Can you ever have too much of a good thing? The 'How many marathons a year is just too many?' post

OK, so, at this very moment, I'm looking at my race schedule for next year, and these are the stats (up to now that is):

Planned races (Full marathons or longer distances):

Full marathons: 6 (I'm thinking about adding an extra one in December, unless I'm running Disney's Goofy Challenge in January 2012, in which case I won't add an extra marathon in December)

Ultramarathons: 4 (one 50K, one 60 K and one 78 K mountain ultramarathon + one 100K race spread over 4 days)

Yep, that's a total of 10 (probably 11) 26.2 milers (or 26.2 miles+) races in 2011. Nuts? Nope, not really. I do want to point out that I plan on running the full marathons as training runs for the ultra distances. I do not plan on racing these full marathons. OK, in all fairness, I might race one or two of them, but I intend on using them as training runs. Recently I came to terms with myself and realized that I'm not fast, nor will I ever be fast. I think that I just don't have 'fast' in me. And that's OK. However, I have endurance and I love hitting the trails. And I'm a sucker for races. Oh, and I love going the distance. And I love mountain races. Just always loved the mountains. That's where my true love is. I know it may sound crazy, but why waste good years on racing Half Marathons and Full Marathons on the road to become faster, because that's how you're supposed to do it, when all I really want to do is race trail and mountain races, and go the ultra distance?

How many is too many?

But, back on subject, how many marathons a year get's you to that point where others might believe that you're absolutely insane?

I know of runners running one marathon a week for charity. I know of runners running all 50 US States to be part of a club. And I know of runners running one marathon a month just for the fun of it. Not to mention Marathon Man Dean Karnazes. They just run that many marathons because THEY want to. Seems completely sane to me. But who am I?

Now, what do Experts say?

Experts say you shouldn't run more than two marathons a year (just google 'how many marathons a year' and you'll find tons of articles on it). But I guess what they really mean to say is you shouldn't race race race more than two marathons a year. They also say that you shouldn't give a full marathon a go when you haven't been into running for at least three years. I picked up running last January, and I finished my first (mountain) marathon this July (7 months into running - it takes more time to get a baby), so I guess I failed that test. Might as well demolish that two marathons a year while I'm at it, right?

I am sort of sane...

Don't get me wrong. I know that the Experts have a point here. Running that many miles obviously isn't easy on your body. It is key to gradually build up the mileage and give your body some time to get used to it all. Most important: you should really listen to the old bod! And I do. When the old bod says 'NO!' I do step down a bit in my schedule (most of the time). But, I'll be honest with you, I do find it very hard to take it easy. ;)

I've already posted this question on my Facebook page, and would like to post it again on my blog: How many marathons a year do you believe is over the top?


T said...

Okay, #1: fast is relative. You're super fast compared to me!!
But I think how many marathons is too many is like mileage (on my mind lately, obviously!) and is totally personal. I have friends who do one every few years, and I have friends who do two in a weekend. Whatever works for you!

JLT said...

Agreed, you are fast!!!

I think it totally depends on you as well. I couldnt run as much as you do, but if you can and you're healthy, then go for it!!

Silly Girl Running said...

@ T: You're right; Whatever works for you, would be OK. Although...two in a weekend...WoW!

@ JLT: Well, thanks, but uhm...here in Dutchy Land, I'm considered as a slow middle of the pack runner...;) You're right on the healthy part: I really try to eat right and get enough sleep in. And - it sounds lame, I know... - I really try to listen to my old bod. ;)

misszippy said...

I think you made a good point...are your racing marathons or running them? If racing, then yes--more than two/year is too many. If just running them easy, especially if you're training for ultras, then go for it! I race mine and put lots of training miles and mental energy into them, so 2/year is my max, and usually it's only one. Great post!

Amanda - RunToTheFinish said...

OMG i would die on that schedule, but then again that's because I don't like races. :) I like to run every day, but just don't really care to run more than 3 -4 races a year. I have a weird desire to run an ultra though cause I wouldn't be worried about my time!!

oh let me know if you do Goofy, I want to come up to orlando and cheer folks on!

Silly Girl Running said...

@ Miss Zippy: Thanks! I really believe that racing/running is a different thing on marathons and recovery from it.

Silly Girl Running said...

@ Amanda: Hahaha. I just hope the schedule won't kill me. ;) I have the same with ultras as you have: it just seems so 'relaxing' to me to run without checking your pace every freakin 30 secs.

shellyrm aka jogging stroller mama said...

Beep beep. Back the truck up. You started running when? and you are doing ultras now?!!!

I don't say that in a judgment way at all. I mean it as, "this is so weird because I was just telling my niece last night that I wish I hadn't waited 20 years of running to get into ultras!"
I wasted so much time running to be faster to better my last marathon time or to get another medal. I always love trail running but I just wanted to make that leap and now I don't want to go back!
So you ask if your 10 or 11 is too much. Not when they are trail/off road/ultra type events. The way those type of races are run is completely different than a road race. Way less beating on your body even with the extra distance.
I say go for it but listen to your body and have a BLAST!

Ms. Duffy said...

Between 1 and 12. That's my official expert opinion. Ha ha. No seriously, if you stay healthy, why not? Your plan sounds sane. Besides, you're going to get automatically faster (maybe not Olympics fast, but still) with all of that mileage just 'cause you're new. Good luck!

Running Diva Mom said...

wow --- you are crazy lady!!! That's so inspirational. I'm running two fulls this year and I thought I was doin' good!! :-) I wanna focus on halfs next year. you are amazing!!

Silly Girl Running said...

@ Shelly: Thanks! :) I know I'm sort of nuts, but what can I do about it. ;) You're so right on the difference between running a road race and a trail race!

Silly Girl Running said...

@ Ms. Duffy: Fingers crossed for getting less slow. ;) Thanks! :)

@ Running Diva Mom: Hahaha! I know I'm insane. ;) And stubborn, 'cause I just want to run those ultras. ;) :)