To enter the London Marathon Ballot

(29 Posts)
time2shine Mon 02-May-16 11:02:31

I'm early forties, out of shape, four small kids. Very busy. Work long hours.

I really want to get fit and am really tempted to enter the ballot. I wouldn't want to achieve any crazy time. 5 hours would be a great achievement. I can run about a mile at the moment. It would just be great to have something about 'me' to focus on with the added bonus of making money for charity.

Aibu thinking I could do this? Anybody else going for it despite not being the obvious person to run a marathon?

FanDabbyFloozy Mon 02-May-16 11:05:14

Can you start with a 10km, then work your way up to a half marathon within a year, trying for the marathon the following year?
I could have written your post and that's what I am secretly going to try. (Secretly as even a half-m out of reach for now).

CakeNinja Mon 02-May-16 11:06:28

I've gone for it for about 5 years in a row without success! Friend of mine entered last year for her first time and got turned down so she decided to apply for a charity place. She had to raise 2K which she did, had only ever run a few 5Ks before and crossed the finishing line last Sunday.
I'm applying again this year!
Have only ever run 10K no further, feel dead by about 8, think this will be an excellent personal challenge - what have you got to lose? Apart from your kneecaps grin

2016Bambino Mon 02-May-16 11:15:41

I ran it 2 years ago. I had previously done 10ks and a few half marathons. Despite this I still found the training horrendous. I would much rather be spending time with my kids than out running for 3 hours in the wind and rain on a Sunday morning. I work full time and spend 2 hours a day commuting so couldn't do much training in the week.
I would aim for a 10k first and then build up from that if you enjoy it.

DeepfriedPizza Mon 02-May-16 11:18:08

"they" say you should be running regularly for a year before trying a marathon so you can learn to listen to your body.
With that in mind you could apply for next year and start training straight away or you could apply next year and build up slowly with a few other events under your belt first.

moussakka Mon 02-May-16 11:22:48

No, YADNBU! I ran the London Marathon last weekend. I registered in October to run with a charity (didn't get a ballot place) and started training in November. I am 30s and prior to this was not a regular runner. Although I certainly am now grin

It has been hands down one of the best experiences ever. I found that having a goal and a training plan to stick to forced me to keep at it at times when I really CBA.

The runs get quite long, especially towards the end, so scheduling them can be a challenge (22 mile long run on a Sunday for e.g. took me over four hours in training). Sometimes if I didn't manage to fit in the miles I would spread them out across the day. I was also for e.g. ill for a couple of weeks quite close to the marathon, and still managed it despite missing out on those weeks of training. Anyway, although challenging it was totally doable.

I did not lose a massive amount of weight though! If anything I've been anxious to have plenty of calories in me to fuel runs, and eventually accepted I'd have to wait until after the race to lose weight. Although the advantage here is that I am definitely much fitter and now really enjoy, and have a routine of, going running.

I'd totally recommend it smile I saw people of all ages running, including many in their forties, fifties and older.

I am still on a high from the experience and thinking about entering the ballot again myself for next year.Completing the 26.2 miles was not easy but with the support of the crowds and camaraderie between runners I enjoyed every moment.

Good luck getting a place OP! smile

Marthacliffscumbag Mon 02-May-16 14:06:34

YABU, you yourself admit you work long hours AND have 4 small children?! When would you train?
Marathon training is all consuming, you can't wing it, are you prepared to get up at 5am to fit a training run in? Or come home from work, put the children to bed and then go out running?
It's hours and hours of training every week for months, building up to 3/4 hour runs. I know it's easy to get caught up in the desire for a challenge but why not start by training for a 10k there are hundreds of 10k races up and down the country, choose one and train for that and take it from there.
If you're out of shape you don't know how your body is going to react to such full on exercise as marathon training.

cinnamongirl1976 Mon 02-May-16 14:12:35

Do it. If you get a place (1 in 5 chance roughly) and you're not ready, you can defer. Almost anyone can run a marathon - it just takes determination. The training is harder than the race. I've done it twice and both occasions rank as amongst the best of my whole life.

Frazzled2207 Mon 02-May-16 14:23:24

Unless you've trained for at least 10k distance before yabu.
I did several half marathons before children- that was very time consuming.
Now I have kids I would love to do the
LM but just can't see where I would fit in training which would need to be 4 times a week.
Enter the ballot for the great north run instead.

Frazzled2207 Mon 02-May-16 14:25:22

Also bear in mind you don't hear ballot result till october which is way too late to start training if you're a beginner.

moussakka Mon 02-May-16 14:57:05

@Frazzled I disagree on the last point - I didn't know I had a place until October and hadn't been doing any running for several months at that point. I wasn't particularly fit at all. A beginner marathon training plan is 24 weeks, so approximately 6 months. That is a very slow increase in mileage and as another poster pointed out, if you find you are struggling or feel you are pushing yourself too fast, it is possible to defer till the next year. Ideally you would want to have been running prior to that, but it is possible to start there and complete the marathon. I would never have stayed so committed to training without the firm goal of the marathon in sight. I followed a training plan and a week on from the marathon feel strong and fit - no injury or ill effects.

megletthesecond Mon 02-May-16 15:03:04

Yabu for next year. Long hours and 4 dc's doesn't sound very marathon training friendly.

Book yourself a 10k or something. At least start doing parkrun every Saturday morning. Why not aim for a marathon in 2018, give your body time to train and strengthen?

moussakka Mon 02-May-16 15:05:08

Although with a ft job AND four kids, getting in the hours and having time and energy to recover from runs could be challenging. I say enter the ballot and start training now, as another poster suggested. Anyone can run a marathon - you just have to put in the hours of training. And entering shorter races along the way, as a few have suggestef, could keep you on track in the months before you find out if you got a place.

cinnamongirl1976 Mon 02-May-16 15:21:14

Read 'The Non-Runner's Marathon Trainer', which is about a real-life university programme in the US that trained absolute beginners, who went from zero experience to running their first marathon in 16 weeks. It starts you out running 3 miles so you need to add on a bit of extra time if you've never run before. In this plan you don't run further than 18 miles. And you run 4 times a week. For my second marathon (my first with a child) I sometimes managed only 3 - but still beat my first time by 40 mins.

It's not easy, especially with other commitments, but you can do it if you're determined and have the support of your family. Marathon day is amazing and it's your reward. I don't agree with people who say you need a year's experience before you start. It would be a good idea to do something like 'couch to 5k' now, though, and maybe enter shorter races to get used to it.

Trojanhorsebox Mon 02-May-16 15:47:10

I did a marathon at 42, I'd done 2 half marathons and several 10k races by then. I am not a fast runner - rarely less than an hour for 10k.

My experiences, for what it's worth:

- I did a 18 week plan, but the long runs started at 10k, so you need to factor in how long it would take to be 10k fit before starting it
- it had you running 5 times a week, this was too much for my body and I soon cut down to 4
- the time factor - I am not fast, after 7 or 8 weeks the long runs were over 20k - for me that was well over 2 hours, and as they increased, well over 3 hours. that doesn't include the fact you're wiped out for the rest of the day.
- during the week, will you run before or after work? I was part time so I was often free during the day, I don't think I could have fitted those weekday runs in otherwise, with kids' soccer etc in the evenings
- you have kids, so is your partner supportive? A lot of the kid stuff will fall on him if you keep going off on 2 hour runs.
- if the weather is bad, do you have a treadmill or access to a gym?
- do you have friends to train with? My friend did the marathon with me, we didn't train together a lot, but just having someone to compare notes with was a support. She runs with a group now and loves it, I'm a solo runner - what would work for you?
- not trying to put you off, but while I was marathon training, I have never felt so sore, ill and tired in my life - and that was without any injuries, just the constant stress of training! I woke up feeling achy and exhausted most days. I also didn't lose any weight!
- I don't regret it, it was a fantastic experience on the day and I felt a huge sense of achievement for seeing it through. I still run, but 10k and the occasional half marathon these days.

I am not trying to be negative, but your red flags for me are the out of shape, young kids and working long hours - do you realize just what a time commitment marathon training is? There aren't any short cuts that wouldn't risk injury. I would suggest start training and aim for 10k initially and then see how you do.

Good luck whatever you decide!

Frazzled2207 Mon 02-May-16 16:15:29

Moussaka
Well done I stand corrected.
An amazing achievement.

AliDran Mon 02-May-16 16:16:36

I've just entered it, just turned 40 and have twin 22 month old and a 6 year old. I'm already training for the great North run in September, and would love to get a place, but doubt I'll get one anyway! I'm the world's slowest runner, but think if I can do it, it would be an amazing achievement for me!

paddyclampitt Mon 02-May-16 16:26:32

Do it! Nobody says you have to run the whole lot!

You sound pretty similar to me tbh. I got a ballot place for 2016 but deferred at the last minute due to injury. Luckily my entry is now carried over to next year.

Back in October I struggled to run 4km, although I had run a fair few 10ks and a half marathon the previous year. I got as far as 18 miles in my training so feel like I have come a long way!

If it was me, I would say enter but start training now! I am v slow so don't worry about the time!

Trojanhorsebox Mon 02-May-16 18:06:41

My point about being a slow runner was not so much the time you get on race day, but more about the extra time spent training - those long runs take longer if you're slow and are going to cover the distance! It also means you're out for longer on really hot days, so hydration and nutrition is very important.

Salene Mon 02-May-16 18:11:51

It's doable I'd never run further than for the bus and entered it, I didn't train properly and ran it, took me just over 5 hours though and wasn't enjoyable

I entered ballot and got in 3 years in a row. Following year I did train for it

It still wasn't enjoyable 🙈 The training is way worse though than the day. It's very time consuming if you decide to train correctly for it

anotherbloodycyclist Mon 02-May-16 18:22:24

It's completely do able but coming from nothing you need to make sure you don't get injured. I was training for an autumn half, and then decided to go for the flm the following spring. I work full time, less kids than you though. My top tip is to try and fit the runs into your routine. I did a ten mile run home from work once a week. Long run at 7am on a Sunday so I'd be back in time for family life. And then one work lunchtime run, and one other 10k. I didn't run further than 18 miles in training which was fine. As someone up thread said you may not get in on the ballot though, and even if you do and you feel it's beyond you then it's possible to defer.

Nonotmenori Mon 02-May-16 18:25:18

YANBU. I've entered for the first time this year. I've never ran more than 2 miles in my life. I've recently given up smoking (3 months now) and next week I am starting my training. Good luck to you. You can do anything if you set your mind to it. Or so I've convinced myself!

donotreadtheDailyHeil Mon 02-May-16 19:00:26

If you are really going to enter the ballot then please do train. There are loads of established runners out there who can't do a charity place and are never going to be quick enough to qualify for a "good for age" or "championship" place because they are fast. If you are a member of a club you can get a place that way although the numbers of club places have been reduced. So if you do enter, please do the place some justice and don't decide you won't do it, or just walk round (there are walking marathons you can do instead).

Personally I'd restrict the ballot to those who've done at least a 10k in the past, but ultimately I don't think it would really solve the problem that there are too many people wanting a very limited number of places. However, it would make people realise that 6.2 miles is a long way itself, so 26.2 really is and you can't just rock up and do it, it's a long slog of training, at least 4 months' worth of long runs every Sunday (or whenever you can do them).

I've been running about 6 years now and a half marathon is quite enough for me. Also I would care about the time I did, and I don't want to do all that training, miss my target time because things didn't come together on the day and wonder why I bothered.

Trojanhorsebox Mon 02-May-16 21:12:19

anotherbloodycyclist I agree with everything you say! I was working part time when I trained for my marathon, but my friend did the running home from work trick. You have to figure out a routine that works for your personality and schedule - I had no problem getting up at 6am to do my long run on a Sunday, but going for an evening run after work was never going to happen! My marathon was end of August in a country of hot summers, so getting out running and home before it got too hot was really important for me. My longest long run in training was 20 miles.

I'm dithering about signing up for a half in July, so I'm looking at my work schedule, kids' soccer tournament dates etc trying to figure how to fit everything in. I've already started training and just got to hill repeats etc - no way I'll be doing them if I don't have to as part of training for a race!

I don't claim any running or training expertise, but I do know how I felt at 42 as a slow runner with a job and family training for a marathon! It is doable, but you have to really want to do it and be able to make the time for it. Read up on training plans and find one that will work for you.

MrsHarveySpecter Mon 02-May-16 21:25:22

I ran London last weekend. I was established runner but it was my first full marathon. Please do not underestimate what a huge commitment training is. Six weeks ago I was making all my friends swear not to let me enter another marathon until my children are older (they are 5 & 2 and I work full time). It really is a lifestyle change, albeit temporary. The marathon itself was a wonderful day but the last few weeks of training before the taper miserable.

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