half the distance of the long run.

It'll hurt like $%^&*, but it's the best shot she's got.

Mike Antonucci said...

She's an adult, so she can do what she wants, but I would not participate in helping her try, anymore than I would attempt to come up with a plan for her to bench press 300 pounds after 14 weeks of training.

It's not an impossible task, and she might even beat the cut-off time, but it's much more likely to end up in injury and regret - perhaps before the race.

Mortie said...

Dear Runners,

Thanks for all the words.

Thanks first to our hostess for posing the question. It has never been my intention to take up any of Xenia's valuable and much-demanded time to help me prepare for what may appear to be a fool-hardy stunt.

I do appreciate all the training options, and will probably amalgamate them into some sort of strategy in the next few days.
I do regret that Xenia is worrying about my health (and maybe sanity!) so I will let the topic rest, except to ask her in May to let you all know how it panned out!

Thanks again for all the advice, caution, etc. and good luck with your own challenges in the months ahead!

carpeviam said...

I was also going to suggest a half-marathon, before I read that you already HAD suggested that. So, now, at her decline, and insistence, I would suggest a novice marathon program. Very gradual. Hal Higdon comes to mind. Or, Jeff Galloway who incorporates walking and running into his marathons.

BrianFlash said...

I much more optimistic then most. I think it is very doable, as long as the runner doesn't think they are going to set some kind of land speed record for the race.

I recommend total Galloway - 5 run to 1 walk sounds good. Do this thru training and the race. Run 4-5 days per week, concentrating on consistent pace. NO speed work, NO hill repeats, NO high heart rate runs. 3-4 short runs during the week with the long run on the weekend. You can miss the odd run, but not the long weekend run.

Add about 3 miles a week each week to the starting base until three weeks before the race, then taper.

All this assumes a reasonably fit person - we're not trying to get an obese monster to the line.

On last item - if an injury occurs, complete rest until it is resolved. DON'T keep running on it.

Mortie can do it!

BrianFlash said...

Oh yeah - and as a good friend you should run the race with her ;)

The Road to LA said...

I say she should go for it! This is an experience she wants badly enough, and regardless of the 'expert' naysayers, she's going to do it! I say right on! Grab that golden ring as the carousel whips you by on your horsey

X-Country2 said...

Why does she always commit to a race and never train? Why did she taper off? Does she not think she needs to or does she just not have the time/desire/interest in consistantly training? If she can't be bothered to run more than a handful of times before a 7k, thinking you'll come rolling into marathon day with a smile is just plain dangerous, selfish, and reckless.

Jamie said...

I'm going with a no on this one. My friend who had no running background just completed her first marathon using the Galloway method. However, it took her nearly 8 months of base building and running other races early in the season to allow her to complete a fairly flat marathon in under 6 hours. Need to respect the distance and really look at how much time you can give to training so not to do serious damage.

Ian said...

I think the important question here is whether "Mortie" is her real name. Because if it is then she's got bigger problems than training for her first marathon, like figuring out how to get revenge on her parents.

Really, really hoping that it wasn't her real name.

Ms. V. said...

Here's my two cents.

I think she should do it. No one EVER has enough time. Each person can give countless reasons why they don't have time. You make time when there is no time. THAT is marathon training.

I'm no expert; have only run 1, but am training for my 2nd. If she wants to do it, she needs to start NOW. Not tomorrow, not next week...that being said, she should be reading, planning, etc., for her first run.


Jess said...

Like most, I would advise against it. It's asking for injury. But not just physical injury. The marathon is more than a physical endurance test: The training alone demands a great deal of mental and emotional energy, and that is taxing in and of itself. If she is doing this AND all the other things you mention, she's headed toward a meltdown of epic proportions.

But as everyone else has already noted, there are those who will do what they want despite the cautions, so the most you can do is support her and hope for the best!

Lily on the Road said...

Well Mortie, best wishes and you know what?

You may just pull it off...good on ya.

My wish to you is every success with training and a healthy finish. Keep us posted.

The Laminator said...

I will refrain from giving any more advice on the subject since everyone else already covered the basics.

All I'm going to say is there's a reason even top professionals who do this for a living only pull of 2-3 of these a year! What are they doing the rest of the time...oh yeah, TRAINING!

Dr. J said...

She sounds like an injury waiting to happen. Training, the process, is where all the benefits of running live. If she insists, walk as much as possible.