MarathonTalk Run Camp –part 2

Continuing on with my recap from the MarathonTalk Run Camp (catch up with part 1 HERE)… So where was I? The interval session was fascinating to watch, especially seeing Steve Way taking it ‘easy’ in the third group at 7.20-30min/miles. I wish that was my easy interval pace!

Steve Way(Photo Credit: Gary Derwent)

During the interval session (that I didn’t take part in) my feet were literally like blocks of ice.


Larking about (Photo credit: Matt Fowler)

I was wearing simple Van shoes without socks so really it was my own fault but it took a good while of them being in front of the electric fire in the lodge to get feeling back into them!

I was also starving as I hadn’t had lunch and it was now 4pm and dinner wasn’t until later. Luckily I had a whole load of snacks back at the lodge so it wasn’t too much of an issue. I wolfed down some beef jerky, a protein bar and a couple of apples. After relaxing for a bit we headed down to the events room again to hear the next talk.

This was from Jamie Ramsay who ran 18,000km in 600 days from Vancouver to Buenos Aires solo with no support crew. I mean, WOW. I’d heard the interview with him on the MarathonTalk podcast and remember being blown away by his incredible story – which he was in the middle of during the time of the interview. Now he was back and was staying in one of the lodges and was involved in the whole weekend too.IMG_8794

He was incredibly charismatic. He had a PowerPoint which showed photos of his trip and some geeky stats (us runners love our stats) of elevation, miles, etc. but mostly we just focused on him telling his story.IMG_8795

It was clear that he was very much a ‘happy go lucky’ kinda guy. He decided one day to quit his job and just go do something incredible. He’d been inspired by other adventurer’s books and enjoyed the feeling of completing marathons and found his life was just grinding along without purpose. So he typed into Google ‘Vancouver to Buenos Aires’ and that was his route – not even joking. He tested out running 10km every day for a month to see if his body would break and when it didn’t he worked out his notice, sold everything and got on a plane. Mind blown? Mine was!

He ran most days and usually over a marathon distance. He didn’t plan ahead, he just ran vaguely the route he needed with everything in a buggy (tent, some clothes, money, passport, food…the bare minimum). His journey sounded absolutely incredible. The people he met, the memories he made, the things he saw, the scenery around him… I literally sat there with my mouth open. Injuries and illnesses were few and far between (I’d hate him but he was far too likeable). Mostly the illnesses came from swimming in dodgy waters! Because I was so blown away by his talk I just had to go and speak to him afterwards (and get a shameless selfie with him – what a legend).


I asked him several things, like what pace he ran and he said he aimed for 60 minute 10ks and that if he needed to stop and rest he would. There was no real time pressures (most of the time). He did say he got dependent on Ibuprofen though and had to wean himself off it as he found when things started hurting he just took the pills. I found him so fascinating to speak to and super friendly, I could have grilled him for hours. He was so passionate and enthusiastic. I have so much more to say about him and this in general that I hope to do another post on it… watch this space! (Also, if you fancy voting for Jamie for the National Adventure Awards you can do so HERE – he deserves it in my opinion!). He’s also writing a book, which I’ll definitely be buying when it’s out!

Then it was time for dinner! Luckily (I say luckily as if this wasn’t well planned on my behalf noticing where the food would be served…) we were sat on the best table for food. Our table got to go up first to pile our plates up.MarathonTalk buffet dinner

Don’t let that salad fool you one bit, underneath there was lasagne, chilli con carne, chips, garlic bread and potatoes. Would you like carbs with your carbs…? My empty stomach was definitely making the decisions here. And I went back for seconds. Seriously, I don’t think I’ve eaten so many carbs in one sitting in my life – usually I’m all about the meat but I think the caterers realised we were runners! This was then followed by a fruit salad and cheesecake. I still manage to surprise myself (and others) with how much I can eat.

It helped me with my decision about the next day though as I’d been wondering what to do about breakfast. I had brought porridge with me and also a Trek bar in case I wanted something lighter. I was going to run five miles before the half marathon (which started at 10am at Sandy Balls) to get a total of 18 miles. I’d planned to meet some of the running camp guys at 8.45am to run it with them (pretty much everyone is marathon training!). If I was to have breakfast it would mean getting up a lot earlier so things could digest… but if I didn’t have breakfast it meant I could sleep until 8.15am. What a luxury! Anyway, the decision was made after the sheer quantity of food I ate. I knew I wouldn’t be needing anything before the run now (and, spoiler alert, I felt absolutely fine on the run – really well-fuelled in fact!).

After dinner and pudding, it was quiz time. To make things interesting each table (team) had to write down six questions on ANYTHING and then the questions would all be collated and that would be the quiz. It didn’t even have to be about running, though obviously there was a theme. The questions were so random and hilarious. A few of ours were (which were running-related):

  • When did women get to run the marathon in the Olympics?
  • How many official marathons have been run in space?
  • When did the Marathon bar become Snickers?
  • How many marathons would you need to run to complete the circumference of the Earth?

One of the most random questions from another team was “how many Lego bricks would need to be piled on top of each other to crush the bottom one?”. These were not easy questions clearly!! (By the way, I think the answer was like 300,000). The best one was “should an adult man wear Crocs with jeans?” referring to Tom Williams who was stood on stage wearing exactly that. It was hilarious hearing him read it out and realising it was talking about him!

IMG_8798Damn, you can’t see his shoes!

It was so funny to actually see and hear Martin and Tom having banter in real life, rather than in an edited podcast. Martin is a lot more rude (lots of swearing and rude humour) and Tom clearly has to keep him under control. You can tell a lot of editing has to happen in the show for it to be ‘family friendly’. But it was hilarious to watch.

We scored 16 out of 60 which was obviously ridiculously bad, but not that far off from other teams. It was good fun though. I also managed to get a photo with Steve Way – who by the way, is the most easy-going and friendly person ever. Despite being a super amazing eye-wateringly fast elite athlete he joined in with everything and was always interested in what other people had to say and how their running was going.IMG_8788

He’s so chatty and funny. God I look so star struck in this photo it’s ridiculous… but I was just really chuffed!

As the night got later (oof past 10pm, can you even imagine! Winking smile) we headed back to the lodge to get some decent sleep before the next day. Most people were doing the half marathon, a couple were doing the full marathon (Steve Way included) and some were doing a guided run of either 8 or 16 miles. But we’d reconvene afterwards for a carvery and a wind down.

My tummy was so full I worried I wouldn’t sleep, but actually the carbs sent me off nicely. Despite my alarm being set for 8.15am I woke up after 7am as I’m such a light-sleeper and anything wakes me up. It was also FREEZING. Seriously our lodge was so cold! But I stayed in bed until 8am and had a black coffee, got ready and felt raring to go.IMG_8800

And I’ll leave the run and race recap and the end of the MarathonTalk weekend to the next post!

Have you ever gone travelling round the world?

Do you eat a lot of carbs the night before a race/long run?

Do you enjoy pub quizzes? I’m so rubbish at them but I do enjoy them!

The Nitty Gritties–Food

As I’m plodding my way through my training for my sixth marathon I thought I’d do a mini series on some bits and bobs (“the nitty gritty”) to do with my training that might either be interesting (who knows!) or helpful to other people. Obviously I’m no expert and this is only my experience, which isn’t huge, and everyone is an individual. What works for me might not work for you, but you might find something that helps! I have a few other topics in mind but if people find this a) boring or b) have a request, please let me know Smile

First topic surrounds one of my favourite things (other than running): FOOD. When it comes to food and marathon training I think it can get over-complicated and confused. To be quite honest, if you’re a regular runner or do regular exercise then really not a huge amount needs to change straight off the bat. You don’t suddenly need to be eating pizza every night and gulping down a protein shake to get through the day.

Ideally as you gradually increase the miles each week then you should also gradually increase your calories/fuel as well. This is especially true if you’re trying to lose weight (I’m not, don’t worry!). Just because you added an extra few miles onto your usual run at the weekend doesn’t mean it’s time for a second lunch. That being said, as the miles do get substantially bigger and you suddenly find the day after a long run you are rungry ALL THE TIME then sensible snacking can help immensely.


As you probably know I’m a huge fan of protein. Personally I think a snack that’s high in protein is fantastic because not only is it quite satiating but it’s also great to help towards muscle repair. Running takes a lot out of the body and protein can really help build back up the muscles.

  • Cottage cheese – this might sound a bit odd but cottage cheese is a fantastic, tasty snack. It’s high in protein and low in fat and sugar. It’s a good source of calcium and selenium (a good antioxidant). Have it plain or add in some berries and some seeds and suddenly you have quite a well-rounded snack with protein, carbs and fat. I take a little Tupperware box with me to work and eat it like a yogurt in the afternoon.
  • Nuts – pistachio nuts are a regular snack for me at work. I prefer them to other nuts as they’re a bit harder to eat as you have to de-shell them. This means I’m less likely to mindlessly power through a bag of them. Nuts are high in calories but they’re a fantastic source of protein and ‘healthy’ fats. If you have more self-control than I do, other nuts are also just as good.   IMG_8275
  • Meat jerky/biltong – OK not exactly a ‘normal’ runner’s snack but I love these. Just make sure you get good quality that’s not full of sugar and strange chemicals. It’s super high in protein, while low in carbs and fats.IMG_8276
  • Icelandic-style yogurts – they taste just like normal yogurt though they’re a lot thicker. They’re low in fat and sugars but really high in protein (something like 11g per 100g) and contain all the good probiotic magic too. There are flavoured ones too but they’re usually full of sugar so I’d recommend just throwing in whole fruit instead.


Fat, like protein, is very satiating and shouldn’t be feared. It’s an important source of nutrition for our body, helping contribute to healthy hair, skin and nails and also hormonal function and reducing inflammation. Just avoid trans fats as they’re the nasties that can mess around with your system.

  • Hummus – pair with some vegetable crudités or some wholemeal crackers and you’re good to go. A great source of fat from the chickpeas and olive oil.
  • Avocados – the star of Instagram posts all over the world, mash onto a rice cracker (preferably a wholegrain one to bump up the fibre and satiety factor). It’s a great source of potassium (more than bananas!) and monounsaturated fat.
  • Nut butters – again, spread on rice crackers, toast or eat by the spoonful. Fairly calorific so a good choice if you’re in a rush and need to get in some nutrients fast. Personally I’m not a fan of nut butters. It’s alright but I don’t get the craze for it…
  • Cheese – avoid processed rubbish (though I’m always partial to Babybells as they’re in such handy little packages). Try and get some good quality cheese that will be more tasty, more nutrient rich and just generally better for you. Cube up some feta and throw in some cherry tomatoes or olives and that’s quite a nutritious and filling snack.


Carbs are a necessary requirement for running. When training for a marathon, a low carb diet is probably not the best approach unless your body is really used to this way of exercising. Your body needs fuel and carbs are the easiest and simplest fuel for your body to use. You do want your body to tap into your fat reserves as well but within reason.

I’d avoid crisps purely because they’re not that filling and they’re likely to spike your sugar levels and leave you wanting more. Aim for low GI (more complex) carbs that will digest slowly and leave you feeling full and satisfied.

  • Fruit (banana is obviously a great choice here but obviously I’m going to say apples are the best).  
  • Vegetables, such as carrots. I don’t need to convince you veg is good for you.
  • Pretzels – a nice salty snack that’s more filling than crisps and really moreish.
  • Popcorn – a great snack as long as you avoid the sugary ones. A great source of fibre as well which is key for a good working gut and digestive system.
  • Toast – a slice of wholemeal toast can be exactly what the body needs. Add some jam and have before a run and you’ve got a great source of fast and slow releasing energy. Or peanut butter for a more sustaining snack.

Little bits of what you fancy…

Life is too short to not enjoy food! Have that slice of cake or bar of chocolate, just don’t have it every day “because I’m training”. I will always have a naughty snack/cheat meal/whatever the hell you want to call it at the weekend because though my body might not need it, my mind and soul does.IMG_6459

My ethos is that I generally try and save a big treat until the weekend so I can fully enjoy it rather than some shop-bought cakes or biscuits someone from work has that I eat because I’m bored. I want to go out to a nice restaurant and eat a nice meal with people I enjoy being around. I make it into something that can be fully immersed into and enjoyed. Like afternoon tea or enjoying some home-baked cake from my friend.

If you’re feeling tired and worn out, generally it can be one of two things: you’re not getting enough quality sleep or you’re not eating enough. Your body needs fuel and recovery. Sleep and food are two very simple easy ways to make running easier (IN THEORY – busy mums all over the world don’t shoot me!). If you’re not looking to gain weight, eat as much as you possibly can to maintain your weight with your training. Don’t skimp on calories, dive into those bad boys. And if you start gaining weight? Drop it your calories down a bit. Better to gain a little weight in the process of good running than burn out because you’re not eating enough. I’m not saying to suddenly count your calories and become obsessed over it, but just be mindful of what you’re putting in to get the best out.

Just my personal thoughts!

What are your favourite snacks?

Do you lose weight or gain weight when training for a marathon?

Do you graze through the day or stick to bigger meals?