Beginner-based marathon advice with Mike Gratton

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

641 to 660 of 769 messages
28/03/2008 at 17:52
thanks mike... its so close to london now i dont want to mess it up but dont want to loose fitness either!! scary stuff at this stage.. it isn't sore any more just a bit achey! i'm guessing the half marathon this weekend is out of the question though
29/03/2008 at 08:32
Hi Mike - 2 weeks out and I am in trouble! This is my first marathon and was feeling very good at Christmas doing lots of different runs so had a good base to start from. Started off training to sub-416 week schedule but things have been difficult recently, mainly with extensive travel and a couple of niggles, so have not been able to put in as much training as necessary. However, I scaled back my ambitions time-wise and was still feeling confident of getting round sub-5 when  3 weeks ago I broke down on long run...was aiming for 18 miles and first 10 went really well but then I had bad pains in my legs and I had to bale out! I have been doing more travelling since then so decided just to rest up and not risk any serious injury. I am planning a gentle run this weekend just to test things out and maybe a bike ride to get some CV work in. Will have to see how the legs go but I still want to do the marathon and I am thinking (assuming no injury recurrence) of a run/walk strategy to get me round. I still feel confident and positive about my leg strength and general fitness/stamina though worried about possible injury. Also, given I have had 3 weeks off just now, I don't suppose I should be tapering and would like your thoughts on whether I should be starting to build towards race day, and if so, what is a sensible way of doing that - any advice?
29/03/2008 at 10:13

i have found all the training and i am only on get you round (nearly 65 yrs ) & never done anything like this in my life the most disrupting thing ever cancelled holidays hardly ever go out for a drink really tried to keep to the plan lots of aches & pain prettywell everywhere but just got next weeks easier plan & started to smile again all i want to do is beat 7 hrs (sounds easy i know ) but not for me easter sunday 4 hrs in the snow was a killer but nearly being there suddenly feels good but cant wait to get it out of the way to start living again my wife reused to come to london originally but having seen what ive been through has changed her mind .

hey what a thing to achieve (if i do ) yeah its been woth it . 

29/03/2008 at 14:03

Hi Mike

It is my first marathon, and now i am starting to panick.I have been following the 'get you round' traning plan. I am a very slow runner, a 13 minute mile. My training was going really well and i felt pretty confident. I ran in my first half on the 3rd March, following my race planfor the FLM, and surprised myself. Afterwards i felt good and felt like i could of ran a couple more miles.

However, the day after  left knee was swollen so i left of the training for 10 days, although i felt no pain or discomfort. Since then i have continued training, my minimising my longer runs to 3and half hours, as I am scared of an injury so close to the day. But because of this i feel i haven't covered enough miles, longest run being 14 miles. Also my knee is contining to swell, but no pain.But whilst out i feel fine, apart from this rain!!!

Could you please give me some advice. The plan was to be able to run the first 8-10 miles then follow the walk- run regime. Do you think i should follow the walk-run  throughout the marathon? I was hoping to complete it in under 6 hours but iam aware that my goal may have to change. I am also going to seek advice from a physio. Any advice will be great. Thanks

29/03/2008 at 14:58


I stumbled across this thread and must say it offers fantastic advice and is very encouraging.

My problem is similar to others and I am really after some reassurance / guidance please. I was hoping to get sub 4hrs and training was going well till Sun 2 March. I had done up to two 17 mile runs and then got a tear in my calf. Had physio since with a couple of gentle 5 mile runs. Seems OK now and did a 16 mile run on Sun 23 March. I really would like to do an 18 mile run tomorrow (Sun 30th) and then taper but wonder if two weeks away is too near FLM. I feel I need a longer run than 17 miles but is there enough time to recover. I know you are getting lots of Q's like this but I would really appreciate guidance from someone as experianced as you.

Thanks. Nick

29/03/2008 at 15:40

Hi Mike

Injured at Reading half at beginning of March, not done much running since.  My longest run was 16.5 miles at the end of Feb.  I now have orthotics and have done a couple of short runs over the last week (max 5 miles).  As this is my first FLM, will i still be ok??  I have been doing some cross training in the gym to keep my fitness up.

Was following the 4.30 plan, now just aiming to get round.  How long should I do tomorrow??



29/03/2008 at 15:50
This is turning into the crocks-r-us page it seems!!! Maybe we should all meet up and hobble round together! I guess there must be a lot of people in the same boat...the training is gruelling and takes its toll. I had to roll over my entry from last year because of injury (bad calf strain early on in the schedule last year) so determined to do it this time. Good to read posts from people like Ken though, 65 and toughing it out. I am hoping some of that kind of inspiration will get me round on the day!
29/03/2008 at 17:51


One of the RW marathon newsletters recently advised breaking in a new pair of shoes for the race and ideally having between 100 & 200 miles on them at race day. I bought a new pair at the beginning of February and if I stick with them they'll have about 360 miles on them by race day. Is there much advantage in buying a new pair at this late stage and breaking them in for the last 2 weeks?

Basically do I go into the marathon with a pair of shoes with 360 miles on them (and an extra £70+ to spend in London) or a newer more cushioned shoe with about 55 miles on the clock?



29/03/2008 at 19:42

Evening Mike, another nervous runner here!  I am running Paris next weekend hopefully within the sub 4hr 30 goal and I am getting a bit unsure as to whether I have done enough in my taper time.  I am happy with my long runs, I've covered 170 miles in the 10 weeks before taper, my speedwork hasn't been too bad and my natural running pace seems to have gone up from 10 mm to around 9.30/9.45mm.  My taper has looked as follows;

Week 1: 6 mile steady run with the club and 11 mile brisk-ish run alone.

Week 2: Speed session totalling 5 miles split into 1 mile warm up and warm down and 6 4 1/2 minute bursts at a good paceand a 4 hour hike up a Lakeland peak.  I am planning a run out tomorrow, maybe 10 or 12 miles.

Final week. (Next week) Club run of around 5 or 6 miles steady and one other session.  I am travelling on Thursday and Friday and so will not be able to run.  I plan to stretch my legs in Paris on Saturday with my race day kit on for 20 minutes or so.

I am worried that I have lost the intensity of all these weeks training, does my taper look ok  as I feel a little sluggish and I haven't even started carb loading yet!?  I will complete the race I am confident of that, having done three 22 milers back to back I know roughly what to expect of my body.  I guess like everyone else I need the reassurance of someone in the know!! 

Thankyou in advance for all your help.

30/03/2008 at 12:11

Hi Mike,

 Another newbie here. Thankyou so much for all the excellent advice you give on here,

Until recently my training has been going pretty well. Apart from a virus in February which meant that I had to miss a couple of weeks I have been able to follow the sub 3.45 training program within the suggested times and felt OK. Last week I was suposed to be doing my 22 mile LR and did all the pre race prep regarding food that I had been doing. I also take a jelly baby for every mile and a gel at every 5 miles. I alternate between Lucozade Sport and Water for drinks. After about 12 miles I felt terrible and had awful stomach pains as though I wasn't digesting anything which made it harder to take anything else to eat or drink. I stopped after 17 miles and was pretty much out of action for the rest of the day and even the next day still had stomach ache which I had to take pain killers for.

I put it down to drinking too much beforehand or a bug, however today in my 18mile LR exactly the same thing happened after I took the first gel. I tried to keep running but it got so bad that I physicaly couldn't even drink water so I figured it was probably safer for me to stop at 13 miles. I can't understand why this has started happening as I have been using the same gels for over a year with no problems.

This is what I ate and drank beforehand to prepare.

Pasta -7.30PM last night

Porridge - 1 hr before I set out (although I probably finished it about 40 mins before)

250ml of Sports Drink 1 hr before.

During the run I had 1 Jelly baby at every mile gel at 5 mile and Lucozade Sport and water.

Do you think it could possibly be due to not leaving enough time for my breakfast to digest or have I suddenly got an intolerance to gels? I am so worried as it is too late to start experimenting with anything else but I know that I need to take on something during the race to avoid hitting the Wall.

Sorry for the length of the post but I really appreciate any advice you might have.

Thanks again,


30/03/2008 at 12:31

Hi Happy Hermit

Another marathon newbie here and looking forward to FLM.

 In response to your problem, I experienced something very similar back at the very start of my marathon training. A friend recommended that I eat porridge before my LSR. I tried it out on my first LSR with her (10 miles) and had to take off at 9 miles and sprint the last mile home to the loo!  She found it very amusing!

I learnt very quickly that I needed to finish eating porridge at least 90 mins before running. I also try and make it with mainly water and a little milk and this helps me digest it quicker. Maybe you have the same problem either way its worth a try.

Good luck anyway and I had forgotten about the use of jelly babies, I will take some on my LSR this weekend to try.


30/03/2008 at 12:32


A get-you-around walk run strategy makes sense at thios stage. I wouldn't try to build towards FLM as it is too late to have any real fitness benefits so just go for 'ticking over' runs to get you back into the mechanics of running with putting stress on your body.

You are unlikely to get injured during FLM if you keep to your strategy but the lack of fitness may show through after the race as a longer recovery time needed to get back to normal.

30/03/2008 at 12:39

Hi Emma,

The impoertant thing is time on feet rather than the length of the run - physiologically you will have made the adaptions after about 2 hrs of running and your long runs more than adequately cover that.

The best strategy is to do the run walk from the start rather than to run until you are tired and then start it as it will then be too late as the damage is done. If you pick up the RW get you around pacers they will get you to a 6hr schedule.

30/03/2008 at 12:42


It is probably too late but I think the 18 mile run will be OK particilarly if it gives you confidence - 2 weeks is enough time to recover from this level of effort.

30/03/2008 at 12:42
Sorry, that should be for NickK.
30/03/2008 at 12:44

Hi Rosie,

As with the others, if you keep to the get you around strategy you will be fine but may take longer to recover than if you had full fitness.

30/03/2008 at 12:47


If you talk to any FLM runner right now and there will be doubts because of some ailment or other - it's a natural part of the sport and most will ride a wave of emotions from can't do it to visualising finishing with a sprint from now until the big's true even for the elites who will all be playing down there chances - it's amazing how many have been injured for 6 weeks then pop up to run fantastic times.

30/03/2008 at 12:50


Your feet serve the best care in the race as they are the only thing in contact with the ground (hopefully!).

Shoes with 350+ miles may not be worn out but the midsole will have suffered some compression and lost its bounce - I would go for the new shoes and wear them alternately with the old for a week then exclusively in the last week so they have bedded the shape of your foot but have not started to wear. Alternating them also prevents the small possibility of some leg soreness from making a change.

30/03/2008 at 12:54


Sounds like the usual level of panic. Everything looks fine and that last 20 min run will probably be the most important in getting you into the right state of mind.

Most people feel sluggish before a big effort and I think it is mostly the brain playing tricks as it knows there is a big effort to come so it starts to make you preserve energy. I have certainly felt terrible in the days before big races but on the day it usually all comes through and the adrenaline rush gets you going.

30/03/2008 at 13:02


It does look like you simply have too much going in. Your blood sugar level in your liver will not be altered by the porridge so that in a way is just excess baggage and you either need something lighter or eat it much earlier so that it clears the system.

Although it is not suggested for normal good health most runners will switch to easily digested foods in the morning before a long run or race - toast and jam, banana , as they will digest more quickly and the sugars will be more quickly taken up - you can deal with 500-750ml of fluid per hour of running depending on your body size and the gels themselves shouldn't be making you feel ill as they will digest extremely quickly.

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