Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Marathon Talk

This evening, Pete, Sara, Paula and I held a Marathon Meeting; as in a meeting about marathons rather than a very long meeting! This year will be Pete's 20th marathon, so he has more than a wealth of experience to share which meant that along with Sara, who's also run quite a few already, Paula and I have been left this evening feeling more knowledgeable, better prepared and definitely even more enthused.

If you are running a marathon for the first time, then I'd highly recommend trying to catch up with someone who has done it before. The interaction between us meant that I was able to get some great tips on my training plan, which I am going to adapt slightly on reflection of their advice, as well as the opportunity to sound out what works best for them in training, racing and post-run recovery; reading a book just doesn't quite match up to that.

So, what did I find out? Well... as Paula and I went on a Magathon-Marathon / Janathon, marathon 5k run following the marathon Marathon Meeting, it's quite late now so I'm going to share what I have remembered as the 3 most important things we discussed:

1. Try out drinks and gels now in the training runs. This seems obvious, but I've still not got used to running and drinking, and I've not yet found a gel that settles on my stomach. Pete recommended trying different brands out and seeing what works best, which is going to take some trial and error. Until now, I've run up to half-marathon distance without taking anything on board (except a few jelly babies which don't seem to work), not even water, so this needs to change. One thing I'm going to work into my training plan is fuelling my run, on any distance that sees me running over 1 hour.

2. Take a bag to the start line full of food, drink, a change of trainers and warm clothes. When we run races, Paula and I do that thing where you dress like a tramp and leave your scruffy 'warm-up' clothes in the charity pile before setting off. We then usually meet someone at the end, who'll have a set of our actual clothes for us to put on. We hadn't considered the logistics of this at such a large event as the VLM and also, as Pete pointed out, we'll want warm clothes and food etc. as quickly as possible. So, we're going to use the baggage area this time meaning we'll have access to all of this almost as soon as we're over the line, and we'll be looking fresher (for all the food we've stuffed into us) by the time we see our friends (and have our photos taken!!).

3. The Marathon really, really, hurts. In fact, it hurts more than anything else (except maybe childbirth... but I don't know because I've never done that either!). That's not a tip! I hear you cry... but yes... it is; in fact, bizarely enough, it was maybe the best one of the night. I've been worrying that my long runs are hurting so much, that it's a sign that I can't do this... that if I can't even run 14 miles without being in excrutiating agony at the end of it, then how on earth will I run the Marathon? But that's the point isn't it? This is an endurance event; it's a test of your body.  In order to achieve it, you have to push yourself right to the edge... right past the point you thought you could, then out even further than that. Of course it hurts; and I shouldn't be afraid of that pain. So the next time I'm running and I start feeling those familiar twitches and aches, I'm going to remind myself to keep pushing; because the training pain is nothing, the marathon will be something else again!

So rather than leaving me thinking: 'Oh my word... what AM I doing?!', I left thinking 'I can do this.' stepping up that feeling of positivity I gained in my run yesterday, one extra notch; because as Pete said, and Sara agreed: 'The feeling you get when you approach the finish line is an amazing feeling of achievement that makes all the miles, the hard work and pain worthwhile. Have fun!'

Distance: 3 miles
Weather: clear but with a cold wind
Feeling: Really good and much stronger in my running.
See my run here.


  1. I don't use gels - we don't like each other. I eat little portions of high cal/low fat food on long runs, like dried fruit, cereal bars etc, or take a drink that's got some sugars in it. Your body can use the fuel that's already in you, as long as you keep drip-feeding it carbohydrate. Start fueled and hydrated, and stay that way. :)

  2. Sounds like you got some excellent advice!

    Also ... imagine you have now completed your marathon. When you think of all the hard work, the focus, the dedication, the self-discipline, the sacrifices, the motivation, etc, etc, etc (you fill in the rest!) that it took you to get over that finish line ... what difference will it make to your life and what else could you achieve in your life?

    Where else in your life could you apply the same approach and what would the results be?

    Food for thought ...

  3. Fingers crossed i'll get to the marathon stage, im still stuck at the 12-14 mile mark and I havent gone over it.

    Sounds like a good group of runners you meet with, some top advice.

    I swear by lucozade sport, Poweraid Zero and for goodness shakes... not all at the same time tho.

  4. The trouble with gels is that they taste so foul :( I prefer Shot Bloks (chewy sweet things) - I took one every couple of miles during the marathon plus a gel at the halfway point, and that seemed to fuel me OK along with sips of Lucozade Sport.

    And yes, you can do it! Of course you can. (If I can do it anyone can :) )

    PS Childbirth hurts more.

  5. Definitely try things out. I hated gels for a long time, they were always warm by the time I wanted them. Then I discovered that High5 apple gels taste like cider. Winner. I can only manage 1 or 2 but I do find it a good pick-me-up at about 12 and 18 miles. I find some warm, dry socks and a salty snack (mmm cashews) are the 2 things I look forward to most at the end (before I can get to a bar) - a must for your bag!

  6. Brilliant, thanks everyone for your tips, advice and encouragement. I'm looking forward to my long run this weekend so I can start trying some of them out. I've got some shot bloks from a race bag a couple of months ago which I've never tried, so I might give them a go... and I'll try out that apple cider flavour gel!! I'd also wondered about nibbling on dried fruit so I'll try that out at some point too...

    Midgie, I like your food for thought very much and have decided to chew on it for a while... you've got me thinking! :-)

  7. Oh and For Goodness Shakes... you're the second person to mention that this week Martyn, I'm definitely getting myself some of that for post long run :-)

  8. I would suggest trying out everything during hard runs - I found it easy to eat solid food during training runs, but I couldn't during half's and the marathon I ran last year.

    Marathons don't hurt. It's the couple days afterwards that do. No worries! And if your long training runs hurt now, then slow down. They're for training the distance, not for the speed.


  9. Gosh, it makes it seem so much more real...I hope I get in next year so I can out all these tips into practice. I always go to watch it so hope to meet you on feb 12th so I can then cheer you on in April!! PS are you sure they weren't flying squirrel/vampires chsaing you?

  10. You know, now you come to say it Flo... they could have been flying Squirrel/vampires!! I would be very grateful of some cheering in April!!

    Chris, thanks for the advice... I'm doing the Great North West half at the end of Feb which I'm going to aim to run at at least marathon pace which will be a good place to try that out... I hadn't thought about the different pace before and how that might affect me!


Thanks for reading... feel free to leave me a message. Maggiee x