Posts Tagged ‘training’

A review (and some new photos)

May 16, 2009

Apologies for the lack of blog posts lately. To be honest, nothing much has been going on! There’s no running to write about as I still haven’t done my first post-Marathon run (and there might not be one, if my knees and hips continue to hurt like they currently do). The fundraising continues apace and I’m churning out bracelets like they’re going out of fashion (hopefully not!). I’m still trying to decided on my next big project (that Channel swim was a bit out of my reach after all).

Thought it might be interesting to do a little review of the whole marathon experience with a couple of graphs. Gotta love a good graph 🙂

So, this is my marathon graph – you can see how I started off well, pretty steady pace until the midway point, then it all starts to go horribly wrong. But I was speeding up again towards the end 🙂

My marathon pace graph

My marathon pace graph

This is all the running I did in training, along with my excuses for those bits with no runs in them 😉

Also check out some of my previous posts for some newly added pics….
Post Marathon Syndrome
London Marathon Part 2
London Marathon Part 1


Three is the magic number…

April 22, 2009

…but doesn’t actually feature in this post! Thought I’d continue my song-title-blog-title theme 🙂

I thought it’d be interesting to take a look at some of the stats around my London Marathon experience.

These first numbers are taken from my stats on LogYourRun

Shortest run: Way back in December 08 my first run was 1.4 miles, I had to stop halfway throught and practically died by the end. I managed something like 12 minute mile pace although I was so bad back then I didn’t even bother to time myself. Look how far I’ve come!

Longest run: The epic 17 miler that made me throw up and cry, but I managed to run the whole way round!

Fastest run: Before the training got into the long runs I was working on increasing my speed and by trying really really hard and ignoring the pain in my muscles I managed …. drum roll …. 9:30 minute/mile pace around a four mile circuit. Woo!

Most times running the same route: I’ve run my quick 2.7 mile route 15 times in my training. Most other routes have been run at least a couple of times, apart from those where I tried the route once and swore never to do it again!

Total miles run: 241.29 – just over 9 marathons’ worth of running. And soon to be joined by a tenth marathon of course…

Minutes spent training: an amazing 2532 (or 42.2 hours), making my average pace 10:30 minute miles.

Blog stats:

Total views: 1,889 (wow!)

Busiest day: 100 — Thursday, April 2, 2009 (this was the day I posted up my vest-printing services)

Posts: 41

Comments: 70 (most of them lovely, thank you 🙂 )

Me stats:

Weight lost: 5lbs

Toenails lost: 5 and counting

Money raised: £1,327.28

I’m aiming for £4000. Please help if you can!

It’s the final countdown…

April 19, 2009

Duh duh duuuh duh, duh duh duh da-da!
One week to go until the 2009 London Marathon! Hopefully by this time next week I will have finished the 26.2 mile slog and be having a well earned rest. The coming week is going to be busy and scary and I may start to panic about exactly what I’ve let myself in for.

Despite running the entire way on my two long runs, I already know I will probably have to walk at least once during the marathon, so I’m not going to beat myself up about it. Just finishing is impressive in itself! And it would be nice to still be able to walk the next day.

I’m spending most of the weekend in London, heading up on the Friday and coming home on the Monday. I have to go to the Expo on the Saturday to pick up my running number. And of course the marathon’s on the Sunday. My Friday is slightly complicated by the fact I have a three hour Classical Greek exam – great timing, not! I’ve only got a couple of short runs to do this week so my evenings are slightly freed up for revision but it’s annoying having two nerve-racking things happening on the same weekend!

I’m going to start packing today and have already made a list of things I need to take, of which I guess my running stuff is the most important! If for whatever reason I forget my toothbrush or something like that, I’ll be in the middle London so I think I’d be able to find a new toothbrush. But if I was to forget my trainers (or my rhino hat – or my running number confirmation) they’re not really replaceable…

Running the marathon is going to be very strange, my normal runs are an out-of-body experience so it’ll be even worse at the marathon, as I struggle to comprehend what on Earth I’m doing and that I’m actually doing it. Hopefully there will be a great camaraderie between the rhino runners, as well as all the other runners too. Must remember to smile and wave at the TV cameras!

I’m going to put some little treats (like Lemon Puffs) in my kitbag, which will be waiting for me at the finish line, to spur me on! I’ll also be adding blister plasters and a change of clothes, essential post-race items.

I’ll be heading out for a 5.7 mile run in a bit, I haven’t done that route since February so it will be interesting to see if and how I’ve improved my time…

Apologies for the babbling rambling post – need to get my head straight before next week!

Two weeks to go…

April 12, 2009

Today was the start of the taper, where you’re supposed to run less distance in the few weeks before the marathon in order to give your legs a bit of a chance to recover from the months of training before you do the ‘big one’. So where last week’s run was 17 miles, this week I only did 11.5 miles (when did 11.5 miles become ‘only’?!). It was lovely not to have to do the loops that I’ve been adding at the end of my run to get the distance up (I think running past my house more than once on a run has been affecting me more than I thought), and also lovely to only be out for two hours instead of the three plus that I’ve been doing for the past few weeks. Of course, I’m aiming for a marathon time of around five hours so add this week’s run to last week’s and you’ve just about got it!

The weather wasn’t so lovely, but at least it wasn’t raining, just a bit damp and cold and miserable. A real change from the last few weekends where it’s been all blue skies and fluffy white clouds. No surprise that there were hardly any people around today (apart from other deranged runners). There were more cars on the roads than I expected, and I either need to get better eyesight or get to know what cars my friends drive. I got beeped in an ‘I know you and see you running and I’m going to wave at you’ way three times on today’s run but do you think I could see who was driving?! I expect someone at some point will tell me they saw me running and that I looked exhausted, and I’ll be slightly embarassed to tell them that was only the start of the run!

Although I somehow managed to finish today’s run in exactly the same time I took last time I did this route (6 weeks ago), it felt much easier and more comfortable today. Last time I hit the wall at about 9 miles and had to walk four times in the last two miles, and also couldn’t make it all the way up the half-mile hill at 4-5 miles, having to walk before I’d actually reached the top. It was annoying that I hadn’t improved time-wise, especially as I walked so many times last time and not at all this time, but I powered up the hill I struggled with previously and managed a good pace (for me) for the whole rest of the run. I probably set off too fast last time, wearing myself out before the end, and I also hadn’t carb-loaded properly – I have it down to a fine art now.

Still, it showed that all the training and throwing up and crying has been worth it. I know I’m never going to be a fast runner – getting under a ten-minute-mile requires a huge effort – but I would just like to be able to get round the marathon as comfortably as possible, and manage a good sprint finish a la Silverstone.

Make sure you check out my London Marathon-inspired poem 🙂

Anyone can do a marathon…

April 10, 2009

Whether young and fresh-faced or really quite old
If you’re a ‘Fun runner’ or going for gold

On legs numbering two, one, zero or four
With chafeing, rubbing, and nipples so sore

It’s a test of endurance and stamina too
To get to the finish it’s all down to you

Those months of training, pounding the streets
Aching limbs, lost toenails and bruised, er, feets

Pasta at every meal and a love of carb gels
Helping and aiding those poor muscle cells

The big day itself comes round ever so quickly
Stood on the start line you might feel sickly

Soon the gun goes and thousands set off
And you think ‘I’m here’ though many have scoffed

‘Just look at me now, the biggest feat I have done
They didn’t believe me when I said I would run’

The race might be painful and it’s going to be long
But spectators will cheer ‘you can go on!’

You can walk, jog, or run, or a mix of the three
And find yourself wondering ‘was that really me?’

Crossing the line, you’ll forget all the pain
And sign up right there to do it again!

Last long run of the training

April 5, 2009

Well, where do I start?

It was all going so well. No feeling of trepidation in the days before, a lovely ‘away with the fairies’ sensation for the first ten or so miles, a nice sunny day with a hint of a breeze. The painkillers were working well and I’d eaten plenty yesterday in preparation. I was mentally prepared and set out at a decent pace.

I even spotted a couple of strange sights – loose Yellow Pages, er, pages scattered along the road for the first mile of my run, and then at about mile 11, someone’s knickers in a tree. The mind boggles!

I was aiming to beat last week’s 17 miles with something like 18.2 or even 19.5 if I was feeling good. Which by the 14th or 15th mile I wasn’t. Legs like lead, all the fairies had disappeared somewhere else, I was nauseous, my legs hurt (and not my knees either, this was muscular). Sports massage ASAP methinks – when the aches don’t leave your legs after a couple of days that can’t be good!

I did manage to equal the 17 miles of last week and felt like I was about to collapse. I’m disappointed that I didn’t manage to run further in this last long run before the taper, but it’s still waaaay further than I managed to run last time I was ‘training’ for the marathon. So hopefully I’ll be ok!

Having forgotten to take a house key, and with my dad out and brother down the pub, I was almost going to have to use a very wobbly stepladder to get into my house. Luckily my neighbours got back about 15 minutes after I got home and I was eventually able to get into the house. I threw up again this week (which I was hoping I wouldn’t do – does that mean I’ll throw up in the marathon??) and then suddenly burst into tears. This training lark is making me go a little crazy I think 🙂

I hope I’m able to feel better after the marathon. Crying will be allowed – tears of joy of course! – but hopefully there will be no throwing up, as that could get a little messy.

I read an interesting article yesterday in the Times in the ‘Marathon Man’ column, in which Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson describes the marathon in terms of

blood, blisters, pain, vomit, crying and dead

Sounds fun, huh?! The rest of the amusing (and scary) article can be found here

4 weeks to go and an even longer longest run

March 29, 2009

The countdown begins! This time in 4 weeks I will hopefully have completed the marathon, got my medal, and be relaxing with the Save The Rhino gang! Positive visualisation can only be a good thing!

After last week’s epic blog post about my 15.5 mile run, I’m afraid there wasn’t much to report today. It wasn’t one of the most enjoyable runs I’ve ever done, as for the most part I was bored out of my mind! Where last week I was floating on a cloud of Zen-like calm and post-Silverstone happiness, this week was just plain dull, and I felt every step of it.

I set out intending to do 18.2 miles but I’m afraid I was losing the will to live at the end and did 17 miles instead. I’m hoping to do that 18.2 next week instead – the last long run before I start tapering. My last couple of runs before the London Marathon are likely to be about 11.5 and 6 miles each – hardly short runs!

I got by on Jelly Beans and painkillers, much like last week, although I think I left it a little late to take the painkillers because the start of the run definitely hurt more this time. The first two miles or so of every run are hellish anyway so I’m not sure how much difference the painkillers would actually make…

Today’s run was based on decreasing loops, meaning I had to run past my house not once but twice! I found the best way to deal with the overwhelming urge to go into my house and have a nice lie down as to pretend it wasn’t my house. Weird, but it worked.

The high point of interest of today’s run was after I got back home and forgot to put my fleece (also know as ‘horse blanket’) on. I cooled down too quickly, and coupled with the overdose of sweet sickly sugary jelly beans, I promptly threw up. Then felt brilliant! Not exactly what I was after though as it’ll now take twice as much effort to rehydrate. Oops.

At least in the London Marathon I’m unlikely to get bored. There are costumes to spot (including the rhinos of course), spectators to high five and landmarks to tick off (and the Gherkin to see, again. I still hate it from last time ;)). And there will be people to run with too, of course (in theory 35,000 although of course most of them will be faster than me).

Longest run yet!

March 22, 2009

After last weekend’s high jinks at Silverstone, this week’s run was, in a word, boring. Now I’m not particularly enamoured of running at the best of times but after having someone to talk to last week and lots of spectators to distract me, this week felt a little lonely and lacking in excitement!

As I’d managed to run 13 miles last week without walking, I figured I’d bump it up a couple of miles and see how I got on. There was an early hiccup in the form of a work night out on Friday at which none of us had dinner (everywhere had stopped doing food by that point) – try telling a bunch of inebriated colleagues that you need to carb-load and see what their response is! I was so worried that this would adversely affect my run, although I tried to make up for it yesterday by making vegetarian spag bol and eating tinned rice pudding (great for carb-loading).

I set off for today’s long run at about lunchtime, which is unusual for me as I usually push my long weekend run back to the furthest point of a Sunday afternoon in an attempt to make it go away! I dosed myself up on Jelly Beans and painkillers and hoped for the best. As far as the painkillers go, I’ve found that it’s not usually tiredness or lack of energy that makes me walk, it’s knee pain. I have dodgy knees anyway so thought I’d help them out a bit!

The first couple of miles were, as usual, really difficult. I don’t think the Jelly Beans had kicked in by that point or maybe I just take longer to properly warm up these days. I soon reached town at which point I flung off my cagoule (OK, I took it off and tied it round my waist) to show off my Save The Rhino top with my name printed on it (get in touch if you need yours printed!) as I ran along the main shopping street. Got some weird looks but hopefully people will recognise me when I (hopefully) appear in this week’s local paper and sponsor me!

Headed on out of town again to the long hill that I usually need to walk at the top of. By this point those jelly beans had definitely kicked in and not only did I make it up the hill fairly easily but I didn’t need to walk at the top! This really set the challenge for running the whole thing as there weren’t really any bad hills after that so it was eminently doable. Heading back down off the plateau a couple of miles later is usually quite painful on my knees but the painkillers reduced it to more of a dull ache than a raging inferno of pain so I was pleased about that.

I was soon at the halfway point although it felt like I was further as I started to head back into my own territory – the roads I’ve run tens of times already, and the fact that they’re near my house helps! Speaking of which, I had planned to go a slightly different route than usual today (which would have made it 15 miles) but chickened out at the last minute – I was still going well at that point and didn’t want to wreck it by running unfamiliar, slightly hilly and most of all boring roads, although they’re only unfamiliar in the sense that I’ve never run them, having lived in the same place my whole life I have walked or driven them many times though! So instead I headed back along my road and past my house (so tempting to stop!) and ran my 4 mile loop which took in most of what I had just run in the previous 4 miles. Ordinarily I might be a bit unwilling to run the same route as I’d just run but this 4-miler is my regular route so I am very familiar with it, and I ran on auto-pilot, not caring that I’d just repeated myself.

I was soon back at my house for the second time but of course I was allowed to stop this time! I ran 15.5 miles in 3 hours and DIDN’T WALK ONCE!! Woo! I was very happy with this and I smashed last weekend’s record of the furthest distance I’ve ever run without walking. Next week could be interesting…

Today was a bit odd as despite my usual pre-long-run dread and apprehensiveness, once I was out running I somehow achieved a state of Zen-like calm and happiness and was smiling at people the whole way round. Maybe it was the painkillers. Maybe it’s because ‘spring has sprung’ – it was very pleasant to be out running in the warmth and sunshine with blossom and new leaves all over the place. Oh, and lots of frisky pigeons!

I’m now dosed up on arnica (great for bruised feet), drinking lots of water and looking forward to a big tub of organic strawberry ice cream – well, I’ve got to have a reason to get round!! 🙂

Me, sweaty and tired after my 15.5 miler in my lovely Save The Rhino t-shirt

Me, sweaty and tired after my 15.5 miler in my lovely Save The Rhino t-shirt

Does this mean that running the whole way in the London Marathon is a possibility??

Running with a cold

March 9, 2009

Having already covered running in the cold I’d like to turn my attentions to running *with* a cold, as it’s pretty topical at the moment – I have a cold and I’m not running!

I was supposed to do a long (13 + miles) run yesterday but having come down with the aforementioned lurgy I decided not to go. There’s a fine line between making sure you train and breaking yourself if you run when you shouldn’t. I took the advice of this interesting Times Online article and the ‘below the neck’ anaysis – as I had achy joints even before running I figured an unplanned rest day might be in order. I was also very dehydrated, a situation that would not be helped by going out and getting sweaty! And because I had a sore throat it was difficult to do any preparatory carb loading. Sometimes stubbornly carrying on with the training can do more harm than good…and I’m taking solace, after missing my long run, in the fact that my dad had to have an entire *month* off training just before his first London Marathon and still managed to post a decent time!

I found this part of the article very interesting:

However, while exercise does seem to boost immunity, it does so only to a point. Serious athletes or anyone in training for the London Marathon or another endurance event may find their defences are compromised as a result of longer or more intense workouts.

Last time I ran the marathon I avoided all colds until the week afterwards! This time I’ve not been so lucky it seems.

Hopefully I will have recovered by this weekend’s Silverstone Half Marathon (my first race of this year) as I’m hoping to debut the rhino costume. On a side note, I have given up on the paper and wire horn because I just couldn’t get those ridges on the side out. I mocked up a horn out of cotton on the sewing machine in about two seconds flat that looks way better so I’m probably going for that option! I’ll post pics when I’ve made the head of course.

Before the lurgy hit this weekend I was out and about doing a little bucket collection to help with my Save The Rhino fundraising, managed £49.62 in a small country town so I’m hoping to repeat the experience in some larger towns and cities. Please help me with my fundraising by sponsoring me if you can!

And I would walk (run) 500 (er, 100) miles…

March 1, 2009

As of my morning run yesterday, I have now done over 100 miles as part of my training for the London Marathon! That’s just under four marathon’s worth but feels a lot further!

I know how far I’ve run so far because I’ve been, well, ‘logging my runs’ at It’s a cool little website that allows you to map a route, give it a name and then enter data against it – for example today’s (almost) half marathon distance was called 13ish Miler and I was able to post a time of 2h30 against it, and the site then worked out that my pace was 11:30 minute miles – a bit slow perhaps, but I was aiming for slow and steady after ‘hitting the wall’ on a similar run last week. Not fun!

Generally though I have been getting faster on the shorter runs where you don’t need to worry so much about conserving energy. Running faster than your usual speed takes some concentration though (as well as the extra effort of course) and I find that if work has been busy or stressful I’m much less likely to post a fast time. I’ve given in to my geek side and made a little graph to show my pace improving since I started timing my runs at the start of January:

Pace Graph 01/03/09

I started off at around 12:30 minute miles but have improved so that most runs are 10:something, which makes me really feel like I’m getting somewhere. Those peaks on the right hand side are the long Sunday runs where I’m usually running ‘slow and steady’, although increasing the pace of the short runs will help me with the long runs. That blue line is the 10 minute mile line which is what all amateur/hobby/civilian runners should be aiming for! So you can see I’ve actually done sub-10 minute miles a couple of times which made me very happy 🙂

It can be counter-productive to get too much into the numbers game when running. Concentrating too much on paces and times can lead to disappointment and depression when you don’t do as well as last time, or your times aren’t as good as someone else’s. We’re all different anyway so a bad time for one person is a brilliant time for another ie. me. 🙂