running blog



This morning I received in the post a wonderful shiny gold medal from Louise.  She’d had them made for us after our 24 mile Kingston Challenge run last week where we were a little disappointed not to get a medal

Medals are very important to us runners, just ask any runner or fellow runner-blogger-Rachel Medal Slut, it’s all about the medal! It’s not only the collecto maniacs and magpies in us that want more and more shiny medals hanging and clanking like cow bells from our wardrobe doors.  Medals are the important physical token which represents the wonderful feeling of achievement and pride we get from running any race, from a first 5K through our longest runs and fastest races.  Last week was the furthest I’ve ever run and I ran it faster than I thought and Louise ran an amazing race so having such a wonderful medal to remind us of our achievements last week is fantastic.  No pressure Rutland Water Marathon in 2 weeks time!

Apologies if I’m gushing but I’m on the sofa drinking a glass of wine with my feet up watching Strictly after running 17 miles today. I have my first Saturday night in many weeks with a glass bottle of wine and a lie in booked for tomorrow because I’m not racing tomorrow and I have now run ALL my marathon long runs!  Only a taper and the Great South Run between me and Rutland Water Marathon.



Kingston Run Challenge 24

Last Sunday was yet another Sunday morning, third in a row, when I questioned my sanity as I sat eating my breakfast at 6am and was de-fogging the car in the cold and dark to leave at 6.30. My third Autumn race in the build up to my marathon in 3 weeks time, only one more race before the BIG one.

The Kingston Run Challenge is a 8 mile course where runners complete 1, 2 or 3 laps or complete the 24 miles as a team relay.  Having to do a 20 mile long run we signed up for the 24 thinking that the extra mileage would give us confidence for the marathon, or me worrying that I’d bitten off more than I could chew!  Alma, not running an Autumn marathon sensibly moved down to the 16m distance so it was just Louise and I running the 24miles ‘3 short little laps’.  Well it really did feel like that when we lined up at the start, there was a distinct lack of enthusiasts nutters wearing the distinctive green bib numbers!

Louise is training for her second marathon and has done some really good focussed training from a personal plan from online running coaches. I’ve been a little more casual, for my first, using 2 training plans as a guide but have kept a beady eye on Louise’s training runs and recently she has been more than happy to share her schedule!  So I said I’d go along with her plan for this race to start out at 10.15 pace and work it down to an overall average pace of 10 min miles and target finish time of 4 hours.

My Runnersworld smart coach plan said 20 miles at 10.13 pace. Having run my long runs, over 15 miles, at between 10.10 and 10.30 pace I had in mind a finish time for me of about 4 hours 10 for this race which was so much further than I’ve ever run before, so thought I’d probably have to fall back from Louise’s pace at some stage.

We started off into the cold morning mist over Kingston bridge with the 8 milers and even starting at the back we were pulled along with their pace having to work hard to hold back but enjoying overtaking the slower 8 mile racers!  A busy first lap with the 8 mile race followed by a second lap being overtaken by the fast 16 mile racers who started 30 mins behind us.

During the second lap my calf muscles, which had been tight and given me heel pain the week before, began to hurt as well as with my heel.  After starting our 3rd lap (we knew this would be the hard point) every bit of my legs and glutes were getting increasingly painful.  I decided that I

  • a, wanted to be able to walk this week,
  • b, had to recover and complete the last 3 weeks of my training,
  • c, didn’t want to do any damage and
  • d, had to save my full effort for my marathon!

So between the 17 and 18 mile markers I decided to ease off and told Louise to go on and hold her pace.  Mile 18 was tough.  Two passing runners asked about the race and how far I’d run and told me I was looking good which really helped!  I told myself I had to keep running (slowly) until 20 miles and then I could walk.  I found a slower pace which was more comfortable and made it to 20 miles.  All alone on a nondescript pavement I couldn’t face 4 miles walking and carried on to the fuel station before mile 21.  I briefly tried a walk then but walking was actually more painful on my hips than plodding on. Next I caught up with and overtook a walker and checked he was OK. He had run the first lap fast with the 8 mile race (that’s youth for you!) and was now cramped up. He joined me in a shuffle and we chatted along together to the end.

Great to see Louise and Alma shouting me over the line! but very disappointed not to get a medal. (We got a mug).  I’d just run 24 blooming miles and I wanted a great BIG medal with 24 on in great big numbers!

Louise ran a brilliant race holding pace to the end finishing in 3.59. I wasn’t disappointed about having had to slow down when I saw my average pace… bang on 10.13 min miles… Just what the plan said with 4 extra miles to boot!  Many thanks to Louise for such a good run, just shows the power of having a good running buddy for pacing.


Royal Parks Half Marathon

Today was the second of my autumn races in the build up to my marathon (in 4 weeks time Eek!), my 9th Half Marathon (yes, my 10th will be a full marathon) and the 4th time I’ve run this race.

Running two half marathons only a week apart at a decent pace is pretty hard work! Especially when you’ve banked 3 miles on the way to the second one because you’re not supposed to be running a Half Marathon but bashing out 18 miles of marathon training. The original plan was to race Ealing last weekend and then treat today as an easy training run, enjoy the event and scenery and add a few miles to make up my long run. But I’m afraid I just can’t run a race without trying, whatever I tell myself! Last year I ran this one with friends taking it easy, enjoying the atmosphere and sights because I was just coming back from injury so there was no way I wasn’t going to have a good race this time.

So I started out with lofty ambitions of attacking my PB or beating last weeks pace. I was a bit miffed that I was in the blue start zone (having been in the one ahead before. Am I the only one who puts an honest expected finish time down?) and I was preparing myself to be cross about the overcrowding. It was a very busy race and I did have to do a fair bit of darting in between gaps and had to be patient a few times where the course narrowed to get round people running slower in pairs particularly on slight uphill stretches.

My first wobble came early, around 8 miles (more like 11 for us reminded my militant legs) and because my legs really did ache a bit I had to get realistic and think about adopting plan c, to finish sub 2 and for the next few miles just dug in to hold my average pace below 9 min miles. At 11 miles I manned up with only 2 miles to go helped by a lovely marshal shouting ‘ just think how you’ll feel when you cross the finish line!’ and started to push forward weaving past and overtaking people around me.

I tend to race these days without music. I can concentrate on pace better and enjoy it more without being plugged into my iPod. But I decided to run with music today, knowing it would be harder work on tried legs and because it’s a big busy race where most people are plugged into their own music. I was listening to audiofuel and their Run Wild 2 hour-long run mix for the first time in ages. The timing was perfect, I started it just before the start line and the last 10 mins of the track was fantastic coinciding perfectly with the 12 mile marker and had me sailing across the line on a high. Absolutley delighted to be ony 58 seconds slower than last week.

I was prepared not to enjoy today’s race. I prefer smaller less crowed races where everything takes less time (baggage, loos…) and less crowding gives a better stab at pb pace. I expected to be cross about the crowding and too many slower runners ahead and spectators pushing into the course and the scrum at water stations. Yes there was a bit of all that but it didn’t bother me. It was a lovely autumn day running in a great capital city and beautiful park with great marshalls, many having great fun and encouraging us all along, and a wonderful atmosphere.

So, hard as it is to get into this race via the ballot, its relative high cost, it’s still only 2 miles from home and I enjoy it so I will keep trying to come back for more.

My run today was in 3 parts. An easy run, a half marathon and then I planned to run 2 miles home to make it up to 18. Well I planned to. My militant legs had other ideas… I sent them the message to start running home and the message received back was Pi$$ off! So I walked home trying many times a few pick up ‘jog/shuffles’ but every bit of my legs was agony. All good practice for what it will feel like at mile 25 of the marathon I’m sure!

I was worried, having mainly walked the last 2 miles home, that maybe I hadn’t run my full 18 miles long run. But when I thought about it (I do walk a bit now and then on long runs and am quite ready to walk some of my marathon) I added the time and distances all together which still gives an overall pace which I’d be delighted to run for my marathon! So I am still logging today’s shuffle/walk home as part of my run! I’m sure its time on my feet that counts.

Run 1, ‘Warm up’. Easy 3.11 miles in 32.40

Run 2, Half Marathon. 13.2 miles in 1.57.58

Run 3, ‘Cool down’. 2.16 miles in 33.59

So put it all together and….. Marathon Long run of 18.47 miles in 3.04.45.

RPHM splits


Happy Running

After my fantastic run on the Thames path last weekend, I’ve had another good week of running and marathon training.  Again, I’ve been to BMF 3 times but I also added a run on Thursday where I was happy enough to include 3 speedy mile laps in the middle of my run. My fastest was 7.42 which I will log for magic mile team GB, although I might try to have another go as I’m sure all out I can beat that!

Today I was back on the Thames path for another long run.  I ran downstream this time and on the south bank of the river where the path follows it closely.  My legs weren’t as fresh as last week after speedwork on Thursday and a harder BMF class yesterday but was happy to be only a bit slower paced than last week over my 17 miles.  Kingston to Putney then back to Hammersmith and home.  Very different scenery this week, at some times easy to forget you are running so close to London.

towards Richmond

Talking about happy running, Bupa Running are celebrating the world’s happiest run – the Bupa Great North Run, tomorrow.  (I’m going to have to run it now sooner or later!) They’ve set up a tumblr page where runners can share their pictures of their training and of race day and would love runners to have a look and send in their pictures via Facebook and Twitter using the #BupaGNR and #happiestrun hashtags.

As an added charity incentive Bupa will be donating £1 to their charity partner, Diabetes UK, on behalf of the first 2000 people to share their experiences on Twitter and Facebook with the #happiestrun hashtag.

Bupa Running are also highlighting some of the great charity work that people are doing, using distance races to raise money for so many great causes. For example comedian Patrick Monahan is running the GNR to raise money for Zoe’s Place, a baby hospice in Middlesbrough. Patrick has made a  video  of how he plans to make the race as much fun as possible! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EieJZaEjeDQ&list=PL58D9450B2C34283E&index=1&feature=plpp_video

Good luck to everyone running the GNR tomorrow and to everyone else training and running in upcoming events.  Don’t forget to share your experiences with Bupa running #BupaGNR #happiestrun and spread the word if you are running for a good cause.  I won’t be joining you tomorrow but do have the Ealing Half and Royal Parks Half in 2 and 3 weeks time.

Happy Running!


On the up!

Many thanks for your comments, suggestions and support after my last post. I hope I haven’t put anyone off training for a first marathon too much! It’s a journey after all so there are obviously going to be one or two ups and downs (if it was easy, everyone would be running marathons!)

After last weeks down this week things are definitely on the up! I am now running in my widest fitting running shoes, going commando and strapping my rib cage with plasters to avoid chafing and I’ve bought myself a Camelbak so I don’t have to get angry with my water bottle. Most of all I’ve sorted out my head, which was the main problem.

This week I went to BMF three times, in place of my midweek runs, where we had some laughs and I was happy to realise that I still have some pace in my legs. We also had some great post BMF coffees sitting in the sunshine by the Serpentine where we put the world to rights. Thanks team, head sorted and motivation restored.

I also got some fantastic marathon training advice for long runs from Rosie. Get a train or get dropped off miles from home and run back. Then there is no way to take a short cut, miss out a lap or give up (unless you find a handy passing taxi!) and every step of the run is a step nearer home. She also suggested getting a train out to Teddington and running the Thames path back to central London.

So started my research into the Thames Path and on Saturday morning I got the tube out to Canary Wharf and ran the 14 miles of Thames path back to Hammersmith.

morning sun over Canary Wharf

Tower Bridge and The Shard coming into view

the end in sight at Hammersmith Bridge.

Plus an extra mile towards home by which time it was getting warm and I decided I was far too hot and knackered to make it all the way home so rang my husband to come and get me!

A brilliant run, my best long run and furthest distance ever. I ran alone and without music but didn’t feel all the miles because for 2 1/2 hours I was happy to view the wonderful sights of London, smile at other runners and dodge tourists.

It’s a fabulous route following close to the river all the way apart from a few parts in deepest Fulham. I am only sorry, as a runner and a Londoner, I’ve not run any of the Thames path before. Now I’m off to plan the next one!


Workplay fleetfoot II running bag

How do you carry everything for long runs?

Up until now I’ve always travelled light on my runs taking the minimum (just a key sometimes) and I stuff what I do take with me down my sports bra. A big ask for the poor garment which is already struggling with keeping everything still against forces of gravity! Also keys and coins are cold and I did learn my lesson that iPods don’t like to be warm and wet having killed a nano a few years ago!

Anyway, during Janathon, while training for half marathons this spring, I realised that I had to find a better way to carry some of the stuff I needed for increasing long runs. At one stage I had my gloves in my bra (with key, tissue and emergency fiver) and the combination of iPhone in the back pocket of my tights and my hat in the waistband was making the tights fall down! All hard to cope with while also trying to carry a bottle of water in one hand and run at the same time!

So when I was offered one of Workplay’s light weight female fit running bags to review I jumped at the chance. I will be starting marathon training in July and want to start experimenting with gels on long runs in preparation. Now where to shove them as well as everything else?

I have not got on too well with waist packs in the past finding all they do is bounce, wiggle up and down and not actually hold much. But I had seen an advert for Workplay’s waist bags which are designed to fit on your hips and was curious.

So for a Sunday long run recently I loaded up the Fleetfoot (keys, iPhone, tissue, gel, money, water bottle) for a full trial and set off to run 10 miles.

I have to admit that at first I thought oh dear… maybe I have to go back and take it off. I was feeling a bit self-conscious un-used to carrying much and I was fiddling with it round my waist and it was bouncing a bit. But a test is a test so I carried on to give it more time.

I’m glad I did because after a mile or so as I settled into my run it settled down on my hips, into the small of my back and became more comfortable. As my run went on I noticed it less and less, apart from each time I pulled it round to retrieve my water. Top tip. Don’t fiddle! I realised that I didn’t have to constantly push it down and tighten it. When left well alone it settled comfortably on my hips as I ran and didn’t bounce so I was able to run practically unaware of it.

Another top tip is to watch the video from Workplay bags to see all its features. The bags have useful separate compartments to keep items such keys, money, iPods or credit cards separate and the video shows how it holds a water bottle or running jacket which would have taken me a few outings to work out if I hadn’t known!

I’ve used it a few more times and the more I run with it the more I like it, even fully loaded with a water bottle.

A well planned, thought out bag with some great attention to detail and some important small touches such as a flap to thread your headphones through and a loop to keep the end of the strap when tightened tucked in is elastic so its easy to thread back on the move.

So I’ve got the bag, found the gels and now I’ve just got to do the long runs!

But first I’ve got to survive Juneathon!


Recovery run

I do like doing my long runs on Saturdays because it leaves me free to chill out, relax and enjoy a few glasses of wine on a Saturday evening and look forward to a lazy Sunday with no long run hanging over me.  So after yesterday’s long run I did chill out, have a good supper and enjoy watching a movie with a bottle of red!

After 14 miles yesterday I expected to have very achy legs today but  they were fine,  (I’ve had far worse problems walking down the stairs after a tough BMF class than I did today) but I did have  a thick head!  Normally I’d have a rest day after a long run but, “This is Janathon!” No rest allowed! I finally got going towards lunch time and decided to go for a short recovery run.  But what is my self-imposed minimum distance for Janathon?  I’ve logged 2.5 miles running for BMF classes and my shortest run distance so far this month has been 2.5 miles – so that’s what it had to be today.

I set off on my 2 mile local loop (which I ran a lot of in Juneathon) taking last nights DVD (The Hangover, rather appropriately) to drop into the post box back to Lovefilm. For the first mile my head hurt but my legs felt absolutely fine.  For the second mile my head had cleared and my legs felt absolutely knackered!  Can’t win. I added the extra half mile by a nip into Tesco and got an extra arm and shoulder workout running the last half mile carrying a bag of potatoes, clotted cream and a loaf of bread.

By the time I got home my head and legs felt fine, so recovery run it really was! I attribute my happy legs to the fact that I’ve run most of the time in compression tights and wore my long pair after my run yesterday.

2.5 miles, (2.5kg of potatoes, clotted cream and a loaf of bread), 25.01 mins.

145 miles run  2 days to go.