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My First Marathon.

by Dave on April 10, 2012

At The Start - All Set

When I first started writing  this weight loss blog  more than 3 years ago, my goal was to make lifestyle changes that would enable me to not only lose weight, but once I had lost it, to remain within a healthy weight range for the long term. One of those changes is well documented here, after all it’s the name of this blog ! The goal  was to become a retired dieter and get off the diet merry go round for good. One other goal I had, I kept private until now.

I had set myself a target of running a marathon before I was 50. The challenge of running 26.2 miles has always had a strange draw to me. Back in the winter of 2008 , at 44 years of age, and with 56 lbs to lose, that goal seemed a long way off.  Well this past Easter Sunday weekend I achieved that goal.

I ran the Hull Marathon in 4 hours 13 minutes and 28 seconds , not too shabby for a 47 year old former fat boy, on his first  attempt !.

Me With My Marathon Medal

I actually entered for the Marathon way back in November 2011, the reason I did not say anything about it before now was simply because  I still felt so much could go wrong before the day, or even on the day !.  As it turned out, other than the last 3 miles, all went well.  Those last 3 miles ? .. oh those were sheer hell, At 21 miles I  was running well and looking at a time of under 4 hours, but at mile 23 my legs went, and my thoughts turned from doing the Marathon in under 4 hours to just making sure I finished it.

Those last 3 miles took everything I had, pysically I had nothing left, it was just sheer mental determination that got me over that finishing line. Today, 2 days after the race, my legs are still weak. In my training I had done regular long runs up to 20 miles, and I was always fine after those runs, but this extra 6 miles has left me feeling worse than the first day I ever started to do exercise .

The training guide I followed did not have me running past 20 miles. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but knowing what I know now, I would have trained beyond the 26 miles I had to run.

This issue of how to train for a marathon, actually reminds me a lot of the typical advice we see about weight loss. There are so many different people telling you how you should lose weight and what is the right way to go about doing it , but as I often say on this blog, the right way is the way that works for you.  Before Sunday I had never run a marathon, so I had no personal experience I could use to help me prepare. I looked online  and of course found many different views on how to train for a marathon, and of course plenty of debate between runners as to what was the right or wrong way to train, the similarities with the weight loss websites out there was very evident to me, It was hard to know what to do. For ” don’t run more than xx miles per day training or you will burn out, you could easily be reading, “don’t cut calories too much or you will go into starvation mode” !.

NOT mile 23 !

Now that I have done the distance myself, I now know what I would do to prepare for it again, even though there would be people telling me it’s wrong, I know for me that I need to run past 26 miles in training so that I know I can do it on the race day. For every person who tells me ” you don’t need to do 26 miles before the day ” I now know from doing that race, for my own peace of mind, I do !.  I am sure there are plenty of runners who complete marathons while only training to 20 miles on their long runs, but for me, that is not going to work.

Weight Loss is the same, there are plenty of different ways to get to your goal, but the right way, is the one that you can follow easily and  not that you have to take every ounce of mental strength to try and  stick to it. You can do that one day, but long term, you have to find a better way to get you over the line.

So this is one goal complete. So what do I set myself next you may ask ?  Well now I want to run below 4 hours next year, so yes I will do it again, especially as I won a free entry to next years marathon as I was the 500th applicant for this years. Typical, the only thing I win in my life is the chance to run another 26 miles !

What is the take home message  from this post ?  well, 2 things really…

No 1. No matter if you are running a marathon, or looking to lose weight, be sure to take some time and  listen to yourself and not just what everyone else tells you. Do what gets you the results you want. If you don’t like to eat breakfast, then don’t eat breakfast if that is what works for you. If you are making progress in what you do, stick with it, if you are not getting the results you want, then make a change.


No 2  Always set yourself new challenges to keep you moving forward, and not slipping back to your old ways.  Keep your goals realistic. I can’t run a marathon in 14 days with no training, just the same as you can’t lose 30lbs in  14 days, but we can start doing the things that help us achieve those targets over time.  The important thing is how much do want it ?

I ran the Hull Marathon in aid of  The Hey Smile Foundation  that link will show you the charities they support. If any reader would like to make a donation, no matter how small, you can do so through my Just Giving Page Here


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  • Mike

    That’s pretty damn inspiring Dave. Good on you!

    • Dave

      Cheers Mike ;)

  • Tom

    Hi Dave,

    Congratualtions on the marathon, that is not an easy task. Since I found your blog I have become a Retired Dieter. Similar to you I have struggled with my weight and diets in general. I was really sick of not being able to eat what I wanted and would stress out if I had to break my diet. Not anymore! I have adapted my own intermittent fasting program. Some days I will not eat from after dinner until dinner the next day. Some days I will break the fast at 1 or 2 o’clock, doesn’t matter. Results have been pretty steady. Thanks for all of the good advice!

    • Dave

      Hey Tom,

      that is great news, I am so pleased you have found your own way of making it work. You are a perfect example of what I was meaning with this post, you are doing what feels right for you. Thanks for the comment.

    • Scott W. Black

      Yup, after experimenting with a million different diets and losing then regaining a bunch of weight, I have found that eating what I want, just a lot less of it, is the way to go for me. I don’t follow a formalized intermittent fasting program now, Dave, but I do tend to eat almost all my food by the early afternoon. After that, it’s just a relaxing, after-work beer and I’m good until the following morning at 9am.

      • Dave

        Hey Scott, 

        well if it’s working for you, that is all that matters. Good to hear from you.

  • Eddie

    Great post. I find this blog very motivational. Am trying to lose some pounds myself and when i read these stories my problems seems so small. The important thing is to set the goals and just to move and improve every day.

  • Jonathan

    Great job Dave. Not sure I’ll get there just walking here on my treadmill desk, but at least it’s a start!

    Great progress though, that’s quite an achievement.

    • Dave

      Cheers Jonathan,

      Maybe I get you on next years run ;), now to get you outside when it’s warm weather !

  • Chubby

    Hello Dave

    Very well done on your marathon, and on keeping the weight off. After 23 miles you hit “the wall”. I had a similar thing when I rode a 25 mile time trial years ago, immediately after a two week holiday with my parents… I got to 22 miles and the legs had nothing left in them and would not move – I fell off my bike! Inspired by your blog, I’ve started my own and I’m doing intermittent fasting 2 days per week. It’s early days, but the results are encouraging. Thanks, and well done again.


    • Dave

      Hey Chubby

      Yes a few have told me it was ” the wall ” I had heard many say you hit at 16-18 miles running, so I thought I was beyond it. I will get that I train up to 30 miles for next time.

      Glad to see I have inspired you. You know more than most, if you fall off that bike, the best thing to do is get back on soon as you can. Looks like you are back in the saddle now as far as weight loss goes. I look forward to following your progress. Go easy on the Magners !

  • Allison@thecrazyfat

    I love the name of your blog! I just read your review of Eat Stop Eat and I’m going to give it a try, my boyfriend had a lot of success with it but I always thought it was “too aggressive” for me. THANKS!

    • Dave

      Hey Allison,

      Let me know how you find it. If you find 24hrs too long, then just do a shorter time period. I am here if you want to ask anything.

  • Laura

    Well done Dave. Maybe I could do it!

    • Dave

      Hey Laura,

      Sure you can !, we can do anything we want when we put our mind to it ;) just remember it takes time, I started with walking first.. so I guess the term l” learn to walk before you run ” rings true !

  • Becky

    Just wanted you to know that because I was inspired by your blog months ago, I have been IF’ing for about 5 months, and I feel great! I didn’t have a lot of weight to lose, but losing 10 pounds of fat has totally changed my body. My husband was so impressed with my results that he has started IF as well. I started with Fast 5, but moved to the Leangains protocol after about 2 months. I haven’t done ESE yet, and what I have learned is that I should do an IF protocol that feels right for me. Some days I eat very little, but some days I am really hungry, so I eat. It’s great not being obsessed with food and paying attention to my appetite. I run into great resistance when I tell people how well this works for me. Too bad for them, they are missing out on an elegant solution to weight management and better health. Great going with the marathon, and thanks for the encouragement you have given so many people! You are truly inspirational!

    • Dave

      Hey Becky,

      Thanks so much for the kind words, and congrats on your own I.F. success. You are correct about the resistance, but as you say, it’s their issue not ours. The big step is trying it in the first place when all around you people who think they know better tell you what is wrong with it, without ever trying it.

  • paul

    Well done dave what a great effort,you have done brilliant with your goal of weight loss and maintenance,and completing the marathon.Now for me i think i should just lose my weight after reading about and thinking about it and procrastinating.thanks for the inspiration,i do exercise now,weights and cardio,i just need to eat less and start fasting.

  • ryan

    Big congrats to you on the marathon , Dave.

    3+ years and you are still motivating folks, myself included. Well done.

    • Dave

      Thanks Ryan

  • Stan

    Sincere congratulations, Dave…you skinny bastard.

    I hate you and everything you stand for (tongue planted firmly in cheek, thank you).

    • Dave

      Haha, cheers Stan, where were you with the tequila when I needed it though ?

  • Frank

    Congratulations. You are an inspiration to me. I stumbled onto your web site in January and since then I’m down 20 lbs. I’m not “retired” yet but closer than I’ve been in years.

    • Dave

      Hey Frank, that is great news. 20lbs is awesome, keep it going.

  • Marie

    Hi Dave,

    I have been reading your blog for a couple of weeks now since I found it when googling ‘best diets’. I am 47 years old (in fact I think I am just a few days older than you as you mentioned your birthday on one of your posts) and I too have 56 lbs to lose ( I was already 35 lb overweight but then gained another 21 lbs after major surgery for treatment of cancer in 2011 as I was very immobile for a while) . I have now read enough to be convinced and in fact I have ordered John Barbans e books after reading your review. I have just started the intermittent fasting this week and am currently on my second fast. I am doing ok and not any ill effects to worry about. I hope this works for me Dave, I want to get back to the confident woman I have always been but the weight is weighing me down physically and mentally. I have my eldest sons wedding this coming June as a short term goal to lose a few pounds by then.

    I wanted to say a huge thankyou to you for sharing your experiences and taking time out to help people like me who are struggling with excess weight. Your blog is very motivational, I enjoy reading it. Also a big well done to you on your marathon success and good wishes for all your continued efforts.

    Very best


    • Dave

       Hi Marie,

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. If you have any questions you need help with, then you know where I am. You only have to ask.

  • combi

    Great blog Dave, congrats on the medal :)


    • Dave

      Cheers Anders ;)

  • Ash

    Hey Dave,

     I had just about given up… i felt so sick of all the periodic weight loss plans and everyone saying that what you do is wrong and bad for you, it was great to find your blog when i was searching the net. I lost weight using the fasting method and then stopped due to pressure from my family that i would fall ill. Sadly i gained more than what i lost. Seeing your blog reading what you have said i agree and am getting back up on that weight loss wagon. Thanks Dave, you may never know how much you really help people out there. God Bless You Bro. 

    • Dave

      Thanks Ash,  just do what works for you, and this time, keep it to yourself.

  • SCIshmael

    Great job on the marathon.  I agree with running past the target.  I haven’t done a full yet but I am doing my 4th half this weekend.  The times when I did well with the halfs are the times when I trained past 13.1.  I hope to get to the full some day.  I know I am not ready yet but it is still on my bucket list.  Congratulations again.

    • Dave

      Thanks, and good luck with your half this weekend. 

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