Suggestions for my first ever Marathon

I posted a few months ago whilst training for my first half marathon. To give you a bit of a back story, I started getting fitter in March 2012, beginning with swimming and interval training, before completing the c25k podcast last summer. I set myself the challenge of running the GSR half marathon this year. in the process, I shed 9 stone and a lot of inches, and after several setbacks (surgeries and pneumonia just being a couple) I completed the race! My first ever run was the Wigan 10k in September, and the GSR my second race. It really pushed me to my limit, but I felt amazing after crossing the finish line.

I decided that I want to take the plunge and enter a full marathon, but I have a few questions to ask:

1) How long is advisable to wait from being a beginner to entering a marathon? I read somewhere that the body needs the time to strengthen, but I'm not sure if my goal of running in 2014 is wise.

2) What timescale do I need to give myself to train for a marathon?

3) I have already lost a lot of weight, but I still have weight to lose (about 4 stone) and don't want to put any more stress on my joints by lugging an extra 4 stone around the course. People have told me that once I start the marathon training the extra weight will fall off, but is this realistic or should I try and shift some more of the weight before I start training?

4) I entered the Berlin Marathin ballot but didn't get a place. Where would you suggest for my first ever Marathon? I live in Glasgow, but I will travel anywhere for the right course. 

Thanks so much for any advice you can give me!



  • roebyroeby ✭✭✭

    the marathon is a whole different kettle of fish , and tests your body so much more than a half.what about getting a few more 10k and halfs under your belt through spring and summer and see how your training is coming on for an autumn  2014 or spring 2015 marathon.I would find a local one so you can get friends and family to support you on route .ITs amazing what a difference a full marathon is to a half  ,it's not just training  but experience too. and the more you do the better you,ll enjoy your marathon.image

  • Won't comment on the when and where, I will say well done on what you have achieved so far though. Perhaps I will plus 1 roeby's comment though as to aim for an Autumn one rather than a spring one, you then have a further year to prepare. Good luck

  • The longer you give yourself the better, but as Grendel said an autumn marathon next year sounds sensible. 

    You can do quicker, heck you are half way there and could sign up for a winter one, but you would have to push yourself so hard the chances are you'd get injured.  Believe me I did one in around 5 or so months from starting and it's do-able but i'm sure you will enjoy it all that much more if you take a bit more time image

    There are some great autumn marathons, Yorkshire, Loch Ness, Chester to just name three that seem to have had good reputations on these forums this year. If any of them are near you i'd consider one of them, but there are loads of em around.

    If you want to do a late spring marathon I did Milton Keynes on the May bank holiday and that wasn't a bad one, pretty flat. You would have six months to train, but winter could cause you to miss a few runs, and Xmas might not help as well.  Which all seems to make a autumn one a better choice considering you don't have a specific deadline it's not like it is the London Marathon or bust... Read up in the events forum and see what they have said about some recent marathons, Snowdonia sounds amazing, but quite a steep challenge. Might not be your cup of tea for a first marathon.

  • What about Loch Ness next Sept / Oct? A little hilly but 26.2 miles is long way however you cut it, or if you prefer a crowd the Edinburgh in May or if quieter the Lochaber in Fort William in April. Some folk do a marathon as their first race, some never do one. If you want to do one, make sure you have enough time to do 20 weeks training. As others have said / will say, it is not 2 x a half, it is a very different beast.

  • Thanks so much for all your advice so far everyone.

    I was aiming for Autumn of 2014 at the earliest - I'm guessing that a full marathon is more than twice as hard as a half, and that was hard enough! My friend suggested Loch Ness but I am a bit daunted by the hills, or Dublin, but I don't know anything about that. Either way I definitely need more time! 

    Is is there anything specific I can do to help increase my strength? I've got another 10k next week, and then nothing to aim for. I feel like my legs are still very tired after the half, but I only took two days off post race and have been doing 6 days exercise every week since then. Generally, I do one long run (though nothing further than 8 miles post race), one short run and one hill/speed run. The other two/three days I either do cross training or interval training. I'm not allowed to swim because of my shoulder, so I'm limited in what exercise I can do.


  • Loch Ness has a couple of hills but overall it's actually a downhill race image

  • lotty something like free weights or even better yoga will help you with core strength if you can do that.

    As for time you should have plenty of time to get ready for a marathon next year. They are a different beast as already been mentioned but as long as you set yourself so goals training wise and stick to them very doable. Afraid got no experance of scotish marathons but if you wanted a northern england one york is looking good from what I have heard this year. Abingdon, Newcastle and Leicester marathons in autumn are all very good races.

    There is Nottingham as well but not yet done that since been set up again so can't say 100% it's a good one. It used to be excellent through.

  • I have been using kettlebell weights for last week and a bit for core strength gel a lot better already. Meant to give you a lot of benefits making it a lot easier to run with good form when tired etc...

    I am am doing this routine 

  • Thanks for the suggestions. I can't do any weight bearing activity like kettle ball work (which I was previously doing), but yoga is a great suggestion so I will check it out. As for races, it seems like Loch Ness, Dublin and Newcastle are front runners for now! 

  • Just in case Newcastle is relitivly low key so if you are wanting a all singing and dancing race for your first one I would pick Dublin maybe.

  • Thanks for your suggestions everyone! I didn't get picked for Berlin so I've bitten the bullet and entered Edinburgh marathon. I feel sick even thinking about what lies ahead, let alone making it through to the start line in one piece. Now to find a training plan...

  • haha Good luck image The race is the easy bit once your first marathon starts you can finally relax, and the more you've put in during the training phase the easier it is to relax knowing that you have the miles under your belt image

  • Don't think this answers your questions but is a fab thread! (Just ignore all the running / racing / jogging waffle in the midle!) 

  • Loch Ness was my first, and a great 1st race.  It has a few hills but more down than up!

    Autumn 2014 sounds achievable to me, plus you get to train over the summer which many prefer, and if lucky the marathon will be slightly cooler for the day itself which is good if you don't like it too hot.

    If you wait until 2015 you may feel like it's so far off that you start to loose focus or motivation... That is why I bit the bullet and went for a marathon 6 months away rather than a year away (I was up to half marathons by the time I signed up).

    Looks for some good half's and 10ks throughout the spring to get more race experience - the bigger ones have probably filled up by now but there should be plenty of others.

  • Manchester Marathon is the flatest around apparently and local to me which is great for me at least.

    I am building up slowly mind you i am 44 next week.

    10ks i have done quite a lot in training and a few officials and doing the GNR in Sept 14. I will then consider a marathon.

    I have enjoyed the training and i dont want rush it, but 2015 for a marathon feels right for me.

    You have done awesome losing that amount of weight, the main thing i would suggest now is keeping it off, losing that extra 4 stone you have to lose by which time you will be nice and ready to train for a marathon. Of course, you may want to lose the weight whilst training but one things seems for sure is that the training for a marathon is HUGE and takes time, Just dont work your body too hard as you may shock it.

    I am in awe of hthe weight loss you have made so far. Keep it going.

  • Thanks all. Yes, I'm torn between losing more weight before I seriously start my programme, or trying to train and lose weight at the same. I've only got about 2 stone to lose now, so that's better than 4 but the hardest thing is keeping the weight off! For the half marathon I really struggled with hunger and keeping my weight stable, but I think I was probably not eating enough. So, lesson learned and I'll be much smarter for the half marathon.

    The main I think will be getting all the miles under my belt - that really helped psychologically and physically for the half, and I know that the marathon will an entirely different beast. I feel like there's so much I just don't know about how to prepare and it's both thrilling and terrifying!

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