marathon help

Good evening, I'm taking part in my third marathon this Sunday and I'm looking for a bit of help/advice.

Since I was a child I've always wondered how quickly I could do a marathon and something inside told me 3 hours would be a good time. I know this is nothing special but it's something I'd really like to achieve. I ran my first marathon in Jan 2011, this was a real eye opener. Before then I'd never tried a distance I wasn't comfortable with so I was pretty confident of hitting my 3 hour goal. I was wrong! My training and preperation were poor although I didn't fully understand that at the time. I thought grit and determination would see me over the finish line in less than 3 hours but after about 17 miles I realised that I'd been very naive. In the end I was happy(ish) to limp over the finish line in 3 hours 24.

This only whet my appetite and I was then more determined than ever to achieve my 3 hour goal. I signed up to run another marathon the following October and I was convinced I'd nail it this time. I was missing training sessions but kept telling myself I had plenty time to catch up, then before I knew it marathon was 3 weeks away and I knew I wasn't in good enough shape to hit my target. I lowered my expectations and set myself a new target of 3:15. I reached this fairly comfortably(3 hours 12) and could have gone a bit faster but I was really worried about the wheels falling off as they had done the previous January so I held a bit back. I was fairly happy with my new PB but  knew I couldn't let it go until I knew I'd had a proper go at a sub 3 hour finish.

Which leads me to my third marathon which is this Sunday. Training has gone a lot better this time. I've been running 5, sometimes 6, days a week since late June. I was feeling very confident until 2 weeks ago when I caught a cold, followed by a stomach bug this past weekend. I was already in my taper so didn't want to to do any silly runs but because of that I haven't had anything to lift my confidence.

What I'm looking to found out is would it be wise for me to still aim for my 3 hour goal or should I lower my expectations again? I'm terrified of feeling how I did during my first marathon so would really like to avoid that. My last long run was 2 and half weeks ago, I did 23.3 miles in 2 hours 50 minutes. This included running at 10min per mile for the first andf last ten minutes as warm up/down. I was told 10x800 repeats are a good indicator of marathon times. I last did this 3 weeks ago today and averaged about 2:45 for each 800 repeat.

Heart is telling me to trust my training but head is telling me I'm gonna fail with my 3 hour goal. I apologise to to anyone who thinks I'm being stupid, I know lots of people would be happy with my times but I feel like I can't rest until I've reached my target. I don't have any friends who run so I can't turn to them, I'm also not a member of any running club. I assume I'm not the only one who becomes obsessed in the final few days before a marathon, at least I hope I'm not.

Typing this has made me realise I needed to get some of this off my chest but as I said, I don't have an outlet for it. Thank you, if you're still reading.


  • Hi Rob

    Firstly - trust your training. You haven't mentioned missing any sessions so be confident that when you toe that start line, you've done everything you possibly can.

    Secondly, work out a plan for the race ahead to achieve your target. Work out your pace plan and stick to it. try and keep the splits constant as that always work best imo.

    Next, make sure you get your nutrition right in the days leading up to Sunday and during the run - take on those carbs, hydrate and rest to give yourself the best chance of not hitting that wall.

    RE: Pace. Only you know from your training what your marathon pace should be. Start out conservatively (a few seconds slower than MP) and settle into your pace in the first few miles with the aim to hit MP up to the 20 mile mark. It often gets said that you train for the last 10k in a marathon and it's so true. Get there safe and sound and see how you feel.

    There's no such thing as a guarantee in a marathon. But take control of the things you can now and forget about worrying about the things you can't. You've done the prep - run sensibly and I'm sure that sub 3 or PB will be yours.

  • Blimey Rob - have you thought of using a training plan - or running a half mid way through to see where you are ? 

    You want to pace at about 6 min 52 for sub 3 ?

    2 weeks ago you did 23 miles in 2hrs 50 ? if we take off the 10 mins cool up and warm down - you did about 21 miles in 2hrs 30. so thats just about 7 minute pace for 21 miles.

    You sound like you ran the race two weeks back ?

    If you train sensibly I think you can definitely go sub 3 - but I'm not sure how much that long session would have taken out of you ? You're meant to slow it down a bit more than that on the long runs ? 

    Good luck anyway - you'll definitely get sub 3 soon. 

  • Hi Rob

    stupid, no not at all

    but really, very much as Johnas says tbh

    id get plenty of pain relief in you

    and drink plenty to try and wash out that stomach bug

    on the day on route, you'll find out how it goes, then it depends how physcologically prepared u are - and what mental toughnes u can muster up

    you cannot change ure fitness now, but you can prepare everything else

    best wishes always

  • Rob as above you've done all the hard work in the training take a deep breath and try not to think about it for the next few days or your going to wind yourself up and end up over thinking everything and turn up on sunday knackered before you have even started.

    If and it's an if you don't get your 3 hour time it will give you a goal to aim for next time. But I would find a good DVD box set plan out what your going to eat for the next few years and if you have a playstation or anything like that switch it on and kill some zombie's or something it's going to be fine. image

  • Thanks to you all for taking the time to reply.

    Johnas - I'm going to try as you suggested with pace. Unless I'm feeling supremely confident(very unlikely considering my current frame of mind), I'll set off a little bit slower than sub 3 pace then just see how I feel.

    Cougie - I've followed a training plan that came with the device I use to monitor pace, distance etc. Just in case I ever have to train to attempt a sub 3 hour marathon again, which I'm hoping I won't, when would you recommend doing the last long run?

    Micknphil - What do you mean by getting plenty pain relief in?

    Cake - Taking my mind off the marathon is proving very difficult. My Sky+ is almost out of space so I'll use the next few days freeing some of it up. Hopefully that'll help. I've one more day of work which I never thought I'd be glad to say.


    For some reason I'm feeling a lot more confident today than I was yesterday even though nothing's really changed. I think posting on here helped a little because as I sort of said, it gave me a way of releasing everything that has been building up inside. The replies have helped and are very welcome. As has been suggested, I need to try take my mind off the marathon - as difficult as I'm finding that.

    I'm hoping the combination of better training, improved preparation, experience from previous races and a flatter course(Amsterdam) will all contribute towards reaching my goal. Whatever happens, I'll be back after Sunday to let you know how I got on.

    Thanks again for the replies.



  • I was feeling very confident until 2 weeks ago when I caught a cold, followed by a stomach bug this past weekend.

    i was sort of thinking to help get over it if already not

  • Sorry, I see what you mean now. Thankfully I'm over both but they didn't help my confidence in any way at all. I don't know why but I thought you meant it as some kind of way of avoiding pain in the latter stages of the marathon.

  • Rob - Amsterdam is a great course to attempt sub 3 and the weather is looking great for running on Sunday too. Another confidence boost! I'll be there running the half this year. I did the marathon there last year for my first marathon and ran sub 3.
  • Sorry Rob - it was just the way you were asking sounded like you'd not had a plan - or at least not one that you trusted.

    Three weeks out is fine for the last long run. It's just the speed at which you did it really. Hopefully this indicates that you're capable of running much faster again in a race ? Did your training Plan tell you to pace it like that ?

    The yasso 800s are a decent guide but some on here think mile repeats may be better. I work up to doing six repeats at double my yasso time. I think it works.
  • Well done Rob. Looks like you ran a blinder! image Congrats on the new PB

  • Rob - just done my own bit of stalking - great time - well done - you must be over the moon and judging by your 5k splits you were totally in control until probably last 5k - must have felt fantastic.

    Cheers, Skinny

  • Thank you all very much for the kind words and support. I was meaning to come and share the great news but have suffered from a pretty brutal hangover following Sunday and Monday's "celebrations".

    The weather was almost prefect apart from a bit of wind but that sometimes worked in your favour depending which direction the course was taking you. I was trying to run 6:52 pace but kept overdoing so it so I decided to run whatever felt  comfortable, that turned out to be faster than I expected. After my first two failed attempts and all the hard training, the last 100m on the home straight will stick in the memory as one of the best moments of my entire life. Overall I thought it was an excellent marathon and would recommend it to anyone who's looking for something flat, fast, and where you can have a good time partying afterwards.

    I'm hoping this will get me into Boston in 2014 but was wondering, once you've qualified for Boston is okay to run it in a slower time than you're obviously capable of? I'd love to run a marathon and for it not to be a struggle, or for me to not have to worry about it during the months of training.


    Thanks again for the help image



  • Hopefully see you on the Boston 2014 thread then Rob. Thats my plan too. Once entered you can run it as fast/slow as you like - limit is 6 hours i believe as are most marathons.

    You've done the sub 3 now. Enjoy it! Well done

  • Well ...... ? .......

    So what was your time then? image

Sign In or Register to comment.