from bar stool to marathon runner


I am a 38 year old bloke who has pretty much spent his twenties and thirtys abusing his body. I was a 25-30 a day smoker from the age of 17 to the age of 33. I pretty much spent the remainder of my 30s increasing my alcohol intake to the point that I was drinking a bottle of wine a night and had reached a weight of 15 1/2 stone. I am 5 ft 11 incidentally. My exercise regime was sporadic the odd game of 5 aside and the occassional visit to the gym when the guilt got the better of me.

Around the beginning of August this year I decided to start running regularly. I loved to run when I was in my late teens and have always wanted to run a marathon at some time. However my initial goal was to have that feeling again, the feeling I had as a teenager of just going for a run because I fancied a run... No significant pain or discomfort and to be able to leave the house and manage a route without the embarrassment of walking home with all the running gear on.

 The previous 3 months have been amazing. I got into a routine and stuck to it throughout August. I joined a running group and my miles increased significantly overnight going from running 9 miles a week to the point that I was doing 20 miles a week. Thankfully no injuries came and I have made some really pleasing progress. I entered my first 10k at the end of september and hoped to complete in under 55 mins although i was really unsure if this was possible. I was delighted to finish in a time of 51:38... I continued with the 20 miles per week and have felt that I have been growing in strength. Entered another 10k last week and set the target of a sub 50 minute time and was delighted to finish in a time of 48:19....

I worked hard to make this time, got myself to a strong pace and managed to hold it.. According to the garmin my heart rate stayed between 180-190 the full 10k... Not sure what this says about my heart or fitness, but it was tough work.

I am ultimately working to completing the longer distances. I want to manage a sub 1:50 half marathon, hopefully next year. And would love to do a sub 4 hr marathon, which terrifies me.. I have so much respect for the marathon now that I have upped my mileage. We do 12 miles with the running club some sundays so I know it will be tough physically and mentally.

I thought i would post here to get some tips and inspiration .


  • Well I'm a cr@p runner so can't offer any real tips but just wanted to say well done and congratulations on such a fantastic effort image
  • That is absolutely brilliant and i think it's about mental strength and having your head in the right place. I'm sure you'll do it.I'm more of a hillwalker and have ran/walked 5k this year. My goal is to run 5k next year or maybe even 10k. I'm looking for hints/tips and any good music suggestions along the way. Good luck you.
  • good for u buddy, i was in same position as u. i was 15 stone 3 at 1 point and smoked like a chimney. i've now lost over 3 stone. the next step for u i would think is to increase u'r miles. i currently do 50 a week. but i ran 20 a week for ages, if u want to run a marathon u got to be doing a min of 35 a week. have a look at some trainning plans, i use the cool running website. also try to do a few half's before u go for a full 1, i found that its about 3 times harder to do a full marathon than it is to do a half marathon. get u'r self signed up for something - gives u something to work towards. good luck
  • Well done
  • Keep up the good work.
  • sounds like you don't need any tips, you are doing a grand job on your own! image  I reckon with a background like yours an Ironman should be your target.  There are plenty of people with a similar pedigree who have completed one..............
  • thanks guys,

    the iron man is some way off image I was heading for an iron lung so it is nice to even contemplate such possibilities. My next goal is a 5k in 3 weeks time. Never done a 5k race, I think of myself as more of a slogger than a fast runner so am unsure what time to aim for. Given my 10k time I am thinking I should aim to do sub 24 minutes, does that sound reasonable?

     What about my heart rate description above between 180-190 the whole of the 10k, does anyone think I should be concerned by that?


  • You sound like you are pretty much where I was last year. I took up running at 42 because I was putting weight on due not exercising and liking a pint.

    When I started off I couldn't run 1 mile on a treadmill without walking some of it.  I moved to running outside in the Spring and was running 2-4 miles a night and gradually built up to where I could run 10 miles in June.  From there I decided to enter Chester maraton in October and finished in 3 hours 53 mins.

    I've now well and truly got the running bug, I''ve entered 2 halfs in the spring where I hope to run under 1:45 and Manchester marathon later on where the target will be under 3:45. Also as a bonus I lost 2 stone and am under 10 stone (about right for a 5 foot 6 short*rse!) for the first time in about 15 years!

    best thing I did re. the marathon was to stop worrying about whether to enter or not and just do it. As soon as I got a date to train for my running/ training came on leaps and bounds.

     I guess all the above is just a long winded way of saying, just go for it. Stick your name down for a spring marathon, get a training plan and get stuck in!



  • cheers Gaz,

    what a time for your first marathon, that is absolutely brilliant 3:45 for the first one !!!

    I have decided to go for the Belfast marathon in May and will do a 1/2 marathon march/april. I will use this forum to keep a record of my progress.

  • Good luck mate. It'll be interesting to compare notes on the ups and downs of training for a first marathon.
  • RicFRicF ✭✭✭
    Heard the story about a guy in Canada called Peter Mahan. Ran as a kid then gave up. Sat in a bar watching a guy win some race on the telly and told the others he used to beat him at running. The place just oscillated with boggling minds as he weighed 18 stone plus.
    He started training, 12 months later and 6 stone lighter he could break 60 mins for 10 miles, 18 months after that and another 20 lbs lighter he won the Toronto marathon in 2:12!
  • Regarding the heart rate - unless you have any underlying heart conditions, I wouldn't be concerned about any heart beat readings you get.  Max heart rates can vary a great deal from one person to the next and is not related to fitness (unlike resting heart rate, which you would expect to reduce as you got fitter.)  If you're registering 180 - 190 consistently through a 10k all this is telling you is that your max HR is greater than 190, nothing unusual.  My max HR is at least 200 and for a 10k I typically average around 183 - 185, maybe maxing out in the 190s for the final push.

    Good work so far, keep it going.  image

  • Yes, Im with Phil (not personally, I mean on his Opinion).

    The numbers always seem high... after all, a 180bpm is 3 beats per second!.... but, provided you are generally in good health, it isnt a prob. 

    You might want to a Max HR test to see how high your Max HR is, that will then act as a guide if you are doing speed trining/ paced training. There will be a tab on it somewhere under the training section.

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