Races within Marathon Training Schedule

I am running my first marathon on 17 March in Rome and have my 18 week schedule all sorted and ready to start a week on Monday (eek). Did my first ever half marathon last weekend and managed 1hr 56m so am now stoked and excited to get started. It's been recommended that I book in a couple of races throughout the training schedule as motivation and as markers to check my progress (which sounds good to me) but am struggling to find races that aren't more than a four hour drive away and aren't already full. I've managed to find two suitable races - a half and a 10miler - but they would be quite concentrated at the end of the schedule - would fall as follows: 

20 mile long slow run on 9 Feb; Plymouth Hoe 10mile run the next weekend (17 Feb); 20 mile long slow run next weekend (23 Feb); Bath Half the following weekend (on 3 March) at end of first week of taper; then two more weeks of taper before marathon on 17th March

Does this sound ok or would you recommend just doing  one of the races - and if so, which one? As it's my first marathon, I am venturing into the unknown. I've reached the half marathon distance within a couple of months of training and with relative ease however I am aware that it is the second half that is the difficult bit!



  • You've got options really.  Of the two, the only one that you'd want to consider racing flat-out would be the 10 miler, as Bath HM is too close to the marathon.  On the other hand, you could still do Bath but use it to practise your target marathon pace, and also to practise things like taking gels/water etc. whilst wearing race kit with a number on.  As a marathon newbie I wouldn't want to race a HM hard any more than about 4 - 6 weeks out.


  • I'm with Phil. You'd not want to race hard just two weeks before your goal race. If you do race it you'll compromise your marathon performance.
  • Yeah, I agree. Personally I wouldn't run in a race of any sort during a taper period as I know from experience no matter how serious I am beforehand about doing it slow and steady as a training run, once I start running I always get carried up in the excitement and end up racing it as fast as I can. If you can trust yourself not to be as silly as me though, there'd be nothing wrong with doing the half at an easy trot, or like Phil says, practicing your marathon pace and your feeding and watering.


  • I still haven't made my mind up about racing in the taper.  On the one hand, if everything's gone to plan with mara training you should be in good shape, and a cheeky 5k/parkrun pb or similar can do wonders for your confidence.  On the other hand, too much racing might make you mentally a bit stale, or you just over-cook things and it affects the rest of your training for the taper. 

    Very much up to the individual really but at the moment, my boundaries as an experienced runner coming off relatively high mileage would be:

    -3 weeks - HM
    -2 weeks - 10k
    -1 week - 5M/5k

    Disclaimer: If I get roped into running a long leg at the National 12-stage road relays a week before VLM this will just break the 5 mile mark, but maybe I'll only run it at 97% effort.  image

  • Thanks so much for the advice - I love this forum - there are always at least a handful of people who know what you're asking and have already been there and done that and willing to share their experience.

    It pretty much summed up what I was worried about - that the half is too close to the marathon. After putting in all that training throughout the winter, I don't want to risk falling at the last hurdle. Think I'll just go for the Plymouth 10 miler and give the Bath Half a miss (also - just seen that it is currently £41 to enter! Only paid that for the Rome Marathon and you get a snazzy t shirt, rucksack and awesome looking medal for the price!)

    Thanks again

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