While out celebrating my birthday at the weekend my friends asked me, "Do you think anyone can run a marathon" and my answer is a simple Yes!, with a disclaimer.
(Yes I think anyone that doesn't have serious injuries or illnesses can run a marathon - if you are in doubt, speak to your doctor)
When I ran my first marathon I was in the region of 17.5 stone, I wasn't running for a time, I was simply running to complete the distance in aid of the RNLI. I admit I didn't run the full distance, I did stop and walk some of the later sections of the race but I completed it and that was my aim. The hardest part isn't the race, it's the time required for the training. I completed my first marathon with 3 or 4 days a week running, one of the runs would be a long run, usually done by time rather than distance, the other runs were usually shorter distances and included some sort of speed work and hill work, simply running a bit faster to help with my pace and also using the hills to put strength in to my legs. I followed a plan from the web and followed it almost to the letter, getting out at the weekends for up to 3 hours at a time.
I'm not sure how people with families can train for a marathon, I find it hard enough to organise myself let alone a family and then you get the families where the Mother and Father both train for a marathon, time management has got to be key for this!
The important bit of any training is to build up slowly, I started with a run / walk program. Run for a minute, walk for a minute and slowly built it up, once running 5 km then took it up to 10 km, then a half marathon but during training I never did the full 26.2 miles. For my first marathon I had only gone up to 17 miles. That was probably my biggest mistake but the training plan said I should be out for 3 hours and 3 hours got me to 17 miles. I ran all the way to 22 miles and then had to walk sections. When training now I tend to get my long run up to about 24 or 25 miles and it does make a difference, mentally and physically because you know your body can get you to 25 miles, the last mile will look after itself.
It's really important to get the correct footwear though, going out and running any distance needs good running shoes but its magnified so much more over 26.2 miles. I've lost toenails in the past simply because the shoes or my socks or a combination of the two have rubbed slightly. Slightly is enough to become an issue when out for 3, 4, 5 or more hours! It's a long time to be on your feet no matter what you are doing.
In Edinburgh there are a number of running shops, I always recommend Run and Become simply because I have always had great service from them but as I say, there are others such as Run4It and Sweatshop. Pop in and speak to them about the distance you are looking to run, how often you will be out and they will recommend the correct shoe for you. They will probably ask you to run in the shoes in the shop or out on the pavement to make sure you get the correct shoe. Not everyone has the same style of running so one shoe that works for me, may not work for you.
This week has also seen the start of the annual Marcothon. For anyone that has never heard of this its simple. The aim is to run every day of December, for a minimum of 25mins or 3 miles, which ever you get to first. Full rules can be found on the official website. http://www.themarcothon.com.
I've tried to do this in the past but it has usually ended up with my slipping on black ice and taking a layer of skin off my ankles! This year I am going to give it a go but take it very easy and be sensible. If the conditions don't allow for outdoor running then I will head to the treadmill. I can just about handle 3 miles on a treadmill...just!
Saturday was the first day of the marcothon, which was also my birthday. I headed to Holyrood park where Scottish Athletics had organised an endurance training morning with a coach from Edinburgh AC. The morning consisted of a warm-up and then 10 reps of 3mins, offroad, finishing the 3 mins on an uphill, we then got 90 seconds recovery. The plan was to get to the same spot that you finished your first rep on for each rep after that. It was hard going, running on uneven grass with a mix of ice and mud. I was running at the back of the group feeling very slow and unfit, the crazy thing was, I checked my Garmin stats after the run and I was averaging 5:30min/mi pace! Everyone else was really shifting!
Sunday was painful! Hung over from the night before I went out with Mandy and did a nice easy 25 minute run. That was all I could manage!
Got out on Monday and ran my required 3 miles but then did another 6 miles during my lunch hour, nice easy pace but really enjoyable. Was good to get 9 miles in my legs, its been a while even if it was over 2 sessions.
Tuesday was another easy 5 km with Mandy during lunch but then I had a track session with the Pitreavie squad. 1 mile warm up then 4 x 1 mile efforts with 5 mins recovery. The first rep was approx 2 seconds slower than my previous 1 mile PB! I was over the moon with that since it felt comfortable. The other reps weren't too bad either, all hard but considering the back straight of the track was covered in ice, I was happy with the times. Spikes were required!
Today the pavements are too icy to run on at work so I'm going to wait until I get home and then head out for 30-40mins. Still running in shorts but I have had to start wearing my gloves and hat as the cold wind is bitter!