Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Marathon Training: A Progress Check

It’s just under 6 weeks to go until Brighton, which means I’m hitting my highest ever mileage and counting down to taper time, so I thought I would update you with a progress check. Here’s a little bit about what I’ve learned during training so far.

I think I’ve got my long run strategy sorted – I have a bowl of porridge and a cup of tea about an hour beforehand and depending on the length of the run, top that up with a Nakd bar or a banana closer to when I set off. On the run I’m using High5 Isogels – they are quite bulky but don’t need to be taken with water and crucially don’t upset my stomach. One approximately every 4 miles seems to be working out for me.

When I’m not running, I seem to be eating all of the time! I’m trying to make sure that I refuel healthily which means not just eating chocolate (though I have been doing a fair bit of crème egg scoffing too). Two of my favourite recipes are Prawn Jambalaya (rainbow food!) and Breakfast Muffins (no added sugar and you can cram them full of fruit).

I need lots of it. The afternoon of a long run day is spent lazing around; if not actually sleeping, then at least completely resting. The rest of the week I’m usually in bed by 10pm and out like a light until the alarm goes off at 6.30ish.

Long runs
I’ve now run 18 miles twice – once in the Valentines 30K and once by myself. The one by myself was slower and tougher, but it helped knowing that I’d covered the distance already. I enjoyed the 30K race so I’ve entered a 20 mile race this Sunday to use as a “catered training run” again. I’ll then do 20 miles by myself a fortnight later – hopefully that’s a good combination of race experience mixed with increased mental toughness!

Midweek runs
I don’t really have a motivation issue at the weekends – I will always go to parkrun and the long Sunday run is, to my mind, the most crucial session for getting me marathon ready so I’m not going to miss one unless there is a very good reason. However, sometimes in the week I find it hard to get all of the scheduled runs in. I’ve dealt with this by using my running club more – I’ve been braving the speedy track session on Tuesdays and although I am one of the slower runners, as long as there are other runners at around my pace then it’s a really good session. Last week we bonded over bondarenko (no I didn’t know what it was either!). I had been a bit daunted by the Thursday tempo sessions but one of the running leaders has set up a women’s group which goes a bit more slowly and for a slightly shorter distance – I headed out with them last week and really enjoyed it. On Wednesdays I have a recovery run scheduled and although I’m conscious of “junk miles” I tend to just plod round for four or five miles at a slowish pace before heading to my Pilates class. It’s all time on feet at the end of the day!

Sports Massage
I thought my legs deserved a treat after the 30K last week so I booked in for my first ever sports massage. I expected it to be 30 minutes of bearable torture but actually it was lovely – a couple of tender spots but no pain and a great chat with the therapist who has been working with Jo Wiley on her Sports Relief challenge!

How is everyone else getting on with their training? Please do bear in mind that this is my first ever marathon so I’m just learning as I go along – I’m by no means an expert and what works for me may not work for others.


Sunday, 16 February 2014

Valentines 30K - Race Report

This report doesn't contain any photos I'm afraid, mainly because I didn't take any. I could take one now of my massive new toe blister, but that would give a negative impression of this race and that wouldn't be fair because I loved it. 

I'd entered for the race (put on by Stamford Striders) at the end of last year when I was writing out my marathon plan. I had 18 miles to do so thought that it would be nice to do it with other people- as Marathon Talk put it, a "catered training run". Since then, it's been looming - highlighted yellow on the plan - the first real rest of how training was going. The wind and the rain of the past few weeks coupled with the repeated mentions of "challenging" and "undulating" (we all know that means mountainous) on the race website had put the fear of bad race gods into me and last week I was seriously considering pulling out and just doing a flat easy run by myself instead. I'm really glad I manned up and got myself to the startline - it was a gem of a race.

The sun was shining, registration was quick and easy, yes there were queues for the toilets but only because the lorry carrying the portaloos had broken down (we saw it- with hindsight a photo of that would have been good, sorry readers!). Stamford Striders were a friendly bunch with some of the best marshals around - they wore silly hats, they whooped, they cheered, they had jelly babies and generally made us runners feel awesome. The course itself was hilly - downs as well as ups but hardly any flat. It was tough but the hills were also a good distraction, as were the amazing km markers - heart shaped for the valentines theme and each one included a "motivational" message. My favourites were: (at 2k) "You're not almost there"; "It's all downhill from here. Apart from the uphills" and "In 3 days time you'll think you enjoyed this".
The whole race epitomised why races put on by runners, for runners are generally the best. Thanks Stamford Striders - I'll be back! 

Time: 3hrs 6mins, or an average of 10 minutes a mile, aka marathon target pace!