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April 26, 2006 8:54 PM   Subscribe

Marathon Filter: Help me locate a good marathon to run...

I have raced competatively in long distance running in the past and currrently run 3 miles 2-4 times a week. Assume that I will begin training tomorrow for the express purpose of running a marathon. How long would it take for me to be ready? And more importantly how can I track down a race that is near that target date in my region of the US (Florida/Southeast US)?
posted by iurodivii to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (13 answers total)
I'm not a marathoner, so I don't have any training recommendations. As far as picking a race, I've heard some really neat things about the annual Disney World Marathon, the course route goes through all 4 parks. I've done another WDW sports event (the triathlon), and it was very well organized (and fun!). The marathon's typically held in January, so that would give you 8 months to prep, which would seem to be enough time.
posted by dicaxpuella at 9:11 PM on April 26, 2006

Most programs are targeted for a 16-20 week buildup. Runner's World has a training program builder that doesn't look half-bad. If you want more comprehensive resource, check out Pfitzinger's Road Racing for Serious Runners or Advanced Marathoning. Noakes' encyclopedic Lore of Running has a survey of several decent plans, along with more than you ever wanted to know about the science of running.

Running Times and Runner's World are good places to find races.
posted by djb at 9:21 PM on April 26, 2006

Marathon Guide
posted by dead_ at 9:58 PM on April 26, 2006

The classic program (I use it). As DJB noted most programs will get you ready to run a marathon by the end of August or sometime in September if you start now. However, (I think that) the marathoning season in the S.E. is late fall to early spring. This lets us all avoid running in the horrible SE summer climate. So you may want to wait until the end of summer to start training.

A word of caution about the Disney Marathon, it will be packed. Packed like sardines are packed. Further, while you do run through the four parks you also spend a lot of time (maybe half the race) running through boring central Florida grass land. Keep that in mind if you like having interesting things to look at as you run. I've been told that it is not a good beginners marathon.

There is a marathon in Miami and one in Jacksonville. There was also a marathon in Gainesville this in February, I'm not sure if it will go again. I hope so, it was great running weather.
posted by oddman at 10:54 PM on April 26, 2006

Runner's World has a section in the back of each issue with races. Very fun. I'll second Lore of Running as an amazing book. More about the science behind training than you ever thought you could know.

Also, regarding how long it takes to train, there's a huge difference in 3 miles 2-3 times a week. I'd allow quite a bit more than 20 weeks. Before starting that kind of buildup, I'd want to be comfortable doing at least 10-12 mile runs before I started.
posted by devilsbrigade at 11:20 PM on April 26, 2006

I'm training for the San Francisco marathon at the end of July. I'm on week 12 of the 16 week training guide laid out in The Non-Runner's Marathon Trainer.

I started with a similar training base and I haven't found the increases in mileage all that bad; I still remember when 8 miles was my long run. Now it's my day off.
posted by Loser at 12:44 AM on April 27, 2006

Marathon & Beyond, aside from being the best running magazine in the US, also rates marathons each issue on a 100 point scale which takes into account everything from route to organization to expo. Each issue has just one marathon reviewed, but also contains the list of all the previous reviews with just the number grade listed. If you get yourself a copy you'll have a lot of information about picking a great run.

As to time to get ready: when was the last time that you ran significant miles for a week and for one run. You can get ready to run a marathon easily by the fall, it might take you until next spring to have enough of a base to really race one.
posted by OmieWise at 5:27 AM on April 27, 2006

Thanks for asking this, I just started running and was looking for a good book. Lore of Running looks great. I used the 'surprise me' function on Amazon, and it lead me to a page about marathon preparation here (if that link doesn't work: it's page 598).
posted by davar at 11:34 AM on April 27, 2006

The Lore of Running is just superb.
posted by OmieWise at 11:55 AM on April 27, 2006

I'd recommend joining a local running group or marathon training program. Training with others can be a great motivator.
posted by jessemellon at 1:41 PM on April 27, 2006

Not exactly close if you're in the SE, but I was all set to train for the Chicago Marathon in October, but given we are now expecting our second kid sometime in early September, I pretty much figured I wouldn't have the time to commit to the training. So I'm focusing on shorter races. Since I'm pretty new to running (my first race is this weekend), I've had several people recommend the Chicago Marathon because it is very well organized, and since it is urban and very popular, the fact that you might not always be able to run at your target pace turns out to be a good thing (i.e. the adrenaline rush of the race won't push you past your limit, causing you to tire sooner than you'd like).
posted by ddysart at 1:44 PM on April 27, 2006

these are fantastic answers thank you so much!
posted by iurodivii at 2:33 PM on April 27, 2006

I may be the exception, but having run a few marathons, I find that I prefer the mid-level marathons that have numbers in the high-hundreds to low-thousands of runners. More than that (Chicago, NY, LA, the "music" marathons) and the logistics get difficult to organize well.

On the other hand, if you're not sure of finishing, being surrounded by other people could help.
posted by mhespenheide at 10:16 PM on April 28, 2006

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