Let’s talk marathon strategy. Something I know essentially nothing about aside from the wisdom of others that has been imparted to me.

I’ve gotten a lot of advice from the guys I run with who have run marathons in the past as well as everyone else who has ever run, walked, crawled the full 26.2 miles. I think completing a marathon is akin to having a baby….everyone wants to tell you how to do it. This doesn’t mean the advice I have been given has been bad, quite the contrary, it’s just hard to know what is going to work best for you come race day. And this is one race I’d prefer not to have to experiment with, so I am going into Chicago with a fairly pliable strategy depending upon how the miles play out.

I think I’m going to call my strategy the “I hate Jon Little” strategy, if only because his description of how I should run Chicago was surprisingly simplistic and clear cut. It went something like this.

First, eat a lot….A LOT…leading up to the race (he then went on to spout off all kinds of statistics regarding caloric intake and expenditure during the marathon). Then when the race actually starts, run it like this…

Hit the first 3 or 4 miles at around 5:45 pace – don’t panic if you run 5:30 or 6:00 minutes, just get back into the groove and absolutely don’t get sucked into the other runners that will go blowing off the start line as you’ll pass a great number of them as they blow up further down the road.

After those initial miles get in with a group that is going to average 5:30 (ask ahead of time) and just roll with them. Meanwhile, disconnect from the race as long as you can. Get through halfway and continue to stay disconnected until the race meets you head on. The race WILL meet you head on and you’ll have to focus sooner or later, so save that mental effort in the first 1/2 of the race.

Take gatorade whenever you can and carry a number of Gu’s that you’ll take every 4 or 5 miles. Build those carbs during the race that will come in handy during the last 5 desperate miles.

Expect to hit the wall sometime after 18. Expect the marathon to go bad at some time and then get through it. Keep plugging away and continue to knock out that last 10k.

When all is said and done, run under 2:25.

To summarize, run 5:45 to start, drop to 5:30, eat gu, finish in total glory. Yeah…just like that.

Granted, I know that’s not exactly what  he was trying to convey in his race description, but it kinda came off like that. And to be honest, it was something of a relief, even if not entirely accurate it’s at least a plan to work from instead of just hitting the pavement and hoping for the best. Because I really don’t have much of a plan, or didn’t, aside from starting off much slower than I ever have and then trying to lay into it after 1/2 way. I was/still am sufficiently intimidated about what is to come, but to have a plan calms some portion of my fears anyways.

Speaking of, while carving a pumpkin tonight I got lost in my thoughts about Chicago and finally had my first bouts of pre-race butterflies…which is always a good sign. I was wondering when those were going to kick in.

So we are exactly 1 week out from Chicago, in full taper mode, nursing a less than 100% leg, and playing fortune teller with what is to come.

Welcome to the calm before the storm.



8 easy miles


Breakfast – Pumpkin spice pancakes, toast w/ peanut butter and agave nectar, coffee, orange juice
Lunch – snacked on bavarian nuts and apple cider, coffee, rice cakes w/ seaweed and tamari
Dinner – Pasta w/ veggies, nutrional yeast, peppers and sunflower seeds, sweet potatoes, corn, water
Snacks – coffee, tea, emergen-C, pumpkin seeds


August burns red


6 responses to “Strategery

  1. the best strategy is in good preparation, and you’ve paid your dues. now its time to have some FUN and strut your stuff!!!

    I’m behind ya all the way-

    Best of luck, Scott!!!

    • Thank you sir/maam anonymous! And yes, I feel confident enough that when I step to the line (or behind the elites anyways) I’ll be able to say I put in the work and all’s left is to run. Let’s hope it goes as well as I’d like. Thanks again!

  2. Good luck, Scott! Burn it up.

  3. I’m so excited for you!

    Good advice about ‘disconnecting’ for the first half. While I know that’s not entirely possible for me I think it’s a great idea and will try in my first marathon, Oct in Indy.

    Been thinking/praying for you a lot, know it’s been a tough time. Looking forward to seeing you rock this thing, 2:20 or 2:30, regardless!


    • Yeah, it seems like what I’m hearing is the distance of the marathon demands that you lessen the intensity (physically and mentally) until it really counts. It’ll be tough, but it sounds like good advice to me.

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