How do I prepare for my first marathon?

How do I prepare for my first marathon?


I was actually hoping that you will all help me out in this huge, slightly scary, but super exciting venture.

As I write, the timeframe to train is


although the countdown has already moved on a couple of minutes in the time it took me to write this much…

OK, I might just have learned Lesson #1. Don’t get fixated by the ticking clock.


So, here we are, less than 2 years since I started running as a total novice, part of a “Couch – 6km” programme, aiming for a full marathon in Mumbai on 17 January 2016.

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I read a very interesting post on FB recently from Coach Ravinder Singh, who is the super kind man who gave me a late entry to his Heritage Half Marathon last October, which turned out to be my first HM (much to my surprise, having not planned to run it 🙂 ).

Here are his words, which I must admit gave me pause for thought:

Full Marathoner or Fool Marathoner?
If it takes 3-4 months for a novice runner to accomplish a half marathon than how can same novice runner can graduate to the level of full marathon in next 1.5 months.
And by the way what’s the hurry to be there soonest!
If you can wait for 10-20 years for doing your first half marathon, can’t you wait for another 2-3 years for doing a full marathon. Personally, I waited for 5 years and I am no less a Runners 🙂
The dilemma- whether prepare for ADHM or SCMM?
In true sense if you want to do a full marathon in SCMM than the focus should be on that not on ADHM, ADHM will happen automatically. Practically, it’s very tough and demanding. That’s why I suggest to stay at half marathon for couple of years. It’s the learning phase of a runner. Consolidate your position & standing as a runner and move ahead.


I am probably not technically ready to run a full marathon, far from it.

But I am justifying it to myself on the grounds of advancing old age. I turned 62 this week, so don’t have the luxury of decades of running life ahead of me, (which is a sad thought, now I have discovered my late-in-life passion).

But there you go, nothing to be done about it, except try and make up for lost time,

Whilst still enjoying the whole mad adventure.  Lesson #2.  I am running for pleasure, and must lose never sight of that. 


So, how does one start training for such a big physical and mental challenge?

I have started reading books.

I gaze from time to time at the Hal Higdon training plan my friend Romit sent me.

And I keep saying to myself, “Next week I’ll begin training properly”

Because what’s happening is that the heat and humidity here in Delhi are useful scapegoats…”Oh, I only ran 10km, meant to do longer, but the humidity…”

It’s all true, oh so true, day after day, but then it’s the same for every other Delhi based runner.

So, gotta pull my finger out and get serious.

I have followed the advice of my running guru, the one and only Rajat Chauhan, an accomplished ultra runner himself.  Flush with the glow from having run a good ADHM last year, three of us in our running group signed up to run a half in Mumbai, at SCMM 2015 earlier this year.  Doc advised us not to get swept away by all the races and runs and fun runs and other enticing events happening, quoting Paula Radcliffe whom, he said, only ran 7 marathons, but she chose her events wisely and trained specifically for them.

Wise advice, because at the moment it seems as though there is a run for this and a run for that every weekend. And because of the camaraderie involved in these races, it’s so tempting to want to be part of them.

So, the first tentative step towards my first marathon has been to try and focus on it and it alone.  Lesson #3.  Thus I have only 2 events before Jan 17th.

The 10km Pinkathon this Sunday, and the Delhi HM at the end of November.

And that is it.  No other distractions in between.

I told myself that these two races could serve as benchmarks in my progress towards running 42.195 km in 19 weeks.

(Yes, you’re right, there I go ahead, fixating on dates.)

So, here goes, this is day 1 of my totally unscientific, 100% homegrown training programme.

This weekend I “finalise” the 10km distance, and from Monday onwards, start running longer distances, getting into my stride for ADHM on 29 November.

And now, dear readers, this is where you all come in.

What I need and would LOVE from you all is feedback. Input. Advice. Tips.  I know some of you are super experienced runners, marathoners, ultra marathoners, so please – your advice is precious.

I also know that there are other friends I have made through running who are tackling a full for the first time in Bombay, especially members of our brilliant #100daysofrunning group.  So won’t you all pitch in with your ideas and suggestions?  Share your plans? Your fears? Your concerns?

I have no doubt at all that this is not going to be an easy straight journey. I am sure there will be days of sheer panic at the thought of those 42.2 km.

Oh God, the thought of Pedder Road.


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  1. All the best Christine. I’m not sure what the running equivalent is, but in theatre they say break a leg, and while we don’t want that literally, you get the thought behind it 🙂

  2. Finally, I’m writing my comment on this post after – 30 days (134-104 on the countdown), getting arm-twisted virtually and my frequent requests to allow me to procrastinate it… 🙂

    It is just about 2 years and 1 month since my first 5 km run on treadmill (my first run of more than 2 kms) followed by my first long distance run of 16 km on 22/Sep/2013. In March 2014 I ran my first Half-Marathon and now in Jan-2016 I’ll run my first Full-Marathon. Though after registering for Full-Marathon, I ran in a 6-hour promo run of MCM in August 2015 in which I crossed 42.2K mark in 5 hours and 30/45 minutes, setting a timing for myself to work upon.

    #100DaysOfRunning challenge has really done wonders for me. I have gotten a lot of running mates from whom I get a lot of inspiration and which actually moved me to take part in a Full-Marathon also. Now a lot of events are coming in between SCMM-2016 and today (including the big one – ADHM-2015) and all those are going to work as a part of my training plan.

    I was a lot cool-headed while registering for SCMM but I got bit worried after registering as what have I done and it is a serious task and I should have given a second thought to it or might ask someone when I’ll be ready for it. The inner voice who raised this question also answered that I’ve to do it whatever happens now. I’ll have a cut-off of 7 hours to do it and I will/have-to do it. 🙂

    Now comes how to train for a Marathon. For this I again looked back to my running buddy – my iPhone and Nike+ app which has a Coach feature. I prepared for my first Half-Marathon using it and I was in doubt if training for Full-Marathon was available in it. When I opened the Coach feature again and I was relieved to find it there and waiting for me to start the plan. The plan is of 16 weeks and approximately of 1100 kms including the Final Marathon run.

    The plan started last week but I was bit lazy and lethargic to run for only 2 kms daily (which was also the minimum required distance to be covered for 100 days challenge and I’m on Day158 till yesterday). Yesterday I saw another post of yours and that made me realized that clock is really ticking down to zero and its time to start training in full strength.

    Another challenge for me in training for long run is to when to make time for run during weekdays. Having office in Gurgaon and residing in Delhi makes me to spend almost 2 hours already on road. I like to reach office early (also to expect to come back home on time) but there are lot more factors which decide when to leave from office to come back home. Now I have to switch runs as either morning run or evening run. I mostly run in the ‘Vir Savarkar Park’ which is half a kilometer from home (a good distance to warm-up and cool-down) and 750-metre square loop in the park. It is well-lit in the evening (which you must have witnessed in the pics posted). Recently when I go there in the evening at around 8 pm and I get happy to find a couple of people running and that I’m not alone.

    Before the 42.2K long venture on 17/Jan/2016, its a long journey to prepare for that venture and to make it bit smoother. Even we know that it is going to be painful, but that will lead us to achieve something which many just keep thinking of to achieve someday.

    – Harminder Singh

    Harminder Singh
  3. Harminder, thank you SO much and what a sport you are, allowing yourself to be nagged like this!
    16 weeks, hey? (Pause while I calculate how many weeks we have….)
    YIKES!! 15 weeks!
    Sorry musn’t get so panicky in public.
    OK we can do this. 15 is virtually the same as 16, right?

    And now for that mileage you mention…1100km divided by 16 = 68.75 per week. Hmm.
    Are we doing that?

    You made a great point about the effect of our #100daysofrunning, and the resulting new friends as we all encourage and help each other.

    I’ll keep nagging you for updates, from time to time, be warned 🙂


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