Marathon tips, Running, Training

Getting there – 16 miles done!

The one thing I need to give me marathon confidence is distance.  The one thing I’ve really failed at this year? Yep you guessed it.

This weekend I knew time was running out and I had to get some big miles done.  Slightly hampered by two things – one, a wedding the day before, and two, a big chunk of my normal running route shut because of a SkyRide.  Thanks Sky!

Rather than try and work out a new long crazy route I went for a boring mental challenge instead.  I ran to the race course (2ish miles) then did 6 laps of the service road (also 2ish miles per lap) before running home.  It was pretty dull but at least I knew where I was going and I saw lots of nice dogs.   I chose an audio book rather than music and it worked quite nicely.

When I got home, I had 16.25 miles in the bag.  Hooray! I took one bottle of water and one caffeine gel and there were some walk breaks, but I’m expecting to have some walk breaks on the marathon so I’m not too stressed about that.  As long as they’re managed and structured rather than an elaborate collapse I’m happy.

I find thirst and carrying enough water a massive problem on long runs – to the point where I’m looking at other people with drinks and wondering if they’d mind if I asked them for just a little sip? The husband suggested next week I drive to the race course and load up the car with water and snacks so I can keep replenishing when I run out.  Sounds like a plan to me!

Marathon training…plus picnic breaks 🙂

I’m off to Italy for a few days now so no training AGAIN, but next weekend I plan to do 20+ miles.  That’s a lot of racecourse laps!

Happy running this week.

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Diet, Reviews

Product Review: High5 Race Pack

This year I’m training for my second marathon and the husband is training for his first one.  I got into the habit of taking gels with me on longer runs last year, but when I went to the cupboard this year it was pretty much bare.  Apart from one gel that expired in March this year, but I had it anyway.  I’m not dead yet.

Last year I used SiS Go Gels which were pretty good. They weren’t the gels given out on the York Marathon route so I set off with 5 of them tucked in my belt like the world’s worst cowboy. 

The husband also needs to start thinking about nutrition as he’s starting to flag on the longer runs, he doesn’t even take water normally let alone any food or gels.

I went to the site we normally use and found the High5 Race Pack.  What a great idea.  It’s cheap and has a stack of different gels, tablets and shakes to try.  There are different flavours, some have caffeine some don’t…perfect if you’re new to fuel on the go and need to try things out.

 High 5

I’ve tried the tablets to add to water and they’re great.  They’re zero calorie so I’m not entirely sure what they’re made of but they add a bit of salt and flavour which seems to help convince my body it’s not about to keel over.

I’ve tried one of the caffeinated gels but I’m not so sure about that, it gave me a massive headache while running.  Maybe I’ll try one more and see before I decide I definitely don’t like them.

My fuel strategy for this year will be similar to last year I think, some gels and some flapjack for on the route as well.  I might add some of the water tablets and some caffeine but I’ll see how they perform in training.  I definitely don’t want anything new to upset my stomach on the day!

Training this week – not bad.  I’m up to half marathon distance now and have a 17 miler planned in for this weekend. Happy running!

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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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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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Kit, Reviews, Running, Training

Kit Review: RooSport

Now I’ve worked out a rough strategy for gels for the York Marathon, I need a way to carry them.  I can hold a single gel and a water bottle quite comfortably, but four or five gels requires something a bit more formal.

I’ve seen runners wearing belts like the Spibelt that have holders for gels, but I’m not sure I will be comfortable running in a belt.  My skin is very sensitive, and anything that rubs against it when I’m running or sweating can lead to sore red irritations.  Even labels or a twisted bra strap have hurt me in the past.

While I was looking online for inspiration, I came across the RooSport.  This is an alternative to a belt, it’s a pocket with a magnetic tab.  The pocket slips into your shorts, and the magnetic tab folds over and holds it in place.

Alternative to the Spibelt

Alternative to the Spibelt?

The RooSport isn’t available from Amazon or other retailers, only directly via the RooSport website.  The ordering process was fairly seamless, but I was a bit nervous about the lack of detail about shipping – there are no lead times for international orders.  I did email to check, but didn’t get any reply.

That said, the delivery was very fast, my RooSport arrived in about 3 working days.  I’ve had UK Amazon orders that took longer than that 🙂

I’ve tried the RooSport on 2 long runs now.  The good points are:

  • It does feel totally secure and you do forget you’re wearing it
  • It is very easy to get gels out
  • It’s hand washable and dries quickly
  • The material is very comfortable

The not so good points are:

  • The more you put in it, the more noticeable it gets.  One gel and you can barely see it, but more than one gel and it starts to look like a huge lump
  • The website claims it has space for five gels, but this isn’t true for the SiS Go gels I’m using – it will take three at the most, any more and it doesn’t shut and feels quite ungainly

I was a bit worried about the zip on the back which is facing your skin as you wear it, but this hasn’t caused any rubbing or irritation so far.

Overall I’d give the RooSport 8/10.  It’s a great idea that has clearly come from a runner’s experience, but I’m not sure it’s big enough to get me through a marathon.  If all you’re carrying is car keys, then it’s ideal – I see from other blogs that people use it as a money belt substitute when they travel too.

I’m going to try a Spibelt as well, so I’ll let you know what I think when that arrives.

How do you carry your food?

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Diet, Kit, Reviews, Running, Training

Kit Review: Sis Go Isotonic Gel

Running can be an expensive sport once you start looking at all the kit and accessories available.  There is a whole industry built around offering more and more sophisticated options to runners, all with a price tag attached.

When I set off for a run with my Brooks trainers, Garmin watch, Nike capris etc…I’m probably wearing the most expensive outfit I own (just to sweat in it!).

One area I’m very sceptical about is runner’s nutrition.  I’ve seen people at 5k runs taking energy gels, clutching sports drinks, they are probably taking on more calories than the burn in the 30 or so minutes they’ll be running.

My rule of thumb is that I don’t need anything extra if I’m doing up to 70 minutes of exercise.  Beyond 70 minutes, I might need more fuel.  For up to 70 minutes, a piece of flapjack before I head out and a bottle of water are fine 🙂

When I’ve done half marathons in the past, I’ve faded at the 7/8 mile mark.  For the marathon, I’m working on strategy of taking on some fuel every hour, and I’m incorporating that into my long runs now so I don’t get any tummy related surprises on the big day.

I’ve been using SiS Go Gels.  The marketing blurb says “concentrated carbohydrate energy in a convenient fast-flow gel, Science in Sport (SiS) Go Gel is the world’s first and only isotonic energy gel with unique patent-pending formulation.

Each handy palm-sized Go Gel sachet contains 25g of isotonic carbohydrate energy, which is enough energy for 20 to 30 minutes of exercise, and because it’s isotonic, it will still deliver energy without the need for extra water.”

SiS Go Gel

SiS Go Gel

I say “they don’t taste too yucky, seem to hit the spot and don’t give me any digestive grief”.  Tropical is my favourite flavour, the blackcurrant isn’t too bad either.

There’s another version of the gel that contains a hit of caffeine as well, but I’m trying to avoid caffeine as part of my training regime, so I’ll be giving that one a miss – if you’ve tried it, let me know what you think in the comments.

The sales websites suggest 3 gels per 60 minutes of exercise.  I’ll go for 1 per hour in the marathon with one for an emergency, so I’ll be carrying 5 in total.  My next challenge is to find a way to transport them.  I don’t really like running with belts or backpacks but I’m going to have to try a few options, another kit review will follow when I find something I’m happy with.

How do you fuel your long runs?  Gels, jelly babies, just water?

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