The big scary “M” word

The big scary “M” word in my case (as I’m already married ;-)) is of course the marathon. It’s my favourite distance. It’s the distance I find the hardest to train for and indeed to run. But the feelings when you finish it are just amazing. It’s like you’ve just done something so incredibly wonderful – and in my eyes, you have.

I feel a deep sadness and regret that I’m not doing the London marathon. Even worse is that I’m not running it when Paula Radcliffe is running her last marathon. And the fact that quite a few of my running club are doing it too (and one lovely lady is running her first marathon and absolutely smashing the training despite being a more short-distance lover – she’ll say she’s doing terribly but she’s really not, LAUREN).

But that’s by and by. I’m doing the Southampton half marathon on that day so I’m not going to be sat there moping. And let’s be honest, I can’t do ANOTHER marathon on a pathetic amount of training and then get injured AGAIN.

I do want to do another marathon soonish though as it’s just something I bloody love doing. I’m not a short distance runner…5ks and 10ks are just horrifically hard and painful. With a marathon I just zone in and feel alive.


So Liverpool Rock and Roll marathon is my marathon of choice and it’s in June (a week before my birthday, how very lovely). Obviously I will quickly throw in a disclaimer to say I could get injured and it might all come down in flames. Who knows, I don’t have a great track record for these sorts of things. But I am hoping and praying to the running God on the big fluffy track in the sky.

I don’t really have a proper training plan this time around (what good has it done me so far…). It’s more of a very gradual mileage build-up with long runs plotted in the calendar. I won’t run more than four times a week and so far I’m not sure if I will run more than three times a week. I’ll also still go to the gym (balancing it with the number of runs I do/how I’m feeling) to continue strengthening my legs and core etc.

Gym Helly Hansen kit 1

Loving my Helly Hansen leggings!

I hope to get up to 18 miles as a long run but I’ll see what happens when I get to 16 and judge it then. I’m also running more hills regularly in the hope that they’re strengthening my legs in a very functional way. Basically it’s a “let’s see how this goes” kinda marathon plan. Nothing set in stone because it never can be with me it seems.

Nutrition won’t change dramatically (Hi I’m Anna and I like cake) but as I start hitting the higher mileage when the weather gets warmer I’ll need to think more sensibly about hydration. I do know that I drink enough water as I have stupid amounts of squash all day long at work and at the weekend. I did try to cut out/reduce squash but it wasn’t successful…

My problem is drinking too much water and flushing myself out of the good stuff.

Squash drinking

Over-hydrating is a far worse issue than dehydration. I need to drink water more sensibly. Especially the day before a long run, the day of the long run and the day after. Happily I’m a big fan of the hydration tablets. Nuun are my favourite.


I actually wrote a review about nuun hydration tablets – find it HERE. I love their flavours and I love that they also do a caffeine one (especially for during a run). This way I can drink lots of water but not flush my system out of the good stuff.

My longer long runs will be run in May so the temperature won’t be too hot but I know I’ll be in need of water and electrolytes more than at the moment as the runs are longer and warmer. Oh the days of carrying a water bottle on a run! How very annoying.

But I am literally holding my breath right now. Dare I even make the merest suggestion that running is going well for me right now? I am desperate to not get injured and feel I’m trying really hard at injury prevention (loads more strength work regularly, my standing desk, not jumping back into stupid mileage, gradually building up long runs…). My one problem area is running the long runs too fast. I go out with such good intentions but then feel so good speeding up I can’t seem to help myself. I’ve told myself though that when I hit 10 miles and over I WILL SLOW DOWN. And I plan to run my really longer runs (13 miles plus) a minute slower than marathon pace.

It all sounds very rosy doesn’t it? We shall see…

How do you hydrate for hard work outs and/or long runs?

Do you drink a lot during the day?

What’s your one injury prevention tip?

***nuun inspired me to write this post concerning hydration and marathons, but I received no compensation.***

So much food and a re-think

And we have a full house once again! Ben is back from his adventures to Hong Kong and China. He got back Saturday morning and I was more than happy to be woken up! As was Alfie who just went mental.

Poor Ben though suffered so badly from jet lag, as you can imagine. He didn’t feel well and he was exhausted (he had started his journey home on Thursday at 11pm London time and arrived home on Saturday 7am-ish!).

And oh the washing…So much washing. Joy. But anyway we decided to go to Nando’s for lunch (well, what do you expect?) with my dad as my mum was in London with Ben’s mum for a girlie trip. I was amused when the waiter tried to give my whole chicken to my dad though assuming he was having it and not me. He seemed a bit bemused that I could eat it. How very dare him. I’m a chicken eating machine!

By the end of the meal though (2pm?) Ben was really starting to fade (his body was thinking it was 10pm). We didn’t do much else for the day and I had to keep waking Ben up. I felt like a horrible person but we’d agreed he needed to stay awake at least until 8pm so he would be getting back, sort of, into the swing of UK times.

Sunday was spent getting bits and pieces done and then we were off for a lovely Christmas meal lunch at Jamie’s Italian with my parents and Ben’s mum. A three-course meal with a glass of Prosecco! I’d seen an offer online (I think it was £27.95 per person?) and had arranged it a while ago. It was quite good for everyone to get together to catch up with Ben.

IMG_8551Ben and the mums 

IMG_8552My dad and me 

The amount of food though! Oh my life. The started was MASSIVE. Two huge planks of antipasti bits and pieces (meats, cheese, roasted vegetables, olives, bread), cheese balls covered in breadcrumb and deep-fried gnocchi. There was just too much I think for all of us. We were all feeling a bit full afterwards and dubious about two more courses to come.

Starter planks Jamie's ItalianFor mains, I had a Venetian fish stew (as did Ben’s mum), my parents had steak and Ben had turkey. There were polenta chips and roasted vegetables as sides as well. It was absolutely delicious. I thought I’d taken a photo but alas I had not. It was basically a tomato stew with lots of clams, mussels and fish and a piece of toasted bread with a delicious cream cheese spread. I could have easily gobbled up all the roasted vegetables and polenta chips as well but I had limited capacity in my stomach by now! This does not happen often.

For pudding it was a brownie with salted caramel ice cream.


Ohhhh it was so good. Pretty much the same as I’d had the other time I went to Jamie’s a few weeks ago. But honestly, just as tasty. Stomach space was not a problem now.

I did require a long walk with Alfie when I got home as the food was sitting rather uncomfortably in my tummy. Sometimes I find a good walk can help digestion!!

And then it was another evening of me poking and prodding Ben to keep him awake, bless him. One day at a time!

Sadly I’m still not running. I won’t lie, I do feel down about it. I don’t mind about speed or PBs or anything like that, I just want to run. I’m so glad Ben is home as it makes things so much better though! Like I said before, I don’t need to panic just yet as London is so far away. I just wish I understood why I always seem to get injured.

I’m pretty sure running six days a week wasn’t good for me. When my coach gave me that plan I should have spoken up and said no this isn’t going to work. I just got excited about running so much and convinced myself that it was fine because I was running slowly and not very far each time. And at the time everything felt fine during each run. I suppose it just topped out on that 11 miler.

I think my body at the moment needs more rest days in between, regardless of how far or how fast I run. And incorporating more specific strength training. I do do strength training but I guess I need to challenge my body in other ways than what I’ve been doing and Kyle’s going to help with that which is brilliant.

So he’s readdressed the plan going forward so things won’t be so full-on and more strength training…but first I have to get back into running again! Oh the ever cycle of running and me…

Have you got any Christmas meals planned other than the big day?

What’s the worst jetlag you’ve had? How do you recover ?

Do you enjoy a ‘proper’ starter or a sharing starter with lots of little things?

Here we go again…

Today starts the first day of the rest of my life. Alternatively, the first day of Marathon Training.

Oh Running God, high on the fluffy track clouds in the sky, please let this training cycle go better than my last. Please let me not get injured and miss weeks of training. Please let things go smoothly. I don’t mind being tired or bored or fed up. I don’t mind getting up before 6am to run. I don’t mind getting rained on, running in heat, wind, or snow (it’s Britain, who knows). I don’t mind getting blisters. I don’t mind gaining weight with excessive food consumption, more muscle (fingers crossed) and water retention. I don’t mind getting insatiable runger.

I just want to train. Yes I am fully aware it will be tough but I am mentally ready. I don’t think though that my mental state can cope with another injury. Niggles, aches, tiredness – fine, I can deal with those. But a proper injury. PLEASE NO.

Got that Running God? Good. Now let’s get down to business.

The Plan

This time around it’s going to be a bit different from my last plan for Paris. Well, the plan I had aimed to do but never actually because I got injured and had to slapdash a lot of it. Clearly I am an injury prone runner (*cringes*). To tempt fate with running very long runs is probably not a good idea for me. I know it’s important for ‘time on your feet’ but honestly I think it’s just going to push my body over the edge. In the future, when I’m more experienced and my body is stronger, then fine but not right now. I also don’t think I need to run 18+ milers to calm me psychologically. I know I can run a marathon now.

I also won’t be doing big weekly mileage. Ideally I top out at 37 miles but I’m also happy to lower that depending how things go. My plan is more about consistency than pushing my body to the limit.

Maybe this plan sounds fairly basic and ‘beginnery’ but at this point, after all my stupid injury issues, I think this is the best way forward. A cautious approach, if you like.


As you can see, there’s between 4-5 days a week running depending what I’ve got going on. A fair few races as well (RR10s and half marathons). I wanted to make sure I had two strength sessions a week as well. These are 45-60 minute weight sessions focusing on glutes, core, hamstrings, calfs/shins, etc. This is to aid injury prevention (here’s hoping).

I’ll do a speed-specific session on Tuesday (either with the club or on my own), a tempo run Thursday mornings and Parkrun on Saturdays (but not necessarily racing them). My Sunday longer runs and anything in between will all be easy paced (except for my goal half marathon in Maidenhead).

There’s no cross-training in there. I don’t want to overload my body. I found spinning with running a nightmare mix and just made me more inclined to get injured. Maybe the odd bike ride or swim will appear but nothing crazy.

My longer runs top out at 16 miles. But I will be running fairly medium distances the days before so this should (in a bastardized Hansons method approach) tire my legs, replicating what it will feel like in a marathon. I didn’t want to go the whole hog with the Hansons method because I’m not ready to run six days a week and the mileage goes higher than I’m comfortable with. So I dropped the Monday run and lowered some of the other runs.

Another main change for me will be not running with the running club on Thursday evenings. The majority of my runs (apart from Parkruns) will be solo runs in the morning. As much as I love my running club and love the Thursday night sessions, I find that I stop listening to my body and run faster and further than I should. By running on my own I can stay in tune with any niggles and pace my run exactly how I need to (hold certain tempo paces for a certain time for example). I’m sad about it but I know it’s for the best. Plus I love running in the morning rather than the evening.

None of this though is set in stone. My main aim for this marathon training is consistent injury-free running. So regular sports massages will hopefully happen as well to keep things in tip top shape as much as possible.

Whew. So that’s it. Who knows if it’ll work. I do have a time aim in mind for Berlin, but I’ll keep that to myself for the moment. It’s nothing dramatically different to Paris. Paris has given me the confidence that I know I can run a bit faster because I felt so comfortable all the way and finished without feeling like I was at death’s door. But we’ll see!

Anyone else training for a specific race or marathon?

What are your top tips to staying injury free?

What have you learnt about your body over the years when it comes to exercising?