• Helen Phillips

3 New Marathoner I Wish I'd Done's

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and it can make or break your marathon training!

How many times have you heard “I’ve not done enough training”, “If only I’d lost this weight”, “I’m never going to raise that money before race day!”at the start line of a race.

And after, I hear stories of “If only … “, “What if I’d … “ and “Next time I’ll do things differently, I’ll KNOW how to train, eat better and workout for this race.”

Ask around experienced marathoners and runners (I’m not talking about super speedy club runners, but runners like you and me who’ve ran a few, made mistakes and learned loads) and we all say start training early and follow a training plan. So why do first-time marathoners believe that running a marathon involves downloading a plan from the internet and diligently working through that for just 16 weeks … or just winging it on the day!

At the risk of HITTING MY HEAD AGAINST A BRICK WALL I’ve written this to give you, as a first time marathoner insight and ideas on WHAT YOU NEED TO BE DOING RIGHT NOW to get going with your marathon training.

All of these suggestions are from VLM18 newbie marathoners. I asked the question “WHAT DO YOU WISH YOU’D STARTED EARLIER”. This is what they said.

If you won’t listen to me, your coach, PT, other friends in your phone or speedy club runners … at least listen to them! They were just like you this time last year … nervous, unsure, yet convinced they knew what they were doing.

Read my 3 I-Wishes, digest and then commit to getting started with your marathon training NOW!

Wish #1 ... I wish I’d … Started Training Earlier

“I wish I’d started training as soon as I got my ballot place, rather than waiting ‘til after Christmas!”

“I wish I’d started my training earlier. I went from 0 to 10k, straight into marathon training. I wish I’d been more sound in my 10k first.”

This is the big one, the mistake I see and “I wish I’d …” I hear newbie marathoners make time and time again.

Because most marathon training plans you can download from the internet are 16 weeks long, DOESN'T MEAN YOU ONLY NEED 16 WEEKS TO TRAIN FOR A MARATHON!

Yes, you can get there. Yes you’ll probably get round. But I very much doubt that you’ll have a great training experience or do yourself proud on race day.

There are plenty of people who do a couch to marathon in next to no time, but there are also plenty of newbie marathoners who struggle, get injured or pull out from the volume and intensity of marathon training. Their legs, bodies and minds are just not (yet) up to the challenge.

So what should you do.

You need to build your base running fitness first. That means starting running and training asap. NOW!

If you’re a completely new runner you need to be using the rest of this year to get yourself going and building up to running a good strong 10k, and then a half before the end of the year.

It’s also important if you’re a completely new runner that you don’t push yourself too far, too fast too soon, however sporty or fit you are. It’s likely, even if you regularly play sport or go to the gym (but never run far) that you will use muscles that have never had to do much when you start running.

Those muscles (big strong power running muscles, plus smaller stability muscles) need time to develop and build strong. If you push too fast, too far, too soon, because running feels great and you’re running good, you could be susceptible to injury further down the line.

So newbie runners, build gradual, build slow and don’t let your ego get out of control!

If you’re already a runner, you’ve ran a few 10k’s or halves and feel it’s time to take on a marathon, you also don’t want to make the mistake of leaving training until the New Year.

Autumn is race season! So get yourself entered into a few races to test out your pace, fitness and pre race routine. Race day always brings challenges. Workout how it’ll work for you, so come marathon day you’re not stressing too much about breakfast, water and loo queues.

Once you’ve ran your races, there are probably weeks still left in the year. A great time to work on building your running strength and speed, through some hills and interval training.

The last few years I’ve trained for quite a few marathons. I use the ‘off season’ of November and December to work on my speed, doing short sprint intervals to help me pick up the pace. Then come January I’m feeling strong and fast and ready to ramp it up for endurance.

Wish #2 ... “I wish I’d … done some strength & conditioning work”

“I wish I had realised the importance of strength training and not just focused on running the miles.”

“I wish I had known my glutes were important.”

“I wish I had done more core work.”

Us runners we love to run, we love the sun on our skin, the wind in our hair and some of us love the rain. We hate to be inside. But it’s important to not only run to train for your marathon, but also to include some strength & conditioning work in your week.

Study after study has shown the importance of strength & conditioning, I’m not talking bodybuilding, but exercises to build muscles that add power to your running motion or maintain stability to help you run with good running form.

So my second piece of advice is to get into the gym, or find space at home to do some running specific conditioning work. Focus on your legs, hips, glutes and core. You’ll notice the difference this makes to your running and having a strong running body will help prevent niggles and injuries once you get training, so you can do more running!

So run less … to run more!

Wish #3 ... My third and final I wish I’d … is “I wish I’d … thought about my diet more and eaten healthier”

“I wish I’d lost more weight prior to January. Once Xmas was over i couldn’t think of anything else but running.”

“I wish I had lost that 7lbs of weight instead of pretending I deserved all those extra calories ”

“I wish I thought about my diet more! I felt like I had done every bit of research possible when it came to running, but didn’t really think too much about what I was eating. Healthy food to fuel your running, even on non running days, is just as important as having that bit of porridge before you go for your long run!”

“I wish I hadn’t eaten everything in sight! Yes you’ve done a long run and deserve that family sized trifle, but eating the right foods will help you massively on the day.”

Lots of us runners started out running to lose weight. If that’s how you’ve shifted the pounds before it’s ‘logical’ to assume that training for a marathon you’re going to be burning through loads of calories, so will either need to eat masses more food, or any excess weight will just fall off you.


A recent study of US charity runners found that after training for their marathon with a 16 week training plan that only 11% of runners lost any weight. And 11% GAINED WEIGHT!

You can do a lot to help your running by tuning up your diet for your training. Eating the right healthy foods will mean you’ve got the energy to run and nutrients in your body to help your body recover and repair.

Rewarding yourself with trifle, whilst tempting, won’t do anything for recovery!

So if you’re looking to lose a few pounds before race day, you need to tune up your diet right now, and if your diet is appalling, now if the time to start eating right for running, so you’re ready to train for race day.

So now you know what to be doing this year if you're training for a marathon download my FREE Get Ahead Marathon Preparation Guide. Click HERE to download NOW!

Good luck with your training, have an incredible journey and see you at the finish line!

Helen, The Cheesecake Runner x

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