The Marathon – The First Time…

Running a marathon is a daunting affair and I am always intrigued as to what initially draws people to it and, whether like me, they get hooked.

My first marathon was Manchester back in 2012 and it was an ‘interesting’ experience. I never wanted to run a marathon but was coaxed in to by my brother. It was the first time the marathon was being run in Manchester after 10 years and having grown up there it seemed like the one to do if I was going to one. Training was…well totally unplanned, I didn’t really know what I was doing and as a result I picked up an injury very early on. I was a keen hockey player at the time and this was my priority. I used to run nearly every day and on top of that then try and fit in hockey training and matches. I remember one Tuesday night going out for a 10 mile run and then heading to hockey training for 2 hours…no wonder I got an injury!

Not got a clue!

The day itself was miserable. I know Manchester is renowned for its rain but this was something else. We decided in our naivety to wear bin bags to start the race in to try and keep us dry. This probably would have worked had we taken them off straight away but we didn’t, we kept them on for at least 3 miles meaning we probably sweated more than ever and as a result we became very dehydrated, very early on. We both however did make it to the end somehow.


I remember being handed a banana at the end and almost crying as I so desperately wanted to eat it but I had fat, swollen,  numb hands because I was so wet and cold! On top of this we crossed the line to a field of mayhem.

 

 

It was like a war scene from a movie!

The bag drop had been abandoned as something had happened earlier on and we were presented with a scene like something from a movie…bags scattered everywhere, people knelt down crying as they couldn’t find their bags…it was just chaos. All we wanted to do was find my bag so I could get my car key, and get out of there to go get warm. Thankfully this didn’t take too long but the end was less than ideal. Things have changed some what since then, I guess that race provided a learning experience for everyone involved and not just for the runners!

Its a long learning curve running a marathon and one which is never ending, there is always something new to learn. I feel now relatively experienced in what works for me and most importantly what doesn’t but every race I do offers more insight. Experience is invaluable, both your own, and from learning from others experiences too.

I thought it would be lovely to get some first hand experiences from people who have recently under taken the Manchester marathon as their first marathon. I wanted to find out about their experiences, how they trained, what they learnt and therefore what their advice would be for others out there contemplating it.

I hope you find this as inspiring as I have…..I swore I would never run a road marathon again….

 

Teddy Middlebrook

Manchester Marathon 2016 – Time 04:02:31 – Awesome time!


1. Why did you enter?

A group from work decided to enter the Greater Manchester Marathon to raise money for charity. They knew I was sporty so signed me up (much to my surprise!).

2. What was your previous level and experience of running?

Zero – I did a 10k Race for Life once… but I play hockey and cycle regularly so I am reasonably fit.

3. a) How did you put together a training plan if you had one? If you didn’t what did you do?

I used the training plan available from Asics who sponsored the Greater Manchester Marathon. You put in some details about yourself and your running ability and it suggests a plan. I then had to tweak it a bit so that it fitted in with my schedule and other sports. It basically had two shorter runs in the week and one longer run at the weekend.

b) How long did you give yourself to train for the marathon?

I went on a few ‘unofficial’ jogs and then started the training plan 16 weeks before the marathon.

4. a) What did you find the hardest about training?

Willing myself to go for runs after a long day at work was pretty hard but the hardest thing was getting injured, I tore my hamstring playing hockey 5-6 weeks before the marathon.

b) How did you deal with this?

I had physio on the injury which really helped, had nearly two weeks off and then started to build my miles back up again. It was tough and felt a bit like starting from the beginning when I was already 10 weeks in… It meant that the longest run I’d done before the marathon was 16 miles (the race itself came as a bit of a shock!)

5. Can you give me 5 top tips you would give someone reading this thinking of signing up to a marathon?

  1. Get yourself to a reasonable level of fitness first. You need to be comfortable jogging 5 miles before you even think about signing up!
  2. Find a BEGINNER training plan and tweak it if you have to so that the runs fit in with your weekly schedule
  3. Stick to it! And if you have a bit of a mare and don’t do one or two of the runs don’t panic and just make sure you do the long run for that week
  4. Don’t run on an injury, get it sorted and rest! You’ll only be out for longer if you do
  5. Have enough to food and water before any training runs and take something sugary with you if you’re running for more thab an hour (jelly babies are great..)

On Marathon Day:

6. How did you prepare for the big day?

I finished my training with an 8 mile run the Sunday before the big day and then rested for a week. I cut out any alcohol that week and made sure that I ate lots (of good stuff).

7. How did you feel?

I was equally nervous and excited. The second half of the race was a complete unknown as I’d only got up to 16 miles in my training.

8. How did the actual run go?

The first 15 miles were great – the sun was shining, I was running at a good pace and my family were cheering in the crowds.

“I felt invincible!”

I started to slow a bit after that but it was still all good until about mile 20 when I started to go really slowly! I had a low point at mile 22 when I had to stop to stretch and realised I was too stiff to stretch without cramping something else! The last few miles were very very long, painful and slow!

9. What was your favourite bit of the run, if there was one! And what was your least favourite bit?

Favourite part was crossing the finish line – I had an amazing sense of achievement (and probably equal amounts of relief that I didn’t have to run any further!!). I was pretty dazed as I got given my medal!

Least favourite part? Somewhere between mile 22 and 23 when I realised that 3.5 miles is a long way to walk so I had to keep going (however slowly!).

10. For race day, is there any advice you would give to people new to the marathon?

  1. I wouldn’t recommend being late…
  2. Don’t set off too fast
  3. Do your own thing at your own pace and try not to get too competitive – 26 miles is a long way to chase somebody!
  4. Have plenty of water and sugary things (sweets, gels, Lucozade) so you don’t run out of energy mid-way
  5. SMILE and high five everyone in sight!

11. Finally, would you do it again? And if you did, what, if anything would you do differently?

I’m not sure. The first thing I said when I finished was I’m never doing that again! But now (just a few days later) I can’t really remember why! I’d probably follow my own advice next time…!!!

If you would like to support Teddy and her colleagues, please see the link: https://www.justgiving.com/SagacityMarathon

 

Joy Eccles

Manchester Marathon 2016 – Time 04:40:46 – Another cracking time!

1. Why did you enter?

I have completed a couple of half marathons half-heartedly with minimal training and kept talking the talk about completing a marathon.  My brother kept pushing and telling me to apply so I did! (It seems brothers have a lot to answer for!!) More importantly I lost my father to cancer last year so I did it to raise lots of money for the charity that prolonged his life. Another reason I entered was someone doubted me saying my life was that busy and chaotic I would not find enough time to train.  They also gave me the impression that I was not fit enough and I would injure my body!!  This fuelled my desire to do this and prove them wrong!

2. What was your previous level and experience of running?

I enjoyed running to keep fit.  Nothing consistent.  I ran every now and again, the maximum being 6 miles. I completed the Great North run in 2010 (Pre children) and Fleetwood Half in Aug 14.

3. a) How did you put together a training plan if you had one? If you didn’t what did you do?

I started my training on Jan 2016 and I followed a free training guide from the internet, Hal Higdon Marathon Novice 1.  I trained on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday and I tried to swim or cycle on a Saturday.

b) How long did you give yourself to train for the marathon?

4 Months.

4.a) What did you find the hardest about training?

At 4 weeks in I decided I couldn’t do it and seriously doubted my ability. After a stern talk from my brother I got in the Zone.  After that I remained focused, I knew what I had to do and got on with it.

b) How did you deal with this?

I watched the Nike rise and shine video on u tube a lot to inspire me.

 

5. Can you give me 5 top tips you would give someone reading this thinking of signing up to a marathon?

  1. Apply no time like the present
  2. Give up alcohol (temporarily)
  3. Eat heathly
  4. Be strict and organised
  5. Never give up

On Marathon Day:

6. How did you prepare for the big day?

I got an early night and made sure I was well rested. I tried to relax as much as possible throughout the 24 hours before the run. I tried to be calm and organised.

7. How did you feel?

I felt very very nervous and sick, doubts kicked in!

8. How did the actual run go?

I feel very proud and pleased. I was a couch potato at New Year!  No one likes running after a bad day.  No one wants to go running when it is dark.  No one wants to go running when it’s rainy.  All individual effort.

I proved my doubters wrong!!

My aim was to do sub 5 hours which I did. I did try to do sub 4.5 but I hit the wall at 20 miles.  I managed to never stop running but looking at my splits I slowed down at 20 miles.  I was just so pleased I completed it.

9. What was your favourite bit of the run, if there was one! And what was your least favourite bit?

My favourite part was the starting line!  And then obviously crossing the finishing line and receiving my medal!  Seeing the finishing line in the distance was amazing.  The worst bit was at 20 miles when I hit the wall.

10. For race day, is there any advice you would give to people new to the marathon?

  1. Early night, rest the day before, be calm and be organised. Relaxing as much as possible the night before and in the morning is really important. 
  2. Watch the Nike rise and shine video several times in the morning
  3. Never quit
  4. When it gets tough dig deeper be ruthless with yourself inside your head
  5. Do not stop running
  6. Train hard, race easy! (ish) I stayed focused during the run. I didn’t really engage in conversation with others I just ran my own race.
  7. During training use gels to see what effects they have on your stomach. Don’t try new things on race day. 
  8. Pace yourself don’t worry about what anyone else is doing, race your own race and you’ll catch them.
  9. Just remember no matter how much you are hurting everyone behind you is hurting more and they are behind you so keep going

 

11. Finally, would you do it again? And if you did, what, if anything would you do differently?

When I finished I said never again but now I’m considering running the London Marathon next year if I can get in!  Since doing the marathon I’ve already got back in to it and I have done a couple of small runs.

Any other comments:

I have black toe nails!!!

 

If you would like to help Joy raise even more money for this awesome charity, go to:

https://www.justgiving.com/Joy-Eccles?utm_source=email&utm_medium=emails-from-eua&utm_content=shorturl&utm_campaign=eua-email-sponsorshiprequest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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