Complete beginner doing the St. Albans half marathon

Hi everyone, Just joined this forum as a complete beginner. I used to do a bit of walking but decided this year I wanted to keep fit and lose weight by taking up running. As a teen I always hated cross country and could never see myself as a runner but I am determined to see this through and hope to be able to compete in the St. Albans half marathon in June this year having signed up in January. So far I am just at the stage where I am able to run 2 miles 3-4 times a week with hardly any walking but at a very slow pace. I am also a bit overweight but I'm hoping with time as I increase the miles I will be able to get rid of some of the excess and increase my pace. Any pointers would be welcomed as at the moment I am struggling with tight calf muscles and suspect I am not warming up properly. I do lots of stretching beforehand but wonder if I should be doing more. Also worried that I have take on too much doing a half marathon as my 1st challenge!!! Lisa X


  • JindaleeJindalee ✭✭✭
    Hi Lisa. Well Done for signingup for your first HM.

    I only did a few 5 k runs before doing my first HM so it's not a problem. If you don't do it already I would follow a beginners training plan for a half marathon. This way you know that you get the training you need to be able to do it. Mine was over 12 weeks and it helped me getting fit for my first half.

    Good luck!
  • Hi Lisa- I too am a beginner and doing the St albans half in June! It was great to see your post. We sound quite similar...

    I'm doing a run/walk 3 times a week but not managing to run constantly for more than about 15 mins (you're doing better than me).  With 14 weeks to go I am wondering what I have let myself in for! It's meant to be a very hilly course too!

    Do you live in St Albans? I just got new trainers from the runners world store in Marshalswick Quadrant so hope to try these out tomorrow.

    Do you head out on your own or do you have a running buddy? What time are you aiming for? I too run slow and am overweight,  I was hoping just to get round and finish but if I can do it in 2.45 hrs I will be happy.  I ran/walked the Herts 10K last october and based on that time, 2.45hrs seemed about right for this.

    Sorry I can't give you any advice on the tight muscle front.  My husband is sporty and uses a foam roller to help with his tight muscles.  There was a video on this website that shows you how best to use one.

  • Thanks jindalee, I have found a training plan in the runkeeper app I use so have signed up to that!

    Alban runner- hi, nice to meet another beginner! Both me and my husband have signed up so we're going out together when we can. He's a beginner too but being a bloke his pace is a lot quicker than mine so he quite often has to wait for me. I am trying to get out every other day and am managing it most of the time. If you have a smartphone, the runkeeper app is great for tracking distance and pace and I also found out today that it has a half marathon trainer so I'm hoping that will give me a bit more guidance as to where I should be with my training. If I can do the race in 2 and a half hours that suits me fine but being that I've never done any kind of running before just signing up in the 1st place is a big achievement for me!!!! image I live in London colney and am following the same route each time but I need to increase it a bit. As for the course being hilly, ive been told that the route has changed a bit since last year so isnt as hilly (fingers crossed). Good luck with your run tomorrow, hope your new trainers are nice and comfy!


  • Hi Lisa,

    I will look up that app.  I downloaded the half marathanon schedule from this website called ' get you round' which really is my goal.  When I finished the 10K it was such a buzz.  My husband did it too and finished about 45 mins before me so had time to walk back to the car, get changed and get himeslf a coffee before seeing me finish.  He is also doing the half aswell so expect he will have time to sunbathe for a good while before I arrive at the finish line image.

    For christmas he framed the picture of me crossing the finish line and said he was really proud of me so when I'm not feeling so confident about the half I look at that picture.

    Do you feel like you are losing any weight? I'm also doing weight watchers online and although I haven't lost pounds I think I've lost an inch or two and feeling a bit more toned.

    Well done on getting out every other day.  I'm looking forward to the clocks changing so the evenings will be a bit lighterimage.

  • booktrunkbooktrunk ✭✭✭
    Hi just to say WW and running is great, but I found I could not use the activity points if I wanted to loose weight. Daily and weeklies, but if I dip into activity then I wouldn't loose.

    Do you measure yourself, I would recommend doing that as you cannot actually tell, the running helps loose the inches more then the weight itself unless you start doing a lot of miles, but if really does help trim the figure.

    I do WW online as well (-81lbs in 49 weeks) so love it.

    It's a great combination image
  • Good on you for signing up - I am from St Albans although now living in Broxbourne but will most probably sign up for this event. What I will say is that I could not run 2 minutes let alone 2 miles and getting up to running 3 miles/5k took determination but to be honest it doesnt get progressively worse if that makes sense!

    I really wanted to achieve a half marathon and managed to go from 0 - 13.1 miles in 2hrs 09 minutes which I was super chuffed with. If I can do it then anyone can - you just have to stick to a plan and dont over-do things too soon. You have plenty of time to achieve your goal - maybe look to see if there some 5ks or 10ks in the run up to the event - It will break down the goal and will help with motivation. St Albans do a parkrun on Saturday morning - A 5k route so when you feel ready for that - its well worth signing up.

    Good Luckx




    Good Luck xx

  • hello all! just wanted to show some support! I've entered this aswell and it's my first half marathon. I've only done one 10k race before so I'm a bit nervous about being able to get round but I'm training hard and two months is alot of miles to go! aslong as I can run (jog) all the way round I'll be satisfied.


    good luck all!

  • Nose NowtNose Nowt ✭✭✭

    Hi Lisa,

    Well done for getting into regular running.  You certainly set yourself a challenge, going from zero to half marathon at one go!  I'm glad you've managed to overcome the early weeks and still moving forwards.  You can get to half marathon... but you'll have to stay injury free I think, as you do need all the weeks between now and June if you want to run all the way.  (run-walking will, I'm sure be a possibility. Still an achievement, but not as satisfying.)

    Let's look at one or two of your original questions.  Warming up?  What are you doing to warm up? You talk of lots of stretching.  Which could be a problem is not done right.

    The modern advice is not really to stretch, as you are pulling and stretching cold muscle fibres, which can cause microdamage.  Do some googling or YouTubing of "Dymanic Warm Ups" - essentially, you should largely walk around a bit...  then trot a bit... a few high-knees, then kick your bum a few times with your heels...  then doing your first half-mile or so nice and slowly to warm up.   Your stretching should be saved for the end, when you'r muscles are nicely warmed up.  Hopefully that can help your calves.

    You need to be sure that your shoes are good.  I guess you got proper advice?  Gait analysis in a proper shop?

    You know, I presume, that you need to watch your food for weight loss.  You're burning a few hundred calories with your runs.... but that's all about miles.  You've overcome the bit where your running does little for weight.  As you build up the miles now, it will start to make a difference (as part of a balanced diet!)   I don't know your training programme.    Just make sure you're sensible with mixing rest and miles.

    Good luck

  • Thanks Runmiles and everyone else with all the advice. I'm happy to say I managed to complete the race, bit of a rubbish time of 2.52 as my muscles all seized up at 8 and a half miles but since it's my 1st one I'm happy I managed to finish it and raise some money for charity too. I will be doing it again next year so my aim will be to make a big improvement to the time and in the meantime do some 5 and 10K's


    Hope everyone else who did it enjoyed the day and atmosphere as much as I did!

  • booktrunkbooktrunk ✭✭✭


    Congrats, look up parkruns free 5k timed runs on Saturday mornings they are great.

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