fat to a marathon, i need help/advice

ok long story but id be grateful for any help/advice.  i have posted a couple of times but am putting my whole story here in one place.


last year i began to lose weight as i was pushing 20 stone and very unhealthy. i am currently at approx 15 stone and want to lose another 3. i have done this by diet alone, no exercise at all.


even at my biggest i was physically active to an extent, i dive every year and hhave climbed mount sinai in egypt and sigiriya (big old volcano) in sri lanka, with little difficulty.

as a teenager i could run and run all day, and played football to a high standard etc. i then discovered kebabs, beer and curry, which was nice but i now paying for!


i was looking for a sponsored event to raise money for charity, and came across the sierra leone marathon. i isntantly knew it was something i wanted to do.  i am aiming to run it next year (it is being held in either april/may or october/november the organisers havent decided yet)


i did my first run last week, and have done 4 nights (roughly every other night) i havent broken any world records, or any bones, so thats ok so far. i bought some decent mizuno trainers after being filmed in a sweatshop store on a treadmill and taking their advice etc and am confident these are good for me.


i have been going out walking then doing bursts of running, maybe only 2 mins of running as i havetn done any real exercise for years, but on average 6 bursts in a 40 min period of being out. i know this is nowhere near neough obviously but am in the early days. i am suffering a bit of pain in my shins still and my knees are feeling it a bit. i had osgood schlatters (sp?) althought this was a self diagnosis as a teen and never dealt with mecically. is it worth me seeing a gp or is there naything i can buy to help support my shin/knee? or shoudl i just let the exercise sort it over time?


am i totally mad to think i could run a marathon next year having started in such an unhealthy state? i have the willpower though so if i can physically do it, i will do it. i know a response may be do it somewhere cooler, but i actually like heat, i have been to far hotter places in africa/asia and never had an issue with the temp, yes, ive never run a marathon but i am sure i can cope with the heat.


my rough plane is to do a 5km race at the end of next month, a 10km/10m in august/september/october, a half martahon next feb ish roughly as well as a training plan of roughly every other night (prob follwiing the couch to 5k, then 10k, then find a marathon training guide after 10k)


does any of this sound insane? or doable/realistic? i know swimming may help with the shins but its not really an option with my other commitments due to where i live etc, i run at night which i am fine with as i never sleep early anyway.


any tips/help greatly appreciated, and a bit of a longshot but if anyone lives in market weighton east yorks get on touch would be good to have some local people to run with! or after i guess in my current state!




  • i should add, i am not aiming to win the marathon, i am happy just to finish as long as im not last!

  • stutyrstutyr ✭✭✭

    It is a challenge and running your first marathon in Sierra Leone wouldn't be seen as "sensible" as the heat etc will make it pretty tough.  

    However, it should be achievable to get upto marathon distance in circa 15 months.  Have a look at the Couch-to-5k (gogle C25K) plans to get you started and then progress up the distances, as you've suggested.

     PS I found out last year that I'd had Osgood-Schlatters when i was a teenager, but I've been running happily for years prior to this and completed a marathon without any knee issues (the diagnosis was after a knee injury from a cycling accident).  However, I'd still recommend seeing your GP as you're combining fairly strenuous exercise with weight loss.  

    Good luck!

  • PC -PC - ✭✭✭

    Hi Mike,

    I hope to go from 0 to marathon in less than a year, I doubt that I'll be first across the line even with a 2h head start.  Yes it is possible but your knees will probably decide, you should speak to a specialist.

    For a beginner I think reading is just as important as running.  I was also sportive when I was young so I was surprised to learn that running isn't just about putting one foot in front of the other. Eg breathing, inflate the stomach to suck air out of your lungs, great technique whilst walking during the intervals. Lots of contradicting information, find what you feel is right, you can always change as your experience grows.

    Intervals are great, you're doing 2:6 splits (run 2 mins, walk 6 mins) and you can build on that.  Then you can do one session intervals and another long run which could be 20 minutes at first.  As you improve you can add a hill (small slope). Your intervals can become longer 5:2 and/or faster 1:1.  Read about v2o max and Intervals.

    The clever part (which I didn't do) is to build up slowly, you'll make faster progress in the long term. As you said your not out to break records so when you do your LR it's better to run 20mins slowly than 15mins too quickly, this will become more important when you're running further.  Also 'calm' weeks, 3 weeks progress, 1 week cool.

    Being a beginner, if you are ill or injured then form goes down quickly.  It will go up again, but it's hard for us.  On the flip side, loads of PB's just waiting to be set and begging to be broken.  Be careful you could catch the running bug !  Good idea for the races, gives you objectives. You don't have to do marathon training from day 1, there are loads of training plans on the net, for 5k then 10k and HM.

    You won't necessarily lose weight by running for many reasons but you'll feel 100 times better. There will be fat people passing me on the marathon because they have trained harder than me but they are still overweight even after the hundreds of training miles.  As you run more, you eat more and you tend to have more treats.  If you've lost 5st, congratulations, then you'll know more than most about nutrition.  Water is very important, read about hydration and dehydration, if you dehydrate even a little which you may not even notice it will affect your performance.

    I've got a Garmin 410 on promo but 110 is just as good.  Great for knowing pace and/or distance which is encouraging. I like the Internet site, the records and the map.

    Core training is important, core muscles support you when running so you don't become sloppy. Hips forward, back straight.  Swimming is good cross training.

    I've heard that building up too quicky, ie marathon within a year, then your body can suffer, perhaps not tomorrow but in years to come.  A reason to build up slowly.

    The next person to comment could say entirely different to me. It's trail and error, experience is everything. Perhaps join a running club.

    Good luck and enjoy

  • thanks for the great replies. i undertand people may think sierra leone isnt the most sensible first marathon, but i must stress heat doesnt phase me i have been physically active in far hotter more humid places, and the run starts at 6am so even with a modest time i should hopefully finish before the worst of the sun.


    i am going to try and get a doctors appt tomorrow ref my knees, i want to make sure i dont do any damage and am concerned i will be told there is a problem but will see what they say.


    hadnt thought of getting a running watch but i like the look of those garmins, might treat myself if i think i can hide the cost from the mrs!!

    will be heading out tonight but only a short one due to the weather and general tiredness.

    im going to look at new work shoes too, the ones i have are too big really and i do walk a lot in them so need to make sure i get a comfortable and supportive pair

  • Good luck Mike, it is possible and you've had very sensible advice from people so far. It sounds like you have a good foundation in that you're already used to getting out and doing stuff. Sierra Leone sounds very exciting.

    I got injured while training for my first marathon but I did get better in the end, and loads of people here have similar stories. It's not so much that the training per se is bad, just that doing quite a few hours of it a week as you will be doing, the chances of something or other happening just goes up in the way of thingsimage 

    The Marathontalk Podcast is good for sensible advice plus an unvarnished view of running life. 

    Is there a local club or group near you? There is nothing like a whole bunch of people who not only don't think you're mad, but have done all the daft things that you're about to do (good & bad!).

    Best of luck mate.

  • thanks veyr much. i was going out tonight but we are in the middle of gales + snow so decided i will delay by 24 hrs. hope the wetaher gets better! i have downloaded the podcasts for c25k so hope to get started asap

  • just a thought, is there anything i can do/avoid doing during my working life that will help? i drive anything between 50 and 250 miles a day, and spend my time on sites walking, i am very rarley sat behind a desk, maybe half a day  a week at the most. i try to use the stairs not the lifts etc, but anythning i should consider especially while on the road? ive really fealt my knees the last couple of days, have a docs appt tomorrow morning so hopefully will get good news about them

  • just done my first c25k. didnt get out of breath at all which i am really happy about, and based on distances covered etc its pretty clear that i had previously been running for much more than a minute, and probably therefore too long.


    the downside though, is my knees. they are really quite painful and the muscles on the backs of my legs were too after the 2nd run. i did make the full distance though on each run etc. i am worried about my knees, the discomfort is not crippling but is very unpleasant and i would have found further distances a challenge. also my right foot is hurting a bit, feels like a trapped nerve although it probably isnt, i just cant think of any other explanation! i just hope my knees arent shot to pieces!

  • the docs verdict was that the muscle on the inside of my knee is inflamed/damaged. not much i can do except ibuprofen and rest. she did say i may be able to get some insoles for my shoes which might help, so i will go to sweatshop later and see if they have any. so frustrating i am desperate to get out and get exercise!

  • RicFRicF ✭✭✭

    Peter Maher; a Canadian was once active and then decided to have a few snacks and beers and ended up at nearly 20 stone.

    Took up running and less than 3 years later won the Toronto marathon in 2:12!

    Helps being heavy to start with. Its the strength needed to haul the extra weight around that's the advantage when the fat comes off.

  • Mike - did she not mention icing the inflamed area? (pack of frozen peas - apply to inflamed bit for 5-10 mins 2-3 times a day). As you can guess it is easy to do (and fairly safe) and can help along with the ibuprofen.

    How about swimming or gym work while your poorly knee settles? It gets you out, helps you keep up the exercise routine, and a good strength and stretching routine helps keep injury away. 

    If there is a local running club, you could pop along and ask which physios people use, and make an appointment. My crystal ball says the physio will mutter about "weak glutes" and speak warmly of Pilates. (They all do - for good reasons, to be fair image ).

    Hang on in there, we all have these things happen, honest!

  • thanks for the replies. i would be ecstatic to finish a marathon n under 4 hours let alone just over 2!


    the doc did mention using ice yea, i have though sprayed some deep heat spray on both knees which has really taken the edge off the pain, although obviously not going to help the underlying issue.


    i spoke to the physio on the phone and she advised doing various stretches for 4 weeks, then to call back if no change. im going to do the stretches tomorrow, then again friday and attempt a run on firday if im not in pain, just 1 minute runs using the c25k training.if that doesnt hurt then great, but i am not sure.


    the soles of my feet,e specially the right one, were painful which i forgot to add, it almost felt like i had a trapped nerve on the outside of my foot.


    the doc advised looking at getting inserts for my trainers, which sweatshop agreed, but the physio said not to as it may be an issue caused by not stretching etc and they may be unnecessary.


    anyone got any tips or thoughts as to what to do next? i dont want to risk injury but its so frustrating having to stop so soon after starting!

  • just taken my little boy to the childminders which is a brisk 40minute ish walk with a pushchair, and the soles of my feet and my knees are aching like mad. my feet are really bothering me, i know i need some new work shoes though so maybe its down to the shoes. my knees really are worrying me though, 36 hours on and they still hurt a lot. i will do some of the exercises tonight but am wary of doing them while still in pain. finding this so frustrating i just want to get out and run but i know i will do more harm than good if i do

  • Best to focus on what you know is true:

    • you need new work shoes so go get 'em!
    • you have exercises & stretches so do them (be cautious but it's the sharp "oh god I done broke something" pain that is most to be worried about rather than aches)
    • keep up with the ice and ibuprofen
    • keep up the routine - swim or do strength training or core stability training if you cannot run as much as you want to on the day 
    • get on Amazon and get a 2nd-hand biography of some injury prone athlete (Paula Radcliffe was and is always hopping off to the physio) - they are very comforting. (At least it's not our living!)

    Don't worry too much if the aches are not gone after a day. Sometimes the body takes several days to recover from activity it's not used to. It helps if you can get a bit more sleep and a bit less stress too (get out a favourite book or film or fish out a photo album of fun times).

    I agree it's maddening when stuff gets in the way of running but it does...in the end... work out usually, honest. And you will enjoy things all the more when it does image

  • thanks for the reply fido.


    i am worried now, i went for a short ish walk this morning, approx 2 miles maybe, just to local butcher etc and by the time i got back my knees were both hurting a lot, to the point where i am worried about walking now. the outside sole of my right foot also hurts almost as if a nerve is trapped, i dont for 1 minute think it is but thats the only way i can describe the pain.


    i am desperate to get fit but dont want to risk damage. are the exercises the physio gave me likely to help with these issues do you think? any tips as to what i can do to help? i have used deep heat etc but made virtually no difference

  • Can't comment specifically (as not a qualified person who has taken a gander at you), but would have thought it is worth a punt trying the physio exercises. The complaints you hear about fizz exercises are that they are dull - don't remember anyone saying they did them any harm .

    Sometimes your body just takes longer to heal than you want or expect - have been there a few times myself, so your words strike a chord! Remember that desperate feeling, oh yes.

    Do try icing if you haven't already, with the ibuprofen, just to settle things down.

    Don't worry if it takes a week or two. What is that, over ten years, a lifetime? I do sympathize, we have all been through much the same thing and it does suck.

  • thanks fido. i have put a simple tubular bandage on each knee to see if that helps aswell, i doubt it will but you never know

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