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Marathon help
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Upstairsdownstairs30 · 13/06/2022 15:11

I have a place in the VLM in October this year and am currently panicking about how I am going to do it!


I originally got my place in 2019 trained to marathon distance before it was cancelled, deferred my place to April this year.. prior to April around September time I was super fit and doing a sub 2 hour half...

When it moved for the second time I seriously lost motivation and have hardly been running since then.

I would do the occasional 5/10k but I started a 16 week training programme and am on week 2 and I am so broken! It says about running 5 times a week and I can't commit to this with working ft with a toddler!

So my question is... have I left it too late to start training? Is it possible to run a marathon with training around 3 times a week? I would also like to continue with some CrossFit sessions, is this just going to make me more broken?


Just looking for some help and general encouragement!

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Watchkeys · 13/06/2022 15:16

Yup, you can get a 16 week marathon training programme with 3 sessions a week. Some will be starting with no experience at all. You're in a better position than you think.

The best training programme is the one you can stick to. You're a google away from what you're looking for.

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MrsBagshot · 13/06/2022 15:25

Definitely! I did it last year in the midst of late perimenopause and starting HRT halfway through training, plus an ankle injury! I did 3 runs some weeks, other weeks 4 runs. No intervals or speed work, but I did do my long slow runs.

It wasn't the best marathon time in the world, but I ran the whole thing and felt pretty comfortable throughout, and recovered quickly and easily afterwards too. I did take my nutrituon, fuelling and hydration very seriously though throughout training and in the race itself, which definitely helped.

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MrsBagshot · 13/06/2022 15:27

Try Hal Higdon for training plans. I found those plans to be realistic and sensible.

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Upstairsdownstairs30 · 13/06/2022 16:42

Ah thank you, I must not have been looking hard enough as most are more, will have another google! Thanks for the encouragement! 😊

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Upstairsdownstairs30 · 13/06/2022 16:43

MrsBagshot · 13/06/2022 15:25

Definitely! I did it last year in the midst of late perimenopause and starting HRT halfway through training, plus an ankle injury! I did 3 runs some weeks, other weeks 4 runs. No intervals or speed work, but I did do my long slow runs.

It wasn't the best marathon time in the world, but I ran the whole thing and felt pretty comfortable throughout, and recovered quickly and easily afterwards too. I did take my nutrituon, fuelling and hydration very seriously though throughout training and in the race itself, which definitely helped.

Just realised how to use quotes! Well done you for doing it In spite of al of that! That’s amazing!

thanks for the encouragement! Feeling more positive now!

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Upstairsdownstairs30 · 13/06/2022 16:44

MrsBagshot · 13/06/2022 15:27

Try Hal Higdon for training plans. I found those plans to be realistic and sensible.

I will check this one out thankyou!

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Upstairsdownstairs30 · 13/06/2022 16:44

Any tips on nutrition / hydration for the day?

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Fenella123 · 13/06/2022 16:58

Get a book or 2 by Hal Higdon and join the Runners world forums.

I would concentrate on the running and some strength training and not keep up CrossFit at the expense of that. Ramp up the your CrossFit again post marathon.

If you've jumped from once/twice a week running to 5x then of course you're shattered. Gradually increase.

You CAN do a marathon on 3 runs a week but honestly, the better your training, the less unpleasant things will be during the last 8-10 miles on race day. If you can ease up to 4/5 runs a week over the next 2 months, I would.

Ultimately though... take a step back - ask yourself why you are doing this. If you won't enjoy the training then there's an argument for EITHER just committing to not really training and mainly walking, possibly in some discomfort, the 26 miles on the day, OR not doing it at all. Life is too short! Present you and what they want is more important than whatever ideas 2019 you had.

If the main issue is that you have a lot of parent duties and just no time - I'd ask how old you are? If you're 48 now and want to get a marathon ticked off on the bucket list I'd say ok, fair enough, just bodge it all but do it now. 38? Postpone for a few years until you have a bit more time, it'll go better.

I used to run a lot and enjoyed it. But I did more than enough to know that there is nothing grimmer than waking up to know that there's an 18 mile run on the schedule for the day that you do NOT want to do!

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H34213 · 13/06/2022 16:59

I done a 12 week plan with an ok base, not amazing HM times. Make sure and do all your long runs they are most important in my opinion, don’t worry about time and slow your pace, I done that and ran it all and finished comfortable. I done shorter 3 and 4 mile runs with the double buggy when I couldn’t fit a slot in with no babysitter and it’s better than nothing. Definitely keep at cross fit, I kept at PT until 3 weeks before the race and I 100% believe it had a huge impact also. Start training with what you think u will run with, gels never agreed with me but Mars bars did, keep your energy nutrition the same especially on long runs and that way u will get a feel for what works for you. Never try anything new on race day and invest in good runners. I tend to sip at every water station even if not thirsty just to keep hydration levels up as I find it uncomfortable running with water. Good luck!

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AuntieStella · 13/06/2022 17:03

Upstairsdownstairs30 · 13/06/2022 16:44

Any tips on nutrition / hydration for the day?

Nothing new on the day. Nothing

Practice during your long slow training runs.

I drink only water and use a small-bladder hydration vest, and only occasionally pick up water on the course. London gives out water at some stations and Lucozade as well. Do not take the Lucozade unless you've been drinking it during training.

Experiment with fuel. I prefer the bloks (Clif?) to slimy gels (most of which taste rank, and which give the unlucky few the runs in a different way) but I do sometimes carry Roctane (not as slimy, containe caffeine - do watch your total caffeine though). But gels are undeniably convenient, and perhaps you'll find ones you like!

Other things to consider for fuel: dextrose tablets, little packets of pretzels, mini packets of sweets - mini-Harobo don't actually give you many calories, but can be good for morale, as would any other favourite sweeties

You can get electrolyte sachets. I drink two of these the day before (afternoon, evening) one early morning on race day, and then more after the race. I'm not sure how much difference they make, but I do like to feel I'm throwing all the right things down my throat!!

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ReviewingTheSituation · 13/06/2022 17:21

I'm with you - had a place for 2020 and finally doing it this year! I really really didn't want to do an October marathon as I hate training in the summer, but hey ho, here we are.

Firstly - you absolutely can do it. It's 16 weeks from now, so that's plenty of time. You've been there before, so you know you can do it.

It sounds like you don't have the right training plan for your lifestyle. Whilst many are 5x per week, that simply doesn't work for some people. Have a look for a different one, and don't be afraid to tweak/tailor it.

The key is the long run. This is the one thing you really do need to do, so work out a way to get this done each week. For most people this is early on a weekend (or non-working day), but in the summer, with lighter evenings, you might be able to get away with evening (if you can get away without doing bedtime one evening). Ideally it would be roughly the same day each week, so your body has a week to recover before the next one. To make sure you avoid injury, build the distance up slowly, ideally with a drop-back week every few weeks. Put them in your diary now, so you know what's coming.

If you're feeling broken already, I'd be willing to bet you are trying to run too fast. 80% of your running should be 'easy' - a pace where you can chat, feel comfortable, and feel like you could go a bit further after you've finished. If you need to go back to run/walking for the first couple of weeks, then do that. It will soon come back.
If you only have time for 3 runs a week, you need to be smart about it. A long run, a medium run at a slightly faster pace, and some form of interval work (fartlek, hills, timed intervals). Ideally some form of cross training would be handy too - some strength/conditioning (can easily be done at home, without any special equipment) and your cross fit class.

The other thing that may really help you is company. Find a local running group - there are bound to be other people there who are training for it. Having a running buddy on those long runs makes ALL the difference.

In terms of on the day - whatever works for you, BUT - test it out beforehand. NOTHING NEW on race day. No new kit, no new gels, no new drinks. You've got 16 weeks to experiment with gels, blocks and bars, and to decide what kind of kit you like to run in.

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LoveItOrListIt · 13/06/2022 17:25

Agree with Hal Higdon…I used his 18 week training plan three times…you are only 2 weeks off…if you have a decent base then you should be able to slot right into week 3 relatively easily.
also agree that the long runs are the important ones not to skip.
good luck!!

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Upstairsdownstairs30 · 13/06/2022 17:26

Fenella123 · 13/06/2022 16:58

Get a book or 2 by Hal Higdon and join the Runners world forums.

I would concentrate on the running and some strength training and not keep up CrossFit at the expense of that. Ramp up the your CrossFit again post marathon.

If you've jumped from once/twice a week running to 5x then of course you're shattered. Gradually increase.

You CAN do a marathon on 3 runs a week but honestly, the better your training, the less unpleasant things will be during the last 8-10 miles on race day. If you can ease up to 4/5 runs a week over the next 2 months, I would.

Ultimately though... take a step back - ask yourself why you are doing this. If you won't enjoy the training then there's an argument for EITHER just committing to not really training and mainly walking, possibly in some discomfort, the 26 miles on the day, OR not doing it at all. Life is too short! Present you and what they want is more important than whatever ideas 2019 you had.

If the main issue is that you have a lot of parent duties and just no time - I'd ask how old you are? If you're 48 now and want to get a marathon ticked off on the bucket list I'd say ok, fair enough, just bodge it all but do it now. 38? Postpone for a few years until you have a bit more time, it'll go better.

I used to run a lot and enjoyed it. But I did more than enough to know that there is nothing grimmer than waking up to know that there's an 18 mile run on the schedule for the day that you do NOT want to do!

Thank you there is a lot to think about in this!

I am 31, had it on my bucket list to do a marathon before I was 30! I do enjoy the training (till it gets about 15 miles +) and am lucky that one of my best friends also managed a ballot place for this year so have some company!

I think I’ll just have to maybe dial the CrossFit back to once a week and accept that whilst i might be able to do it I might not get an amazing time!

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Upstairsdownstairs30 · 13/06/2022 17:29

H34213 · 13/06/2022 16:59

I done a 12 week plan with an ok base, not amazing HM times. Make sure and do all your long runs they are most important in my opinion, don’t worry about time and slow your pace, I done that and ran it all and finished comfortable. I done shorter 3 and 4 mile runs with the double buggy when I couldn’t fit a slot in with no babysitter and it’s better than nothing. Definitely keep at cross fit, I kept at PT until 3 weeks before the race and I 100% believe it had a huge impact also. Start training with what you think u will run with, gels never agreed with me but Mars bars did, keep your energy nutrition the same especially on long runs and that way u will get a feel for what works for you. Never try anything new on race day and invest in good runners. I tend to sip at every water station even if not thirsty just to keep hydration levels up as I find it uncomfortable running with water. Good luck!

Thank you that is really helpfull!

what buggy did you use and how much did you train with your pt?

im thinking maybe once a week CrossFit?

I have never used gels before either so might give the marsbar a shot! 😊 I don’t like running with water wither, are the stations quite frequently?

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Upstairsdownstairs30 · 13/06/2022 17:31

AuntieStella · 13/06/2022 17:03

Nothing new on the day. Nothing

Practice during your long slow training runs.

I drink only water and use a small-bladder hydration vest, and only occasionally pick up water on the course. London gives out water at some stations and Lucozade as well. Do not take the Lucozade unless you've been drinking it during training.

Experiment with fuel. I prefer the bloks (Clif?) to slimy gels (most of which taste rank, and which give the unlucky few the runs in a different way) but I do sometimes carry Roctane (not as slimy, containe caffeine - do watch your total caffeine though). But gels are undeniably convenient, and perhaps you'll find ones you like!

Other things to consider for fuel: dextrose tablets, little packets of pretzels, mini packets of sweets - mini-Harobo don't actually give you many calories, but can be good for morale, as would any other favourite sweeties

You can get electrolyte sachets. I drink two of these the day before (afternoon, evening) one early morning on race day, and then more after the race. I'm not sure how much difference they make, but I do like to feel I'm throwing all the right things down my throat!!

Thank you I will have to experiment with some of those, I have a somewhat sensitive stomach so maybe I should start testing now haha!

I have been jelly babies all the way on the halves I’ve done, just need to find a belt big enough for my stash!

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ReviewingTheSituation · 13/06/2022 17:49

You will definitely need to run with water on your training runs if you're training in the summer. Find something that works for you - a belt or a hydration vest - but please don't attempt running for 2hrs plus without taking on water.

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H34213 · 13/06/2022 18:45

Upstairsdownstairs30 · 13/06/2022 17:29

Thank you that is really helpfull!

what buggy did you use and how much did you train with your pt?

im thinking maybe once a week CrossFit?

I have never used gels before either so might give the marsbar a shot! 😊 I don’t like running with water wither, are the stations quite frequently?

I use the out n about pram, it’s excellent. Sorry should have been clearer I took water on my long runs just not on race day as they have stations. I done 2x weekly at PT then reduced to 1 some weeks to get an extra run, I ran 4 times a week n some weeks 3 days. On my marathon they were every few miles, u can usually check the race outline as most maps tell you where they are. I tried every gel they just didn’t agree with me but I know probably 90% of people use them, I would just find what works for you but fizzy haribo and Mars worked for me lol really slowing my pace worked for me I just wanted to finish and finish comfortable, took me 5hours but I finished with more energy in the tank so for my next one il set a target time, I’d just try to enjoy your first one.

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Savoretti · 13/06/2022 18:56

I have run 3 marathons and only ever run 3 x a week. A fast 5k, a medium 10k and a long run which I would increase by 10% each week up to 22 miles. I would definitely keep up with your CrossFit too if you can. I tried to do one swim a week too and did one 15 min weight session for upper body… And I was 49 when I started

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Upstairsdownstairs30 · 13/06/2022 19:53

ReviewingTheSituation · 13/06/2022 17:49

You will definitely need to run with water on your training runs if you're training in the summer. Find something that works for you - a belt or a hydration vest - but please don't attempt running for 2hrs plus without taking on water.

Oh yes that would be very dangerous, I will drink On the training runs was just planning on a quick shop dash / running past my house as part of my long runs! Maybe I should try a hydration vest though, I just hate carrying a bottle in my hand of it jiggling on my belt (my belly does enough of that h

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Upstairsdownstairs30 · 13/06/2022 19:54

H34213 · 13/06/2022 18:45

I use the out n about pram, it’s excellent. Sorry should have been clearer I took water on my long runs just not on race day as they have stations. I done 2x weekly at PT then reduced to 1 some weeks to get an extra run, I ran 4 times a week n some weeks 3 days. On my marathon they were every few miles, u can usually check the race outline as most maps tell you where they are. I tried every gel they just didn’t agree with me but I know probably 90% of people use them, I would just find what works for you but fizzy haribo and Mars worked for me lol really slowing my pace worked for me I just wanted to finish and finish comfortable, took me 5hours but I finished with more energy in the tank so for my next one il set a target time, I’d just try to enjoy your first one.

glad you rate! I have been keeping my eye out for a second hand one of those on marketplace but no joy as yet, maybe I will bite the bullet and buy one for when my other half is working at the weekend! 5 hours is a bloody good time! Are you planning another?

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Upstairsdownstairs30 · 13/06/2022 19:55

Savoretti · 13/06/2022 18:56

I have run 3 marathons and only ever run 3 x a week. A fast 5k, a medium 10k and a long run which I would increase by 10% each week up to 22 miles. I would definitely keep up with your CrossFit too if you can. I tried to do one swim a week too and did one 15 min weight session for upper body… And I was 49 when I started

That is absolutely amazing! Had you been running for a while before you started didn’t marathons? Bet your in great shape!

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Fenella123 · 13/06/2022 20:13

I often didn't carry drinks, but, rather, ran past newsagents (am I showing my age here?!), stations, pubs, cafes, public loos, friends' houses etc and would just get the drinks en route. When I did carry something, it was like the kalenji running hand flask - a hand strap that the bottle fitted into. No chafing.

It's important to recover well as it's during that recovery that your body adapts and gets stronger. Have a high protein snack or meal after hard sessions.

And ask around for a good sports massage therapist.
Oh and count the miles on your running shoes - sometimes you can feel creaky and find out you just need a new pair of shoes. (But how many miles is individual - I knew someone not that different from me in age, size etc who wore the same shoes but I changed mine at 250+ miles, she changed hers at 500!).

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H34213 · 13/06/2022 20:24

They are brilliant, I bought mine second hand on market place too, set a alarm for the keyword as in my area they go within an hour of going up. I am indeed all being well, realistically be next year as in my area there isn’t that many and autumn ones all booked up but with 2 under 2 il be happy to take longer to train and try improve time now I know I can actually do the distance lol

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ReviewingTheSituation · 13/06/2022 20:28

I'm with you on the belts and hand held bottles. I hate the sloshing and the riding up. But a hydration pack means you can be self sufficient. The best part of long runs is getting far from home, and running in new places- not having to run past your front door every few miles!

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HouseofGods · 13/06/2022 20:36

I've never done one but a friend at CrossFit just completed a marathon and was still doing CrossFit 2-3 times a week, one long run and maybe 1 or 2 shorter runs per week. She found the CrossFit really helped as it gives you a great fitness base and keeps the strength training up.

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