Beginner-based marathon advice with Mike Gratton



  • Mylena,

    As a general rule any training done will have an effect in approx 2 weeks time - therefore a long run done now will have benefit and as well as the physical effect the pyschological one is very important too.

  • Andrew J,

    As in my previous reply about Kingston - I suggest a progressive running doing the second lap at MP.

  • Chris Hampson666,

    Sounds to me that you have run enough lsr's and since you have a half coming up would concentrate on that then start your taper.

  • Susan,

    I wouldn't try to cram any training in now and aim at getting to the startl ine in the best physical state you can. Cross training is not ideal but will keep your cardio vascular fitness and then it is really a question of taking it steady on the day.

  • Thanks very much Mike - really appreciate your reply.

     Looking forward to run tomorrow - hoping that there is no horizontal rain this week or knee high puddles! image

  • Thanks Mike - that's very reassuring.


  • Dear Mike

    Thank you for your reply.  I managed to do 18 miles this weekend - took it very steady doing a run/walk - and managed to finish in 3 hrs 30 mins.  Had slight pain in IT band at the end but stretched,  rolled and iced when I got home and feel ok today.  Has given me a huge confidence boost for the FLM. 

  • Hi Mike

    Some advice on whether to do my last LSR or not...Last run of 12 was last Monday 17th, prior to that the previous week I did 26 miles total... before that my LSR's were 13,19,18,17,13,6,15,13,9...obviously other shorter runs/training too.  I picked up a calf problem last week after the 12, saw a sports physio yesterday 22nd, no tear, just a small injury.  So not run for a week, she says I can do some 6 milers next week.  I am due to do the Wilmslow Half next sunday 30th.....should I try to do my 20 on Thursday or Friday 27th/28th and forget the half on sunday....or forget the 20miles and do the Wilmslow instead...This is my first FLM and getting paranoid now about getting it all right.  Hoping to complete in 4.30 as my silverstone half was 2.02 and feel pretty fit overall...?????  any advice gratefully received.

    Thanks for all the help you are giving too......fantastic


  • Hi Mike,

    I would be really grateful if you could help me out with some sensible advice!  I am a 37 year old woman, hoping to run my first marathon on April 13th and find myself facing the so-called taper phase, really really behind on my training due to endless colds and some (hopefully) minor injury niggles!  In fact, at this moment I've still got a chesty cough and have spent half the Easter break in bed, so running is still not an option yet.

    The last run I went on was on 9th March and was meant to have been an 18 miler.  I started to get a pain in my left knee and left buttock around mile 9 and kept going (with walk breaks) until mile 13, until I realised it was getting worse, so I stopped.  Since then I have had physio and been given some exercises and it's cleared up (at least while not running).  Last Monday (a week ago) they gave me the all-clear to start running again, only I was going down that same day with my current cold, so I haven't run yet.

    Prior to 9th March I ran in the Berkhamsted Half the week before and then before that did my longest run so far, which was only 16 miles.  I am not a fast runner in any case, and before all my illness/injury setbacks I was aiming for a sub-5 hour marathon on a good day (having followed a training schedule somewhere in between the "Get You Round" schedule and the sub-4.30 one).  According to my husband's Garmin  I run my lsrs consistently at  5.4 mph.

    Now I really don't know what to do.  I have a charity place and have raised lots of money in memory of my aunt who died of cancer, so I'll feel awful if I have to pull out.  In which case, should I walk/run it or just try to run it really, really slowly?  (Assuming, of course, that the cold goes between now and April 13th!!!)  Also, depending on when I get better, what running should I aim to do between now and April 13th?

     Apologies for the length of this essay and thanks for all the advice you are giving out.

  • Kernowgirl,

    If your calf muscle is recovered I would go for quality over quantity at this stage and do the half marathon and then start to taper.

    Make sure the claf is OK though and it would be better to do neither long run or race if there is a danger of a recurrance.

  • Poltimore Plodder,

    Very difficult one to advise on.

    You have probably done enough training to get around - many people do less and get around - but you need to keep an open mind about targets.

    First thing is to clear the cold and keep a note of your body temperature and resting pulse so that you can assess your general health - if both remain steady when you start running again I think you will be healthy enough to do FLM but you should consider not starting if they start to rise again.

    I think you can ignor the taper and aim at just doing some easy and steady running through to the race so that you get some tone/conditioning back into the muscles - in two weeks you should start to feel some form returning - then cut back drastically in the last 3 days taking in plenty of carbohydrate. 

    On the day of the race keep an open mind and run on how you feel.

  • Hey guys,

    Feeling a bit low today after a bad run and was hoping for some advice/pep-talk.

    36 year old man, first marathon, pretty fit, PB half marathon 1:48, longest distance ran 22 miles.

    Ever since Nov I've been having this really strange problem, which happens about every 4 weeks .. it starts as a very slight muscle pull to the sides of my lower spine - barely noticeable -  a bit like when you first 'crick' your neck. Within 48 hours, it's spread deep in the legs and I get almost 'electric' scatic pulls and pings. The pain is quite deep in the buttocks and hams feel very, very tight. It's a noticable pain when resting and, like today, very painful after 8 miles of running.

    OK - so, I've had .. new shoes, psycio once a week, painful piraformis (sp?) work, stretching sessions with my PT (helpful), a £1200 new 'Temper' matress (no comment), diclofilec (can't tell the difference now, but reckon I'm now addicted to pain pillsimage ), sports therapy massages - and an MSI scan (nothing shows) ... oh, the joys of jogging huh ?!

    Inbetween the times off, I've managed to keep up with most of the running (but won't do 'speed' as this is a sure fire way to 'pull' it again - as I've learned from fast treadmill blasts) ... and put in a very slow 22 miler a fornight ago and last Sunday managed 20 miler in '3:03' (in bad conditions and hills!) .. it was my dream to get a 4 hr marathon in, but with the weeks off I've had, I doubt that!

    So, after another 'pull' on Tuesday midday (it just 'went' in the office), last week was an 'no midweek training week' - and I optomistically tried to go out for a 22 miler today, but had to stop at 11 - the pain in the muscles was too much.

    Past patterns suggest that by next week I should be good to go for a long run again, but it looks like we are heading for taper-time.

    My rather long winded question can be boiled down to this ...

    What is the latest we can do a long run ... next weekend (30th) OK for a 22 miler at marathon pace that I ideally want to do ... or am I now wasting my time? I feel like i'm actually not *that* far off the training pace - considering the time off I've had - but today feel like I'm missing out on an important long run and would like to make up the time.

     Also, if anyone is reading this who has any idea what the hell is wrong with me, leave me a message - as my pyscio seems out of ideas and says my actual back is good and there's nothing else to do.

    Never again ... well, until the next time image

    Thanks Mike & friends ...


  • S.S. Have they checked for sacro-iliac joint dysfunction?

  • Hi Mike

    I did 22 hilly miles on Sunday in 3hrs 18 and felt ok at the end. Is 3hr45 a realistic target for the FLM? I am worried that I won't be able to get into a running rhythm on the day due to the crowds, and will leave myself too much to do in the second half of the race. Do you have any tips on pacing on the day?

  • Spencer Steel, Have you tried seeing an osteo. I have had great success with them on differing problems.

    If you feel you are pretty fit, personally I wouldn't try to run 22 next weekend. I presume you would be hoping it would give you a confidence boost but might damage you further. Why not just do a slightly faster 16? I have to say though, I'm no expert, this is my first marathon too but have raced enough to know the importance of rest on your race performance. These experts must know what they are talking about.   

  • last long run now completed, did a 23 miler on sunday, didnt think it would be in a snow storm but there you go. really looking forward to the London, really looking forward to not running for three hours at the weekend till November, thank you mike for all your advice & reassurances. i was going to come and say hello on friday at folkestone but would of felt daft cos you would not remember who 'Bazzo' was.

    best of luck to each and every one of you, we shall i am sure have some stories to tell on the 14th.

  • Mike, thank you so much for your sound advice - we are really lucky to have you available to answer our questions!

  • Hi Mike

    Thanks for all your useful advice on this thread.

    I am training for my first marathon (edinburgh May 25th). I am not a fast runner but am following the 4.30 schedule hoping to finish around 4.30-4.45. Would definitely love to do it under 5 hours. My problem is pacing - I do my LSR very slow. Yesterday I ran for 3 hours (my longest ever run!) hoping that I would have done about 16 miles but when I mapped it out it was only 15. How will I be able to run faster and further on race day if I am used to the slow run pace?

    I had done a 13.5 mile run on Good Friday in 2hr 30 mins so I suppose I may still have been tired doing another long run so soon after my previous one. My PB for a half marathon is 2hr 22mins but that was last year without as much training as I am doing now. Is 4.30 a realistic target and do I need to up the pace of my LSR or does the combination of the speed work and LSR just come together to allow you to run faster on race day? Just not sure I'd have the confidence to go off faster than I normally do on the day!

  • Hi Mike

    What a brilliant thread! Thank you!

    I'm a FLM 1st timer, and have been follwing the schedule in RW magazine to the letter, hoping to do a sub 4:30. Not a day missed! Until Sunday. I should have done 22miles, but on the threshold run on Saturday something went 'ping' behind my knee. So I didn't run Sunday/Monday and I've done an hour on the exercise bike today. It actually feels pretty much ok now, so should I chance the 22 tomorrow, or later this week or give it up and start the taper as the schedule suggests?

    My question is basically the same as someone else earlier asked (Spencer Steele, I think). How late can you leave the last long run? I'd be more inclined to leave it as I've done everything else and all is going fine, but last weekend I did 20 miles in 3:01 which puts me on track for sub 4:00 (beyond my dreams!) and I therefore want to give myself the best chance of that that I can. Don't know what to do!

    I'd really appreciate your advice on this. Many thanks.

  • Hi Mike

     I guess like a lot of people on here I have developed a rather frustrating injury after months of solid training and am worried about how much I can do up to and on the day. I was aiming for sub 3.45 and have done four 20s in training. The last one was two weeks ago and I did that in 2.45. However, a week before that 20 I injured my calf so didn't run until the 20 and have only done one 4 miler since.

    My calf injury is, I believe, a small tear that makes the muscle feel tight and uncomfortably stiff but not that painful. It feels more like a "gammy" leg that feels weak under my weight and throws my general posture out resulting in sore hip/knee if try to run on it. As such I'm really not sure what to do in the next two weeks up to Paris - I can feel such a loss of fitness over the four weeks that I now don't know whether 3.45 is possible or if I should run at all up til then for fear of making things worse! Particularly upset about not having done speedwork for a month when I was regularly doing this before.

    Many thanks.

  • Trixxie,

    I think at this late stage there is little more to be gained and you should go on the side of caution all the time. If you have done all of the other training you have all the work in the bag and now it is just finishing off the last 1% of performance.

    Lots of runners mess up the big day by trining to cram more training or to catch up on lost training - this just results in the runner being tired right up to the race rather than rested and fully fuelled.

  • Bernadette,

    The first thing is to get some physio on the torn calf muscle - ultra sound may speed up the healing process and maybe sports massage so that you don't have that worry on the day.

    Train lightly so as not to aggrevate the injury and start cautiously and see what happens - it's better to speed up if everything is OK rather than to go out at your target pace and struggle late on.

  • Hi Mike,

    I am feeling a little low this week on I have my own blog and was reading few today bored at work.  Everyone more or less seems to have done their major last long run 20 or more.  My plans didn't go to plan this weekend (Easter Weekend.)  Couldn't go for run on Friday as travelling up north then was unable to do it Saturday as had no Dad as I am Diabetic safer with someone on longer runs.  Then Sunday cam along all happy couldn't wait to get out and go, but opened curtains and it had snowed very deeply and icy.  It did eventually melt about 2pm, but then it was time to go visit my Nan who's ill so couldn't go for the long run.  Ended up in the gym for 3 hours 30 mins on treadmill/track about 6 miles then bike for 12 miles. 

    Now I feel down and as though I have let myself down as no long run.  I have got a planned half marathon this weekend and would like to get out for another long run say on Saturday maybe 16. 

    Would this be stupid thing to so close and also with tapering under way?  Any help would be wonderful thanks.  Sarah

  • Hi Sarah,

    Does sound like a disasterous weekend as far as running was concerned.

    Don't panic about the missed run - in the scheme of things it will not have a major effect at this late stage as the gains now compared to at the beginning of the training block are marginal - it really is icing on the cake time and any fitness gains from your training from now to FLM will only count for a small amount.

    I would concentrate on the half marathon then taper down - concentrate on quality rather than quantity to come to a peak. Cut down on the length of runs and do some of them at MP and some a bit quicker - making sure you have rest or easy days between the quality runs and you will be fine.

  • Mike,

    Thanks for your response and the time you take to update this forum!

  • Thank you Mike!

    I guess I knew what your answer would be - everyone around me has been saying pretty much the same thing - but it means more, and is much more reassuring, to hear it from the expert! And I'm also more likely to listen!

    Thanks so much for all the work you put in on this site. I hope you know how much it's appreciated.

    Will you be there on the 13th?

  • Hi Mike,

     Thanks for your help with my nightmare weekend of some running and biking!!  Just one last question I had been doing fartlek training and intervals until about 2 weeks ago as didn't want to risk anything going wrong so close to marathon.  I tried bit last night on my own, but was very tired anyway.  Would it still be ok say to go back for one or two fartlke sessions before the marathon its self?  I am worried about getting an injury more than anything as they really push us hard for an hour.  This is what I have planned below does this aslo work for tapering?

    Week 24th 30th Monday – Rest

    Tuesday – 3 miles planned more but sugar level to low for further, so added run for Wednesday

    Wednesday – 6 miles

    Thursday – 4 miles? Friday – RestSaturday – 3 mile recovery jogSunday – Half Marathon WilmlsowWeek 31st – 6th AprilMonday – RestTuesday – 4.5 miles or fartlekWednesday – RestThursday – 6 miles Friday – Rest Saturday – 3 Mile recovery jogSunday – Dunsford 10k steady runWeek 7th – 13th Monday – RestTuesday – 4.5 miles or fartlekWednesday – RestThursday – 3 milesFriday – possible slow 2 milesSaturday – RestSunday – Race Day

    Thanks again for your help much appreciatedimage

  • Ooopppss plan should look like this not above sorry very sorry

    Week 24th 30th


    Monday – Rest


    Tuesday – 3.15 miles sugar level to low to go further


    Wednesday – Rest


    Thursday – 5 miles


    Friday – Rest


    Saturday – 3 mile recovery jog


    Sunday – Half Marathon Wilmlsow

    Week 31st – 6th April


    Monday – Rest

    Tuesday – 4.5 miles or fartlek


    Wednesday – Rest


    Thursday – 6 miles


    Friday – Rest


    Saturday – 3 Mile recovery jog


    Sunday – Dunsford 10k steady run

    Week 7th – 13th


    Monday – Rest


    Tuesday – 4.5 miles or fartlek


    Wednesday – Rest


    Thursday – 3 miles


    Friday – possible slow 2 miles


    Saturday – Rest

     Sunday – Race Day    
  • Hi Mike - I'm afraid I'm back again!

    Tried an easy five miler yesterday - had to stop at 2 with the same knee pain. Have now seen a physio who says I've partially ruptured the hamstring tendon! She gave it ultrasound and I'm trying strapping and ice, but what do you reckon is the minimum rest time I can take, or should I just abandon the whole idea and pull out now?

    I do have a hamstring problem in the other leg but with ultrasound once a week I can run through that. This is a whole different pain and whilst I'm willing to try and run through it I don't know if the leg itself will hold out.

    I guess what I really want to know is how to handle the training from here. Is it possible to get by if I do nothing for a week and then just a few gentle runs? Or am I just kidding myself? (I can't bear the thought of returning all that sponsorship money. Not too mention all that wasted training.)

  • Sarah,

    This looks pretty sound to me - whether you do the artleks or not should be down to how you feel at the time - if not sure just go for a steady run at this stage and not take any risks.

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