That was always my response when friends were trying to recruit for their latest sporting exploit. “Why would I want to run a marathon?” was the thought that went through my mind, all those long lonely training runs, going out in all weathers in the depths of winter (I say all weathers I’ve only experienced, rain, wind and snow so far, no sun yet), not to mention the pain and hard work.
So why did I say yes this time? Honestly I have no clue, it just felt right. Maybe it was recently noticing the gradual expansion of my belly. Maybe it was giving up cigarettes last winter and a nagging desire to be fitter again. Maybe it was the realisation that despite denying the taunts from my girlfriend, I was at the age of 37 in fact middle aged and needed to prove to myself that I wasn’t past it.
In short I suspect I’m suffering from a mini mid-life crises, after all I’m not alone in doing my first marathon in my late 30’s – the average age of first time marathon runners is reported to be around 38 – perhaps I’m just conforming to the norm at last.
So where to start?
There is certainly no lack of advice for first timers, but which advice to heed? Which training program to select? How often to train? How far to run? What target finish time to put on the application form? What should I be eating before running? Aaaargh!
The best advice I got was to dust of my trainers and just go for a run. Nothing too far, don’t try and break any records and if you want to stop and walk for a bit just do it – there’s no point killing yourself after all. So that’s what I did. I have to say though I was surprised and not a little bit shocked at hard it was on that first run, there was a lot of walking and lot of panting and I started to wonder if I’d bitten off more than I could chew. That first run out took me nearly 50 mins to run 4 miles, that’s well over 5 hours to complete the 26.2 miles. Time to get training….
Choosing a marathon training program
Down load the app or get a schedule off the internet? Join a club or train solo? Whatever suits you is the answer. I decided to go with one of the training plans on the Edinburgh Marathon website -http://www.edinburgh-marathon.com/?marathon_training_plans – there’s plenty to choose from to suit different abilities and the 16 week schedule is laid out to take you right up to race day. By the time I cross the finish line I will have run over 428 miles! The most important thing is to pick one that you can commit to, there’s little point in selecting a program that has you training 7 days a week if you simply can’t fit it in around your life commitments.
This week marks the first week of the 16 week training program and already I’m feeling much better. Considerably less walking, in fact last night I ran the first 3 miles of the 4 mile route without stopping at all and I’ve got my pace down from the 11:58 min that I started on to 8:44 min per mile. At this rate I might even get finished on race day before it starts to get dark. Wish me luck.