The Marathon Advice You Never Hear.

The interweb is littered with advice on how to run marathons. There are countless pages telling you how to train, what to expect, when to do how many miles. You can find reviews of every piece of marathon kit you will ever need and several thousand more that you won’t. There are blogs, some even as good as this one, where people share their stories of marathon running. The race organisers will send you details of what to do on race day, your friendly physio or coach will keep on at you about stretching, foam rolling, ice baths.

But there is one vital piece of information that no one ever gives the amateur marathon enthusiast. Some simple words of wisdom that I have never heard uttered before. Advice so breathtakingly obvious it nearly goes without saying…but by not saying it we invite catastrophe.

Until now…

Because I am about to fire a truth bullet straight out my tr-uzi and blow your mind all over the room with the very best recommendation I can ever give to someone attempting a marathon.

Are you ready?

Here goes…

Never, ever, under any circumstances, have another big bastard marathon booked before you have finished your current one.

Never cross a finish line and be in a situation where moments later the evil little voice in your head says “now do it again in a few months”. Do not hang up your shiny new 26.2 medal then open the training plan for your next marathon.

Because here’s what will happen.

You will hate running. You will look at the words on the page and though they only say “3 mile gentle run” you won’t think of the joy of a slow jog around the park and back. You will instead think “I wanted to do 5 miles today” or “I don’t feel like running at all in this rain” or maybe even “is it mini egg season yet? stuff running, I’m off to the pub”.

Marathon running takes commitment. Not just 26.2 miles of it but hundreds and hundreds of miles of doing what your told, of long runs every week, painful massage and foam rolling, sacrificing fun for those four or five sessions a week you have to fit in to be at your best come race day. It is a commitment every runner should relish at least once, but when you’ve done it be absolutely sure that the next run you do, the one after that and the one after that, for a month or two at least, is for fun.

Leave behind the rigours of marathon training and just run. Because if you don’t you will forget why you started and resent what you’re doing. If you are lucky you will push on, hating every moment but somehow achieving greatness with your next endurance feat even if you can’t enjoy it. If you’re not so lucky, you may end up listening to the voice in your head and spending weeks eating mini eggs in the pub.

And then you’ll find yourself with race day looming, way behind on any training schedule, dreading what you have to achieve over the next 11 weeks when all you really want to do is run, for fun.

Wise words. The voice of experience. Don’t make my mistake, you will regret it.

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18 Responses to The Marathon Advice You Never Hear.

  1. Oh dear James! I’m on week 6 of training for my first marathon and can’t even imagine doing another one in the same year – you mentalist! Hope you manage to pull through and get that medal without completely falling out of love with running!

    • James Clay says:

      I’m already looking forward to the week after Brighton when I can go out for a few runs without a watch or route or any plans! How’s your training going? Brighton or London?

      • Yeah I’m not quite there yet as still enjoying ticking off the different sessions (it’s pretty new to me, this proper training plan lark). Doing Brighton, training’s going OK, I’m battling dodgy knees though so am lucky if I make all the runs each week. Keeping up with the long ones though so at least increasing mileage.

  2. Tobi says:

    Definitely makes sense, get in love with running again, and then think about the next big one 😉

    • James Clay says:

      Funnily enough I’m just looking at reevaluating my goals and doing exactly that…whilst still surviving the marathon! Then no more long runs until 2015…unless I change my mind! 😉

  3. Will keep this in mind! Haven’t signed up for a marathon yet, much less two, but I see how it could happen to me…

    • James Clay says:

      You will do a marathon…you will cross the line and say “never again”…a few days later you will think about how you could have shaved a few minutes off your time or trained a little bit harder…you’ll sign up for another marathon in an effort to run the best 26.2miles you possibly can. It’s a vicious circle! 🙂

  4. Wise words indeed.

    I like to leave about five years between marathons. Only trouble is…then you get old quickly…and my best ever marathon time was my first.

  5. I can’t imagine doing more than 1 marathon a year. I did try to “retire” from marathons (no, I’m not a pro but a turtle-paced runner) until the Boston bombing. So I’m back to doing marathons, again no more than 1 year. I’m crazy about running but not that crazy!

    • James Clay says:

      It was Boston that did for me too! The next day 52 runners from my club signed up and I joined them. After this though definitely no more until 2015 and then only 1 a year. I want to do Edinburgh, Paris and Berlin then retire at 40.

  6. I can very much understand the reasons for this but I disagree a bit. I remember my first marathon and crossing the line and thinking, ‘yeah, bring it on, what’s next’ and the sad thing was I didn’t have a next – well an ultra nearly 12 months away but that was too far away. The fact I had nothing to straight into meant I struggled to get back into the swing. I think ultimately we are all different and respond differently to the difficulties of the distance but for me I wouldn’t be without my next challenge in my mind the moment I cross a finish line.

    • James Clay says:

      Yep, you’re absolutely right, but I haven’t had the time to post a follow up that agrees entirely with what you’ve just said…but 10k and fun runs, not marathons! 🙂

      • That’s true, although I’m doing 6 ultra marathons and at least 2 marathons, a 30km race and 2 x 10 milers in the first 8 months of 2014. I think I’m officially mad and probably should be ignored 🙂

      • James Clay says:

        Not ignored…just observed warily! There are exceptions obviously, ultra runners ruin my logic, but for the vast majority of us amateur runners I hope I make sense 🙂

      • You very much make sense and I’d hope most runners listened to good advice as much as their own body. Plus there’s no logic to ultra running, it’s just insanity. Keep up the good work!

  7. Pingback: Brighton, Write Off | What James Did

  8. Very dsscriptive blog, I enjoyed that a lot. Will there be a
    part 2?

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