First time marathon advice

I'm halfway through a 16 week marathon programme, running around 35 miles per week and have got up to 20 miles. I started running last July and have run 3 halfs with a pb of 1.50. The training pace for my lsr is 9.40 and I was originally hoping to complete the marathon around the 4 - 415 mark. Prior to the last few weeks I'd never run more than hm distance however during my 18 & 20 milers I've gone to pieces after 16 miles. My pace drops to around 10.20 and my legs feel like they're about to fall off (the wall?). I'm taking sis gels every 5 miles and drinking the sis powdered mix with water. I'm carb loading before these runs and refuelling with smoothies & a protein bar straight after and generally eat a healthy diet. I've done loads of research on the net to try and find out why this is happening and I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong. Am I not taking enough carbs whilst running? Is it just my body getting used to the distance? Is my training pace too fast? Should I forget about completing the marathon in the time I want? Is it just a mental thing? Sorry for the long post...


  • A marathon of 4:15 = 9.44 pace.
    Your lsr 'training pace' of 9:40 is faster than your predicted race pace.. 
    Can you see why you might feel knackered image 

  • stutyrstutyr ✭✭✭

    As Ian M said - slow down!  

    Your carb intake seems fine, some would argue that you may be taking on too much as part of the benefit from the LSR is to train your body to run with depleted glycogen stores.  

    I wouldn't get too obsessed with target times for your first marathon (I did and paid the price in the last few miles!).  Your priority should be covering the distance, which is the first achievement, and then worry about your speed.  


  • I was thinking the same thing. McMillan says my lsr pace should be between 9.05 - 10.25 but the programme I'm following (smart coach on here) gave me the pace I'm running at. I'll slow it down this weekend. Cheers for the replies, appreciate it...
  • Hi ell33, I think Ian has summed it up for you quite succintly, your LSR should be that a long slow run 60-90 secs outside your target MP to get your legs used to running for time rather then speed, I know your following a plan but you may be jumping to far too quickly? 1/2 mara to 18/20 miles is a big jump and at above MP will contribute to the fatigue?

    I run a 3:13 mara so around 7:20mm, my training pace is around 8:30-7:55mm over 15-18 miles, the quicker pace usually averages from a fast pace final 3-5 miles (not often just when I feel i'm running well)  you may be better served slowing down a tad and getting your body used to the longer distance (as you question yourself).

    This is your 1st mara and so meeting your target is important but getting to the start line feeling fresh is worth so much more.

    My 1st mara was run in 4:22 which I was happy with in hindsight but i'd expected to get around in 4hrs so a touch dissapointed but my legs were just not up to the distance or pace needed, I learned from that and adjusted my training and each marathon brought me closer to my goal, the same will be true for you.

    In regards to carbs, a good balanced diet will serve you well and the gels/isotonic drinks will keep you topped up throughout your run/race 'based on the claims image'.

    Best of luck with your training and let us know how your training goes, I hope i've been of help and happy running!!!


  • A long time since I last ran a marathon, but one trick that worked for me was to fool myself into thinking I was running a shorter distance.

    So for an 18 mile run, I'd do a 2 mile 'warm up' at a very slow pace (say 11 min/miles), then 'run' a half-marathon distance (say 9:30 min/miles), and then 'warm down' for 3 miles (again, 11 min/miles). I'd keep telling myself I was only running 13 miles, the slow bits didn't count. It worked for me, didn't find myself hitting the wall in training at all. Might have just been the same affect as slowing down the run though image
  • I'm hoping to run a marathon next year. My first. image I'm already up to 35 miles a week. My long run is only 12 miles at the moment. I have been following the advice that your long run should be 25 - 33% of your total weekly mileage.

    20 miles off a 35 mile week is over 50% of your total weekly mileage. I also haven't seen any plans that have you running 20 miles on week 8. I wonder if you are not trying to do too much too soon. In addition to trying to run too fast as has been mentioned.

    Try to avoid carb loading before your long runs. It's the glycogen stores in your legs that you need worry about. This is built up over time, as is your ability to run further. Your 'carb loading' should be a gradual increase in your carbs over the week, an extra flapjack or a slightly larger portion of veg at dinner. Not a big meal the day before. This may actually detract from your performance. (Unless you have a really active physical lifestyle and job). Also try taking less when you run, taking gels etc is giving your body extra work, at this point in your training you are trying to get your body to adjust to the mileage. You are asking quite a lot of it in a very short space of time.

    I think at this stage in the game you can still play around with your training a bit. Go back to the 16 miles that you know you can complete, run it very slowly, If you can, run an extra 4 miles in the week to maintain your overall mileage. Keep the pace of this run very slow. Your next LSR can be 18 miles, you will have taught yourself to run much slower so you will find that you complete this run with ease as well.

    You can play mind games as ADS suggests. Break your run up into segments so that it doesn't feel like one long haul.

    I hope you do well in your training.

  • Ran the Berlin marathon today and came in at 4:24. Even though it was slower than the time I originally set myself, I was pleased due to the problems I had on my lsr's. I managed a steady pace throughout and didn't hit the wall!

    Thanks for all your advice guys, I'll be sure to take them on board for the next one!
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