Manchester Marathon Training, Uncategorized

Some Week Into Marathon Training

Another week has passed, without any dramas or significant news. That’s a good thing. Time to recap last weeks training, week number (I don’t actually know) of Manchester Marathon training. I say I don’t know, because I’m not sure when I consciously started training towards this marathon. It was all about building back up from the stress fracture. Lets call it week five. Makes sense as it’s been five weeks since the long runs started up again. ok, so now that’s established, time to stop waffling.

Week 5 looked like this

  • Monday – 1 hour recovery run
  • Tuesday – Hill intervals (6 reps + 6 Hill sprints)
  • Wednesday – 1 hour easy run
  • Thursday – 90 minute medium long run
  • Friday – Easy 3 miles
  • Saturday – Progressive 10k
  • Sunday – 16 miles LSR

Weekly total – 50 miles

img_8211[813]

This week was a bit of a slog and had it’s usual highs and lows. Some runs I thoroughly enjoyed, In fact all of them minus the long run and Hill intervals. I lacked any kind of umph for these.

It’s been a slightly stressful week. I made the mistake of having a Netflix and chill moment early on in the week, which led to me watching ‘Tidying up with Marie Kondo’ Wow. I hadn’t even finished watching the first episode, and I wanted nothing more than to empty my entire house of all its contents and spark my own joy by embracing black bin bags. I began, without thinking about the fact that life has to carry on as normal whilst you are deep cleaning your soul. Changing my entire house, has left me feeling slightly frazzled, because its being done in dribs and drabs. Though the parts that are done, do indeed leave me feeling joyous, living in the worlds must cluttered jumble sale does not. Add in to the mix starting a personal trainer course, poorly children (yes, all three of them in one go!) and its felt a little strained this week. I digress. I seem to be mentioning Marie Kondo in every other sentence right now. It must stop.

marie

I joke of course. My children always spark joy.

Long run Sunday was completed amid bone chilling winds. Just absolutely vile. I truly felt battered after this long run, just a constant fight against the wind no matter what direction I headed. I also, almost quit at mile 10. I had planned an out and back, then a 10k loop. Running past my car at the 10 mile point, was torture. It was safe in there. Dry, warm, sheltered. I finished the run, and actually felt pretty awesome for not bailing on it, despite the fact it was pretty shoddy running wise.

The eagle eyed amongst you may have noticed there was no usual rest day on Friday. I felt that. Despite encouragement from coach to have the rest day, I ignored it, because I thought I was feeling good. Big mistake. I should of had a rest day even more so this week, with the tidying/poorly house stresses. It probably didn’t have a huge impact on my training, but I felt it on my long run. As much as I, and most runners hate the rest day, I do believe in the magic of it. Letting your body heal, rest, respond to the training you have been doing. I don’t really know why I was so bolshie about not having one this week, when I do champion them on the whole. You’ll be pleased to know, I’ve started this week absolutely missing a Monday and resting up ahead of another full on week. Thinking long term, not just about the current day.

On to week six (ish) and another jam packed week ahead. 9 weeks to go.

 

 

Manchester Marathon Training, Uncategorized

Hello 2019

Happy New Year! Yes, I’ m a little late to the party. But we are still in January, so it all counts. Right?

So it’s a New Year, which of course comes with new goals. I’ve broken it down a little year. Little segments. Seems much more manageable that way. The priority has been to make sure I’ve come back from the stress fracture that ruled out Chicago Marathon correctly. It’s been a long build up of mostly easy miles, trying to increase my mileage gradually and build up a base ready for the next event. All eyes on Manchester Marathon on 7th April!

 

The easy miles have worked a treat. I mean true easy miles. This meant investing in a chest strap to monitor my heart rate and switching off from Strava trap. Not literally, I love logging my runs on there, and achieving segment pbs as much as the next person but switching off from the fear of posting ‘slow’ runs. I have used Strava as long as I’ve been running. I love it, I like to see my accumulation of weekly miles, it feels good to receive Kudos for getting out there and doing your run. But switching off, and not caring about what my pace or runs look like to anyone else on Strava has been key to me finally slowing right down and approaching training the right way.

 

Running using the chest strap has been a revelation. Firstly, just how inaccurate wrist-based readings are. Secondly, that running to heart rate, and logging easy miles is a lot different to going a few seconds a mile slower, but still calling it an easy run. We’ve all been there. When I first started using it, it felt like I only had to shuffle in a forward direction, and my heart rate would rocket. So many walk breaks to bring my heart rate down, I actually felt like I couldn’t go easy enough to keep it low.

 

So this was my November and December. All the easy miles. Watching my heart rate. There has been a huge gain since the beginning of November though, and my easy pace according to heart rate is now around 90 seconds quicker per mile. I say around. There are other factors that determine the pace/heart rate. Days following sessions, tiredness, stress, a bit under the weather. All plays a part.

 

New Year has meant I’ve been in a good place to start marathon training and kicking it up a notch. This time under a watchful eye and new coach Matt Rees @TheWelshRunner The person who has instilled all the sensible training I previously lacked, and ensured the comeback from this injury has been done the right way, not my normal way! The last few weeks I’ve been able to incorporate track, hill, interval sessions. Obviously not all at once. Always followed by more of the easy stuff. Apart from the general stiffness that accompanies marathon training, all is feeling good, and I’m seeing improvements each week. It leaves me positive.

 

gower

 

So, what do I want from this year? Simple. Not to miss my marathons. Last year was soul destroying missing both my Spring and Autumn marathons. Hopefully, I’ve learnt from it. Time will tell. But my approach to returning from the latest injury has been a lot more sensible, and different from previous injuries, so hopefully, I have learnt something!

Lots of big events coming up this year, and mostly I just want to remain fit, healthy, and not broken for them. I still have time goals. Sub 4 for Manchester! It still feels like a long way off, and I don’t know if I am being extremely ambitious, but I will be giving it a good go. That’s all any of us can do! Then I guess, it’s try for the original goal and the reason I started this blog in the first place. Sub 3:45 at Chicgao in October. We shall see. One step at a time.

Aside from the marathon goals this year, it looks to be promising with lots of other races and adventures. May will see Liverpool Rock n Roll Marathon, where I will be speaking at the RunFit expo. Cannot wait for this one, it seems like so much fun. I’m super thrilled to be a Threshold Sports ambassador also this year. This means returning to Race to The Tower, and Race to The King, and also adding in Race to The Stones. Cannot wait to go back, with the aim of improving my time for the first two ultras, and also completing the treble! Well hopefully. July will be time for fun and adventures after the Ultras, at a wonderful trail camp in Bansko with the Run Bulgaria team. Then Chicago in October! First goal – make the start line this time!

So there it is. A brief roundup, a catch up, and stage set for 2019.

Lets hope for a good one.

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Type 1 Diabetes. I’m In For The Long Run.

I often get asked how I deal with running and Type 1 Diabetes. Particularly long runs. When training for marathons and ultras and the mileage starts creeping up, it becomes a split of concentrating on getting those miles in, whilst planning and executing perfect fuelling to ensure stable blood sugars and no crashes or harmful spikes in levels. I say perfect. It rarely is. When it is, boy does it feel good, but still now after a couple of years of running long, I am learning. Type 1 diabetes isn’t that beast that can be fully tamed. But I have found what works for me. Mostly.

Before I share my tips and how I fuel, please do take note. I am not medically qualified. this is just how I deal with it. My own opinion. You may find it helpful, you may not. Living with type 1 diabetes, isn’t a one size fits all condition. It’s extremely personal. Only you know your overall blood sugar control, and what works for some, doesn’t work for others. There’s different treatments to consider. I am still very much old school. I inject four times a day. 3 x Novarapid (short acting insulin) 1 x Lantus (long acting) so the advice and tips I have to give, wouldn’t necessarily apply to those on pumps. It is also very different to managing running with Type 2 Diabetes.

Before a Run

Unfortunately, when you are running with diabetes you do lose a little of the drop everything and just go for a run freedom. I do mostly try and plan when I am going to run. I certainly plan long runs.

pre run tips

  • Try not to run within two hours of giving yourself a short acting injection. For something short like a parkrun or half hour run, I will wait until afterwards to eat. Short runs can be more unplanned, so long as your sugar levels are ok before heading out. But the two hour rule still applies. Unfortunately this also means that if you are planning an early long run on a Sunday, yes you do need to get up extra early to eat a decent breakfast. The plus side is you can go back to bed and snooze for a while.
  • Try not to inject in the top of your legs. Stick to upper body. This can cause fluctuations in your sugar levels whilst running and working those leg muscles!
  • I tend to try and run on a starting level between 10 – 14 mmol/l. The higher end for a long run. I’ve found these levels work for me. They might be slightly different for you.
  • I always embrace the carbs before a long run, mostly just to keep something longer acting on board. It always helps me to keep more stable levels.

Short Runs

When I say short, I mean anything up to an hour. For a half hour run, I wont fuel. I don’t need to. I will just check my blood sugar is ok. I find around 10 mmol/l sits just fine. An hour run, I will have a few jelly babies or half a gel at 30 minutes. I have a few times, had a hypo around 45 minutes in if I haven’t taken anything, and particularly if I am working aerobically. Those easy runs drain my sugar levels. You would think it would be the other way around, but no. Hard efforts make them rise, easy makes them fall. Something to be aware of.  It can also be helpful to add in some short hard bursts to kick up the levels again, but depending on what you want to get out of a session, it may not fit. So stick with fuelling properly.

Long Runs

If you are marathon training, these are your bread and butter, and the most important run to nail fuelling. How you fuel during a long run, can be applied on race day. The more you can get this right in training, the better a race will be. If I am running anything over 10 miles, preparation starts the night before, with reducing the number of units of Lantus I take. I’ve found this not only helps to keep levels more stable during the run, but also helps to reduce the risk of a hypo in the hours after finishing. Embrace the carbs beforehand, but don’t go overboard! After trial and error, I’ve found porridge or a bagel works well for me. it’s the right amount of carbs I need to start off with, and also the ones that I can actually stomach before long running without encountering GI issues.  I tend to start long runs at 14 mmol/l or as close as possible.

During these runs, I aim to take on board a gel an hour. Which equates to roughly 30g of carbohydrates. My personal preference are torq gels, I’ve found these to work well for me. Plus there are some amazing flavours (Hello Rhubarb and Custard!) Most will need 30 – 60g per hour. I go to the lower end, based on reducing long acting insulin, the carbs I have beforehand, and the level I start off at. Again, it is trial and error as to what works for you.

I always, always carry something for treating a Hypo (low blood sugar) I’ve been caught out before, where I have been low in the middle of nowhere with nothing to treat the hypo. It is not a nice situation to find yourself in, is extremely dangerous and quite frankly terrifying. Again, plan on what works best to treat a hypo for you. For me, I take jelly babies. If I do start feeling a little low, I’ve found these work quickly to kick up the levels again. Sometimes some sporadic jelly babies are required on top of my gels. Particularly if I am doing a slower long run.

Ultramarathons

These are another thing altogether, although still the same principles of a long run. I can only stomach a certain number of gels, so for Ultras I have been using a mixture of Tailwind, flat coke and real food! Two double marathon ultras done, and still I’m learning. The second I did get it more right and although started going low, I didn’t have a hypo as I did in the first. I have a sachet of Tailwind per hour right from the start. The trick is to start early on and take little and often. Flapjacks worked well for me, along with peanut butter sandwiches. Finding what gives you energy but also sits well, again takes some playing around with. I spent some runs trying different foods. I also halved my Lantus the evening beforehand!

General Tips

  • I’ve mentioned a few times, trial and error. It really is.  The best way to learn about what works for you is to experiment safely. Try different things, different gels, drinks, sweets. It can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be, just be prepared. Go on longer runs, take a ‘survival kit’ to ensure you can treat low blood sugar. If you are concerned, rope in a friend to come with you, on foot or by bike. If that’s not possible, find a public mile loop close to home. Yes it’s boring, but it serves a purpose! Spend time testing before, during and after a run to see how your body reacts.
  • Always, always run with some form of easily accessible form of identification, your emergency numbers, and most importantly something that displays you are a type 1 diabetic. I run with my parkrun band on long runs, as this has medical condition and ICE details. You can also put this information in on your phone.
  • It’s a pain carrying emergency hypo treatment or fuel. I wear a Spibelt on shorter runs, and don’t notice it there at all. Plenty enough room to stash Jelly babies, phone, and for marathons, gel loops which is perfect! I almost, always, wear a Camlebak for long training runs. I take my blood sugar monitor, just in case (sometimes if out for a few hours, its reassuring to pause and test to see where your levels are at) and probably go a little over board with hypo treatments. I’d rather be prepared. Plenty of water to stay hydrated, especially when taking on gels.
  • Be kind to yourself. you can find what works, but there will always be times where curveballs are thrown in. Stress, lack of sleep, what you ate yesterday, misjudging the amount of insulin for your last meal, there’s a huge list of things that can throw a curveball in and mess with your blood sugars. Sometimes it may even seem like there is no real reason, it just happens. Don’t let it knock your confidence. It happens. So long as you are prepared, you’ll be fine. Try again, next time. You are a complete badass for doing what you do, whilst living with diabetes!

So that’s about all the little nuggets of useful information I have, whilst trying not to ramble too much! It can be scary, it can be a pain in the ass, it can be incredibly frustrating, but I promise you, it is worth it! Any other questions, please do feel free to leave a comment. Stay safe and happy running!

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There’s Goals. Then there are Goals.

Chicago Marathon is coming up fast. Two weeks to go. I’ve found myself in the horrible situation of picking up a niggle, not listening soon enough, and said niggle now meaning that I am cross training my way to the start line. But it’s all good. Because actually I’d rather get to the start line relatively in one piece and just enjoy the experience of another world major. I’m fully intending to ‘Jeff’ my way around. Run, walk or craw. Powered solely by sweets and high fives.

Had you said this would be the outcome, last year or even a few months ago I would’ve cried. You see, Chicago was my goal. My ‘Goal’ for a whole year since saying I wanted to obtain Good For Age time in a year last October (after another London marathon ballot reject) in my mind, all I wanted was to obtain that at Chicago. But a lot changes in a year. And actually, I have learnt a lot about myself and also about how goals do and don’t work for me. My heart has also been stolen this year. No longer am I driven to find fast road marathon times. I’ve found my love for trails. For Ultras. My whole outlook on what I want to run for has changed, and has made me a happier person (mostly) for it.

You see a goal doesn’t work without a spark. When setting a huge goal, it needs to be something you truly want. Something that really does set your soul on fire. I am, essentially a goal driven person. I need that, for motivation, for achievement. Goals and dreams are very much the same for me. I still very much, want to achieve my GFA and complete all world majors even though I seem to have developed a slight aversion for road running. But I’ve taken it off my priority list. For me, it’s now something that will happen eventually, and as part of the process of achieving my new goals.

So what have I learnt about setting goals?

Set a goal that means something to you.

What you want to achieve, may be completely different to the runner next to you. You may want to get that sub whatever time 5k, you may want to complete your first marathon in x time, or you may want to run from John O’Groats to Lands End or run 5k non stop, Whatever it is, it has to be something YOU want to do. Don’t follow the crowd because that’s what everyone else seems to want.

Just because it seems impossible, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go for it.

The ‘big’ goal. It should be big. Big enough that you have to work for it. The goals that both terrify and excite us are the ones that you won’t be able to stop chasing. Goals are there to challenge you. To make a change for the better.

Set mini goals.

Yeah, I’ve just said set a huge goal.. but break it down into smaller goals on the way to achieving the big daddy, it keeps you motivated. If you’ve set a goal that will take time to achieve (which it should do) you need smaller aims to keep you motivated and enthusiastic along the way. Chip away at it, one step at a time.

Don’t lose heart

If you truly want it, stick at it. Some super humans are able to set a goal and progress in leaps and bounds towards it, making it look effortless in the process. But this isn’t the usual. And if you were to ask that person how they’ve done it so effortlessly you will more than likely find that they have put their all into it, they’ve grafted away still. You’ll have ups and downs. The trick is, when going through the downs, keep in mind that the up will soon make up for it. Expect the rough with the smooth. Not everyone’s progress or journey is the same.

If it isn’t working for you, change it

Last but not least. Don’t be afraid to adapt your goal, or change it completely. If it’s not working for you, or you change your mind completely on your journey, as I have, then drop it, adapt it, make it work for you again. There’s no shame in that. At the time of setting my original big goal, I don’t think I really knew who I was as a runner. Sometimes you need to go on a journey to discover more about yourself, and that might not fit with what you originally started with. You’ve got to be you.

So that’s about as far as my little nuggets of wisdom go. Above all else, find that goal that makes you soul happy. Then knuckle down, buckle up and enjoy the ride on the way. My news goals excite me, and I can’t wait to share them with you. Needless to say, 2019 will mostly be trails, Ultras and mountains…. and THAT fills my belly with fire.

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Summertime Funtime

So, I have been missing in action. Again. The summer has been full of fun, the kind that leaves your heart full, but your blog writing capabilities on the back burner. Hidden somewhere between the need for a granny nap, and standing looking aimlessly at an open fridge wondering whats going to be devoured next.

My last post was Race to The Tower Ultra. I thought that was it for ultras for a while but as it turned out, fate decided it liked me falling over various parts of the countryside, and turning into an emotional wreck. Ultra number two happened two weeks after the first one. Race to The King. I think Ultras are much like childbirth, I can only remember the good bits. That’s for a reason. Otherwise you wouldn’t do it again. It was actually a really good race, I fell three times, leaving some pretty awesome permanent scars to remember it by. I got sick in this one. But nonetheless completed another double marathon ultra two weeks after my first.

July consisted of Thunder Run and the ASICS Frontrunner UK weekend meet up. Thunder Run was amazing! A 24 hour event, entered as a mixed team of 8 Frontrunners. It brought a new meaning to the term team bonding, camping together, running through the night and day. There’s not much to hide during these things. But an amazing weekend spent in great company. Our UK meet up followed in Warrington. Again, another hugely fun weekend spent with teammates, enjoying Parkrun, sports day, presentations, casino night and a few well deserved beverages.

August was mainly ruled by surviving summer holidays (parents will just know) but also some time to get reacquainted with the 10k race. Which I still suck at (5k and 10k races are really not my thing) starting with Westonbirt 10k. A terrible race, that I completely talked myself out of, but I still managed to take over 4 minutes off from the last time I raced it. There was the international ASICS Frontrunner weekend in Amsterdam, which was beyond amazing. I don’t think we stopped all weekend. It also included another 10k race. The kind of race you turn into a fun run (as much as you can with a hangover) Fair to say we partied hard, trained hard. For a great blog about this weekend check out this piece from my fellow UK attendees.

https://www.asics.com/gb/en-gb/frontrunner/articles/what-happens-in-dam

So there it is. Lots of fun times, running time, and family time. Chicago Marathon is creeping up fast now, with just over four weeks to go, and training for it has been interesting. There hasn’t been any structure as such. I’ve not stuck to a plan. I’ve just tried to incorporate key sessions and easy runs around having fun. I don’t regret that decision for this marathon. It’s kept things fresh, and the lack of pressure works wonders for the soul.

Summer Summary done, normal service can now resume.

ASICS Frontrunner, Uncategorized

There’s Always Room To Dream

The last week has been an unbelievable whirlwind. The kind of week where when I think about it, I do a little head shake in disbelief.

Take it back to January. ASICS opened their 2018 frontrunner applications to find new members to join their existing inspirational frontrunners. Of course, I applied. How could I not. I remember submitting my application, shaking. I really wanted this. I really wanted to be part of such a positive, encouraging network of people. I wanted to be inspiring, like the frontrunners I had followed and watched as their journeys progressed. Immediately I tried to forget about it. As the days and weeks passed I could see so many wonderful people from all backgrounds had applied. So many others wanted the opportunity just as much as I did.

Imagine my complete shock when I received an email to say I had been successful. Out of 4600 applications, I had been chosen as one of the 26 new members. I screamed, I read the email over and over. My eldest daughter squealed in delight as I read it to her. She squeezed me with an almighty bear hug around the waist, her face completely lit up and told me she was so proud of me. My husband was proud of me. The youngest two, just wanted a treat, trying to take advantage of the excitement!

I’ve never thought of myself as inspirational. I’ve never really thought of myself as anything other than just getting on with it, sharing as I go. Maybe encouraging. I will always try and encourage anyone to just try. Try it once. Try it twice… just to make sure. I’m ridiculously positive. I do know that. I truly believe that there is a positive in everything if you look for it. I’ve been through some almighty soul crushing moments in my life. I’ve lost a child, something no mother should ever experience. I have a serious condition which has the potential to be life threatening on a daily basis, and will no doubt lead to life changing complications in my old age. I’ve made mistakes left, right and centre…. but generally I learn from them. Even whilst doing the three peaks challenge solo and breaking my wrist on the first mountain, I still remained positive, and managed to still complete the challenge in 22 hours before heading to A&E. I wouldn’t advise climbing Snowdon in the dark solo with a broken wrist however.

I’m relatively new to running. Two years. I didn’t really start taking it more seriously until last year even, when I stared training for London Marathon! But I’ve been hooked since. I love everything about it, I love learning about it, expanding my knowledge, learning from others, sharing with others. And whilst I was sat in a conference room in Birmingham this weekend, meeting fellow ASICS frontrunner team members for the first time, I realised this was just what this team meant. People from all walks of life here to share, encourage and promote running. Not just for frontrunners, but for anyone. Everyone. It was an exhilarating feeling being surrounded by so many motivational, inspirational people. Not one of us were the same. We all have something different to offer. There may be similarities, some of us like marathons, some ultras. Some triathlons, some a bit of everything. New runners, experienced. Old and young. But we are all individual. A diverse group bringing our individuality together, to get moving. To encourage. To support.

I left Birmingham, happy. Invigorated. I left feeling part of something special. I am beyond excited to see where my journey goes this year. And yes, I’m still going for that GFA. That’s my goal, because I don’t like being told I can’t achieve something. No one should ever listen to that.

“Don’t limit your challenges, challenge your limits”

Paris Marathon Training

A Positive February Flop

Well, the last three weeks (pretty much the whole of February) hasn’t gone to plan. Very much off plan. Plan, has not been life.

The wheels first came off with a hip niggle that was fine to run with, until I took part in another trail night race. Although a fantastic race, the uneven ground, mud, tree roots and almost waist high ‘water features’ left me a hobbling mess. To be precise, running across a field with a severe camber…. really finished me off. Unfortunately this was at the beginning of the race, which left 5 miles of hobble. I’ve no doubt this would of been fine had I not had the underlying hip niggle. Lesson learned. Don’t tough it out.

To add insult to injury I then developed a horrible ‘flu type virus’ that absolutely wiped me out for the best part of two weeks. Joint aches and pains, and absolute exhaustion. Horrible.

Not quite over any of the above I then decided it would be a great idea to tough it out at Llanelli half marathon. I’d heard it was such a lovely route, along the coast, nice and flat. Part of me maybe even thought I could sweat out the remaining bit of flu. In case you haven’t realised by now, my great ideas are normally ridiculously stupid. It was the most painful race I’ve ever run, and that’s saying something after my horrid London Marathon last year. The first few miles flew by, but then it hit me. Every bit of me screamed and hurt. The big flu telling me I’m a fool. The hip, groin and quad all telling me I’m a dick, and this is payback. Run, walk or crawl resonated in my head….. the crawling so appealing. As it was, it was a slug shuffle at best to a 2:08:55 finish.

There is something about ‘runners’ that will keep us from admitting to ourselves that we need to slow down. We need to take care of ourselves. We will hit the training sessions hard, give it all. Obsess over plans, paces. Do all the research, how do I become faster, how can I go further, how can I get stronger? Yet when injury or illness comes knocking on the door, we try to fight it. Work around it, just keep on going. We very rarely, listen. One of the hardest parts is acknowledging and accepting there is a problem. That actually, you need to take a step back. For me, admitting there is a problem has meant admitting there’s a weakness. That I’m failing. Who likes to say that out loud? In fact, who wants to admit they may not be able to run for a while?

But by acknowledging a problem before it explodes, you can take positive steps to correct it. Accepting you have a problem, gives you a priceless peace of mind. There’s an issue, but it’s ok! We are all works in progress, from the runner just starting out to seasoned ultra marathoners. It would be a very rare thing to find a person immune to injury and illness. It happens. It’s normal. I’ve tried to retain a positive attitude during the last few weeks, and done my best to be proactive once I realised that I had to stop. I’ve done the resting, the cross training, all of the stretching and strengthening that was lacking previously. I’ve visited the sports therapist, and necked vitamins. I’ve stayed away from Dr Google (once a professional had informed me of the problem…..before that I was most definitely heading for a chopped off leg) Just tried to be patient and ride it out. I’ve accepted that this is a big dent in the marathon training, and that actually I will need to adapt my goals for the 8th April. 6 weeks to go and I’m just happy to be able to do a few miles. To be able to build up some base mileage again, whilst paying attention to my body. Hopefully normal service has resumed. If not, well I’ll keep working at it until it has.

So here’s to running, run happy, run short, run long…..but most of all listen to that body of yours.

Paris Marathon Training, Uncategorized

Don’t expect it to be perfect. It won’t be.

Marathon plans. You write them, colour code them, print them. Dutifully tick off training sessions, swap them around, do everything in your power to not miss a session…. because we all know when you do, the feelings of guilt and failure come in. Which in itself is ridiculous, missing a few sessions will not ruin the rest of the hard work! There’s something about a ‘plan’ that means even when a leg is hanging off, or you can’t move your head without a needing a whole pack of Kleenex shoved up your nose, you will still try and stick to it. But reality Is, that I know of no one who hits every session, who has had the smooth perfect training cycle for a marathon. There are far to many external factors, there’s life. And doesn’t that like to throw a spanner in the works!

Week 4

Well the luck bucket seemed to have half emptied for the last two weeks of training. Not so much running wise, that’s been pretty good, apart from the standard tired legs.

Week 4 was supposed to end in a half marathon race plus a bit extra to make up my long run. Since most of my long runs are solo affairs, I’ve booked events with the aim of going steady and at least having some company to break up those long slogs. The event was the Windsor winter half marathon, held by F3 events at Dorney Lake, a 2 hour 30 minute drive from me, but hey…. would be worth it for a ‘flat and fast course’ and a bit of bling.

Well that wasn’t to be. After dutifully doing my bit and driving to the event, I was then met with a huge queue of traffic. Standstill less than 2 miles from the car park. As race time approached I realised it would be touch and go if I would make it! Then I received a message to say the half marathon had been cancelled and downgraded to a 5k or 10k. I was sat stuck in traffic to get into a car park of a cancelled event. Wonderful. As the original race time came and went I turned the car around, with a fair few choice words and began the long trudge Home. By the time I got home I was tired. A near enough 6 hour round trip (thanks to weather and traffic) a Burger King stop and numerous costas weighed heavy! Still, there was a long run to do, so I headed straight out to get it done before I could think about how much I wanted the sofa and comfy clothes!! 16.5 miles later, soaked to the bone the job was done. And actually the rubbish fuelling and lengthy car journey didn’t have too much of an impact. Mentally it was tough.

Week 4 total – 43 miles

Week 5

Pretty uneventful…. until again, the long run curse! First of I’ve broken my hydration pack. To be fair, for only a cheap one it’s done it’s fair share of work. I’m currently researching hydration vests before making another purchase, and will be sure to share the results. So the eve of my long run I decided I would stick to 4.5 mile loops, which went past my house. That way, I could create my own little aid station, therefor saving having to carry a cumbersome water bottle. Friday came, and it was set perfect for my long run…. glorious weather, the older two at school and the toddler at nanny’s for a good few hours. Friday was my day, a weekend of night shifts approaching and the last thing I wanted to squeeze in was a long run on very little sleep. So off I trotted on this perfect day, to come across a dog playing in traffic 4 miles in. I stayed for a while watching it, coaxing it on to the pavement, thinking it would bound into one of the many open gates surrounding me. It didn’t. I started off thinking if I went away it might go in. It didn’t. It just kept picking up twigs and following me on the pavement. Concerned it would start playing chicken with the traffic once more I ran back to the place I had come across it. Still no sign of owner or it wanting to go home. I couldn’t leave it. Luckily I was wearing my spibelt, so off it came to act as a temporary lead in order to take little Houdini back home then to sort finding owners. I didn’t realise quite how much he would pull and my poor Spibelt along with my long run was soon destroyed. It took an hour of waiting outside before pooch was reunited with the most ungrateful owner. Long run ruined, but dog safe and sound. Completely worth it.

On a side note, I had been storying the whole thing on Instagram, and the wonderful people at Spibelt had seen the story, and are sending out a replacement for me! So nice, epic customer service.

Week 5 long run was completed a day later, yesterday. It wasn’t meant to be. I had gotten a few hours sleep following my night shift, had woke up and feasted on cheese scone and coffee before deciding on getting a few miles done. The few miles soon ticked by into 17 miles at an easy pace. I’m thoroughly enjoying catching up on Marathon Talk podcasts at the moment, and I’m sure that contributes to the miles going by when on the longer runs!

Week 5 total – 41 miles

At this point I’m feeling really good with, for me, the high mileage weeks. Whilst training for London Marathon 2017 I ran 100 miles in January. So far this month I have run 171. A huge difference. I was plagued with injuries during London training, never felt quite right. For some strange reason my legs are seemingly loving the higher mileage. I’m not complaining though. Perhaps it’s because I’m more diligent with stretching and strength training. Perhaps because I am sticking with the majority of my miles being easy paced. Whatever it is, long may it continue in February!!

Paris Marathon Training, Uncategorized

Week Three. Who dares, wins.

Week Three of Paris Marathon training has been such a fantastic one, following on from a great week 2, I’m almost too scared to start week 4. It’s been a week of fun, with two very different races completed, and still running every day for the Run Every Day Challenge for the charity Mind.

It’s been a lower mileage week (40 miles) than last week (47 Miles) as technically, following the ‘Advanced Marathoning’ plan it should be a recovery week. Now, I am a little behind on the 16 week plan. More like I just missed the first couple of weeks. December and Christmas lead up happened. We all know what that is like. But since kicking back in to it, I’ve decided to follow with the recovery week as scheduled, so as not to mess with the remaining plan anymore.

This week has consisted of

Monday – 1 Mile warm up (to continue run streak) followed by 40 minutes of HIIT

Tuesday – 8 Miles (general aerobic with 10 x 100m strides

Wednesday – 5 miles (easy)

Thursday – 5.3 miles trail night race

Friday – 5 miles (recovery)

Saturday – 3.1 miles (easy, grass running)

Sunday – 13.1 miles half marathon race (completed at a steady effort)

Sprinkled with core work, strengthening and stretching (a lot of stretching)

The races (side note…. absolutely loved my bib numbers this week. Containing my lucky number 8… winner, winner!)

Race one. Rogue Runs, Beechenhurst night race.

Based in my home stomp of the Forest Of Dean, 5.3 miles of wonderful woodland paths, tracks and bridleways, hills, ankle deep mud and all in the dark of the night? Glorious. Such a fun, wonderfully organised event. When the race director advises at the start line to run is at your own risk, promptly followed by holding up a local newspaper showing a man with the tip of his finger bitten of by our mean looking wild boar residents, you know it’s going to be a good one! There’s something very primal about adventuring in the woods in the black of the night. For someone who has the elegance of a baby elephant wearing roller skates, it was as much as I could do to stay upright during some of the more difficult mountain bike trails. Which seemed to slope off in every angle all at once, covered in tree roots, rocks and mandatory mud. That’s mandatory mud before the actual ‘mud bath’ now that woke me up!

But it was so much fun. It did cross my mind at various points how sensible I wasn’t being considering one wrong step could of resulted in no more spring marathon, but I felt alive. It was fun. And sometimes, that is just what is needed to keep the mind fresh and focused on the relentless marathon training.

Race number two. Gloucester Half Marathon.

Again, another well organised event, with the most friendliest of marshalls! By no means flat. But lovely country lanes for the most part, with some ‘inclines’ I wasn’t expecting much from this one, other than to use it as a training run. Having so far remained unscathed from winter bugs, a lovely breathing restricting but snot flowing cold had come and taken its hold. I tried to keep it easy and relaxed, although I was aware at quite a few points I was working far too hard for that, and had to have a few walk breaks to try and regain some control of my breathing as my chest tightened!

Absolutely over the moon to have walked away an official PB by 12 minutes! This excites me more than I can describe, because it shows me that the hard work is paying off. I’ve taken a gamble doing a high mileage training plan, and so far it’s working wonders. I’ve been questioning all the easy paces, it’s hard not to, but if it’s working….. I need to trust in it a little bit more!

Uncategorized

A good week for the dreams

So last week two huge nuggets of wonderful news happened. Firstly, my awful history of zero ballot luck changed and it was a yes for Chicago Marathon 2018. It’s booked. It’s on. You see, my whole ‘good for age within a year’ kind of hinged on finally getting some ballot luck (there’s some irony there somewhere) due to my last day of the challenge being 7th October 2018. Chicago will be my final chance, on the very last day to obtain GFA. It’s set up perfectly. It would be perfect wouldn’t it, to swan in at the last minute and smash my goal at such an iconic marathon.

However I also don’t have much luck when it comes to something having the capacity of being perfect, and it coming to fruition. Just seems to work out that way. However, just as my ballot luck had to change at some point so does this.

Second bit of news, was a surprise gift from my husband of race entry to Race to The Stones. 100km non stop. All being well, I can also add ultra marathoner to my accomplishments. This makes my belly do all sorts of funny dances, both a mixture of excitement and fear. But I can’t wait for another challenge. It’s food for my soul! In all honesty, one I may not have had the balls to go ahead with, so the much needed gentle push has been very welcome. It’s all or nothing!

So there it is. Next year is firmed up and ready to be tackled head on.

First up though, Paris marathon training is in progress. I have decided to follow an 18 week plan from a wonderful read ‘Advanced Marathoning’ there are so many different plans and training ideas when it comes to marathons. One size does not fit all, and your choice of plan to follow or create is ultimately a very personal choice, a balance between what works for you with life commitments, fitness levels and what your body favours. Some may go for plans based on time, mileage or even just plucking one out of thin air. Having been through two marathon training cycles and trying two different plans, I’m hoping that I’ve learnt enough to be able to say this will work best for me. I shall be doing a separate blog post for this, along with documenting my weekly training. It’s just a little hectic right now, and I’m trying to make it through the festive period without turning into a self combusting turkey. Can’t imagine that would be pretty.