Running a marathon underprepared
Are you really sure you want to hear horror stories before doing a marathon underprepared
For my 1st marathon started training early but ramped up the mileage too quickly and picked up an achilles injury on my first 20 mile run. Left off running for a few weeks but then ran my hometown half and had to pull out at mile 6 having totally f***ed my achilles. Didn't run again for 6 weeks then, 1 week before the marathon, did a 10k training run. Felt ok so, very foolishly, decided to run the marathon.
Set off at 8min/mile pace and at mile 23 was still on for 3:30. Then didn't so much hit the wall as feel it had fallen on top of me. Staggered over the line in 3:51 taking 45 mins (and I felt like s*** for every one of those last 2,700 seconds) for the final 3 miles.
I'd been running on and off since 1999.
In 2001 I'd picked up a nasty shin injury after a 18 mile training run for the Snowdon Marathon, this meant I couldn't run for 8 weeks. 5 weeks before hand I started running again with no intention of doing the marathon. I was doing 5 miles twice a week. On the Tuesday before the race I went blind for an hour, it was migraine related, it'd never happened before and hasn't happened since, but at the time it was really scary. So with that fear as motivation I thought what the heck I'll give Snowdon a go. Turned up on the day and gave it a go. Go to about 14 miles and had a little walk, then ran from drinks station to drinks staion, having a little breather at each one. At 21/22 mile when you hit the hard climb I settled for a walk to the top. At the top I looked at my watch nad I had 16 minutes to do the last 2.2 miles so belted it down the hill, ran hard thru town and finished in 3:59:39
In 2005 after a 5 month break from running I made another come back that lasted about 4-5 weeks and I quit again, but in a moment of madness decided that I can't quit for good unless I "run" a marathon so on the Tuesday before the Wolverhampton Marathon I ran for an hour and figured I can run for another two, two and a half hours no problem.So I turned up on the day, payed my entry fee and was ready to go.Things didn't go too badly early on, but it was a scorching hot day, I made it thru 20 miles and I was starting to boil over, but thought I was still on for a completion.But at 23 miles on a bit of an incline I could not go any further and just lay down on a grass verge and vowed never to run again.A kindly angel appeared in the form of an air cadet who gave me water, and eventually I got back up and walked to the finish (Last 3.2 miles took me 1:10 finish time 4:28:33.)
That night when I got home, after vowing never to run again, I entered the Abingdon Marathon. I had six weeks to do some training. I missed the first 3-4 days as I was quite ill with heat stroke and I missed 6 days in the middle with a sprained ankle, but on the day "ran" (no walking) to a finish time of 3:24:48.
(2007 - I returned to Wolverhampton and set my PB there 2:55:55)
I foolishly entered the first Brighton Marathon (April 2010) having never run before. I started off with all the best intentions, but my training was almost entirely confined to the treadmill. After a while I could comfortably run for an hour, but that was the most I ever did. My one and only outdoor run was the Boxing Day fun run round the local park - that was only 8.8km, which I did in about 48 minutes. After that my training trailed off to the point where I did absolutely nothing for the six weeks prior to the event.
Needless to say, I was totally unprepared for what lay ahead. I did ok for the first 6 or 7 miles, struggled at the first hill after that, and my half distance time wasn't that disaterous - but after that it was a mixture of walking and running. I eventually finished in 5hr 40min. At least I finished, but after just one event, I was completely put off the idea of running ever again.
A year later I entered a few 10k runs to try to get my enthusiasm back and started training properly. I now run quite regularly and enter as many runs as possible. I recently did the Brighton Half Marathon in 1hr 48min and was very happy with my time.
I recently read a book on first marathons: linky. The take home message appears to be that it's going to hurt, the number of people who seem to have suffered between 22 & 24 miles was quite high.
Not really what I wanted to know as I approach my first marathon, and I'm not sure what I'm doing reading these tales either!
I can think of very few races where I've got to the start line having done optimum training or not been ill/ injured. My first marathon was London 11 years ago, really struggled mentally to run further than 13 miles, so did lots of that distance, I liked trail running so did them on trails, eventually a friend dragged me out for 16 miles on the North Downs Way - ouch, hilly and long, thought I would die!!! I managed the Fleet Half marathon and ran home so that gave me an 18-miler and it was on road too, I caught a cold the week before but arrived on the start line in trainers I'd bought the week before as my old ones suddenly gave me blisters. I finished, the last six miles were hideous - especially the cobbles, I had no fuelling strategy so just drank water and ate biscuits people handed out ... 4.25 that one, took me a few more marathons to realise that running on the terrain you are going to race on helps, so more road running stopped my quads really so trashed ... eventually after a few more marathons and two children I managed to train and complete and get a PB of 3.34 ... equally I did the Clarendon Way Marathon while training for an ultra, off six weeks of training and one 19-miler, finished in 4.11, walked every single hill and felt great!
Half of it is a mental battle, mind can make body do more than it thinks, if body not suitably trained it will hurt more but you can still finish.
Now I mainly do trail ultras so I can walk up the hills, chat to people and eat cake while walking
What is your base at the moment?
What is the longest run you have done and at what pace?
What if any stamina and speed work have you done?
What where your previous marathon times and the fastest of those?
Were they 5 runs in 5 years or bigger or smaller gaps than that?
Answers on a post card please.
My Horror story is almost the reverse - I last ran a marathon in 1998 - I was determined with that race that I would go back to the beginning and train properly - I wouldn't get carried away and do mile upon mile - I would follow a schedue and keep to it - maximum mileage would be 70 miles per week - It was a 16 week schedule and within 4 weeks of starting all my good intentions went out the window - sitting down one sunday afternoon I totted up my mileage and found 97 miles - the lure of the 100 was to much - off I went and did another 3 - 100 exactly - the following 6 weeks saw me run 100 plus - up to 107. Running up to 3 times per day - As far as I was concerned I was coping - At the end of that I ran a half marathon - it felt easy depsite the hills and seemed to jog round in 79 minutes - I felt great but tired - I reviewed my London goal and thought a sub 2:36 Clocking was on the cards -
I started to reduce my mileage with 4 weeks to go but started to notice that I didn't seem to be recovering with the lower mileage - On the day I started to struggle from mile 3 and pretty much jogged around nearly half an hour slower than my goal pace - That I over-trained was without question, it may have been as well that I didn't drink sufficent fluids during or after my runs so could have been dehydrated to - It actually took me from April to August to actually recover.
Emmy_Bug hit the nail on the head - Stubborness
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