There’s a local runner I know through his blog. He’s been pointing towards Boston, but confessed to being light in terms of mileage, pleading that he had other commitments and he was prone to injury if he upped it. He ran a 3:02 NY in 2008. He opened the floor to discussion about whether one could successfully run a marathon on 40 miles or so a week.

Not surprisingly, I chimed in, as did at least one other person, that that’s not enough to give one a shot at running well, by which I mean anything close to potential. While I’ve finished only two marathons, one thing I learned in 2006 was that I needed more mileage going in if I were to run well. (In a sense “well” is a relative term; I mean it in relation to one’s potential. After I ran NY 2006, I posted on LetsRun that I hadn’t put in that much mileage — I maxed at about 65 — and someone said that I’d never run really well on that kind of mileage and I came to agree with her. For comparison purposes using age-grading, my marathon time is over 2 points lower than my others.)

There’s nothing wrong if you can’t put in the mileage, and I’m not talking about crazy mileage but at least getting north of 60, about not running a marathon. I’ve only done two. There’s a whole other life in the HM and shorter world. Indeed, in the most recent “Competitors,” there was a discussion with a bunch of Olympic distance triathletes. One of the hosts noted that lots of triathletes get into a comfort zone of doing Ironmans and don’t like the tempoish effort required for a half-Ironman, let alone the gut-wrenching encountered in an Olympic distance, which is about a 1K swim, 40K ride, and 10K run. I’ll confess to not particularly enjoying 10Ks and shorter races because of that gut-wrench.

Anyway, there’s quite a bit to be said about not having to devote six months to train for a single race. On the other hand, there are those who opt not to look at marathons that way. A marathon is another adventure. There’s a group that celebrates serial-marathoners.

But that’s not my thing. As must be clear from my prior posts, I tend to take these things seriously in terms of performance in terms of potential. So when the runner I mentioned at the outset said he had a 60+ week, I said that if that’s representative, he wasn’t so soft. He posted that he ran an HM workout faster than he had done the Manhattan HM a couple of months before, and it seemed to me that he had a shot of doing fine at Boston.

Then he posted that he tweaked his hamstring doing speedwork and is now out for a bit. To me, this was the kiss of death. I said that he was already “soft” going into Boston and because you can’t mess with a hamstring, he should seriously consider a back-up race in May. But in the end, his mind should shift to running well in New York by using what work he’s done for Boston as a base for a solid training approach for NY. If he can’t do the work, however, he shouldn’t bother. What’s the point of running a 2:57, I put it, if you could run a 2:45? That’s my mindset at least.

My advice led one person to pose the title question, i.e., “What kind of runner would I be if I just gave up because of a minor setback?” Putting aside that this was not a “minor setback,” my answer would be a racer.

Edited to add: My “criticism” was responded to at the original source.

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