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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: training

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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 :) 

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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!

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I’m now well into my marathon training, with this past week being the 3rd week of my training plans with Sally, and my 6th week of the training blogs.

This week was by far my toughest yet and I really started to feel the burn of the increased mileage and intensity.

I started the week with hill reps on Monday. I missed this last week as I’d had to ask Sally to re-arrange my schedule because of other plans, so they were slotted in on Monday to start the week off in style… or pain! I went out a bit late having had a dinner date after work and it was starting to get really cold. I thought the hill would be a bit more suitable than the one I had used previously as it was slightly longer, but less steep. It turned out it was a little too long, taking me roughly 70 seconds to climb each time. My HR was hitting the right zone and each rep was fairly consistent in pace so I was pleased that I was getting what I needed out of it. After about 6 or 7 reps I started to find the session a bit of a mental challenge, but pushed out the last few to get me to 10 and then jogged home.

Tuesday’s session was another pace run, trying to get my marathon pace to feel like second nature. I set out a route that I thought would take me about 70 minutes to cover at the target pace. I made the stupid mistake of eating a whole load of chocolate and biscuits in the hour or so before my run and really paid for it on the way round, feeling quite sick. I stuck more accurately to the pace than with my last attempt and despite the sicky feeling I finished on target with an average pace of 8:35 min/mile. My fastest mile was 8:22 and my slowest 8:44 so I really must try to keep this gap tighter.

On Wednesday I had my second sports massage of the training season. It never ceases to amaze me how many tight spots you don’t know you have until the sports therapist is manipulating them! Once again I used my well-practised technique to help with the pain – laugh my head off until it’s stopped! Nicola must think I’m insane…

Thursday brought speedwork in the form of three lots of 2400m (6 laps of the track per rep) followed by one 1600m rep (4 laps of the track). Again it was cold, so I tried to wrap up warm and knowing that I was going to be by myself I thought I’d listen to my iPod shuffle to help me work my way round and round and round… but I forgot it! My legs were amazingly tired and I really struggled to get my heart rate up to the threshold point on the first rep, but then by the second and third my HR was soon enough reaching 180+ bpm but my legs were slowing. Eventually I managed to finish the final rep and I was so relieved! This was really hard.

And this brings me on to Saturday and my 14 miler. What a great run that was… NOT! I woke up early to get ready for my run with a breakfast of porridge and tea. I had to set out at just after half 7 to get the first 2-2.5 miles done before meeting Wendy at 8am. After the first mile or so I realised this was going to be a bad run – the jacket I was wearing was making me quite hot, but I needed it so I could carry my gels and phone, which just happened to be bouncing up and down on my stomach with every step! Not only that but my legs were feeling really tired. By the time I reached Wendy’s I was full of negativity and really needed the company! Things got a bit better after that and we carried on with the route I had planned at a comfortable pace. It was at about 11 miles that I got another downer – my watch started bleeping at me and I looked down to see a message saying “low battery”…. WHAT?! I had put my Garmin on charge only that morning and checked it before I left to make sure it was at 100% - why was it now telling me that it was going to die on me?! It lasted about another 15 minutes and cut out just at the point at which I left Wendy to do the last 2-2.5 miles home. This last section was pretty tough – there was a really strong headwind and I was struggling to keep up the pace but had no idea how fast I was actually going. I picked up the pace with about 1-1.5 miles to go, again I don’t know how fast it was but I felt challenged so think it must have been about right. Finally I made it back to where I had started but by the time I finished I think I was probably closer to 14.5, maybe even 15M. I don’t think I would have done it all without Wendy.  I don’t know what my overall pace was, but it was at 9:49 min/mile at the 12M point, so I think it can only have gotten better with the pick-up, but I guess that’s one thing I’ll never know. Still, I suppose the positive to look back on is that I completed my longest ever run, without incident, and it wasn’t me that ran out of juice, but my watch!

This is my week in a snapshot:

Monday: hill reps http://connect.garmin.com/activity/142581223

Tuesday: 70 mins at pace http://connect.garmin.com/activity/142581236

Wednesday: REST

Thursday: 3x2400m and 1x1600m http://connect.garmin.com/activity/143100329

Friday: REST

Saturday: 14M with Wendy http://connect.garmin.com/activity/143984367

Sunday: REST

I had three rest days, rather than two with a day’s cross training because I had been struggling so much this week. I’ve got the same this week because it’s apparently going to be a tough week, so maybe we’ll see a bit of cross training coming back in February.

I couldn’t have chosen a better weekend to have a bad run, with a night away with my boyfriend to celebrate our two year anniversary to look forward to I quickly forgot about the run and started thinking about tea, cake, Indian head massage and a three course dinner with wine and lovely company! If only every run could be followed by that ritual :)

So on to the next week. Here’s hoping it’s more successful, running-wise. I hope all you other spring marathoners are doing well with your training.

Garmin Forerunner 910XT

This new watch by Garmin looks incredible! I love my forerunner 405 and it’s become a staple of my running preparation and review, but the 910XT looks like a cover-all-bases device for the run, bike and swim training that make up a triathlon schedule. Definitely one to look out for!

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Another week passes me by. Where is the time going?

The first thing I’m going to update you on is my fundraising, as after all that is a big reason as to why I’m doing all of this! I’m now £380 towards my target of £1000, which I’m really happy with… nearly halfway there! I still have a few fundraising events to come, so hopefully those will generate a bit more towards that elusive goal. If this blog has at all entertained you, please consider making a donation to my JustGiving page – it really would make such a difference and no amount is too small.

Now on to training - my lesson from this week’s marathon training is that if I shut up I can run a lot faster… I know, it’s a novel idea! More about this on Saturday’s briefing :)

The week panned out like this:

Monday: REST

Tuesday: 4 x 1600m http://connect.garmin.com/activity/140756119

Wednesday: REST

Thursday: 60 mins at pace http://connect.garmin.com/activity/141220885

Friday: REST

Saturday: 13M solo http://connect.garmin.com/activity/142163262

Sunday: 20 min recovery run and a gentle cycle http://connect.garmin.com/activity/142163270

I should have done some light cross training on Monday, but didn’t have time to fit it in as I had dinner plans with my lovely friend Vicky. As this was a rest/easy day anyway it’s not too much of a problem that I missed it so I’m not going to worry myself over it.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not usually a fan of interval sessions, so the idea of doing mile repeats on Tuesday was a bit of a drag, but I’m so motivated for running generally at the moment that I went out there with my game face on and worked hard. Keeping myself at around 180bpm (my version of about 85% max HR) I did my first four laps of the track for interval number one and then stopped to walk around and recover, then repeated this another three times. I felt really good and found it fairly easy to settle into the proper pace to achieve the appropriate heart rate on each rep. I had to focus on counting in for three and out for four to control my breathing so I know I was at the right intensity. Overall I averaged out at 7:27 min/mile which I was really pleased with, and they were all fairly evenly paced.

Thursday runs at the HRC during marathon season are usually tempo runs, starting with a mile warm-up, then running at tempo pace for X number of miles, followed by a mile cool-down; but Sally wanted me to treat this as a pacing session and to start off at my target marathon pace from the off. My first mile was a bit slower than planned as I tried to get past the group who were doing their warm-up, and then each subsequent mile was too quick! I averaged out at 8:25 min/mile overall, so not too far off the 8:36 pace I’m aiming for – but the point was to try to keep each mile evenly paced out at the target pace and looking at my Garmin splits I kind of failed there! Hopefully, in time, I’ll become used to the pace and be able to run it on autopilot – which Sally says is the point of these sessions.

So this brings us to the weekend. Sunday was Harlow Running Club’s turn to host the Cross Country League that we’re part of and, having not wanted to risk injury, I decided to marshall rather than run, which meant that I needed to do my long run on Saturday as I wouldn’t have had time before or after the Cross Country. I mapped a route out near my mum’s home town of Sutton, near Ely, and drove up on Saturday morning after fuelling both myself and my car (porridge for me, unleaded for the car!). With only my iPod shuffle to accompany me I set out on the run a little later than planned, and was a little worried that I might overheat with the layers I’d put on, but despite the sunshine it was still very cold. And this is where the “talk less, run faster” theory came in to play: Usually on my long runs I have some company, in the form of Wendy or Laura, or both. So having set out on my own and looking more at HR as a target than pace, I realised that I was running around 20-30 seconds per mile faster than when I am nattering away with friends… who knew gossiping took so much energy?! There were a couple of “eeek” moments when the oncoming traffic travelling towards me at ~60mph didn’t see me until the last minute (look where you’re going Mr Ford Mondeo, not at the heron flying overhead – you know who you are!!) and I’m sure that’s a plausible explanation for some of the peaks in my HR, but the run went by without incident. Around the 10 mile mark I realised that I might actually be on pace to finish my 13M in under 2 hours, and against my better judgement I picked up the pace again for the last mile, following the second of the hills I had to climb, and sure enough I finished in 1:59:05. Ahh, done :)

XC day! I arrived at the running club around 9:30 am ready for instructions and it was really buzzing – lots of runners from Harlow Running Club, Ware Joggers, Saffron Striders and Bishops Stortford all ready and raring to go. I walked over to my marshalling position and waited for the first of the runners to reach me. I was roughly half a mile in to the route, which would double back and become half a mile from the finish. It was a very cold day, and my fingers and toes were becoming steadily number! The runners all did really well, and Harlow ladies finished 3rd, while the HRC men came 1st! HRC are 2nd overall in the league, with just one more race to go. Well done Harlow!

After my marshalling duties I set out on my 20 min recovery run that was scheduled. Not really much to report here, it was an “easy” run, but my legs were more tired that I’d thought. It was good to flush them out with a bit of gentle running, though, and they felt much looser afterwards.

I ended the week with a leisurely bike ride with Wendy – we were on a mission to go and get some cake, earning it on the way! I haven’t got access to my bike at the moment, so I used one of Wendy’s – a road bike, no less! It was my first experience of riding a road bike and I was actually a little nervous – the teeny tiny tyres and the low handle bars were very new to me and I also hadn’t used clip-in pedals for a long time… since falling off my bike (twice) at Thetford Forest visitor centre with my boyfriend, much to the amusement of him and everyone else around! Still, the height of the saddle meant I could still put my foot to the ground, so I felt fairly safe. It was a really nice ride, and the pit stop for tea and a slice of really tasty fruit cake was a lovely half-way point. I will definitely have to get myself some thicker socks and gloves for these things though as yet again they were numbing up. I really should try to get out cycling more often.

So that’s it – my week in marathon talk – overall it’s been another really positive week and I’m really enjoying my training. I hope you’re enjoying reading about it!

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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 http://connect.garmin.com/activity/138795303

Wednesday: 30 mins yoga

Thursday: 3M HRC tempo run http://connect.garmin.com/activity/139242529

Friday: REST

Saturday: hill reps http://connect.garmin.com/activity/140070541

Sunday: 12M with Wendy and Laura http://connect.garmin.com/activity/140070582

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!

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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 http://connect.garmin.com/activity/137960957

Wednesday: 3M recovery run http://connect.garmin.com/activity/137960977

Thursday: 5M tempo with Laura (7M total) http://connect.garmin.com/activity/137960998

Friday: REST

Saturday: 7.8M solo http://connect.garmin.com/activity/137961014

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. 

Source: fitnaturally.co.uk