Looking for reassurance.

Hi everyone,

First post here (though by no means my first visit) and I'm looking for some much needed reassurance.

I'm running the london marathon in three weeks and as you can imagine I'm right at the thick end of my training. Yesterday I completed my first 20 miler and I've gotta say it was tough, really tough. A little bit worryingly so.

It's my first marathon and I'm following a beginners schedule for it. My last long(ish) run was two weeks ago which was 15 miles. That was difficult and I was feeling it towards the end, but no where near like I felt yesteday.

By 12-13 miles I was really feeling that my legs were tired, and by 15 I was really concerned I wouldn't actually be able to complete the full 20, and when I think back at how I was feeling at that point I can't believe I did! Everyone talks about hitting the wall at 18 miles or so, so to feel as bad as I did as early as I did, it does worry me somewhat.

Is this level of difficulty normal for a first time long ditsance runner? I like to think I have a pretty high tolerance for pain and can often push through things, but this felt like a whole other level of physical and mental difficulty.

As a couple of side notes, for the first 8 miles I was running into a fairly strong head wind (to give you an idea there were points where I could phyiscally feel it was slowing me down) and also from 8 to 12 miles there was a very hilly section that I've never run before, but I don't know how much difference these things make to be honest.

Also, in terms of nutrition during the run, I've heard so much conflicting info about whether to go for sports drinks, gels and the like. In the end I just took water out (which is all I've ever taken out on previous runs) and was just popping a few raisins evey mile from the 8 mile mark. Maybe I wasn't doing enough to top up the energy stores and that had an effect. I felt a bit woosie after the run, which could be an indicator I didn't drink enough or consume enough energy/sugar.

So really I'm just looking for a little reassurance that I'm not undertrained. If you say it's normal to be that hard then fine, I'll push through, but if there's something I can do differently (say with nutrition) then I'm very open to suggestions.

Thanks in advance image


  • It is hard. You've jumped up 33% from your last run so that is bound to be a shock.

    How fast are you running ? It's easier if you slow it down a bit.
  • I'd be encouraged I finished rather than worrying image

    You'll be tapred/rested on the day with fresh legs, you'll have the confidence of knowing you got to 20 miles when it was tough, you'll have crowd support etc.

    I wouldn't change nutrition now - sounds like you had a bad run, possibly because of the wind conditions.

    Even if you are undertrained (and I don't think you are necessarily) worrying won't help. You've followed a plan, presumably stuck to it? Have faith in the plan and learn from this experience for next time. There are also plenty of threads now with people with injury worries who woud trade possibly being a little undertrained with being out with injury.

    Good luck.
  • popsiderpopsider ✭✭✭

    So long as you are finishing your long runs I wouldn't be too concerned either - I used to feel like death by the end of some of them - no way did I have another 6 miles in me - but on race day I somehow managed the extra distance and at a faster pace. 

    I would maybe tweak your nutrition a bit though.  I'm not really one for loads of sports nutrition (possibly why I used to feel like death on long runs thinking back) but for a marathon you do need more than a few raisins.   Ideally you would have done this before now but still time - can you maybe try a few gels on your next run and see how you get on ?  Not saying go mad and take them every 15 minutes like some people do - but something every 5 miles or so even if it's just a third of an energy bar if you don't get on with gels.   

  • Thanks guys.

    Yep I've pretty much followed my plan to a T. I've missed a couple of short mid week runs (over my 16 week schedule) when I had no choice, but I completed every 'long' run.

    In terms of my pace I run a half back in October averaging 8:30min/m, but since starting my marathon training at the start of this year I knew I wouldn't be able to keep that up so have been training at a lower intesity between 9:00 - 9:30.

    Yesterday I averaged 10:00 which is a fair bit slower obviously, but I simply couldn't have gone any quicker in my honest opinion.

    @popsider - it's encouraging to read you felt like death, because that's probably how I would have summed up my condition when I got home haha. And I definitely didn't think I had another 6 miles in the tank.

    I'm on the taper from now, but I've still got a 15 miler on Sunday so maybe I'll try a small amount of mid run nutrition just to see how I fair around the 12-15 mark.

  • Dan. If you race a half marathon at 8.30 pace then I would suggest your long run pace has been too fast. The general rule is run them 45 -60 seconds per mile slower than your expected marathon race pace. So i would have thought 10 -10.30 per mile would be about right. You've done them faster which could be why you're wiped out.

    Anyway, too late to change that. Do your 15 miles run slower, and try consume a little more too and hopefully you'll feel better and give you the confidence you need going into the race.

    Good luck

  • Stevie  GStevie G ✭✭✭

    yep, as above too fast.

    Why did you leap from a 15 to a 20 though? That's a heck of a leap.

    And is that 20 your only run above a 15 before the race itself? Sounds quite a minimalist plan! best of luck though.

  • Hmmm thats interesting. Although I averaged just over 10min/m, I was running around 9:30 and less for about the first third of the run where as towards the middle and end of the run I was running more and more over 10min/m as I was getting more tired. Makes perfect sense that I burnt out a little too early if I wasn't following the 45-60sec slower rule.

    I think for the 15 I'll try and stick at 10min/m+ from the off and see what difference that makes. Probably a significant one from the sounds of it.

    Stevie, its just the plan I was following mate. It's a beginners guide I found on the Bupa website. I liked the format as it fit quite well with my shift work. Didn't really know any different.

    Thanks everyone. This is really helping.

  • Your long run should feel frustratingly slow (for the first half at least). If it doesn't, it's too fast

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