Marathon Training by just running

Hi All,

Spring this year I started road cycling and competed in a few sportives. IN August I began cycling to work 3 times a week; 15 miles each commute. However, as the nights started to draw in I decided to take up running as cycling at night with British drivers is a pretty scary prospect.

At first I began 3 mile runs and within a month have built it up to 12 miles last night. From what I've read on the internet I've probably built up my distance a bit quicker than recommended but I reasoned that my cycling/starting fitness meant that this was ok. So last week I signed up for the Edinburgh marathon.

It isn't till next May, but I have been doing a spot of light reading and it seems that many recommend doing speed runs etc. Is this really necessary, or will it suffice to just build up the distance? Is it a matter of speed runs etc will help me get a faster time or due to the length of the run are they a vital component to marathon training?

Many thanks for any comments/advice in advance.


  • There are benefits to speed work, but it's not necessary to finish a marathon.

    If you are trying to go longer with every run you may well fall victim to injury, if you are doing two or three shorter runs in the week and building up at weekends then you will be fine.

    If you want to go on and bring down your time , then a mix of training paces will certainly help.

    Many people will say that a long period of steady comfortable running is required to prepare your body to benefit from different types of training anyway. You may have a base from cycling, I don't know.
  • Ross Cochrane wrote (see)

    At first I began 3 mile runs and within a month have built it up to 12 miles last night. From what I've read on the internet I've probably built up my distance a bit quicker than recommended but I reasoned that my cycling/starting fitness meant that this was ok. 

    I tore some knee cartillage using similar logic image
    One thing to be aware of is that the conservative increase in distances isn't based on limitations on cardio capacity, but on the time it takes muscles and tendons to adapt to the new load. Because you've already got the cardio fitness it's much easier to overload other parts of the body. Or to put it another way as a cyclist your heart and lungs can write a cheque that your body can't cash. Plenty do fine though.
    Probably depends a bit on age too. 

  • MillsyMillsy ✭✭✭
    I didn't do any speed work for my first marathon, just built the miles up slowly. Still managed to get round in 3.38.

    To start bringing my times down for my next couple I had to introduce the speed work though. I suppose it depends on what you want to get out of your first one.
  • It rather depends on what your goals are, if your ambition is to get around teh course ina  reasonable time then you don't need to do speedwork. If you want to achieve your full potential and run the best time you can then yes you do need to do speedwork.

    I suspect that 75% of UK marathn runners have never done an interval session in their life, you have plenty of time to build up your miles before next May so don't increase the mileage too quickly. I went from nothing to marathon in 7 months so its been done a many times before. Try doing some shorter races before hand their a great way to learn how to pace yourself and to give you an idea of what your capable of in terms of pace.

    TBH in my opinion novice runners shouldn't be considering marathons for a few years but learning how to race the shorter distances first, but modern society being what it is just about everyone wants to run a marathon straight off with no experience, i certainly did. However it doesn't change the fact that we would all almost certainly be better runners if we built up to marathons slowly. 

    Rant over, good luck with your journey, you will be fine. How you want to make that journey is up to you.


  • Many thanks for all the replies.

    Although I built up quickly, I did build up. In the last two weeks I did two 5 miles runs during the week then a 9 mile at the weekend followed by two 7 mile runs last week and then 12 miles last night. Maybe I've got away with it so far because I'm relatively young (29), however I don't want to push my luck so although I'm fine today (bar a little stiffness getting out of bed) I'll stick to 7 mile runs during the week and 9 at the weekend for a few weeks- give my body time to save up.

    I take your point Dave, I suppose we are all products of the culture we live in and for me running a marathon is such a challenge that I never thought I'd be in a position to contemplate attempting. For the time being, I'm more concerned with rising to that challenge than developing as a runnner but I can see the logic of not throwing a 16 year old kid on in the champions league final no matter how skilfull he is.

    I'm hoping that my cycling and running will complement each other and do intend on taking part in a couple of half marathon's early next year but for my first marathon I'm just really looking to get round it in a reasonble time, around the 3:30 mark. So with what you guys have said I'll just build up my mileage (albeit a little slower!) and maybe think about speed runs etc this time next year to improve from my first marathon time.

    Many thanks again for all the replies and advice.

    Cheers Ross image

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