Probably jinxing it now – marathon training

Pretty much the entire (running) world and his friend are tapering or just about to taper for impending marathons. It seems everyone is training for London, Brighton or Edinburgh to name but a few.

While I’m sad that I’m not in that gang, I know that deferring London until next year was still the right decision. I couldn’t do yet another marathon on minimum training and maximum stress. I am however still training for a marathon at the moment. I’m just a couple of months behind the main pack.

The Liverpool marathon is mid-June, so I’m currently about 10 weeks away. I’m taking nothing for granted though and know only too keenly that injury could strike me down like a bolt of lightning at any point. Not to sound too depressing but being realistic is far better for me than being blissfully optimistic and then being disappointed. I also think that having this arguably pessimistic approach means I can try and not make silly mistakes (notice I said “try” there).


My long run is up to 13 miles and my next run is 14 miles. I’ve pretty much just been gently crawling up the mileage like this – though some runs I’ll do twice to allow my body to adjust before ramping it up again. The only run I’m increasing is the long run, whereas previously I’ve just thrown in miles all over the place, which doesn’t seem to work for me. I also have the Southampton half marathon planned for the end of April, which (all things being good) I will aim to race.


In a regular week, I do a hill session (usually just over 10k), a parkrun which I try and put some speed in my legs and then a long run which I’m really trying to slow down and just get the time on my feet. At this point in my long runs this is more important than ever.

Strength training


Ahh that little gem I’ve previously been missing in my life. This I would say is almost as important as my running. For me the two have to go hand-in-hand for now. I feel so much stronger. Who knows if this is essential for everyone and whether it’s essential to do for all the time you’re training. All I know is my running feels stronger, I have no injuries and no niggles.

My Go To Moves


I try and do one session a week of cross-training. This is steady-state cardio and it’s normally the day after my hilly run so it’s nice to shake the legs out a bit and not put a huge amount of effort in. I keep my heart rate fairly low to replicate a recovery jog.

Rower workout selfieIt’s usually 45 minutes on the rowing machine listening to MarathonTalk. I’d say this workout is probably more for my sanity than anything. What I mean by that is because I’m only running three times a week I worry that I’m not doing ‘enough’ endurance-style cardio. Who knows if this helps but it does make my legs feel fresher and I enjoy it!


Getting Hello Fresh meals (food/recipe delivery service) helps a lot. I’m a vegetable and salad lover to my core and while this is a great source of nutrients and vital vitamins…it may not be the best way to keep me fuelled for my long runs and my gym visits.

IMG_0201 Chicken Shawarma (spiced chicken with lentils and roasted vegetables)

With Hello Fresh my meals are far more varied and they’re all a good balance of protein, carbs and fat. It’s no secret that I don’t love carbs too much…pasta, rice and bread are not things that make me go “mmm”, but making meals with mash potato or roasted new potatoes are rocking my life right now – as well as my usual well-loved sweet potato. Don’t fear the spud! 😉


Teriyaki beef with sweet potato chips

And I’m eating more red meat and this ensures my iron levels are tip top. I can satisfy my salad need at lunch, but dinner is where the big guns come out ready for my next early morning gym session or run.

And cake. Lots of cake.

Added extras

Sleep is never usually an issue with me. I like to go to bed early and find after reading my book for a bit I fall asleep very easily. I get up stupidly early (5am if I’m going to the gym, 6am otherwise) so the early nights help. As long as I get seven hours I feel great. As a childless person this is quite easy to do I know (don’t hurt me, parents out there!!).

My standing desk at work helps reduce the amount of time I spend sitting to around 3-4 hours a day (2 hours worth of commuting, lunch, and sofa time in evening). My legs feel so much better, my hip flexors no where near as tight and just generally I feel better (read this BBC article for more information on the health benefits).

Foam rolling after my runs seems to help loosen up my tight muscles. It’s so easy to do while watching TV in the evening that I can’t not do it without feeling guilty.

Same goes for wearing my compression socks after a run. When I do my hilly 10k on a Wednesday evening the compression socks go on straight away after I shower and I usually sleep in them (yes I know, what a sexy beast I am). And I wake up with new calves, it’s fabulous.

Having said all this, I’m pretty sure I’ll now get injured 😉 #sodslaw

What are your tried and tested methods of injury prevention?

What are your top priorities during marathon training?

How long do you stay sat down each day?

Walking not running

Good morning and happy Monday.

Thank you for your lovely comments about my last post. Provided I’m no longer injured by the time the marathon comes about then I will run. Ideally I’d like to be able to run a good few runs before the marathon problem-free, perhaps even a 12 or 10 miler but we’ll see. The longer long runs are lost to me now sadly.

Ben and me have spoken at length about this and what we’ve sort of decided that I will run the Paris marathon with him. He was aiming for 9min/miles and I think that should be in theory do-able for me. But we’ve both agreed if one of us is really struggling, the other one can run on with no hard feelings. I know that sounds quite callous but I think it’s fairly pragmatic. Unless obviously we’re enjoying running together! I don’t want to hold Ben back if the wheels come off for me – he desperately wants to have a better marathon than his last.

Moving on to this weekend…despite feeling fairly pants about the whole running situation, it wasn’t too bad. We went over to my parents for an Indian takeaway. They have the best Indian. Sadly where we live it’s all very sub-par. I got my usual…

Indian takeaway Chicken tandoori starter and chicken tikka main, with lots of onion salad and regular salad. I know this sounds very boring but this is actually one of my favourite meals. I love the little pot of white sauce you get with it as well. I have no idea what’s in it and frankly don’t care. It rocks my world. And a few cheeky poppadoms as well of course 😉

Moving away from food, Ben and me have just treated ourselves to Fitbits [we bought them ourselves, I haven’t been asked to review them].Fitbit I used to have a pedometer but it was annoying to attach to my belt or trousers. But I love this! It has really encouraged me to walk more, I’m not even joking. It’s even become a little competition between Ben and me (though he’s winning by miles as he’s able to run and 18 miles is a lot of steps…). To the point that we’re fighting over who walks Alfie in the morning. OK we’re not fighting, but it encouraged me to give Alfie a huge walk yesterday morning while Ben was out running.Spring walk with AlfieThen when a friend came over we took Alfie for another long walk to catch up with our friend. In the end Sunday’s steps were over 20,000!

I sit a lot at work so this will definitely help remind me to get up a bit more and take a lunchtime walk, which I rarely do at the moment. The weather is getting nicer so this should be lovely.

As I can’t run at the moment I’ve been back at spin. Oh joy. On Saturday I did the 45 minute spin class followed by 20 minutes of rowing and then lots of strength work. Not nearly as exciting as Parkrun believe me (especially as it was the two year anniversary and it was a fancy dress one…onesies galore). But I just have to keep telling myself it won’t be long until I’m back again. Annoyingly though spin tends to aggravate my IT band and tightens it up. So instead this morning I went on the cross trainer, the rower and the stepper.

Am I the only person who’s never used the stepper before? I was quite confused what to do and had to creepily watch a woman using it to make sure I was doing it right. It was quite cool to see how many floors I’d climbed though. Silver linings and all that.

What machine do you always use at the gym? Which is your favourite?

Do you own a fitness tracker, like a Fitbit or a Nike Fuel band or a pedometer?

What’s your takeaway of choice?

Cake, fro-yo and shopping – happy happy happy

Hello! Woah woah woah, how is TWO WEEKS until Christmas? When did that happen! And less than 2 weeks until Ben’s marathon debut. Scary times.

I had a great weekend gone (despite having to work Sunday afternoon – don’t even get me started on this; third weekend in a row). On Saturday Ben and I got up early and he headed to Parkrun while I headed to the gym. Envy doesn’t quite cover the strength of my emotion…The gym really sucks. But I got a good workout in and did 50 minutes on the bike and 30 minutes on the rower.

Recumbent bike

My aim was to try and emulate the length of time I’d spend on a long run to try and maintain some form of endurance. Who knows if it’ll work!

Then after making myself presentable I headed out to have some absolutely fabulous afternoon tea with some very lovely ladies from my running club. Yes I do realise this afternoon tea business is getting a bit out of hand…but when it’s so tasty and good value (£9.50!) and there’s great company I just can’t help myself.


I made a huge error when ordering and ordered the wrong cake! I thought I was ordering the one I’d seen as I walked in and had tried to describe it to the waitress but I think we misunderstood each other. Though one of my friends kindly swapped hers (which was the cake I wanted) for mine (not the one I wanted). Cake drama let me tell you! 😉

Sunday and I headed to the gym again (I do know how to have fun, don’t I?) and did 20 minutes on the rower and then followed my personal trainer strength routine.


After the gym, Ben and I decided to nip quickly into town and pick up a few Christmas shopping items we can’t get online. This might have involved me updating my wardrobe a little…whoops!


Lovely and Christmassy!

I was SO chuffed to find a frozen yogurt stall in the shopping centre!! Moo and Berry frozen yogurt

It was a self-serve and there were quite a few different flavours available…like peanut butter, strawberry, banana, plain and…SALTED CARAMEL! Well I just went for a whole load of salted caramel. I was quite impressed as the fro-yo was only 80 calories per 100g. Not too shabby. Let’s not talk about how much mine weighed in the end though 😉 Though I was sharing with Ben!


What more could a girl want? Starbucks (black Americano with hazelnut syrup), fro-yo and shopping.

Then sadly it was back to work. Ho hum.

What’s your favourite flavour of frozen yogurt? I think I actually prefer the plain with lots of toppings.

What’s your usual Starbucks/Costa/etc. order? Mine is always black Americano with a splash of some sort of syrup (my favourite being hazelnut).

Do you enjoy shopping? I enjoy clothes shopping if I’m in the mood and it’s not ridiculously busy. Sunday morning wasn’t actually too bad and I found some really nice tops. 

A change

How good does Friday feel? I love that great feeling of counting down the hours until freedom I can go home and enjoy the weekend, knowing that tomorrow is Saturday (=no work). Not that I don’t like my job – I love my job. But nothing beats that Saturday morning opening-your-eyes-after-a-long-sleep feeling and having the rest of the day to amble along. Ahh bliss

Last post I mentioned that I was in quandary regarding exercise and running. Once I start thinking about something I can’t stop. It’s annoying, especially when I want to sleep. In the end I had to do something to switch things up. I wrote that post Tuesday night…so Wednesday morning when I got up run my usual 5 miles I changed my mind. I still got up and still went out to run but I only ran 2 miles. Two miles??! Not worth getting out of bed for maybe? Well, after researching a bit before I found that if I put some hard-core (for me) intervals in the run it would work me harder than just running for 45 minutes. OK, so intervals aren’t a new thing. I’m behind, I know. But still, I thought, 2 miles is not even half of my usual run – how could it possibly do anything?

Two miles later and I’m pooped. Absolutely shattered. I was sweating like a beast (sorry, not a pleasant image I know).

15.08 run

I hit 2 miles around 15 minutes. I was VERY chuffed with this pace. OK, I was very chuffed about 10 minutes later after I stopped dying. I had still gotten up super early so still had some time left to workout (like 25mins). So I did 10 minutes on the rower.

15.08 rowing

Check out my amazing little rower that Ben persuaded us to get. [Pssst! Can just see our washing hanger – don’t we have the coolest mini-gym in the world??] It didn’t rock my world, I’m not gonna lie. It’s not the best rower in the world to be honest and I wasn’t feeling it. But anyway, I then did about 100 squats with dumbbells. I was dead after this!

15.08 weights

Check out that hottie…. Confused smile I was a sweaty mess. More so than if I had just done 5 miles. And the next day my legs were in some serious pain (and still today!) And you know what, I really enjoyed it. It has really showed me how samey things had become and how my usual running had just stopped taxing me. I mean, yes my runs are hard and I do get puffed out, but not in the way that I was on Wednesday. I felt invigorated. Even though I hadn’t run as far, I felt like I had worked a lot harder.

Then yesterday I did my usual strength training. But I decided to push myself a bit more. Usually I waste a lot of time deciding what move to do next. Instead I searched and found a strength training video on YouTube (by a lovely trainer called Sarah. OK you might already be familiar with her, I’m such a newb!) I did a whole segment just on my arms, following what she was doing. So I managed:


OK, it might not seem a lot but it was tough for me. I generally just due a range of random weight movements without really focusing on anything. All on my arms/shoulders was tough!!

So I’ve decided to change my weekly workout. I’m going to focus much more on strength training and a lot less on cardio. Even typing that sentence worries me. I’m a cardio girl. That’s what I do, you know. This is quite a big thing to suddenly drop my miles in running. There’s always that insecurity with stopping cardio and gaining weight…a stupid insecurity based on no rational thought…But it’s definitely an insecurity I have (and unhealthy one I’ll admit).

But I know it’s probably a good thing. I can focus on building up my muscles (not massively! I’m not inspiring to be a body builder!) just to look stronger, feel stronger and be more happy with myself. If I’m honest, I feel a bit cheated with running. Don’t get me wrong, I love it and this is really tough to reduce it, but it isn’t giving me what I want. I don’t feel toned, I don’t feel like I’m building any muscle. And for the effort I put in and the miles I run, it’s not fair!

This is what I plan for a typical week:


I really feel positive about this. I no longer dread my workouts and feel bored by them. It will really help me focus on what I want to achieve because it’s not longer just mindless running.

Whew! Sorry. I am so glad to get that out of my system.

What are your views on cardio and strength training?

Any tips from anyone?? Particularly over nutrition…


How depressing that the nights are now drawing in and summer seems to be ending (had it ever begun?) I’ll miss walking Alfie early in the morning when it’s still light, and then I’ll miss running in the morning light. I’m definitely not looking forward to running along in darkness hoping to either a) not run into carefully concealed street paraphernalia, b) run through cold, muddy puddles that I hadn’t spotted, and c) step on slugs – possibly the most disgusting running-related incident. Or a snail…that horrible crunch. *shudders*

But summer is surely not over yet. I’ve had strong words with it over a certain specific date in September where I need a reasonably warm temperate and sunny blue skies (though not too sunny)…specific requirements for good wedding weather! We’re still in negotiations…

So, on the theme of summer: WIAW! Thank you, Jenn Smile


Now prepare yourselves for something a bit crazy (or at least mildly different):

5.08 pancakes_thumb[1]

Yes, that is a plate of banana pancakes that I made on Saturday morning. Not my usual green porridge! I made them using Katie’s recipe. They look a little bit well-done…but they tasted great! A dollop of yogurt and they were good to go. Trying to keep it varied. Baby steps…

So, lunch time over the weekend Ben and I had another salad (we’re going crazy for them at the moment; so easy to prepare and so many possible varieties):

5.08 dinner

We had chicken fried with garlic over a bed of salad (cucumber, bell pepper, tomatoes, beetroot, & leaves) with a massive dollop of roasted red pepper hummus. So simple but very nice. And! on the side (as I had soo many courgettes to use up) I whipped up a tzaziki side dip, but using Jenn’s amazing recipe.

5.08 tzatziki

Fantastically refreshing. Ben didn’t even realise it was using his least favourite vegetable rather than cucumber (which he has a better relationship with). So a nice summery salad to fit in with the Summer Staples style!

And dinner last night:

4.08 dinner

This was chicken curry. I followed this recipe from BBC Good Food website.

4.08 dinner2

I subbed actual peanut butter with PB2. It wasn’t as creamy as I thought it was going to be, which was a bit disappointing and it didn’t taste overly nutty. So maybe next time I’ll use ‘proper’ peanut butter and that might make a difference. It was tasty though. On the side I made some kale chips and had some steamed veggies. I loved the kale chips. I think it was purely for the satisfying crunch you got when eating them. But Ben didn’t like them at all (no surprises) but a win-win situation for me. Mountains of kale chips! Apparently it sounded like I was burrowing around in a pile of leaves when I was eating. Well, no one said being healthy was a quiet occupation!

Snack-wise I’m loving my green smoothies (I mix it up a bit and have some kale instead of spinach and Alpro hazelnut milk instead of almond – a review of Alpro products to come very soon!) and I’m loving this dark chocolate:

2.08 choc

74% dark chocolate with cocoa nibs in it. It’s soo rich and the small nibs in it are add a lovely texture. I’ve got into the habit of having a square in the evening to savour after dinner. It just hits the spot, you know? When you fancy that something sweet but don’t want to push the boat out too much.

In terms of fitness, the week didn’t start off well. I ran on Tuesday and it was tough. My legs felt heavy, I felt tired…it just wasn’t amazing. I got through it but honestly the fun factor wasn’t there (OK I use the word ‘fun’ loosely here).7.08 run

But hey ho, such is life! I haven’t been sleeping amazingly recently. Lots on my mind with the wedding and up-and-coming hen do. I always have problems sleeping when I’ve got too much to think about. This is usually when my friend G&T comes and gives me a hand Winking smile (to qualify that sentence, as it does sound like I’m slightly alcoholic, I don’t drink every night!! And only a small measure when I do hehe).

On an Olympics side-note, I’m so proud of Britain! We’re doing spectacularly. I can’t believe we’re third! I’ve been watching as much as I can. I’ve found myself screaming at the T.V (scaring Alfie in the process). And the 100m men finals…wow they were stupidly quick, weren’t they? And they all had a certain swagger. Well, I guess you would if you could run that fast!

And Ben has even been influenced by the Olympics…to the extent that we have bought a rowing machine! He is now rowing in the evening. Crazy. I really miss rowing as I used to do it in the gym quite a lot but now I just run so this should be good for me vary things up a bit. However, we don’t really have the space in our tiny little house for a rowing machine!! Ben didn’t quite think about this when he ordered it *sighs* oh well. Our lovely little spare room has been taken over. But with healthy intentions.

Happy WIAW! And happy eating!