If you fail to plan, you plan to fail

Christina Macdonald reports on a 15-mile marathon-training run that went horribly wrong

Wednesday, 24 August, 2011

I’m currently in training for the Baxters Loch Ness Marathon on 2nd October. With less than six weeks to go until race day, I’m building up my mileage and have been managing to fit my long runs in around moving house. Last Monday, after only a few days in my new home, I decided to head out for a long 15 mile run. Rather unwisely, I decided to treat myself to a lie in, and went out for what I thought would be a nice, easy slow run at 11am. That’s where the trouble started.While I’d been snoring under the duvet, temperatures had soared into the mid 20s and the sun was blazing. I hadn’t applied any sun cream. I had some water, and my mobile phone – but couldn’t find my favourite energy gels, so I ran with the only two I could find in the cupboard, which happened to be gels I didn’t like. I spent most of the run trying to avoid taking them because I knew they would taste revolting. And in the chaos of moving, I hadn’t had time to plan my route properly, so the first three miles of my run were the hilliest and therefore the hardest. I can cope with hills after the first half an hour of a run, when I’ve found my stride, but an ongoing incline that lasts for 20 minutes in the early stages of a run is close to torture.After three miles, I stopped and walked for a few yards while I sipped water. I tried not to lose focus. I started to run again and felt better when I got to five miles. I was a quarter of the way there. I struggled to get to seven miles and by the time I reached mile eight, I had completely run out of water. Hot day. No water. Not good. I also began to feel lightheaded. And then I realised that I’d forgotten to bring any cash, so I couldn’t even run into a shop and buy an energy drink.Running out of water on such a hot day really bothered me, so I decided to scrape through another two miles to bring the mileage up to ten, before heading home. I reached the front door, feeling very lightheaded and bursting for a wee. Key in hand, I turned the lock hurriedly. It didn’t open. My husband had gone out and put the double lock on. I sat down on the front doorstep and made an urgent call. Husband knew not to argue – hearing the desperation in my voice (who wants to risk wetting themselves before passing out on the doorstep?) he was home in minutes. Later I recapped on the things I had done wrong. Here’s what I’ll do differently in future and I’d recommend anyone doing long training runs does the same...


Not start a long run later than 9am in case it’s hot.


Put sun cream on before every run.


Carry energy gels I actually like – I find the Gu gels effective and very palatable


Run the distance in several loops past my house, so that I can run indoors and top up my water.


Keep some Lucozade in the fridge, for a quick sip when I head home halfway through a long run.


Carry cash in case I run out of gels or water.


Plan my route beforehand – as the old saying goes; if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.


Respect the distance and not be cocky! Just because I’ve done long runs before it doesn’t mean I can get complacent.

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