RayCun Registered User

Welcome to the Dublin City Marathon 2011 mentored thread!
Back in ancient Boards history, --amadeus—started the first mentored thread to guide novices through their training for DCM 2009. One of the runners that year, Rainbow Kirby, was the mentor in last year’s thread. I was a novice last year, and now it’s my turn to pass on my wisdom.

The thread is open to anyone. Most people will be running their first marathon, most will be running Dublin, and most will be aiming for a time slower than 3.50, but other people are welcome to join in.

First piece of advice?
Seriously, don’t enter Dublin this year. Too many people start running and go straight into running marathons. It’s a bad idea. You are much better off spending a couple of years running shorter distances.
First, because shorter distances have their own challenges and rewards. If you go straight to the longer distances its easy to neglect running speed and just plod along. Learning to run faster is harder in some ways, but is also fun and will stand to you if/when you run longer distances.
Second, because marathon training is hard. If you don’t have a good base of running fitness before you start training, your likelihood of getting injured goes way up. Every year there are a few casualties from the novices group who have to drop out because of injury. And even if you don’t get injured, you will be completely exhausted by the end of training.
So do yourself a favour. Spend the next year running regularly, getting stronger, and getting better at the shorter distances. And do the marathon in 2012.

Not convinced? Fair enough, I didn’t listen either. Let’s start with some questions then –

  • Have you raced before? If so what are your PBs? (Date and distance please!)
  • Do you still need to take walk breaks in your training?
  • How much training do you currently do? Distances, how many days a week, cross training - whatever you think is relevant
  • What do you want to achieve? Dream finishing time and realistic finishing time?
  • How many days a week can you train?
  • Why are you running this marathon?

Through the thread, I’ll post up some more information about the time to aim for and marathon pacing groups, the Long Slow Run, taking water and gels while running, injuries and medical advice, strides/intervals/fartleks, racing during marathon training, where to run - running outdoors/on a treadmill/different surfaces/at different times during the day/group training sessions, stretching and cross-training, race rehearsals, and basically anything else I can think of or you can ask … and then as we get closer to the day I’ll talk you through the last week pre-race.

Training plans

Each week I’ll post up a suggested training schedule. This will be taken from the Hal Higdon Novice 1 training plan.

The one change I’ll make to this schedule is to introduce speed sessions to one of the midweek runs. In the early weeks of the programme this will be a mix of different sessions (intervals, fartlek, etc - don’t worry, all will be explained) and later on it will be a Planned Marathon Pace (PMP) run.

There are a lot of good points to the Higdon plan -

  • There is a steady buildup of miles through the weeks
  • There is an 18 mile run and a 20 mile run
  • The three back-to-back midweek runs will get you used to running on tired legs
  • There are step-back weeks to allow your body to recover strength
  • There is a defined taper period before the marathon

You don’t have to follow this plan, there are a lot of alternatives out there. But whatever plan you follow (and I would urge you to follow some defined plan) make sure it follows the criteria above. The bad points of the Higdon plan are that its very one-paced, which is why I’m including speed sessions, and that it only has the one 20 mile run.

For a beginner’s programme, the good points outweigh the bad points. If you complete the training plan, you will complete the marathon. (All of the novices from previous years who made it to the start line have finished the marathon) The plan is easy to follow, with no complicated sessions to learn about.

(I’d be happy to take a look at whatever plan you’re thinking of following, and offer my not-very-expert advice)

Two last points about the Higdon novice plan.
You don’t have to run on the days he says - you might have other commitments, the weekends might be bad for you, whatever. But you should try to follow that pattern - three consecutive days of running, one or two rest days, a longer run, and then one or two rest days before you start the next week. And whatever plan you follow, you will need to do one long slow run (LSR) a week. Very soon that will become two, and then three hours for a single run, every week. If you can’t make that kind of training commitment then this is probably not a good year for you to run a marathon.

It is an 18 week plan, and I will start posting it 18 weeks before the marathon. Some people like to start a week or two early, to build in a cushion for holidays, injuries, other races, and so on. That’s completely fine. You’ll want to be back on the regular schedule for the month of October, to follow the plan for tapering, but up until then its okay if you’re a week or two ahead.

The first week of the training plan has four days of running - 3 miles on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and 6 on Saturday. if that seems like a lot to you, you could build up with this Spring training planalso by Hal Higdon. It follows the same basic pattern of three back-to-back runs in midweek and a longer run on the weekend.

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Mr Slow Registered User

Good man Ray, they'll be in safe hands.

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tHE vAGGABOND Registered User

Excellent, Thanks Ray!

Im sure all us marathon virgins have a lot of silly questions we have to start asking

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fungirl1 Registered User

Hi Ray - thanks for organisining this I hope to be "dropping by" regularly over the next few minths. I am presently finishing wk 1 of HH novice HM plan - I used thi s last year to finish my first half and am planning to (hopefully!!) do clontarf HM, dublin race series and then DCM...
I am a plodder (HM time was 2:18)...and wont be winnng any medals but really want to say I did the marathon.


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rainbow kirby Moderator

Best of luck to all involved with this - had a lot of fun with it as a participant in 2009 and as mentor in 2010. Your first marathon is special, enjoy it!

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tHE vAGGABOND Registered User

I have been running around 9 or 10 months. I have done a number of races, up to the Connemara Half Marathon! My PB's are:
5k - 22,47 [St Pat's 5k, April 20th]
10k - 54.30 [Soon to be sub-50!], Cupid 9.8k! [Completed in 54.10 odd, so I add 20 seconds for short distance].
Half - 1.56.37 [Connemara, April 10th]

I dont *need* to walk, but choose to walk on long runs sometimes, when eating/drinking. I did not walk for the half, for example.

I do somewhere between 20 and 30 miles a week, and have been for 6 or 7 months I guess. I dont cross train as much as I should, enjoying total rest days, but have been working them back in of late.

I think I'm well able to complete it in sub-4 hours. That really is my ultimate goal. But I really want to survive the training and get around the course in one piece

Im single and no longer a work-a-holic, so basically a full time athlete

For me, the marathon marks the ultimate transformation from 20 stone person I was this time last year, into fit and healthy person. I have also really gotten into this running lark, so its the logical next challenge.

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Mr Slow Registered User

fungirl1 said:
wont be winnng any medals but really want to say I did the marathon.

You may not win the race but there's still a big shiny medal at the end.

ger34 Registered User

Hi RayCun
I have been following HH novice plan 1 for Kildare marathon in 3 weeks,20 mile lsr today, in 3 hrs and now begins taper.Have been injury free for whole of plan,so i would recommend this one for complete novices.My plan is to do DCM this year,so will be following your thread closely.Best of luck with it.

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milosh Registered User

I found last years thread around half way through the plan and loved following it and making the odd contribution. Even though we doing most of the training on our own, the thread gave the feeling that we were part of the team. Fair play to Ray for taking up the mantle from Rainbow Kirby. (hard act to follow!)

I had been training for Barcelona but tore my calf in the early year. I'm not back running long - did the GIR and am up to 10 miles at the weekends. I was hoping to be in a position to run Cork but I know that is beyond me, so Dublin is my new marathon target.

Last Year I ran it in 3:48 following HH Novice 1. It is guaranteed to get you around but I'm looking to get as close to sub 3:30 as possible this year so i'll need a program with plenty of speed and interval work (Doing lots of research on the various plans at the moment). I'll probably follow this thread though as i still feel like a novice in comparison to most of the posters on this.

BTH Moderator

I'm debating whether to or not to do the marathon this year. This would be my marathon debut. However, any training I do will be heavily disrupted by triathlons this summer. Therefore there would regularly be two weeks+ between my long runs all summer. Not too concerned about the other run sessions required as I'll be doing regular shorter faster training for and in the Tri's. Main concern, which is holding me back, is building these long runs. At the moment my long slow runs are around the half marathon distance, which I can do easily in 1:40 (been doing this weekly since November). However, building up from 13/14 miles to 20/22 is something I'm not that confident of being able to do as I wont be able to stick to any of the standard training plans. I don't want my first attempt at the distance to be on the back of inadequate preparation. I want to make sure I can do myself justice on the day.

Fazz Registered User


I'm in a similar boat, however I am doing the Dublin Half (first one) in Sept and then my first marathon in Oct DCM.

I train for triathlons too and have only recently got up to half marathon distance in my lsr. I plan on increasing this slowly but also to finish Tri season a few weeks before my half and then nothing till marathon 5 weeks after.
I've set myself ambitious time targets especially as they are my first ones but it helps focus my training.
You're ahead of me in that you have been doing halfs since Oct/Nov, so I don't see why you can't do it.
I do a lsr each week and will be slowly adding distance to it. Race season will interrupt it but if planned right should still allow room for lsr every 10 days anyway?

I've got 8-9 tri's planned before the half and just need to stay injury free to see all go to plan.

If anything the Tri season will aid the training in my view.

I say go for it... I am anyway.

LaHaine Registered User

Fair play Ray. im looking forward to following this. Ive read previous years and its always a mine of information.

Hoping to run the Dublin marathon in under 4 hours. The only concern I would have is that Im also doing Gaelforce West. Just wondering will the bike training have a detrimental effect on my running. I suppose its up to me to make sure that I get the balance right and get the miles in!

Quick question if you dont mind?

Whats the fastest marathon time you would expect from following the Hal Higdon novice plan? Roughly?

Mr Slow Registered User

LaHaine said:
Just wondering will the bike training have a detrimental effect on my running. I suppose its up to me to make sure that I get the balance right and get the miles in!

Unless you go nuts then cycling should be of help to you.

kennjedy Registered User

I'll join in for this, cheers

RacoonQueen Moderator

LaHaine said:
Just wondering will the bike training have a detrimental effect on my running. I suppose its up to me to make sure that I get the balance right and get the miles in!

Depends how much bike training you do. You can use cycles in the place of recovery runs.

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