Five Weeks to Marathon and Having Training Problems

by Chris

Hi, I'm currently training for the Dublin marathon which is five weeks away. I have been training for five months and got up to just over 2hrs at the end of August. Since then, with the kids going back to school and I have travelled over to England on two separate day trips in two weekends I have failed to make any progress and started chasing my programme.

I do my long runs every Monday and speed workouts on a Thursday, I went out today hoping for 18 and started to struggle on the 2-hour mark 14 miles approximately and didn't complete the run although this was much better than last week.

I do work long hours 46 - 54 a week in the bar trade and I know resting is a problem but the pace I'm trying to run I feel is not beyond me.

I did do a 12-week programme two years ago for the Dublin half and finished it in 1hour and 48 so I felt at the start I was well able.

If you have any suggestions to get my training back on track I would much appreciate it, at the moment and for the 2nd time in a week I feel like quitting but my head still says I can do this.

I know I can finish it but only interested in starting it if I can break 4 hours
Yours sincerely.

running tips, marathon running

Answer by Dom:

Hi Chris,
Thanks for your questions about your upcoming marathon.

The marathon is an honest distance. If your preparation is not up to scratch, it will let you know it is not!

It is good that you have built up to two hour runs, but ideally you would have had the opportunity to do a few 20-milers.

There is not a whole lot of time left either, as your last longest run should be two to three weeks before the marathon.

So, you basically have two weekends left.

You could do an 18-miler the upcoming weekend and then a 20-miler the weekend after and then start your taper.

Too hard? Then just take a walk break for a little while, but make sure you finish the distance. It is important you get that mileage into your legs.

I would probably replace the Thursday speed workout by a medium long run (i.e. 12-14 miles), in order to get even more mileage into your legs in the next two weeks.

It's going to be pretty hard to assess if you can or cannot break four hours, not without some recent racing experience (e.g. a half marathon time trial / test race). From what I can see, I think your training might be a little light on to be able to make this goal.

What you could do is make one of those medium long runs a time trial, i.e. run it at a strong pace as if it is a race. Then you could use the race conversion calculator on this site to work out if your four hour goal is within your reach.

Make sure to read the small print under the calculator to understand the limitations. In the end, it is just a calculator, not a magical outcome predictor, but if you are well trained the outcomes can be incredibly accurate.

The critical ingredients over the next month will be those long runs, medium long runs and consistency in your training.

Regarding the time goal: you have trained five months for this. The most difficult part of the marathon is the long, long training period. All that time that you spent away from your family. You have gone through all of that already, it would be a shame to not run this race just because of an arbitrary time limit you have set yourself that you may or may not reach.

I would try to prepare as well as possible, then run it and see what happens. In the end, even if you don't make your time goal, you will have finished a marathon. You can do another one next year and use the experience of the marathon of this year to your advantage.

Just a thought of course, you need to decide what is best for you.

I hope this helps.
Kind regards,

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