Exciting (and scary?) times ahead

Can you believe March is almost over? This is crazy. I love this time of year though – each warmer day is a blessing and there’s such hope for better weather. I actually think I prefer spring to summer. Summer can be either very disappointing (too much rain or far too hot).

I am so excited about the coming weeks. OK I am also filled with a huge sense of foreboding and dread because of the marathon. But it is quite an exciting time regardless. I’m intrigued to know how I’ll do running 26.2 miles – will I blow up at 18 or 20 miles? How will I cope? What will it feel like?

Not just my marathon though, Ben’s running his second marathon and he’s had a good amount of training, getting in an 18 miler and consistently running in the week (and PB’ing left right and centre in half marathons and a 10k).

There are also people at my club running Brighton, London or the Dorset marathon. And so many bloggers are training for marathons. And Marathon Talk’s Martin Yelling and Tom Williams doing Manchester.

Let’s also not forget the big one. Mo Farah (Farrrrrrrrahh as that American commentator called him) and his marathon debut. I really hope he wins (but I think Geoffrey Mutai will do it).

To say I’m excited is a bit of an understatement. I think I might just glue myself to social media for the next few weeks (hmm, what’s new I suppose?).

Last night I went for a 10k run after work in Basingstoke and just decided to try as hard as I could. The route is two loops. Unfortunately it includes a fair few uphill’s, but also some downhill’s.


The ‘GAP’ figure is: “Grade Adjusted Pace estimates an equivalent pace when running on flat land, allowing the runner to compare hilly and flat runs more easily. Because running uphill requires extra effort, the Grade Adjusted Pace will be faster than the actual pace run. When running downhill, the Grade Adjusted Pace will be slower than the actual pace”. (I use Strava to upload my runs).


Not too bad but not flat. This run was about giving myself confidence that I haven’t lost everything. For definite I have run faster 10ks, but considering my injuries and lack of consistent training I am more than happy with where I am right now.

It’s hard to know what I should be doing in these two weeks before the marathon. This week I’m going to go to running club, Parkrun and then do a 12-13 mile run on Sunday. Maybe this long run is stupid so close to ‘M Day’ but I think I need to do it mentally. Then next week will be one shorter speed session and the rest easy shorter runs.

I haven’t even finalised my thoughts about fuelling during the run. Or where to put gels as I won’t be carrying a bag or anything. These things are keeping me up at night. I think I’m just going to take four gels with me, in my hands I guess, and just go with how I feel.

I think I probably speak for everyone when I say I can’t wait for this marathon to be over!! 😉

What would be your fuelling strategy for a marathon? (Or what have you done in the past?)

How do you mentally prepare yourself for something Big and Scary?

Will you be watching (or running) the London marathon?

Marathon Talk – final part

Hello, hello! Right, this is it now. The last part – sorry if this has been a bit dull for some of you. But I wanted to do the recap justice as both Ben and I had such a brilliant time and we were were really grateful to have been able to have gone.

Catch up here: part 1 and part 2

So after a very much needed sleep, we got up and had breakfast and headed to the meeting point for 9am for another interview-style talk.

Liz Yelling and Louise Dayman Apologies for the rubbish photo – they were also under some unforgiving lights!

The talk was with Liz Yelling (Martin’s Olympic marathon athlete wife and National Cross Country Championship winner four times) and Louise Damen who is an up and coming athlete aiming for the Olympics and also a National Cross Country Champion. Not bad!!

Tom Williams, from off-stage, started the ball rolling with asking them questions and then we got to ask them any questions. Again, like the Steve Way interview, it was fascinating.

Interesting bits from the interview:

  • One of Liz’s ‘key’ marathon training runs is a 19 miler with marathon pace sandwiched either side of an interval session. *gulp*
  • After a run Liz would refuel within 90 minutes with a balance of protein, carbs and fat. She said Martin would often make her scrambled eggs as soon as she walked in!
  • Marathon pace at the beginning of training should be hard to maintain.
  • Liz, a few years ago, saw a specialist who dissected her training and told her she was running hard all the time and so never properly recovering. Learning from this, Liz stressed having easy runs is just as important as hard runs as it gives your body time to adapt to the hard stuff which is essential for your training.
  • Interestingly Liz says you should be, to some degree, dehydrated after a race. If you’re not then you’re carrying too much water.
  • Louise does a lot of strength work to help with her posture and support her running, whereas Liz wouldn’t do as much.

Again the information was sometimes hard to grasp and get my head around. Clearly I won’t be doing that 19 mile session anytime soon – Jesus, just to run 19 miles would be great! But I mentally logged it for a few years time when hopefully I’m a more experienced marathon runner aiming for a better time.

After this we sorted out what groups we’d be running in our long run. I huddled in the 11 miler group and then between us we worked out paces. Unfortunately most people wanted to run 9.30-10min miles. I was aiming for 8-8.30min miles. Luckily a very nice chap called Carl was hoping for the same. So we hung together and then tagged on to a 16 miler group doing the same pace as the 11 miles was the same route as the 16.

We started off great: nice and easy and then got into it. It felt easy and I was happy running and chatting to the group. The wind was behind us and there were few hills. Martin flitted between our group and another which was nice. He took the below photo.

Long run Marathon Talk 2

But then at mile five I started to struggle. The terrain started to become thick with mud and water. And suddenly a few more hills appeared. We had changed direction and the friendly wind was no longer that helpful. Yes I am making excuses – but I stand by them.


We then turned a corner and the wind was right in our faces. Our pace dropped significantly. As we continued on I started to lag behind. Oh sure this pace would have been fine and dandy pre-injury but in my current state of fitness, the terrain and wind rinsed me.

Long run Marathon Talk This was the tough part of the run: no cover from the wind

I felt my motivation drop and the demon on my shoulder got louder and louder: “Don’t bother keeping up, just have a nice run on your own”, “slow down”, “this is too hard for you”.

The guys were great and didn’t leave me behind and this made me preserve harder: I couldn’t let them or myself down. Between desperate gasps of breath I told them I didn’t usually struggle so much – I have a half marathon PB of 1:36:10!! They were very nice and said I’d be there again soon.

But seriously, my ego was demolished. It reminded me that I still have a way to go and not to get cocky thinking I was still as fast as I used to be. That long run put me in my place.

I practically crawled to the finish point. Carl was lovely and reassured me I hadn’t held him back (hmmm). But I was in pieces. That was not a long easy run. For me that felt like a tempo run. I staggered to our lodge, found I was the first one back, stripped my muddy wet clothes to my underwear and collapsed on the sofa with a glass of water. At that point I didn’t care who walked in!

Ben and our running club friend arrived about 20 mins later and we rushed to get showered and ready for our carvery which was at 1.30pm. Thankfully it had been pushed back to 2pm as so many people weren’t back (remember I only did 11miles). But we got ourselves a table and immediately inhaled the tiny bread roll everyone had at their place. Heaven.

Interestingly the average pace of my run was just under 9mins. In Ben’s group they were aiming for 9.30mins and averaged 10.30mins so I felt better that other people’s runs had been tough too. In fact the look on everyone’s face as they filtered in made it evident that people found it tough and they were shattered.

Then the food started coming. Beef roast. Not a usual meal for me, but bloody good.

Post-long run carvery Then we sat there in a silent state of absolute exhaustion.

Then Tom and Martin said they’d do a Q&A session on anything we wanted to know: running, training, show-related.

Marathon Talk Q&A I can’t remember a lot of the questions that were asked. I think it was mainly focused on training. Oh an interesting point about the show that I didn’t know was that they don’t pay their guests. Apparently a few guests have asked for money but have always been fine when told there is no compensation.

I asked a question that had been bothering me. I said that as I was training for my first marathon every long run was essentially the longest I’ve ever done (well eventually anyway). Should I be thinking about marathon pace this, interval that, for those long runs? They reassured me that for your first marathon it is literally just running slowly and getting the body used to the time on the feet. When you become more experienced then you can jazz things up a bit. Tom said he felt exactly the same when he was training for his first and that I wasn’t to worry. Whew.

As we headed to leave I had to do that very sad and embarrassing thing of asking them for a photo. I just had to. And hey were so nice about it! They didn’t seem bothered at all or thought I was a weird creepy fan.

Marathon Talk and me It literally made the weekend for me 😀

If they did another weekend I’d be there in a flash. I can’t recommend it enough. And if you don’t listen to Marathon Talk – start, because honestly it’s brilliant.

Obviously meeting Tom, Martin and Tony was amazing. But also being around a bunch of other people who you’ve never met before but all love running is just brilliant. You’re already on the same wave length. And seeing people do random stretches in normal clothes and people not thinking that’s weird made me smile!

I am proud to be a runner!

Do you listen to Marathon Talk? Or any other podcast? Any recommendations?

Have you ever met an athlete before?

What was your last hard run/workout?

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

Marathon Talk Weekend – Part 1

Hi guys! I am buzzing. I had such a fantastic weekend. Ben and I went to the Marathon Talk spring weekend over at the New Forest. It really was a brilliant weekend.

You probably know I’m fairly obsessed with running and spending an entire weekend purely focused on running with fellow runners was just heaven. I have so much to say about it so I thought I’d break it down into ‘manageable chunks’. I’ll try to include some non-running stuff as well because I know running isn’t everyone’s cup of tea…

Ben and me headed to the New Forest with one of our running club friends who was also doing the weekend on Friday afternoon. It wasn’t far for us at all – but some people came all the way from Edinburgh! That is dedication. There was an informal meet and greet style thing on Friday evening. I’m terrible. OK I know Martin Yelling and Tom Williams aren’t celebrities and most non-runners haven’t heard of them…but I was so chuffed to meet them and listen to what they said. I think they’re just great and actually see them talking rather than hear them on a podcast was brilliant. I tried not to be that creepy fan girl but I was pretty much smiling the entire time. They were very welcoming and so friendly.

IMG_5917 Unpacking the essentials in the lodge

Saturday we got up early and got ready for Parkrun.

Parkrun ready Ben loves it when I take random photos – ha!

And we convoyed over with everyone to Brockenhurst. Check out the car we were following.Running number plater

Of course! Not Martin or Tom’s car though.

Brockenhurst Parkrun It was fairly wet and muddy but when has that ever put off a runner?? It’s funny because Brockenhurst Parkrun hasn’t been running since the beginning of December, but when the Parkrun director (i.e. Tom Williams) comes into town anything is possible. An out and back route was set up that avoided the worst of the flooding/fallen trees etc.

I might have had lofty unrealistic ambitious of having a podium finish…but as soon as we started three ladies just zoomed off. Honestly, even if I was in peak fitness and 5k shape I think I could have caught one of them. Those ladies had some serious speed – major kudos to them!

The course…oh the course. It was off-road so nice and soft underfoot, but it was hilly. We ran down one very steep hill which wasn’t as great as that sounds – tough on the quads! And the ever present thought of “I will have to climb that hill on the way back”. Half way I thought I might have to stop, it was so tough. But I finished! My time was 23:11, 4th female, 24th out of 71.


I am more then happy with that!IMG_5928

Martin Yelling came second (18:55) and Tom William (32:52) pushing his daughter in a pram! There was a great atmosphere and community feel – everyone cheering everyone. I loved it.

Then we convoyed over to a local tea room in Brockenhurst. Can you picture a large number of runners suddenly landing in a tiny quaint tea room? It was rather funny and the staff looked a bit taken back. I kind of wished I hadn’t worn my tiny shorts…I felt a little naked.

I hadn’t had breakfast and I was starting to feel hungry. I checked around with other people and found that others were ordering food. So Ben and me ordered a very satisfactory post-run meal.

Post-parkrun fry-up Well, it was that or afternoon tea…Martin walked past and said he was fully impressed haha.

Then we headed back to the lodges to get showered and ready for a 1pm meet up for the Marathon Talk quiz.

Right I’ll leave it there as I could waffle for ages. News on my knee (I know – exciting stuff, curb your enthusiasm 😉 I think it’s holding up really well. It still aches from time to time but it felt fine during the runs over the weekend and I feel like I’m running strong. Gradually does it.

One last Marathon Talk weekend point. As we were unpacking Ben goes “Where’s my towel?” (we had to bring our own). I said “well unless it’s in your bag, it’s probably in the airing cupboard at home”. Apparently I was supposed to remember it! Ha! So he had to buy one from the little shops on site.

Forgot towel Beggars can’t be choosers!

How was your weekend? Did you do anything nice?

What kind of Parkrun do you prefer? Challenging? Flat? I like a flat one now and again to see if I’ve made any progress, but challenging helps with training.

If you could have anything, what would you eat after exercise?

Marathon Talk Weekend and Windy Days

I’m in a bit of a quandary. I am trying really hard to take things slowly and ease gently back into running…but at the same time I have an impending marathon approaching (Paris 6th April). So the mileage obviously has to increase.

Ideally I’d love to ramp up fast and heavy: four or five runs a week with big long runs at the weekend. But I can’t. Number one rule of returning to your sport post-injury: take things slow. You can’t take time off, get all healed and then jump back into 30 miles a week. Well I can’t anyway.

Being all sensible and boring means I’m not running Brighton half marathon the weekend after next. Part of me harboured this optimism that I could do it, take it slowly, use it as a training run. But however slowly I do it, it’s still 13.1miles pounding away on my knees. And it’s quite a jump from my current long run mileage. Sure I’ve run nine miles and I plan to do 10 this weekend…but jumping up three when I’m still getting back into it and my knee is still feeling delicate…Recipe for disaster.

Onto more exciting news…This weekend Ben and me are off to the Marathon Talk spring running weekend.


Basically we’re going to Sandy Balls (actually it’s real name) in the New Forest with 50 or so other runners to have a three day running-filled jolly. We get to do to the Brockenhurst Parkrun on the Saturday with everyone, then a few talks, training stuff, then a fun Saturday night in the local pub (I hear there’s a quiz – I do love a good quiz) and then Sunday a nice long run with everyone. There are several options (all the way to 20 miles) but I will be sticking to approximately 10 miles. Then a big fat roast dinner afterwards.

Happy days! I’m so excited. I love the Marathon Talk podcast. But I’m hoping I won’t turn into one of those weirdo fans…you never know how you’re going to react. They’re not massively famous, but I just love the show!

And on a quick note to “what the hell is going on with the weather”…I hope everyone in the UK (and elsewhere as well) aren’t struggling too much with flooding or the stormy weather. It’s become a bit of a joke on our road. It’s a new build development and there’s still lots of work going on. The builders are working on the actual road and they’ve put these bollard things up. I was driving along and suddenly a huge gust of wind swept them across the road at rocket speed.

Windy times

Five seconds later and they’d have rammed into my car! Scary stuff. Annoyingly I had to jump out in the rain and wind and put them upright again. They weigh a bloody tonne!

Anyway, it’s almost Friday. Thank God for that.

Have you ever been on a fitness-related holiday? I’d love to go to one of those yoga resorts in the middle of some hot beautiful country…

Have you been affected by the crazy weather?

What’s your next race? Mine is Reading half marathon 2nd March.