QT: Lessons Learned from Running One Marathon Per Month in 2019


In 2019, I set the goal of running one marathon (minimum!) per month.

That is a valid question.

And one that I’ll get to shortly.

The Goal

The goal was pretty simple and straightforward.

Once per month, I was going to do at least one run that was a minimum of 26.2 miles.

It could be a proper race. It could be an S&G.

As long as it was 26.2 miles, it counted.

So how did it go?

To the letter of the law, I failed.

After a busy January in which I ran the Bear Bait 50k and the Big Beach Marathon in back to back weeks, I didn’t hit the 26.2 mark in February.

I had planned to, but the day I set out to get my February 26.2 it got hotter than I was prepared for and I made the executive decision to pull the plug on my “run” at about 17 miles instead of walking/stumbling/staggering for another 9+ miles to hit the target.

Without question, it was the right decision.

However, it still means that I missed the target in the second month of the year!

You could make the argument that because I did two marathon distances in January I was still on track, but I recognize that I came up short of my goal by not finishing a marathon in February.

That said, instead of giving up I kept pressing forward with the new goal of hitting my mark in 11 of 12 months for the year.

And on that front, I was successful!

I ended up the year with 13 marathon or longer runs, after running both the Cannonball Marathon and Marine Corps Marathon in October.

So, clearly, the year was still a win even if I came up one month short of the original goal.

Why I Ran a Marathon Per Month in 2019?

My main reason for setting the marathon per month goal last year was to increase my total mileage.

I figured that if I was running 26.2 every month, it would force me to keep my long runs a bit longer to maintain the necessary base of fitness required to do a marathon every month.

And, for the most part, I think it worked.

Lessons Learned/Takeaways

Needless to say, I learned a few things running a marathon every month.

Here are a few of said lessons, which I think (hope?) can help you with your running this year and beyond whether you’re running one marathon, 12 marathons, or zero marathons.

Familiarity is a Good Thing

I can’t think of anything in life that doesn’t get a little bit easier the more you do it.

And while running 26.2 miles will never be easy, it definitely got easier.

At some point, doing an S&G 26.2 stopped being a bit deal and simply became a slightly longer than usual long run.

It was never easy, but the distance has also ceased to be daunting.

Which may seem like a subtle difference, but it really is massive.

Difference Between Running and Racing 26.2

I’ve always kind of liked this quote, but after this year I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that it’s true.

When I would do my S&G 26.2s, I typically was focused on making sure my HR stayed in check and that the intensity of the run qualified as easy from start to finish.

But when I was running a race? I was racing.

After an S&G? I’d be a little stiff/sore the next day, but nothing too outlandish.

And more often than not, I wouldn’t miss a single day of training before or after the S&G run.

Sure, I might adjust the mileage a little bit, but for the most part, it was business as usual.

But after a race? I would be hurting for at least the next handful of days and it usually took about a week to reach “Pain-Free + 3” status.

Obviously, pushing the distance can be hard on the body.

But going long isn’t nearly as stressful as going hard.

Success Doesn’t Require Perfection

Like I said earlier, my 2019 goal of running a marathon each month was technically a failure.

Clearly, I wasn’t perfect. I missed a month.

But was my goal still a success?

Too often, I get caught up in thinking that everything has to be perfect or all is lost.

And that clearly isn’t the case.

Sure, in an ideal world, things will always go as planned.

But in the real world, when things have a tendency to go sideways more often than we’d prefer, there is no doubt you can still be successful even when things are far from perfect.

Keep It Going in 2020?

Running a marathon each month in 2019 was a net positive for me and my running, there is no question in my mind.

So, the obvious question then becomes, will I be running a marathon every month in 2020?

Yes, I’m in a better place as a runner right now than I was a year ago. And the monthly marathon goal was a huge part of that growth.

That said, toward the end of 2019 I was looking forward to not feeling like I had to run 26.2 simply for shits and giggles again any time soon.

Point blank, I got really tired of running solo marathons in town.

Does that mean there will be no S&G marathons in 2020?

Shrug.

It could certainly happen, but it’s not something I’m going to commit to right now one way or the other.

I’m simply going to keep working toward my running goals this year.

And if/when the spirit moves me to add in a 26.2-mile training run at some point? I’ll make it happen.

But if the spirit doesn’t move me, let’s just say I won’t be complaining about an S&G-free 2020!


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What Would Be a Scary, Yet Doable, Distance for You to Aim to Hit Several Months in a Row?

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