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What Would Another Mother Runner Do? Training Run Mathematics

What would you do: get in a full marathon training run (18 miles) after a half-marathon...or postpone it?
What would you do: get in a full marathon training run (18 miles) after a half-marathon...or postpone it?

Recently, Lindsay, a mother runner in Florida, posted a dilemma in our Another Mother Runner Club on Strava. Since it’s a question we’ve come across often, we thought we’d dissect her situation and ask what you’d do as part of our occasional What Would Another Mother Runner Do series?

Lindsay takes it from here: Three days before the Disney World Half-Marathon, I was offered a bib to run it. (Ed note: Yes, we realize this isn’t the exactly best thing to do, but bib-transfer happens. We're not here to judge; we're here to figure out WWAMRD.) I jumped at the chance because my husband was already doing the Goofy (half-marathon + marathon) and I was going to be there with the kids anyway.

However, I am right smack in the midst of training for my fourth marathon, and my long run for this weekend—race weekend—is 18 miles. Next week, the plan is 13 miles, so I could switch weekends, but then my long runs would be 13 miles, 18 miles, 19 miles, instead of 18, 13, 19.

Mentally, I like knowing  I have a step-down week, mileage-wise. I am definitely a Type A person, and I really don't like to deviate off a plan much so I’m thinking I’ll just add five miles after the race. (I can't add them before, as I'll be up at 4 a.m. just to get to the starting line anyway!)

That said, it’s Disney, so I know I can’t just run back on the course: It’s too crowded and not allowed. I’d most likely just have to run when I get back to the hotel, which realistically will be a couple hours after the finish. Will I have the energy to do it? Would that even be considered a true 18-miler with a break in between like that?

Did she stay or did she go?
Did she stay or did she go?

What would you do: Squeeze in five miles a few hours after a half-marathon, or switch weeks on your schedule?

Dimity says: I'd probably make a race-day decision. While I realize  5 miles after 13.1 + an early alarm is great marathon training, I also know how drained I can feel after riding transportation to a race, running it, dealing with the finish line situation, and finding post-race transport. If I got back to the hotel and was beyond wiped, I'd probably split the distance between 13 and 18 the following week, and go 16.

Sarah says: Like Lindsay, I'm fastidious about sticking to a training plan. That said, for me, the extra effort involved in racing would make up the difference of 4.9 miles. I'd be sure to put the hammer down and really race the distance, rather than taking it at a training-run pace. That way, what the run lacked in distance, it made up for in exertion. But then, because guilt might niggle at me during the week (especially after fully taking off the next two days from running post-race), I would probably bump up the following weekend's 13-miler to, oh, 15 or so miles.

lindsay garmin

What Lindsay did: My husband and I ran the half-marathon with no goal in mind, other than to run for fun. We finished the race in 2:11.27—one of my slowest half-marathons ever—but when I checked my Garmin later, I saw we ran negative splits so I was happy with that.

After the race, we grabbed our medals and a quick snack, then hurried back to the hotel. I used Dimity’s mantra of don't think; just go. I changed out of my wet sports bra and shirt, and told the kids I was going back out. My daughter was like, "WHAT? You just ran a race and now you're running more?"

I won’t lie, I was not particularly feeling sassy during those five miles. I ran up and down a one-mile stretch of road that linked our hotel with another hotel. I cruised through parking lots and played a game of how many different states license plates I could  find (17, in case you were wondering). At mile 4, I passed our room and so, so wanted to go in, but I told myself, "10 more minutes, you can do anything for 10 more minutes."

And then it was over. I did it! 18.45 miles completed.

I am extremely glad I added the miles after the race. I think it was great prep for my marathon, because I was tired and had literally been on my feet since 4 a.m. It was a fantastic day, and I would definitely do the same thing for future training plans.

 Have you been in a similar position before? What did you do, mother runner? Or what would you do, mother runner? Let us know in the comments below!

And if you’ve got a running-related moment you’d like some clarity—and community impact—on, via WWAMRD, feel free to email us at runmother [at] gmail [dot] com. Thanks! 

8 responses to “What Would Another Mother Runner Do? Training Run Mathematics

  1. Because this is a running community where we get to share in the decisions we make because at some point in the future one of us may need to make that kind of decision again and want the wisdom of the “tribe” to lead us in choosing the right thing. You’re right, it doesn’t matter what happened in the past, but we try to support each other in our running endeavors.

  2. I think you did the most difficult option, but probably the best! Now you know you are done with that mileage and you are on track with your training. Nice job!

  3. Yeah, I’ve done that before too: run a half-marathon and then tacked on the extra miles In my case, I think it was a scheduled 17-miler. I tried to get in a mile warm-up before the race (which, iirc, ended up only being a half-mile because I’m, um, not a morning person who gets to races quite as early as she’d like). Then I got in another mile or two after the race and before the awards and giveaway. And then I still had a mile or mile and a half to go, so I made another go-round. That last bit was painful and I was tired, but at least it was done.

    I’ve occasionally split long runs up too for other reasons (notably, life) and while yes, it is definitely exhausting to head back out later in the day after dealing with kids and being tired from the 10/12/16 miles you already did, it usually becomes less so later.

    That said, the year we went to Disneyland I completely scrapped my marathon training long run that weekend. It was our first time at Disneyland and we made completely full days of it: at the park at 8 am and stayed through fireworks and the second showing of Fantasmic the first day, and back again at 8 am through the first showing of Fantasmic the second. Totally worth it that way too.

  4. I’m not good with sticking to a plan. But Lindsay, you are an inspiration at just how loyal to your running you are! (Not to mention a good friend and AWESOME neighbor!;) Thanks for inspiring me along the way. Great job lady! And nice blog post. Cheers girl!

  5. FYI- from where you park or where Disney buses drop you, turned on my Garmin and it was 2 miles of walking, etc. to my corral. Then 2 miles back after race. So, yes, I think you did your extra miles.

  6. The last two times I trained for a marathon, I moved weeks around and ended up doing long runs two weeks in a row. I’m not sure I’d do that this time around, but I’m also running a lot higher mileage in general than I did before. Sounds like it worked out for her though, so good job!

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