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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.

Posts Tagged: Laura


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

Tuesday: 60mins steady

Wednesday: REST

Thursday: 30mins steady, 60mins pace

Friday: REST

Saturday: 15M steady with Laura and Odette (dead watch!)

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…


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

Wednesday: 80 mins at pace

Thursday: REST

Friday: Recovery run

Saturday: REST

Sunday: 15M with Laura

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!


It’s official, marathon training is well and truly under way! I’m down to 14 weeks to go already and it feels like only a little while ago I was saying “18 weeks to go”… I’m sure the 15th April is going to creep up on me veeery quickly!

This week consisted of:

Monday: 25 mins espinner, 10 mins rowing then strengthening exercises.

Tuesday: 4x800m

Wednesday: 30 mins yoga

Thursday: 3M HRC tempo run

Friday: REST

Saturday: hill reps

Sunday: 12M with Wendy and Laura

See, I told you I’d get some cross-training in!

I felt a little silly on Tuesday’s session as I went along to club even though I was going to be doing a different session to them. They were doing 400s with 2 mins recovery, whilst I had recovery jogs between my 800s – it was a little tough to see everyone stopped when I was still going round and round the track! I was supposed to keep each rep to about 4:15 but got a bit carried away and did my first one in 3:42… oops! I tried to hold back a bit for the remaining three reps and ran them each in around 4mins. I was pretty pleased with the session though because I felt strong. Sally has since told me that my reps suggest that my target marathon pace is likely to be sustainable so woohoo to that!!

On Wednesday I tried out a “Yoga Made Easy” book that I picked up. I thought it would be a good way to stretch out in a less boring way, and also want to try to work on my balance and core strength anyway. I only did about half an hour as it’s hard to do the poses for the right amount of time without an instructor there to tell you what to do. Next time I’ll put on some music and make a proper session of it.

My next run was probably my favourite of the week – I love tempo runs… call me crazy! This was with the running club and we started off with a mile warm-up then accelerated to tempo pace. I ran with Laura the whole way and we managed to keep a strong pace for the whole three miles, with an average of 8:12 min/mile. My HR was pretty much spot on what it was supposed to be for the session. We finished off with a mile back to the club, but I carried on with another HRCer to top it up to 50mins so we could flush out the legs a bit. I don’t know why, but tempos are the sessions I look forward to the most at the moment, maybe it’s my new-found faster pace!

Now onto the dreaded hill work! I couldn’t seem to think of any hills in my local town, especially ones that weren’t dark and gloomy, but thanks to some suggestions from Wendy and also Darren I found what I thought would be a suitable hill and I ran to it for my warm up. I realised after the first rep that the hill wasn’t quite as long as it should have been – Sally wanted me to run up for ~60 secs, but it only took 45-50 so was a bit short. I checked my heart rate and decided that it was probably going to be ok as I was reaching over the 180bpm that was prescribed. Another seven reps later and I was done and ready for a steady jog home. It was a really tough session and at the top of each hill I wondered if I was ever going to breath normally again but by the time I got home and showered I felt absolutely fine. I know that hills are going to be good for me so I will plough through these sessions and maybe, just maybe, I will one day come to love hill running!

On to Sunday, the final run of the week. I have to admit I was a little concerned when I woke up and got out of bed to realise my ankle was pretty sore. It’s taken a bit of a battering the last few weeks so I can’t blame it for feeling achy, but I really could do without getting injured. I put my ankle support on, had my porridge and started on my way. Wendy, Laura and I all had different distances to cover in our plans this week but we managed to figure out that if I ran to meet Laura, and then we ran to Wendy’s, did a seven mile loop from there and then ran back again we would each get our distances in – seven for Wendy, 10 for Laura and 12 for me. It’s also a really good way of breaking up a long run so it doesn’t feel so, well … long! By the time we were about three miles in my ankle had started to ease off a bit and we had set a nice pace of between 9 and 10 min/mile. This was my first run experimenting with energy gels and after an hour I proceeded to try to open my first one. Note to SiS – you really should make those buggers easier to open! Juggling a bottle of water and trying to tear the top off a sachet of gel seemingly made of rubber all whilst trying not to fall over is not an easy feat! Still, what were teeth made for huh? I eventually got in to my little pocket of energy goodness and gulped it down with a pleasant surprise at the taste and consistency. I have to say – the struggle to open was worth it when I still felt full of energy towards the end of my run. I had three of the four that Sally told me to take with me but I think that was enough for me as the porridge had kept me pretty full for the first hour. So having dropped Wendy and Laura off at their relevant checkpoints I carried on home to finish with 12.3M under my belt in just less than two hours. Not bad going.

Post-run I stretched out quite a bit today, and boy did I need it! My ankle has started to ache again, but I’ve got active recovery tomorrow, and have been using the ibuprofen gel again this afternoon and evening. I will also pick up some kinesiology tape and start to strap it up for a bit more support. Fingers crossed it holds out as if it doesn’t improve I’m probably going to have to take a week off and I’m not quite sure I’d know what to do with myself!


Here it is - another training update. I hope you’re not bored of me yet?!

In the last couple of weeks I’ve taken the decision to enlist the help of Sally Pinnegar, a sports nutritionist and personal trainer, to write my marathon training plans. Sally runs “Fit Naturally”, a service to help people manage their weight, improve their fitness and train more smartly for sport. For marathon training she creates tailor-made plans with feedback on sessions from your Garmin output, so should really help me get the best out of the weeks leading up to Marathon day.

My first week’s plan will commence on the 2nd January, so this week I decided to just do what I wanted to do, but with a generic training structure to it – a speed/strength session, a recovery run, a tempo run and a long run. Here are my sessions from the last week of 2011:

Monday: REST

Tuesday: Hill reps

Wednesday: 3M recovery run

Thursday: 5M tempo with Laura (7M total)

Friday: REST

Saturday: 7.8M solo

Sunday: REST

I know, I know – I promised I’d get some cross-training in, but I just seem to be so busy all the time! However, I’ve received my first week’s plan from Sally and it has a day of cross-training in for Monday, so I’ll be good and stick to the plan. Scout’s honour!

Monday was another day of gluttony, with a second Christmas dinner in the form of Boxing Day lunch (yum!). I got some well-deserved rest and spent the day watching films and reading, got to love a lazy day!

On Tuesday I decided to take advantage of the hilly nature of my mum’s village and do some hill reps. I wasn’t quite sure how long or steep the hill was that I was planning to tackle, so decided on 4 reps at a fast-ish pace to challenge my lungs but not exhaust myself, and I had a really good session. Each rep was a nice even pace and I felt suitably gasping for breath at the top of each one so I know it challenged me. I never knew solo speed-work could be fun! I padded the session with a mile warm-up and cool down. I don’t think spending the rest of the evening sitting cross legged on the floor sorting paperwork really helped my aching muscles too much though!

Wednesday’s session was a fairly simple 3M recovery run, so not much to report there other than the fact that I need to hold back the pace a little. It was still an “easy” run, but I should probably be sticking to around the 10 min/mile pace for these sorts of runs.

I arranged to meet up with Laura for my Thursday run – I was going to go to the club, but with a few days off work I thought I’d get a nice daytime run in and keep the evening to myself whilst I could. We chose to attempt a “fast five” with a target pace of under 9 min/mile and chose a meeting point roughly halfway between us so we could both have a bit of a warm-up jog. We set off on the 5 mile loop and as the first mile lapped on my watch I knew we were making good time. The wind and rain made this a bit more of a challenging run, but also helped to cool us down at the pace we were keeping. As we got near the end of the loop we made for a sprint finish on the downhill section and both stopped our watches to see we had kept up an average pace over the 5 miles of just over 8:30 min/mile – super cool! I took the mile cool-down a bit fast having the pace kind of drilled into my legs, but walked the last 5 minutes home to stretch out a bit.

And then on to Saturday. I turned down a run with some Harlow RCers in favour of a bit of a lay in and decided to run solo at Fisher’s Green in Lee Valley instead. Technically this probably should have been a slightly longer run than it was, but I thought I’d cut it down a bit and take an easy week before the heavy training ahead and opted for a 7-8 mile run. A couple of loops round the lake and a run along the river was just what I needed. I think my legs will probably thank me for it as well as the terrain is mostly trail and a bit of gravel with only a small amount of concrete overall. I do need to learn to keep the pace slower though as I seem to be settling into 9 min/mile naturally and find it hard to slow down. I finished the run at 7.8M with an average pace of 9:13 and my average heart rate was at 80% of my max. I should be targeting more for 65-75% of max HR I think, I may have to look into setting an alarm on my watch for longer runs to keep me more aware.

So now it’s Sunday the 1st January 2012, also known as New Year’s Day, and having spent a lovely evening gorging on delicious but sinful food and watching a movie with my boyfriend to see in the New Year I am taking another rest day to end the week. And why the hell not… I’ve got a busy 15 weeks of marathon training coming up to start off the New Year in style! Day one of my new, personalised, training plan starts tomorrow and I intend to work hard and focus to try to achieve my goals for 2012.

I’m going to end by saying Happy New Year to you all, I hope 2012 is everything you hope it to be. 



This week’s training didn’t really start as planned. With my knee feeling a little bit knackered on Monday’s run I decided to rest it on Tuesday by doing a spinning class instead of a run – only my second week of a five run target and I’d already dropped one of them! Still, the spinning class was great (thanks Natalie!) and I still got my bit of cardio in to keep my pulmonary fitness up so it wasn’t all doom and gloom.

Sessions this week were:

Monday:  3M solo

Tuesday: 1 hour spin class plus stretching

Wednesday: REST

Thursday: 8.4M HRC run

Friday: REST

Saturday: 3.8M solo

Sunday: 9M with Wendy and Laura

This means I clocked up a total of 24.32 miles this week, so I’m still slightly up on last week’s total of 23.42 miles, spread across five days.

I think the active rest followed by a rest day on Wednesday really helped because I felt fighting fit on Thursday and having decided to do 7 miles with the HRC I then changed my mind halfway round and joined the 8 milers. I’m glad I did as I felt really good afterwards and even managed to natter all the way round the second half.

We had our Harlow Running Club Christmas Party on Friday night at the Manor of Groves hotel. Needless to say it was a fun night, plenty of food and even more dancing! It’s always a laugh with the HRC bunch and I’m looking forward to the presentation evening in February.

Saturday was a recovery run before an hour of leg-pulverising by the lovely Nicola Court! The massage was well needed, but very sore – I had to laugh out loud just to be able to bear the “discomfort” of the ITB release and then she even stuck in a few acupuncture needles for good measure. Luckily, it seems as though the pain I was getting in my knee was from ITB tightness, not collateral ligament damage so that should be quicker and easier to remedy. It’s unusual for me as I normally get ITB pain manifest in my hip, but it is more common in the knee. Nicola reminded me that I’m actually up on miles compared to a lot of people who will be starting their training plans soon, if they haven’t already, and that I can afford to take it easy if necessary so I left feeling positive.

To end the week Wendy, Laura and I headed out at 8am on this cold, frosty day to push out a solid 9 miler. We made it round at 10:17 min/mile, which is exactly at the top of the range that the McMillan Running Calculator reckons I should be hitting for long training runs for a 3:50 marathon. And to top it off my knee felt pretty much ok, just a slight hint of tightness there. Considering Nicola said it may actually feel worse the day or so immediately after a deep massage I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.

All’s well that ends well.