My First Marathon

Over the past week I have decided to run in the London Marathon this year, if my application is successful that is. I train regulary in the gym but only weights so my cardio isn't great but I did muster an hours run today, and didn't feel too bad for it. Was wondering when a sensible time to start training for the marathon is? Any good events to enter on the lead up to the marathon and any training tips to improve my endurance and give variety? Thanks Harry


  • Also can anyone reccomend a descent running shoe which is also good value?
  • Harry - you need to start slowly - an hour straight off the bat is the quickest way to injury. You might feel okay today.. I'm betting tomorrow is likely to be a different story.

    Have a look at the beginner's schedules for starting running (on the RW site) and FLM training usually starts the first week in January... so you've plenty of time to make it up to scratch.

    Also - shoes... no one can recommend a GOOD shoe which is ideal for you. Everyone has their preferences - mine are Asics. You need to go to a specialist running shop (like sweatshop) and ask them to kit you out with the right stuff. A good running shop will watch you run up and down the shop in the shoes you have and make a recommendation... they may also use a footscanner. The idea being they can decide what kind of runner you are (over pronator, supinator, neutral etc).

    Your priority is the correct shoes because without them... you can end up injured and risk shin splints.

    Good Luck
  • Cheers Cath, I'm guessing you've run marathon before, is there anything that you did during your training that you'd reccommend. I'm just trying to get as many tips as possible and find what works best for me.

    Also thinking of running for charity, any good ideas for fund-raising, when should I start?

  • Harry, ditto what Cath says about the shoes - get kitted out sooner rather than later as you can cause yourself long term damage by running miles in the wrong shoes for you.

    My advice when starting out is to build milage slowly and take plenty of rest days. Only aim to increase your milage by one or two miles per week, and every couple of weeks don't increase at all.

    I've just read Advanced Marathoning by Pete Pfitzinger & Scott Douglas - wish I had done before I started running - some very useful advice there, plus some schedules of various different weekly milage.

    Also, try and find a local race - many are beginner friendly but it's a good idea to have a couple of warm-up races to get used to the process. Perhaps a 10k to start, then a half marathon in March, a month or so before the FLM.
  • Would suggest doing a search through the archives and having a look at some of the RW content on the site. Lots of info there.
  • RSG - Will have a look through the archive cheers, i guess the magazine also has a few tips too!

    JEJ - Yeah my girlfriend has entered the Prince's trust @ legoland, that's a 10k and I think I will run that with her. Should be fun i think. Also looking into doing the adidas half marathon at liverpool 19th march, and then a couple others in between. Was thinking that they will give me short term goals to help with the long term goal of the full marathon.
  • Only increase your long runs by about 1 mile a week, and never increase total weekly mileage by more than 10% - it's a sure way to get injured.

    For FLM this year, I entered 2 local Half Marathons, a 10-miler and I also did a 21 miler about a month before. During March, you will find several running events organised with FLM in mind that cover distances between 15 - 21 miles and these are excellent for training.

    Go to Sweatshop or a decent running shop to get your feet checked and find a pair of shoes that are comfortable. Don't go to any of the well known outlets that sell Chav clothing. I use Asics and find them very comfortable - but everyone is different. When you try them out - wear a different make of shoe on each foot so that you can determine which is most comfortable.

  • Hey there hopefully FLM 2006 will be my first marathon too.

    I got my shoes from Natterjacks in Liverpool, they gave great advice which was backed up on a recent visit to sweatshop!

    Im currently following a beginners plan printed in the Marathon Mag that came with the application form, and my Hubby swears by Hal higdons training programmes for his marathon prep.
  • Excellent good luck with your training, are you entering for charity at all?
  • No I probably wont, I mentioned this in another thread, the reason for doing so is that there is enough pressure on me as it is to finish (self inflicted), I couldnt let a charity down if I didnt do well.

    But ask me again nearer the time, you never know!!

    I normally end up running for charity!
  • It's my first time marathon running this time as well (if I get in!) Having only run a 10km race before.

    The training plan I am following is from:

    And I am starting with the 17 weeks base milage at the moment and then the 18 weeks stage II training plan from January.

    It certainly seems to build up nice and gradually. Not aiming for any particular time as of yet but hoping to get round without any injuries!
  • Bloomin eck thats one helluva a training plan for a first timer, way too much milage for me at the minute, im still at the walk/run stage!!

    But hopefully before the marathon plan starts in December I should be up to running at least 20 miles a week......fingers crossed anyhoo!!
  • DustinDustin ✭✭✭
    echo whats been said. I've done a fair few marathons, but if you can run 5-6 miles by January you'll get the job done if you follow the 12-14 week plans.

    Tip 1 - as Cath says shoes are paramount and there is no right or wrong shoe. Ideally you should have a pair with about 200 miles on the clock for the marathon, so they have 'adjusted' to your feet. Best way is probably to have 2 pairs on the go , alternating them through your training cycle.
    Tip 2 - expect to behave a bit stubborn in order to get a run in (impact on work/social life)
    Tip 3 - make sure you get the long runs in, ideally the 5 longest should be ~100miles, but if you can run 18 miles at least once you should finish (but it'll hurt like hell)

    Harry depending on where you are there are plenty of races in the weeks leading up to FLM.
  • Bexmanc - Yeah that site is pretty good cheers? You based in Manchester by any chance? I'm at uni there returning soon from summer vacation

    Dustin - Yeah I've decided to go buy some shoes on friday, going to this local sport shop that will measure me up and try and find a shoe suitable for me. It's a long way off but I think I will be able to get to the 18miles, got real drive for this, hopefully with the variety of tips I'm getting be able to keep motivation high

  • Am very much in manchester!
    At uni here aswell, just going into my 4th year.
    There are loads of races round about. I've entered a couple of 10k over the next few months to try and keep me motivated!

  • 1. Find a decent running shop. That will address every shoe question you have better than any advice you'll find elsewhere, this board included. And I mean running shop (as opposed to Allsports, JJB, etc.) See the back pages of Runners World for a listing. Buy a decent pair of shoes from them.

    2. Run. Lots. Training programmes on the web are a dime a dozen. Pick and follow one. It will work (as they're all basically variations on a theme.)

    3. Eat, properly. And work out a nutrition strategy for the race itself. Then follow it.

    4. Sleep, enough. You are far more likely to fail through inadequate rest than you are through inadequate training. The quality of your runs counts as much as the quantity.

    5. Join your local running club. If only so you start to feel like a runner and you benefit from the advice that the right milieu can provide for free.

    6. Listen to your body. When it says "I feel strong," then run. When it says "I have a real pain," then rest.

    7. Ignore the mileage victims. You need two long runs, maybe 18 and 20 miles, and you will be fine. See point 4. As a novice, you will gain nothing from hammering out five 20 mile training runs in the buildup to a marathon.

    7. Enjoy.
  • Bexmanc - Really cool, you joined the running club before you know if it's any good? If you ever want a mrunning partner I'll always be up for it. Where bout you live? I'm in fallowfield, moseley road.

    One Step Down - Point 7, mate defo agree with that, wouldn't be worth doing elsewise
  • Echo advice above, and just to add...

    1)Don't feel guilty about rest days, as these are the days that you will benefit most from! It is then that the body builds to cope with the additional workyou're making it do.

    2)Accept that some runs will be cr@p. It happens to us all, but it also makes you appreciate the good'uns.

    3)Have fun.
  • Hi Harry,
    All of the above makes good sense. You have probably got a few ideas yourself by now of how you are going to prepare for the big day. I'll add a few things simply because I think I was in a very similar position to you last year and ran my FLM 2005. In fact I had never run more than three miles before I started training in October 04.
    - Echo what others have said about shoes. Sweatshop excellent and would recommend using two pairs. Expect to spend about £50+ a pair.
    - If you can already run for an hour I would say you already have a fairly good fitness, even if you haven't done much running. I would try to enter a 10K in the next month or so and aim for a first half marathon before Christmas - it will give you a real boost if you know you can run half distance by then, and then you can afford a bit of a break (and a few beers!) over Christmas/New Year.
    - Would recommend zinc to help immune system, as easy to pick up annoying colds that stop you training. Seven seas do some tasty blackcurrant ones! I also took echinacea in the few weeks before the marathon, but look at the label cos you're not meant to take them for more than a few weeks at a time. If you're anything like me you will get extremely paranoid about getting ill in the few days before the race!
    - I used a race calculator on to see what sort of time I could hope to run the full marathon in based on times in halfs and other races.
    - Fundraising: most charities will want you to raise £1500 or so. You should apply for the ballot, but it is fairly unlikely you'll get in particularly if you haven't applied before. So you will probably need a charity place. £1500 may seem a lot, but look at the charities that have places (there are loads) and try to pick one that you feel is important and one that you think family and friends will want to support. You can do things like offer a prize for the person who guesses closest to your finishing time - the winner of mine was only 3 secs out!! Tell sponsors that you're not going to be asking for sponsorship for other events later, so they know this is their one chance to sponsor you. Use so that people can sponsor you online. You can be a bit sneaky and get a generous person to go first (and first on each sponsorship form) as others tend to follow suit.
    - Find a training plan and try to be fairly dedicated about it. However, don't worry at all if you miss days (and don't run at all if ill or injured). Of a six month plan I missed about 4 whole weeks due to illness and probably only did an average of about two thirds of the plan in other weeks and still made my target time (sub 4 hours). I would recommend doing some training on the treadmill as it's low impact - certainly helped me as I was a bit overweight when I started and was sure I'd get injured on pavements etc.
    Sorry I seem to have gone on for ages. But hope you find at least one or two things helpful.
    Above all enjoy the experience - believe me all the hard work will be well worth it on the day itself - the atmosphere was sensational. Oh, and don't forget to have your name on your shirt in big letters to make the most of the crowd's support!

    Good luck!
  • Cheers Pete, really encouraging to here what a good time you got, I'm aiming for around 4h30 well i guess anytime will be nice actually.

    Got some shoes today as well awesome, went for a 20min run to start breaking them in a bit, went to a proper shoe shop where they looked at the "biomechanics" of my feet so I have correct support in all areas. So I think I'm good to go, devise my training plan and I'm away.

    Have started work on a website as well to base all my fundraising activities around, it's a little while from completion but when it's ready I'll let people know

    Thanks so much everyone so far, you been real helpful
  • If you are new to running and going to participate in the london marathon i need recruits to take part in my dissertation. In exchange we're offering free osteopathic treatment. See message in london marathon forum or email me to find out details. Thanks, Rach
  • Have really enjoyed reading this thread as loads of good advice.

    Harry, a running partner would be great, if only for the longer runs, especially in the rain! You might be a bit fast for me though...

    I'm just moving to Wilbraham Road on the other side of the Parkway so fairly local to Fallowfield and Chorlton. Aparrently there's a friendly running club in/around Chorlton who go out a couple of times per week.

    A general question...

    I've got a pair of running shoes which really suit me so I bought another pair of the same. Only thing is, how often do you alternate pairs as I don't want to be breaking the other pair in when I'm doing the longer runs but don't want two very worn pairs of shoes come April. Any advice?
  • DustinDustin ✭✭✭
    Depends when you start training. I'm a bit of a shoe whore, and have about 4-6 pairs on the go at any time, including xc ones. (Mrs D is convinced there's an Asics octopus under the bed).
    If you're training now, I'd alternate the two all the time, this allows them to dry off between runs. I usually buy a new pair 4 months/16 weeks before the marathon, and use them for 2 runs a week max, so that by marathon time, you know they are 'run in' but not knackered.

    In your case, perhaps use 1 pair for the majority of runs, using the second pair for maybe the odd long run, and short recovery, as the marathon approaches, then start to use the 'new' pair more.
    Usual guidance is 500 miles for each pair of shoes, with 35 weeks to the marathon (at a guess) thats only about 30 miles per week, so you'll probably need a new pair before then anyway.

    (BTW I usually get 6-700 miles out of mine)

    Good luck
  • Bex,
    I agree with Dustin. I'd aim to run the marathon in a pair that's done 200-400 miles so you know they are worn in but not worn out (if that makes any sense!).

    Good luck,
  • Hey Bex,

    Yeah that sounds really cool, I live in Moseley Road, and am returning the weekend of 16th september any time after that and I'll always be up for a training session. Think I might be purchasing a waterproof running jacket though hehe
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