Healthy Beginner to Marathon in 32 weeks?

Hi All,

I am a healthy fit female who hits gym atleast 4 times a week, I kind of do strenght training and HIIT exercises ,follow a good balanced diet/healthy life style in general. I have signed up for London marathon 2019 so have 8 months of time to train myself. I am fairly new to running I must say though I ran several times on treadmill as part of my gym routine. I have started regular runs from last week and aiming to finish my first 5k by September end. Though I don't have experience in running for a race all I can say is that I am ready to dedicate time and energy to practice long runs provided my health conditions continue to be normal. Am not very particular about the marathon finish time and also not personally strict about running only for the entire course but want to finish under 5.5 hours and if suitable run/walk approach with running being the major part ofcourse.

I have started the RW 6 week 5k training plan for beginners, I feel like doing more than what the plan says but keeping it low and steady at the moment to build my strenght gradually than to go fast and hit the wall.

Is this something am over estimating myself or realistically a doable thing?


  • Also how useful it is to sign-up for Good Run Guide. Appreciate your help
  • Running a marathon is a major commitment... As a starter get your gait looked at a proper running shop... once you have you first pair of running shoes, run in them for a month or so to make sure you don't get any blisters or issues... then get yourself another pair of running shoes... now for every run, alternate the running shoes.. make sure you read up on what stretches you need to do before running, and afterwards. Make sure you run sensibly within your limits, just concentrate on getting easy miles into your legs, so you build stamina in your legs, don't go for long runs over 6 miles or so, until you have built up enough miles to be able to run a 5k. Once you can run a 5k, start by running park runs every Saturday morning, and slowly build up. .. don't even think about a time for a marathon at this stage of training. If you feel tired take a day or two off.. there are plenty of other days to train... Look at the beginner marathon plans.. most runs will be easy runs, and most plans will start in November this year. Take your time to 'up the mileage'. Build miles in your legs by shorter more often runs, than longer runs.  Take it easy, and maybe look at doing the following in the gym once a week, some deadlifts, abductor machines,  This will probably do for a starter.
  • ^^^ what Dave said. Your two biggest problems will be:

    1. marathon training is hard work, obviously it wears you down physically but also mentally. It takes determination and commitment to see it through, but it sounds as though you're ready for that and that you've got it covered.

    2. injury. You're going to be asking your body to do something it's not used to doing, over and over again. This conditioning is necessary, but can easily lead to your body breaking down if pushed too hard. Take it easy to begin with. When you do start doing long runs, take it easy and slow. "Listen to your body" - a cliché, but true - if something is sore, let it heal up before running on it again, otherwise you can end up with more serious problems.

    But if you're determined and train properly there's no reason why you won't be in Greenwich in April. Do you have anyone who's run a marathon before who you could run with and train with? A local running club might also be worth a go, most running clubs are full of people who have made all the mistakes and are happy to help point you in the right direction.

  • Thanks Dave for the insights. As a first step I got my hair analysis done and looks like my left leg is a bit overpronating  so I ordered a shoe(Brooks Revanna) that gives my feet more stability.I will need to check them in real time once they are delivered.I completely agree with you on that point of not even look at marathon time as I want to break my goal into smaller achievable chunkswhich are more easier to visualise and manage. So I will do that.Currently am doing the 6 week plan for 5k  .

    And Rodeoflip, thanks much for your encouragement. Mentally am feeling strong enough at the mo so I will have to let my body undergo that practice to know if it is alsocoping up with the new routine .Will keep you updated.

    I don't have any running buddies currently but am hoping to meet fee in the coming days. Also am thinking to join a running club to get over my initial hesitations over the technicalities of running and to make sure am in the right path and also for a bit of motivation . 
  • Also is it ok to continously  train for 2 days if I can. My preferable and fav days currently  are Wednesday Saturday and Sunday while I am going to do some gym classes on other days.I will include one more day ofcourse as I progress but keeping it with 3 at the moment.
  • A little bit of update from me

    Since I  was contemplating on several plans last week and decided now finally am.going to officially call this as my first week. Like you guys said am not even thinking about marathon atm and concentrating all my energy to complete a decent 5k by end of September.

    <span>The plan is Run 1 min, walk 1 min. Repeat 10 times but I have done more than that. One good diff I have felt is that am now able to run comfortably by holding my phone in hand which is a little achievement  to me personally 
    Strava said 

    Moving time 19:34 Distance 1.4 mile Pace 13.51/MI

    Am waiting for my running show which am hoping will make  things a bit better.  
  • I over-pronate as well and found that my new Brooks (can't remember which model now) running shoes gave me blisters when I ran anything over 6 miles... I also bought a pair of Ascis GT-2000 6 the make I've run in for years, and they don't give me any blisters at all. You may be different and find the opposite, but just to make you aware that there are different makes that will feel different. 

    Training two days in a row is fine, as you're not yet putting in massive distances.. its all about getting out there and running easily.. just to get miles in your legs, and building them up.

    By the way the marathon is doable.. it takes a lot of hard work and commitment... but if you have a decent running base in place by November then you can do it!!! Remember go easy and build up those miles slowly.


  • Dave, Appreciate  sharing your experience  on shoe.They say my left leg is slightly overpronating and recomemmded Asics Gel Kenayo,Brooks Ravenna and fee other. I have choosen Ravenna for its lighter weight. Though it is a bit narrow on the front am going to try them anyways and take a call after sometime if they trouble me a lot.

    Yeah makes sense on doing in a row for now then.Thanks again for ensuring me it's a doable thing as my goal is only to finish within the cut off time and if possible under 5.5 hours though am not v particular. All I want is to achieve this goal and make myself more fitter in this journey .
  • I would be wary of doing consecutive days hard running. Treat one of them as an easy slow run and run faster or further for the other one. Especially as you start to run further, one of these runs will be your "important" run (maybe a longer run), and the other will just be an easy or recovery run. Don't push it too hard on both days, you need to makes sure that your body has a chance to recover.

    Also, you'll find that you have good runs and bad runs, and there seems to be no reason why. Some days it's just harder than other days, and some days it just clicks and it's easy. Don't worry if this happens, it's normal. If you have a day where it all just seems like a huge effort, it doesn't mean you're unfit or going backwards, and the next run will probably seem much easier.

  • It would be interesting to hear how you are getting on with your running - why not update this thread every so often...
  • Liam(I assume its your name, sorry if not)

    Glad you told me ,This was what I needed as I have already experienced that high/low dips kind of moments already in the last 1.5 week. Seems its very normal then to feel that way. I was a bit scared thinking that may be running is not for me, but the next day was good.So I have decided to continue anyway.

    Regarding training consecutive days I still need to figure out how I can shift my other gym classes but running is going to my most important goal in the next few months so I will revise my schedule soon.

    Hello Dave, Yes am also thinking the same on posting my updates regularly ,thanks for bearing with me.I cross trained on yesterday after Wed run, not sure abt today so weekend is going to be on the plan for sure. so 3 days it will be this week.
  • On a different front in order to motivate myself am planning to gift myself watch that helps track my progress, I know internet is full of articles but am unable to choose one having no idea what they are talking about, If you have any recommendations that would be of great help .< £150 for now.
  • I bought a garmin vivoactive 3 which is a bit more expensive that 150 quid... but I would plump for a watch with a gps on it, so you know exactly how far you've run when you run outside... 

    Good on you for doing three days this week... I am finding it easier to run now the temps are not as hot as they were in June and July. 


  • Other brands are available......but I would go with a Garmin, and yes the GPS is a must - some of the more advanced ones can do all sorts of things, from using "breadcrumbs" to show your route back to the start, to more accurate measurement of distance and pace, these can be very useful for training because seeing your actual pace allows you to keep this where you want it. Typically this means that your watch gives you information on pace which makes you slow down at the start of a run and pushes you to achieve the same pace at the end of a run, this is great marathon training. You will find yourself looking at maps of where you've been, what your pace was, etc.

    Garmin Forerunner 35 for sale just now at £130 - GPS, heart rate monitor, Bluetooth so works as smart watch with notifications from your phone, etc.

    And re the good days / bad days, you kind of have to go through the bad days to appreciate the good days. Don't worry about it, it is perfectly normal. Some days it feels like wading through treacle, some days it just seems easy and effortless. And some days you struggle to get out of bed, you're not feeling it at all, you really cant be arsed, the first two miles are like something out of a zombie film and then somehow you end up having a great run. That's happened to me loads of times, so keep at it and don't get discouraged if you don't feel great all the time. My wife always says that she'll take up running the day she sees someone running who looks like they're enjoying it!

    Training consecutive days is fine, you just need to be aware that haven't had much recovery time in-between and control your effort accordingly - don't push it too hard on both days, and treat one of them as an easier day.

    London marathon is pretty unique - for all its faults, it's popular for a reason, and most people who've done it would love to do it again. You will be sore and it will be tough going, it's not meant to be easy. But the excitement on the day, the support of the other runners and the crowds, running past all the sights, becoming a marathon runner, and it will be a day you will never forget. Think about this when you're training - visualising that you're running over Tower Bridge with all the cameras and crowds and noise will take your mind off the fact that it's freezing and you're running along a cowshit-infested country lane with tired legs!

  • Only done Berlin and London - If I had to do one again it would be Berlin. Nice trip, less hassle, better course, generally better weather, less full on. And better beer!

    Remember technology is just an added extra, to proper training. GPS, Heart rate monitors etc.. aren't going to help if you're dying on your arse at 21 miles. Obvious, but worth remembering sometimes ;)

  • Ok before you think so let me tell that I haven't given up yet :D I was having a bit rough time last week so did only 1 day.

    But I have started wit a bang this week. I thought I have lost my place but then so happy that I was able to run continously for 5 min thrice with 3 min of walking in btw. Sounds small but an achievement to me  for sure !!

    Certainly this gave me confidence and new energy today. Started to love running .....

    I am going  to go through all your suggestions on garmin  watch now. Running bug caught me now for real! 

    Currently on week 3 of 5k 6 week  beginner plan
  • ER, the "secret" is that Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither will your running fitness be. You'll want to build it up slowly over a period of time, giving your body a chance to recover and adapt to the training you're putting it through. The good news is that as you build up your fitness, it also takes a while to lose it, so a few days or even weeks off won't set you back too much. Don't try and do too much, too soon, though - working to a plan sounds like a great idea. Well done and good luck!
  • We have all been there with rough days...the thing is when you are aren't feeling it, is to go very slow and keep on doing it... you need massive determination and mental toughness.. but if know you aren't feeling it for a couple days back off and take a rest like you did... there are plenty more running days in the year... running can be so exhilarating when you reach certain goals... just look ahead for when you do your first 5k.. even if its with a bit of walking you will be so pleased with yourself.

  • Thanks for the much needed encouragement you both are giving me.I really appreciate that and it's really needed for amateur runners like me.

    Yesterdays run a bad one making me feel a total beginner. I couldn't run  for more than 3 min at a stretch ad the other day I was feeling much better even after running for 5 min. I guess it's down to the fact that 

    I haven't slept properly
    Lack of prep(searching madly for clothes in the early morning thereby losing enthusiasm)
    Attempting to run  with a heavy jacket that really killed my interest(poor planning again)

    I need to get more serious on the schedule and be ready for the training in advance so I don't keep tellingthese silly reasons. 

    On the good side, I had done a mini trek kind of cliff top walk in the Seven Sisters so I guess it will strengthen my leg muscles  a bit.
  • Good luck sorry i dont have advice but hope it goes well
  • I notice you were doing 13.51 minute miles.. slow it down to 15 minute miles and see if you can run for 2 miles...
  • Thanks Billy.

    Today's run was good. I did a 2.6 miler with a pace of 12.37/mi . Of course with a bit of walking breaks in between. Felt so fresh and energetic and just that usual tiredness but definitely looking forward for another session!
  • > @dave turpitt said:
    > I notice you were doing 13.51 minute miles.. slow it down to 15 minute miles and see if you can run for 2 miles...

    Hi Dave,

    Do you mean run 2 miles nonstop?
  • well done on your 2.6 miles... that's 4.2k, so only twice more extra around a running track and you've done your 5k... it really doesn't matter if you have to stop and walk... just go with the flow and if you feel good one day just add that extra bit on and do a 5k.. its also good to hear that you are enjoying your running...

  • I would look into building your aerobic capacity. Get a heart rate monitor and work within your aerobic threshold. There are a million and one ways to do this but by rule of thumb and for now you can do 180 minus your age and try and keep your heart rate below that number (e.g if you are 30 years old subtract 30 from 180 = 150 Beats Per Minute). you will no doubt feel like you are getting nowhere at first but its the most efficient way to train efficiently for long distance, just google heart rate training.

    A lot of info will tell you to do a V02 max test but 180 minus your age will be more than good enough and even now used ahead of V02 max results by some of the leading experts in the field (Dr Phil Maffetone).
  • Thanks Alex . I will look into it as I progress. 

    Round up for this week .

    I couldn't do more than 2 runs which was a shame . But I have valid reasons on my health  side so not beating myself up there.

    Today's run was awesome. I had a heavy lunch and went out to have a relaxed stroll in the park but happens to be my best. I did a 3 miler with a pace of13:18/ mile. @Dave , I know you told me to retduce the pace but I may need some practice for it too. I felt so good completing  a 5k in 40 min. Not that the time matters but just saying. 

    I will look forward to go for longer runs from next week onwards. It a addictive!!
  • Well done... your first 5k....  all these runs are helping your body adapt to running.. so on some days its going to be very hard going, and then without realising it you put in a good time... its all part of running... the main thing is to build up the running gradually without getting injured.. and to enjoy it.
  • <blockquote class="Quote">
    <div class="QuoteAuthor"><a href="/profile/dave%20turpitt">dave turpitt</a> said:</div>
    <div class="QuoteText">Well done... your first 5k....  all these runs are helping your body adapt to running.. so on some days its going to be very hard going, and then without realising it you put in a good time... its all part of running... the main thing is to build up the running gradually without getting injured.. and to enjoy it.

    Thanks Dave, can't forget this joyous run and how I pushed myself for the last interval of 7 minutes. I can now see how practice is important for anything. Not long ago I wasn't even able to think about running for  2 minutes and now here am . Definitely moving forward to see my best. Will keep posted.
  • Aimed for 5 miler but I was a duffer in today's run. Did a 3.2 miler with with lots of walking breaks, couldn't run properly for more than 2 min. May be it was down to the leg exercises I did last night. Like y'all said am not going to worry too much ,considering it as a bad run and looking forward for my next one.
  • I havent quit yet :D Hope everyone are doing good.
    I couldn't able to run more than twice a week from the last few weeks but going on ok.

    I guess am not doing enough stretches/warm-ups which is making my muscles a bit tight.
    Also am unable to increase my miles per day due to poor planning and also lack of enough practice.

    However on a plus side, did a official 5k(uphill and downhill) recently which boosted my confidence though I took 42 min due to the hills which I never practiced. Not bad I felt.

    Planning to sign up for 10k in Dec/Jan and a decent half in March to keep my training in place before I hit the date for London Marathon.
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