I’m Nikki and I’m asking some of the Harriers who have run a marathon to share their experiences with me and other first time marathon runners. I think one of the things that most worries me about running a marathon is that there will be a lot of people there. I’m a steadier runner and I’m not used to dealing with a lot of people in front of me and all around me, I usually have a lot of space and can pootle however I fancy. A marathon feels like a busier place and I wasn’t really sure how to deal with running in that situation. Luckily, Kevin Scott (our Marathon Monday participant today) has included some great tips for not getting swept away with the crowd and for avoiding hidden obstacles in front of us.
Kevin ran his first marathon when he was 60 and enjoyed it so much he’s continued to run them. So, here’s Kevin with his insights and experiences to share with us.
1. Why did you enter your first marathon?
My Dad was a champion cross country runner, and so I have always been a runner, but never long distances – climbing and sailing always got in the way of any serious training, When I got to Sixty I decided that I had better do something about it while I was still young!
2. Where and when was your first marathon?
London 2011; a present to myself for my 60th birthday.
3. What was the most valuable thing that you learnt whilst training for your first marathon?
As a novice, I gave myself 20 weeks of gentle stress free build-up. As we had a severe winter, the extra time, and the home treadmill, really paid off. The most valuable thing, however, was doing a couple of sub-four hour practice runs to Horsham and back; that made me confident that I could really enjoy London and not struggle.
4. What did you learn whilst running your first marathon that no one had ever told you before?
Leave space in front, so you can clearly see the next kerb or dropped water bottle; I almost sprained an ankle on a full bottle of water someone dropped right in front of me.
Stick to your plan; lots of keen folk sprinted down the hill from Greenwich, only to be overtaken by those who kept to their pace throughout.
Don’t weave in and out of the crowd – you can easily add a mile to your distance!
5. What did you do immediately after your first marathon and the next day?
Trina ( speedy daughter) booked a nice restaurant, but the only way of reaching it was a long walk, when my body just wanted to sleep under a tree!
After London, I had a day off, but after Paris we did the full tourist thing, and you could recognise the marathoners as they struggled up the stairs at the Louvre!
6. How many times have you run a marathon since?
About 15 – aimed for two a year, but occasional injuries got in the way.
7. During later marathons, what have you learned that you wished you’d known for your first marathon?
If possible, sign up for a slightly faster time / start box than your current PB; that reduces the number of folk in front who over estimated their pace and can hold you up.
Don’t wait for race day to try out your new energy gels.
Line up early for water stations, especialy if they are only on one side of the course – don’t be the runner who misses it or, worse, swerves across the course at the last minute.
8. What was your favourite marathon and why?
New York – we now make the overseas ones a long city break with the whole family, and we all loved the city, the atmosphere, the people. You get used to being hugged by complete strangers in the street as soon as they spot your medal and want to tell you how heroic you are!
9. What tips do you have for overcoming the wall?
Yes it happens occasionally, even when your training and pacing are just right. We are always told not to stop running, but for me just a stretch and a short walk along the side of the course recharges my batteries enough to get back up to speed to the end.
9. Is there anything else you’d like to share about marathon running, that hasn’t been asked here?
Trina and I run our own races to our own strategies, but sometimes it’s fun, for a change, to stick like a limpet to a good pacer – no worries about time and pace, and just “brain in neutral” which seems to come naturally…
10. Who’s been a big help to you whilst you’ve been marathon training?
Undoubtedly Trina, who has a “just do it” attitude, doesn’t make any allowances for my age, and makes sure I don’t do anything my physio wouldn’t approve of.