Beginner-based marathon advice with Mike Gratton

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

601 to 620 of 769 messages
22/03/2008 at 20:10


It sounds like you may be carying an infection or have a bit of a cold that hasn't come out. A few days off won't hurt at this stage if you are still not feeling 100% - as you are now entering the taper phase it may be that the reduced training load will help but really don't worry too much as the work has been done.

22/03/2008 at 20:14


As a general rule any training done will have an effect in approx 2 weeks time - therefore a long run done now will have benefit and as well as the physical effect the pyschological one is very important too.

22/03/2008 at 20:17

Andrew J,

As in my previous reply about Kingston - I suggest a progressive running doing the second lap at MP.

22/03/2008 at 20:20

Chris Hampson666,

Sounds to me that you have run enough lsr's and since you have a half coming up would concentrate on that then start your taper.

22/03/2008 at 20:23


I wouldn't try to cram any training in now and aim at getting to the startl ine in the best physical state you can. Cross training is not ideal but will keep your cardio vascular fitness and then it is really a question of taking it steady on the day.

22/03/2008 at 20:27

Thanks very much Mike - really appreciate your reply.

 Looking forward to run tomorrow - hoping that there is no horizontal rain this week or knee high puddles!

22/03/2008 at 21:31

Thanks Mike - that's very reassuring.


23/03/2008 at 10:01

Dear Mike

Thank you for your reply.  I managed to do 18 miles this weekend - took it very steady doing a run/walk - and managed to finish in 3 hrs 30 mins.  Had slight pain in IT band at the end but stretched,  rolled and iced when I got home and feel ok today.  Has given me a huge confidence boost for the FLM. 

23/03/2008 at 18:30

Hi Mike

Some advice on whether to do my last LSR or not...Last run of 12 was last Monday 17th, prior to that the previous week I did 26 miles total... before that my LSR's were 13,19,18,17,13,6,15,13,9...obviously other shorter runs/training too.  I picked up a calf problem last week after the 12, saw a sports physio yesterday 22nd, no tear, just a small injury.  So not run for a week, she says I can do some 6 milers next week.  I am due to do the Wilmslow Half next sunday 30th.....should I try to do my 20 on Thursday or Friday 27th/28th and forget the half on sunday....or forget the 20miles and do the Wilmslow instead...This is my first FLM and getting paranoid now about getting it all right.  Hoping to complete in 4.30 as my silverstone half was 2.02 and feel pretty fit overall...?????  any advice gratefully received.

Thanks for all the help you are giving too......fantastic


23/03/2008 at 21:15

Hi Mike,

I would be really grateful if you could help me out with some sensible advice!  I am a 37 year old woman, hoping to run my first marathon on April 13th and find myself facing the so-called taper phase, really really behind on my training due to endless colds and some (hopefully) minor injury niggles!  In fact, at this moment I've still got a chesty cough and have spent half the Easter break in bed, so running is still not an option yet.

The last run I went on was on 9th March and was meant to have been an 18 miler.  I started to get a pain in my left knee and left buttock around mile 9 and kept going (with walk breaks) until mile 13, until I realised it was getting worse, so I stopped.  Since then I have had physio and been given some exercises and it's cleared up (at least while not running).  Last Monday (a week ago) they gave me the all-clear to start running again, only I was going down that same day with my current cold, so I haven't run yet.

Prior to 9th March I ran in the Berkhamsted Half the week before and then before that did my longest run so far, which was only 16 miles.  I am not a fast runner in any case, and before all my illness/injury setbacks I was aiming for a sub-5 hour marathon on a good day (having followed a training schedule somewhere in between the "Get You Round" schedule and the sub-4.30 one).  According to my husband's Garmin  I run my lsrs consistently at  5.4 mph.

Now I really don't know what to do.  I have a charity place and have raised lots of money in memory of my aunt who died of cancer, so I'll feel awful if I have to pull out.  In which case, should I walk/run it or just try to run it really, really slowly?  (Assuming, of course, that the cold goes between now and April 13th!!!)  Also, depending on when I get better, what running should I aim to do between now and April 13th?

 Apologies for the length of this essay and thanks for all the advice you are giving out.

24/03/2008 at 11:50


If your calf muscle is recovered I would go for quality over quantity at this stage and do the half marathon and then start to taper.

Make sure the claf is OK though and it would be better to do neither long run or race if there is a danger of a recurrance.

24/03/2008 at 12:02

Poltimore Plodder,

Very difficult one to advise on.

You have probably done enough training to get around - many people do less and get around - but you need to keep an open mind about targets.

First thing is to clear the cold and keep a note of your body temperature and resting pulse so that you can assess your general health - if both remain steady when you start running again I think you will be healthy enough to do FLM but you should consider not starting if they start to rise again.

I think you can ignor the taper and aim at just doing some easy and steady running through to the race so that you get some tone/conditioning back into the muscles - in two weeks you should start to feel some form returning - then cut back drastically in the last 3 days taking in plenty of carbohydrate. 

On the day of the race keep an open mind and run on how you feel.

24/03/2008 at 12:32

Hey guys,

Feeling a bit low today after a bad run and was hoping for some advice/pep-talk.

36 year old man, first marathon, pretty fit, PB half marathon 1:48, longest distance ran 22 miles.

Ever since Nov I've been having this really strange problem, which happens about every 4 weeks .. it starts as a very slight muscle pull to the sides of my lower spine - barely noticeable -  a bit like when you first 'crick' your neck. Within 48 hours, it's spread deep in the legs and I get almost 'electric' scatic pulls and pings. The pain is quite deep in the buttocks and hams feel very, very tight. It's a noticable pain when resting and, like today, very painful after 8 miles of running.

OK - so, I've had .. new shoes, psycio once a week, painful piraformis (sp?) work, stretching sessions with my PT (helpful), a £1200 new 'Temper' matress (no comment), diclofilec (can't tell the difference now, but reckon I'm now addicted to pain pills ), sports therapy massages - and an MSI scan (nothing shows) ... oh, the joys of jogging huh ?!

Inbetween the times off, I've managed to keep up with most of the running (but won't do 'speed' as this is a sure fire way to 'pull' it again - as I've learned from fast treadmill blasts) ... and put in a very slow 22 miler a fornight ago and last Sunday managed 20 miler in '3:03' (in bad conditions and hills!) .. it was my dream to get a 4 hr marathon in, but with the weeks off I've had, I doubt that!

So, after another 'pull' on Tuesday midday (it just 'went' in the office), last week was an 'no midweek training week' - and I optomistically tried to go out for a 22 miler today, but had to stop at 11 - the pain in the muscles was too much.

Past patterns suggest that by next week I should be good to go for a long run again, but it looks like we are heading for taper-time.

My rather long winded question can be boiled down to this ...

What is the latest we can do a long run ... next weekend (30th) OK for a 22 miler at marathon pace that I ideally want to do ... or am I now wasting my time? I feel like i'm actually not *that* far off the training pace - considering the time off I've had - but today feel like I'm missing out on an important long run and would like to make up the time.

 Also, if anyone is reading this who has any idea what the hell is wrong with me, leave me a message - as my pyscio seems out of ideas and says my actual back is good and there's nothing else to do.

Never again ... well, until the next time

Thanks Mike & friends ...


24/03/2008 at 16:56

S.S. Have they checked for sacro-iliac joint dysfunction?

24/03/2008 at 19:36

Hi Mike

I did 22 hilly miles on Sunday in 3hrs 18 and felt ok at the end. Is 3hr45 a realistic target for the FLM? I am worried that I won't be able to get into a running rhythm on the day due to the crowds, and will leave myself too much to do in the second half of the race. Do you have any tips on pacing on the day?

24/03/2008 at 21:59

Spencer Steel, Have you tried seeing an osteo. I have had great success with them on differing problems.

If you feel you are pretty fit, personally I wouldn't try to run 22 next weekend. I presume you would be hoping it would give you a confidence boost but might damage you further. Why not just do a slightly faster 16? I have to say though, I'm no expert, this is my first marathon too but have raced enough to know the importance of rest on your race performance. These experts must know what they are talking about.   

25/03/2008 at 08:48

last long run now completed, did a 23 miler on sunday, didnt think it would be in a snow storm but there you go. really looking forward to the London, really looking forward to not running for three hours at the weekend till November, thank you mike for all your advice & reassurances. i was going to come and say hello on friday at folkestone but would of felt daft cos you would not remember who 'Bazzo' was.

best of luck to each and every one of you, we shall i am sure have some stories to tell on the 14th.

25/03/2008 at 10:10

Mike, thank you so much for your sound advice - we are really lucky to have you available to answer our questions!

25/03/2008 at 10:54

Hi Mike

Thanks for all your useful advice on this thread.

I am training for my first marathon (edinburgh May 25th). I am not a fast runner but am following the 4.30 schedule hoping to finish around 4.30-4.45. Would definitely love to do it under 5 hours. My problem is pacing - I do my LSR very slow. Yesterday I ran for 3 hours (my longest ever run!) hoping that I would have done about 16 miles but when I mapped it out it was only 15. How will I be able to run faster and further on race day if I am used to the slow run pace?

I had done a 13.5 mile run on Good Friday in 2hr 30 mins so I suppose I may still have been tired doing another long run so soon after my previous one. My PB for a half marathon is 2hr 22mins but that was last year without as much training as I am doing now. Is 4.30 a realistic target and do I need to up the pace of my LSR or does the combination of the speed work and LSR just come together to allow you to run faster on race day? Just not sure I'd have the confidence to go off faster than I normally do on the day!

25/03/2008 at 12:40

Hi Mike

What a brilliant thread! Thank you!

I'm a FLM 1st timer, and have been follwing the schedule in RW magazine to the letter, hoping to do a sub 4:30. Not a day missed! Until Sunday. I should have done 22miles, but on the threshold run on Saturday something went 'ping' behind my knee. So I didn't run Sunday/Monday and I've done an hour on the exercise bike today. It actually feels pretty much ok now, so should I chance the 22 tomorrow, or later this week or give it up and start the taper as the schedule suggests?

My question is basically the same as someone else earlier asked (Spencer Steele, I think). How late can you leave the last long run? I'd be more inclined to leave it as I've done everything else and all is going fine, but last weekend I did 20 miles in 3:01 which puts me on track for sub 4:00 (beyond my dreams!) and I therefore want to give myself the best chance of that that I can. Don't know what to do!

I'd really appreciate your advice on this. Many thanks.

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