Time For Marathon Training

How quickly a holiday fades from your memory and real life takes over…I am fully back into the swing of life. And jeeze how cold does it suddenly feel UK people? My tan is being replaced by goose bumps.

I’m going to save my second part of my Mexico recap till next week if you don’t mind (check out my recap HERE and the amazing food I enjoyed HERE). I thought instead I’d catch you up with what I’ve been up to post-holiday.

So it is approximately 11 weeks until Marathon Time. I am doing the Portsmouth Coastal marathon on December 22nd. I am getting my head and training into gear. I’ll share my plan with you guys once I’ve perfected it. I’m basing it on several different plans and moulding into what I think will work well for me.

It’s all trial and error really as I’m a marathon newbie. But I know what works well with half marathon training and hey they’re similar right? Can’t be that much different, right…? Ha. No seriously, I know myself and when I like to run, the types of runs that work well and also what races I have planned. I don’t like to rigidly stick to a generic plan. It would never work for me. I’m also fully preparing myself to change it as I go. Flexibility is key here I think!

I’ll go into more detail later, but it’s going to be a pretty standard plan!

Marathon training

In a nutshell: running 4-5 times a week, the long runs going no higher than 20 miles, I’ll be balancing things with spinning and will also always stretch and foam roll after running.

Last weekend I went to my first Parkrun (weekly local 5k timed run) since getting back. Wowza it was tough. Having done no speed work over my holiday I found it quite tough. I decided to run the 4 miles there at a casual pace (7.45mins/mile) as a warm-up. I know from experience that my body needs to have that warm-up before attempting any serious speed work or racing. Then when I get there I do a lot of dynamic stretches (see THIS video for some of the stuff I try to incorporate – not all of it as otherwise I look like a berk Winking smile at home I do a lot of these though).

The Parkrun itself went well. I told myself just to go with however I felt when I started running. It was quite reassuring to look at my watch and see my pace considering the whole time in Mexico was like running through treacle. Mentally I needed that reassurance that I hadn’t fully lost it.

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Though I will say that we were on the flat course (there’s a choice of two courses – one with a hill you do three times and then this one). So I know after a few more weeks back into normal running I could be faster on this course as this was only a few seconds from my PB from the hilly course. Well, fingers crossed anyway!

On a non-running related note, Saturday afternoon we watched Wreck-It Ralf. Watch immediately, it is hilarious.

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As Ben is a keen gamer and I used to be, this really went down well with us. But I’d say it could appeal to the masses easily.

Sunday I decided to get stuck in and do my furthest mileage yet: 14 miles. I stuck a podcast in my ears and just went out at a nice and easy pace. I tried to make sure I stuck to around 8.30mins/mile as this is roughly where my longer runs should be sitting.

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It was tough but not overly tough. In my head I said if at 11-12miles if I wasn’t feeling it or felt too tired I’d cut it short. But at 12 miles I was feeling very good and decided to go for it. Luckily I have a route where you can tag on extra miles or cut things short.

The rest of the day involves not much else! HOLD THE BOAT. I forgot to tell you. I am OBSESSED with the Great British Bake Off. For those who don’t live in Britain or, like me a few weeks ago, lived blissfully unaware of this TV programme, let me explain.

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It’s a competition where 13 (very talented) contestants have a to bake an array of different cakes and show different baking skills (seriously tricky baking skills – when I say tricky I mean not tricky for me which is generally weighing ingredients out and mixing them). I’m not even doing it justice. It’s just so good. And also just emphasises how truly appalling my baking is!

Though I did attempt some baking the other day to take into work. Double chocolate chip and oat and raisins (I didn’t make a note of the recipes, I think I just googled them! Nothing hugely crazy or spectacular about them).

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But they came out OK and that is a thumbs up in my eyes. And they were gone by the end of the day. Happy days.

This weekend I’m randomly running a half marathon. Ben and me signed up last minute as it’s a league race with our club and we thought “what the hell”. Though I will not be racing it, I will use it as a long run.

And I have some very exciting running-related news that I’ll share with you soon! I literally am so excited. It’s sad how excited I am but it’s true.

Have a great weekend everyone!

What are your plans this weekend?

The Great British Bake Off – do you watch it? What other food-related programmes do you indulge in? The Food Network is like my mecca.

Have you run a marathon? Do you have any wise tips and tricks to share?

What good films have you seen lately?

Exciting news!

Morning, morning! And how lovely that it is Friday today. Obviously because it is Wimbledon, the British Grand Prix and Glastonbury is it raining. But of course!

And I’m pleased to say I have spent the last five days not running. I mentioned previously that I was going to do some cross training on the elliptical machine at work this week.

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This archaic beast is like something out of a very old (and rubbish) alien movie

How long did I slog away on this machine? Exactly six minutes. Not because of any overriding pain or discomfort. Just plain and simple: I was bored to hell and back. Ambitiously I thought I could do 40 minutes (hahaha),but after being on there for two minutes I readjusted to 20 minutes. Four minutes later and I had given up. Jeeze, power to the people who can remain on one of those for a lengthy period of time!! I guess I’m just used to actually going somewhere and taking my mind of the monotony by having the outside world to look at. But each to their own!

Despite that epic fail, I have still been stretching, doing yoga and icing crazy amounts. My leg’s been a lot better. I missed running club last night as I thought that would be too intense as my first run back so I did a fairly easy 3 miles run this morning.

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Most days this week I’ve been able to get up at the rather leisurely time of 7am as I haven’t been running. However, this morning I had to get up at 5.30am to fit the run in (and enough time to properly stretch, foam roll and ice after showering). And do you know what? I didn’t even mind! I miss my regular runs so much.

So in my last post I mention I had some exciting news…

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I have entered my first marathon!!!! Both Ben and me have signed up to the Portsmouth Coastal Waterside Marathon for this year December 22nd.

I know it’s not London, Paris or Berlin but it’s about 30 minutes from home so the whole family can easily come and pick up the pieces afterwards watch. I always knew I wanted to do a marathon but it was planned for next year (probably a US based one as we’re looking to go there for a holiday).

But I’d been reading this book:

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Really good book, loved it!

And honestly I was just itching to get out there and do one. And funnily enough the author, Phil Hewitt, comes from Chichester which is reasonably close to where I live and he got his first ever running trainers from the same shop I got my first ever running trainers (a tedious link, yes I know). And the other week I went there to have a mosey about for some running gear as I was in the area and I saw this massive poster for the Portsmouth Marathon. It was like my stars had aligned. I know this sounds like a ridiculous story but it was honestly just perfect. The book, the shoes, the location, my desperation to do a marathon…everything just pointed to do this.

I quickly checked the dates for the races I’ve got planned in the next few months to make sure I wasn’t being stupid and not giving myself time and it works out. So boom, we signed up. Marathon here we come, baby!

This weekend my uni friends are coming over and I’m so excited to see them. It’s always so great to catch up with them Open-mouthed smile But this means tonight I need to get all the housework done as tomorrow I won’t have time. No rest for the wicked!

Have you done a marathon before? If so, did you enjoy it?

If you haven’t, would you ever?

What are you up to this weekend?

Do you enjoy the elliptical machine? How do you stay motivated?

Cake and Recovery

Whew, I feel so much more human after getting some good night’s sleep for the past couple of days.

Honestly, the weekend adventures hugely took it out of me. And, this is going to sound CRAZY coming from me, but I have decided to not jump straight back in to running. My body is literally exhausted. I haven’t done cycling in years so to suddenly jump on a bike and cycle up a mountain large hill is quite a shock to my system. I’m happy to say my previous injury from the other week seems to have disappeared. However I now have a new twinge in the back of my knee but it doesn’t feel that serious. But ice, rest and cake should make things all better.

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As annoying as it is, I’m going to take a break from running this week and try using the elliptical machine at work instead. I think I really need to just take some time to allow my leg to fully heal. The Challenge really didn’t help things just after getting better last week. I hate the elliptical but I think I need to do something to stop myself from going mad.

My next race is a 10 mile trail race through the New Forest (beautiful forest in the South of England) on 14th July so I’m hoping this break will be good enough to be better before then.

So speaking of cake…it was my birthday last week and I didn’t really get a chance to go into much detail about how I celebrated. Well I didn’t to be honest. I had the UK Challenge the next day and that went on until Sunday so celebrations were limited. But my amazing mother brought round cake in the evening. People, there is always time for cake.

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How pretty is this cake?? It’s gorgeous! My mum isn’t a great baker. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen her bake. Ever. I could controversially say I’ve never seen her cook…but I don’t want to incur the wrath of the mothership Winking smile (love you, Mumsie!!)

But, despite not being Nigella Lawson, my mum knows how to SHOP. And she did good on picking this beauty out. A Waitrose special cake (for those non-UK-based, Waitrose is like the queen of all supermarkets. Maybe just one below M&S Food).

However, the decorative butterflies could not be eaten we quickly found. Very disappointing and slightly nasty to chew. But otherwise, a very tasty jam and buttercream birthday cake sponge.

At work I was also give some very beautiful flowers from my lovely co-workers. IMG_4530

So I felt very spoilt despite having a mid-week birthday with no weekend celebration!

And in the morning (I’m working my way backwards through the day here for some reason…) my husband, Ben, decided to send me on a bit of a treasure hunt around the house. He had printed out lots of different pictures of my favourite clothes shops and running gear shops and restaurants (and hid them all about the place with clues to direct me to them). I could pick and choose what I wanted in terms of spending some money to get some clothes and going somewhere to have a nice meal. There were also little pictures of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and our favourite Indian restaurant so that’s on the horizon too hehe. So lots all my favourite things to look forward to!

From my parents they gave me a Lululemon workout top. SO chuffed. I’ve seen this top all over the Internet I loved the design.

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Not sure how much I’ll get to wear this year round due to the weather though! Best get wearing it soon Winking smile

From my mother-in-law she bought me a Lumie Bodyclock Starter Alarm Clock.

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Not hugely necessary at the moment as it’s so light in the morning…but in the winter this will mimic the light of a sunrise and will, supposedly, gradually wake me up just before my alarm. I love being woken up my sunlight in the morning at the moment so this will be great (hopefully!) in the winter when it doesn’t get light until like ever 9ish.

On to some food-related news…stir-fries are back in the game again. Anything where more than half the meal is veg is a winner for me. I’m not sure it even warrants a recipe (basically throw together a load of veg, noodles, chicken and a handful of cashew nuts). But I did make my own sauce and that was pretty tasty.

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Lemon Stir-Fry Sauce (serves 2)

  • 2/3 cup chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tbsp. flour/corn starch (to thicken it)

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So easy, so tasty.

Psst! I’ve got some exciting news which I will divulge soon in my next post!

What’s your favourite stir-fry sauce? I love lemon, but I quite like black bean as well.

What do you like getting for your birthday? I’m not great with surprises so I usually ask for things I’ve seen previously. From Ben I just said surprise me and I was so chuffed he put so much effort into the treasure hunt and in the end letting me choose what I wanted from a predefined list (which he knew I’d love haha).

Do you like being woken up early by the sun? Though it means I can’t sleep in at the weekend I love having the whole day ahead of me and feeling all refreshed.

10 o’clock brownies

Hi guys, hope you all had a great weekend. I completely de-stressed myself after my busy week. And the sun came out which was just perfect.

Friday night I had planned to leave work at a reasonable time to get home and have a nice long evening with my two favourite Bens. My husband and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream Winking smile Obviously though this meant leaving work an hour and a half after intended. *sighs* But the consolation of it being Friday was good enough to not dampen my mood.

We had steak again for dinner which was perfection.

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With loads of salad and goat’s cheese. Oh this was heaven. Sticky, sweet goodness.

Then we had Ben and Jerry’s (Vermonster for Ben & chocolate brownie fro-yo for me) while we watched Savages.

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It was really good. I was so surprised. There were a couple of scenes I had to run out of the room for (read: torture & nasty deaths) but otherwise really good. Salma Hayek was brilliant in it, though Blake Lively was pretty much Serena from Gossip Girl.

Saturday morning I went for my usual long run.

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I took it nice and easy and just enjoyed it. The weather was great so I could wear my capris rather than my long leggings. It felt so refreshing to be out in the sun first thing. I really do love my long weekend run. Yeah OK sometimes it’s tough, but I just slow down a bit and take it easy. It’s not always about speed. This is a run where I try not to care what pace I do, I just love the distance.

The rest of Saturday was the usual chore-doing business and not one but two lovely walks with Alfie and Ben in the beautiful sunshine. We walked Alfie just before lunch and then in the afternoon I was just itching to get outside again and somehow managed to persuade Ben to join me again. Whenever it gets sunny I have this immense need to get out of the house and into the sun. I’m worried it won’t last! Get it while it’s hot shining!

And I got my hair cut.

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I wanted quite a bit taken off as it’s just got so long. It’s such a hassle to wash, comb, blow-dry and straighten in the morning. Seriously, I feel my life ebbing away with the amount of time I spend on it.

So I said to the lady to take about three inches off and make it a bit more interesting with some layers. Then as she just began blow-drying it the power went! I had to go home with wet hair, which was a bit of a bummer as I love going to the hairdressers as it’s nice someone else having to deal with my hair rather than just me! Ah well. I did get a discount.

Saturday evening we got dressed up to go out for dinner. OK my hair doesn’t look much different to before I know.

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But to me it’s a HUGE change. So much lighter in weight and shorter. I also wore my favourite but most painful pumps. I love them, but they hurt so much Sad smile But I thought I wouldn’t be doing much walking anyway so it didn’t matter.

We drove to the village where I used to live with my parents, about 20 minutes away, to a beautiful little pub on the seafront.

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The pub is just there on the left, but look at that sunshine!!

We had a mezze board to start. I know, I’m so predictable. I just love mezze boards.

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I also love my husband. He traded me the falafels for the pitta bread. A definite win in my eyes. And he doesn’t like olives. Open-mouthed smile

For main I was torn beautiful butternut squash with feta cheese or BBQ chicken.

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So I went with the BBQ chicken. Seriously I can’t get enough BBQ at the moment. And it came with huge chunky potato wedges. They were so crispy and dunking them in ketchup was just heaven.

We were then going to meet friends for a drink at the same pub but we finished earlier than we expected so we went for a walk along the seafront.

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It was a little nippy, but so clear.

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Beautiful! Though I massively regretted wearing those damn painful shoes.

Unfortunately, because this is the area I grew up in and went to school, I bumped into a bunch of boys who back in the day were the ‘popular’ guys. I politely said hello, as you do, and they said hello and then a couple of them burst out laughing in my face. Seriously I felt like I was 15 again. My group of friends and I were the ‘boffs’ and weren’t cool back in school. We did our homework and got good grades. We weren’t bullied or anything like that, but we weren’t part of the cool gang. It just felt terrible to feel that small at 24.

Anyway, when I met up with my friends we all laughed about it and thought what idiots they are. We are all quite happy in our careers, with partners or husbands, having moved out and making our way in life. They haven’t. They’re still living the dream that ended quite a few years ago.

It felt great to catch up my friends and a few of us ordered pudding at 10pm. Brownie with honeycomb hash ice cream (no photo I’m afraid, some things don’t last long enough for that sort of thing!).

Friends and brownie. Life’s medicine.

Now it’s Sunday. We had a lazy morning watching the London marathon – so inspiring! The 30 seconds of silence for Boston was really lovely. And wow seriously, those elite athletes were SUPER FAST. And I chuckled to see this picture on Twitter:

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Love it!

So now I’m still enjoying a relaxing day of blissful sunshine, chicken with BBQ sauce, and cuddles with this guy:

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No matter how many times he’ll spread his kibble over the newly washed kitchen floor, malt all over the just hoovered sofas, drip his wet beard all over the floor after drinking water, bark at every person who walks past our house, I will still love him. Just Winking smile

What have you been up to this weekend?

Did you watch the London marathon?

Do you ever have moments where you’re brought right back to how it was in school?