Where do I begin?

I have been lucky enough (if you can call it that) to be given a charity space for the London Marathon.

I am utterly clueless about where to begin. I have run several half marathons, so I have jumped straight into the training programme I had for them - running 4/6 miles during a short week evening run followed by a longer run at the weekend. Last week I was up to 8 miles (though very stop/start due to hills). Am i starting this right? In addition I am attending Boot Camp sessions for strength and Spinning classes to mix it up. Is there anything else I should be doing? Whats the longest run I should do during training.

Today I am feeling so fatigued. I know it is my muscles trying to repair, but does anyone have any tips to speed this along. 

And nutrition - where do you go to find a good nutrition plan to aid your training. Bearing in mind I am a gluten free vegetarian. I have also had bad experiences with energy gels so I have no idea what I am going to use to fuel my longer runs. 

Lots of questions and thoughts, hoping to get some advice  by posting this. 

Thanks in advance, Gemma.


  • PhilPubPhilPub ✭✭✭

    If you've run half marathons, you're halfway there!  image  At risk of stating the obvious, your main task is to get used to running much longer distances and the best way to do this is to gradually increase your mileage both in total and for the weekly long run, at a sensible rate which builds on your current fitness/running experience.

    Have you used a structured training plan for your HMs?  If so, are there marathon training schedules from the same source that you could follow?  Or are you totally new to the idea of following a structured schedule?  What's your target for the marathon?  Just get round, or go for a time based on your HM times?  I would research marathon training plans and pick a sensible one.  RW plans seem to be quite popular but I'm not familiar with them.  I like Hal Higdon plans for novices.  They're very straightforward and build up the mileage sensibly.  

    You'll find that structured plans have you building up over 16/18 weeks, which is basically from either late December or new year for London.  But the sooner you get used to higher volume training, the better.  You should aim between now and the end of the year to be running at least the minimum mileage (weekly and long run) that the plans start at.  This will typically be something like 25 miles per week, with a long run of 10 miles, so it sounds like you're nearly there already.  If you can comfortably run 12 miles for a long run over the next couple of months, and maybe back this up with a mid-week "longish" run of 7-8 miles and a couple of shorter runs, all good.  n.b. A good plan will build in "cut-back" weeks to allow you to recover and take on board the benefits of new levels of training, before moving on again.

    w.r.t. non-running exercise, this can be a good complement to running but you might find you want to drop some of it as the running volume takes up more of your time and energy.  For my first marathon, I was used to getting to the gym 4x/wk for spinning and strength exercises, but I dropped this to 3x/wk and I included easy runs in the gym sessions.  Spinning classes can be good "active recovery" sessions, e.g. the day after a long run. This allowed me to increase my runs from 4 to 5 x/week.

    Nutrition is a big topic! Essentially, you need to avoid the mistake of believing that lots of running gives you an excuse to eat what you like.  If anything, you need to be even more careful about the quality of the things you do eat, and not over-compensate on portion sizes! Good quality carbs for energy, protein for recovery/muscle repair, etc. Carefully consider, if you don't already, what steps you need to take with a veggie diet to make sure you're getting enough protein, iron, B vitamins, etc., etc. Beware that marathon training may well give you cravings; I'm an absolute fiend for bread and jam when the training gets serious!  Look up Anita Bean, who writes some useful stuff about sport-specific nutrition.

    Good luck!

  • I'd say to make sure you're not running too fast, slow it down as you build the mileage, this should help with the fatigue too also ditch spin and Boot Camp if it all gets too much and you need some extra rest.

    I'm a gf pescatarian and eating well isn't an issue. Quinoa, gf pasta, sweet potatoes, rice etc etc to keep your carbs up and whichever protein sources you prefer (though beware excess fibre the night before your long run..........). Gel wise it's worth trying different ones until you find something that suits I like High 5 gels, Torq ones make me want to throw, anything with caffeine in upsets my stomach almost immediately, GU tend to taste nice but can be too thick for me to take whilst running so it's trial and error during your training. You'll find that the better trained you are the less fuel you need for training anyway, a good supper and a good breakfast before your LSR will get you a long way. You could try some of the many veggie jelly sweets if you really can't face gels, dates, marzipan - lots of possibilities.

    If you think you can or you think you can't you're probably right.
  • I think Phil has pretty much summed it all up. I'd be careful of doing hard spin sessions, I'd be aiming more at recovery.

    Also I'd be weary of boot camp and picking up injuries as you'll be more susceptible to getting injured as you build the mileage up. It depends on what bootcamp means though. I would think more about strength and conditioning or yoga for runners, something that will help injury prevention.

    I'd second the Hal Higdon. I recommended the novice 1 plan to a friend and she really enjoyed it and did really well in her first marathon.

  • Thanks all. Your answers have made me realise I'm thinking along the right lines. Aiming to have a 12-15 mile run under my belt before Christmas and freezing my boot camp membership in the New Year!

  • Good luck see you there!!
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