Week #1 Marathon Training

Morning all.  Don’t worry, I’m not planning on documenting every single week of marathon training (assuming I do manage to complete all the training without getting injured…there’s confidence for you). But as it’s the first week, why not.

My marathon training plan is HERE. Alongside this I’m also doing the ‘Ab Challenge’ which I started on the 1st June. This includes, every day (except for a few rest days), sit ups, crunches, leg raises and a plank. Each day the number increases (for the plank, the length of time increases). It’s no joke now having done Day 15.

Monday – no running, but I did a 45 minute strength workout after work.

This included:
– 100 weighted squats
– 3x 10 weighted calf raises
– 3mins toe lifts
– 2x 20 of kick-backs, leg swings and hydrant lifts

Tuesday – 3 miles easy run in the morning. For my easy runs I’m trying to keep to around 8.30mins/mile which is a comfortable speed. I also did another strength workout after work.

This included:
– 3mins calf raises (no weight)
– 3mins toe lifts
– 3x 1min side planks
– 2x 1min plank with leg touches to the side
– 3x 30 Russian twists

IMG_6898 Wednesday – We had the RR10 that evening. This was an off-road 4.5mile race (the RR10 is a set of league races with all the clubs in our area).

I really wasn’t feeling motivated. I was in a bit of a bad mood anyway. Then they delayed the start by 15 minutes and that just furthered by lack of motivation. I ummed and arred about whether to run with Ben or on my own and push it. I decided to push it. Within the first mile I knew it wasn’t a good run. My hip was niggling (possibly because of the unstable terrain?) and I just felt tired.

RR10 #5 One of my team mates who wasn’t running cheered me on but at this point (maybe mile 2) I was considering dropping out. She shouted “just enjoy it!” when she realised I wasn’t feeling it. This really helped. Suddenly I realised, “hey, yeah I can just run this as slowly as I want and it doesn’t matter. Just get the miles in.”. My whole mood changed and I dropped the speed and just ran comfortably. Loads of people overtook me but I didn’t care. Eventually my friend Matt caught up (I was hoping Ben would catch up and I could run with him but he was having a rubbish run as he was exhausted (*cough* and hungover *cough*) after getting back from Bucharest earlier that day). So I ran with Matt instead and helped push him along (well sort of, I’m not sure who was pushing who!)

RR10 #5 2

I finished 39th or 38th position (can’t remember) out of the females. Previously I’ve been 10th and 11th but I actually didn’t mind. I’ve also come to realise I don’t like the RR10s one bit. They’re heavily competitive (you aim for position not time), they’re in the evening, they’re always a very short distance and they’re off-road so there’s a big chance of turning your ankle (which a guy at our club did). To me it’s not worth it during my marathon training. Sure it’s a good speed session but I’d rather do that with the club Tuesday night on road or on my own where the pressure (that I put on myself I hasten to add) is less. I know I sound extremely ‘sour grapes’ but the relief and weight off my shoulders felt when I decided not to do anymore was huge. I felt so much better.

Thursday – another after work strength session:

– 2x 1 min side planks
– 3x 30 heel taps
– 3mins toe lifts
– 3mins calf raises
– 3min bridge
– 10x 3 bridge leg lifts

[I’m focusing on areas that I know I’m weak and also making sue I have strong shins and calves as I’m terrified about getting shin splints – because let’s be honest, that’s the next thing I’m bound to get]

Friday – another easy 3 mile run in the morning.

Saturday – I didn’t get to Parkrun because my uni friends were down so I went for an earlier 3 mile speed run. I was chuffed with this. Not my fastest but on my own not too shabby!


Sunday – 5 mile ‘long’ run (fairly amusing but it will get longer later) I really enjoyed this.


I ran very comfortably, rarely looking at my watch and was happy to see my paces were around 8 minutes. Bodes well!

Total run miles: 18

After getting back from my run and Ben returning from his, we had breakfast and then (without showering – yep we’re that gross) we headed out for a 15 mile bike ride with our friend, Nathan. It was fairly hilly and we didn’t blast the speed so it was quite nice.

I was fairly shattered for the rest of the day. Onwards to Week 2!

Do you put pressure on yourself to the point you stop enjoying something?

What workouts have you enjoyed this week?

What workouts have you hated?

Running ain’t cheap

Being ill really sucks. I couldn’t believe that I woke up Monday morning, after getting back from North Wales the afternoon before, feeling incredibly sick. I thought it was just something I ate but as the day progressed I just felt worse and worse. Luckily (?) I had the day off from work anyway so I just laid on the sofa in a miserable state of achiness and lethargy.

All that fresh air and I get ill! Unbelievable. Well it took until Tuesday evening before I felt human again. Ben woke up feeling rough on Tuesday as well so we had a day off work together, both pathetically lying on the sofa. At least we’d recently signed up to Netflix so we just watched a lot of Breaking Bad (sooooo good).

I went to work on Wednesday feeling much better. We had another RR10 race that evening and had planned on going but I got stuck in ridiculous traffic (how many times have I moaned about my commute??). I think this was actually probably for the best as I’m still gently getting back into running and decided to do a solo run on my own instead when I got home.

As soon as I got moving I knew I felt terrible. My legs felt like they had weights on the bottom of them. Everything just felt so hard. I guess I wasn’t fully healed from my illness. Ho hum. I just hope I start feeling a bit better for Sunday as we have a 5 mile race (the Beer and Cake race – we did it last year and loved it. Here’s my recap). I know I need to adjust my expectations for it though as I am no where near the shape I was in last year.

Interestingly Ben had a very similar run to me on Wednesday evening. He decided to go for the RR10 (he got home in time – the joys of only working 20 minutes away). He said he felt very lethargic and it was a rubbish run. Guess we both need to take more time before jumping back into running post illness!

Before the illness swooped down and knocked me over, on Monday morning Ben and me headed out to buy some trails shoes for the RR10 on Wednesday (thinking I was going). We got buy one get one free on trainers so Ben got another pair of road trainers and I got some racing flats.

Lots of new trainers

This means recently we’ve bought new road trainers, new trail shoes, racing flats and walking boots for us. Four pairs of new shoes each!! I cringe at the cost of all this…Don’t tell me running is a cheap sport!

In a month these are the things Ben and me regularly buy or spend because of running:

  • New running gear – whether that’s trainers, socks, tops, shorts, runderwear, etc.)
  • Race entries – this year we’ve entered a total of 14 races each and this is likely to increase as the year progresses. Some are local and cheap (£9 what a bargain!) to Jesus are you serious (hello, Great South Run – over £40!)
  • Physio and massages – thanks to seeing Kyle and him being so damn convenient it’s very easy to have a massage every week to keep our legs fresh and cheerful. But then the bad times mean serious physio visits to fix injuries, which are more expensive (£40 a pop).
  • Gels and hydration – we’re big fans of High5 gels and water tablets and when we get into marathon training we’ll be getting through them again (though I plan on avoiding too many gels this time around, more on that another time).
  • Food – more running = more food needed. I am like a food (cake?) machine when it comes to running longer distances and higher mileage weeks. And Ben (and maybe me…) just rinses out our chocolate fridge shelf (everyone has a chocolate shelf right?).
  • Plasters – for every run Ben uses two blister plasters for his nipples (he’s going to kill me for putting this on the blog). Don’t get me wrong, they’re not expensive but do you know how many boxes of blister plasters we get through?? They have to be specifically blister plasters as well – normal ones won’t do apparently!
  • Cross training – road bikes, gym memberships, swimming sessions, etc.
  • Misc – cost of parking for races, petrol to get to races (flights & hotels even), cups of tea after Parkrun in the coffee shop, Vaseline/chafing stuff, the amount of extra washing we do with running gear, going for a meal after a big race…

Yeah it isn’t cheap. Oh sure we could knock a load of stuff off that list but at the moment it’s OK. We don’t have children, don’t plan to have children for a fair while, and we both have decent jobs. I suppose you could say we work to run!

But it’s our passion. We don’t go out boozing every weekend and we don’t spend lots of money eating out regularly. We’re fairly boring in that we like to run, so we run a lot. And that’s just the way of life for us right now.

What passion do you have that isn’t free?

Do you spend a lot of money on workout gear?

Do you workout when you’re ill?

Last week’s workouts

Last week was a weird running week. I sandwiched a tough run (the first RR10 race) between two fairly easy runs.

I took Monday off as a complete rest day. I think it’s so important to rest your body. It can be so tempting to just run all the time but I know from experience that this never works out well for me.

Tuesday I could have gone to the interval session with the club but I had the RR10 on Wednesday night and really wanted to try hard. So I went for an easy 6 miles after work. Nothing remarkable.

Wednesday was the RR10 in the evening. This is basically Hampshire’s set of league races that are around 4-5 miles long and tend to be fairly hilly and off-road. Like clockwork the rain started as soon as I left work about two hours before the start.

Ben dropped me off at a fellow club friend’s house so I could do a mile warm up run. I can’t just start flat-out race speed without warming up first. My legs de-friend me that way. Ben’s knee was giving him a bit of grief so he declined the extra running.

IMG_6492 The RR10 was located at our local Parkrun in Netley Abbey so I was familiar with the area.

Sadly the toilets were locked at the time of the evening and I was desperate for a wee (sorry for TMI) It wasn’t even like a safety wee, it was a ‘genuinely-required-pee situation’. I had to dash off to find a bush, which was such an effort as most of the bushes were a bit scarce in their foliage and there were so many flipping dog walkers. Anyway, I found one of the necessary criteria. Hmm a whole paragraph on my peeing situation – apologies.

We did a bit more warming up. Anyone else just feel terrible during warm ups? Like every ache your body has ever experienced rears its head. I felt so de-motivated and tired.

Anyway we all headed to the start (our running club was looking strong with it’s red white and blue vests and such a great turn out). I planned to line up fairly near the front so I wouldn’t get caught behind people (RR10s are based on positions not time). Then we were off.

It was painful, fast, muddy, slippy and the whole time I was just thinking “this is hard.” and “I could slow down, that would be nice”. I decided not to look at my watch because a) I was concentrating on not falling over with all the mud and b) I just didn’t have time. It was one of those races I just kept my head focused the entire time.

Amazingly I came 10th female, and first female in my club. Judging from how tough the race felt and my race photos, it’s clear I worked hard for it!

RR10 (4) 23.04 Source

Still have my name on my vest from the marathon. All the cool kids are doing it 😉

RR10 (7) 23.04Source

Are race photos ever flattering? This is on the last 100m. I remember seeing the photographer and in my mind briefly thinking “Oh jeeze this is going to be bad” as I desperately tried to sprint to the finish.

The next photo is one of my favourites. Not because I look nice or anything like that. It’s just the evil daggers I’m throwing at the photographer.

Grumpy runnerSource

I look seriously grumpy!

I was so chuffed with my position and after grabbing a drink I stood and cheered as other club runners finished.

Ben finished 192nd out of the men. There are always a lot more men than women unfortunately for Ben. He was chuffed though as his knee hadn’t caused him any issues. Whew.

RR10 muddy Netley Abbey Safe to say it was a very muddy run!

Then cakes appeared. Well, obviously I was there in a nano-second. Would you be surprised if I said I had four cakes? Yeah I’m not either. To be fair though two of them were quite slim biscuits. The other was a regular sized (amazing) cookie (with mini eggs in it?? WOW) and a slice of iced sponge.

I went home buzzing as you can imagine!

RR10 NP 24.04Source

It took ages to fall asleep that evening. Maybe it was the cakes or my aching legs but I really struggled.

Thursday I woke up tired and achy, but in a satisfying way. That evening I went to running club with the absolute iron intention of an easy run. I ran the mile down there at a nice relaxed pace enjoying the sunshine. I tagged along with the normal group I go with but telling myself over and over again not to go to fast. My options were limited with groups – it was either an off-roader (the one I went with) or a 7 mile 8-8.30min/mile group, or the much slower (than me – it’s all relative!) groups.

In the end I think I’d chosen well as we took it nice and easy and the terrain was very similar to the previous night’s RR10 so speed just wasn’t an option. Whew. But my legs felt very heavy and tired. I almost dashed off home as we past near where we live. It was a good 8.5 miles though in the end with an average pace of 9mins (a couple of those miles 10mins so that was good).

Friday was another rest day. I had intended on a strength workout (this week has been terrible for that) but it just didn’t happen sadly. You win some, you lose some. I did have a sports massage though on my calves. My left calf was feeling tight and almost a little niggly so I wanted to nip that in the bud quickly.

Saturday I got up earlier than usual and ran the 4 miles to Parkrun to help set up. I ran the extra miles because Ben and me were off to a wedding later in the day so a Sunday run was never going to happen 😉

On starting the run I felt so tired and my legs so heavy (still!). I was not feeling it at all. I made Ben make me a coffee that he’d take with him so I could drink it when I got there. He’s lovely like that.

Parkrun fuel He took me a black coffee and my water bottle. Very handy having him go by car. I saw him pass me when I was about 0.5miles away and it definitely made me run faster “need coffee!!!”

I got to parkrun, we helped set up and I was dragging my feet a bit. It was cold and I just wasn’t in the mood. However, when we lined up I put some music on and just got into it. I ran 22 minutes flat! It was crazy, I suddenly just decided “let’s do this”.

Parkrun 26.04.14

Not my fastest, but the course is the three laps with the hill and some fairly boggy grass so I was chuffed. The effort was definitely there! I was pleased I went for a speedy run.

After that, it’s two days off and then strength workout tonight (Monday night) and then hopefully intervals with the club Tuesday evening.

How was your week in terms of work outs?

How do you motivate yourself to work hard? Music tends to help me and also the ‘race environment’ gets me going.

How often do you work out and what’s your balance between cardio and strength? I try to do at least two strength sessions a week and usually 4-5 runs.