The Medical Mutual Glass City Marathon: So What Distance?

If you have been following me and my journey back from a broken elbow/pregnancy/giving birth, you already know that I have a goal in mind for the spring. I really want a 3 minute PR in the half marathon. I am planning on getting it at the Owens Corning Half Marathon in Toledo.
It took me a while to come to the decision to run the half marathon, instead of going for my other big, hairy, audacious goal (sub-4 or BUST) in the full marathon. I think that when you are trying to decide what race you want to enter, there are a lot of factors to consider. I hope to outline some of what crossed my mind in my decision making process, in the hopes that I can help you to make your own decision.

I am planning on highlighting the various distances for the Medical Mutual Glass City Marathon specifically, but this is likely applicable to most races when you are planning your 2014 calendar and related goals.

Why should I choose the 5K distance? If you are just starting to explore running, haven't run a race yet, or want to run really fast (and make it hurt) this is the distance for you. My current 5K PR (22:35) was the hardest I have ever run a race, and I nearly puked. That is not necessary at all though! If you want to get out there, see what racing is like, and see if you enjoy it before committing to much more involved/time consuming training, I highly recommend it. This race finishes on the 50 yard line of the Glass Bowl.
how much should I be able to run now? You do not necessarily need to be running at all to select this distance. The Couch-to-5K program is a great starting point, where you jog (as slowly as you need to!) just 60 seconds at a time. In 9 weeks, you will be ready to run. If you are a runner currently, start throwing in some speed drills (for a 5K, I would recommend 50-200m sprints) to improve your leg turnover to get you your fastest results!
how long do I need to train? As stated above, if you are not running at all, 9 weeks is the length of the Couch-to-5K program. If you are currently a regular runner, who just wants to complete the race for the fun of it, I would suggest just keep running!
*note* The course is open for 1 hour. This is something to keep in mind if you plan on walking the event.

5 Man Relay
Why should I choose the 5-Man Relay? You have a group of friends and you would like to complete the marathon together without the pressure of training for a full 26.2. You have graduated from the 5K but are not quite ready for the half marathon distance. You do not have a full 12 weeks to train for a half, but think the 5K will not be challenging enough.
how much should I be able to run now? The distances of the relay range from 4.75-6.1 miles. Therefore, you could reasonably run this race without having previously run a 5K race, but potentially having run 2-3 miles. The furthest distance that is part of the relay is just under a 10K.
how long do I need to train? It depends. If you have already run the 5K distance, you should be able to train for just a few weeks to get up to the longest distance necessary. There is an app/program that is the "Bridge to 10K" program which is a nice follow up from the Couch-to-5K.
*note* The course is open for 6 hours.

Owens Corning Half Marathon
Why should I choose the half marathon? This is easily the most popular race distance currently. It is a race that is long enough that you feel like you accomplished something HUGE, but short enough that you do not give up your entire life training. The Owens Corning Glass City half is a great race that I have run before, earning my first sub-2 hour half! The course is flat and fast (even with the changes that they are putting into place for the current year) and gives you a big finish on the 50 yard line of the University of Toledo's Glass Bowl stadium.
how much should I be able to run now? If you look at most of the popular free half marathon training programs, including Hal Higdon's Novice 1 program, your first long run is 4 miles. The same is also true of Jenny Hadfield's beginner program. The course is open to walkers as well, as long as you can finish within the alloted window.
how long do I need to train? If you are an experienced half marathoner, you should be able to train in approximately 6 weeks (I have done this myself), but most plan that will help you to feel very prepared, and ready to tackle any goal you might have, typically range from 10-12 weeks. In addition, you will likely complete your longest run of between 10-12 miles, so you need to have time for a 2+ hour run on a weekend (or whenever you plan to complete the long run).
*note* The course is open for 4 hours.
*note2* The Owens Corning Half Marathon has sold out the last several years, so if this is a distance that you are interested in, I recommend registering before the month of April!

Medical Mutual Glass City Marathon
Why should I choose the full marathon? I would say the biggest reason people sign up for a marathon, especially when they are not seasoned runners, is to check something off of their bucket list. And there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with that! This course is flat, fast, and a Boston Qualifier for those speedies out there!
how much should I be able to run now? Most beginner marathon training plans, including Hal Higdon and Jenny Hadfield have you starting between 5 & 6 miles.
how long do I need to train? A marathon training plan is generally between 16 and 18 weeks, with running anywhere from 3-6 days/week. Your longest run during your training will likely be 20-22 miles. Do not worry about the fact that you have not run further than that during your training, the adrenaline of the race will get you through the rest of it. For your first marathon, I think one 20 mile run is generally sufficient, and as you gain experience you may want to do multiple, or stretch it to a 22-miler. So keep in mind that some long run days you will need 3+ hours to complete the distance!
*note* The course is open for 6 hours.

Hopefully this information and these tips will help you make your decision for which race to sign up for.

Note: I am not a running coach or certified in any way, I am just telling you what worked for me. Please do not mistake this for advice or anything other than tips and tricks.


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