Manchester Marathon Training, Uncategorized

Manchester Marathon

Manchester marathon was memorable for so many reasons. I headed into marathon weekend full of doubts and questions following a less than perfect taper, of little running due to a niggle I have been babying for a few weeks. The weekend started on Friday with the ASICS UK Frontrunner meeting which was coinciding with the marathon. We spent a lovely Friday and Saturday meeting new members of the team, doing a treasure hunt through Manchester, and lots of photos, presentations and of course all the food. Anyone who follows me on social media knows that I have a huge fondness for all things doughnuts and of Nutella. I was presented with a surprise birthday cake during the weekend which incorporated both of these things, and I’m sure was perfect fuelling day before the marathon!

7E9AC884-D491-4781-81D6-0AB18EE367BD

Race Day

I felt good upon waking on race morning. I stuck with the usual banana, porridge and coffee combo 2.5 hours before start time and the blood sugars were behaving. During taper I had accepted the fact that sub 4, or even any of my time goals were no longer an option thanks to the ankle. I had barely run and I could still feel it whilst walking. I taped up my ankle and stuck with lets just see how it goes. The only plan was to just run as much as I could and aim for a finish. It felt strangely comforting walking to the start line from our hotel in Salford Quays, knowing that the pressure was off. It is what it is. There is nothing I can do, so just go along with whatever happens next.

Getting into the start pens was straightforward and the usual mix of excitement of nerves hung in the air. You’ve only got to look around you at a marathon start line to see that you are all in the same boat. You are running your own races, but you are still all in it together. Matt @thewelshrunner had said he would start with me. Coming back from his own injury, it was a only meant to be a long run for him. Just run some easy miles alongside me, then drop out when he had done enough. That changed pretty rapidly.

The first few miles flew by in a blink of an eye. We just had fun, chatted, had a giggle. I felt pretty good all things considered, and the ankle, although not perfect, behaved. Mile 11 things started to change, as we dipped in to Altrincham. I loved seeing the faster runners coming back past as they came out, and spotted a few runners to wave hi to. But my glute was starting to seize up, on the same leg as my bad ankle. Before I knew it, it just went on me. Mile 13 onwards was an epic battle just to get home. I really struggled mentally and physically. I could of pulled out, and in all honesty, it probably would of been the wise thing to do. But all I could think of were the months of training that had gone in to this marathon. I was in it, I was doing it anyway, so I adopted the ‘head down, and bollock on’ approach.

It wasn’t pretty. I fashioned some sort of hobble run/walk combo. Even slight inclines were horrid, and the pain of someone stopping directly in front of me causing me to jump to the side or halt was enough to send me slightly crazy. The second half of the marathon was a huge pot of the above, tears (I became ridiculously emotional) and non stop encouragement and unwavering support from Matt. Whatever I was going through, he was there. He didn’t leave my side. He ran the whole thing with me, casually completing a marathon a few weeks after coming back from weeks off with a stress fracture. Not for himself, it’s obviously less than ideal. But for me. It’s quite hard to put into words the emotions and feelings that you go through when doing something as intense as a marathon with another person. I wouldn’t of done it without him. Although, being honest, I did hate him slightly at points, bouncing around grabbing the majority of Manchester’s sweet and Jelly baby supplies from the amazing supporters out on the course. Having that much energy is unnatural. I was done by this point, and couldn’t face another gel or sweet, and this probably led to being incredibly confused towards the finish. I actually dug my heels in like some sort of golden haired mule at mile 25.5 stating I couldn’t finish, I wanted to pull out now, even though I could see the finish just up ahead! Don’t ask.

F6743542-6285-43A1-ABB5-0081FA64FE99

I loved Manchester, and will certainly consider it again for next years spring marathon. The crowds were wonderful, the atmosphere electric. I didn’t seem to notice many quiet bits. There were a few dotted here and there, but they didn’t last that long. It hurt (marathons do) it was emotional, and it was far from the original goal I had set myself at the beginning of the year. But I crossed the line with a 24 minute PB. I was elated. I still am. I don’t care I didn’t get the time I trained for, or felt that I deserved considering the training. I am just over the moon to have finished, to have won the battle. A PB to go alongside it, is just the icing on the cake. It taught me a huge amount about mental strength. I’ve absolutely loved my training for it, and cannot wait to go through it again once the summer of ultras is over. Chip away, and go again.

53B53A56-2EDC-419E-BCB3-4208AA055029

First though, I have the small matter of another marathon this week, in Paris on Sunday as part of the International ASICS Frontrunner meeting. Again, I’m heading in, with no expectations. This one is about sightseeing whilst tacking 26.2 miles one bit at a time. Hopefully.

 

 

 

 

Manchester Marathon Training, Uncategorized

Invisible Weight

Week 12 and the penultimate ‘hard week’ before taper, and didn’t it kick my ass. I had put a lot of pressure on this week. The big 20 mile race was looming, and I was going to smash it. I was going to pace it wonderfully and would be filled with all the confidence heading into the marathon. About that.

This week had started off well enough, I felt good after The Big Half, then comfortable easy miles, trail miles and a nice bash at a 5k which left me super happy as it was the quickest in a long. long time!

Week 12

  • Monday – 3.1 Miles Recovery
  • Tuesday – 9 Miles Easy
  • Wednesday – 10 minute WU, 5k, 10 minute CD
  • Thursday – 10k Easy
  • Friday – REST DAY
  • Saturday 20 Mile Race (fission 20/20)
  • Sunday – REST DAY

Total Miles – 43.3 Miles

IMG_2896

 

I cried a lot after the race. Just an outpouring of emotion. It was one of those, where nothing went right. I mean nothing. I didn’t feel great to begin with. From the off, my legs wouldn’t move. I couldn’t get anywhere near target pace heading straight into ridiculous winds again. The wind was on another level ,and seemed like the majority of the two ten mile loops had all the headwind with little tailwind to compensate. But even so, my legs just wouldn’t move. By mile three I needed an emergency portaloo stop. Damn, that was early on. The last 9 miles were a sorry affair, convinced I could feel pain in the old stress fracture site. Which of course is extremely unlikely. Everything hurt, I struggled every step.  But I finished. I still completed 20 miles. Who cares it wasn’t the time or race I was hoping for. 20 miles is still a bloody long way, and in horrid weather conditions. Of course now I am not sore, tired and emotional, I can think about it all rationally. The race itself was wonderfully organised with amazingly cheerful and supportive marshals every 5k or so manning water stations or significant turning points. I couldn’t help but admire them as we passed, we were at least moving in the weather. They were at its mercy just waiting for us runners to pass by. However not being a big commercial event it was a predominately very lonely affair on quiet country lanes, with no crowds to cheer you on, and as it wasn’t a closed road event, no headphones meant no music or podcasts to distract from the task ahead. I guess this is also why I started thinking. Why I got even more emotional. The chips were down, it was quiet and my mind drifted of to the invisible weight I carry.

A0F232CC-18CF-4BA9-845A-98637C344C31.JPG

We all carry some. We are all going through one thing or another at some point in our lives. Sometimes it’s more significant than at other times. It weighs heavy on our shoulders. Running is an amazing source of release, of escapism. Enormous benefits both mentally and physically, it can leave us better equipped, more ready to tackle problems we may be going through. But it’s still a weight. Running is my escape, yet I have found the personal stresses of the last few months alongside marathon training has at times left me drained. Sometimes I feel like I can physically feel all the worries and stress perched on my shoulders. Adding lead to my legs,  it makes my heart beat faster. Sure mostly its a benefit to run your stress away.  But marathon training is a huge challenge in itself.  It’s time consuming. It’s physically and mentally tiring. Recovering well, being mentally in the right place play a huge part of  training for your marathon, yet these have all been put out of kilt. We forget, I have certainly forgot how much impact stress has on our physical and mental wellbeing. Couple that with marathon training, and it can slap you in the face. It comes as no shock that two of my three races this year, the two bad ones,  have immediately followed highly stressful or emotional situations.

I don’t tend to share much personal information. Of course, like any other person, I share what I feel I need to. If I posted on social media the ins and outs of my personal life, I would give any soap opera a run for it’s money. Sometimes I feel like a fraud, that I should share more. Stop the smiling, stop the ultimate filter. But that’s my defence. That is, how I greet the lows in my personal life. Even after losing my son, I was back in the office in a matter of weeks, back to being the joker. That’s just who I am. That’s me.  I wouldn’t shake a strangers hand and introduce myself  ‘Hi, I’m Kelly, I’m now a single mum, going through a very difficult separation after a 10 year relationship’ We all naturally hide our problems, wanting first impressions to be positive.

Divorces, moving house, pressure at work, money problems, new babies, fall outs, family issues, you name it there are stresses a plenty to add on that invisible weight.

Sure the stress has caught up with me on many an occasion throughout this training block. That’s inevitable. I’ve had far too many naps. Far too many occasions of hiding under a blanket not wanting to deal with a single thing. And I’ve spent far too many times crying. But I have also slowly found some coping mechanisms to try and recover properly and to minimise the negative impact of stress.

  • I’ve discovered an unhealthy obsession with Epsom salt baths. Bliss. Super hot and therapeutic. great physically for the muscles, and just as awesome to lie there and drift off for a while. If they are not incorporated into your training schedule, they should be!
  • If I’ve felt that tired, that wiped, I’ve taken an extra rest day, or swapped days around. I won’t allow myself to feel guilty for having an extra rest day. Just the opposite. I’m pleased I’m listening to my body, and not starting another unwanted argument. I love the Banksy quote. If you get tired, learn to rest, not to quit
  • Taking time to foam roll, to stretch. I imagine the tight spots are little balls of stress. Just as I am working out the physical knots, I’m also releasing little bits of stress.
  • Make time for yourself away from training, away from your role as being there for another person, whether that be work, personally or family. I thoroughly enjoy going to a coffee shop on my own. People watching is a favourite. It distracts me from what is going on in my own life. I love shutting myself away and getting lost in a book in an evening. Find the right book, put your feet up, and you soon disappear to a far more relaxing place
  • Finally, I am learning to prioritise. What actually needs my attention first and foremost. Concentrate on that first, don’t over complicate it, or add additional stress by thinking of too much all at once. Deal with what you have to deal with, then move to the next thing.

If you are going through something stressful, and training at the same, don’t forget the impact it has. Sure you are carrying invisible weight, and that will have an effect, but you can shift it some, you can manage it. You know it’s there, you know it’s having an impact, but hopefully by being aware of it, you can compensate for it. Being aware of it’s effect is half the battle. And as always, be kind to yourself.

untitled

Phew, that got a bit deep there. I’m off to look at some funny kitten videos on You Tube. Final hard week before taper. Lets do this!

Manchester Marathon Training, Uncategorized

All The Ps

Another week in the bank, one littered with errors. I’m hoping the bad dress rehearsal superstition also applies to marathon training. It does feel a little theatrical at times. However the beautiful, and unseasonal weather we are having right now has certainly helped take the edge of it.

Week 9

  • Monday – 3.6 recovery miles
  • Tuesday – 7.9 Miles Interval session
  • Wednesday – 2.6 Easy Miles + Strength Training
  • Thursday – 18.2 Miles Long Run
  • Friday – REST DAY
  • Saturday – Missed run – REST DAY
  • Sunday Brighton Half Marathon

Total Miles – 45.7 (If you have a little OCD like I normally do when it comes to rounding up to whole miles, I apologise. This looks messy)

The week began with a speed session interrupted by a hypo (low blood sugar) Fortunately these don’t appear too often now, I seem to have mostly gotten to grips with controlling my sugars and running. (If you are a type 1 diabetic looking for some tips, check out an earlier blog post Type 1 Diabetes and Long Runs But this is Diabetes. It doesn’t always like to play ball, and sometimes a spanner can be thrown into the works, just because.

Thursday saw another attempt at a 20 mile long run. I decided to try somewhere new to try and keep things interesting. It was a lovely route, 10 miles out and 10 back along the Gloucester to Sharpness canal. Again, beautiful weather, everything was set up perfect to get at least one decent long run in. It wasn’t to be. This time tummy gate. I’ll talk openly about it, because lets face it, if you are here, reading this blog you are more than likely a runner, and have more than likely encountered this problem at least one time or another. If you haven’t, consider yourself very, very fortunate. Around 7 miles in my stomach started cramping up. I hadn’t done anything different to normal. As I tried to continue running along, I prayed it was a bit of trapped wind, alas releasing hurricane kellogs did nothing to help. The cramps got worse, until the inevitable happened. The alarm went off, and I had around 10 seconds max to find somewhere discreet. I will add, that discreet poo stops were far and few between along an open canal route. It is amazing, how inventive one can be when it really is an emergency dash. Did you know you can almost make it look like you are just taking a breather and pausing for thought whilst crouching with your ass in a thorn bush. I think I carried it off anyway. So poo gate ruined this one. It didn’t get better, just much worse. I don’t know how I managed to get back (and to 18 miles) without shitting myself.

Anyway time to move on from that. Time to look forward to the first race of the year, Brighton half marathon. Saturday preparation for the half was far from ideal, but I was still excited to get to Brighton and give it a good bash, see where I am at. A good bash I gave it, and chucked every rule book out of the window. I ran like a knob. I dashed off, running the first half mile quicker than my 5k pace. What on earth was I doing. I slowed a little, giving myself a good talking to. I then slowed more, and more and more. I pretty much POSITIVE split the whole race. I literally ruined any chance of running a good race in that first mile. I know I was keen to have a go at it, but that was just stupid. Even as I was out there running, the 5 Ps were whirling around in my head (Proper Pacing Prevents Poor Performance) in fact even the old army adage of 7 Ps might have been apt (Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance) even the fact that I had been told only a few hours earlier, go out, run the first few miles easy, then pick it up. I have to say, it was lucky it was such a beautiful day, a lovely route with lots of support, and an overall wonderful race. Because without that, I think it would of just been miserable. Lots of distractions meant I actually enjoyed the race despite the above. A well earned ice cream on the beach was also worth it.

 As with every other week, lots to take on board. Still trying to work out what gives me a tummy flare sporadically, and I really do need to work on pacing. And planning. And preparing. And not being piss poor.

Have a great week!

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.

Uncategorized

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!

Ultra Training

Crash Course Ultra Training

The last few weeks have been a flurry of all the sunshine, easy runs, cranking out a marathon as part of standard training (who even knew) and embracing hills as much as I embrace my coffee.

April saw the return from injury. Finally. Which meant keeping pretty much every run to an easy pace. One which was a lot slower than pre injury. I found it pretty tough, knowing that my first Ultra would soon be creeping up. It required patience and perseverance just getting my legs back in to running. Everything seemed off, from breathing to just feeling awkward. Pretty much, like starting all over again. Seeing what I should be doing to prepare for a double marathon and what I was actually doing was a little nerve wracking. But I stuck with it, complimenting those easy runs with lots of strength training and tlc in the stretching and rolling department.

Then I signed up to a local trail marathon. Please note, that I am telling you what I did do, which is most likely, totally not advisable.

13th May I completed the trail marathon in 5:18 hours. The longest run I had plodded before this was 6 miles (post injury) it was a huge risk, I could of come away with injury again. My aim was to just spend time on my feet, with a mixture of walk/running. Trying to suss out a tactic for how I would approach the ultra. It worked. I walked the huge hills (probably more crawled the last) and just kept moving forward. It was an incredibly difficult day for it, high temperatures and no escape from the blazing sun. It was also a 4 lap course, with abandoned aid stations after the first lap, and not another soul to be seen. Even when I finally crossed the finish line there was nothing. The whole event (which had a nice number enter the 10k option – the first lap) had been taken down. No finish line, nothing. One person, sat on a chair by a timing mat, waiting for my return. I cannot tell you how soul destroying that was. Aside from my views of how shocking the whole event was, it served its purpose and probably helped a huge deal with mental preparation. Yes humming the wheels on the bus did help.

I actually felt amazing on the days that followed and happily eased back into more easy miles. I don’t know if it was the easy pace, or the numerous Epsom salt baths and my new found love of Oofos recovery shoes but it was all good.

The second long run of 24 miles followed that week. Again, super easy. I walked, I ran, and I stopped at a shop to have a lolly in the stupidly hot weather. I enjoyed this much more than the marathon. But running along the River Wye in beautiful surroundings on such a beautiful day certainly contributed to it. I have a new love for Ultra training long runs as opposed to marathon training. No paces to hit, no slogging out a long run. Just time on feet, taking it all in. No pressure.

I did feel the results of these two weeks with my energy levels taking a huge dent. I ran an appalling trail race a few days after this run. Just couldn’t get going, completely out of puff. The hills most definitely ruined me that day. The recovery beer helped take the edge off any bad feelings about that though.

The last long run before taper, of 14 miles again was a completely different story. Most enjoyable until mile 10, energy levels had returned. The last 4 miles of all the uphill Home, and a huge thunder storm made me drop any easy pace and pelt it. A lot more strenuous than it should of been!

Now it’s less than two weeks to go until Race To The Tower, and that has been the extent of my training. 3 weeks of 30-39 miles, far lower than I would of wanted. But time on feet spent, different weather conditions and making sure that almost every one has included huge hills. I don’t know how it’ll all fare come 9th June. But I know I’ve done as much as I can without being completely ridiculous, I’ve come through without injury, I’m feeing stronger and I’ve recovered well.

I also know that time isn’t an issue for me. I’m not racing it, I’m not wanting to be a super speedy speed machine. The reason I entered Race to The Tower, is because it’s the 12th anniversary of my son passing away. The last day I held him. I struggle every year around this time. So to spend time doing the thing I love, the thing that helps me mentally, remembering him whilst challenging myself in beautiful surroundings…. for me, that is what my first ultra is all about.