Whats the one thing you wish you'd known before your first marathon...

Share your wisdom with us first-timers!

221 to 240 of 271 messages
04/03/2011 at 12:36
The one thing I wish I'd known? That the pacemaker for a certain time, the one carrying a flag or balloon with a time on it, is not necessarily going to run at an even pace or keep to the time, and may even speed up towards the end so much that you don't come in at the target time after all because you can't do that speed!
04/03/2011 at 13:06

 Steve C.

Using a pacer must be a calculated risk

04/03/2011 at 14:43

Why would anyone use a pacer anyway?

Its certainly not for the drafting advantages that pacers were originally introduced for in mddle distance races. 

So, as long as you can use a watch (or Garmin or some other teccie bit of kit) why would you want to trust some other random person's ability to do exactly the same thing that you can do for yourself?

04/03/2011 at 16:39

Company ?

Encouragement ?

Bit of 'team spirit'

04/03/2011 at 16:58
This is a really helpful and motivating thread - please keep the good advice coming guys! It's really appriciated (by me at least!)
04/03/2011 at 17:55

PLJ - as you quote "any of Hal Higdon" have you read this Hal Higdon guide to marathon training.  It seems to contradict what you say rather a lot.      You've made me laugh anyway and its a releif to know that I don't have to train hard for a good for age place because I can walk it in order to get that.  Can't wait.

Good luck to all first timers.  The only thing I wish I'd known before my first was that I would be doing it again, and again, and again.......................  But then again, I'm kind of glad I enjoyed it more than I expected.  The only other thing I can add is that if you are doing this for charity and decide to keep on doing marathons, don't expect to keep raising money all the time or you might lose a few friends.

06/03/2011 at 15:02

Thanks for all the tips everyone.  Have been enjoying the thread (except the strange turn in tone near the end!!!) and will be using some of the tips to do with the startline and drinks, eg old clothes, bring a bottle lid etc.

I'm looking forward to getting my toenails back after it's all over!!

Dubai Dave    pirate
07/03/2011 at 08:12

Great debate and some good tips. To add my penny's worth there is no difference between jogging and running though in  the past I have seen people use 9 min/miles as the dividing line (no idea why) which of course calculates out as  a 3-56 marathon! If you don't walk then you have run a marathon, if you walk you have completed a marathon, I have done it both ways!

IMHO the cut off for serious marathon runners is 3 hours but this is a purely arbitary figure selected by me it bears no relation to anything else.

Things I wished I known

  •  You really should run further than 16 miles as your longest training run
  • Don't set off at a pace faster than you have actually trained at.
  • You really don't need 8 gels
  • it gets emotional
  • watch out for discarded drinks bottles / cups at the water stations its very easy to fall over
  • watch out for cats eyes in the road their very easy to fall over!
  • racing some shorter distance races before attempting a marathon is a good idea in developing pacing skills, getting used to the whole concept of racing
  • speedwork will make you quicker
  • join a club and listen to the free advice being handed out
  • enjoy yourself
  • enter another soon before you get blue
  • cross train it helps avoid injuries
  • you probably don't need those big support shoes, try lighter shoes
  • don't be a slave to training schedules, you can change them around
  • look up at the finish its where the camera is pressing the stop button on your garmin can wait
  • stop drolling and close your mouth when you see a photographer
  • use elastic shoelaces they dont come undone
  • If its windy tuck in behind someone bigger than you
  • have a mantra and repeat many times when it starts to hurt
  • learn to think happy thoughts, banish negative thoughts
07/03/2011 at 08:57
Something I found last time I did London - I was starving before the race started. This is because I'd had to have my breakfast at 6am in order to get on the road by 6:30, and that means it's nearly 4 hours before race start, whereas for most races it would be 90 mins to 2 hours max. I ate all my post-race food before the start! This time I'll be taking something to eat whilst I'm waiting for the start.
07/03/2011 at 10:59
Edinburgh can be very hot!!!!!!!!
07/03/2011 at 12:06

v amusing that Mr lewis is back - i was on the receiving end of some v patronising messages last year... can i re-quote another gem for everyone's amusement? (don't know how to do quotes properly...)

"One thing i wish i had done before my first attempt at the London Marathon was to have completed several long endurance runs of atleast 22-23 miles so that htting the wall wouldnot be such a problem whilst maintaining my goal pace."

and there was me thinking avoiding the wall was down to enough carbs. must be cos i am a jogger not a runner?

07/03/2011 at 12:11
Gladrags wrote (see)

v amusing that Mr lewis is back - i was on the receiving end of some v patronising messages last year... can i re-quote another gem for everyone's amusement? (don't know how to do quotes properly...)

"One thing i wish i had done before my first attempt at the London Marathon was to have completed several long endurance runs of atleast 22-23 miles so that htting the wall wouldnot be such a problem whilst maintaining my goal pace."

and there was me thinking avoiding the wall was down to enough carbs. must be cos i am a jogger not a runner?

Huh?? Thats a true statement.

The longer runs in training adapt the body to burning a higher proportion of fat (as long as run on empty anyway). Therefore you burn less glycogen running at target pace than you would without them.

The reason for the 22+ miles is that the % benefit is huge at any point past 20 miles as you are very much in depletion territory then. Most beginner plans dont recommed 22+ because the recovery period for osmeone taking 4+ hours would ruin most of the next week of training. As with all training there are compromises and thats quite a big one that beginners have to make unless they are coming up from a track background or are naturally speedy. 

07/03/2011 at 12:45
I have done 2 20mile runs thus far in training, a third one is planned either on the 18th, 21st or 27th of March, yesterdays 20 miler seemed fine and completed at easy pace in 3 hrs 27mins, would increasing the miles in the last 20 miler to say 21 or 22 be of benefit then?
07/03/2011 at 12:59

It depends on many factors - for my first I wouldn't have been able to go to 22+, but some people can. If you are using fueling then I doubt if it makes any difference anyway since you wont be training your body for fat adaptation as much as if you are training on empty.

Also I wouldnt go super long with less than 4 weeks till M day.

Its like 20 mile races. Personally I would never race a 20 miler because its really exhausting, I would run one at MP though, but I think for beginners its best to run them at usual lsr pace. 

There are so many nuances to good marathon training and the best way to discover what suits you is practice, which may well involve stuffing up a few times along the way

20/04/2011 at 15:27

My two top tips (having now completed my first Marathon!! ) would be:

If they supply an official kit bag (a la London/Silverstone) pack your stuff into a rucksack that will then fit inside the official kit bag.   I didn't do this, and saw some who had, and thought what a brilliant idea, as those official bags arn't very easy to carry, especially at the end when you are cream crackered.

Second, if its a warm day, take your own drink, in a bottle you are happy to throw away after 3/5 miles or so.  I did this.  I had a £2.99 runners bottle, that i've had for ages, and it had developed a bit of a leak, so i didn't mind chucking it.   I filled it with half n half water and lucozade before the start....and it meant that i could run through the bun-fight that was the first water station.

20/04/2011 at 19:22
Grab the oranges and not the jelly babies - they taste SO much better when you're hanging......
20/04/2011 at 21:07

That I could run the full distance and I didn't need to stop and walk 100yds at mile 24 just because my body was knackered and my mind was telling me to quit

That I should have faith and belief in myself after 5 months of training on hills, in weather, around family/work/life and that if I can do that, a marathon's a piece of piss (relatively speaking)

That listening to my body is definitely the best way to look after myself in a marathon.

What little gem would I impart?

If you know you hate Lucozade sport drink, don't pick it up at mile 12 and make yourself ill up to mile 19 - wait until the next water station

Post marathon nookie is the best and most efficient way to minimise doms.  Just find a room first please.

Cheerful Dave    pirate
21/04/2011 at 09:10
Crazy Diamond wrote (see)

Post marathon nookie is the best and most efficient way to minimise doms.  Just find a room first please.


Isn't that what the tents at the finish are for?
06/04/2012 at 14:20
Time for a bump, surely?
08/04/2012 at 14:07

My top tip would be that when you are a month out and you've run no where near a sensible distance do not panic.  Nor should you panic when you then sprain your foot two weeks away and cannot run.

Go along run your race conservatively and you'll realise that whilst you'll run ten minutes over what you'd hoped for you'll still feel better than about half the people around you and will feel you had better have another go at the distance as you underperformed!

Edited: 08/04/2012 at 14:10
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