First marathon

Can anyone recommend a good first marathon?  I've done a couple of halfs, and my latest PB is around 1:53 - I'm feeling ready for the challenge of stepping it up to a full, probably next spring (I'm doing the GNR in September so don't want to push it with training for a full one in the autumn as well)

Also, any recommendations for training plans would be wonderful - I don't think I'm a complete beginner any more, but I'm definitely not in the speedy serious class!


  • How about Brighton?
  •   I'm not sure what makes a good first marathon, but as for training plans if you google Hal Higdon and MyAsics, you won't go far wrong.

      Happy running!

  • Brighton is indeed a great marathon to do your first - the support is absolutely fantastic. The price next year is a bit steep, but I would recommend it image

  • Perhaps you need to consider whether you want a busy marathon - lots of people runnind and supporting or a quieter marathon?

    I did Brighton for the first time last month, got a PB but didn't really like the course - first half undulating so tricky to get pace correct; lots and lots of people supporting (which some people like) and a motorbike convoy and mini car convoy as well! I found it too claustraphobic lots of runing back on yourself etc! But, that is because I don't often run in large races so somewhat inexperienced (only done GSR twice in recent years) at home we only have small numbers HM gets around 450 - 500 people. It was a good experience and I'm pleased I did it, but need a quieter marathon where I can really focus on what I'm doing if that makes sense!

    The ballot for Brighton has now closed so you may also need to consider a charity option - I ran for Oxfam as they only wanted a smaller pledge - that also needs consideration though - it's hard work fundraising and training at the same time!

    hope this doesn't sound too negative I'm trying to be realistic - it certainly hasn't put me off I'm doing the Jersey marathon in October (but that's home so it'll be quiter!).


    re training my recommendation would be do hill reps and speed work as well as long runs! image

    Good luck image

  • MadbeeMadbee ✭✭✭

    Thanks for your suggestions folks image  I should have mentioned that I'm in the North East, and would prefer to stay fairly local so Brighton might be a bit of a trek...  That said, I do have a good friend living nearby so might be a good excuse for a jolly down there!


    I definitely like the look of the Hal Higdon novice 2 program - sounds about my level!  But can you really run a marathon after only a 20 miler as the longest run ever..?  Will check out the Asics one too. 

  • Madbee wrote (see)
    ... can you really run a marathon after only a 20 miler as the longest run ever..?

      Yes, you can, with varying degrees of success depending on how consistently you follow the plan and your base fitness before starting the plan. I gather the idea is to arrive at the start line undertrained but injury free, and the first time you really have to push past the wall is race day. Check out Higdon's book if you want more info; I found it very useful but a little Americana-old-skool-chauvinistic in places. I'd still recommend it though.

  • You could try the MK marathon.  I did it as my first last year.  Relevtively small field of about 4000 and easy to get into.  Is flat as well, except for the ups and downs on the over and under passes.

  • PG3PG3 ✭✭✭

    Re the training plan, it depends on how much time you have and what works for you.  I find the 3 days a week plan works for me, but I also like to swim and cycle so it still gives me time and energy to do other things.  I have followed both the novice and experienced programme.

    You could think about Milton Keynes or Manchester?

  • If your in the North East, there's a new one in October in Northumberland between Bamburgh castle ans somewhere I think. Look on the Run Northumberland website. Keilder is good but it's a tough course and there the Town Moor marathon which is 4 laps of the Town moor. You can run the GNR as part of tumour marathon training plan. It breaks up the long Sunday runs routine a bit.  

  • Not sure where "tumour" came from should be "your"

  • MadbeeMadbee ✭✭✭

    Thanks for the input guys, genuinely much appreciated.  I have gone with my heart and not my head in the end, and entered Kielder (oops).  I know it's not the easiest one, but it looks so beautiful I think if I can enjoy the scenery and get an average sort of time then I'll probably get more out of it...

  • Pop over Hadrians Wall to Edinburgh, reasons as follows.

    1. It is in the springimage
    2. It is quick, definitely PB materialimage
    3. It is nearly all downhill or flat (see above)image
    4. People in Edinburgh are just like Geordies with brainsimage
    5. image  Sorry couldn't resist
  • booktrunkbooktrunk ✭✭✭

    Leicester was my first last october, it's got a steep hill at the end, but the rest of it is pretty flat, it's quiet and nice. Only 526 finishers last year, so nice and friendly busy at the beginning as there are lots starting the half at the same time.

    I'd recommend it as a nice marathon finish in a city but it includes a 13 miles loop out through the quiet villages.  There are places where you are running behind a bollard next to live traffic, but it's brilliantly marshaled.

    It gets my recommendation (which isn't a lot). image

    Also gets my recommendation for training plan for a 1st marathon as well.

  • I have secured a place in the York marathon in October as my first. Using the Great North Run as a training run for that now. 

  • PCleasbyPCleasby ✭✭✭

    I hope Edinburgh has improved. I've done it twice and I was left with the distinct impression that the organisers only cared about getting your cash rather than focussing on the runner's race day experience.

    If you are looking for a local spring marathon you could try Marathon of the North in Sunderland. A few teething problems still need to be ironed out but it's local, facilities are excellent and the atmosphere is great.

  • Madbee, I've just done my first marathon in Manchester and I loved it and would definitely recommend it.  Firstly, it's flat!!  Great crowd support, plenty of runners (6-7,000 I think) but not too busy you couldn't get going right from the start.  I had run 3 halfs last year, my fastest half time was 1:46, and decided just before Christmas to enter a marathon in the Spring.  I wanted a marathon with a fair few runners (we have one here on the Isle of Wight but with only about 100 runners, it's a bit exposed, and lonely!). 

    I bought Hal Higdon's book and followed the Novice 2 programme almost to the letter, so 2 x 20 miles runs before the marathon.  Anyway, my race went exactly to plan, I ran a negative split and finished in 3:56 which was GFA for London for me, so I was very pleased.

    I would say stick to your plan even though sometimes you might want to do more (I stayed injury free) and the best advice I was given for race day was to stick to pace.  I was really worried about going off too soon so kept my eye on the 4 hour pacer until the last couple of miles when I had a little left to go on ahead slightly. 

    Good luck whichever marathon you choose, I'm sure you'll love it!

  • I have just done my 1st marathon in Milton Keynes. I had a fantastic day, the support was great, course mildy undulating & scenery on the whole good. We finished in the mk dons stadium which was a nice touch! 

    Didn't get a great time (wheels fell off early due to heat) However the potential is there for a marathon beginner (like me) to get a very respectable time! 

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