That random drawer

How I Went From 8k to 42k in 3 months: 1st Marathon Training Plan & Tips

Training for a marathon in three months is possible. Here is my journey.

What have I gotten myself into.

My friend asked me if I wanted to run a marathon. I said no.

So why did I say yes two months later, giving myself only 3 months to train for my first marathon?

It was on my 29th birthday. Since turning 21, I’ve been visiting a new city abroad every birthday. The marathon happened to be in Stockholm. Seemed like fate, right?

Yeah, I know. That doesn’t make sense. Why would anyone in their right mind choose to run a marathon on their birthday?

Before I started training for the marathon, I ran maybe every other weekend. Not far, not fast either. About 3k-5k.

I’ll come clean. I thought a marathon was 26k. So I didn’t think I had that much further to go in building up my stamina. I was horrified to find the difference between miles and km. I had never entered any distance of race (not that I’m using it as an excuse for not knowing!).

My marathon training schedule up to race day

Run no.DateTimeDistance
1.24th Feb35 minutes7.99km
2.4th March48 minutes11.6km
3.11th March1hr 13 mins19.63km
4.24th March1hr 41 mins26.25km
5.2nd April1hr 07 mins10.99km
6.14th April1hr 05 mins 11.11km
7.15th April1hr 40 mins15.79km
8.22nd April1hr 58 mins16.03km
9.28th April3hr 02 mins24.36km
10.4th May2hr 22 mins20.08km
11.8th May2hr 50 mins24.49km
12.13th May2hr 39 mins20.47km
13.20th May4hr36.36km
14.27th May43 mins8.01km
15.30th May31 mins5.51km
Race day2nd June4hr 44 mins46km

Here are my tips for training for your first marathon

Go slowly

I was running way too fast at the beginning of my training. I probably halved my pace by race day.

Stretch before your run/find what works for you

I read an article which suggested that stretching before running was bad. The negative effects of stretching when your muscles are cold (static stretching) kind of makes sense I thought.

I found the top of my thighs were the first thing to stop me from running further. To the point of excruciating pain. I found a stretch (simply bending my knees so my bum touched my heels) which helped decrease the pain.

Eat right/carb up

It could be a mental thing (I feel a lot of marathon training is a mental thing), but eating carbs the night before and before the run helped keep my energy levels high.

I stuck to pasta dishes the night before and bagels before training. Drinking enough water is a given of course.

Be mindful of your intake of water

There’s a difference between hydrating properly and guzzling down litres of water.

The latter gives you that horrible glugging feeling in your stomach when it’s full of excess water. Next is the sick feeling.

Take care with your water intake during your run too. I aimed for sips to coat the whole of my mouth.

Buy quality running gear

Step away from the cotton shirt!

I used to run in my replica football shirts. So not the worst thing to run in.

But when I bought an Adidas running shirt, I noticed the difference immediately.

My t-shirt was perforated with the tiniest holes that could only be seen up close.

Temperatures in London were 30 degrees, so keeping cool was paramount to lasting on a run. Stockholm was 27-28 degrees. In the shade. They had extra water shower stations such was the heat.

I had decent running shoes already. But comfortable running shoes are a must of course.

I had trouble with blisters and invested in running socks, which have extra padding. I can recommend toe socks to avoid them rubbing against each other.

Don’t push too hard/know when to quit

You of course want to beat your previous distance. But if during your run the pain is excruciating, stop. There will be more runs. Pushing yourself when your body is telling you to stop will cause injury, which will only affect your future runs. Be smart and know when to quit.

Don’t beat yourself up for not reaching your target.

It’s incredible how quickly the body can develop stamina. One week you might run 5km less. The next week, you run 10km more than your personal best.

Find a rhythm/take your mind off the pain

Think of your happy place like in Happy Gilmore. Think of your reward after your run. Listen to music. Anything to keep you from thinking of the pain running through your body.

I created a marathon playlist which had beats/drums which matched my pace and lyrics I knew by heart so I could focus on them. I focused on the drums and even pretended to play air drums during the marathon, I must have looked odd but hey, it worked! I threw in a few cheesy songs to keep my mood light too. Listening and focusing on your breath also worked for me too.

Was it worth it all?

Definitely. I would have been really disappointed had I not finished (I might have resorted to stealing someone else’s medal). I’m happy with my time considering the temperatures in Stockholm.

Having that medal and knowing I completed the marathon still brings a smile to my face.

I’m even considering running a marathon every year. Not on my birthday. Although the Aruba marathon is happening on my birthday in 2019…

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