Fall Marathon Goal and Why I’m Not Worried About It

Well, training has officially started and I’m working on SLOWING DOWN. On my recovery runs that is. Everything I’ve read about training for a marathon gives this advice – keep your recovery runs very slow so that you can successfully pace your tempo runs. Even when I’m doing an easy run, I can’t help but push myself a little bit. On Monday I did 4 recovery miles after my long run Sunday and went to the treadmill so I could control my pace a little bit better. I did 4 mi @ 9:20 pace and my legs felt pretty good. On Tuesday I decided to run outside after work despite the fact that it was 90 degrees. Terrible decision. 5 mi @ 8:50/mi and for the first time in a long time I thought I might pass out. I was praying for a sprinkler but never came across one. When I got home I had a bad migraine and couldn’t stop sweating, so naturally I made some strawberry bananas margaritas to drink in bed while watching Netflix.

7-15 2

Dixie wanted one too!


Now let’s talk about goals. If there are two things that I know to be 100% true about myself they are that 1. I love to plan and 2. I like to be prepared. I like to know exactly what to expect when I’m going into most situations. Whenever I go out to eat, even if I’ve been to the restaurant a million times, I look up the menu online and think about what I’m going to get. I google EVERYTHING. You should have seen me when Thomas and I were trying to book our honeymoon resort. I was tripadvisor.com’s most frequent visitor. I know these things are pretty normal, but I take it to a new level. It’s kind of odd because I also consider myself to be a pretty laid back and spontaneous person, but when I take something seriously (food, honeymooning, marathon training, etc), I get anxiety if I don’t feel prepared.

As much as I love to plan and prepare, I’ve decided to take a different approach to this race. I do have a training plan and I’m going to follow it the best I can, but I want my first marathon to be a benchmark experience for future races. How can I know what to expect when I’ve never tried to do something like this before? I can listen to all of the advice in the world and read 500 running blogs, but that has nothing to do with my personal experience. So, for this race I’m going to just go with the flow, be flexible with my training, and see how it goes. I have goals in mind, but I’m not going to get all upset if I don’t meet them. If I lower my expectations for this race, I’ll come out if it with a MUCH better attitude than if I set an unattainable goal and fail miserably.

Don’t get me wrong, I want to train hard and push myself, but I’m not getting too crazy about my paces and times. There will be more marathons in the future where I can set goal times and training paces, etc etc.

If you read my conservative vs. aggressive training post a few weeks back, you might wonder why I chose this path instead of the aggressive one that I seemed to be leaning towards. Well, it was mostly your words of wisdom that you all offered, especially these ones:




It was also a reality check. I’m getting married right in the middle of this training cycle. I’m also honeymooning, traveling, attending showers/bachelorette parties and I just don’t want to put too much pressure on myself, especially during the most memorable and amazing time of my life. I want to look back and say “that was the year I got married” instead of “that was the year I was miserable because I was pushing myself too hard getting ready for my first marathon.”

If you’re curious about what that goal is that I mentioned earlier, it’s a pretty standard goal among marathoners – break 4 hours. When I was being a planner and preparer after my first half marathon (before I decided to go with the more laid back approach), I became obsessed with race predictor calculators, punching in different race times for different distances to see what my goal marathon time should be (mentally exhausting). According to those calculators, I would finish a marathon right around 4:01 based on my first and only half marathon time (1:54:49). I think these calculators are a great tool to give you a good attainable race goal if you need help setting one, but I think they can also restrict you if you take them too seriously. Am I going to be crushed if I don’t meet this goal? Absolutely not. Am I going to be beyond thrilled if the clock says 3:xx:xx when I cross the finish line? YES. I’ll probably cry.

Do you look up the menu before you go out to eat, even if you’ve been there a million times?

What was your goal in your FIRST marathon? Did you meet it?

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34 Responses to Fall Marathon Goal and Why I’m Not Worried About It

  1. Allison says:

    I think you are approaching your marathon training from a very wise standpoint and as long as you respect the distance, you will be in good shape. My first goal was just to finish – and I did. SLOWLY! I didn’t know enough about it to set time goals, but I also didn’t respect the distance. I skipped long runs and only logged up to 18 miles – and only once. I picked a super hilly marathon (San Francisco!) and spent three days before walking and sight seeing. I thought, eh whatever. Not whatever, hahaha. It was the hardest day of my life. I finished, and I learned! I wish I had your perspective going into that race, because it might have gone a lot more smoothly! Good luck girl – you will rock it and crush your sub 4 goal!

    • Maddie says:

      Wow, sounds like quite the learning experience!! I love hearing first marathon stories, something crazy always happens, haha

  2. I’m training the same way. I want my first marathon goal to be that I finished it, period. I’m using a running coach so that I don’t let my lack of time goals keep me from actually putting in the work so I’m hoping that this training will push me and also motivate me to do another race and improve. Like you said, use it as a bench mark! And trust me, getting married and everything that leads up to it should be your main focus. Have FUN with it and don’t let the marathon training take away from that!

    Also, totally a planner myself. If I vacation somewhere new, I have to look up things to do, how far away restaurants are, and the best places to visit while I’m there!

    • Maddie says:

      That’s so cool that you have a coach! I might consider that for future races…. I do much better when someone is checking up on me 🙂

  3. That is very smart of you! You want to enjoy your first marathon, and all the other life events you have going on as well. My goal in my first marathon was to finish, and I was aiming for around 4:15-4:30. I ended up running a 4:07 and I was thrilled! But I didn’t worry about pace at all when training for that. I was just focusing on being able to run 26 miles!

  4. When I was training for my first marathon I didn’t really know anyone who had done it before so I felt like I was on my own (which I was). I was obsessed with making sure I got in every run and if I missed one, I would add it to the next week’s training. Crazy, I know. Ultimately, my goal is always just to finish, sometimes I have some ‘A’ and ‘B’ goals to go along with that so that regardless of how I do, I will succeed. You’re doing all the right things! Excited to hear about your journey!! 🙂

    • Maddie says:

      Don’t worry I’m usually crazy like that too, which is why I had to totally change my mindset for this race, mostly because of everything else going on right now!

  5. Taylor says:

    I ALWAYS look up menu’s even when I have been somewhere a billion times before so I totally feel you on that. I am in love with this post about training slow. I’m a slow runner and I have never been able to run farther than a 5k. I like strength training but I have never lift weights over a total of 30 pounds. It’s all because I push myself WAY TOO HARD. I start intense training and next thing you know I’m burned out and give up and go weeks without exercising until I’m ready to start the process all over again complete with the burn out. A month ago I told myself it’s ok to slow down some days while pushing myself other days. Take easy runs, take breaks, slowly work my way up in strength training and sure enough I ran 3 miles yesterday and one of those miles I ran without stopping which I have never done before…makes me realize that some day I will be able to run more and more miles. Sorry to ramble but I just really enjoyed this post. 🙂

    • Maddie says:

      I’m totally with you! I’ve accomplished more by being patient in the past 6 months than I ever did pushing myself to the limit for years. I would constantly get burnt out and give up then start all over again!

  6. Honestly, I think this was a smart decision on your part. As you remember, I trained for an aggressive goal this Spring…and I got it! And it was thrilling! BUT as you also remember, training for that marathon took everything out of me. I had to sacrifice a lot so I could focus so heavily on it. Even if you get an insanely good time in the midst of wedding/shower/vacation season, you will just about kill yourself in the process. Remember, the harder you train, the more other things in your life have to give.

    WITH THAT SAID: the prediction calculators said I should run a 3:49 marathon. I ran a 3:46. Suck it, calculators. Seriously though, they are good for a BALL PARK figure but don’t think that you can’t run a sub-4 just because McMillan says so. Once you get into the swing of things with training, you will start to get a good sense of what your finish time will probably be. If you want something, go after it, you can do it. But if the cost is too great, then hold back. Like you said, you want this to be a good experience to cap off an exceptional year. There will always be other marathons for time goals. And if you’re thinking Spring already, RUN PITTSBURGH WITH ME!!

    • I’m 90% sure I’m doing Pittsburgh next Spring 🙂 I’ll be sure to set a time goal for that one, and I agree with you about the calculators… they can definitely restrict you if you take them too seriously and 9 times out of 10 you are totally capable of beating those times if you train the right way.

  7. Hannah says:

    We are so much alike. I plan everything and Google menus before I arrive to a restaurant too! Keep up the good work! I love following your progress. Maybe I’ll be getting some advice from you soon enjoy! This is your year!

  8. Ariana says:

    Weeeell, I think you already know I’ve gone full-out conservative on this training by using my heart rate guided training. I think back to how fast I used to do my long runs and I can’t imagine trying to do all of my runs that fast during marathon training. That being said, this seems to be working well for me and my easy pace has already improved. It’s fun to see progress in a different way. I’ve run 3 half marathons so I used the half I felt the best during (which wasn’t my PR) as my time in the running calculator to get my predicted finish time. Is it possible for me to hit that pace in the marathon? Maybe, but mostly I used it to figure out what pace to take my runs that are supposed to be marathon-paced. I’m a little nervous about upping my mileage in two weeks, but I guess we’ll see how my body adapts! As for Hansons Marathon Method – that training is a beast. In my opinion the “beginner” plan is really just beginner for using Hansons, not for beginner marathoners necessarily. I just think I would get burnt out using a plan that demanded such fast running all the time. Looking forward to hearing more about your training.

  9. I think you’re approaching your training with a great mindset. It’s hard to know what to expect for your first marathon, but as you go through your training, you’ll learn a lot more about your body and what it can do. Just make sure you’re listening to what it’s saying! I think a sub-4 goal is great! My goal for my first marathon was to finish (under 4 hours). Haha! I think it’s in our blood to want that sub-4 marathon time for our first one. I came in at 4:05, but was just so proud that I had finished that sucker. It wasn’t easy! Take it easy on yourself and make sure you’re enjoying every bit of your wedding festivities! Even if this one doesn’t pan out exactly the way you want it to, you always have your second one 😉

    I always look up the menu before hand and know what I’m going to order when we get there.

  10. Jamie says:

    Running recovery runs slow is so smart! For my first training cycle, I don’t think I ever ran over an 8 min mile on my training run. It’s so easy to keep pushing if you feel good but it’s even more important to give our body the chance to recovery properly! For my first marathon I wanted to break 4 hours which I did – I think I ran a 3:54ish? The clock read over 4 hours but I started SO far back I was ELATED when the race results came out : ) And DUHS I always check menus… I want to be prepared.. what if there was an option I didn’t see before? Haha

  11. karen says:

    Flexibility is good!
    You will learn how much you can push yourself as you train and your mileage goes up. You are so right about race day, you have to go through it to know how it will feel. You will be training in different(difficult) conditions than you will hopefully be running the race in. That’s something to look forward to!

  12. You sound EXACTLY like me. I look up restaurant menus, spend A LOT of time on tripadvisor when planning vacations or going out of town, and have a plan for everything. Perhaps that is why pregnancy has been so difficult for me, haha! I think you have a good “plan” for training for your first marathon. You really don’t know what to expect and want your first race to be a good experience, so you can’t put too much pressure on yourself. Finishing is the reward in and of itself. There is so much room for growth after your first. I finished my first marathon in 4:16 … now I can run a 3:25… it takes time. ☺

    I may have missed this or forgot (if you previously mentioned it), but where are you going on your honeymoon?

  13. Suzy says:

    Everybody is so wise, including you! Yes, just focus on finishing the marathon. If you do it too fast then it will be harder to get a PR for your next one! Marathons are like childbirth. Seriously. In more ways than one but one thing similar is that each one is different for each person, and even that can change from day to day. Andrew’s first half marathon was 1:56 and his first marathon was 4:54. So the calculators can help give a general idea but as you can see, it’s not the rule. Love you to bits, chicky mama. You’re going to do great. <3

  14. I completely agree with your goals. Be realistic with it since it’s your first marathon and you are getting married during training. I got married last August and I feel like I blinked and missed things because it goes so fast. Enjoy this time for wedding stuff and train with goals that don’t overwhelm and take away from it.

  15. I totally agree with your approach, and is what I’m really trying to embrace as well. I want to enjoy, as much as one can enjoy, running my first marathon and if I put too much pressure on myself, I know that I won’t. I have goals, but more along the lines of just running the entire marathon. I’ve thought a lot lately about: what if I did walk? Does that make me a failure at what I set out to do? I decided no, if my body says walk during the race, I will if I have to. And it doesn’t mean I fail. Point is, it’s our first marathons: like you said, there are more to come. And then we can decide how we want to train when we know more.

  16. Hollie says:

    I normally like to look at menus because I’m so indecisive.

    In all of my training I have found that relaxing about a training cycle makes me more efficient. I think stressing about a certain time, race or pace just stresses me out more.

  17. I ALWAYS look up the menu online before going to a restaurant. So glad I’m not the only one!

    I think your conservative approach to marathon training was the right decision. Like you said you have a lot of awesome things to look forward to this year and you don’t want your time to be dominated by marathon training. I trained too hard for my first marathon and my body couldn’t handle it along with going to school and working. I was always tired, emotional (which is not like me at all), and sooo hungry! I ended up going into the race with an IT band injury and it did not end well. Take care of yourself. Your health is the most important thing!

    That being said I know you are going to do great and fall in love with the marathon 🙂

  18. Jason says:

    My goal was to break three hours. I didn’t make it. I didn’t make it the next time either. Or the time after that. But I did get there eventually – phew!

  19. The Suzys are two wise, wise women. Especially with your wedding and honeymoon in the middle of training, it’s wise not to set too high of a goal. I got married in the middle of training for my first half and took a full week off, no running what so ever, for the wedding and honeymoon. Granted, we hiked several hours a day on our honeymoon, but that’s a time to enjoy with your husband, not worry about logging miles!
    Also, great job on slowing down for your recovery runs! Those will be so key to staying conservative and healthy in your training.
    Also, I always have to look up menus. I’m way way too much of a planner.

  20. Love this.!! I think you’re going to definitely achieve your goal.!! but more than that, I love your laid back approach that you have going into your first marathon. Not only will it be “the year I got married” but also, “the year I got married and ran my first marathon” I think because of your approach you’re going to love the 26.2 distance even more.!! I’ve never ran a marathon though, soo don’t take what I say serious : p haha

    • Maddie says:

      Haha, it kind of reminded me of a post you did right before a race and you just didn’t care at all and then I think you got first place. I was like wow I need her attitude!!

  21. Brittnee says:

    I just found your blog and can’t wait to follow your marathon journey! I ran my first marathon last spring, my goal was a sub 4, and I got a 3:48. Yes, I cried. And I was also met at the finish line by my boyfriend at the time down on one knee 😉 I wanted to train for the same race this year, but it would have been 3 weeks before our wedding (we got married at the end of May) I signed up for the race and was a few months into training and got a horrible case of IT Band syndrome. I took several weeks off, and ended up not being able to run the race. It all worked out ok in the end, wedding planning gets crazy! The moral of my rambling story is just enjoy the process! Training for a marathon is exciting, scary, humbling… all rolled into one! It’s great to have a secret goal time, but a finish is a finish, no matter what the time! I wish you the best of luck as you start your training cycle and plan your wedding!! It’s all exciting! Enjoy every minute!

  22. As a vegetarian, I always check menus online!
    I was a hot mess for my first marathon! My only goal was survival. It was ugly and I finished in just over 5 hours. I think you’re being super smart with your goals.

  23. Just found your blog through Jamie’s 🙂 I’m actually about to start marathon training and I *think* sub 4 is my goal. 4 hours (on the dot) is my PR from my first marathon and I went into that race without a goal. I actually didn’t know my time throughout the entire race, but had I did, I might have sprinted a little faster at the end to get under 4 haha. Excited to follow along!

  24. This makes me feel SO MUCH BETTER. I wan’t all that worried, but I was, you know? I had a similar discussion with Annmarie this weekend as she works toward her first marathon–you want to love this, you want to come back and do another–set yourself up for the long run!
    Glad you had a great weekend (send me a marg) and I loved the Bachelorette weekend pics!

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