Marathon Running and Race Support
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ChrisL's lightweight 2hr HM plan - how did I do?

Well last time I updated you all I had just done my 1st 10 miler and was suffering somewhat the next day from attempting a big increase in distance despite not running for a few weeks. I left it for 4 days and then did some short sharp intervals and everything was fine and slightly quicker than my first set of intervals a month before.

I then got a bit busy (and maybe a bit bored) and so only got around to running once every 4 days for a while, doing 5 miles then 10 miles and then when I was in Spain on holiday I did 5 miles and 4 miles around a very hilly course in 30 degrees. I thought this would be good practice for the hilly St Albans course (which it was) and running in the heat (which wasn't necessary as it transpired). When I got back I did a fast 5km as my last run 3 days before the HM.

This meant that in total I had run just 13 times in the 8 weeks between committing to doing the HM as a lapsed runner and the event itself. This was probably not ideal and was a long way off the 36 runs suggested in the minimum 12 week programme I found online, adapted and then ignored. However among those runs I had done 10 miles twice, albeit on a very flat course, so I was reasonably confident I would get round. I just wasn't sure how respectable the time would be.

My predicted time at for the HM was 1hr 52mins based on my 10km PB of 51mins from 2 years ago. I thought I would aim for that but would be reasonably pleased with anything under 2hours due to the hills.

Race day

Since this was the 1st race I had done since the 3rd year at school in 1973 (yes I am that old) I had no idea what what to expect. I got to the venue more than an hour before the start to collect my number and then had to stand around in torrential rain until the start. I went to the sub 2 hour start-pen with 5 minutes to go and was pleased to see some pace runners with big flags marked 1:50 so I got as close to them as I could.

The torrential rain turned to a light drizzle and we were off. The start was very slow with so many runners crammed in to a relatively narrow lane. It stayed slow and congested for the first mile which was probably a good thing as I am always in all sorts of discomfort for the 1st mile with my whole body complaining about what I am doing to it. The discomfort went away and it got a bit less crowded and I was able to move up the field a bit until I was right behind the pace runners, and then in front of the pace runners. It occurred to me that I was being dragged along by the field a bit faster than I should but I felt fine so why not?

At 5km my iPhone app said 25 mins which seemed a bit quick but some of it had been downhill so maybe not to worry? At 10km my app informed me I had achieved a PB of 50:41. I wondered if that was a good idea given that I was not even half way around. This was either going to be a very good run or a dismal failure.

At 15km I was still OK and still running sub 5:10 kms but then I reached 16km/10 miles and I was in unknown territory. It may be a coincidence or just my imagination but the course suddenly seemed to head uphill for the next few kms. I started to really feel it and my pace slowed to nearly 5:30. I took an energy gel from one of the many watering stations and actually walked for a few seconds while I opened & drank it. Then I set off again and again, maybe by coincidence or imagination it seemed to get flatter and even some downhill. My pace increased a bit and although I couldnt exactly sprint finish, I did do the last few kms at under 5mins pace.

I got over the line, picked up my goody bag and immediately stopped and did some stretches. My right knee then started to hurt like hell but luckily the goody bag included some deep-freeze gel which I slapped on and then hobbled off to find my lift home.

So how did I do? I had forgotten to look at the timing clock as I went over the line. I could see what my app was reading but I know that is not 100% accurate so I had to wait for the results to be posted - 1hr 49mins 30secs. I was delighted. Better than I ever dared to think was possible. Woohoo!

Postscript - things I have learned

1. If you are reasonably fit & reasonably determined you can do a HM with relatively little training. However it will hurt.

2. You will run faster in a race than you do on your tod. Be careful not to run too fast. I could not have gone on much further.

3. Take a giant bin bag to wear before the start if it likely to rain. You can then jettison it (responsibly) rather than lug an expensive jacket around with you.

4. If you haven't practised drinking water from a cup while running slow down to a walk to drink. You will lose more time from coughing than you will ever gain from running.

5. Put the hot water on continuous before you leave in the morning if you don't want a cold shower when you get back.

6. Make a bed up downstairs so you don't have to negotiate any stairs the next morning when your thighs have completely seized up.

7. Energy gel is fantastic stuff to keep you going.

8. Deep-freeze gel is fantastic stuff for sore joints.

9. Jelly babies make your hands sticky and your mouth thirsty. Dont bother.

14 Replies

Wow! That is fantastic Chris and very inspiring! I am currently aiming for a 10miler in October and refuse to discuss whether I will ever do a HM until I get through that! Every time I read a post like yours though, I find myself thinking...maybe!! Big well done to you👏😀!

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Thanks Sandra. I am sure you will do it. I think it is a mind thing as much as anything. Learning not to give up even when your body is telly you it wants to stop. I heard a sports scientist on the tv or radio the other day saying that when the body first says it has had enough it is actually capable of doing at least the same amount again.

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I agree about the mental battle and am learning just to keep on going...and going...!


Fantastic run Chris - really impressive time. A big well done!


Thanks OG. I was very surprised & well chuffed! Interesting the amount of difference just running with other people makes.


Brilliant... I knew you'd do it without a huge training plan, you are a natural! A huge well done from me and I so hope I will nail the sub 2 hour by Autumn! I ran Brighton marathon with my friend who did just a handful of training runs beforehand. We finished together and I'm still barely talking to him given all the effort I put in compared to his next to nothing!!! What's next then to curtail the boredom but keep the body in check??


Thanks JJ. I think I am very fortunate genetically fitness-wise. My old dad is 92 and still cycles. I am not sure what the next thing will be. I may do some more long bike rides. I am trying to interest a couple of mates in cycling from London to Paris in 24 hours which sounds a proper challenge as it is about 280 miles. I will probably aim to still run once a week (or fortnight, or 3 weeks) just so I still can. I sense that about 5 miles is a nice regular distance for me. I may do the odd 10k race. Not sure about another HM. The one thing I know I wont be doing is a full marathon - at least not until I retire.

Good luck with your own sub 2hr HM. Feel free to copy my (cough) training plan!

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The bike ride sounds fab... You should go for it!! And I've given you a badge for your efforts!!


Thank you!


Congratulations! Sounds like a great run, and I agree running with others helps with speed and motivation!


With you on the jelly babies! Ew, makes me shudder at the thought of stickyness

So, look at you then!!!! Crikey me what a race!!!!!! That was exciting! I was running that with you (well, almost tee hee). You did really well there. Those times were flippin awesome.

Good idea about making the bed up downstairs. Not thought of that one. I hope you're all right now and not too stiff


I was really disappointed with the jelly babies MissW. I hadn't had one for many years and actually they don't even taste that nice. Strange texture too. Yuck. Wine gums though - now you are talking!


Ooh ChrisL ! This made my legs twitch reading this, what a brilliant post , loved it ! :-)

Im training for an HM in October, my first one . I am a bit ummm-ing and aaah-ing about what to take re food/snacks. Did you have anything else food wise , apart from the energy gels ? They really seemed to work for you , I might get some just to try out before the event .

Cor this is exciting stuff ! You did brilliantly , Well done ! Definitely a tough mental challenge , you nailed it ! What a fantastic time too, that's amazing...

Blimey , I am sqeaking with excitement here Ha ha ! :-D xxx


Hi Poppypug. I have used those energy gels before when doing long (100 mile+) cycle rides. They definitely give you a boost but it doesn't last long. Another cycling trick is to munch on raisins as you go along. Raisins have more usable calories per gram than almost anything and you can convert it very quickly apparently.

Apart from that I just ate a lot of pasta the night before and had my secret breakfast 2 hours before the run - ok I'll tell you, it is banana on toast with honey poured over it. Delicious and full of energy.

Hope it works for you.


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