Pre Marathon in Berlin

It’s hard going on holiday to run a marathon. The days before you’re so nervous that it’s difficult to fully enjoy yourself. Or eat and drink whatever you want, or walk lots and lots. You’re always thinking “will this help for the race?” and that’s not particularly how you want to be on holiday.

But saying that, there is something truly amazing about running a marathon in a foreign country. Ben and me caught a mid-morning flight to Berlin so we left the house at 6.30am. Though an early wake-up call it meant we could have a nice breakfast at the airport. Sadly not Jamie’s Italian, but Giraffe (which is also very, very good).

IMG_8008I had an omelette with lots of roasted vegetables and an avocado salsa (ooh err!) with sourdough toast. Thankfully this was quite filling as we missed lunch entirely because we wanted to get to the marathon expo ASAP when we got to Berlin. When we landed, we got a taxi to the hotel and then headed straight to the old disused airport from there where the expo was happening.

IMG_8019 It was huge inside with so many running-related stalls selling clothes, trainers, gels, nutrition…basically everything running-related. It wasn’t like anything was cheaper than normal so Ben and me just by-passed it all and headed straight to the bib collection. IMG_8027

One of the big rooms of running stalls

FYI it’s the furthest possible point – just to ensure you do indeed walk past every flipping stall possible. Not particularly fun for poor Ben who couldn’t actually run at the moment. Almost like a big “F*** you” from the Berlin marathon 🙁 especially when he wasn’t allowed to come with me to collect his bib: “runners only”. I’d have probably burst into tears at this point if I was him but Ben was a true trooper and just waited patiently for me.

IMG_8022 There was no queue to speak of which was a relief as I’d heard horror stories of hour-long waits. Friday late afternoon is the way forward!


There was a huge crowd of people all trying to get a photo like the one above and we patiently waited until it was my turn. Embarrassingly as it got to my turn and I stood there ready for my photo a woman pointed at me and said “your bib’s the wrong way up”. Nailed it, Anna.

Ben and me proceeded to then walk a million miles ages to find food. We headed in the direction of our hotel (which was a 45 minute walk away) and hoped to find somewhere en route, or worst case just eat in the hotel. We hadn’t eaten since 7.30am (except for an apple or two for me and an airplane snack for Ben) and it was now coming up to 6pm…Things were tense.

Hilariously we walked up the red light district without realising it. The first lady I saw I was about to say to Ben “oh those boots and skirt combo are a bit risqué, aren’t they?” when I saw her shake her wears at a passerby. Yikes! Ben and me just kept our eyes down and power walked on. It was rather funny though. Finally (away from the red light area!) we found a lovely little restaurant.

Berlin meal We both had beef Carpaccio to start (delicious!) and I, erm…had Caesar salad. It’s embarrassing to admit I know. I just love it! It was just alright: no bacon and no anchovies but good pieces of parmesan shavings and nice chicken. I went for a brownie and ice cream for pudding. It wasn’t dense enough a brownie for a true wow factor but it hit the spot.

IMG_8032 And Ben began as he meant to go on…sampling the local wheat beer. I had a few sips and must say I quite enjoyed it. Very light.

We stayed at the Hotel Berlin, which I highly recommend.Hotel Berlin We had a lovely spacious room with a 70s theme. It even had a mini balcony.

Hotel Berlin Bathroom The bathroom was lovely. It had one of those monsoon walk in shower things and a normal shower head for proper hair wash action.

Basically, lovely rooms, great breakfast (buffet – hello!), brilliant service, a gym (which I did not step into) and about 15 minute walk from the Tiergarten and a 30 minute walk from the Brandenburg Gate.

The next morning I got up at 8am and went for an easy 3 mile run around Tiergarten.

IMG_8039My best “I’m a dork” face


Beautiful scenery to run around in a capital city!

My dad had arrived the night before at a nearby hotel and so joined us for breakfast after we’d showered. He paid for breakfast while we had ours included.

IMG_8161I’d be lying if I said this was all I had. Honestly, this was the best hotel breakfast ever. Roasted vegetables with pine nuts and sundried tomatoes – heavenly! Little meatball things – so good! Eggs – delicious! Crispy bacon! All so good. And I had a pretzel style roll as well to go with this. Then followed it by a bowl of fresh fruit salad. The choice was amazing. From sweet pastries, donuts, muffins, to normal bread, German bread, fruit bread, pretzel bread, smoked salmon, all kind of egg, beans, cheeses, meats, cereals…honestly there was so much to choose from. So I ate everything. Joking. Though I did make a fair dent 😉

Then we headed out to see some sights. We walked past the Tiergarten and up to the Victory Column (the Siegessäule: the gold gold statue thing below) and then headed down the long road to the Brandenburg Gate. The roads had been closed off and ready for the marathon (and the skating marathon that would be happening later that day – yes, people skated on rollerblades the marathon).

Berlin Saturday After walking for an hour or so Ben and my dad demanded a refreshment stop…the beer marathon was to begin 😉

IMG_8069 I got a sparkling water and popped a High5 Zero tablet in it to make sure I stayed hydrated – it fizzed up quite dramatically! My dad and Ben got strange pink beers which made for a humorous photo 😉

IMG_8064 It was strange to see so many marathon signs and road blockages and made me very nervous!

We walked to Checkpoint Charlie and saw the remains of the Berlin wall (which separated the East and West of Berlin and only came down in 1989!) at the Topography of Terrors.

Berlin Saturday Sights It was very interesting but also quite depressing. What a scary time to have lived.

Then we headed to Postdamer Platz which is very urban and modern.

Postdamer PlatzAfter sight seeing for a bit we got fairly hungry and started to look out for a nice place for lunch that wasn’t outrageous in price, which meant walking a fair bit from the main tourist bits.

Italian meal in Berlin We seemed to eat a lot of Italian-style meals over the holiday! Ben and me had a sort of platter of dried meats, Carpaccio and roasted vegetables and then I had a feta and olive salad. There was so much feta! I was defeated. This has never happened before with a salad, it was just too salty to eat so much.

I had a major panic when I realised I didn’t actually bring any safety pins with me from home and at the expo I didn’t pick any up (if they even had any there). What a numpty!! I didn’t know what to do. We looked in a few supermarkets but found nothing. Suddenly we were surrounded by hundreds of children who had just finished the mini-marathon and all brandishing their medals…and they were all wearing bibs with safety pins. It was a cruel mocking of my idiocy. I tried to ask one lady for if she had any spares or if I could have her son’s now unneeded safety pins but she looked blankly at me and talked to me in rapid German. I was started to fret when I spotted a boy who was just taking his bib off. I leapt over to him and asked for his safety pins. He was German but could speak English and was more than happy for me to have his pins. Thank you!!! Panic over. And I could resign my position from being weird English girl trying to steal safety pins from unsuspecting children…

IMG_8089Then we walked back. We were almost at our hotel when we saw the skaters fly by! They were amazing. So fast. Though some of them were holding on to each other, creating a long train. I guess they were in teams?

Berlin marathon skaters

We then killed some time just chilling in the hotel lobby (Ben and my dad now on their 6th or 7th beers?!) We had walked quite a long way! Not a brilliant plant the day before a marathon…

Hotel Berlin lobby My dad, bless him, started falling asleep while reading a magazine.

Then later on we headed for another Italian meal in a nearby restaurant. We got there fairly early but within an hour or so it became packed with marathon runners wanting their carbolific meal.

Like I said in my marathon post, I had a large pizza and a massive bottle of sparkling water (I love European sparkling water, it just tastes amazing). Then Ben stayed with my dad in the lobby of hotel for more beers while I went to bed. In the end Ben and my dad had 12 beers each!!

Despite maybe too much walking (33,700 steps: over 16 miles!) it was a lovely day to just take my mind off things and enjoy the scenery and sights. It was so nice having my dad there as well as Ben had a partner in crime 😉

Have you ever been to Berlin before?

Do you do lots of walking on holiday?

How do you prepare for a big race?

Berlin Marathon 2014

Thank god that’s over. What a weight off my mind! This will probably be quite a long post, so here’s a quick spoiler: I survived, I absolutely loved it and I got a PB.

imageI’ll do a recap of the Berlin visit and the expo another time, but today I just want to recap the marathon. Cliff notes of the days leading up: Ben and me arrived on Friday (we got the expo done and dusted that afternoon – best time to do it, no queues whatsoever) and my dad arrived late Friday night. On Saturday I did a 3 mile easy run. I wanted to do this run to reassure my brain that everything felt OK. The run went fine and was lovely through the Tiergarten, a huge beautiful park in Berlin. Everything felt perfect and I saw the elite runner Tsegaye Kebede running with his coach – we exchanged “good mornings”!

For dinner I ate a huge tuna and onion pizza and drank a 750ml bottle of sparkling water. I felt good to go.

IMG_8101Just before going to bed I had an Anna Panic. I noticed by bib for the first time had my wave letter on it.

IMG_8104It was ‘H’. I thought I was ‘E’ or ‘F’. ‘H’ was the last wave (4.15 hours plus runners) and I realised I was put here because at the time of applying I didn’t have a marathon time to prove I was able to be in a faster wave. No disrespect to anyone who was in the ‘H’ wave or is a 4.15+ marathoner, but I realised I wouldn’t be around people who were running similar paces to me and also there would be a lot more people in this wave than the other segregated waves. Though I wasn’t aiming for a super fast time, I didn’t want to be held up by (relatively) slower runners. I wanted to run the pace I’d planned, which was faster than a 4.15 hour finish.

Aside from that panic, I was actually able to get to sleep relatively early. My dad was in a different hotel and breakfast wasn’t included in his, but Ben and me had breakfast included in ours. So we decided that my dad would have my hotel breakfast with Ben downstairs while I got ready and ate the breakfast that I’d brought from home in the hotel room. This way Ben and my dad would have had a good meal and I could do my stressing alone 😉

IMG_8106 Annoyingly our coffee machine turned out to not work but luckily we still had a kettle so I could make my porridge and have a cup of tea. Unfortunately there was no milk and what I thought was creamer was actually a cappuccino powder thing (hence why my tea in the photo looks disgusting). I still drank it; I needed the caffeine. I had my porridge and a Beet It bar. This was absolutely perfect. Got my go-go beetroot power and my traditional oats!

IMG_8107Then we headed out to walk to the start. It was quite chilly but not too cold and we were only about 15-20 minute walk away. My dad had given me an old jumper that I could toss before the start so I was fine.


So nervous

Then I had to say goodbye to Ben and my dad and go to my allocated wave. I reluctantly headed off to ‘H’. I had about 30 minutes before the start so I found a portable loo and then decided to see if I could change waves. There were marshals standing guard on the wave entrances and checking people’s bibs before they could go through. I headed to ‘F’ and showed the German lady marshal my bib and she shook her head and pointed down the road. I got my phone and desperately showed her my Paris marathon time and said that I should be in this wave. I literally begged her and she sort of wryly looked at me and then quickly pushed me through with a “don’t let anyone know” look. Thank you German lady! You are amazing!

IMG_8112 Unfortunately I realised the error I’d made when there were no loos within the pen and I still had 25 minutes to wait. I knew I’d need the loo one more time but to go to the loo meant leaving the pen and then having to get back in again. What a nightmare. I sat down and  resided to the fact that I’d have to find a loo when I had started running.

IMG_8118Five minutes before we started the pen got very busy and people were stripping off layers. Suddenly it was very chaotic and the loo queue I could see on the other side of the barriers had gone and a few people were leaping over the barriers for one last wee and then jumping back in, bypassing the marshals completely. Ah ha! I followed suite quickly – hidden by the crowds. I ran to the nearest loo. Dear lord. I wish I could unsee what I saw. I’m not exaggerating when I say there was an actual lump of poo on the seat. A LUMP OF POO. I had to go and just didn’t have time to swap loos. I did my very best hovering technique and thankfully avoided any poo contamination – could you imagine running 26.2 miles with someone else’s poo on you?! That would be pretty horrific.

I jumped back in the ‘F’ wave and was ready to go. I was very pleased (though traumatised) to have successfully mastered that problem.

Miles 0-10


My plan had been to stick to 8.30min/miles for the first 10 miles with no music or podcasts. I felt brilliant, all was going well (as I guess it should so early on). The temperature was perfect. I was running faster than I had planned but I felt good. Ben and my dad would be waiting at 7km so I had that to look forward to and it was fun just to look around and ‘runner watch’ (people watch, but people who are runners). What were people wearing? Running styles? Nationalities? All very interesting. Lots of people were wearing leggings and jackets which I thought was a bit much – it really wasn’t cold at all.

IMG_8134There were quite a lot of spectators (more than Paris, but that’s not saying much) which was great. There were some very busy sections and people had cowbells, shakers and flags. Pretty much from mile 3 I started looking out for Ben and my dad. This kept me entertained. When I saw them it was for literally a few seconds and I was over the moon (see above picture). It really spurred me on and made me so happy.

I really can’t remember much about the course other than it was exceptionally flat. There were a few occasions you’d go over a bridge and it would incline ever so slightly but that was it. I remember seeing the S-bahn (the German metro) go across a bridge above us and people were waving which was a cool experience. Lots of young children wanting high fives as well. I tried to do as many as I could without veering too much around the road. I tried to stick to the blue line as much as possible but it was quite tricky, especially going round corners as everyone made a bee line for the line. It was a crowded course but it didn’t feel packed because the roads were so wide.

The first water station was a nightmare. I didn’t need water so I ran straight through the middle. But the water was in plastic cups. I mean seriously?! Firstly they are the worst things to drink out of when running and secondly when people dropped them it because a minefield of slippery plastic. Each water station was just chaos. I had my first gel at mile 8.

Miles 11-20


When I got to mile 10 I popped on a podcast. I didn’t think I especially needed it but I knew I had to keep my mind occupied. My plan had been to go to 8.20min/miles for these miles but I still felt good and wanted to have a little bit of buffer time as I knew I was running longer than the course. There were no mile markers to be certain but from the km markers I could work it out. At each 5k we ran over a mat and this, I knew, would send my times to the app to anyone who was following. This helped keep me focused. I also had in my mind that Ben and my dad were racing from the 7km spot to the halfway spot.

Just after halfway I saw them and it was once again a nice boost. After seeing them I had my second gel. I continued to feel very good and was chuffed to hit 14 miles – the furthest I’ve run since Paris in April. Unlike Paris I found the miles 14-20 fly by. I even looked at my watch at on point thinking I’d see 15 miles but saw 16. It was crazy. I felt so good.

It started to get very warm as we were running and the sun was right in my eyes for a lot of the first half. Each water station I would dash into and managed to get two or three sips of water before it flew everywhere out of the cup. Luckily there were stations every 5km as I got thirsty very quickly.

Ben rang me and we had a quick conversation. We’d agreed beforehand that he could ring me if he fancied as I had a microphone on my headphones. We thought it would be cool. I wasn’t out of breath so I was able to talk – I was running at a very comfortable pace. But instead of lifting me I found talking to Ben very hard psychologically. I wanted to be with him and my dad, not on my own with so many miles still ahead. It really didn’t boost me at all and I told Ben I couldn’t talk anymore as it was too hard. He understood, bless him. He did tell me though that he’d see me at mile 20-something and to be prepared for a slight incline just before. I took my last gel at mile 18.Berlin marathon (19)

Miles 21-to the end


At mile 20 and put my music on. I felt ready to let myself go a bit. Daft Punk ‘Hard Better Faster’ came on and was amazing. I remember looking at the actual time and seeing it was just after 11.30 and realising I would be finished before 12.30ish. This was a good feeling. I just needed to hang on.

Berlin marathon (11)My mind was foggy and confused and I couldn’t remember where Ben and said he’d be so I was looking out all the time for him, worried I’d miss them. Then at 23 miles (I think!) I came to a slight incline and suddenly I knew they’d be there! IMG_8164 It felt brilliant again to see them and I knew I’d see them again soon. My quads started hurting – not in an injured way, but in a “Jesus I’ve been running for over 3 hours” kind of way. I tried to keep the pace up but it was unbelievably tough.

Berlin marathon (1) I may be smiling but I’m in a world of pain

The last ‘real’ mile was the hardest, as you can imagine. I just couldn’t seem to maintain the pace. The finish felt so far away – I knew I still had the 0.2 miles to go and I knew it wouldn’t be just 0.2 miles at all because of all the veering around the course I’d done.   Berlin marathon (5)

Then Spotify just randomly stopped! Just when I needed its support, it just stopped. I fiddled about with it and finally got it working again which kind of ruined my flow but I needed that music to really push me.

Berlin marathon (3)

I got through the Brandenburg Gate and saw the finish line about 200m ahead. It was all pain here. But I made it. My official time: 3:36:26.

image image

I can’t tell you how over the moon I am. 5 minutes-ish better than Paris. Having Ben and my dad support me during the race hugely helped. I would be looking forward to seeing them and then boosted when I did see them. It was amazing.

IMG_8119 Finished!

What was not so amazing was wandering around like a lost sheep straight after. I was desperately thirsty and just couldn’t see water anywhere. I got a poncho and kept asking everyone where the water was and then finally finding it a fair walk away from the finish. I received my goodie bag (disappointing for a marathon major) and just stumbled along having no idea how to get out or where I was. The only directions I could see were where to pick your bag up but I didn’t need this, I just needed to get out!


Finally Ben and me were able to speak on the phone (signal was terrible as you can imagine) and we agreed to meet outside the Reichstag building where there were letters for meeting points. I was so confused and tired I had no idea where I was and said I’d meet them by ‘S’. I put my poncho on the floor and sat down and just stared into space exhausted.


Dazed and confused on my poncho picnic spot

About half an hour later I saw Ben and my dad who were exasperated with me as I was sat under ‘V’ not ‘S’ (despite me thinking because I could see ‘S’ that was the same thing…). It was so crowded.

IMG_8162Ben and my dad were exhausted too as they’d had to walk over 13 miles to get around the course – and fairly quickly to make sure they saw me! So we were all dragging our feet trying to find a way out. All the roads were blocked so we ended up walking round in circles before eventually finding a way out. We were very tempted to get a taxi but we resolved to walk the 20 or so minutes back. The most painful walk in the world!

IMG_8131My heros

So there we have it. Done and dusted. A worry off my mind. It was bittersweet as I would have loved Ben to have run it too but sadly he wasn’t able. He said he enjoyed watching, especially as he saw a world record happen and a world marathon major is quite a race to see. But I can’t thank him enough for his support and the amount of effort he put in to get around the course. Truly an amazing husband. And I’m very thankful for my dad being there as well, keeping Ben company and walking miles to get to the different spots. It really helped.

IMG_8138 Like I said, the goodie bag was disappointing. There was a Powerbar snack bar, a gel, some leaflets, a rubber wrist band and, the best thing by far, an apple. Actually there was a leaflet explaining the different apple varieties which I thought was cool – obviously knew I would be running the marathon 😉 The medal is quite small – almost like a 10k medal and on the back is a picture of Wilson Kipsang “the world record holder”…which he no longer is. But I won’t complain, I’m just happy to have completed it and done so well despite my poor training. Thank you for bearing with me and supporting me!

*Huge sigh of relief*

Tapering? Don’t make me laugh

I just wanted to say a big thank you to the Tweets and comments regarding my last post, it’s given Ben a lot to think about! The fact of the matter is, we’re going to Berlin come what may. Whether both of us or one of us runs the marathon is anyone’s guess at this point.

If all continues to go as well as it is for me then I will be running it. The only thing that will stop me running is if I go on a run and there is sharp pain. At no point have I actually felt any pain – it’s all discomfort and tightness, like a pulling on my shin. A few weeks ago I stopped a run because the discomfort was so bad. It wasn’t pain per se but it was just so uncomfortable to run on – does that make any sense?

Anyway, after seeing my physio last week and Kyle, my go-to sports massage therapist – both are confident I will run the marathon and have said that my shin is fine now. Just need to convince my over-working over-analysing brain…

Anyway, I thought I might update you on my ‘marathon training’ considering that I haven’t done that in a while and hey why not considering it’s less than two weeks away. Now that the injury has passed (TOUCH WOOD) I just have the simple worry of actually getting round the marathon. Like for Paris, I’ve set myself a realistic target (well, apart from just finishing!) My planned pace is very realistic (in theory) as it’s very much an easy pace for me.

So this is last week’s training:

Monday: 6 miles easy run

Tuesday: 40 minutes on the cross-trainer/elliptical machine (5 minute warm-up, 45 seconds hard, 1 minute easy repeated, 5 minutes cool down)

IMG_7900 Tough!

– 2.5mins plank
– 4x 15/leg single leg squat
– 4.5mins crab walk
– 4x 26 Russian twists
– 200/leg clams with resistance band

Wednesday: One hour of yoga (loving this!)

Thursday: 3 miles easy run at lunch and 15 miles speedy (to me!) bike session

Friday: 30 minutes on the cross-trainer/elliptical machine. Didn’t have as much time as usual so tried to blast it.

– 2.5mins plank
– 15x 4 single leg squat


Post workout happy selfie

It was one of those workouts that I felt great about! I really enjoyed it and felt amazing afterwards.

Saturday: One BORING hour of pool running. It all started off great with my waterproof iPhone cover and my Bluetooth headphones listening to a podcast trying to ignore the small people splashing around on floats (I tried to limit my Death Stare a little). Then my headphones ran out of battery.

Bore pool running See the float in the background? I had so many of those things bump into me.

Honestly, nothing is more boring than pool running. I literally stared at the clock. I even did intervals just to pass the time quicker. I felt like this was a seriously successful workout not only in terms of fitness but psychologically – it really tested my mental endurance.

Sunday: The long run I’d been dreading… 11 miles. I was going to do 10 but then I realised two weeks before Paris marathon I did an 11 miler and superstition told me to do that extra mile if I felt good. And I did, so I did. No shin issues before or after…bit of tightness the day after but nothing hugely remarkable. Fitness-wise I feel good. Endurance-wise? Eh…no idea really. I didn’t feel like I was dead on my knees during or after this run, wasn’t tired in the day and the next day I had no muscles aches – it was like I hadn’t run. Good sign? But only 11 miles…! Apart from endurance my big concern is the effect of the pounding on the roads that running does…nothing but running proper can train your body for that.

What workouts did you enjoy last week?

Do you need music/entertainment to get you through some workouts?

Are you superstitious? I didn’t think I was until now!

A post from a husband needing advice…

Today I am taking a back seat on the blogging front and letting my husband take the reigns as he needs some advice…

Hi everyone, I’m Ben. You know of me as Anna’s husband if you read her blog! I’ve been running for 18 months now. I gave up smoking last march and running keeps me off the cigarettes. I’ve run 2 marathons – both disasters! For Portsmouth I had a torn hip flexor and was in pain from mile 8 (read about that fun time HERE). And for Paris I had cramp from mile 4! Berlin was going to be my “good race”.

I have been struggling with an injury for some time and I always expected it would recover weeks, if not months, before the Berlin marathon. However, here I am less than 2 weeks before Berlin and I haven’t ran in over 5 weeks! I need some blogger advice from runners so I thought I would hijack Anna’s blog to ask anyone reading this…

It all started surprisingly enough in marathon training. I went out and ran an 18 miler, averaging 40secs per mile slower than marathon pace and I felt my hamstring get a bit tight. It wasn’t enough to stop me but was enough that I could feel it. The day after it was tight but I thought it was just a tight muscle so took an extra rest day and then ran a local RR10 (local 4-5 mile race). Again after the race it was tight so I took another extra rest day before running Ultra 12 (a 12 hour through the night relay race).

Ultra 12 Ben (2)Did I mention we won it? I’ve never won anything before in my life! I don’t run to win; I’m not a fast runner so this was a big deal.

Ultra 12 Ben

I ran 4 x 5 mile laps and after each one my hamstring was agony. That was the start of my break. I took 10 days off. In that time I went to physio, he wasn’t bothered and said take time off. The hamstring was tight because of an issue with my back. That was also causing pain in my knee which was more painful than the tight hamstring. I listened to him and decided to take time off, not run, I kept my fitness by cycling and occasionally swimming. I expected to be running within a few weeks.

The last 6 weeks have been a pretty bad time for me, I know Anna has been injured on and off for a while and I have tried my best to support her throughout that time but it is tough to support an injured dejected runner. When it was my turn to get injured my usual positivity around injuries was replaced by negativity and almost a defeated attitude. I haven’t eaten well and have drank more alcohol than usual. Mainly because that’s what I do, if I can’t run I eat cake, chocolate, fast food and drink beer and wine.

IMG_7857Anna’s drink of choice (squash) and mine (wine) 

Anyway, enough of that. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and it looks like I might be able to do a run this weekend. My hamstring is still ridiculously tight but I have to at least try the run. If it goes badly then I will have to admit defeat and say Berlin is off. I will go and support Anna and get absolutely obliterated on German beer.

But what if the run goes ok? I have kept up my fitness so that I can run the marathon but can I actually get around 26.2 miles with such a lack of miles in my legs? My plan if I run it is to go out at 9 min miles (3:57 marathon time). Ironically if I ran this consistently then I would PB. But I am not going for a time. Anyway, if I go out at 9 min miles (which is a comfortable pace for me the last time I ran) then I push that as far as I can – hopefully 15-18 miles. The next 11-8 miles are then going to be a world of pain, walk running to get to the end. I know the sensible thing would be to not run it but I mean seriously – this is Berlin. I am not after a time, I just want to get around.

What do you all think?

Here we go again…

Today starts the first day of the rest of my life. Alternatively, the first day of Marathon Training.

Oh Running God, high on the fluffy track clouds in the sky, please let this training cycle go better than my last. Please let me not get injured and miss weeks of training. Please let things go smoothly. I don’t mind being tired or bored or fed up. I don’t mind getting up before 6am to run. I don’t mind getting rained on, running in heat, wind, or snow (it’s Britain, who knows). I don’t mind getting blisters. I don’t mind gaining weight with excessive food consumption, more muscle (fingers crossed) and water retention. I don’t mind getting insatiable runger.

I just want to train. Yes I am fully aware it will be tough but I am mentally ready. I don’t think though that my mental state can cope with another injury. Niggles, aches, tiredness – fine, I can deal with those. But a proper injury. PLEASE NO.

Got that Running God? Good. Now let’s get down to business.

The Plan

This time around it’s going to be a bit different from my last plan for Paris. Well, the plan I had aimed to do but never actually because I got injured and had to slapdash a lot of it. Clearly I am an injury prone runner (*cringes*). To tempt fate with running very long runs is probably not a good idea for me. I know it’s important for ‘time on your feet’ but honestly I think it’s just going to push my body over the edge. In the future, when I’m more experienced and my body is stronger, then fine but not right now. I also don’t think I need to run 18+ milers to calm me psychologically. I know I can run a marathon now.

I also won’t be doing big weekly mileage. Ideally I top out at 37 miles but I’m also happy to lower that depending how things go. My plan is more about consistency than pushing my body to the limit.

Maybe this plan sounds fairly basic and ‘beginnery’ but at this point, after all my stupid injury issues, I think this is the best way forward. A cautious approach, if you like.


As you can see, there’s between 4-5 days a week running depending what I’ve got going on. A fair few races as well (RR10s and half marathons). I wanted to make sure I had two strength sessions a week as well. These are 45-60 minute weight sessions focusing on glutes, core, hamstrings, calfs/shins, etc. This is to aid injury prevention (here’s hoping).

I’ll do a speed-specific session on Tuesday (either with the club or on my own), a tempo run Thursday mornings and Parkrun on Saturdays (but not necessarily racing them). My Sunday longer runs and anything in between will all be easy paced (except for my goal half marathon in Maidenhead).

There’s no cross-training in there. I don’t want to overload my body. I found spinning with running a nightmare mix and just made me more inclined to get injured. Maybe the odd bike ride or swim will appear but nothing crazy.

My longer runs top out at 16 miles. But I will be running fairly medium distances the days before so this should (in a bastardized Hansons method approach) tire my legs, replicating what it will feel like in a marathon. I didn’t want to go the whole hog with the Hansons method because I’m not ready to run six days a week and the mileage goes higher than I’m comfortable with. So I dropped the Monday run and lowered some of the other runs.

Another main change for me will be not running with the running club on Thursday evenings. The majority of my runs (apart from Parkruns) will be solo runs in the morning. As much as I love my running club and love the Thursday night sessions, I find that I stop listening to my body and run faster and further than I should. By running on my own I can stay in tune with any niggles and pace my run exactly how I need to (hold certain tempo paces for a certain time for example). I’m sad about it but I know it’s for the best. Plus I love running in the morning rather than the evening.

None of this though is set in stone. My main aim for this marathon training is consistent injury-free running. So regular sports massages will hopefully happen as well to keep things in tip top shape as much as possible.

Whew. So that’s it. Who knows if it’ll work. I do have a time aim in mind for Berlin, but I’ll keep that to myself for the moment. It’s nothing dramatically different to Paris. Paris has given me the confidence that I know I can run a bit faster because I felt so comfortable all the way and finished without feeling like I was at death’s door. But we’ll see!

Anyone else training for a specific race or marathon?

What are your top tips to staying injury free?

What have you learnt about your body over the years when it comes to exercising?