Week #6 Marathon Training

Hi guys, another week of training done. Now I know I said I probably wasn’t going to document my marathon training every week but I guess I am…sorry, I know it’s quite running heavy and probably boring.

Anyway last week was a mixed bag. I felt very tired and getting up really early in the morning was taking it’s toll. But I guess I need to ‘woman up’ and get on with it, this is what’s it all about.

Monday – no running but this strength routine:

- 4x 15/leg single leg squats
- 4x 15/leg weighted calf raises
- 200/leg clams with resistance band
- 4.5mins crab walk
- 3mins plank
- 100 Russian twists

Thera band workoutMy lovely theraband has snapped like three times… 

Tuesday – 5 mile tempo run (one mile warm-up, three tempo miles, one mile cool down). I went off too fast on the first tempo mile. In my head it went like this: “Wooohoo yeaaahh! So speedy! Yeaaahhh!” then 7 minutes later “I’m dying, god I’m dying. And here’s a hill. I’m dying.” And that trail of thought continued for the rest of the run. Well done, Anna, brilliant pace control.


Wednesday – I was supposed to do a strength workout but I was working from home and it never happened because when I finished work there’s so many more cool things to do at home than workout. I did manage some toe lifts and 100 bicycle crunches. Then I just lay on the floor watching a film (Gone Baby Gone <—amazing).

Thursday – 6 mile easy run. Usually I wouldn’t bother showing my splits for an easy workout to avoid my ego being enticed but this run annoyed me. I spotted a fellow runner ahead of me who was running a little slower than me. I eventually overtook her, said good morning as you do, and then had to pick up the pace to get a bit further ahead (it’s that awkward over-taking moment, you know?)


Anyway she starts getting faster to catch up! And all I can hear are her footfalls behind me. Like seriously, BACK UP. I overtook you. Don’t try and repay the favour on my easy run. I had her hound my heels for two miles (mile 3 & 4) which meant I had to run faster than I wanted to to avoid her overtaking me. This is probably all in my head I know.

Strength workout in the evening:

- 4x 18/leg weighted calf raises
- 4x 15 single leg squats (15 more on weaker leg)
- 4.5mins crab walk
- 200/leg clams with resistance band
- 4mins wall sit
- 4mins toe lift
- 2x heel taps

Friday – Alarm set for 5.10am, walk Alfie, out the door 5.45am for a 15 mile bike ride…One mile in feeling great “wooohooo cycling’s not so bad!” …a few minutes later “hmm feels so bumpy, better check my wheel”. GARGH flat tire. Even if I did have a puncture repair kit I wouldn’t know how the hell to fix it. So I turned around and walked a rather miserable 1 mile home. I was not amuse so took my frustration out with cleaning the bathrooms and hoovering.

My lovely husband (finishing at 12.30 on Fridays) fixed the puncture for me so when I got home from work I could try again. I loved it, really enjoyed it. But got to almost 12 miles and bam another puncture.

IMG_7259 But a really nice guy on a bike stopped and helped me. He was very nice and helpful, fixed the puncture after like 20 minutes worth of sorting as my wheel is so tight.

I was very grateful, we then parted ways and two minutes up the road another puncture. Seriously. Ben had to come and collect the bike and me.

Saturday – we went to our local (Netley Park) parkrun. I thought I’d just see how I felt and push it if I fancied. I went with it, pushed hard and got 21:56 and first lady. Quite happy with that!

Sunday – Ben and me and some guys from the running club did the Stansted Slog half marathon. Unbelievably hard. I’ll do a recap post soon. I finished in 1:53:09, fifth female. Brilliant race.


And now I’m shattered! But a good week of training. I’ve got a sports massage tonight with Kyle thank god as my legs ache so much. Good aches though (*touch wood*).

Have you ever had an annoying failed workout?

Have you ever done an off-road, hilly race? It’s like an adventure but so much harder than a road race.

Are you good with maintaining tempo speeds or a set workout without getting carried away?

My VO2 Max Testing

When my running/massage therapist friend Kyle asked if I would be interested in doing a VO2 max test for free I literally jumped at the offer within seconds. I think my response was “hell yeah!”.

VO2 max is (according to Wikipedia) “the maximum rate of oxygen consumption”. It’s basically how well your body can use the oxygen that it’s taking in and is a measure of fitness. People with a higher VO2 max level will be able to take in and use more oxygen than someone with a lower VO2 max level and can therefore can work more intensely.

It’s one of the reasons many athletes do altitude training. Altitude training (at a specific range of metres above sea level) produce more red blood cells to compensate for the fact that there isn’t as much oxygen available. Then when the athlete goes back to sea level they’re at an advantage as they have a lot more red blood cells than previously and therefore can run harder and faster for longer because they have more oxygen available <—please correct me if I’m talking codswallop, I’m clearly no expert!

Unfortunately finding out your level is not something you can really do without going through a proper extensive test on a treadmill with blood sampling and measuring your oxygen intake – which can be quite pricey. So I was so chuffed to be able to have mine tested for free!

It’s part of a study run by Southampton Solent University – the other week they had the whole of the Southampton football club come in and get there’s tested. Very cool.

Southampton Solent Health and Sport ScienceI knew that this would be hard. It’s no secret that I hate running short distances and I hate that feeling of max effort when your sprinting. I’ll never be a fast sprinter and I’ll never get my 5k time significantly down as mentally and, very likely, physically I just don’t have that drive in me. I like long distances, getting into my stride and just enjoying the run. But for this test it was all about max effort. Oh joy.

I turned up feeling very nervous and without any real idea what to expect (apart from running on a treadmill). I had electrodes attached all over my chest, shoulders and hips. Embarrassingly I had to take my top off for the entire thing, but luckily I was wearing a sports bra which is kind of just like a crop top anyway but I still felt fairly naked.

The tester, Grant, took some readings of my base-line HR and other bits and bobs to make sure I didn’t have any pre-existing issues. None were found, whew. Then it was time to get warmed up and begin the tests.

The treadmill was huge and there was no computer screen to show how fast and far you’re running. This was frustrating – I like feedback! The treadmill was also facing a wall.

VO2 Max Test 2

I’d be running three minutes and then would jump to straddle the stationary sides to get my blood quickly taken, then I’d jump back on the treadmill which would then increase by 1km/hour and another three minutes would commence. This cycle would continue for however long I could keep going.

The pace at the start, as you can imagine, was easy peasey and I trotted along thinking “pft, this is nothing”. But as the three minute intervals went on it started getting a lot harder. For example (if I’ve worked this out correctly), say the pace was 9.40mins/mile the next interval would be 8.49mins/mile, then 8.06mins/mile, to 7.30mins/mile. These are quite significant jumps. And three minutes is actually quite a long time. Especially when there’s nothing to look at or listen to apart from Grant’s occasionally “doing well, getting great data” which I imagine are his stock phrases he tells all his participants… ;-)

VO2 Max TestThree minutes is a long time and I longed for those 10 seconds of pause where my finger would be pricked and blood would be taken. I started counting down the minutes and found myself despairing when I realised I’d counted too quickly!

It started just getting too hard. I tried to push on but I found myself moving back on the treadmill as my pace just couldn’t keep up. I was harnessed in so there was never a danger of falling off but I knew it was time to stop. I finished and was very much finished. Sweating like a beast.

I instantly felt disappointed. Why couldn’t I go on for longer? It was very frustrating. Grant said my results were good when I asked him – but I think he was trying to make me feel better as he could tell I was disappointed. The only point of reference I had was that Kyle had said he’d lasted for 30 minutes. I lasted for just 20. Never mind that Kyle is a 5min/mile runner and also male! And I know I’m not in as good a shape as I was this time last year, but still the competitive and perfectionist Anna was not consoled.


My VO2 max magic figure is 56 and I have a resting heart rate of 53. Both of these are pretty good as a female and, despite my initial disappointment, on reflection I’m really pleased with these numbers. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to improve my VO2 max score. Some people can, some people can’t – Paula Radcliffe’s never changed from when she was a young girl to when she was an Olympic athlete (but she was very, very gifted anyway). And it’s unlikely I’ll get tested again, but it’s good to know!

VO2 normsI got a neat report as well with lots of my data and figures that I could geek out over (and scratch my head in confusion). Essentially though some important figures for me were my training zones. I wear a heart rate monitor and obviously my Garmin so it’s nice that I have some actual figures that I can run by in order to hit certain workouts.

  HR Pace                      
Easy Run <162 >8min/mile
Steady Run 162-172 8-7.26min/mile
Tempo Run 172-185 7.26-6.26min/mile
Interval Run >185 <6.26min/mile

Obviously over time (hopefully) I can improve on the paces with more training. But who knows!

Have you ever had a VO2 max test done?

Do you ever get unreasonably disappointed in yourself? I have high expectations for my performance and I’m a perfectionist so always want to be the best I can be. Often though this can cause me a lot of disappointment and frustration (hello injuries).

Do you use a heart rate monitor to work out?

Men drink beer, men bring back meat…

Sometimes during the week Ben might go out with some boyfriends (doesn’t work does it? – boy mates) to go do what men folk do…like drink beer and talk about whatever those men folk talk about. My delicate feminine mind couldn’t handle whatever goes on in those meet-ups I’m sure ;-)

While he’s out this is usually my time to take charge of the television…catch up with the Kardashians or check in with the Housewives (both Real and fake – though likely the same thing). Maybe even have a solo-Anna family Guy sesh, who knows! Rock and roll.

Usually this is also the time I can have whatever I want for dinner without Ben turning his nose up (“how many vegetables are you having?” or the always pleasant “that looks like sick”). Very exciting. Anyway, I digress. So Ben went to the pub and very likely two hours later I went to bed (as I said: rock and roll).

In the morning Ben and me got up and were catching up, having not had the chance to do it the previous night, and he casually mentioned that he won some meat. Random but OK, that’s quite cool. What kind? “Beef something” he says.

Getting my breakfast ready I open the fridge door to find a rather large hunk of meat sort of crammed in among the yogurts and butter.

IMG_7225 A bit of meat he says?! This could feed a small family for two weeks!! I was stunned. We don’t even eat beef that regularly! Ben appeared rather sheepishly and went “yep that’s the one”. You don’t say…

Could have been worse, Nathan (one of said boy mates) won six pork steaks and woke up in the morning to find he had eaten half of them when he got in…

Anyway I carved that bad boy up (the meat, not Nathan) on Sunday afternoon and it literally took me 45 minutes. I cut some of it into chunks after my dad suggested using some of it for casseroles and slow cooker meals, and cut the rest into steak portions. All now safely in the freezer.

It’s mildly amusing that last week I cooked us some organic beef steak and Ben really wasn’t a fan. Probably me not overcooking it and it turning out a bit more chewy than we like.

IMG_7221 I sprinkled the steak with some steak seasoning (Schwartz) and we had it with vegetables and roasted sweet potato chunks (and BBQ sauce of course).

Well beef will be on the menu now for a fair while so I might have to get the cooking of it right! Well, practice makes perfect I suppose.

And while we’re on the subject of recent eats, we’ve also been enjoying pork steaks with a honey and soy sauce marinade served with a new-to-me vegetable/fruit (?): plantains.

Honey soy pork I fried seasoned slices of plantain in coconut oil. I’m not going to lie, they didn’t entirely rock my world. But they were a nicely carby addition to the meal. We were slightly disappointed that they didn’t taste a little of banana… ;-)

And one last meat-related point. Probably the worst time to win a huge hunk of meat is when you go to Casa Brasil, the all-you-can-eat Brazilian rodizio restaurant. I think I ate gammon, roast pork, pork ribs, beef sirloin, beef rump (I think?), and another type of beef (more chunky but lovely and salty)…

So yeah, perfect timing when I can’t even look at the deli meat in Tesco at the moment.

Have you ever won a food item in a raffle?

Have you ever tried plantain?

Are you a big meat eater? What’s your favourite meat? I must admit I’m a very boring meat eater in that my favourites are chicken and turkey. Though I love ribs…heavenly.

**Psst! Check out Laura’s blog Wholeheartedly Healthy for a brilliant giveaway –> HERE ! **

Week #5 Marathon Training

Still trucking along nicely. I do look out though to the (many) weeks ahead and think “how am I going to survive this?” I’m sure something will crop up injury-wise, I just only hope it’s something minor. How’s that for positivity?

I forgot to mention last week the commencement of the Ab Challenge (er so that would be two weeks ago?) I did complete the 30 days, but as I said previously, I amended it to be bicycle crunches and Russian twists (with the leg raises and plank). It was tough I’m not going to lie. But I felt like I gained some strength (but no six pack thank god). I’m trying to do something every day, whether it’s a plank, some crunches or what-have-you but at the weekend it’s hard because, well, it’s the weekend.

Monday – no running but I did this strength routine:

- 15×4 calf raises with weights
- 4mins crab walk
- 1min x3 plank with side leg touch
- 200/leg clams with resistance band
- 4.5min bridge
- 15×4 bridge leg lifts
- 15 press-ups
- 2min toe lifts

Tuesday – I did another hill running session. One mile warm-up, two miles worth of two hills running up and down, then one mile cool down. The bin men were out and they must have thought I was mad.

Undoubtedly I would be running faster with the running club (as is the nature of running with others) but I’m so motivated at getting up early and running that I’m quite happy to go solo. And I know I harp on about this, but I can fully listen to my body rather than get all competitive and carried away with the club. But I do miss it :(

Strength routine in the evening:

- 15 press-ups
- 4mins toe lifts
- 4x 15 calf raises with weights
- 3mins plank
- 3x 1min elbow plank to push up 
- 100 Russian twists
- 200/leg clams with resistance band
- 4.5min crab walk

Wednesday – 4 miles easy recovery run in the morning. Kept around 8.30min/mile pace. Legs felt heavy and niggly though especially one of my calves. I promptly text the wonder that is Kyle, our local sports massage therapist, and he was able to come round that evening and sort it out. I’m all over prompt action for any sort of niggle. Kyle got rid of the issue thankfully. You might think I’m a bit of a paranoid over-reactor when it comes to running niggles. You would be right.

Strength routine:

- 2x 100 bicycle crunches
- 4x 15/leg weighted single leg dead lifts
- 200/leg clams with resistance band
- 1x 1.5min/side plank

Unfortunately I got bored with the side planks and kind of gave up and went home. It happens! Also it was annoying that I’d forgotten my hair bobble. You know when I get bored when I start taking plank selfies…

IMG_7210I’m not pouting, I’m grimacing!!

Thursday – speaking of Kyle, he was able to put me in touch with a guy at Southampton Solent University who is currently doing a study on endurance runners and athletes and needed participants for his current study. This involved me doing a VO2 Max test.


I’ll post more about this in a separate post as I have a lot to say! It was all very interesting but hard work. Probably 2.5 miles running at a guess.

Friday – had some time in the morning so did a few quick strength moves:

- 4×15/leg single leg squats
- 100 Russian twists
- 100/leg clams with resistance band
- 3min wall sit

Saturday – I knew I wouldn’t have time on Sunday for a long run, so I ran to parkrun (4 miles), did parkrun and then ran home again.


I felt really good on the run there and got a bit carried away with my pace but I was just enjoying it. It was so hot though. I made sure to arrive at parkrun just before the start so the gap of stop-starting would be small. I thought I’d put some effort into the parkrun but really had no idea how it would go considering the heat and the four miles already on my legs.Netley parkrun 12.07 Not sure quite why I was looking so happy!

A guy from my club kindly ran with me and helped pace me. I was intending on getting a negative split but it didn’t really happen.


In the end 22:32 which I was happy about. And then I scanned my barcode and dashed off to run home.


My legs felt considerably more tired but still fairly good, though I got a terrible stitch after a mile because I’d chugged down a load of Ben’s water before I ran off home. Rookie error. But a successful 11 miles in the bag!

Later Ben, our friend Nathan, Kyle and me met up for a 15mile bike ride round Durley. Initially I was really not up for it as I was quite tired but as soon as I started pedalling I felt the best I’ve ever felt on the bike. Really strong and comfortable. It spun my legs nicely.

Sunday – urgh. My alarm was set for 5.15am as we needed to leave the house to go marshal a local race at 8.30am. I wanted to get 6 miles and I really didn’t fancy leaving the run till later when I’d want to chill. Just a recovery run so kept it easy.

Ben had his alarm set for 4.30am as he wanted to do 12 miles. He was meeting another friend at 5.30am (madness!). Unfortunately he slept through his alarm and when mine went off I was like “er, Ben, why are you still asleep?” I’ve never seen that boy move so quickly in my life. Or heard such language so early in the morning ;-)

It’s currently Monday morning and I’m shattered. Absolutely drained. Come on body, don’t fail me now please!

Ever set your alarm ridiculously early to make a workout?

Have you ever done a VO2 max test?

Have you ever done any 30 day workout challenge?

Things lately

Things are plodding along quite nicely round here. Though I’d hate to look back at my life and think of it as a “plod”. Rather that though than a sprint I suppose!

I guess you could call this an ‘odds and ends’ post of stuff that’s been happening lately:

  • Ben making carrot cake

This is big, big news people. For so long Ben has been promising to bake for me. But these promises have never materialised to actual calorific-dense baked goods (despite me buying him ingredients and everything). I’m the one who cooks, he’s the one that apparently bakes.

Last week he had the week off as he was starting a new job so he had no excuse. Being a typical man, he left it to mid-afternoon Friday to begin his task. I got regular text updates as to the progress of the cake…

Carrot cake process Apart from a minor zest grating related injury (and a lovely photo of it sent my way – in case I wasn’t fully aware of the sheer hard work he was putting in), it all seemed to be going swimmingly.

That is until I got a bit of an urgent phone call: “Anna, I forgot to add the carrot in before I put it in the oven. What do I do??”.

He even sent me a selfie to adequately express how he felt.


Luckily he was able to get the cakes (there were two) out of the oven asap and stir in the hastily grated carrot (no further grating related injuries here thank goodness). Whew. Rectified. But amusing nonetheless ;-)

Ben's carrot cake Ta da! How good do they look? As the loaf tin was a little small for the batter, he made a mini round cake as well…with a better cake to icing ratio if you ask me ;) It tasted divine and it was all I could do to not consume the entire two cakes in one sitting. And yes, there was carrot in it ;)

  • New mattress

Ben’s above selfie could also adequately describe the feelings we felt when our lovely new mattress was delivered the other day.

IMG_7181“Pants” would be one word to describe this situation. There are others I could use. Thankfully we can swap it (and pay the extra) for the correct mattress size. Not sure how we got this so wrong really…I don’t know how we both survive in this big wide world pretending to be adults.

  • Trips to London

Getting up at stupid o’clock to get the train to London for a meeting is no fun. Especially when it means eating my porridge in the car while my dad drives us to the station.


Lots of things in my life change and new habits form, but eating porridge for breakfast will never change.

And I’m sorry all you lovely Londoners but I detest going there. It’s stressful, busy, crowded…and dirty. Yes I realise most cities (and places in general) are dirty. But I freak out.

IMG_7042 Essential requirement for me!

And just randomly, a mini escalator. For all those lonely people who have no friends to stand with…

IMG_7044 Room for one only

Or people who are so so busy they need to use the mini escalator to hurry up them quickly, by-passing the more normal sized busier escalator (I found this out as I was dallying around taking photos of said escalator while a man tried to hurry past…).

  • Birthday trip to Chichester 

IMG_7190On Sunday Ben and me went out to Chichester to go shopping for a belated birthday trip. Rant alert: I got a little bit angry in one of my favourite shops (Oasis) when I realised they didn’t stock my size is anything I liked (bar one dress). It’s not an obscure size either – a normal size eight. The lady in the shop just shrugged and went “yeah I know” and after a long pause “look online”. Gargh!! I like trying stuff on and I’m there willing to buy stuff NOW. I understand that they can’t stock masses of every size but they had about three size 20s in everything. Your loss, Oasis, was FatFace and New Looks’ gain.

We stopped at one of my favourite restaurants for lunch as well: Trents.

Trents Chichester birthday meal

We had a sharing platter (hummus, sundried tomato dip, beetroot dip, stuffed peppers) to start, followed by a Caesar salad for me (of course) and a club sandwich and curly fries for Ben, followed by crème Brule for Ben and chocolate brownie for me.

I had run 10 miles in the morning and I was FAMISHED. Sadly my salad didn’t quite cut it. I enjoyed it but it wasn’t one of the best I’ve tried (no croutons and no anchovies). Ben was struggling so I helped him out with eating some of his sandwich filling (bacon and chicken) and his fries. Win.

26th birthday meal That pudding. Oh wow. It could have done with vanilla ice cream to balance it rather than hazelnut ice cream but it was pretty damn amazing. Afterwards I was like “pft, that was easy. Three courses done and dusted.” After leaving the restaurant for a shopping continuation the fullness hit me like a ton of bricks (literally in my stomach). I couldn’t bare to even look at people eating or drinking. I couldn’t eat anything else for the rest of the day and required an hour long nap when I got home. Whew. Pretty good day I’d say!

  • Alfie

Kids (and adults) all over the globe are obsessed with Frozen.

IMG_6619 Apparently so is our dog, Alfie. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is what he does all day when we’re at work. He just wants to build a snowman…

Do you prefer online shopping or going into the actual shop? I like to try things on because invariably things that I think will look nice look awful. And it’s the whole faff of sending stuff back that really annoys me with online shopping. But it annoys me when a shop is seriously under-stocked in my size for pretty much everything.

Ever ordered a large purchase that turns out to be very wrong?

What’s your worst baking disaster? I could write a book for mine so it was nice that Ben, ‘Mr Baking Pro’ got something wrong ;)