First Maathon Time

I'm a novice veteran runner (47),I completed the Great North Run this year in 1.53 (first race) and have entered the Barcelona Marathon this will be my first Marathon what would be classed as a respecatble time to aim for?


  • Finishing.

    That's it, aim for 4:30 maybe.. But finishing is the target for your first then you can worry about beating it the second time.

    I was a lot slower 5:30 but believe me finishing is the objective for marathon 1. After the first it really is not what time did you do, etc... It's more you did a Marathon!!

    image have fun set yourself a plan, have an ideal race time, a going ok time, and a hey I survived and got around timeimage

    Maybe plan your ideal time 4:10 or so ... I did first half in 2:28 3;02 second half could walk quicker probably, but last 3km I wobbled and when going downhill no matter how shallow the slope. Be proud that you finish then worry about doing a quicker one.
  • Almost any marathon finishing time should be considered respectable for a novice veteran - but you specifically ask what to aim for, and that depends on the amount of training you've put in  and also on your psyche.

    If I was you (novice 47yr old - therefore probably quite capable of improving), having done 1:57 GNR in September...  and if I was finding the time to do a decent amount of training for a March marathon, I'd be basing my training programme around a target of 3:59:59. If you follow the training plan well, you can achieve that.  If your work/other is going to make training a  challenge, then think about 4-20 as a target.

    You've got to be prepared, whatever target you choose, that you could beat it by a bit, but you might miss it by a lot!!  Good luck.

  • Oh saw some studies on here that averaged out a marathon at about 1.26 x half marathon time... Use that as a reasonable calculatorimage
  • 1.26 x half-marathon time? Surely not. Only one quarter longer for twice the distance? Maybe 2.26?

    I would use a race time predictor such as this

    This is of course only a guide: training and conditions on the day will have big impacts on your time.
  • Do a HM as part of your training, say 4 weeks out. This should give you a better idea. But, there are lots of dependancies, not least the number and length of your long runs. These will determine your time (and the amount of pain) for your last 10k.

  • D'oh yes
  • A respectable time is finishing.

    What you are capable of, and have the time for, is another matter. The pressure to achieve a set time comes from yourself - have a good think about what you want out of the weeks of training as well as the day itself.

    Sub 4hr is achievable with the right training and dedication, however Barcelona is mid march so training time is a bit limited.
  • Hi 1307

    I'm not quite as old as you lol im 45 now but did my first Marathon at 44 in Edinburgh in may 2012 I had only started running in summer 2011 but really only put the miles in after December. Purely as a guide for you I did a 10k in 51mins a half in 1.49 so set myself a target of 4hours and set my training round this. I don't know you so can't comment on how hard you will train I made the mistake of thinking I had done enough but in hindsight I should have done another 1 or 2 LSR.

    Also it happened to be a roasting hot day. I broke the race in to four parts and set my self a time for them. At the half way stage I was 1min ahead and felt great at the 20m stage I was 1min behind and still felt great more in mind than body lol. But by the time I got to 23 miles I knew I wasn't going to beat 4 hours and didn't feel like I hit the wall or anything just got really slow, so thought sod the time lets finish this without stopping and I can assure you I was over the moon with my 4,12 inside but told my wife and daughter I was coming back next year to crack 4 hours.

    So I think you should go for a target that is realistic and makes you train hard for it but if you don't reach it on the day don't beat yourself up.

    Good luck and stick in
  • Well done Gerald. Your story does go to show how external factors can affect the race on the day. I know of experienced runners who reset their expectations before the race started due to the temperature at Edinburgh. Spring marathons can be tricky - you train in cold conditions, and can find yourself running on an unseasonably hot day.
  • Some great comments and advice Thanks

  • great advice Gerald im doing the Edinbrugh as my first marathon this year and will be taking your advice on board thanx. By the way im a vet 50


  • I'm a tad younger (almost 40) and off a 1:46 GNR last year managed a 4:18 first marathon in Chester (off 16 weeks total training and 2 stone overweight inc the GNR three weeks earlier than the marathon).  I was aiming sub 3:50 (overly ambitious I was told for a 1st marathon, but I didn't listen!) and on course, until knee issues due to fatigue at miles 18-20 onward (walk, limp run rotation every 50m).  I'm fairly sure I could have done sub 4:00 with an extra 2 months of prep and a more long runs (or maybe even just setting off slower) - long runs... I think this is the key to get three or four 20+ milers in beforehand, I only managed two 18-19 milers.


    As you can see above - I'd imagine this is a typical collapse, slowing from a too quick start - 8:30 min/miles up to 16.5 miles to too slow finish - 12 min/miles as fatigue and poor form induced knee pain.

    If you kept your training ticking over since the GNR and you pace yourself sensibly you should be on course for 4:00-4:20 I'd have thought.  Then again if it's a hot day in Barcelona that could increase a fair but!

    I was gutted with 4:18 for a couple of hours after the finish - but in hindsight and reading others on these forums, now I'm rather pleased with it for a first marathon because *I finished*!  Just enjoy it regardless of time and plan for a good time in your "second" marathon.

  • I just thought I'd update. I completed the Marathon in 4:33 so overall very pleased but very similar experience to daeve, In hindsight I didn't get enough long runs in only one 20 mile before the event. I got to 18 miles in 3 hours then it all went to pot 1:33 for the next 8 no injuries just dead legs, Great event Barcelona, Rome next!!


  • Nice one!  A finish in your first marathon is a finish - no matter the time.  You don't know what to expect until you do one - next time we'll be more prepared (I"ve started now for Sept!).  Good luck.

  • booktrunkbooktrunk ✭✭✭
    Well done skoimage

    my 4:30 wasn't far outimage the good thing is that you now need to do another to fix some of the things that you think went wrongimage
  • Well done have you got the bug to do another
  • If I can persuade the family, Rome or Amsterdam seem like a good idea! Any you would recommend in the UK or abroad without the need to raise a lot for charity.

  • I cried when I finished my first marathon (younger than you, but not a youngster).

    To this day I don't know if I was crying because I had done it, or because I had taken over 4 hrs.

    I immediately started planning hitting my target, which I did next time out, 9 months later.

    These days I enjoy running, and I want you to enjoy it also... never cross the finishing line (how ever far it is from the start), feeling disappointed.  Always do your best,use targets to help you focus, but do not use them to beat yourself up.

    Enjoy your running.  image

  • 1307sko wrote (see)

    If I can persuade the family, Rome or Amsterdam seem like a good idea! Any you would recommend in the UK or abroad without the need to raise a lot for charity.

    Maybe doesn't sound as grand as Rome or Amsterdam but how about the Loch Ness Marathon in September? I'm doing it as my first Marathon and it's early enough to get in without needing a Charity place (though you could always raise a few bob for my Charity lol). Interestingly they coach you the 26 miles to the start then you run back to Inverness image and looking at the profile it's a net decline with just 3 big hills (well, it is the Scotish Highlands).

  • I also ran my first marathon in Barcelona this year but despite following a beginners marathon training plan with quite a few long runs I fell to pieces at 20 mile. I think if I'd set myself a more challenging target 3:45 rather than trying to break 4hrs I'd of come home quicker (I sneaked in at 3:56.57). Got to say how much I loved the event and am now searching for some other European city marathons later this year, if anyone has any suggestions.

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