Thursday, 24 March 2011

Running, running, running

I seem to have a touch of writer's block, and can't think of anything interesting for this week's installment. I feeling like all I am doing (other than work) is running, eating and sleeping. I'm tired all the time, probably because this is my longest mileage week.

In better news it is sunny, and my sore foot seems to have been a heel-wearing problem rather than a running one, or more probably the combination. Anyway, the upshot is that it doesn't really hurt any more.

The fundraising has slowed down a lot, but we still have the final fundraiser to go, and not many people have paid for that yet. I have also managed to get a bucket collection at a Zone 1 tube station, so I am hoping that will be a money-spinner. I would really love to get to £4,000, a figure that I would have laughed at if someone had suggested I would get to at the beginning. If anyone wants to sponsor me click on the link on the right.

Best run: 8 miles tempo. I honestly can't believe that I am now running 8 miles at 8 minute mile pace. At the beginning of training I was struggling to do 4 miles at that pace.

Worst run: Track session. Again. This is why I go to the track sessions. They are really tough, and there is no way I would push myself that hard if I was on my own. And none of the girls were there this week, just scarily fast boys.

Thursday, 17 March 2011


I can't believe it is a month today until the marathon. And if that didn't make it all seem rather real, then the arrival of this certainly did:

Yep, that is my registration for the marathon, and that is the number I will be running with. The numbers are issued at random, not according to your predicted finish time, to make it easier to deal with the bags at the end.

So in the absence of any fun races or trips away to talk about I thought I would tackle the issue of fuel. There are three aspects to fuelling for running, and I don't claim to be an expert on any of it, but this is what works for me.

Firstly there is the pre-run. For me this means eating lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, and having something carb-heavy like pasta or pizza the night before a long run. In the morning I will have porridge, normally about an hour before I set out.

During the run is a bit more complicated. Once my long runs pass the two hour mark I find it useful to take on some extra calories. The main ways I have tested doing this are shown below:

That's Lucozade drink, jelly babies and a gel. I think I am going to stick to the drink and jelly babies during the race, since I find the gels disgusting, both in taste and texture. You also need to take them with some water to help them absorb, and I find it all gets a bit complicated. The advantage of jelly babies is that they are easy to buy, and much cheaper than gels! Luckily both the 'Meet the Experts' day and Silverstone had Lucozade there giving out samples, and so I have had lots of freebies.

The basic idea is to take on simple carbohydrates (essentially pure sugar), which tops up the glycogen levels that have been depleted once you have been running for some time. I have been quite sparing with the fuel I have used mid-run, so that hopefully my body is used to getting deficient and can deal with it better. Hitting the 'wall' is generally thought to happen when you have used up all of your stored glycogen. I don't claim to know all about the science though! It is important to practise using gels or whatever you plan to use, as some people's digestive systems don't react well to them, and you don't want to find this out in the middle of a race.

Finally post-run I try to drink/eat something as quickly as possible. I usually have a For Goodness Shakes drink as I stretch immediately after finishing. This is supposed to have the perfect mix of carbs and protein to help you recover, all I know is it tastes nice! I also generally crave something salty, and hula hoops are the snack of choice at the moment. I then whack a potato in the oven while I finish stretching and shower, so I probably eat that about an hour after I get back.

As I said at the beginning, this is what works for me, but everyone has there own routine, and it is really a case of figuring out what suits you.

Best run: Long run - 18 miles - it's amazing the psychological difference it makes having run a distance before, and this was a lot easier than my last 18 miler, even though it was much warmer. I even had to stop and buy some more water.

Worst run: 8 mile tempo run. I had to cut this short at 6 miles, as I just wasn't feeling it at all. I think I had done too much after quite a hard run at Silverstone, and my legs were protesting.

Motivational quote of the week: Champions are born in the cold, wet, dark months

Monday, 7 March 2011

adidas Silverstone Half Marathon

I knew I wanted to do a half marathon as part of my training plan, and the adidas Silverstone Half Marathon is run by the same people as the London Marathon, so I thought it would be a pretty safe bet that it would be well run. The course is also fairly flat, so that also worked out well. I had a couple of different goals. The first was to finish without getting injured. Then I wanted to make sure I ran it at a fairly consistent pace, not starting out too fast, as I have been inclined to do in the past. I also wanted to get a negative split if possible (the second half quicker than the first). I aimed at 1 hour 50 mins, thinking I might go quicker if I felt good.

It was quite chilly in the wind at Silverstone, but luckily the sun came out which warmed it up a bit as we waited to start. In fact I managed to get a bit sunburned! They ended up delaying the start by ten minutes, I think because Katie Price wasn't there yet, but I managed not to get too cold. I ended up quite far back from the start, so the clock said 1:20 as I passed the start line. The support was really good at the start, and I saw Richard early on so that was a good positive boost.

It was a bit crowded for the first bit as everyone sorted themselves out. So many people start far too far forward for the pace that they are going to run, so there was a lot of overtaking at the beginning. I ran right on the outside for the first few miles, which allowed me to overtake pretty easily, but I'll need a different strategy for the Marathon as there will be barriers at the side of the road.

The course wound along lots of different parts of the track and the service roads, which meant that we never did the same bit twice in the same direction, so that kept it interesting. There were markers with a clock every mile, so it was easy to see how you were doing. I also had a pace band, courtesy of Lucozade, which meant I didn't have to do any sums in my head. There weren't quite enough water stations for me, and I skipped the first one not realising that the next one wasn't for about four miles! For the first time ever I used my iPod in a race, but actually I did not really need it, and I didn't even turn it on until about mile 9.

I was even feeling good enough to smile and wave at the camera! By the last couple of miles I was still feeling pretty good, and I was overtaking lots of people, which is always encouraging. I also knew I was going to beat my target time, but even so I was thrilled when I got my chip time of 1:47:09. That took nine minutes off my PB! I made sure to stretch afterwards, and am pleased that I don't feel too stiff.

Lots of people use Silverstone as a warm-up for London, and as well as Katie Price there were also these people who are going for the record of the most people completing a marathon while tied together.

Overall I am really pleased with how it went. I hit all of my goals, and got a huge PB on the back of a twenty mile week. I'm secretly finding a half in the autumn so I can see if I can do a 1:45!

Best run: See above. Best run ever I think

Worst run: Three miles fartlek. I um-ed and ah-ed for ages about whether to do this run, before forcing myself out of the door. I'm glad I did it, but didn't enjoy it much.

Motivational quote of the week: Pain is temporary, quitting is forever!