Sunday, 25 March 2012

Week 14 done

So today marks the end of week 14 of my training for the London Marathon. It's been a frustrating week for me. Having finished last week on a real high having run 19 miles relatively comfortably, this week feels like a bit of a come down. I've had a cold for most of the week meaning that I've been feeling quite rubbish and under the weather and that's had an impact on the training that I've been able to do. But I want to finish the week on a positive note as I head into the final four weeks of training so I'm going to focus on the good things that have happened this week, rather than dwell on the training that I've missed.

So despite having a cold I've managed two runs, a yoga class and a Powerplates class. Not too shabby really. The first of the runs was with Boutique Running Club on Tuesday and was the fastest 4.2 miles I have ever run in my life with two sub 10.30 minute miles back to back. It's great to see my speed increasing on these runs - I seem to be able to run much faster, more comfortably when I'm with other people.

On Tuesday my charity running vest arrived back from the printers. Here's me modelling it - it's a fetching shade of neon green, not what I would have chosen to run in at all but it's all in support of my charity so I can't complain.

At least I'll be clearly visible!

On Wednesday this arrived

It's my running number for the Whole Foods Kingston Breakfast Run next weekend. It's a 16 mile run which starts and finishes in Kingston town centre which is about 4 miles away from my parents house. I'm going to take part in the race and then run back to their house afterwards. I figured it was a good way to have some company for most of my longest training run!

And then on Thursday the most exciting delivery of all. The final London Marathon magazine and confirmation of my running number!

I must admit to being quite pleased with the James Bond themed running number I've been allocated!

I've read bits and pieces from the magazine, which has all the information that I need to know about what to do on the day itself (on top of running 26.2 miles!) and felt quite giddy with excitement while doing so.

I am also now 75% of the way to my fundraising target which is a brilliant result with four weeks to go. I need to raise another £305 to get to my target so if you're able to help me get one step closer I'd really appreciate it. You can donate securely online here

So while this week hasn't been great from a training perspective it's actually been pretty exciting. I'm now feeling much better and ready to get into week 15, the last week of full on training before the plan starts to taper.

This now feels very real indeed.

Four weeks today I will run the London Marathon!

Monday, 19 March 2012

Week 13 complete - phew!

Yesterday I completed week 13 of my training for the London Marathon by doing my longest run ever of 19 miles. It felt like a massive achivement, not just in that I completed that distance but in that I felt that I could have kept going at the end. A massive confidence boost with just 5 weeks to go before the big day.

But, I need to be honest and tell you something....I will be quite pleased once this training is over and the day itself is here. I think I've got to the point where I know I'm going to make it around one way or another and I'm getting a bit tired of running, thinking about running, stretching after running, eating before and after running, feeling tired from the running and planning what I'm going to wear when I'm running. 

Don't get me wrong, I still love running and the way it makes me feel but right now I feel like my body and my brain have been taken over by training for the marathon. I will be very happy to get back to running because I want to, not because a plan says I should.

So with that off my chest, back to last week. It was a funny week in that I'd done my long run from the week before on the Monday, as we'd been away. I also had to travel with work on Tuesday and Wednesday which always makes things that bit more difficult. I planned to go to my usual Tuesday night run with the ladies of Boutique Running Club but come Tuesday afternoon I felt so tired from Monday that I decided my body needed rest much more than it needed a relatively quick 4 mile run.

On Wednesday afternoon I managed to fit in a run after work, the plan said it should have been 9 but I knew my legs didn't have that in them so I decided just to do 5 instead. During this run I was chased by a dog for the first time ever. I'm not a massive fan of dogs and this one looked quite mean - it was a Staffordshire bull terrier I think

I saw it looking at me and had an inkling about what was going to happen next and sure enough as I ran past it started running after me. It caught up with me really quickly at which point I squealed like a girl and it's owner finally realised what was going on and shouted at the dog which backed off straight away. I'm sure it was just being curious but it's safe to say I didn't enjoy the experience!

On Thursday morning I got up early and did a quick intervals session - my legs still felt quite tired so again I didn't do the mileage as stated in my plan. On Friday lunchtime I fitted in another 4 miles - just to keep my legs ticking over before the 'big one' on Sunday.

On Saturday I went to a 2hr Yoga for Runners workshop at It was a brilliant session that I really enjoyed and learned a lot from. We started by looking at some joint mobilising movements that can be done before a run and then at some key post run stretches. Some of these were completely new to me and are things that I will definitely add into my stretching repertoire from now on.

We moved through some yoga poses which are particularly good for runners, poses that strengthen and stretch hamstrings, hip flexors, glutes and quads. My particular favourite was pigeon which provides a fantastic stretch for the hip flexors and glutes!

We ended the class with some relaxation and visualisation techniques which I could see could really help before and during a race. The teacher also shared tips on nutrition and hydration and I felt the class feeling stretched, strengthened and more knowledgable - not bad for a 2 hr class.

It's fair to say that for most of the week I have been thinking about the long run. It was scheduled to be 18 miles, the second longest distance in the plan. My longest run previous to this had been 16 miles and I had struggled from about 10 miles on and pretty much walked the last few miles,so I was quite concerned about how this was going to be. I'd mapped out my route, added some 1990s rock tracks to my running playlist, had a very sensible Saturday night with a carb laden dinner and gone to bed at a reasonable time. Full marks for preparation.

On Sunday morning I woke up at 7am, made my porridge and banana, ate it and then went back to bed for an hour or so while it went down. By 9.30am I was dressed and prepared and ready to run. Mentally I was feeling pretty good, I can never tell how I'm going to be physically until I get going. I set off feeling OK but quickly realised that it was going to be one of those days when the first few miles feel really hard. By mile 4 I was seriously wondering whether I would make it to 10 miles, let alone 18. I had an energy gel - a Powerbar gel with caffeine (which are now rivalling High 5s as my favourite), and suddenly things clicked into place. The next few miles felt relatively easy and before I knew it I was over 10 miles.

By this point I was walking for around 2 minutes every 10 and sometimes a bit more. I have realised that I am not going to be able to do my 9 and 1 routine for the whole of the marathon and that 8 and 2 becomes a lot more comfortable after about 9-10 miles. For me, the marathon has always been about getting around with a smile on my face, enjoying the experience. If that means I have to walk a bit more then so be it.

By 14 miles I was heading for home and feeling pretty good. My legs were a bit tired but nothing like they had been on my 16 miler and I was able to run for a bit more of each mile. Some of my 1990s rock tunes chose to play themselves at great points on the route - I never imagined I'd run past St Paul's cathedral listening to Enter Sandman or past the Tower of London with Killing in the Name of ringing in my ears!

By the time my Garmin ticked over to 18 miles I realised that I was still a mile from home and feeling good. I decided to keep going and decided that I would run the whole of the last mile. And so I did. The amazing thing was that as the Garmin showed 19 miles I felt that I could have kept going. It was a fantastic feeling.

At the start of this training I had trouble visualising how far 16 or 18 or 19 miles was. This map of my run shows exactly how far 19 miles will take you - I love how far out it is zoomed to be able to fit it on the page!

Today I have been to see my osteopath for a regular 'maintenance' check and am delighted that despite running 19 miles yesterday I have no significant issues. My recovery routine, yoga and stretching are obviously working well for me and giving me the best possible chance of getting to that starting line in good shape.

The starting line which is now less than 5 weeks away!

I'm raising money for a great little East London charity and would really appreciate your support - if you are able to help me towards my fundraising target that would be fantastic - you can donate securely online by following this link Thank you!

Monday, 12 March 2012

Week 12 complete - two thirds through!

So I've just completed week 12 of my training for the London Marathon and there are just 6 weeks to go before the big day. The last 3 months since I started out on my training have really flown by. I have run over 230 miles in that time and it's difficult to believe that I am now two thirds of the way through my training.

This week was a step-back week in my plan meaning that the long run decreased in mileage to just 12 miles. The fact that I can say just 12 miles give you some idea of how far I have come. My perceptions of what is easy or difficult have changed a huge amount in the last 12 weeks and lots of other things have changed in my world as well. For example:

* This week was an 'easy' week - I have done 2 yoga classes, a powerplates class and run a total of 28 miles. Only in the world of a marathon trainee would that be considered 'easy'!

* I now consider 8 miles a reasonable distance to consider running before work. I used to struggle to complete 3.

* I completed 12 miles comfortably today feeling confident all the way round. Just 5 weeks ago I was really nervous about running this distance for the first time.

* I have done set my alarm for between 6.15 and 6.30am each weekday this week and got up to do some form of exercise before going to work. I used to scoff at people who said exercising in the morning sets you up for the day, I am now a total convert

* My Sunday cooked breakfasts have been replaced by porridge and banana. While I kind of miss my scrambled eggs on toast they just don't set me up for a long run in the way that porridge does.

* I have my own tin in the kitchen for my running fuel! Mr J loves jelly beans but he knows to keep his hands off these!

* I took the day off work today to do my long run. We were away at the weekend at my cousin's wedding. I knew that I would be in no fit state to run yesterday (I was correct) so decided to take the day off today to make sure I didn't miss a long run. This is the second time that I have taken a day off work in order to do a long run. Some would call this madness, I call it dedication!

It's good to reflect on how far I've come before looking forward to the final 6 weeks of training. In just 3 weeks time I will complete the longest training run in my plan and then start to taper for the big day itself. Part of me wishes it was sooner, part of me wishes I had longer to prepare. All of me knows that the training I have done so far and will continue to do will set me up to do the very best I can on April 22nd.

In just 40 days time I will run the London Marathon!

I have a charity place and have pledged to raise £1250 for a small London charity called the Docklands Settlements. It would be fantastic if you could help me on my way to meet that target. Just follow this link to make a donation securely online

Thank you!

And just to finish I thought I'd share this photo with you - taken on Saturday night at the wedding. Me and my cousin doing our very best Adam Ant 'Prince Charming' moves on the dancefloor - counts as cross training, right?!

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Week 11 - Done!

So here I am at the end of week 11 of my London Marathon training and I'm pretty proud to report that I can now run 16 miles! Well, I can now complete 16 miles, most of it running is probably a more accurate statement. Either way, it feels like a significant achievement.

This week has been a week of lessons learned for me. Here are some of the things I've discovered this week:

* My Adidas Supernova Glide trainers are not providing my feet with as much support as my Brooks Ghost 4. I think this may have contributed to the ankle twisting incident last week. 

* My knees hurt after wearing my Adidas trainers on a long run. This has never happened with my Brooks

* These two points above are making me wonder whether the Adidas trainers really are right for me. I've decided not to wear them for long runs anymore and may try them again on a couple of shorter runs before deciding whether or not to ditch them all together. It will be annoying if I have to do this as I've only had them for a month. It's just not worth the risk of picking up an injury though if they're really not right for me.

* It took me 2 days to recover properly from my 15 mile run last Monday.  I felt the difference of not doing a yoga class the next day - I think they really help.

* My Deuter rucksack can hold 15 litres, however, I can't run with it on my back if I fill it up completely, it's far too heavy and uncomfortable on my back!

* I like jelly beans as a fuel for my long runs. They're definitely going to be part of my fuelling strategy on April 22nd

* It is possible to complete 16 miles when you've only had about 3 hours sleep. It's really not easy, but it is possible

* My Nathan hydration rucksack is super comfortable to run with, I'm really impressed with it. So much so that here's a picture of me with it on, ready to go out for my 16 mile run wearing my new pink Ronhill top - did I mention it was a size 12? ;-)

So 11 weeks in and a 15 and 16 miler complete in the same week and my total training mileage has now tipped over the 200 mile mark. There's just 7 weeks to go now until the big day and that makes me feel a mixture of nervous, excited and a tiny bit sick at the same time. I only have two more runs to do that will take me beyond distances that I've covered before - an 18 and a 20 miler in 2 and 4 weeks respectively. This is one of the things that makes me nervous but I know my plan has been used by thousands of others to successfully complete their first marathon and I need to trust that it will also work for me.

For the last few weeks for a variety of reasons I've not been able to stick ridgidly to my plan on weekdays but this week I intend to follow it to the letter. I'm also going to add in a Powerplates class as I feel like I need to do some additional strength work and this will really help.

Next week is classed as a stepback week in that my long run is cut back to less mileage - just 12 miles on the plan for the weekend. Listen to me -  "just 12 miles" - I can't quite believe that I typed that but that is genuinely how it feels. How things have changed over this last 11 weeks!!

I am also delighted to report that I've now raised over £800 for my charity, thanks to the generosity of family, friends and colleagues. I still have a way to go to reach my fundraising target though so if you were able to sponsor me and help to get me get one step closer to my target I'd be incredibly grateful. To donate securely online please visit Thank you in advance for your support - I really appreciate it.