Marathon Talk Weekend – Part 2

Hello! Hmmm I did say I wouldn’t focus solely on Marathon Talk for a post…but I kind of did sorry. I won’t be offended if you skip this if you’re not interested!

To catch up, check out Part 1

So after breakfast/brunch and getting showered and sorted we headed to meet up with everyone for 1pm.

IMG_5936 I tried to discreetly take a photo of Martin talking

They did a little “hello” sort of welcome chat (some people had only just arrived as they couldn’t make the Friday night or Parkrun). I have to say that Tom and Martin are so friendly and so lovely. There was lots of banter and they were exactly like they were on the show. It wasn’t like an “us” and “them” experience – it felt very relaxed and they were very easy-going and ‘normal’.

Then there was the Marathon Talk quiz. We were split into teams (by our birth month). Tom ended up in my team. The quiz was solely focused on Marathon Talk. It was great – Tom knew a lot of the answers which helped, but I was surprised at how much the rest of the team and I knew and that he couldn’t remember!

Marathon Talk quiz Tony was the quiz master and he was brilliant. He’s exactly like he is on the show – hilarious, witty and fun. The quiz was such a laugh.

And we won!

Winning quiz team In true runner’s style, we won cakes

Everyone on the weekend also got given (for free) a very swanky running T-shirt with “Run Camp 2014” printed on it. These were from Adidas (who sponsor the show) so they were of very good quality, and in a range of sizes. My T-shirt actually fits for once.

Marathon Talk weekend We’re on the far left (as our Tom and Martin, Tony is hiding at the back)

Then we were told the next part was an interval session. 6x3minutes with 3 minutes recovery. As jubilant as my Parkrun was and as desperate as I was to take part in this I didn’t think it would be sensible. I’m trying to be gradually get back into things and a hard Parkrun in the morning followed by a hard interval session (because let’s be honest, I’d never do it half-hearted) and then a long run the next day…probably not sensible for me.

Ben and our running club friend decided the same. Ben is only just getting back into running after his hip issues (marathon recap will happen – I am still pestering him). So we wandered over to Tom and asked if we could help out. He was more than happy for us to help him keep the timings as the entire group would be split into two (the speedsters and the not so speedsters). Another lady who had hurt her ankle also wanted to help out.

Everyone got ready and then ran to the interval location (about two miles away). Whereas we followed Tom’s car in our own car. Hilariously Tom took us the wrong way and then had to do a crazy dodgy 7 point turn on some steep dirt hill track. It was so funny (and quite scary…). Ben had a lot of jokes with him about that haha.

After some explaining of the time-keeping and lapping of stop watches (my god my tiny little brain really struggled) we each headed out to a certain distance away from the start.

Marathon Talk interval sessionThis is us heading out to our spots – Tom in the bright cap, Martin next to him//There’s the log I stood on to watch the runners pass

I’m glad I’m not great at maths as I didn’t realise I’d be stood there for 40 minutes in the cold!! Every three minutes the speedsters would zoom past me and then back.

IMG_5947The lead runner is Steve Way – stupidly fast! 

Then three minutes I’d be on my own again so I did a lot of pacing to keep warm!

Then we were done. Everyone ran back and we followed Tom back again. He seemed really grateful we helped so I felt chuffed despite how cold and wet I was.

After getting back and sorted we then headed to the meeting spot again for a buffet meal. It was quite funny because I was chatting to one of the other runners and we were wondering what we’d get. I jokingly said “probably sandwiches and pasties”. The other runner laughed and said “nah it’ll be a hot buffet of course.” Famous last words.Cold buffet monster meal Everything was cold. I hadn’t eaten since my brunch in the morning (11am) so I was absolutely starving (it was now 6.30pm). As you can see, I had everything and lots of it.

After our very cold but filling dinner, Martin did a sort of interview with Steve Way (an 100km ultra champion).IMG_5953 I had no idea who Steve Way was before the interview began. But I can now say I’m a big fan. He started running at 33 – going from an overweight smoker to an almost elite athlete; just seconds from qualifying in the elite category for a marathon. He “dabbled” with training for his first marathon and ran a 3:06. This blows my mind. Then after putting in some ‘proper’ training he got down to 2:19. Jesus.

I could say a huge amount about this interview – a lot of useful and interesting information –but it would take up a lot of the post. Unless people are very interested I’ll leave you with just a few tidbits:

  • He said though he gave up smoking, he is still a smoker. He just doesn’t smoke because it would “affect his running”. He has a cigar after every marathon to celebrate though.
  • He can run up to around 150miles a week.
  • The average pace of all those runs (recoveries to speed sessions) is 6.30mins/mile.
  • He talked a lot about knowing the limits of his body – knowing he couldn’t go over 150ish miles a week as he’d start to break down or become over-trained.
  • He takes his HR every morning. It sits around 30 beats a minute.

It was very inspiring but a little ‘out there’, you know? Like all I kept thinking was “how can I relate this to myself?”. But you sort of can – the focus, perseverance, the drive…though it was beyond most of the people’s ideas of a usual training week we were all nodding along. It was inspirational.

After the interview (which went on for a good hour with us being able to ask any questions), Martin explained what was happening for the long run the next day. IMG_5954He handed out maps and explain that there was an 11 mile route, a 16 mile route and a 19mile route. We needed to decide what distance and what pace we’d like to do so the next day we could get into groups. I already knew I’d be doing the 11 miler. No way would I be attempting more at the moment. Especially considering the terrain was off-road, challenging and the route was, in Martin’s words, “f***ed” with all the rain water. Haha.

Then we headed back to the lodge where I had a lovely hot chocolate in bed and a fairly early night.

Early night We fell asleep fairly quickly. We were shattered!

I will save the next day until another post (another interesting interview, long run, carvery and Q&A session with Martin and Tom).

Do you listen to Marathon Talk? Would you want to go on a trip like this?

Do you know your limits for exercise? Number of days, level of mileage?

Do you do interval sessions? I will be incorporating intervals in my training soon but for now I’m just doing regular runs and tempo runs to not stress my body out too much –> interesting article on exactly this: Returning to running after injury

How to Run Fast

Today I wanted to chat a little bit about running fast. [Sorry, it’s a very running-based post…] I am not an expert obviously. I am not even that ‘fast’. Firstly, it’s a tricky thing to really define how fast fast is. Speed is relative. When I first started running I was running 10 minute miles on the treadmill like it was my job. Four times a week, 5 miles, 50 minutes. Done and dusted. It felt tough. But I didn’t push the speed, I just kept going at that pace because that’s what running was to me back then.

Then I changed jobs and lost my lovely little gym at my old work. So I started running outside. Hang on a second! Where’s my speed button?? Where’s my incline button? It all became a little less formalised. Just running, pure and simple. I found I naturally ran faster than my treadmill slog. I was hitting 9 minutes, and 8.30 minutes if I pushed it.

Suddenly I discovered how much I loved running.


But I still ran around 5 miles four times a week. Some days I’d see it as a good workout as I’d hit around 8.30 min/mile average. Some days I’d see as a bad workout (9 mins/mile). And that was that. A tick-box affair if you like.

Since reading blogs, magazines and running with other people I discovered the key to running faster. There’s this special drink you have every morning and night… kidding (damn I wish there was a drink – or cake, I love cake). How do you run faster? You run faster. Simple, right?

Yes but it’s painful, it generally sucks, and I pretty much hate it the entire time.

Here are some of the workouts that you should try and incorporate to increase your running speed:

  • Fartleks
  • Intervals
  • Hill repeats

Last year I dropped my mileage and started running a couple of times a week 2-3 miles with regular bursts of random speed – 100% effort, absolutely blasting it for a short period of time. Then slowing it down to recover for a minute and then repeating. This is fartlek training (Swedish for ‘speed play’ – ha biggest joke ever; that implies it’s fun!)

Dropping from 20ish miles a week to under 10 miles and suddenly my speed on a normal everyday run was boosted. It was amazing.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s tough. But it’s only tough for short periods.

Since my irksome injury, I’ve lost of a bit of speed as I couldn’t do any effective speed work without causing myself further issues. It’s amazing how quickly you lose speed when you stop trying. Now, however, I’m back in the game and ready to play ball.

Tuesday nights at my running club are the training nights. Usually I only go to the Thursday sessions which are just nice medium runs (6-8miles) at brisk pace. But I know I need someone to yell at me to do some proper training. So this Tuesday were hills repeats.

It was 300m jogging downhill, then 300m sprinting flat-out up hill, then 300m jogging flat, then 300m sprinting flat. We did that entire sequence five times. Doesn’t sound like much, but seriously it killed me. We only worked out for 30 minutes but I was toast.

I kept saying to the girl next to me: surely this is the last one, right??

We also do intervals. This is basically a more formalised version of fartleks, usually on a track. This is when you have an exact distance planned that you sprint flat-out for (e.g. 100m, 200m, 300m, etc.) and then an exact distance or time of recovery (say 800m recovery, or a minute). And you repeat this a certain number of times.

Again, like fartlek is all about a sustained hard effort for a period of time, with a length of recovery. The recovery is just as important as the speed. It allows your body to, well, recover and then be good to go again.

Over time, the speed of which you were flat-out a few weeks ago will feel a bit easier. So you rank up the speed again. The intensity of the speed helps your muscles work more efficiently and gets used to higher speeds.

Basically the aim of these sessions is that they feel hard so you’re normal runs feel easier. And your normal runs become faster.

There are other runs you could incorporate, like tempo runs, but I’ve gone on a fair bit already. I guess you must know by now then when I start talking about running I find it hard to stop! I know running isn’t for everybody but it’s what I live and breathe. I am trying to find more of a balance – reading Kat’s blog helps me see the other side Winking smile Strength is so important for running as well. You need the power in your muscles to allow the speed to happen.

Like I said, I’m not an expert and will never pretend to be, but I hope this has helped anyone who needs it!

If you have any questions, let me know! Or if you have any tips and tricks yourself, please share!

Do you enjoy running? If not, what are you passionate about?

What’s your favourite run? Mine is definitely the ‘long run’. Easy pace, big distance.

What are you up to this weekend? We have a weekend of nothing planned. Bliss.

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…