Beginner-based marathon advice with Mike Gratton

Former FLM winner has the answers for all your training and racing questions

401 to 420 of 769 messages
18/02/2008 at 15:38
Do you approve of ice-baths after long runs (a la Paula Radcliffe)?  If so, how cold and how long? does it need ice cubes floating in it or will cold tap water do? Or can I be a softie and have it the chilly side of tepid?  Can I just have a quick dip or do I need to stay in until my teeth chatter?  Do I have the shower to remove mud and sweat before or after?  Is it all irrelevant for a first -timer hoping to break 5 hours?
18/02/2008 at 15:48


It is possible that you need to be refueling better although it is normal to be generally tired while you are increasing your training. Keep a check on sleep patterns and weight fluctuations as these are a give-away if you are getting more tired than you should.

18/02/2008 at 15:50


At this stage aim for even pace and then during March start to run the other way around - i.e. start easy and speed up in the second half to MP.

18/02/2008 at 15:54


Once you feel well enough step back into the training programme at tha applicable date rather than go back to catch up on missed sessions.

As you are training you will supress your immune system and that makes catching colds more likely. Keep taking the vitamin C but also iron and zinc to maintain your immune system - and keep a distance from all the sickly non-runners in your office.

18/02/2008 at 15:56


This is one that can only be answered by a physio after checking you over - groin strain can be a long lasting problem and you may need specialist advice and treatment.

18/02/2008 at 16:00


The answer to the skiing question is not to worry too much about it - skiing is very active and you are working your cardio vascular system at altitude so you may get fitness gaines. The bit you lose is the feel of running because you will be exercising your leg muscles in a different way - if you can get out for some short runs it will help your muscle memory otherwise it will only take 3 or 4 days for it to come back on your return.

18/02/2008 at 16:01

Hi Mike

 I did my longest run so far yesterday - somewhere between 15 and 16 miles, but I seemed to 'hit the wall' around mile 14 with very sore leg muscles and lack of energy. This coincided with me running out of energy drink so I don't know if having more at that point would have helped.  My plan for next week (16 miles) is to try to run more slowly, take more energy drink with me and try a gel halfway. Does this sound OK or should I be trying to train my body to keep going without the energy drinks and gels?  Is there anything extra I can do to help the muscle soreness? I feel fine today, not much more achy than usual.  Thanks!

18/02/2008 at 16:05


It is perfectly OK to fit your long run in on another day of the week if you can't do it at the weekend - the only thing to watch for is that you don't do too many sessions back to back at this stage of your training. Once you have adjusted to the current training load - by this I mean probably after this marathon and a rest period you could probably increase a bit for the next target race - you should be able to manage more consecutive days and to get to the higher levels you need to learn to run everyday but it takes years to get there.

Carry on doing what you are doing and increase the long run a little week by week and you won't have any problems finishing.  

18/02/2008 at 16:11


I don't advocate the ice baths and preffer to keep muscles warm and relaxed.

Cold baths have a function in helping circulation and clearing waste from the muscles but my personal experience is that I suffered less stiffness long term when I kept my muscles warm and would usually lie in a hot bath after long runs - I went 4 years from 79 to 83 on 120-odd miles a week, hill sessions, track sessions and races most weeks without a serious injury. After winning London in 83 I started to increase the speed of my training and injuries crept in and maybe ice may have been helpful but I don't know.  

It's a purely unscientific answer based on my experience but unless you are training like Paula or suffer from a lot of injuries then it is probably not worth the agony.

18/02/2008 at 16:17


Running a little slower is probably the key - even if you are taking on sports drinks and gels it is hard for your body to keep the blood sugar topped up if you are going too fast.

There is a case for not using any gels/drinks on a long run to help with fat buring adaptation but only if you are running at the correct pace - below 70% - but there is also a case for keeping blood sugar topped up so that you recover from the run quicker and can train better in the following days.

Both views have supporters - from a personal level I never took anything on long runs, but I was covering 20-22 miles in around 2hrs, if you are running for longer than that irrespective of the distance covered I think there is a case for taking on energy during the run.

18/02/2008 at 17:12
Thanks Mike! Funnily enough it was just past 2 hours that I hit mile 14/ the wall.  My average HR on the long runs is 150-155 and I'm 36 so that's over 80% so I guess i am going a little fast.  It doesn't feel like it though!! but I will try to run slower and keep up the sugar. Thank you!
18/02/2008 at 17:38

Hi Mike

Is it foolish to aim to complete the Marathon just taking on water and luzocade sport?

I'm very used to luzocade sport, love it in fact!

 Cheers David

18/02/2008 at 17:42


That is getting up there into marathon pace HR and will mean that the wall will be reached - slow it down just a bit and I think you'll find that you will suffer from just general fatige after 2hrs and not glocose depletion exhaustion.

18/02/2008 at 17:45

Fenland Runner,

Depends a bit on your target time - elite runners will be able to get through with small amounds of water and glucose but will only be out for a shade over 2hrs and can tolerate mild dehydration for the short time that it will be a factor. If you are going to be out for 3, 4 or more hours your energy and hydration needs are different - but if you run at the right pace you should be OK on water and lucozade sport although I would also suggest you try out gels as well.

18/02/2008 at 17:45
Hi Mike,
I'm going for sub 3 at stratford this year. I've been following a P&D schedule but very loosely, my endurance I think happy enough with, I've now got 3 20s under my belt plenty of 16s 17s. 20s have been the progressive ones starting at about 8m/m finishing at about 7-15s. I feel pretty comfortable doing these.
But I don't feel like I've got the speed, nor do I think I'm going to hit the sub 3. - Is there a point where this may happen? - a key session I'm missing?
I did some marathon pace stuff last week, but my heart rate shot up (i did have a bit of a cough), and it felt horrible, and that was only 10.5miles. I didn't feel like I could have gone faster, nor further which also made me question my endurance that I was previously happy with!)

This is my current schedule:
Mon lunchtime 7-8 steady
Tues lunchtime 7-8 steady
Weds evening 16 progressive 8 - 7.15
thurs lunchtime 6-7 steady
Friday late afternoon 10 - 16 progressive
Sat rest
Sun 20 + progressive (or race of which I have a 10miler this weekend and a 20 3 weeks or so)

Thanks a lot for any help

18/02/2008 at 18:15


There's plenty of good endurance and steady stuff and the progressive runs are good. I think you need to now introduce some threshold work and some work closer to 10km pace to get you up to speed.

Start out with doing 2 x 10mins at threshold and gradually work this up to 2 x 15mins and 2 x 20mins with about 5 mins easy running recovery - best done on a circuit.

Then push up to 6 x 1 mile with 3 mins jog recovery from early March and finally some interval work - 15 x 400/2 mins jog recovery at up to 5km pace.

These could be substituded for the Tue/Thu steadies and then ease back on the Friday run to prevent overtraining.

Along with the long runs this will give you the speed endurance you will need to go sub 3.  

18/02/2008 at 20:19

hi Mike

I fell down the stairs on Jan 2nd 2008. A sports therapist diagnosed a 'moderate sprain' of the right ankle.I had it x rayed as it was v.swollen and black and blue: it was not broken. it was v.painful to walk on and I completely rested it for 4 weeks. After 4 weeks it felt tight and a slight discomfort on walking. In Feb i started to cycle for upto 2hrs at a time and powerwalkainfree. I have a place in the FLM. I have been in hospital with severe depression from June 2007 to Jan 2008. Prior to that I was and my goal for the FLM was sub 3hrs30. Now my goal is TO FINISH. I am raising money for the mental health charity MIND. Yesterday my ankle was sore again and I only cycled.This morning the pain was worse- on the lateral side of the ankle. I have decided to REST TOTALLY until the pain goes.What do you suggest? I am going on a 2:09 running holiday in the Algarve on March 6th. I really want to be pain free for this. My sports therapist did some friction/massage/stretching/and gave me exercises to strenghthen 'lax ligaments'.I have been icing regularly and taking antiinflammatories.

Is my goal possible

My RHR is only 48; so despite been hospitalised most of last year I consider myself still fit from a cardio point of view.

Am I being impatient and trying to rush things too quickly?

Just say I have total rest this week and the ankle responds positively;what would you suggest i did training wise?

I am happy to walk/jog/shuffle the FLM if necessary.

Any help would be appreciated.

BTW Running is a great hobby that relieves depression.I usually feel better after a run than I do taking my antidepressants.Anyone reading this that suffers with depression........all I can say is stick at the running/walking as it releases natural feelgood factors

19/02/2008 at 12:15

Hi Mike,

I'm looking for some tips dealing with the taper or last 2-3weeks before a marathon. I am running Barcelona Marathon on 2nd March. This will be my third marathon, and I seem to find the taper weeks the hardest - emotionally.

 I lose confidence and motivation, I generally feel a bit crap, a bit stressed, and a bit scared of race day.....and then to make matters worse i stick my head in the biscuit tin......and then feel even more crap.

My training has gone well, I've had some great runs, and thoroughly enjoyed the training. Of course i've had good days and bad days, but over the course of 20 weeks of training generally its gone well. 

 This time I've been tired over the last week, and have really cut back massively on training. It turns out I have a slight cold, so that might be why I've been struggling. But its still only a cold - and I shouldn't feel quite so pysched out.

 Any tips would be greatly appreciated.

19/02/2008 at 12:33


You seem to be doing the right things in terms of keeping active while the ancle improves. It is a very tricky injury as your ankle is taking all the force of impact from running so you need to work back slowly.

My suggstion is to do some easy 'shuttl' runs on a very flat surface like a running track. Initially these should be at a very controlled pace over 50-60m trying to concentrate on correct running action and stability of the ankle.

Progress gradually to a semi sprint and then to full sprinting when there is no pain and you have full mobility and push off from the ankle. From there you should increase to 200m, 400m and onward to 1 mile reps.

You can do this maybe 3 times a week along with your power walks/runs until you are actually running full time without pain.

I'll be with you on the Algarve on Mar 6 and we have two experienced masseurs, a yogo expert and personal trainer so I think between them they should be able to give you enough advice on rehab for you to get back as quickly as possible.

You need to keep an open mind on FLM - you have time to get the ankle fully recovered but need to reassess any targets closer to the day.  

19/02/2008 at 12:42

Captain Snax, The taper is the hardest time psycologically and you will suffer moments of doubt and feel sluggish. However, I think most people taper too long and too much and start to lose form by the end.

I favour a 10 day taper and still  do something quite hard in the last week - maybe a short race the Sunday before (as Paula Radcliffe did before the World Champs), a 20/30 min tempo run on tuesday or some 200m hard strides (which is what I used to do) on Wednesday to tune up the muscles and prevent the sluggishness.

From Wed/Thur reduce the running dramatically and on Fri/Sat superload with carbohydrate and keep well hydrated.  

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