Marathon blog: getting started

7 October 2015 by
First published: 8 December 2014

What do you think goes through the mind of a runner when they’re gearing up to start training for a mighty marathon for the first time? Check out Bethan’s marathon blog to find out


My name is Bethan and I am a runner. I hoard medals, coo over trainers and get excited when a new race is announced. I get up early to train, squeeze 5k in to my lunch hour and think running 12 miles at the weekend sounds like fun. When I’m not actually running, I’m writing about running, sharing my adventures on my blog A Pretty Place to Play and contributing to We Heart Living. Over the next four months I’m going to be taking on my biggest running challenge yet – training for the Paris Marathon 2015.
Life hasn’t always been like this. If you’d told me two years ago that I’d be about to take on a marathon, I would’ve said something really quite offensive to you. But here I am about to embark on 18 weeks of training to run 26.2 miles. It’s funny how life changes.

My running career started because I needed a hobby. I toyed with all sorts of ideas about how I could fill my time but nothing really ‘fit.’ Nothing except running. Running was something I’d always dismissed as ‘just not me’. I wasn’t the most athletic; my joints were wonky and my lungs rebelled against me. On paper, the concept of me running just didn’t make sense (and caused a fair amount of amusement amongst my loved ones). However, the more I tried to think of a hobby, the more running stood out as something I needed to do. And you know what, it wasn’t so bad, it even felt a little bit good!

Eighteen months later I can confidently say I’m a runner. I’ve never regretted facing my fear of all things athletic and taking those first tentative steps around the block. Running has become a huge part of my life. It’s given me focus and shown me that I’m capable of so much more than I would’ve ever dreamed possible. It’s led to new friendships, adventures and opportunities. I’ve celebrated my birthday by running across London’s beautiful bridges, paced my Dad around his first 10k, explored corners of my city I never knew existed and been covered in brightly coloured powder paint.

My journey hasn’t all been fun though. I’ve spent my fair share of time on the physio’s bench, discovered that it’s possible to pull a muscle in your bum and my feet are a right state. But it’s been worth it, because when I run I feel like a superhero having the most fun ever.

Realising that running a marathon might be within your gift is startling. It sort of creeps up on you. Even once I got in to running I kept saying I’d never run a marathon. I mean 26.2 miles is a really long way, but it wasn’t just that, it was the training commitment that scared me – hours and hours of running, week in week out, through the winter. It was only once I started reading more about marathon training in magazines and on blogs that I realised that maybe, just maybe, I might be able to join that special club. That little inkling sparked something in me, so I took a deep breath and signed up for Paris.

This is my first marathon and my goal is to enjoy myself. I want to get myself to the point where I can run 26.2 miles and have fun while I do it. I’m not totally naive – I know there’ll be points in the race where I feel terrible, but I also know that good training will help me get through the dark times. So that means getting super fit, and having some fun along the way!

Now for the gritty stuff. I plan to follow Hal Higdon’s Novice 1 programme. I’ve used the half marathon programme in the past and really loved it, and the marathon version follows a similar format so I’m confident it’ll work well for me. With a long run each weekend, I’ll be keeping things interesting by catching up with Team Naturally (a group of awesome women who run) for runs and brunch, and taking on lots of half marathons – because if I can get a medal for a long run, why not?! I’ll also be mixing up my cross-training and checking out some of the best workout classes London has to offer runners (and, of course, reporting back).

I’m not sure if running a marathon will be the best idea I’ve ever had, or the worst thing I’ve ever done. Either way it’s going to be a massive adventure, and I’m looking forward to sharing every step with you over the next few months.