Marathon advice (training)

Firstly - hello!

Just wondered if anyone has any advice for a lack of motivation for going out on a long run for marathon training.  I always struggle to run any further than about 14-15 miles in training even although I'm fit enough to go further.  I just can't be bothered when it's just a training run.

I'm not exactly a seasoned pro when it comes to running - this is my background:

Up until this year I'd done a few charity 10k runs and a half marathon.  I'd done a bit of running in my spare time just for general fitness and keeping up fitness for playing football and I'd kind of blagged the 10k runs I did (and the half marathon really!) but that was pretty much just 4 mile runs or so.

I decided to do something this year to get me back into training as I'd stopped football and wanted to stay in shape.  I signed up for a 100 mile challenge this year for charity - which entailed an Ultra Marathon (33 miles), 2 marathons and a 15 mile hill run.

I was massively under prepared for the Ultra Marathon, having only managed to motivate myself to run about 13-14 miles in training a few times.  I got through the 33 miles on pure stubborness alone I think!  Next up was the 15 mile hill run about 6 weeks later - I was slightly better prepared for that and quite enjoyed the run on the day.  A month later I had the Edinburgh Marathon, and I managed to do one 17.5 mile run in training and again the rest were 13-14 mile runs (about 2 or 3 of them).  If anyone did Edinburgh Marathon this year, you'll know it was bloody hot!!  I was pretty knackered at about 18 miles and struggled until about 22 miles and then I was on the home straight and got a second wind.  Not a fast time (about 4 hours 45) but I was happy enough given the temperature!!

So - I then didn't go out at all until about 3 weeks ago (so about 3 months with no running) because I made a bit of a comeback at football.  I went out and ran 6 miles, then 10 miles in consecutive weekends and really struggled - I think more with motivation than anything else.  During the following week, I went out and ran a 50 minute 10k which is about as fast I've done it in 3 or 4 years.  Then three days later I entered a local 17.5 mile coastal challenge because I thought I'd manage to motivate myself for that if it was an organised run.  Right enough, I did way better than I imagined and completed it in 2 hours 39 mins (it was seriously hilly too!).  So, I was buzzing after that for the Loch Ness Marathon at the end of September, thinking I'd go out this weekend for a 20 mile run, next weekend for a bit further and then maybe go easy the last weekend before the run.  So, I managed a couple of shorter ones during the week, and took 3 minutes off my 10k time.  I then headed out yesterday for a 20 mile run and got to 4 miles and just had no motivation and stopped.  I tried again today and did manage 15 miles, but was hoping to do a lot more.

So, the question after all that is:  is there anything I can do to pick myself up for the long training runs so I can improve my marathon time?  Otherwise, I'll just be struggling again beyond the sort of 18 mile mark!

Any words of wisdom greatly appreciated!



  • Download a proper training program and STICK to it
  • Get someone to drop you off the required distance from home, then you have no choice but to run home, easy.

  • There are loads of 'top 10 motivational tips' and things. I always found just not thinking about it worked for me. I'd get up and just tell myself I'll just put my running kit on but not run, then just might as well go outside...etc etc. Have a look at this:

  • CC82CC82 ✭✭✭

    I'm a bit late to download a proper training programme for this marathon but I think I will in the future.  I do seem to always have a lot on though and find things getting in the way.  That may be the answer though - if it's in black and white and I have something to "tick off" it may motivate me to actually do it.

    I've tried getting dropped off the required distance from home but then I just phone my wife to come and pick me up...!

    I'll take a look at the top 5 tips!


  • Run shorter events?  You don't need to run 26.2 miles consecutively to stay fit.

  • CC82CC82 ✭✭✭

    Yeah - I think I've got myself into thinking that shorter events may be for me.  This year was a big thing to do that 100 mile challenge etc.  I've now ticked off the marathon as an achievement, but then I would like to record a decent time, which I was hoping I could do it on this one.

    I think I'll go for 5k and 10k from now on though because fitting in training for that is much easier.

  • Would agree with the advice above; but... I am thinking that maybe you are running too fast when training? Your long slow distance training should be just that long, slow, distance. It can be a bit dull and boring but I do mine on Exmoor image (never dull or boring).  I (as above) have a planner that I tick off (  and when I get home I 'look' at my run on my computer. The computer does not tell me much but shows me that I run further with the same effort week on week; which is all the motivation I need! But you need to find what works for you; you will discover this by listening to advice, reading books (Advanced Marathoning; Pete Pfizinger) etc and trying new ideas (what you are doing?!) Long slow distance is the corner stone of any marathon training; do not give up! You WILL get there!

  • Hmm. Dropping from 5km from marathon ? Think you need to decide why you are running and what you want out of it
  • I think it's probably best if you give it up Calum. It doesn't sound to me like you are cut out for this kind of challenge (no disrespect intended). If you can't find the motivation inside you, it won't arrive from any place else. No point being indirect about it. Do something else instead.

    BTW, seen any of those sportspeople on Channel 4 at the moment?



  • Tricky Dicky¹ wrote (see)


    BTW, seen any of those sportspeople on Channel 4 at the moment?



    I have!!  image



  • Give up? That is harsh.... I read about people that seem to just get out there and do well. In my experience this is bull s***. It takes time and effort. Keep chipping away at it; you just need to find what works for you!

  • CC82CC82 ✭✭✭

    Hey, well, I didn't give up...

    Thanks for the pointers - the best one being to slow down on the training runs!  I managed to get out on a decent 18 mile run 3 weeks before the marathon, then a 21 mile run a week before (would have liked to have done the 21 miler 2 weeks before the marathon and then a slightly shorter one the week before, but I lost my Granda and just didn't have the motivation that weekend).

    I managed to knock a massive chunk off my previous time and completed the Loch Ness Marathon yesterday in 4 hours 24.  Quite happy with that!

  • E mmyE mmy ✭✭✭

    @Sideburn - I don't think that TD is being harsh. If you can't motivate yourself to get your ass out there to run - who is going to? Only you can put one foot in front of the other and as Calum has said:

    Calum Crighton wrote (see)
    I then headed out yesterday for a 20 mile run and got to 4 miles and just had no motivation and stopped.

    Marathon training is all about consistency and making sure that you're getting quality long runs and miles in the bank to help on the day. Calum's marathon was good - but for most people - to knock out that sort of mileage so close to the event and then running a marathon is almost an injury waiting to happen.

    We all have good and bad runs but it's not just about the physical fitness but the mental ability to keep going and not give in at the first sign that it looks hard.

  • CC82CC82 ✭✭✭

    Emmy - I've became very aware the past few weeks that it's my mental toughness that I need to work on - any tips?

    Even on the marathon yesterday, there were times when I could probably have pushed through and kept going up some of those hills or kept up a better pace at times instead of slowing down for a bit of a rest here and there and could have posted a better time.

    I'm telling myself that I did my best and got a good time but I think with a bit of extra mental toughness I could have improved on that time.

    I'm not really sure how to improve that though?

  • Eggyh73Eggyh73 ✭✭✭

    Calum - Your training sounds all over the place. No way in hell should you be running a 21 mile LSR the weekend before a marathon. You bank the miles and gain the fitness in the months leading up to a marathon and then the final three weeks is about tapering and being fit but fresh for the start line.

    Mental toughness isn't something any one of use can give you. That purely rests on you. Mine if I'm honest tends to come from fear. I'm afraid if I don't train well I won't reach my target, so I force myself to stick to my schedule as much as I can. On race day I need the toughness less as I feel I've arrived trained and ready. If I need to call on some mental toughness during a race I can think of the training I put in, either that or I start swearing at myself internally about getting it going and hit that target I've set. Don't let all that hard work go to waste.

    If you want to continue these long distance events then you need far better structure to your training. If you don't enjoy the long training runs then as TD mentioned it may be better to aim at shorter events. Nobody can make you enjoy a 20 mile training run, but it's those long runs in training that really make all the difference come race day.

  • Good news! You are 'on it' again. As above doing a 21 miler a week before is not ideal have a look at a training schedule and 'tapering'. Just wondering have you tried multi vitamins and in particular iron tablets?

  • CC82CC82 ✭✭✭

    Hi - thanks for the tips.

    *Hands up in admission* - I've not looked at training plans or read much about running or taken much (if any) advice before starting this thread...

    I should have done all of the above at least a year ago and prepared myself properly for my challenge this year...  But I didn't and I got through it without causing myself any major injuries and raised £1900 for a local charity so I'm happy with that result.

    Once my legs have recovered, I'm going to start training properly and take heed of the different bits of advice and the articles etc. I've read and build up to one marathon next year (probably the same one again) and go for a better time.

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