Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Marathon Training Question

Dear Jen,

I came across your blog while trying to get more info on training for a marathon with a stroller. Your time at the Marine Corp Marathon is good, at least by my standards! Do you do ALL your training with a stroller?

I'm thinking of seeing if I can get in shape for a spring marathon but I have very little opportunity to run without the stroller and it is the one hobby of mine that my baby son and I can enjoy together. So I was perhaps going to try an experiment where I train exclusively with the stroller (and maybe go to a weekly spinning class). My longest run will probably be a hilly 18 miler. Do you think a one-year-old would sit in the stroller for over 2.5 hours?

I have one session that I do now where I push the stroller up a short but steep hill and jog down it repeated. And another when I run fast for a minute and slow for a minute. However, for the long runs I have to keep it fairly slow as I live in a city and have to keep crossing roads! I guess for my long runs I need to get out into the parks?

So far my best time is 3:45. I doubt I can better that, but I'm wondering if I can still beat 4 hours!?


Thanks for writing. I appreciate the compliment following my most recent marathon attempt! I don't do all my training with a stroller now because my husband and I have been doing "date runs". In 2004, however, I did all my training runs for the Honolulu Marathon with my 18 month old daughter while my husband was deployed. Some of those runs were 3 hours long and she was fine. It was basically like this:
Hour 1: Enjoy scenery, sing songs, etc.
Hour 2: Sleep.
Hour 3: Eat snacks.
Presumably your son is pretty comfortable in the stroller for an hour or more already. My advice is to try to run at a time that he typically takes a nap so that he will sleep for a big chunk of the run. Bring lots of snacks he can feed himself. I did 3:59 in that marathon.

If you do all your training with the stroller, however, it is difficult to know what pace you'll be able to run without the stroller in the marathon. For a single stroller, subtracting one minute per mile from your long run with stroller times is probably a safe estimate. Also be careful with your hydration. Running with the stroller, I get used to drinking whenever I want, but the race will have water stops only every 4 +/- (?) miles, so keep that in mind too.

After training on hills for what turned out to be a relatively flat marathon, I realized that it is important to train on similar terrain as your race. Hills aren't always better just because they are hard. It would be great to find a route with minimal street crossings both for safety and for making your legs practice going and going without so many stops. You already have to stop periodically to "adjust" things for your son.

Good luck!

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