Advise? Please :)

Hello. I haven't been running very much, for very long, about a year or so, but have recently become more serious. I am running the Silverstone half-marathon on the 3rd of March, which I am confident about doing, as I have (according to my nike+ app) run 12.5 miles in just under 2hrs, and 15 miles in 2hrs 24mins, both of which were some time ago. I also finished the tough guy race on Sunday, and don't feel that my fitness has slipped much at all. I don't have any training plan as I find these very difficult to stick to, as many of them suggest things like 'fartlek training' or 'Kenyan Hills', do many people stick to such plans, or can you just do normal running out on the road or on the treadmill instead? I am looking at doing the Milton Keynes Marathon on the 6th of May, in 12-13 weeks time, obviously I would step up my weekly mileage quite a bit if I planned to do so, as I feel I could do a lot more than I do, and i'd have no specific finishing time in mind, i'd only wish to be able to finish, does this seem too big a target? I know that there are many marathons, so there is no hurry, but due to other commitments I may not be able to do one later on in the year than this. If anyone else has entered or is entering a full marathon, as a relative beginner, how did you / are you finding it? image


  • If you want to be ready for a May marathon, I'd advise that you'll need to be more disciplined for that.You'll get away with it for the half marathon... it's clear from your training times that you have the ability to do very well. But the marathon is different.

    It is more of a 'whole body- whole physiological endurance exercise, and it is NOT just twice as hard as a half marathon.  You reach a point where you don't just rely on your legs... but your core strength will be sapped. Even having weak arms can be a hindrance.   Physiologically, you need to pull on reserves of chemical energy, from within your fat and muscles, from within your cells, that you've never pulled on before. And psychologically, you'll perhaps need mental strength that you've never had to draw on before.... and frankly, if you find the thought of a few fartlek training, and Kenyan Hills sessions too much to bear, then I fear for your resolve when you're 21 miles into a marathon and still have a long way to get to the finish!    Pushing yourself through difficult training sessions does wonders for your physiology and for your psychology.

    If you don't follow a programme, which is designed to develop all these systems, then you are at signficant risk of failure for the full marathon... especially given that you're relatively new, and don't have years of training behind you. I wouldn't say it's impossible though... if you do lots of steady slow miles, with perhaps 3 slow runs around the 20 /21 mile mark (maybe aiming at 10 or 11 minutes per mile)... you could be OK,but you'd have to be sure that you're not doing too much in terms of ramping up mileage at the risk of injury.  But really.. you should try to follow a programme (don't feel that you have to do everything exactly on the days they suggest... just try to ensure each element is covered.

    I'm not sure why you want to enter the MK marathon, with no ambition to finish in, say, a really exciting sub-4 hours time (which should be achievable based on your training times and the available training time you have left - if you put in a reasonable amount of structured training. If you just want to walk-run round for charity, OK. But it sounds like you have the ability to do well, and I can't see you getting much satisfaction from doing 5 hours 15 minutes, just because you couldn't be bothered to prepare properly!

    But, running is mainly for fun... so do what suits you best... so long as you're aware of the risks of injury.  Good luck

  • Hiya, Well done so far and very best of luck, I ran my first marathon last year at age 43 after only re starting running in jan last year after 3 years out through serious knee injury. Your target is very attainable and my advice would be look at the runners world training plans and see what is working for you, i did this and then just tinkered a little with it a bit. In the early months i did a fair bit of speed work & hill runs but found running 5-6 days a week too much for aging rugby battered legs so cut down to 4 times a week including racing once or twice a week though not all flat out. As i increased my mileage i also did quite a few long distance 16-20 mile multi-terrain races and loved them they really helped build my stamina & gave me the confidence to believe i would complete the marathon. Probably the most important thing after getting the miles under your belt is getting your taper right in the last four weeks before your marathon. This is were a program is really helpful, i didnt run past half marathon in the final two weeks before my marathon but did a 10k race the sunday before. My last big race was a 20 mile m/t a month before. When it came to marathon day i was fresh & fit consiquently didnt hit the wall & to be honest could have gone a little further. I set myself 10 min miling all the way round and came in 27 secs inside that so was delighted. I am planning to do three more this year & aim to break 4hrs. As a result of upping my mileage i m also now breaking pb's at all the lower distances too as a bonus, Yesterday doing a hilly 10 miler in a very strong wind in 1-20-31 which when you conside in feb last year it took me nearly 57 mins to do a 10k & my 10k pb is now 45.50 sorry im rambling lol. Anymore questions i will do my best to help all i can & once again Good Luck. Richie.

  • When I read your post I interpreted it as saying that the kenyan hills, farlek training etc puts you off because it baffles you and you aren't sure what you should be doing - not that you find the sesisons "too much to bear" or "can't be bothered". 

    I totally identify with this.  I used to stress ahead of a session about what I was meant to be doing, during the session about whether I was doing the right thing in the right way, and after a session worrying if I had done the right thing.  It took all of my energy worrying about the plan rather than stressing about  the really important things (do I need gels, what should I have for breakfast, how can I get some more sleep image).  My most successful marathon was where I took a relatively simple training plan, and re-wrote it to only include the miles required (taking out all talk of threshold, 8 by x minutes intervals, kenyan hills).  I then made sure I did the long runs at a sensible pace and made sure that I covered the mileage. 

    So to answer your question, yes I do think you can 'just run', but I do think that you need some structure (as Run Wales says, a marathon is a different beast to a half marathon) in terms of miles needed and breaking these across a week.

    People will say that you must include speed, hills etc etc and they are right that is the only way you will run what you are capable of.  But I also understand the idea of been happy to finish a marathon with the target of finishing.  I think that is different from saying that you are content to run-walk in 5:15 when you might be capable of sub-4.  There is a middle ground.

    I would say that there is a lot to be said for taking a cautious, sensible approach to a first marathon.  There are enough things to worry about that just going through it for the experience is valuable.  You then have your benchmark, and can then look to step up a plan to incorporate some speed work etc the next time round when you have more confidence.

    So in summary, I would say doing the miles is the priority, and for that you need some structure.  But can you get round a marathon without having done the "value added" speedwork etc - yes, I think you can.

    Of course, you could also join a running club where you will do structured sessions with others, and will learn about how it all comes together.

    As to whether the MK marathon is too soon - I think it's probably ok, but you need to sort a (milesage) plan soon and get on track. 

    Good luck!

    ps if it is just that you can't be bothered to put the effort in, then yes, you are doomed image.

  • Have a look at Hal Higdon's Novice 1 Training Plan. It doesn't have any fartlek training or anything like that, sounds like it would suit you.

  • A marathon isn't twice as difficult as a half marathon.

  • Thankyou for all of your responses so far, it's all been very helpful! image Run Wales, I appreciate all of what you are saying, a marathon requires huge dedication and preparation, which is why would be content just to be able to finish, and I feel that I could learn a lot from the first time, which I can later build on. Princess Leah, thats exactly what i meant with the fartlek training/ kenyan hills, i'm really confused about how to do them, but after your suggestion about joining a running club, I have found one in my area that does group hill running! So i'll look into that. I don't feel I lack the motivation for any of the training, but i'd rather stick to things that I know I am doing correctly/effectively. Richard, good on you! do keep it up, and good luck for the 3 races this year! image

  • Excellent and good luck image

    You can normally go to a few sessions with a club to see how you get on before committing. Might be a few clubs in your area so worth seeing what they offer and how that fits in with what you want.
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