Destinations Marathons

Marathon Challenge – Update 1

I wrote last week about how I was starting to look for marathons in Europe that might be interesting to run and review and even more interesting to travel to. Using points and miles is really fun for me when I can do something a little different than just taking the single option the award calendar spits out :). I know, I am strange like that!

Anyway, in a quick overview of my marathon challenge, I had realized the Iceland Marathon was in August and that it was on a day that I would be available. The Challenge part came about because I have not run much at all in the last few weeks given our family’s moving plans, travel, and such. For people that know about training for marathons, optimal training schedules are between 16-18 weeks. It is possible to do it on shorter schedules to be sure, but it always helps to have a solid base in place. In my instance, I really do not have much of a base (the longest distance I ran recently was 27 miles on the treadmill back in May). Please note: if you do not have enough miles under your belt, you can hurt yourself starting from nothing and running a marathon on such a short timetable. I realize the potential is there for that, but given the amount of miles I have before that period and my reasonable goal, I feel I have ruled out the possibility of injuring myself to some extent.

So, once I decided to run the Iceland Marathon, I had 40 days until the race. In that time, I have to ramp up my mileage again and find a way to get to Iceland on the cheap from Greece. The challenge consists of:

  • 40 days of training
  • 40 miles (max) of training per week (to reduce the potential for injury in training)
  • 4:00 hours for the marathon (which is about 30 minutes slower than my PR but is a suitable goal considering my lack of training)
  • Use miles and points to get to Iceland, stay, and get home with as little cash outlay as possible

After week 1, how did I do?

  • Tuesday – 6 miles @ 8:03 pace
  • Thursday – 9 miles @ 8:13 pace
  • Friday – 7.5 miles @ 8:07 pace
  • Sunday – 12 miles @ 8:30 pace
  • Total – 34.5 miles @ 8:16 pace

A couple of things that I have going in my favor during this (short) training phase are the temperatures around here (over 90 degrees each run) and the hills (intense!). The temps for the Iceland marathon should be around 50ish and the hills are pretty non-existent – the race description is “small rolling” hills. So, hopefully my training environment will ultimately help me!

That’s it for last week! This week, I am hoping to get close to 40 miles while working some cross-training in as well. On the trip planning front, I have my ticket to Iceland, my hotel in Iceland, and my flight half-way back from Iceland :). Just one more flight to piece together and I am set! Looking forward to it, but mostly looking forward to reviewing this race as it enters its 30th race year so that I might encourage some of you to do it at some point.

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About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.


  • When I train in between marathons, I used to resort to running only three times a week, trying to maximize the long runs on the weekends while keeping the weekly mileage down. I usually start with 6, 6, 12 and then increasing up to 6, 6, 20mi or if possible, 8, 8, 20, increasing the long run by 2-4 miles a week. With my program, its not really enough to do well in a marathon, but good enough to finish. This could limit injury and also gives me more free time as i only have to run three times a week, rather than four.

    Looks like you’re doing well on the first week. I just hope you’re not too sore for week 2 or 3.

    I think training in the heat then running the race in the cold would give you a good time advantage. I was struggling a bit on the short runs in the heat last week, but breeze through it this week, running in a time i thought was slower.

    • Thanks, Simon. That is a good plan as well. I started incorporating my Insanity in this week for off days – that is a killer! I did do a 10.5 miler today (was supposed to be shorter but took some extra turns!) and felt ok. The only sore stuff is from Insanity last night! I really am hoping the heat will be an advantage for me come marathon time! It will be better than having the opposite from the last year – trained in NY in winter before running Dubai! Pretty tough!