Using a Drop-Out Marathon as Training

Using a Drop-Out Marathon as Training

You know that you have the strength to start; do you have the strength to stop? If you are entering a marathon for training you should have the discipline to stick to your plan.

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I feel like I know you as I have followed your programs for some time, and you have been talking in my ear for the last 400 miles thanks to your app. I am currently using your Novice 2 program for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in Las Vegas in November, my second marathon. First was Honolulu in 2012: 4:39 without any real training or plan.

In this case, I have been following the plan pretty closely. Missed a couple of cross- training days, having instead to ref and coach my kids’ soccer and baseball games. But I am on for 20 this weekend. My wife and I are active-duty Army, and I was just offered a bib for the Marine Corps Marathon. It is so very tempting to run my 20 as part of a well-established marathon, right in our back yard. Vegas is still the goal, but it would be great to do a supported run, without having to carry my own water and be with several thousand other folks, but I worry about injury. And I know that if I feel okay at 20, there is no way that I would step off the course and not go the additional 6.2. Tough call. Any insight?


You’re in the military. You should have a good understanding of discipline. So if your superior tells you, “Don’t go past 20,” your response should be, “Yes, sir!”

I have done a number of planned drop-out marathons. Twin Cities one year while pacing a friend, his wife waiting at 20 to transport me to the finish line. I had no problem stopping because that was the plan. I also have run the New York City Marathon on several occasions when, immediately after crossing the Queensboro Bridge around 16 miles into the race, I headed straight to my midtown hotel instead of turning under the bridge to continue down First Avenue. (Just in case anyone asks, I do not count planned drop-out races as part of my total of 111 marathons.)

You know that you have the strength to start; do you have the strength to stop? Runners lately have been somewhat brainwashed to believe that stopping short is failure. There may be many reasons why it is not.