Home > Case Studies > How I Ran My First Marathon: A Case Study

How I Ran My First Marathon: A Case Study

By: Scott McBride - Updated: 24 May 2013 | comments*Discuss
London Marathon Race Running Marathon

Inspired by watching Paula Radcliffe break the world record to win the London Marathon in 2003, Catherine Rutherford decided she would take part in the race before she turned 40. It turned out to be one of the toughest challenges of her life, but one that gave her an incredible sense of achievement.

“Paula was amazing that day,” said Catherine, a Yorkshire mother-of-three. “I sat at home and watched the whole race on television and remember being in awe of all these people who made it across the finishing line. It’s such an amazing feat and tens of thousands of people – everyday people not too dissimilar to me – ran the whole 26 miles.”

“I decided there and then that I wanted to give it a go, but I had no experience of running whatsoever. Apart from the housework, the only exercise I got was going to the local swimming pool with the children at the weekend.”

Read All About It

“In all honesty, I didn’t know the first thing about running a marathon, so I decided to read as much as I could on the subject. There was so much to take in and I knew straight away that I had taken on a great deal of work.”

“I did everything by the book. My diet improved and I warmed up before runs and cooled down after them. I even went through several different pairs of running shoes and sports bras before finding ones that I was happy with. At first, the distances I covered were fairly modest – just one or two miles – but I lost a fair bit of weight quite quickly and felt fitter. I kept running shorter distances during the week, mainly because it was all I had time for, but introduced a longer run at the weekend and gradually increased the distance.”

“It was really tough, no question about it, but I felt better the more running I did and got a real sense of achievement even after a training run. I started to take part in some competitive races, although I was extremely nervous at first. After a few five-kilometre races I really got a taste for it and then I stepped up to 10K races and half-marathons.”

London or Bust

“I had got it into my head that the London Marathon was the real deal for me and I wanted that one to be my first marathon. I didn’t enter in 2004, because I was sure I wouldn’t be ready for it. When I was ready - and I felt I was as ready as I’d ever be by 2005 – I entered the London Marathon but didn’t get in. It was the same case in 2006 and I started to worry that I wouldn’t be able to take part before I turned 40, which had been my original target.”

“In 2007, I decided to run for a charity who would guarantee me a place as long as I raised a certain amount of money. Obviously it was great to be able to raise funds for a good cause, but it did mean my time – already stretched by family and running commitments – was at even more of a premium.”

“Because it had taken me so long to get a place in the London Marathon, I felt I was quite an experienced runner when I made it to the start line. I had never done the marathon distance, however, and the nerves kicked in early. As a result I wasn’t able to eat as much of the precious carbohydrates as I wanted to the night before the race. I was too nervous to eat and I paid for that the next day.”

Psychological Barrier

“Once the race was under way, I was able to run the nerves out of my system, but I’d never covered 26 miles before – even in training – and it is a psychological barrier as well as a physical one. I started to struggle very badly about seven miles short of the finish and for a long while I was sure I wasn’t going to make it. Somehow, I managed to keep going and all I remember when I got to the finish was an overwhelming sense of relief.”

“It is, without doubt, one of the most difficult tasks I have ever undertaken, but looking back on it now gives me a great sense of achievement. I do still run and take part in shorter races, but have yet to decide whether or not I will attempt another marathon. I’ve done it once, though, and no-one can take that away from me.”

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Tammy
    Re: The Women's Running Network
    Hi, also trying to find out if Swansea groups still going? Thanks.
    7 October 2018
  • Rach
    Re: The Women's Running Network
    Hi I live in the Wolverhampton WV8 area and wondered if you have any activities running close to me please? Thank you Rachel.
    3 September 2018
  • Ali
    Re: The Women's Running Network
    Hi Vic. Try Potters Trotters. They used to meet at Northwood years ago, but now meet at Staffs Uni on Tuesday and Thursday. They…
    30 August 2018
  • Cathryn
    Re: The Women's Running Network
    Is there a beginners club in Torquay for women over 50
    31 July 2018
  • VikingMermaid
    Re: The Women's Running Network
    Is there still a group in Dawlish (S Devon)? I used to run with WRN ca 10 yrs ago here (leader was Sarah, who was a real…
    26 June 2018
  • Vic
    Re: The Women's Running Network
    Hi, Any running clubs in stoke on trent? Northwood area? Trying to rehab and lose weight after slipped disc surgery last year.
    13 June 2018
  • Bigsare
    Re: The Women's Running Network
    Is there. A group in Exeter still and when and where do they meet please
    2 May 2018
  • Verity
    Re: The Women's Running Network
    Hi. I ran with WRN over 10 years ago and was registered with UKA. I am now trying to join another club. Can my link to WRN be…
    22 April 2018
  • JanieN
    Re: The Women's Running Network
    Ha, ha - predictive text! Passing my message on - thanks
    7 April 2018
  • JanieN
    Re: The Women's Running Network
    Hi there I’m looking to reconnect with the Swansea group but can’t find the details. Any chance of either padding my message on or…
    7 April 2018