Attitude, Running, Training

Week 21 Training

This week was a pretty good week for training, everything now is about building my confidence up and feeling strong for the big day – just 20 days to go until the first York Marathon!

When I was doing my long run on Sunday a lady came up behind me and we chatted for a while.  She’s doing the same marathon and has already done 2.  It was nice to spend a little time with her before our ways parted.  Sunday’s long run was early and it seemed like we runners had the whole of York to ourselves.  I exchanged a hello with every other runner, and a few early bird cyclists too.

Here’s how week 21 looked:

  • Monday: jog 20 – 10 minutes to the gym, 1 hour weights (legs), 10 minutes home
  • Tuesday: sprint 75 seconds, jog 3 minutes x 6 – this was tough
  • Wednesday: walked 7 miles on rough terrain at Bolton Abbey
  • Thursday: fartlek 70 minutes
  • Friday: sprint 60 seconds, jog 3 minutes x 6
  • Saturday: rest
  • Sunday: should have been 16 miles, instead did 12.5

Sunday was a lovely run but I lost it a bit on the distance.  This was supposed to be my last, confidence building long run before the marathon so now I’m trying to decide whether to do a long run next weekend instead.  I think getting a steady 15 miles in will really help me, although if it goes wrong I’ll get the proper collywobbles!

I’m still getting the ankle pain I’ve been getting through most of my training, but it only has to last 3 more weeks…come on ankle, then you can rest!

Enjoy your training this week!

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Running, Training

Run o’clock

I’m lucky enough to work from home which means I can run when it’s right for me, rather than squeezing runs in around a 9-5 schedule.

The best time for me to run is mid-afternoon.  In the mornings I’m quite productive at work, but from 2.30pm onwards I find myself zoning out, staring at my screen or playing on the internet, and it’s easy to lose a couple of hours.

If I strap my trainers on around 3pm, I can have a good run and then come back to work for a few hours with my brain re-charged.

Running in the morning works okay for me, but evenings aren’t so good.  If I leave it too late then I don’t have enough energy late afternoon, then it’s dinnertime, then I’ve sat down…it’s too easy to make excuses in the evening.

I was a running club member for a while, with a club that did 7.30am runs on a Sunday.  I did it, but I always needed a nap when I got home afterwards!

It’s important to find your optimal running time.  You can get the best out of your training, and be prepared if you’re entered into a race that isn’t at your best time of day.

The York Marathon starts at 9.30 so I won’t quite be home for lunch, but I should be home before tea time.  I’ll have to throw in some morning runs to test my breakfast strategy and make sure it’s not too much of shock.

Breakfast strategy…and other idiot phrases you never thought you’d say before you started marathon training.  Reminded me of this most excellent video, which never fails to make me giggle:  Sh*t Triathletes Say

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Attitude, Diet, Race Review, Reviews, Running, Weather

Race Review: Great North Run 15.9.13

Sunday 15th September was the Great North Run, the world’s second biggest half marathon.  56,000 people (including Mo Farah!) descend on Newcastle to run through to South Shields.  This year was my seventh Great North.  I ran it for the first time in 2006 and I’ve only missed one since.

The atmosphere is fantastic and even though this year was a bit of a disaster timing wise, it’s still an amazing day.

Getting there

Public transport is the best way for me to approach the GNR – we drove the first year and the traffic was HORRENDOUS.  The 7.10 train from York gets to Newcastle in plenty of time, and is full of people in running gear.  It’s a 10 minute walk from the train station to the start and don’t worry about getting lost, there are always plenty of people to follow.

Facilities

The GNR has to be well organised, it’s too big not to be.  There are lots of loos around the start, expect to queue but not for too long.  Runners put their bags onto numbered buses, and then you go meet your bus at the finish line.  The bag label on your bag and your race number are cross-checked when you collect your gear, so the security is good too.

The start

As with most big races, you’re put in a pen according to your estimated speed.  I was in my pen an hour before the start, but there are big screens with lots of stuff to watch and you can chat to fellow runners so I didn’t get bored.  We watched the elite and wheelchair races go on the big screen, and the Red Arrows did a fly over – brings a tear to my eye every time!

Once the front runners go you’ll be walked forward slowly – it took about half an hour for me to get to the start line but there’s no pushing or shoving.

It’s tradition for the person starting the race to try and high five every runner – I’m very proud to say I touched Christine Ohuruogu!

Top tip: it’s cold stood around, so grab a charity shop fleece to wear while you wait.  These are collected by another charity from the start line where they are all dumped.

The route

GNR isn’t a hilly route, but it’s not flat either.  There are lots of inclines which can creep up on you if you’ve not done any hills in your training (like me!).  There are bands every mile and the locals and supporters are flipping amazing, what other run do you get people handing out biscuits and ice pops on?

Watch out for bus stop Elvis at about 11 miles – he’s a GNR legend.

The last mile of the route is along the sea front at South Shields – it’s tempting to sprint as soon as you see it but it can feel like a very long mile…

The finish

Once you reach the finish, you collect your goodie bag and t-shirt and head off to your baggage bus.  There’s a changing area, and buses or the metro back to Newcastle if you need them.

The goodies

GNR has a great goodie bag – lots of snacks and some energy drink samples, and rather randomly a mini tube of toothpaste.  I do wish they’d include a technical tee rather than a cotton one though, as I don’t really train in cotton

My time

Well this is my tale of woe.  I was running fine until about 7 miles, when I became aware of some…rumblings…from my stomach.  I tried to ignore them, but a loo on the route at 8.5 miles saved my life!  I won’t go into detail but I was in there for some time, feeling so cross with myself.  After that whenever I tried to speed up, I got stomach cramps so the rest of the run was very patchy.

I crossed the line in 2 hours 27 minutes, a far cry from the 2.10 I was hoping for.  It was still a great day out but I was gutted about my time.  I’d had a pizza with lots of chillis 2 days before and that’s all I can think it was – an important lesson for the marathon anyway.  I wouldn’t mind so much if I’d self-sabotaged on a training run, but it’s gutting to do it on a day you only get once a year.

The weather on the route this year was supposed to be horrendous (the first ‘big storm’ of the autumn) but it wasn’t actually too bad – a bit rainy and windy but no worse than a normal September run.  I do wonder if the forecast had got my nerves going a bit too.

So, this week I’ve been focusing on re-building my confidence and getting my diet back on track.  It’s 4 and a half weeks to the marathon now and I don’t want any more disasters.

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Attitude, Diet, Positivity, Running, Training

Week 19 Training

Week 19 included some travel with work so it’s been a bit up and down for training.  I completed most of my planned sessions, finishing with the Great North Run on Sunday which was a disaster…but more of that in my race review in Thursday’s post.

I’ve lost my way a bit with both my training and my diet – I was sticking to a healthy diet and feeling great, but recently I’ve had more cheat meals than not-cheat meals.  These last 5 weeks have got to be focus, focus, focus.

Here’s what week 19 looked like:

  • Monday: rest day after Sunday’s 22 mile monster run
  • Tuesday: 30 minutes on a bike, interval training
  • Wednesday: nothing – I had a killer 5 hour drive and didn’t have time to train
  • Thursday: fartlek 52 minutes
  • Friday: jog 20, 10 minutes to the gym, 1 hour weights (shoulders), 10 minutes home
  • Saturday: rest
  • Sunday: half marathon, 2:27 – not good!

I took the rest of Sunday to sulk after my dismal half marathon time, now I need to process the lessons and move on.  I’m still targeting a sub-5 hour marathon, so the next 5 weeks have to be about mental strength and physical readiness.

Enjoy your training this week!

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Running, Training

Week 18 Training

From the weather reports, it seems like week 18 was the last week of ‘summer’ training – it’s definitely feeling more autumnal now.   Good news, as it means I can run for longer without running out of water and panicking.

Here’s how week 18 looked:

  • Monday: should have been a 70 minute run, instead was a 5 mile walk as I was on a short break at Malham.   We did hike up the 500 steps at the side of the cove so I got a pretty good sweat on!
  • Tuesday: another 5 mile walk
  • Wednesday: fartlek 55
  • Thursday: fartlek 22
  • Friday: jog 10, 10 minutes to the gym, 1 hour weights (shoulders), got a lift home as it was monsooning
  • Saturday: rest
  • Sunday: 22.2 miles!

Sunday was interesting.  I’d planned a 3 x 7.5 mile lap circuit, but realised at the last minute that York Races were on.  My lap route included a half circuit of the racecourse, so that was never going to work.

Instead, I ran to Bishopthorpe (4 miles) and then got on the cycle path to Selby.  I kept going until I hit 11.1 miles in the village of Riccall, and then turned round and headed home.

The first 11 miles were great, but on the route home I had some walk breaks.  I ran out of water and found myself at one point eating brambles from the hedge – not really classic long run behaviour!

I did the 22.2 miles in 4 hours 14 minutes, which is an 11.44 minute/mile pace.  If I can maintain that, I will just squeeze in under my 5 hour target.  That’s the longest run I’m going to do, so my focus now is on speed work to make sure I can keep going on the day.

I used my Spibelt to hold 3 gels, once I got it settled comfortably it worked perfectly.

I’m doing the Great North Run next Sunday, it’s weird to be viewing it as a shorter run rather than the longest run I’ll do all year.

Happy training this week!

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Running, Training

Going Clubbing

While I’ve been training , I’ve been wondering whether to join a running club.

I trained with a club for the second Great North Run that I took part in, and it had some positives but also some negatives for me.

The first (and biggest) negative was the meeting time – 7.00am every Sunday.  I  made it to most of the sessions, but it didn’t do my social life much good.

The second negative was that even though running in a group was good, I never really found ‘my place’.  There were runners who were much faster than me and runners who were much slower than me, but no one was really plodding along at my pace.   I used to try and run with the faster runners, but usually ended up burning out around 10 miles as the distances got longer.

On the positive side, I did like how definitive it was – I was running at that time on a Sunday, no excuses, no drama, just do it.

I also enjoyed chatting to the other runners, and sharing stories with them about kit, fuel and general running experiences.

I’ve not joined a club for my marathon training because it felt important to me to get out and go it alone.  I’ll be running the marathon alone so I can’t rely on anyone else to pace me or get me through.

My thoughts are turning now to what I’ll do after the marathon, and I might join a running club then.  Knavesmire Harriers are close to me, and their running times are a bit more realistic than first thing every Sunday.

Have you run with a club?  Did you enjoy it?

I found a great Oatmeal cartoon online this week – this rings very true for me:

http://theoatmeal.com/comics/running

I’ve ordered my Blerch t-shirt, it will make me smile as I run.

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Running, Training, Weather

Week 17 Training

Aaargh it’s getting closer!  Less than 50 days to go now, I’m equally excited and terrified.   The York Marathon will be my first marathon, and I’ve got no idea what to expect from my body.

Sunday’s long run was into a headwind this week which really set me back.  It occurs to me I’ve got to toughen up or I’ll have a rubbish marathon if the weather’s not absolutely perfect.  At the moment I will whinge quite happily about sun, rain and wind but I can’t really on a perfect, still, not too hot not too cool day in October 🙂

Here’s how week 17 looked:

  • Monday: rested after my 19 miler on Sunday
  • Tuesday: jog 20 – 10 minutes to the gym, 1 hour weights (legs), 10 minutes home
  • Wednesday: sprint up a hilly bank, walk back down x 10
  • Thursday: jog 55
  • Friday: jog 20 – 10 minutes to the gym, 1 hour weights (chest) , 10 minutes home
  • Saturday: rest (and waaaay too much gin on a night out in York)
  • Sunday: a rather dehydrated 15 miles

The only major change to the training plan was the extra rest day on Monday.   I’ve added the long runs to the plan myself so I’m happy to fit in some extra rest when I need it, I was exhausted after the 19 miles!  Next weekend is my longest run (21 ish miles) so I’ll definitely need an extra rest day after that, and then the distances start to come down again.

I used my lap technique for the 15 mile run and called home at 7.5 miles to refill my water bottle – this worked much better than worrying about water on the route.

Happy training this week!

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Kit, Reviews, Running

Kit Review: Spibelt and Sundog

It was my birthday last Saturday (that’s another year I have to drag round the marathon course with me 🙂 ).  I never know what to ask for when people ask me what presents I want, so this year I decided to trial some new running gear.

I selected a Spibelt energy gel carrier and some Sundog glasses.

Spibelt Energy Running Pouch

I’ve mentioned before on the blog that I’m looking for ways to transport the ridiculous amount of gels that I intend to consume during the marathon.  I tried a Roosport pouch (read the review here) but as my running distance increased I’ve found it’s really not practical for more than 2-3 gels.  Beyond that it feels very heavy, and unless I’m wearing really tight capris it drags my pants down as well – not a good feeling!

Spibelt

I’ve heard good things from triathlon friends about the Spibelt, so I thought I’d give that a go.  I went for the Energy Running Pouch which holds 6 gels and also has a handy little zip pouch.  It promises not to slip and shift around which I think is essential.

The belt has little loops that the gels slot into, it’s quite a tight fit but not impossible for standard size SiS gels.  I adjusted the Spibelt so it was on my hips as I’m not comfortable with things round my waist and headed off for my 19 miler.

I have to say, it was brilliant.  I had to adjust it a bit as one of the gels was scratching my back, but once I had it on it didn’t move and I really could forget it.  Getting the gels out was easy and quick, and the zip pouch is perfect for a key and other small items.

The only problem I had was feeling like a bit of a div running in it, like a cowboy with my holster belt on!  I pulled my t-shirt over it so just looked like I was a really odd shape rather than a gel addict 🙂

So in summary – Spibelt gets my recommendation for carrying gels on long runs, the Roosport is great when you don’t have to carry more than a couple of gels and your pants are tight.

Sundog Sunglasses

The other bit of running kit I’ve been after is some sunglasses for those days when it’s not really bright enough to wear the dark glasses I have.  I  had my eyes lasered a few years back and they are quite sensitive to light.  I’m also sensitive to wind in my eyes, which could be from being protected behind glasses for years.

Sundog

I chose the Sundog Lady 2 Golf Sunglasses, their full Amazon description is “Sundog Womens ‘Lady 2’ Golf Sunglasses, Silver TR90 Ultraflex Frame With Orange Polycarbonate Distortion Free, Scratch Resistant Lens With Full 100% UVA/B/C Protection” which all sounds very technical and impressive.

I wore these for my 19 mile run too (I know, brilliant idea, take loads of new kit on a long run!) and loved them.  They are lightweight, have rubber covered ear bits and I barely knew I was wearing them.   They cut down on glare without being too dark and I would certainly recommend them.

And the short version – loved them.

Stand by for more kit reviews, I’ll be doing socks next!

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Running, Training, Weather

Week 16 Training

This week I got back on track with my training – except none of it was on a track because I did everything on a bike to give my whingy ankle a rest, but you know what I mean.

Here’s how week 16 looked:

  • Monday: jog 20 – 10 minutes to the gym, 1 hour weights (legs), 10 minutes home
  • Tuesday: sprint 60 seconds, recover 3 mins, sprint 50, recover 3, sprint 40, recover 2, sprint 30, recover 1 on a spin bike
  • Wednesday: 1 hour on a spin bike, which was quite dull
  • Thursday: did a yoga session that absolutely killed me
  • Friday: jog 20 – 10 minutes to the gym, 1 hour weights (back), 10 minutes home,
  • Saturday: rest (my birthday – nice timing!)
  • Sunday: 19 miles!!!!!!

Sunday was amazing.  I did 2 x 9.5 mile laps and managed to do 19 miles in three and a half hours.  This is the longest I’ve ever run and I feel like I’m actually getting up into “I can do this marathon” territory now.  The second lap was hard and I had some walk breaks, but even so I’m on track for a sub-5 hour marathon which is my target.

One thing I’ve found is that heat really kills me when I’m running.  It’s no coincidence that on the second lap the sun had come out.  I’m finding it very  hard to carry enough water for these long runs, thank you to the cafe on Skeldergate who refilled my bottle for me.

It sounds weird, but for my remaining long runs I’m going to run laps that go past my house so I can dip in, grab water and get back out again.  It’s better than stressing about water or trying to work out a new system when there will be water stops on  the marathon route.   Running in and out of home should be good for mental strength too.

It should cool down soon as well which will mean I drink (and whinge 🙂 ) less.

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Running, Training

Cross Training: Spin

The running plan that I follow has me running 6 days a week.  The runs are a combination of fartlek, sprints and recovers, longish runs and one long run on a Sunday.

I’ve really enjoyed following the plan, but 16 weeks in I’m finding the running is taking its toll on my body.  I’m not light, and I’m starting to get pain in my ankles (as well as a disturbing clicking sound!) which I can only attribute to the constant repetitive pounding that they’re getting when I run.

The other issue with running 6 days a week is it doesn’t give me much chance to cross train.  I think cross training is really important, and I’ve stuck with my twice weekly weights sessions because I need to be strong as well as fit to cope with a marathon.

To help my ankles out and give them a rest, I’ve been doing spin classes instead of running on some days.  I get an unbelievable sweat on doing spin so I can be sure it’s working my overall fitness, but I get to do it sitting down 🙂

Energise York where I train has a rather fabulous spin robot. It’s a touch screen terminal set up in a spin studio that projects a virtual instructor onto the wall.  They schedule classes each day, but if you go in between classes you can also set up your own personal spin class, choosing from cardio, fat burn, interval etc.   You can also choose green, amber or red for the intensity of each track.

That’s a great option for me, because I can choose a work out that’s similar to the run that I should be doing, in both time and intensity.

I wasn’t sure if a virtual spin class would be as tough as the real thing, but I find I work myself just as hard.  The virtual instructors are pretty good, if a little bit too happy.   When they ask “how are you doing?  You’re doing great!” I am occasionally tempted to throw a rude gesture in their direction.

This week I’ve done nothing but spin to give my ankles a rest.  Sunday is a long run (18 miles) and I’m hoping to feel an improvement for the break.  I’m trying to balance listening to my body and not drifting too far away from my training plan.

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