VLM 2016 - First timers?

Got a place with Macmillan for 2016 and thrilled!

Thought it would be good to get a group going for first timers for the equivalent of talking about running in the pub..





  • Congratulations! I had entered the ballot and got a place on my first attempt ????????


  • Hi Clare; that's brilliant! 

    Have you done anything like this before?


  • Hello all, I can't believe I got a ballot place on first attempt! I'm terrified now! I really want to do it but the hype makes me wonder if it's possible!

    I have a slightly twisted pelvis which means my left side is weaker than my right side (who would believe a recurring shin splint could be due to your pelvis-always see a physio!!) Anyway since the second time I have not run regularly for around 7 months, I've done a 10k here and a 5k there. But I like to think I'm pretty fit I go to body pump, metafit, kettlebells etc and I've finally done what the physio told me to- yoga and plates twice a week (yawn!)

    I'm hoping (praying) that if I get back to running a couple of times a week (physio says my limit of high intensity is three times a week and i like to reserve one session for metafit) and really hit the pilates, yoga and strength training I can make it. I'm going to speak to my physio tomorrow before I make a final decision and also trialing a new running club on Thursday.

    Anyone else having a hard time deciding?
  • Hello ladies, I'm another VLM first timer, I too was lucky enough to get in through the ballot on my first attempt. I did the Birmingham half marathon 3 years ago and not much since, I've always been a fair weather runner so the thought of all the training over the cold winter months is filling me with dread, more for motivation. I'm also a single working mum with 2 boys so I dont have the freedom to follow an official training plan, Runs are going to be taken whenever I have some spare time. Good luck to you all. It would be lovely to chat here, I think I am becoming a marathon bore to my friends and family already lol 

  • KieranGKieranG ✭✭✭

    Hi all, also a first time marathon for me. Had to pull out of the MK marathon in May after tearing a hamstring playing hockey in February and not recovering quickly enough. I did struggle round the Colchester half marathon in March, which probably did more harm than good on reflection. Since then I've done absolutely no running, so I'm off out today back on the 0 to 10k programme in readiness for a 10k event (Southwold) in November, then build from there for VLM

    It was the first time entering the ballot for me too and I nearly passed out when the bumble bee "you're in" magazine came through the door !!

    Be good to keep up with everyone's progress on here. I'm going to follow the beginner plan in the magazine from January I think. I like that its 3 days a week rather than 4 (with 3 daughters and myself and my wife working full time, 4 runs a week became difficult last year, so a plan with 3 a week should help).

    Good luck everyone !

  • Good luck everyone - you are clearly blessed with good luck already, as the odds are fairly heavily stacked against success in the ballot! The fact that you have a place means that you should probably use it. You have the option to defer a place until the following year, but you can only do so once. If you don't run and don't defer the place, then you lose it, and you've been lucky to get a place once, it's unlikely (but not impossible) that you would have the same luck in a future ballot.

    So you have an opportunity which you might not get again. Speaking as someone who has run the VLM, yes it's difficult and the training can be tough, but if you go for it, you will have a day which you will never forget, and an amazing achievement which you can always be proud of.

    So if have a place and are swithering as to whether or not you should do it, take the opportunity, otherwise you'll never know and may regret it later. If you don't enjoy the day (unlikely), you don't ever have to do it again (and you'll still have your medal!). What's the worst that can happen? .

    Go for it. Just find a good training plan and follow it and you'll be fine

  • NayanNayan ✭✭✭
    Best of luck. Be consistent in your training and I'm sure you'll have a great race day.
  • How lovely to hear from so many people who are both new and who have done it!

    I didn't get in in the ballot, but have a place with macmillan and having been given the opportunity am going to go for it!

    I'm following Hal Higdon's plan and am trying to go for the 4 times a week one as I like the iphone app that goes with it (discriminating me!) What kind of times are you going for or are you survivor time like me?



  • That is sound advice rodeoflip. I too have been lucky and got in via the ballot , fourth time of running London marathon and it is a fantastic event I'd rank it well up there in  the highs in life . 

    My advice for first timers is to start training now and follow a plan . I've done a few and they've all brought me home in roughly the same time . I favour Hal higdons plan which is found free on the Internet  , it's easy to follow , flexible and if followed will get you home comfortably . 

    Above everything give your all to training and you will have a brilliant experience ! 

  • Agree with mintycat - the big difference between a marathon and a half marathon is that if you're reasonably fit, you can get round a half with very little or no training. You can't do this in a marathon - you will have enough energy (glycogen) in you at the start to get you to around 20 miles, so you need to learn to run efficiently to use this sparingly. You also need to think about nutrition and taking energy on board (gels?).

    For a marathon, the training really needs to take over your life to some degree - you're going to spend a lot of time running (which hopefully you'll enjoy), and you have to build up your stamina to get to the finish. You may get hit with minor injuries along the way, which can interfere with training plans, as can other commitments, family events, etc. So start training now and get ahead of the plan, this gives you some leeway if you hit any problems.

    You don't need to follow a training plan to the letter, and a run or two either way doesn't really matter. But you do have to at least roughly follow a plan, which will build up distances progressively to reduce injury risk, and will get you running harder / faster at times to improve strength / technique. A little cross-training isn't a bad idea, either (cycling / swimming?). Then there's the fun of the taper at the end............point is, a marathon is a commitment, and you need to build up to it, and whichever plan you use, they're all designed to get you to a peak where you can run 26.2 miles on a specific day, while minimising injury risk.

    The more training you can do between now and April, the easier the day will seem, and the more you will enjoy it. Your biggest problem will be that within a week of finishing, you'll be thinking about "the next one"!

  • What amazing support on this thread! 

    Rodeoflip/mintycat - thank you both for the really good advice and for the support.  That's all really helpful.  I started Hal Higdon's novice 1 plan early as I thought that I would probably be bound to get injured so am planning on doing an 18 week plan in something like 30 weeks and I just keep repeating the weeks I find hard (nearly all of them so far!)

    I'm also planning some races to keep me motivated; how far away should I plan a half marathon? I'll be up to those sorts of miles at the end of January.

    The other question is that I am following a plan where I have lots of time. Should I repeat more weeks at the start or at the end? From what I've read it takes a while to recover from a 20 mile run; is doing 3 or 4 of those a productive thing or not?

    Finally, my body is doing the miles but my head is struggling to catch up. Would anyone recommend doing a 26 miler just to show you can do it?  

    Other first timers, how are you all getting on with your training?


  • Morning,

    Thanks for all the great advice and support so far on this thread.

    I'm pretty much where I want to be at this point in my training. I've done 4 miles as my long run this week and I've just done a 2 mile pace run. Although I'm pleased with the progress so far I do keep getting really anxious at the thought of the other end of the training, I need to just focus on the week at hand and not jump too far ahead in my mind but its not easy. I've got a 10k run booked for mid December and I'm thinking of doing a half marathon in Blackpool in February. 

  • Hi Madmum - I so identify with that sense of anxiety! Isn't it strange?

    I'll go out and run, and my mind is struggling to catch up with the amount I am running. Still, as long as we are getting out there, who cares...

    I've got a 10k booked for the end of November, and am wondering about when to book the HM but even the thought is something I'm shying away from..

    Which plan are you following?
  • I'm not going to book the HM until after christmas when my mileage and hopefully confidence will be a lot higher. I'm not following an official plan at the moment. I'm a single mum of 2 and my work shifts change every week so I'm always going to find it difficult to follow a plan. At the moment I'm just trying to increase my long run by a mile a week, work on my pace on my other runs and have one cross training session at the gym. I'm gonna have to try and find one that I can work around my lifestyle in the new year though for the important last part of the training.

  • Got a ballot place in the VLM on my 2nd try and felt exhilarated but now extremely nervous.

    Thank you for the advice above.  I am a seasonal or fair weather runner.  Although I did run a half marathon 2 years ago and quite enjoyed it.

    I will continue my training which I started when I got my place.  Presently, I run 3 runs a week plus a gym class but unsure if this is sufficient. The 3 runs consist of 2 x hill runs and 1 long distance run.  I finally decided to try and run 9 miles today and completed it.  It felt good.  Should I train more or change my training plan as in slow down a little?  Any advice?




  • Hi KLC - lovely to 'meet' you!

    There is no way that I can give you advice but I have read a copious amount on the web about training. With the amount of running you're doing, look up Hal Higdon or the VLM running plans as they will give you guidelines. I think the key things are making sure your shoes are well fitted and are not too old...

    As for everything else, well mutual support counts for a lot and I think that's where this thread comes in.

    Went out on Thursday for a long run and did 7 miles (very, very slowly) but every mile counts..
  • look up 'novice supreme ' training plan on Hal Higdons page . This looks like a sound training plan and is 30 weeks duration . It is designed to give you a good structured base and then integrates the novice training plan with 18 weeks to go . 

    It builds mileage steadily and this hopefully will minimise injury which can occur if you ramp up mileage and frequency too quickly . 

    I'm probably going to follow novice 2 programme which has a slightly higher mileage but if I find it's too much I'll revert to novice 1 which has  worked perfectly well in the past for me . 

  • Hi Minty,

    I'm following Novice 1 but I started it a while ago so spending a couple of weeks at some levels if I feel it's going to far for me, or I just respond to the occasional twinges in knees, shins or hips and that seems to be working for me.

    Novice 2, I did look at but thought the mileage ramped up quite quickly...okay for a more experienced runner, but not this one!
  • I did London for the first time this year and have just applied for a place with my run club for next year.

    I followed the Bupa intermediate run plan with some tweaks from my run coach - the main this for me was just to get round and raise oodles of cash for my charity (which I did). Best day ever!

    My training started last October and it was all about getting 20-25 miles a week under my belt. I'm glad I did as I got pleuracy at the end of Dec and was out of action for 4 weeks! I did my HM race at the start of March.

    In terms of the longer runs it is not recommended to run the full 26 (only elites do that) which I followed. I ended up doing 13 x 2, 15 x 1, 18 x 1 and 20 x 1 prior to my taper and then did 13 x 1, 10 x 1 and 8 x 1 before the big day. I felt sluggish for the first two weeks of taper but was popping with energy for the final two weeks.

    My 15 was an effort as it was the first time I'd run longer than an HM and my 20 was during the worst weather!

    Good food, good sleep, afternoon naps, stretching, rollering, massage - all important. And don't push yourself if you get ill.

    At the moment just get your body used to the extra running follow your plan and believe in yourself.

    My training and my run were hard, fun and well worth the effort image

  • Hi stef,

    Really useful advice there; thank you!

    That's all really encouraging...

    Anyone else training?
  • ZouseZouse ✭✭✭

    Hi Blithespirit,

    Yep, I am training already - week 9 of a 32 week programme - my own interpretation of one of Hal Higdon's plans. I only get 3 runs in a week at the moment, and my longest run so far has been 15 miles (a real struggle), which was a couple of weeks ago.

    On Sunday - the first really cold long run - it was the worst running experience so far. So many cramps! I had to keep stopping, and I struggled to maintain my temperature - my sweat wasn't wicking away. I had to cut it short at 12 miles & spent the rest of the day trying to keep warm. Tea & a roast dinner helped...

    How is yours going?

  • Hi Zouse,

    That's all really good so far! Is that the plan that is meant to start in December? I was going really well, up to 10 miles and in the summer I could only run 30 seconds (!) but then concussed myself last weekend so haven't run for 10 days. Feeling a bit antsy now and can't wait to get back into it. I have booked a half marathon in February though just to keep myself going.

  • ZouseZouse ✭✭✭

    So if you could only run 30 seconds in the summer, and you have now got up to 10 miles (if I understand correctly), that's a damn awesome achievement to date!

    Concussion doesn't sound very helpful or constructive. image Hope you are feeling better & now in a position to get outside in your trainers again.

    I haven't booked any specific events yet, but I have a training session with the charity I am running for in March. I'm considering a HM or two before then, but we shall see.

    Keep at it, Blithespirit!

  • HI Zouse,

    No, luckily it's all done with now, but it was horrid at the time; I wasn't even allowed to read!

    Your training sounds as it if's going well...

    Don't know if anyone else doing it for the first time feels this way but I am daunted by just the thought of running a marathon so I'm just trying to focus on the next run out. I'm also thinking of running a bit on the actual course; maybe the 20 mile run so that I know where it is, and understand that even if I haven't run 26 miles before, that I know what the last 20 miles of the course are like.
  • bk42bk42 ✭✭✭

    Hello All, I got an entry in the VLM first time round, feel so lucky! I have been wanting to do it since I was young (now 41!), I have been watching it every year since I can remember. And now I am going to do it, so chuffed.

    I have been off ill for a few weeks and missed my long run days, feeling very disappointed and frustrated, as I wanted to be at a half marathon distance by now. How long are your longer runs everyone?

    I have never done a marathon before and so don't know what to expect in terms of a finishing time, what are your hopes and aspirations? Are you going for pace or just happy to finish? Would love to hear your thoughts, feeling very nervous already!

  • Helllloooooooo!

    Just joined this forum as I have a place in the VLM running for the British Heart Foundation ( a charity close to my heart- no pun intended). i have been running for almost 2 years and this is my first marathon. 

    I hurt my knee training for a half in the summer and had 10 weeks off running. Hence I will be doing the marathon using a run-walk-run technique to minimise my chances of injury.  In my 40s I find my body is not as resilient as it once was and I have a few biomechanical issues ( 1 leg longer than other and scoliosis) so I am not a natural athlete.

    I am using the Jeff Galloway run-walk beginners training plan from his book which is a 26 week programme so just finished week 7 and up to 9 miles on my long run on Sunday, Which was surprisingly ok although I am sore today.

    i have no aspirations for a finish time. Just to get round without requiring the London Ambulance Service will be enough.

  • Hey everyone!

    Welcome BK and Midlands Lass.

    BK - you do have time.. On the program that I am doing (Hal Higdon's Novice supreme) he says you don't even need to start until the 18th December so that always gives me hope knowing we are ahead of the game.

    Midlands - bad luck on the knee and Galloway is really respected, isn't he?

    I'm sort of the same on time. I keep telling myself it is enough just to get round but I know that I will put some kind of pressure on myself. Currently, I'm just focussing on the next run as otherwise when I start thinking of the actual thing I can feel the panic start..

    BK - sounds like you need to do some reading. I have looked at pace calculators and stuff but the abiding advice seems to be that for a first marathon we should be focussing on building up the long term endurance and not worrying about speed at all.

    I have just been told by a physio not to run for the moment due to hip issues, so I am going to research alternative ways to keep fit. How have both of you done it?
  • When I was off running with my knee, my physio recommended cycling but that also irritated my knee so I did nothing for 10 weeks other than walk, do my physio exercises religiously and get frustrated! Now it's better, the most important thing I have to remind myself to do is to keep doing the physio exercises (mainly waggling leg about to strengthen glutes). Have started a weekly Pilates class too which is fantastic and my core has got stronger. 

    Rest is a pain but necessary sometimes. 


    on a lighter note I had a quick look at hotels in London that weekend and they all seem to have put their prices up which is cheeky!


  • It looks like i am about to do my first marathon!

    I won a London marathon place on twitter yesterday and now i don't know where to start with preparation!!

    I have done a few 10k's and half marathons recently and doing up to 12 miles on my long run.

    Another thing, accommodation. I have found a couple decent priced hotels in covent garden and near westminster, is this ok for getting to the start? How long should it take to get to the start and what services are on?

    So many questions amongst the excitement!

  • Hi Smyth - Congratulations!

    I'm not sure about how close that is to the start; it's certainly close to the finish!

    Sounds like you are well prepared if you are already up to 12 miles.

    So very exciting isn't it?

    I'm off to try the cross trainer today to see if I can keep my fitness going as otherwise my head is going to go mad! Wish me luck and see you later...
Sign In or Register to comment.