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This is the marathon training and fundraising blog of Georgina Spenceley. Watch this space for news of my training, inevitable injuries, and my fundraising events and achievements.

"If running is important to you, then your mind-set shifts from “Can I find time for it?” to “When can I find time for it?” You think in terms not of “Will I run today?” but “When will I run today?”"

- Scott Douglas, author of The Little Red Book of Running

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Having not run for so long I was obviously feeling quite anxious about how much fitness I may have lost. Sally assured me that I would still be able to get back into the swing of things and that my marathon target should still be attainable – I really hope she’s right! She set me a recovery plan with mostly steady running, starting with 60mins steady on Monday and Tuesday.

My fears were not massively helped by the struggle of my first run back. The biggest difference I noticed was how heavy and stiff my legs felt. They seemed to have forgotten all of the hard work and training I’d put in to get them strong and they just felt like lead. I was meant to be running steady – which we all know by now should be roughly 65-70% of max HR, which for me is between 159-167 bpm – but every time I tried to slow down to keep my HR in range my legs felt like they were going to stop moving. In the end I finished at 9:05 min/mile, which was far too fast for what I should have been doing, but I felt pleased to have got it done.

Tuesday’s steady run was ever-so-slightly worse. I ran first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach. I did the same route as Monday but in reverse (the route, not me!). Again my legs were struggling and I really noticed the lack of cardio fitness whenever I went uphill – my breathing and HR becoming laboured. This run was slower overall at 9:22 min/mile, but I suppose that’s expected.

Thursday brought the challenge of a bit of pace thrown in as a test of my fitness. I was scheduled to run 30mins steady, followed by 60mins at pace and I was praying my body wouldn’t let me down. I planned a route of roughly 10 miles, knowing that was around about the distance I should have been covering. I started out ok, keeping mostly within the correct HR ranges for a steady run and keeping a pace of around 9:30 min/mile. After my watch hit 30mins I started to try and pick up the pace. The first few miles of pace were a little disappointing as even though whenever I looked at my watch I seemed to be at around 8:30 min/mile when the mile splits ticked over I was too slow. I eventually managed to hit the correct pace, but my HR was far too high all the way through the 60min section. I was at, and over, my threshold HR. I was pleased I managed to get the right pace for the last four or so miles, but it was a bit of a slap in the face that it had now become such a struggle. Boo!

My long run was planned for Saturday and was supposed to be five miles steady, with 10 miles at pace, but following Thursday’s high HRs Sally advised me to just stick to steady for the whole 15M. I got in touch with Laura who was running 18M with her friend Odette and I tagged along with them for their run. Odette had planned a route that took us out of Harlow, over to Northweald and then back round to Harlow again for the last few miles. It had come out at about 10 miles for the Northweald-bound section on the mapping tool, but actually ended up being more than 12M by the time we got back into Harlow which meant we only had to tag on an extra few to get me to 15 and then Laura to carry on to 18M. Unfortunately, due to latching my watch on to the GPS signals far too early, my battery was drained before we even reached halfway. I think this may have actually been a blessing in disguise as no doubt my HR and pace would have made me worry the whole way round and instead I just focussed on putting one foot in front of the other and enjoying the scenery a bit. It started raining about halfway round, which we actually found quite refreshing! By the time I left Laura to carry on with her 18 miler (looking fresh – you’ll have no problem with the marathon girl!) I think we must have been at around 15.5 miles, and despite the noticeable difference in my fitness I was pleased to have still been able to do it.

Here is the week in training:

Monday: 60mins steady http://connect.garmin.com/activity/153633242

Tuesday: 60mins steady http://connect.garmin.com/activity/153633248

Wednesday: REST

Thursday: 30mins steady, 60mins pace http://connect.garmin.com/activity/154092415

Friday: REST

Saturday: 15M steady with Laura and Odette (dead watch!) http://connect.garmin.com/activity/155156876

Sunday: REST

And now it’s Monday again and we’re totally up to date! I have a pace session tonight, I’m hoping my HR will be at a less scary level, and this week is the Silverstone Half Marathon where I’d been hoping to achieve a sub 1:50. I am doubtful I will be able to achieve it, having been ill so recently, but we will see what Sunday brings…

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I have had the craziest month! Moving house combined with coming down with a god-awful cold has massively impacted my training – missing between 2 and 3 weeks of running. Even if I’d had time to blog, I’ve had nothing to blog about! But I’m back now, and trying to get myself back into the level of training I was at just a few weeks ago.

But first, I’ll give you a quick run-down of the last few weeks…

Following my 17 miler solo in the snow I had a day of rest then hit the treadmill on the Tuesday for a recovery run. 10.5 min/mile at 1% incline for 20 mins, followed by 10mins on the e-spinner.

Wednesday was a track session. I’d called up the sports centre for the track I usually use in Harlow and they said the track was out of use because of the snow (hard to believe when I’m writing this after such a sunny day just a few weeks later!!) so I had a little google search and managed to find a track where they’d cleared a lane. I planned to meet a friend from the running club there to do our respective track sessions. By the time I got there Susan was already well into her session but she told me that the track was still very slippy. I opted for the indoor track instead. At 200m round I knew this was going to be a challenging run. My eight lap reps on a 400m track transpired into 16 lap reps on the shorter indoor track. I did six laps to warm up, then began my hard efforts. I had to count off the laps on my hands, using my right hand to count single laps and my left hand for every five – maybe an abacus might have come in handy! I think I kept each one at threshold pace, but being indoors my Garmin was rendered useless so I don’t know my overall split times for each and will have to go on faith that my heart and lungs were at a suitable level of misery!

Thursday called for an eight mile pace run, but after a very long day in London manning a stand at an exhibition for work my poor feet and legs needed the rest so I took a rest day before my big house move the next day.

The next three days were a bit of a whirlwind – my boyfriend and I picked up the keys to our new place on Friday. We spent the whole of that day, and the next two, cleaning, driving, lifting, shifting, shopping, unpacking, and all the other things involved in moving house! It was crazy and we were so busy.

Monday I managed to get myself out for the 75min pace session that I was supposed to do on Sunday but was too busy for. My legs were suffering from the hard work of the last few days, including some soreness in my metatarsals, and my Garmin was still somewhere in the midst of the boxes that surround us at our new home so I have no idea of my HR or definite pace for the run! I managed about 8.5-9 miles in the 75mins but my breathing was quite a bit heavier than I would have liked.

Wednesday was when it all went downhill. I’d started to feel the symptoms of a cold coming on over the last 24 hours or so but thought I’d try to get out and do my track session anyway. On the cards was 3 x 2400m. I did a mile to warm up and already I was starting to feel a bit worse for wear. My throat was really sore and I had a sinus headache. I carried on into my first rep and tried to pick up the pace a bit. I started to feel quite lightheaded over the last couple of laps and my chest was really tightening up making it a struggle to breathe properly so I was forced to call it a day. I was so frustrated.

And that was the start of my sick leave from running.

WEEK 1

Monday: REST

Tuesday: 20mins treadmill recovery run, 10mins e-spinner

Wednesday: 3 x 3200m (indoor track)

Thursday: REST

Friday: REST

Saturday: REST

Sunday: REST

WEEK 2

Monday: 75mins steady (no watch!)

Tuesday: REST

Wednesday: 3 x 2400m (had to cut short after 1 rep)

Thursday: SICK

Friday: SICK

Saturday: SICK

Sunday: SICK

WEEK 3

Monday: SICK

Tuesday: SICK

Wednesday: SICK

Thursday: SICK

Friday: SICK

Saturday: SICK

Sunday: SICK

Almost two weeks later and I was as close to being ready to return as I ever was going to be without having major panic attacks about being able to complete this challenge I’ve set myself! And that’s where the next post picks up.

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I have a lot of catching up to do with my blogging having been away from Tumblr (and running) for a while so please excuse the slap-dash nature of this recap… it’s mostly from my notes to Sally. In case you’re wondering why I’ve been away, don’t you worry – all will be explained in my next post!

Monday: 20min treadmill recovery run, 10mins e-spinner

Tuesday: REST

Wednesday: 6 x 2min hill reps http://connect.garmin.com/activity/146538612

Thursday: 6M steady http://connect.garmin.com/activity/146746769

Friday: REST

Saturday: REST

Sunday: 17M steady http://connect.garmin.com/activity/147588784

The week started with a recovery run on Monday. I did this at the gym as it was so cold out that I didn’t think 20mins would give me enough time to warm up. I did 3.5 km at 10.5 km/hr, 1% incline, followed by an easy 10 mins on the e-spinner.

After a rest day Tuesday I had a lovely hill session to tackle on Wednesday. It was soooo cold – my face was numb for about the first half an hour! I was struggling to think of a hill that would be long enough for the planned 2min climb – there were a couple I could have used but the one I chose was the most well lit and has cycle track so there was more space to run. It was a bit of a weird “hill”… only 2.5% grade and it kind of goes up for a bit then flattens and then goes up a bit more. Ironically it looks as though the part of the road I ran afterwards has more of an incline than the slope I selected! I found the reps really challenging, really breathing hard at the top, but still feeling fairly strong running up. My reps were quite even, roughly 7:30 min/mile each time.

Thursday’s session was a nice easy 60min steady run and I really enjoyed it. It was really cold again, but I warmed up fairly quickly and just…. ran. My legs felt a little tired up hill, but I’m guessing that’s because of Wednesday’s session. It was probably a bit quicker than it should have been (8:33 min/mile!) but it felt easy and my HR only really went up with the inclines. It felt really good just to get out and feel comfortable and I was so pleased to see my pace being nice and quick.

Friday and Saturday were rest days before my first of two half marathons I’d booked in to for the training period… or so I thought.

All day Saturday there was talk of the threat of snow in the area. I spent most of the day worrying and fretting over whether the race would be cancelled, or if it was on whether I’d be able to get there, and by the end of the day the snow had come and I’d come to the conclusion that if the race was cancelled I’d still try to get my butt out for a run.

Sunday morning came and the snow had come in thick and fast and there was a good five or six inches lining the pavements and roads. I checked the Great Bentley Half Marathon website and saw that, sure enough, the race had been postponed. My race plan had been to run the 13.1 miles of the race at pace, and to tag on four extra miles either as a two mile warm up and cool down, or four miles at the end so with no race to do I just had to get a steady 17 miles done. Hmm. I was so scared of slipping and getting injured. I put my XC shoes on just in case, and I did need them in places, but I was worried because they don’t have much cushioning. It was an eventful run to say the least: I was splashed with dirty, slushy snow several times, had to jump into the snow (guessing where the road ended and the pavement started) to avoid cars and lorries that didn’t want to move, I had wet feet and the start of a few blisters, and I even had to do a mile out-and-back when I realised my route wasn’t going to be long enough – doh! But… I eventually got back home having just completed my longest run yet. And I kept a good pace too, at roughly 9:30 min/mile! All’s well that ends well! 

17 Mile Steady Run (Solo)

With just 10 weeks to go, yesterday I did the longest run of my marathon training so far. At 17 miles, in snowy conditions and by myself, it was a mental challenge. I’m so proud to have done it and come out fighting :) 

"Don’t dream of winning. Train for it."

- Mo Farah

"Walk to the stadium. Sprint to the finish."

- Perri Shakes Drayton

This made me laugh…. I think we all know someone who runs like one of these!!

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Hi again, only me! Firstly I’d like to say thank you - following my blog post last week I was really touched to see the words of encouragement that some of you left me. It really does mean a lot and helps me keep my chin up after a hard session/week :)

I started the week with a rest day, which I really needed, so the week’s training went like this:

Monday: REST

Tuesday: 6x1600m http://connect.garmin.com/activity/144456260

Wednesday: 80 mins at pace http://connect.garmin.com/activity/144695439

Thursday: REST

Friday: Recovery run http://connect.garmin.com/activity/145866392

Saturday: REST

Sunday: 15M with Laura http://connect.garmin.com/activity/145866403

I got to track at a fairly reasonable time on Tuesday despite delaying a little as I was kind of hesitant to do the session after my down-in-the-dumps mood from Saturday. Anyway, I remembered my iPod shuffle this time and a little bit of the Prodigy certainly helped keep me on pace and also helped the time tick by… it can get a little boring going round and round and round (a track isn’t quite “Parklife”, if you’ll excuse the Blur reference!). My legs were feeling quite tired still and I found it hard to get my heart rate up to the threshold point yet again. I wondered if I was going to be able to do all six reps, and having been told already that I could drop the last one if I wanted to I have to admit I was tempted! But, I pushed through and after each recovery I felt like I could go again so I did and eventually managed all six. Considering my tired legs I was very pleased with the pace when I looked back at my recorded laps – average ~7:20 min/mile… not too shabby.

Wednesday was my pace session – I ran with Wendy for the first 7 miles, I really needed the company as I was still feeling a little less than enthusiastic. We set off both with quite tired legs and it was only when we turned into a headwind at around 1.5M that I realised this was going to be quite tough! We continued in the headwind for about 3.5M and struggled to keep the pace fast enough, although we weren’t too far off. We got to 7M after a bit of an uphill climb and this was where Wendy was due to finish. I turned off to do the last couple of miles alone and was relieved to see that most of it was downhill so managed to pick up a bit. Overall the pace was 8:51 min/mile so not so bad, but I do always seem to manage to mess my pace sessions up, and I know they are important, so I really do need to crack on with getting them right!

Friday I was due to run a hill session, but Sally changed my plan as she thought I may need a rest day so I just did a short recovery run instead. The first half was uphill so I was a bit slower and HR was a bit higher than I’d have liked for recovery but it still felt fairly easy. The second half was, naturally, downhill so that’s when the real recovery kicked in. I could feel in my legs today that hills would have been really tough if I had continued as first planned so I was grateful to Sally for the change –even if I did have a slight panic moment of “if I’m struggling already how on Earth am I going to last till 15th April?!”.

My recovery run on Friday was in the morning as I had the day off work and that meant that I had a full two days until my long run on Sunday morning… plenty of rest :)

I spent Saturday night watching “Run Fatboy Run” with my boyfriend and a couple of friends. We chilled out with some oven-cook pizza and put our feet up to enjoy watching Simon Pegg in action! It was such a good film and really good for runners as it’s a great light-hearted look at the highs and lows of marathon training, and of course “hitting the wall”. I’d definitely recommend it to anyone running a marathon if you fancy a good laugh!

I woke up on Sunday morning feeling quite nervous. I was really worried that I was going to have another bad run and think I was getting myself all in a fuss; also the scene in the movie last night where he slept through his alarm probably didn’t help my nerves! I had my porridge and tea (creature of habit that I am!) and double checked that my watch DEFINITELY said it was fully charged. The day before, I bought a “body wallet” which is essentially just a flat bum bag type thing so I filled it with my gels and strapped it round my hips hoping that it would prevent the pocket-bounce issue from last week, and it really did – will definitely use this again. I covered the first mile or so on my own to the meeting point I’d arranged with Laura and then we continued on our way round a 10 mile loop I’d set for us. We chatted the whole way round and kept a comfortable pace along the route. The 10 miles went by really quickly with our continued conversation and by the time we got back to the meeting point at just over 11 miles I was feeling really good. I carried on from there to the extra 4 mile loop I had planned. I saw one of my running club friends, Jo, at about the 12.5 mile point and she jogged with me for a minute or so for a quick chat which really picked me up. Just as I was turning in to do the last ¼ mile or so my legs and glutes started to ache a little, but despite this I still felt like I could have kept going if I’d needed to so I was really pleased (hopefully this means I’m in a good place for my 17M run next week!). Overall pace was 9:24 min/mile, so just under a minute per mile slower than target marathon pace which I think is pretty much spot on what these long runs should be. I was over the moon with this run, I really needed a positive one and it came at just the right time. The only down side was that it was so cold that when I got home I couldn’t even turn the key in the lock because my fingers were totally numb – even with gloves! Eventually I managed to get in the warm and Darren’s lovely mum made me a cup of tea to warm me up, thank you Jackie :)

So my lesson learned from this week… I guess eating pizza and watching Run Fatboy Run the night before a long run is the perfect pre-training prep, hehe! Oh, and of course REST WHEN YOU NEED TO!

… equals a watch that lasts the distance! :)

… equals a watch that lasts the distance! :)