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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Running the Marathon for Plodders Part 2

Is there such a thing as a 'sure can' strategy to complete the marathon? Actually no. So sorry to disappoint you guys. That last line in the previous post was a marketing gimmick. You know keep the suspense going, get more eyeballs, get more advertising income. Ha ha ha.

But anyway seriously I think most people will be able to complete the marathon; maybe not in 3 hours, not 4 hours but maybe and that is a big maybe; depending on the amount of training or lack of; in say 5 or more hours.

But before I go on, STOP reading if you are able to run the marathon without walking (okay maybe can walk a teeny little bit at the various water points), this is not for you. This is for the plodders. (But if you die die must read, don't come and suan me when you see me okay?)

Firstly, some preliminaries. If you do not have the mileage i.e. have not consistently chalked up total weekly runs of at least 40km and a few long runs of 20km and above over the past 3 months, I can assure you - you are not going to be able to run the 42km non stop. Along the way, your legs will start to feel heavier and heavier, your heart starts to beat faster and your brain starts frying and you gonna have to walk. Everyone of us can run a little bit but walk a lot. So we gonna make use of what we know best and use it to our advantage to conquer the FM. All of these strategies that I am going to list below will involve walking. A lot. Easy right? Especially since most of us are capable of walking all day in the malls so what is 5 - 6 hours of walking for the FM?

1) Weaning Plodders

Once a plodder always a plodder. No not true lah. Can graduate but first do it one baby step at a time. So if you have been clocking 6+ hours or more previously, wean yourself off with this strategy.

Run 10 mins Walk 10 mins Repeat. Check point: 3:03 hours at the half way mark (21km)

i.e. Run 10 minutes and aim to cover 1.5km. After that walk 10 minutes covering 800 metres each time. Repeat. So for every 20 minutes you will cover 2.3km. Chicken feed right? Keep to this throughout and you are on the way to weaning yourself off from being a plodder.

Total time taken to complete the FM: 6:06 hours. Pace 8.41min/km.

2) Graduation

Break through the 6 hours barrier. If you have done some training and maybe in the run up have done up to 20km, this is for you.

Run 20 mins Walk 5 mins Repeat. Check point: approximately 1 hour 21 mins every 10km

i.e. Run 2.5km in 20 mins and then take another 4 mins to walk another 500 metres. Repeat. That will means 3km for every 25 mins. Not very difficult right? Use the 5 mins walk to relax and catch your breath. Get into the rhythm and pretty soon you see the finish line. Hurray you graduated no more a plodder!

Total time taken to complete the FM: 5:45 Pace 8:10min/km

3) High 5

Actually it is mid 5 but high 5 sounds better. Yes you can do 5:30 and below if you have some experience in running short distances but have not done too many long runs.

Run 5 mins Walk 5 mins Repeat. Check point: approximately 7.5 km every 1 hour or 2:45 at half way

This one is more 'shiong' although it sounds easy. But hor you kena have to run 800 metres in 5 mins which is like 6:15min/km. Easy for most seasoned runners but may not be easy for us plodders. Use that 5 mins walk to breathe. Yeah you probably forgot to breath while chionging the 5 mins. You know who is good at this? Those young school kids you see so often at races. They run like hell and then suddenly stop and walk and then run like hell again. Yeah we follow them but follow smart not like a headless chicken.

Total time taken to complete the FM: 5:30 Pace 7:50min/km

4) A little bit more

This one a bit more tough - need to be able to run non stop for at least half an hour but hey after that get to walk for half an hour as well. Not too bad a bargain right?

Run 30 mins Walk 30 mins Repeat. Check point: approximately 8 km every 1 hour

Basically, run 30 mins - 6 km and walk 30 mins - 2 km. Or just cover 8 km in 1 hour. How difficult can that be? Seriously if you are fairly fit and have been running consistently, this is gonna be a piece of cake.

Total time taken to complete the FM: 5:16 Pace 7:30min/km

5) Supersub 5

Congratulations and celebration when you tell everyone that you've completed under 5! (sing to the tune of Congratulations and celebration) Okay lah doesn't rhythm so well but hey I'm a runner not a singer

Run 4km in 25 mins Walk 500 metres in 5 mins. Repeat. Check point: approximately 9 km every 1 hour

And if you can pull this off, give yourself a big hug (better still hug the fella next to you) as you cross the finish line because its a 4:45 finish! Pace 6:40min/km

Cheem or not? Difficult or not? Impossible? Nothing is impossible. Just do it!

Er okay question time. How to know how far you've run? Well there are distance markers along the route and together with this little thingy which you wear on your wrist you can do the maths. And of course you can use a Pace Band. Pace Band? What is that?

That, we'll leave for the next post where I shall talk about the things you need or don't need to have for the race itself. Until then cheers and happy running.


  1. Great posts Tekko! I did an 8 min run, 2 min walk strategy for my first marathon in 2005, and completed it around 5:15. Felt strong at the end of the event and all charged up to try again the following year :) Keep the excellent tips and insights coming ...

  2. Ha ha Doc, you don't need my little tips. Leave them for the newbies and plodders. All the best for the SCSM.