Running a marathon from zero running fitness

  • This topic has 35 replies, 23 voices, and was last updated 2 years ago by  tiim.
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  • Running a marathon from zero running fitness
  • johndoh
    Member

    So I have just heard that I have a place in next year’s London Marathon after 9 years of trying (eventually bitten the bullet and taken a charity place).

    So, given that I don’t do *any* running just yet, what nuggets of advice can anyone give me? Bear in mind that I *have* run in the (distant) past (I have completed GNR in 1hr 42 – the training for which simply comprised of running 3 times a week for around 8 months, starting at short runs, building up to 4 miles runs (my favoured route that I simply did every time) with longer – 8 or 12 miles at weekends).

    I currently go to the gym around three times a week and do a mix of weights and spinning (I do 1hr spinning at each session) and until recently (when my bike broke) I also did occasional road rides of up to 60 miles.

    I assume I will have to phase out some of the spinning so I can concentrate on running miles but I do have the option of running to work (two miles each way which I could easily add to as I start to get my running fitness up to par).

    Sorry for the ramble, but any advice would be much appreciated.

    Premier Icon lunge
    Subscriber

    Run, but take it slow. 3 runs per week, one of which will be your weekly “big run”. Start very slow, you can do worse than follow a couch to 10k program, miss off the first few weeks if you feel strong enough already. Once you can comfortable knock out 10k then continue to build up the distance.

    And if it hurts, stop. Says lunge, currently unable to run due to pushing on after he knackered his calf muscle.

    I’d recommend going for a run/walk strategy right from the start. I’m currently doing it to prepare for an ultra in January and it’s letting me run further, recover quicker, and frankly it’s not much slower than if I tried to do nothing but run. It can result in quicker finish times too depending on how well you take to it, as it enables you to do the run segments at a consistently higher pace over the distance.

    The Lore of Running is a good book to read if you like big heavy books.

    surfer
    Member

    Can I ask why you have applied each year if you dont do any running? Not having a pop just wondering what is motivating you do it.

    pondo
    Member

    I’ve entered the Birmingham Marathon next year on the back of no running – just a personal challenge thing really, good to have something to aim for. 🙂

    Premier Icon lunge
    Subscriber

    I’ve entered the Birmingham Marathon next year on the back of no running – just a personal challenge thing really, good to have something to aim for.

    Pondo, are you me? As I seem to have done exactly the same. And Velo Birmingham 3 weeks before. Good luck everyone.

    Premier Icon zippykona
    Subscriber

    Couch to 5 k to start. Purely to avoid hurting yourself.

    Premier Icon nickc
    Subscriber

    Do what you did for the HM only start NOW and do longer (slower) runs

    There are plenty if programmes on the net, but make sure you chose one for beginners

    Good luck

    johndoh
    Member

    Can I ask why you have applied each year if you dont do any running? Not having a pop just wondering what is motivating you do it.

    It’s a bucket list thing and the way my brain works is that I need a goal. If I wasn’t training to run a marathon I wouldn’t run. I didn’t run before I did the GNR but I trained hard and consistently because I wanted to do well in it. After the GNR I managed a couple of small races but it all just petered out as there was no real objective to what I was doing.

    whitestone
    Member

    I used to do a lot of long distance off-road running. Generally, take it easy and don’t build up mileage or intensity too quickly otherwise you’ll be prone to injury as your body isn’t used to the repetitive stress.

    5lab
    Member

    I did a marathon (Brighton) a few years back. I’m also not a runner – I don’t like running. I figured my best hope was to keep riding a normal amount to keep my base fitness up, do exactly zero running, and just hope for the best.

    This approach definitely has advantages (ie : no pointless running ahead of the big day) but has some disadvantages too (ie : couldn’t walk very easily afterwards) 🙂 I did manage to run most of it, probably walked a total of 100 yards

    (sub-context : my dad used to be a pretty serious runner – represented the country and did a 2:15 marathon. I knew however hard I trained I wasn’t coming close to that so why bother!)

    alanf
    Member

    As above really – start off slowly and build up steadily until you get comfortable running a reasonable distance (maybe 10K but you’ll know what you’re comfortable with) from then just build up the mileage each week until about 3 weeks before then taper off before the event.
    There are loads of plans on the net but get comfortable doing a reasonable distance first and then get a bit more specific after that.
    Oh, and I might see your there. I got a GFA place after doing Manchester* this year.
    * It was the full distance this year 🙂

    willow1212
    Member

    I did Brighton in April this year after starting a similar time (October?) last year. I had done a bit of running the previous couple of winters but certainly don’t class myself as a regular runner, so in a similar boat to you. It wasn’t pretty or fast but I got round.

    The key thing as others have mentioned is not to injure yourself. Losing a month or 6 weeks because you have pushed too hard will really knock your progress, especially if it happens close to the event.

    If having a Marathon entry helps motivate you it will probably be good to have another event to break things up a bit. It’ll also help you with the logistics of preparing and packing etc too. I did a half marathon in February and that worked out pretty well. I knew if I got round that okay I should be able to build up to get round the full marathon in the remaining couple of months.

    Premier Icon DezB
    Subscriber

    not to injure yourself

    Especially the knees. Any knee pain… stop!

    johndoh
    Member

    Especially the knees. Any knee pain… stop!

    Hah – when I did the HM I trained continually with knee pain (patella tendonitis) – used anti-inflammatories, ice packs and ran with a patella support strap.

    😳

    pondo
    Member

    Pondo, are you me? As I seem to have done exactly the same. And Velo Birmingham 3 weeks before. Good luck everyone.

    Ah ha, good man! Did give Velo a thought, couldn’t justify the expense of both so close together to Mrs Pondo (that’s my excuse, anyhow. 🙂 ).

    Premier Icon wors
    Subscriber

    I trained hard and consistently

    There you go, little and often and build up your distance over the next few months.

    Edric 64
    Member

    I run often but about 10k at most .The thought of training properly for a marathon would bore be senseless .I would just do lots of walking as thats about all the 5 hr plus runners are doing come the end anyway

    giant_scum
    Member

    Foolishly did this last year for the Edinburgh Marathon.
    Did the Marcothon challenge throughout December, then started marathon training programme in January. Three shorter runs through the week then a long one at the weekend.
    Strangely I really enjoyed the training, did the weekend run with a mate from the swimming club. Best part was the 2 stone weight loss, sadly half of it is back on!
    Ended up with an ITB injury near the end of training and hobbled around the course on the day, not a great experience tbh.

    thecaptain
    Member

    You’ve already run a half marathon, and completed it in a reasonable time, so I reckon you’re in a decent starting place. Key is to start now, build up gently, 3 runs a week with the longest increasing by a mile a week (maybe a bit less at first, 2 miles a week later) will get you up to 20 or so by the marathon which will get you round quite adequately.

    surfer
    Member

    (sub-context : my dad used to be a pretty serious runner – represented the country and did a 2:15 marathon. I knew however hard I trained I wasn’t coming close to that so why bother!)

    Thats still a good time today. Care to shed any more light?

    surfer
    Member

    I would just do lots of walking as thats about all the 5 hr plus runners are doing come the end anyway

    This. If you try to do any “performance enhancing training” you will almost certainly end up with injuries. Just walk/jog/cycle to improve your general fitness if you are aiming just to get around.

    johndoh
    Member

    if you are aiming just to get around.

    I’m not just aiming to get around – I have a target time in mind. I am the sort of person that believes if it is worth doing, it is worth doing properly – like in the summer when I did a charity bike ride (after not really ridden in anger in years) but I trained hard for a couple of months and completed it after riding out with the ‘fast’ group of three (staggered start to avoid a big group riding together) and coming over the line with the breakaway. It probably isn’t healthy but it’s the way I get motivated 🙂

    There are plenty 16 week training schedules out there. Pick one and stick to it loosely – that’ll see you right.

    I went from doing no running to doing a long ultra in 5 months, so it’s easily doable. I just ran when I wanted to, biked when I wanted to and did nothing when I felt like it. Keep the pressure off yourself and you’ll find it much more enjoyable than sticking rigidly to a set training plan.

    Another equally good way of doing it is to do all of your runs at race pace and make them longer as you get fitter.

    johndoh
    Member

    Well I did my first run last night (just on the treadmill at the gym – a ten minute taster) and I was running at 6m 30sec pace. I wonder if I could keep that up? 😉

    5lab
    Member

    Thats still a good time today. Care to shed any more light?

    On checking, I was slightly off, it was a 2:18 in the london marathon – Paula was the first woman to beat that time in 2005. He ran for the UK\England quite a bit, but due to timing of his ‘peak’, missed out on the olympics. Still ran a decent distance (~10 miles) a day until he hit 50, and took up cycling again instead. My brothers also a runner, although not nearly as seriously, which means my 3:53 (which might in other circumstances be considered respectable) was the slowest marathon time in our family by quite a way 😛

    retrogirl
    Member

    I’ve got into London marathon for next year and it’s going to be my first marathon (and possibly my last). I was given some good advice last weekend which was up the distance gradually and use the long slow runs to test out nutrition as you will be wanting to use energy gels, or something along the way so it’s important to get that right. I’m lucky that I’ve been doing a half marathon every month this year so I’ve got a good base. I was also told when you’re upping the miles any niggles will start to flare up so it’s important to foam roll and get regular sports massages.

    philjunior
    Member

    Plenty of running at easy enough pace, over a long time to get you up to fitness (based on my approach of trying to train from zero running fitness to marathon in 4-5 months, and picking up injuries, one of which was 4 weeks before so I canned it).

    I also ran a half at about the same pace a few years back – I think I was a bit impatient with getting my running fitness back as I do a lot of riding so my cardio was fine, just kept wrecking my legs.

    johndoh
    Member

    I think I was a bit impatient with getting my running fitness back as I do a lot of riding so my cardio was fine, just kept wrecking my legs.

    Yes I am aware that I will need to be careful of that – I comfortably have the cardio fitness but I need to condition my legs.

    bensales
    Member

    Join a running club. Tell them what you’re trying to do. Listen carefully to what they tell you.

    It’ll be a lot easier than doing it on your own.

    surfer
    Member

    On checking, I was slightly off, it was a 2:18 in the london marathon –

    I will do a bit of googling later 🙂 Faster than I could maintain for a half 🙁

    johndoh
    Member

    Faster than I could maintain for a half

    Faster than *MOST* of us could

    Joe
    Member

    A year after my Tokyo marathon attempt i am still struggling with the shin splints and haven’t been able to run a yard since!

    johndoh
    Member

    What training did you do?

    alishand
    Member

    I think I was a bit impatient with getting my running fitness back as I do a lot of riding so my cardio was fine, just kept wrecking my legs.

    This. I went for a run for the first time in a long while about a month ago, and I guess due to my fitness from riding ran 10k straight of the bat. The next day I could barely walk, and after a trip to the GP found that I had damaged the ligaments in my foot.

    I’ve not been for a run since. Lesson learned. 😕

    Premier Icon tiim
    Subscriber

    https://www.amazon.com/Runners-World-Less-Faster-Revolutionary/dp/159486649X

    Three runs a week plan, avoid destroying knees and you can do fitness build with cycling/swimming/gym good for faster people and beginners.

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