Is anyone training for a marathon?

(105 Posts)
imamearcat Sat 27-Mar-21 20:55:09

I'm training for a marathon in July, got a couple of halves coming up too.

Anyone else? It's my first so would love to get any tips?

OP’s posts: |
GoWalkabout Sat 27-Mar-21 21:15:40

Hi, I registered for the virtual London Marathon in October - I have done lots of half's many years ago and it's been on my bucket list so I thought maybe this was the year. I don't really care that it's virtual, as I had been thinking of doing it that way. My plan is to do a 16 week Marathon training plan starting in June, so at the moment I am just concentrating on running three times a week and building back up to a 10k weekend run. I did 4 miles today. I do three Les Mills half hour workouts a week too, for strength.
How is your training going? How many runs a week are you doing?
My main thoughts are not to increase distance too quickly so as to avoid injury. I struggle to increase pace anyway so increasing pace too quickly is not an issue for me!

fellrunner85 Sat 27-Mar-21 22:32:51

Yeah, I'm in marathon training - I'm doing one in October. At the moment I'm not doing any formal training but generally run 5-6 times a week, one of which is a long run.

imamearcat Sat 27-Mar-21 23:42:32

Hi guys! Sounds like you are both on track!

I'm doing good, I'm comfortable at 1/2 distance but never really gone much further. Just trying to get the balance of pace/distance etc.

OP’s posts: |
Wildlynx Sun 28-Mar-21 09:06:18

I'm contemplating to keep on going and doing a 'virtual' marathon just for the hell of it. I'm doing a virtual lejog challenge and have run nearly 400 miles so far this year, longest being 15.5m. This is way more running than I thought I'd ever do and think may monopolise on it and keep going! But currently feeling it with shin splints I think so need to be careful, I'm also loosely following intermittent fasting on 4/20 which doesn't really work with long run fueling... I've got 2 trail halves booked in for June which should be fine albeit they're very hilly ones!

WingBingo Sun 28-Mar-21 09:08:31

I am in October. I’m currently on 10 miles for my long run. Going out to do 11 today

I run 20 -30 miles per week so a good base to start from.

It’s tempting to run further today as I have done 15 miles before but I’ll stick to to plan and only increase my long run by 10%

I can recommend the book How to Run a Marathon by Vassos Alexander. There are some really good tips that have helped so far.

Investing in proper running socks was a worthwhile investment.

Good luck to all training.

fellrunner85 Sun 28-Mar-21 09:26:02

Sounds like you are both on track

I'm not sure tbh - after a year off from proper speed training, I think I'll find it hard to hit the pace I want. I know I've got until October but I do struggle to train fast on my own, and have missed the structure of a running club.

What are your goals - a certain time, or just to finish?


WingBingo Sun 28-Mar-21 09:44:45

@fellrunner85 I often notice you on running threads and you give good advice. Any to share?

I am doing two 5 miles in the week and incorporate speed work then a long run at a steady pace, 10 minute miles, sometimes slower as it is very hilly where I am.

fellrunner85 Sun 28-Mar-21 10:10:07

Of course, @wingbingo - happy to help! Is it your first marathon?

Firstly, your training at the moment sounds good, but I'd suggest adding in an extra run; a 3 or 4 mile recovery run, the day after your long run. Make it easy pace (at least as slow as your long run) and flattish. The aim is to ease out those muscles and stop you stiffening up, while getting some more all-important mileage in.

Second tip really depends on what your aim is. If your aim is just to finish, then disregard this. But if you're aiming for a certain time, then make sure you incorporate running at that marathon pace into your long runs (5 miles in the middle will do!) That's because, as I've learned myself in the past, you cant expect to do all your training at, say, 9 min miles and then run 8 min miles on the day. You'll blow up and it will hurt grin

Next tip is a key one - the Big Five. Make sure you do at least 5 training runs of 18 miles or longer. You're getting your body used to spending a lot of time on feet. If your long runs are at 10 min mile pace then that's around 3 hours, which is a good length of time to also experiment with fuelling..

...which brings me to the next point. Fuel! Experiment on your long runs and see what works for you. Most people can get around a half marathon on no extra fuel, but a marathon is an entirely different beast. You need to get used to taking on fuel while you're moving, so try various options and see what suits you best. Then, most importantly, do this on race day! Again, I've fallen foul of this before as I thought it would be easier to have the gels provided at the event rather than the ones I wad used to. I threw up everywhere and ran a terrible time. Would not recommend!

Finally - do not underestimate the distance. In my experience, a 10k is roughly twice as hard as a 5k, and a half is roughly as hard as a 10k. A full marathon is 3 or 4 times as hard as a half. They say the race starts at 20 miles and, when you get there, you'll know why. You learn things about resilience and strength at miles 22/23 of a marathon that you never knew you had in you. This is a good thing! But it needs prepping for - hence the (at least) 5 long runs , and the organised approach to fuelling.

I've run several marathons, some slow mountain ones and some fast road ones. It's truly an amazing experience. Good luck to everyone doing their first!

fellrunner85 Sun 28-Mar-21 10:11:52

Sorry, noticed a missing word in my post above - should've read a half is roughly twice as hard as a 10k. Oops.

WingBingo Sun 28-Mar-21 10:27:15

Thank you so much!

Yes it is my first. I have done 3 half’s and I didn’t need to take water or fuel so I know I need to experiment with that.

I can add in an extra run on the Monday after my long run I think.

So far I have stamina but not speed! I know I need to do tempo and intervals to nail that. I’m off to do a flat run alongside a canal today, will be a treat after the 10 miles on hills last week!

As for my aim? I want to finish in under 5 hours, a good goal for my first I think.

WingBingo Sun 28-Mar-21 10:29:04

Ooh and I need to start some strength training too, I have managed to avoid injuries after 4 years of running, don’t want to start now. At the age of 46 I need to be wary of that.

I feel I’ve hijacked your thread OP, but all good advice for us to share I hope.

fellrunner85 Sun 28-Mar-21 14:28:24

What sort of times have you run your halves in, @WingBingo? Some people say that doubling your half time and adding 20 minutes is a good rule of thumb for calculating a predicted marathon time, but I reckon that's a bit ambitious for the first time.
It roughly works for me now though.

WingBingo Sun 28-Mar-21 15:46:19

2 hours 22 is my best half time. So far anyway! With that in mind I think 5 hours is achievable.

fellrunner85 Sun 28-Mar-21 15:54:25

I would suggest having an A goal, a B goal and a C goal, so you're not disappointed on the day.
One of those goals should just be to finish, and the others can be different time goals. But honestly, just getting round the first time is a massive achievement. Don't put too much stock on a sub-5.

Ellie2105 Sun 28-Mar-21 16:09:57

Hi I wonder if I could ask for a quick bit of advice too? I am training for a half in September (my first). I am doing it with my husband to raise money for the hospital which is looking after my premature niece so it’s important to me to do well (I’d like to finish in 2 hours)

I am currently running 3 times a week. Tuesday 10k, Thursday 12k and Saturday is my longer run which I am increasing by 1k per week. I did 16k yesterday in 1hr 29 mins. I currently do 10k in about 58 mins.

Does this seem ok? I know I should probably do a shorter, faster run too but I don’t like to run more than 3 times a week as I am fairly injury prone.

I also have a spinning bike and do 3 x 45 min endurance classes and 2 x 45 hills classes per week.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated (sorry for long post!)

iVampire Sun 28-Mar-21 16:29:26


I have a charity place for the London Marathon (rolled over from last year, when I did the virtual). It’s my first RL marathon - I’ve done lots of Halfs and one 20 mile event in the past

I agree about having goals. My dream is sub-4 (Half PB is 1:53, so a definite ‘stretch’ target, but as I said, I can dream). Realistic but good target is 4:30, third tier is 5 and after that it’s ‘just get round!’ I was slower in the virtual, but I wasn’t fully fit, it was cold, wet and had no sense of occasion!

I need to map out my proper training plan. At the moment, I’m running regularly (3 or 4 times a week up to about 8-10 miles for the longest) with the aim of consolidating basic fitness at Half level (by which I mean that if someone told me any day to run a Half tomorrow, I could do it in a reasonable time)

I’m also doing strength and conditioning at least once a week.

I’ve got two virtual Halfs and one RL one booked already - first next month - and will add more

When in proper training, one of the runs will be a challenge run (intervals/hills/tempo) and one will be long slow distance - aiming to cumulate with five weeks 18, 18, 20, 22, 20; then taper for 2-3 weeks. If I can get to the fitness when I did the 20 mile event at the tail end of 2019 (decent time, and could have kept going) then I’ll be happy

Agree that you need to get in to the habit of just dropping in to target marathon pace - it needs to feel comfortable and automatic

Remember to do as many of your long training runs on similar terrain to the race - so for me that’s flattish roads

I also need to lose a bit of weight! My best running weight is about half a stone lower than my ‘normal’ weight

Make sure your kit is really comfy (including in the wet) and sort your nutrition and hydration out by experimenting during training. Some gels give some people diarrhoea and that’s something to find out beforehand not on the day!!

And my final thought is not to get too hung up on the mileage of each run - some days can go badly. Think about time on feet as well. If you’d aimed your do 20miler, but ‘only’ cover 18 in say 3:30, that’s still good enough

WingBingo Sun 28-Mar-21 16:47:36

Really good advice. I think I will just be happy to finish. I was choked when I did my first half, could not believe I ran that far.

Now a ten mile run is easy, not something I thought I would say.

For anyone reading this thread and wondering about running, it all started with c25k 4 years ago because I couldn’t run for a bus!

So if I can do it, anyone can grin

fellrunner85 Sun 28-Mar-21 17:05:40

Totally agree re time on feet, @iVampire - too many people get hung up on hitting exact mileage IME, whereas time on feet is a better measure. Not least because, say, an 18 mile hilly trail run will be harder and arguably have more training benefit than 20 miles on a flat road. I also need to shift a bit of weight before my next race, I think, but equally I don't want to under-fuel. That said, when I ran my marathon PB I was about 5lb heavier than I am now, so I'm trying not to get hung up on hitting my theoretical "racing weight" of 8st 12.

And @ellie2105 - your training plan at the moment is pretty good, but you need to make the most out of your three runs if you're not going to do an extra run a week. At the moment your runs are all pretty samey - two middle distance runs and one longer one a week- so I'd suggest swapping one of your shorter runs for a proper speed or hill session. Either that, or do your 10k at HM race pace of 9min miles (which should pretty much be a 10k tempo run for you).

Given your current 10k PB, I'm wondering if sub 2hrs will be a bit of a stretch, but with some decent training - including speed sessions running at less than 9min miles if poss - it should be doable smile

Ellie2105 Sun 28-Mar-21 17:51:20

Thanks for the advice @fellrunner85
I would be happy to add in an extra (shorter) run during the week but when I was running 4/5 times a week previously I hurt my ankle and had to take 3 weeks off.
When you say speed, do you mean a shorter run at a faster pace for the whole thing or intervals? I meant to say that I have a treadmill which I hope to use for intervals, we are having air con put in our summer house at the moment as I find it really difficult to exercise when I’m too hot.

As for hills, there aren’t too many hills around where I live so I may have to find one and run up and down it several times! Or would running on the treadmill on an incline work ok?

Lastly what kind of thing do you eat before a longer run? Currently I have some high protein yoghurt with a few nuts/seeds and a few blueberries about 90 mins - 2 hours before I head out. It seems to be ok but I wondered if there was anything better?

Thanks again for the advice and sorry for all the questions! X

fellrunner85 Sun 28-Mar-21 18:08:26

Hi @ellie2105 - ideally, replacing one of your shorter runs with an interval session would have the biggest payoff.
Something brutal like a 10 min warm up, then 10x400m, and a 5 min cool down would have big results, esp compared to your current steady 10 or 12k.
Some really good ideas are on the runners world website here:

I don't eat before any runs of less than 15 miles ish, but if I'm going out for a properly long run I'll have weetabix and/or a banana first. I always have coffee though!

Treadmill inclines don't really replace a hill session so tbh I wouldn't bother with that - what you want to do is find one steep hill and run up it, as hard as you can, then jog down slowly, for half an hour.

Ellie2105 Sun 28-Mar-21 19:32:05

Thanks @fellrunner85! I have just downloaded an intervals app which I will try this week. I already have a route planned for Tuesday which includes a set of 50 steps which a plan to run up and down a few times but I will definitely do intervals this week. Do you think the treadmill could be of any benefit for any kind of drills or is running on the roads better?

How many times a week do you run? What does your running schedule look like when you are training for a race?

AOwlAOwlAOwl Tue 30-Mar-21 10:29:57

I'm trying to train for a July race, but I'm struggling with motivation. I have just about kept up with running over the winter, barely any long runs though. I'm really looking forward to the weekend because I'm meeting mates TWICE for runs on Friday and Sunday. This last year has made me realise how much I like to run with people. Not every day but even once a week is great for motivation and especially on a long run when you just need to grind the miles out, a bit of company to chat rubbish with is wonderful.

I've got fatter and a bit slower over winter so I'm hoping for some magical transformation now the weather is nice. Fingers crossed

I'm still not convinced my races will happen which I think is part of the issue. One has been moved this week from June to the week after my big race in July 🙄 the times I was running last year seem like a dream now - I'm not even close. I'm glad my July race is a hilly trail ultra so I can take my eye off the clock a bit blush

AnnPerkins Wed 31-Mar-21 09:35:15

I'm doing London in October (my first marathon) and a virtual HM on 11th April (my second, first HM was 15 years ago though).

I did a 12 mile long run on Sunday which went ok (considering I'd forgotten to put the insoles back in my running shoes after they got soaked a few days before hmm) The main problem I experienced was needing the toilet for almost the whole time. I've got to pay more attention to what I'm eating and drinking before long runs.

I'm following the BUPA HM training plan for beginners which seems to be working for me so far. After the HM I will have five months to double the distance for London and I'm conscious that I have to keep the momentum going. The drier weather means the local footpaths are becoming runnable again and I'm really looking forward to doing some more relaxed long runs in the countryside.

WingBingo Wed 31-Mar-21 18:04:19

Me too @AnnPerkins. I love the rural runs.

I just attempted hill reps. It was awful, soo much harder than I thought. I guess that shows how good they are. I managed 6 reps so a place to start from.

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