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?

A late Christmas recap and running update

Hello! How hard is this week? I was back at work Thursday and Friday last week but it didn’t feel ‘proper’ if you know what I mean… What with the horrendous weather, RUBBISH commutes and just general fog of depression hanging over everyone it really does feel a bit gloomy round these parts.

I missed out on doing my Christmas recap due to not blogging over the festive period. And if I’m honest, I don’t really fancy doing such a late recap now. It’s a bit depressing. But I’ll do a quick version…


Ben holding the bean bag looking like Father Christmas

My parents and Ben’s parents came to ours. We had a traditional British Christmas dinner. My parents cooked the turkey that we’d bought from M&S as our oven was too small. So all we had to cover were snacks, drinks and all the trimmings and carving.


Nothing too crazy. Honey roasted carrots and parsnips, sprouts, broad beans (my favourite!), runner beans, sausage stuffing, apple and sage stuffing, roasted potatoes, red cabbage, cranberry sauce, gravy. Heaven.


Afterwards there were profiteroles, Christmas pudding and mince pies. I enjoyed a lovely heated mince pie. I forgot to take a photo but it was an unusual puff pastry one. I quite liked the change from the usual thick pastry ones. I love Christmas cake but I find Christmas pudding very rich.

Obviously I had Christmas cake later for supper 😉 It’s my favourite part of Christmas (well, favourite food part).

We spent time opening presents, listening to Christmas music and playing board games. Good fun all round. Apart from my dad not feeling well and then subsequently passing it to Ben and me. Merry Christmas to us.


Lovely little photo of me ill in bed. Thanks Ben!

Anywho, despite being ill we had a lovely Christmas and had lots of lovely presents. I must mention these as I am SO excited to try them.


My parents got me these popcorn flavour toppers. I have popcorn every day with my lunch at work that I pop myself from plain kernels. I sprinkle salt and pepper over it. My dad found these in Lakeland and got them for me as a stocking filler. AMAZING.

And, though I do say so myself, I love this present I got Ben.


Along the side it has markers and half way says “13.1” and then at the top it says “26.2” and along the markings “Pacing yourself is everything”. Ben loves his wine and I just thought this was a perfect way to mark his achievement. Especially because he gave up alcohol for a portion of his training!

I did my first workout at the gym on New Year’s Day as we had a quiet evening in the night before. I felt raring to go and ready to get back into things. My physio had OK’ed spin so I was happy to not have to motivate myself on a machine! Honestly though it was hard work.

In terms of running – ahh the saga of my life. I’m up to 2 miles. Good Lord, I’ll have to start carb loading and properly fuelling myself soon 😉 I’m not trying to belittle anyone’s running efforts but personally for me this is such a change from the mileage of last year. I just hope I won’t have lost too much when I’m fully back into it. But at this point, as long as I can run without issue I DON’T CARE.

My knee seems to be calming down with the intense ultra sounding that’s going on and the little runs are helping in a weird way to ‘break it down’ to build it back up again stronger. It’s a cautious and slow approach but it’s what I need.

My decision about the Paris marathon will happen in about two weeks. My ultra sound will have ended and I hope the runs increased a bit. If I’m still struggling with the knee and it needs longer time off (come on, seriously??) then Paris is a no-go. Ben has agreed he won’t do it either (bless his socks). But if all things are OK…then I’ll have 10 weeks to train. Obviously this is not enough in the ideal marathon training world BUT I think I can do something with it. I won’t pre-empt things by going into more detail yet though!

 What’s your on your plate at Christmas?

What’s your favourite Christmas dessert/treat? It’s all about the Christmas cake for me.

What was your favourite Christmas pressie?

My Marathon Training Plan

Friiiiiiiiiiiiiiday, where have you been all my life week? And tonight is quite exciting because Ben and me are off out to our running club Christmas meal (shhh, I know it’s only just November – it’s all about dragging Christmas out in my eyes).

This week I’ve been taking things a bit easier on the running front after the Great South Run to make sure I don’t over-do things. I’d love to be able to rock out stupid amounts of miles every week but unfortunately I’m not there yet. Not in this training cycle anyway.

Here’s how the upcoming weeks are looking for me for my marathon training:


There’s a great deal of flexibility though. I’m happy to move things around, reduce/increase miles, or delete workouts entirely if needs be. I like doing spin twice a week as it’s a great speed workout without the pounding on the legs (though after a hard run on Sunday I will drop my Monday one when I fancy). The workouts that I’m least likely to change though are the long runs. This is because this is a whole new territory for me. Long runs used to be 10-12 miles. Now they’re 14 miles plus. That’s scary to me at the moment – I have yet to do further than 16 miles (should I be panicking??). I’d love to have another 20 miler in there to fully boost my confidence and feel comfortable at longer distances but I just don’t have the time to recover sensibly.

Basically this is a guide of my ideal training cycle. But let’s be honest, knowing me, it is never going to work out that way. Ideally things would have gone a bit more smoothly leading up to this point due to my long-standing niggles. Thankfully though things are feeling lots better. The running coaching has definitely helped this, with improving my form and giving me the stretches and strength exercises I’ve needed.

It’s definitely been an eye opener for the stuff I haven’t been doing. Gluteal exercises for instance. Loving those bridges…they’re lots of fun. Not.

These are the top exercises and stretches I’ve been adding into my routine:

  • Bridges (pulsing and holding for 30 seconds)


Source [Except I don’t look as serene!]

  • Single leg squats (it really makes it obvious that I’m weaker on one leg)
  • Pendulum kickbacks
  • Lunges
  • Hip flexor stretch <—this one is a big one for me as my hips are always so tight (due to sitting 80% of the day…thank you work)

Hip flexor stretch


So I’m trying to do these every day where I can, or every other day.

I have a few goals for this marathon in December. I’m not going to say exactly what time I’m aiming for as I’m a big believer in not trying to jinx things. Plus I really don’t know how my body is going to respond to that distance. I may need to readjust my goals after my 18 mile training run!

But I have three time goals (my ballpark vague figure that I will say is sub-four hours) and then I have a “survive it” goal and a “have fun” goal. We’ll see which ones pan out…

Have you ever run a marathon? Any tips?

When you prepare for races do you follow a plan?

Do you do a lot of strength work?

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.


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.

Wreck-It Ralph

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.


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.


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).

Anna's cookies

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.


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.


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…


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:


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?