Is there such a thing as an easy marathon?

Hello, Im just passing through my mid life crisis and have boasted to the world that I will run a marathon before I reach 42 yrs old (12 October 2013). I didnt receive the reaction I was looking for so I went on to deliver a sub 4 hour time....much to family and friends amusement. Good job Im doing it for my own satisfaction!

Im just looking around for something to sign up for and  I wondered if some marathons are easier than others.... Im in the first week of running (again!) and it tends to take a few months before Im running 8 minute miles for 5 or 6 miles on nice cross country routes. Im not too worried about building up the mileage (I used to run 3x6 miles, 1x8 mile and a 10 miler each week).  But I dont really enjoy a lot of road running and prefer woodland paths.... so does anyone know of any marathons that are on gently undulating soft springy paths that will help me to achieve my goal?!


  • Julie the simple answer is no there isn't a easy marathon I'm afraid some marathons are a lot harder than others depending how many speed bumps there are on the route, but all 26 miles of blood, sweat and tears. There are a few marathon distances on trail route's but many of them are set up for fell rumming types, so got even bigger speed bumps than road one's.

    I'd take a look around and and see what fits in with what you want if it's any help the flattest and so least hardest one I know of in this country is Abingdom marathon in Oct. Some of it is even on trail's. The entries fill up quick so when next years race is set up I would enter it quickish around Jan time. Depending on when they do it next year might even be a birthday present. image

  • image Oh and just in case previous post sounds like a marathon is a very hard thing to do it's not it's as hard or as easy as you want to push it and rest is down to time and training.

    Basically there are a bloody good laugh and if you want any motivation type stuff nothing worth doing is easy or we would all be playing golf.

  • Hi Julie

    Any marathon can be as hard as YOU want to make it.

    Have some ability , train to a program, get to your best fitness and you should do well in most marathons.

    Have no real ability, drop in and out of a program, get some better standard of fitness, listen to as many good tips as you can. On the day you may complete the distance by running or run/walking within your fitness level. On the other hand you might push yourself hard and still complete the marathon but feel awful.

    Much will depend on your general disposition and mental strength. During training and the race you will often question "why am I doing this!" and that can upset your running. Part of your training is keeping focus and overcoming negative thoughts no matter what marathon you choose.

    As regards terrain I would always say road running is easier than trail or cross country but each to their own.

    The Edinburgh Marathon is mostly downhill and is supposed to be the fastest but the weather and organisation is not always best. You may find the company in a big city marathon reassuring or intimidating. A small town or village marathon could be a very lonely experience for a first timer but there will not be the big race congestion

    Good luck with your ambition. You may find it to be the first of many marathons!


  • I find marathons easier than playing golf.
  • I have found Edinburgh to be the 'easiest' one I have done.  It's not the best organised at times and the weather is either chucking it down with a hell of a wind or roasting. But if you get the 'average' scottish day (grey with a bit of a drizzle) then you can get a good time.  The last time I did it was a few years ago so I don't know how the numbers are at the minute, last time I did it the course thinned out quite nicely after a few miles (unlike some others I could mention where I couldn't see the ground under my feet the whole time for other folks feet - BERLIN!!!)  - but it is a fast course that's for sure. 


     A lovely quiet one is Loch Ness - it's very hilly but you have a lot of space to run and no spectators - just trees and the loch.  Very very pleasant indeed.

  • Spires and Steeples (or steeples and Spires) - Neolithic Marathon

  • Hi, thank you so much for your replies, Ive just looked up the Edinburgh marathon and it looks good, I would like to enter, getting ready for a race in May sounds achievable and who knows, I might just break the sub 4!

    The spires and steeple race looks like something I would really enjoy (as long as I dont kill myself trying to beat the time I get at Edinburgh!). So I shall be sure to keep a look out for it in the new year.

    Ignoring the negative thoughts is certainly one of the hardest challenges for me although i do find that listening to the foo fighters blocks out the 'why am I doing this?' conversation and it makes me run that little bit faster.

    Thanks again friends. Im starting to feel a bit excitied about it!  x


  • The mental part of doing endurance events cannot be overstated.  


    Get youself some slogans - ones that work for you - and then you can pull them out when you get to the 'cave of pain'.

    Don't freak out at that phrase though - I heard an ironman competitor use it not a marathon runner - but I liked it and so have nicked it.  


    I tend to have a mental shouting match in my head when things get tough. 1) I often wear an ipod if it's a very quiet race and at bad times I concentrate on the songs. 2) I have an ongoing dialogue about how feeling discomfort makes life worth living and how lucky I am to be healthy enough to be doing the event 3) I tell myself the 'pain' will go soon or will shift to another part of my body and so I only need to stay strong for a little longer and 4) when all else fails I start shouting in my head words like: strong, fabulous, easy, fast, amazing - things that have strong positive connotations for me and I think about how amazing I will feel later sitting in a restaurant with my medal round my neck and a big cake in front of me.


    and then of course for the last few miles I just count up to 100 over and over knowing that each 100 is roughly a minute and I only need to do that 8 or 9 times and another mile has passed.


    You will find your own little ways to keep going but training when you feel rotten can really help toughen you up.  i.e train in horrid weather - train when no-one wants to join you, train when you really don't want to image  I tell myself that the worse I feel in training - the easier the race will be.


    Sounds like great fun doesn't it.


    I had an aquaintance who entered marathon after marathon always chasing a sub-4.  He would tell us all that this time he would do it and then get waaaay over that time in the race.  I had a look at his training log once and he had a lot of runs that were described as 'meant to do 15 but couldn't be arsed so did 9'........ this type of training reallly doesn't work.  Get a plan and stick to it as best you can.  If you set out to do 15 - then do 15 (unless injured or an ice storm starts) even if it means walking at times.


    Anyway this is just my opinion. I am not a fast runner by any means but I am one of those folks who has taken up this sport despite not being the right shape or size and I have persevered and kicked it's ass (relatively speaking).

  • Depends how you view them - easier than golf, maybe not as golf is about 80 hits and you only need 18 to be accurate. A first attempt sub 4 may be hard (well it would be for me) but none of the ones I've done have been anywhere near as hard as the one I had in my head before I ever tried it.
  • Gym addict you're so right about the mental prep, I did an ultra and had been warned about things like keeping up the nutrition, disorientation, hallucinations etc but took it all with a pinch of salt till the night I'm running along after midnight shouting at a fox that was running alongside me until I stopped to scare it away and realised there wasn't anything here but my head torch on the flowers
  • Why all the golf bashing?!  I wish my golf handicap was as low as my running handicap!

  • Just a bit of fun, as a non-golfer amongst many golf tryers, golf bashing has become more of a sport than golf itself over the years.
  • Wow thank you, I feel really psyched up to attack a training programme now!!! ........

    Im even loving the sound of the cave of pain, sounds very faraway from my perception of middle age!! Grrrrrr watch out people!!!

    Even an ultra sounds attractive!.....however, Im going to start with a 10K, then a half then the full Edinburgh. I have limited funds....Im a stay at home Mum. I was a bit surprised at the cost of a marathon but then I guess they take a lot of organising. 

    Im going to print off your comments and put them in my log so that they can keep inspiring me. Thanks again for your input....yesterday, after reading the forum comments I ran 2.15 mile in 18.48 seconds, after being home for 5 minutes I really wanted to go back out again! 

    Thanks thanks thanks thanks thanks thanks thanks x x x x x x x x x x

  • Oh yes, I meant to say that the Hal Higdon training programmes look perfect, they are simple enough for me to follow without too much technical twaddle.  

  • Hal is a genius - you can't go wrong with him.  image

  • I have signed up for the Milton Keynes Marathon for my first marathon. I did quite a bit of research before and I thought it suited me perfectly. From what I can gather the route is fairly flat and it's one large lap with different views from Park and Woodland to concreate underpasses!  You also finish in the stadium which gives a nice sense of occasion! I know there was a lot of problems last year, but the organisers seem to have listened as I see from the website the whole of the stadium will be open for spectators, rather than just a small section!  I have also read from other peoples reviews the local people come out in large numers around the route to support, which on a first marathon I am sure I will need! 

  • Hi Julie

    Take a look at the 100 marathon club website (google) - it has a listing of all uk marathons (and European and worldwide too) - you can browse through upcoming marathons and find one to suit your budget and preference whether that is for a 'big city marathon' (often expensive) or smaller town/trail marathons- though these smaller ones don't have the crowds, many are very well organised and cheap to enter and the chances are there will be one close by in your county... Personally, I prefer a small town marathon like halstead in Essex - it's perfect. Good luck with your plans and congratulations on your exciting decision to run your first marathon- you won't regret it!
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