the fall decision



Elyse and Rick

Above: Elyse and Rick Amernick (fellow run coach) outside of the lululemon Logan Circle store.

I recently had a conversation with my friend and fellow run coach Rick Amernick, president of the Capital Striders Run Group, about the difficulty of choosing a fall marathon. He was trying to choose between the Marine Corp Marathon in Washington, DC and the Baltimore Marathon. The right fall marathon is an agonizing decision that many runners go through. Many times, runners end up signing up for multiple marathons, unsure of which one to run. Marathons are an investment, with the average cost near $100. Typically most runners only have one or two competitive marathons in them a year, unlike a 5k in which you could comfortably race every other weekend.

When choosing a marathon, there is a lot to consider. The most important consideration for me is weather. What are the chances that the climate will be favorable to the race conditions that a runner prefers? Secondly, one has to consider amount of travel. I personally like to do my serious races away from home, so that I can spend time in my hotel room, where I can focus on the race and getting the proper rest. Next, one has to consider the course. Is this a race for the experience or one to achieve a personal record? Some runners like to look at other logistics, such as the post-race entertainment, the size of the field, or the course time limit.

This is the second year I have signed up for two fall marathon, but unlike last year, I will only be racing one. Last year, I ran a late October marathon, and did run the time I had hoped to achieve. I decided to run the second marathon, just a month later. It was a decision that I would not recommend for most runners. If your first marathon does not go as planned, I would advise that instead of rushing into a second marathon, you analyze what went wrong, and use your learnings to improve in your spring marathon.

Regardless of the time you race, you are still running 26.2 miles, which is strain on your body. This fall, I will pick one of the two marathons, dependent on when I reach my season peak in terms of fitness. I will then take some time to let my body recover, and then I will see you at Boston in the spring.

Happy running!

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1 Comment »


This is a great post. Choosing the right race is a very important decision, especially if you have specific goals in mind. For anyone looking for a personal best or a Boston Qualifier, things like weather, elevation of the course and how they time with regards to your schedule are necessary to consider. After running a few marathons and no longer reaching for that PB, there are other things you start to look for in races, like the uniqueness, the challenge or the locations.
Over the last couple years I have started doing races more for fun than for fast times and it brings a whole different feeling into a marathon. Running with friends helps the time fly by and you’ve done 26 miles before you know it. Also, running a marathon is just about the best city tour you are ever going to get if you are traveling far from home. Now I find marathons or a lot like a yoga pose. Some days, you’ll want to give if your full effort and push your limits, and other days you’ll just stay in a more basic form of the posture and observe what is going on in the body. Nothing needs to be perfect. As long as you are present, every race will be a perfect race. Sometimes you need certain things to go “wrong” in order to learn for future events. Above all, it should be fun. If you are not enjoying yourself, you must ask yourself why you are doing it. You have a lot of time to think about that question on a long Sunday morning run.

Comment by Brian Groot — August 20, 2009 @ 10:59 am


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