Marathon runner on dark road

Project Marathon – Day 1

Just over a week ago, my brother told me that he wants to run a virtual marathon at the end of October. Of course I won’t let it pass me by and join the project. So today, for the first time in a long time, I laced up my shoes and set out to work out.

Since the whole thing is supposed to be a challenge I set myself a goal of course. I would like to run the 42 kilometers in under 4 hours. This corresponds to a pace of 5:41 minutes per kilometer.

Me and running

But first, a little info up front. I’ve actually always been a runner. I was in the track and field club as a kid. While everyone competed in the triathlon (which I wasn’t very good at) I always enjoyed the endurance events more. So it is hardly surprising that you could see me later again and again at races and charity runs. But the last such event was a while ago. 2016 to be exact.

Fitness in marathon preparation

From this year, marked by the Corona crisis, I bring some fitness with me. I’ve been on the bike a good 10500 kilometers since February. Numerous tours with more than 200 kilometers, the first time 300 kilometers in one day and at the Dirty Kanzelled also 200 kilometers on the gravel bike probably show enough basic endurance.

Marathon: The first training

On 3.9., thus scarcely two months before the planned marathon, I was now running again for the first time in a long time. Equipped with my Garmin fitness watch I decided to just run for an hour.

Without paying much attention to numbers, I wanted to find out how fast I can currently run.

After the first practice I have to say that I am relatively satisfied. I was averaging a pace of 5:21 min per mile, which was faster than I had planned for the marathon. That means I did 12 kilometers in a little over an hour. Most importantly, I was pain free and very steady on the road.

Heart rate curve in marathon training
168 strokes on average, 185 maximum

My heart rate averaged 168 beats a minute. Considering my cycling experience, this puts me 10-15 strokes below my threshold. I recorded this with a Forerunner 935 and the integrated heart rate sensor on my wrist. I also use the watch for gravel and mountain bike rides and have always been very satisfied with it.

The traces of the first unit

Of course, the first training has not passed me by without a trace. Cycling and running are fundamentally different in terms of the sequence of movements and the leg muscles are challenged in different ways. Especially with the road bike you complete long units very calmly and with a very round movement sequence. It’s pretty easy on the joints.

Running is a different story. Especially as an untrained person, the motion sequence is often quite out of round. Not only is this energy-sapping, but it also puts quite a strain on the knees, ankles and thighs. So I can’t deny that in the evening it pinched my thigh, knee or calf a time or two.

Training Outlook

My goal for the next few weeks will be to get my body used to the noticeably different workload. That means I will leave the bike at least twice a week and start collecting miles on foot. Once the joints, muscles and tendons have become accustomed to the movement sequence, slightly more specific sessions should then ensure that I achieve my goal.

All in all, I am very confident today that I can achieve my goal. Since I’m sure to get slower and slower over the long duration of the virtual marathon, it’s good to know that I can start a little faster than I need to and thus create a time cushion for myself.

If you’ve ever run a marathon, leave me some tips for training and race day in the comments.

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