I have always admired marathon runners. The dedication and perseverance required is something I thought I never had. In my eyes anyone that has run a full marathon, 42.2km, is a hero (...and crazy). The next thing I know I have been persuaded, not that it took much, to take on the challenge of the Edinburgh Marathon. This was back in 2020, hopeful that the Covid-19 pandemic wouldn't stop the race from going ahead.
Inspired by a colleague
As a first-time marathon runner, I was eagerly asking for advice from work colleagues and previous marathon runners on the best way to train and prepare for a marathon. There are hundreds of training plans available online from couch-to-marathon to more advanced plans like VO2max. In the end, I decided to follow the EMF intermediate marathon plan. Although I have never run a marathon before (or anything near 42km) and as someone who would not class themselves as an ‘intermediate’ runner I felt that this plan would allow me to push myself enough without being unrealistic. It consisted of five running days which were all done on distance, one XT* day (*cross training, it took me some googling to work this out) and one rest day. As a complete novice I liked how simple this plan was and all that I had to do was the hard part, the training.
Unfortunately, due to the Covid-19 guidelines at the time the Edinburgh Marathon was cancelled in 2021. Like many other runners this was a big disappointment, but I was still determined to run the distance after all the training. Inspired by a colleague at the time I went about planning my route, running from Dundee to St Andrews. I was even lucky enough to have my very own support crew... my friend on her bike as well as a make-do finish line. In the end I managed to run my first (unofficial) marathon in 4 hours 5 mins according to Strava.
Fast forward a year and with my race space deferred, I am excited to finally take part in my first official marathon.
Key learnings from my ‘virtual marathon’ last year
- Consistency is key: Being as consistent as possible and keeping up with the training is essential in making those long runs less gruelling and more enjoyable.
- Go out and brave the weather no matter how cold or wet it is: This is easier said than done when you are nice and warm at home but with a good waterproof and warm layers nothing can stop you. Also, you never know what the weather might be like on race day.
- Plan your routes before you run: This is something I found made my long runs especially much easier. It is also a great way to explore local places and routes.
- Rest on your rest days.
- Make the training fun: I found running with friends made the whole experience much more enjoyable. It was a good way to push each other, and the coffee and cake stop at the end made the run worthwhile.
When life gets in the way
My recent google history consists of “how to train for a marathon with a full-time job”, “tips for marathon training”, “how to keep consistent when life gets in the way”. It seems that organisation and having realistic expectations are both essential in training effectively for a marathon when you already have a busy life. I think for most of us, the thought of all the hours of training required to get you to the start line is a daunting thought. Without factoring in how to squeeze it all into your busy life.
The two main points which kept appearing in my google search were that organisation is key and to have realistic expectations. Having realistic expectations is something I found helped me with last year’s training. I think having a flexible training plan allows you to increase your mileage without interfering in your everyday life.
My two goals for Edinburgh Marathon
My two goals going forwards are firstly to have fun and enjoy the training, as much as possible anyway. Then secondly, is to beat my previous time and run a sub 4-hour marathon. I am excited although a little nervous to take on the challenge again this year. The only thing left for me to do is to lace up my shoes and start training.