running blog


I ran!

I know that that, in itself, shouldn’t be too much of a surprise seeing as this is a running blog but I’ve been off in the wilderness so my 4 mile plod on Thursday and today’s 10K were my first proper runs since Rutland Marathon 4 weeks ago.

Whilst I haven’t been running (as in, put on my garmin and plod out the door), I have gone to BMF classes 3 times a week so I’ve not been completely idle. It’s been nice to get a bit of speed back and enjoy some sprints free from heavy legs and marathon injury worries but the peak of my endurance is now 400m!

It’s not that Rutland Marathon finished me off it’s just that as well as some rest and recovery and down time from running I’ve had to reconnect with the rest of my life and put in a bit of time to catch up with family, friends, work and domestic stuff having been somewhat marathon obsessed for a few months. I’ve also had to sensibly give myself a good recovery to get over my Achilles problems and the past month with low mileage has meant that I am now free from ankle/heel pain when I run.

I also found myself post marathon at the top end of my normal weight range having fully embraced the fuel and carb loading part of my marathon training. So have used the past few weeks whilst taking it easy to experiment with intermittent fasting.  I’ve restricted myself to 500 or so kcal 2 days a week which so far is working as I’ve lost a couple of pounds.

So having rested and recovered I then found myself without the will to run (or blog).  I tried and another week passed.  I bought some new longer running tights and ran a 4 miler on my own earlier this week and wrote half a blog.  I signed up for some races, filling next years calendar and added the Regents Park 10K’s for December and January to get me started.

Today was the first and I fortunately met up with Alma so I had no excuses that it was too cold, too early and not turning up, but instead had a very enjoyable run with company, not looking at time or pace and running a fresh route.

Our breakfast afterards was good too.  Thanks Alma, Mojo restored.


Rutland Water Marathon

Thanks to Jovial Gnome for his support and the photographs.

The clue was in the name. Water. Not just running around a scenic reservoir (if we’d seen it through the morning mist or rain) but copious amounts of water under foot and overhead.

  • The good…

Teamwork… I ran with Louise (abradypus) again. Between us we kept to a steady 10 minute mile average pace to start with, where some faster splits on the downhills compensated for the slower ups. We subconsciously kept each other going through tough points working to pull back our pace and the miles passed. The route was very varied and scenic with plenty of changes in gradient and surface and twists and turns so never monotonous or boring even on the second lap of the peninsular where the wind on the side exposed to the lake froze our wet hands and feet. It was certainly challenging. Although mostly on hard trails and tarmac many of the paths were awash with water and running around the growing puddles on the grass meant slip sliding in the mud. Cattle grids meant tip toeing across slippery metal or going round and pulling open the gate with numb arms. There was some great good-humoured marshalling from the Cadets who manned the frequent water stations plus mile markers every 3 miles to remind us it was ‘gel time’ and as usual a great bunch of other runners around us.

  • The bad…

The rain, the mud, the cold, the ankle deep puddles. We knew there was a sting in this race’s tail and were expecting a hill at 20 miles… as we relaxed past the 21 mile marker it struck and I’m afraid to say that I caved first and apologised that I was going to walk. I told Louise to carry on. She joined me in a power march as the hill turned a tight corner and rose up in front of us. We picked it up again encouraged by the passing of 23 miles and only a parkrun to go. It was the steep downhill just before mile 24 that killed my legs. I don’t know if they were frozen solid or cramped but the impact on the downhill was painful and I had to limp. I fell back from Louise and told her to carry on thinking she might make sub 4.30. A bit of a hobble/walk/limp later I pulled myself together had two blasts of Pink Floyd ‘Wish you were here’ on my emergency iPod and carried on for the last couple of miles walking the downs and jogging along the rest, even managing to pass a few people in the process, as my legs bucked up with the end in sight. It might have been the weather but the finish was a bit of a of a cold damp squib. No medal, handed a poor goody bag with only a cardboard certificate (to fill in yourself), generic Fat-feet running vest, oat bar and a couple of gels. No foil blankets or directions where to find our warm layers from the start. Not much for your entrance fee.

  • My first marathon experience?

Positive. Once I defrosted and stopped shaking. I probably won’t be back for this one again but if anything a tough race has given me a brilliant sense of pride that I finished and in a good time. And I enjoyed it. We had a few laughs and I had a fair few bad moments but I didn’t hate it.

I have run a marathon. I will run another.

  • The Stats. For those remotely interested my garmin splits which are too long to paste into my blog, you can see them here.

My brain and hands were so numb with cold that it took me a full minute to manage to stop my garmin at the end as my chip time and garmin times show!



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.


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!


Change of plan

My marathon training plan is for 5 runs a week and I have to admit that I’ve been stuggling to fit them all in, especially during the school holidays, while on the Isle of Wight and having visitors.  In the 4 weeks since I started I’ve only managed to run 5 times in the week of Thunder run and 3 of those runs were on the same day so that’s probably cheating.

Some weeks I’ve felt a bit stressed about the fact I’m not doing all the runs I’m supposed to until it dawned on me that rather than beating myself up about not being able to follow this marathon training plan and throwing in the towel, I just have the wrong plan for me and I should get a new one.

So I had a look around on the internet and was very happy to find the Runners World Smart Coach which suggested 3 runs a week (with 4 days rest, or cross training which I can add when I get back to BMF etc in a couple of weeks).  The long runs are the same but there is longer mileage in one of the mid-week ones.  Not rocket science as my son had already suggested I should just do fewer but longer runs.  However the problem with this plan is that it is a little more technical with speed and tempo intervals, which I really should do, but 3x1600m at a precise pace is not necessarily possible on an uneven trail, round bendy roads when car dodging nor if the next 1600m is straight up a hill.

So, my new plan is… No plan!  Well until September at least.  I am simply going to continue to do my gradually increasing long runs as well as trying to increase my total mileage by 10% each week, in whatever combination of runs I can.

While I’m on the subject of change of plans… I had planned to run the Isle of Wight Half Marathon today.  However, I really didn’t fancy an undulating road race, starting at 11am in temperatures of 26 degrees.  A race that will have to wait for yet another year to run.  Instead I went out early (for me) at 8am and ran a slow loop of tree-shaded road, seafront and trails. A great route but tough going as it was already pretty hot. I also need to pay a little more attention in route planning for next time because I didn’t reckon on the non-stop climb back up from sea level between miles 7 and 9.


Whats next?

Juneathon is over for another year so whats next?

Well,  first for the sake of my poor old little legs I’m having a couple of easier weeks (although this week I’ve taken it to extremes as I’ve been very busy and have only managed one BMF class!).  I’m away on holiday next week so will definitely be making use of the hotel treadmill for a couple of runs and trying to do lots of swimming to keep up my fitness because it all starts when I get back!

My marathon training for Rutland Water Marathon starts on 16th July and I’m taking part in the Addidas Thunder Run 24 at the end of July and the Isle of Wight Half Marathon mid August.

For TR24 we, (AlmaLouise, Carla, Chris, Linda, Lorraine, Jon and me) are Team “Fools Rushing” and aim to run 3 laps each of the 10K trail in the 24 hour period.  Current plans are for a few of us (including me) to run 2 laps together during the night and then another lap the next day.  My Longest day run was therefore very good training having run 12 miles one day and 8 the following morning.  It was also good for me that the 8 miles was quite hilly and partly off-road because the TR24 course is through fields and woods and apparently has a killer hill (I’m not looking at the course details too closely yet!).

For my marathon training I’m broadly following this plan from Bupa Running which is easy to follow, has appropriate length runs for me and fits well with my Autumn Half Marathons as build up races.  I need to adjust / add to it a bit at the start to get in a couple of longer runs between now and TR24 but at least I have a good mileage base of about 30 miles a week during Juneathon to build on.


The Marathon Bug

Has got me.

  • When reviewing my 2012 races I wonder if my planned 6 Half-Marathons in 2012 should maybe be 5 Half and one full Marathon?
  • I’m thinking that after 10 Half Marathons (will be by the Autumn) it’s about time I ran a whole one?
  • I’ve been looking at Bupa Running training plans for Marathons not 10K ones for The London 10,000 in 5 weeks!
  • The build up to Spring Marathons on twitter and blogs has left me a little green with envy
  • Last Sunday while out for lunch I was told off for following runners on the Brighton Marathon App on my iPhone under the table in a restaurant!
  • This Sunday I was told off for following twitter to try to find out how runners were doing in VLM instead of map reading!


I have taken the cure and signed up for my first Marathon in November.  The date fits well with my planned Autumn Half Marathons meaning I “only” have to fit in a 15, an 18 and a 20 mile long run becasue I’ll be doing all the other training anyway!

Anyone else for the Rutland Water Marathon?

Big well done to everyone who ran the Brighton Marathon last week and London this weekend plus a very well done to Jo and Steve who ran both!  You have all inspired me and shown me that with the right training and a large helping of positive attitude (and cake) it is do-able!

Good luck for everyone running the Milton Keynes and Manchester Marathons next weekend.