As you all know by now, I’m Nikki and I’m about to run my first marathon (current circumstances permitting). To help with this and to help other first timers, I’m asking as many people in the club about their marathon experiences as I can. I’m hoping we’ll be able to create a WH marathon knowledge base that’s useful for everyone.
I’ve learned a few things whilst putting these together. But, one thing that’s shocked me is that I’ve learned that you don’t actually have to hit the wall. This really shocked me, before all I’d ever heard was people talking about marathon running and how they hit the wall and got over it. Suddenly, people that have run marathons are telling me that this isn’t an essential part of marathon training and that it can be avoided. I find this news quite exciting and it’s a big part of my training plan now to experiment with nutrition and hydration to really figure out what works for me and what doesn’t.
Our marathon runner this week, Debbie Greaves, has never hit the wall in either of the marathons she’s run and she talks about that in her answers this week. She also told me during one conversation that the day after her first marathon she had to come down the stairs on her bum – that made me laugh and made me feel more OK about my preparations for hurting the day after my marathon!
So, here’s Debbie’s answers for this week.
1. Why did you enter your first marathon?
I had a drunken bet with a friend that we’d do a half Ironman and a marathon in the same year. Neither of us had done either before!
2. Where and when was your first marathon?
3. What was the most valuable thing that you learnt whilst training for your first marathon?
That I start to break when I run over about 15 miles. If you do long training runs with someone faster than you, make sure you stick to the pace you want to do!
4. What did you learn whilst running your first marathon that no one had ever told you before?
Edinburgh can get very very windy, and the only way to keep moving is to run behind all the tall blokes – good for sheltering from the wind and all the flying debris!
5. What did you do immediately after your first marathon and the next day?
Had to queue for the buses back to the city centre, which took forever. Didn’t have enough food and went a bit wobbly. Went out for a big pasta dinner later in the evening. Next day got the train home. Turns out Edinburgh Waverley station is at the bottom of a lot of steps. It hurt!
6. How many times have you run a marathon since?
Once – London 2013.
7. During later marathons, what have you learned that you wished you’d known for your first marathon?
Start seeing a physio as soon as you get niggles.
Take a couple of days off work afterwards. I’ve got hypermobile ankles and knew I wouldn’t be able to walk after London, given my experience at Edinburgh!
8. What was the favourite marathon you’ve ever run and why?
London. It’s so iconic. The noise of the crowd was intense, especially over Tower Bridge. Would love to experience it again
9. What tips do you have for overcoming the wall?
I’ve never hit it. Always made sure I ate and drank regularly and tried not to go off too fast. I actually went faster later in London as the sun went in and I was able to push the last few miles.
10. How do you stay comfortable during a race?
Vaseline! Get used to nutrition in advance, I used the same gels all the time, I carried water with hydration tablets in and never touched Lucozade or anything given out in the race that I wasn’t familiar with. I timed when I ate and drank during the race (which I first started doing in triathlons) so I kept my energy levels up.
11. What tips do you have for staying motivated to train?
Running with someone else, listening to music, having a training plan, telling people that I was running a marathon, so I couldn’t back out!! I also decided to fundraise even though I had a place through my tri club. My twin sister was also doing the marathon through a charity place for the Bone Cancer Research Trust. The money I raised I gave to her so she could meet her fundraising total.
12. Is there anything else you’d like to share about marathon running, that hasn’t been asked here?
You don’t have to be super fast/fit to run a marathon but it helps to train properly. I did a training plan both times – was definitely easier when I did it with a friend (Edinburgh) than when I largely trained on my own (London)