Paranoid, insecure runner alert

I won’t lie, I’m nervous about how comparatively little I’m running. I’m training for a marathon which is about nine and a half weeks away and I feel…calm.

(Apologies, this post is a bit of a brain dump!)

I don’t feel like my training is that difficult. OK I know the mega long runs haven’t happened yet but I can’t help feeling I’m cheating the system by not feeling exhausted all the time or sick with fear for the upcoming long runs. Everything is just kind of ticking along without issue (OK now I’m really tempting fate). I’m not saying that I should feel awful or exhausted, but I just don’t feel like I’m training for a marathon.

What I am finding is still having the same enthusiasm for my gym visits. So far I’m keeping my heart rate up by jumping on the cross-trainer for a three minute burst, then running back to do my strength routines, repeating that three times and then doing some focused single-leg and core strength work. All in all totalling an hour and getting a good sweaty workout. Now I’m wondering if I should lessen the gym visits – or at least condense them into something more efficient (i.e. no more cross-trainer and superfluous strength moves), and run a bit more.

This is dangerous territory.

Currently I do three or four gym sessions a week (one of those is either entirely steady state cardio on the rowing machine, or 30 minutes on the rowing machine and 30 minutes strength). I’m considering changing this to two full strength routines (hitting all the strength moves that I think are a priority to maintain injury-free running) and four running sessions. So dropping the rowing and making the strength training just about the strength.

But I don’t know if this is sensible. Running four times? I need my long run, I like parkrun for a short social speed session and I really like my hill session (not at the time mind you!) – do I need anything else in terms of running??

And if I run four times, where do I place my runs and gym visits? Here’s what I was considering:

  • Monday:  Strength training
  • Tuesday:  Recovery run/short hill session?
  • Wednesday:  Off
  • Thursday:  Medium length tempo/hilly run?
  • Friday:  Strength training
  • Saturday:  parkrun
  • Sunday:  Long run

As you can see the runs and strength training might not complement each other at all. Any tips or advice would be greatly appreciated – I’m just a bit confused right now. It doesn’t help having everyone around me suffering (enjoying?) marathon fever right now and talking about their training!

While we’re on the subject of running, I ran last night and it was a brilliant run. The weather is fantastic so the guns were out!


Pre-run selfie in the bathrooms because I’m weird

I didn’t fancy doing my usual 10k speedy hilly run as I felt an immense amount of pressure (from myself) to maintain my trend of running this same route consistently faster each week. I decided instead to do a longer run, but more of a relaxed tempo than an aggressive speedy run. I ran a one mile warm-up to get my legs going, then did the usual 10k route, then enjoyed a two mile cool down. Interestingly it didn’t feel like nine miles as I had split it up in my mind exactly as that: warm-up, 10k, cool down. It was a great longer hill run.

(7.38mins/mile average)

image image

I removed my gloves on the second mile (my route loops back a lot because the amazingly beasty hill sits right next to my office) and threw them off the path. My faith in humanity was boosted when I finished the run and went back to retrieve them to find them still there.

IMG_0283 To be fair though they don’t look like anything you’d want really

Annoyingly though I had slightly misjudged the distance and had to run a few loops round my office car park. Luckily most people had gone home…I say most. One man looked at me like I was mental as he headed to his car. I looked meaningfully at my watch a few times though to sort of demonstrate what I was doing (though this was probably lost on him…non-runner!).

IMG_0285 Post-run selfie – feeling very happy

Annnnd my mind goes back to my training…Do I just run three times a week and make the third run a hilly longer run?? Keep my rowing??

Nothing like being a paranoid, insecure runner surrounded by other runners doing so many different things!

Any tips to give?

What do you think is important in marathon training?

What strength workouts do you do, if you do any?

Stealing ideas from the gym

Wow the heavens have opened up in a big way in the South Coast of England. It’s absolutely tipping it down this morning!

I might have mentioned a few times I’ve been going to the gym a lot rather than running these days. I’m really enjoying it. I don’t tend to slog out numerous minutes on the cardio machines though as I just find this soul destroying. Plus my aim at the gym is not to just focus on cardio but rather strengthen my entire body (arms I’m looking at you) to hopefully reduce any injury chances later on when I get back into running and also to make my body strong and healthy. My body has just been running a lot for so long now and it’s not a great way to get an overall level of strength. Oh sure I could easily run 10 miles or a half marathon no problem but when it came to anything else, it was weak. Since going to the gym I’ve had muscles aching that I never knew I had!

IMG_8958Instead of doing cardio machines I do lots of classes. For example, this is my week:

Monday: Body Blast (a crazy session of HIIT and then a round of several weight moves, like overhead presses and weighted squats, etc., repeated) and Power Core (focusing on strengthening the entire core).

Tuesday: Pump (weights class) and Step (I worked up a sweat but honestly this is not for me. It was laughable how uncoordinated I was and how I was about 5 steps behind everyone else).

Wednesday: yoga

Thursday: an hour session in the gym doing my own thing (more on that below).

Friday: either Spin or the same as Thursday followed by a Tone class (using weights to ‘tone’ your muscles…I loathe the word tone but it is a good class).

Saturday: Spin

Sunday: Spin and Legs, Bums and Tums

Classes are great as you never know what to expect (so can’t dread them). It’s always very varied and you get motivated by the instructor and others around you. However it’s annoying that the only classes in the week I can make are in the evening. This means going to the gym straight from work and not getting back until late, meaning my evening’s are so much shorter.

And because it’s January, the evenings at the gym are PACKED.

IMG_8963The gym I go to is massive so it’s not really a problem but it means that the classes are full of lots of newbies who need lots of demonstrations and explaining. Totally fair enough but this does eat into the class time. I like to get to the gym, do my thing and get the hell out. No time is wasted. I hate to stand around…and not to mention hearing some of the people bitch and moan like they’re at school is just irritating. You’re PAYING for this so get on with it!

So I’ve been stealing ideas from the classes to make my own routines so I can do them whenever I want (which in the week means getting to the gym for 5.30am and getting out by 6.30am – perfect). OK I don’t get the motivational aspect but I’m quite a focused person and if I’ve gone to the gym I damn well will work hard to make it worthwhile. I’m not a social gym goer: I’m not there to make friends.

I always wear my Polar heart rate monitor at the gym as, like with running, I’m a stats geek and like to see numbers. I like to see how hard I’m working and if I’m pushing myself too much or too little.

Anyway, I thought I’d share a few of my routines:

Routine A:

Repeat 3 times: Make it harder:
2mins cardio at 100% effort  
40 mountain climbers Use stability ball
30 squats Add weights
20 bridge lifts (per leg) Raise one leg
10 press ups Full press up
5 burpees  

This routine took about 25 minutes which was perfect. I tried not to stop between exercises. It kept me motivated and entertained because nothing went on for too long to make me bored.

Routine B:

Repeat 3 times: Make it harder:
2mins cardio at 100% effort  
1 minute wall sit 2 minutes
30 Russian twists Add heavier weight
20 bent over rows Add heavier weight
10 cleans Add heavier weight
5 burpees  

Basically I’ve been stealing moves from the classes and then trying to create routines that are varied and hard enough to get my muscles aching and my heart racing. You get a good blast of cardio from the HIIT cardio and a good blast on the muscles with the strength moves.

I then add 30 minutes of focused running strength work:

Single leg deadlifts 12 x4 (per leg)
Single leg squats 12 x4 (per leg)
Decline single leg squats 12 x4 (per leg)
Hot salsa 3-4 minutes
Side plank on bosu ball with high knee leg raise 12 x3 (per leg)

**A lot of these moves can be found as videos on the Kinetic Revolution website HERE (anything Mo Farah or Galen Rupp do I am fully on board with!!).**

IMG_8969I did Routine A and the running strength routine this morning (though I missed out the single leg deadlifts) and it took around 50 minutes and I was shocked to find I burnt more calories than a 45 minute spin session! Calories aren’t everything I know but it was an interesting comparison nonetheless. I really enjoyed the workout (unlike Spin) and it zoomed by. I got to work on all the areas of my body I wanted to and got my HR up. And no moaning people or hanging about!

This is probably old hat to lots of you experienced gym goers but to me this is like seeing the light. I’ll still continue with going to the classes (especially at the weekend – there’s no way in hell I could do my routines when it’s absolutely heaving) but certain evening classes I’ll drop in favour of doing my own thing super early. I love that I can switch and change the moves, make it harder, shorter, longer, whatever! And focus on the areas I want to work on rather than what the instructor wants to do.

Basically, I’m a happy annoying gym bunny!

What classes do you enjoy at the gym?

What are some of your favourite strength-focused moves?

Why do you mainly focus on at the gym: strength or cardio, or a balance of both?

Tapering? Don’t make me laugh

I just wanted to say a big thank you to the Tweets and comments regarding my last post, it’s given Ben a lot to think about! The fact of the matter is, we’re going to Berlin come what may. Whether both of us or one of us runs the marathon is anyone’s guess at this point.

If all continues to go as well as it is for me then I will be running it. The only thing that will stop me running is if I go on a run and there is sharp pain. At no point have I actually felt any pain – it’s all discomfort and tightness, like a pulling on my shin. A few weeks ago I stopped a run because the discomfort was so bad. It wasn’t pain per se but it was just so uncomfortable to run on – does that make any sense?

Anyway, after seeing my physio last week and Kyle, my go-to sports massage therapist – both are confident I will run the marathon and have said that my shin is fine now. Just need to convince my over-working over-analysing brain…

Anyway, I thought I might update you on my ‘marathon training’ considering that I haven’t done that in a while and hey why not considering it’s less than two weeks away. Now that the injury has passed (TOUCH WOOD) I just have the simple worry of actually getting round the marathon. Like for Paris, I’ve set myself a realistic target (well, apart from just finishing!) My planned pace is very realistic (in theory) as it’s very much an easy pace for me.

So this is last week’s training:

Monday: 6 miles easy run

Tuesday: 40 minutes on the cross-trainer/elliptical machine (5 minute warm-up, 45 seconds hard, 1 minute easy repeated, 5 minutes cool down)

IMG_7900 Tough!

– 2.5mins plank
– 4x 15/leg single leg squat
– 4.5mins crab walk
– 4x 26 Russian twists
– 200/leg clams with resistance band

Wednesday: One hour of yoga (loving this!)

Thursday: 3 miles easy run at lunch and 15 miles speedy (to me!) bike session

Friday: 30 minutes on the cross-trainer/elliptical machine. Didn’t have as much time as usual so tried to blast it.

– 2.5mins plank
– 15x 4 single leg squat


Post workout happy selfie

It was one of those workouts that I felt great about! I really enjoyed it and felt amazing afterwards.

Saturday: One BORING hour of pool running. It all started off great with my waterproof iPhone cover and my Bluetooth headphones listening to a podcast trying to ignore the small people splashing around on floats (I tried to limit my Death Stare a little). Then my headphones ran out of battery.

Bore pool running See the float in the background? I had so many of those things bump into me.

Honestly, nothing is more boring than pool running. I literally stared at the clock. I even did intervals just to pass the time quicker. I felt like this was a seriously successful workout not only in terms of fitness but psychologically – it really tested my mental endurance.

Sunday: The long run I’d been dreading… 11 miles. I was going to do 10 but then I realised two weeks before Paris marathon I did an 11 miler and superstition told me to do that extra mile if I felt good. And I did, so I did. No shin issues before or after…bit of tightness the day after but nothing hugely remarkable. Fitness-wise I feel good. Endurance-wise? Eh…no idea really. I didn’t feel like I was dead on my knees during or after this run, wasn’t tired in the day and the next day I had no muscles aches – it was like I hadn’t run. Good sign? But only 11 miles…! Apart from endurance my big concern is the effect of the pounding on the roads that running does…nothing but running proper can train your body for that.

What workouts did you enjoy last week?

Do you need music/entertainment to get you through some workouts?

Are you superstitious? I didn’t think I was until now!

Week #6 Marathon Training

Hi guys, another week of training done. Now I know I said I probably wasn’t going to document my marathon training every week but I guess I am…sorry, I know it’s quite running heavy and probably boring.

Anyway last week was a mixed bag. I felt very tired and getting up really early in the morning was taking it’s toll. But I guess I need to ‘woman up’ and get on with it, this is what’s it all about.

Monday – no running but this strength routine:

– 4x 15/leg single leg squats
– 4x 15/leg weighted calf raises
– 200/leg clams with resistance band
– 4.5mins crab walk
– 3mins plank
– 100 Russian twists

Thera band workoutMy lovely theraband has snapped like three times… 

Tuesday – 5 mile tempo run (one mile warm-up, three tempo miles, one mile cool down). I went off too fast on the first tempo mile. In my head it went like this: “Wooohoo yeaaahh! So speedy! Yeaaahhh!” then 7 minutes later “I’m dying, god I’m dying. And here’s a hill. I’m dying.” And that trail of thought continued for the rest of the run. Well done, Anna, brilliant pace control.


Wednesday – I was supposed to do a strength workout but I was working from home and it never happened because when I finished work there’s so many more cool things to do at home than workout. I did manage some toe lifts and 100 bicycle crunches. Then I just lay on the floor watching a film (Gone Baby Gone <—amazing).

Thursday – 6 mile easy run. Usually I wouldn’t bother showing my splits for an easy workout to avoid my ego being enticed but this run annoyed me. I spotted a fellow runner ahead of me who was running a little slower than me. I eventually overtook her, said good morning as you do, and then had to pick up the pace to get a bit further ahead (it’s that awkward over-taking moment, you know?)


Anyway she starts getting faster to catch up! And all I can hear are her footfalls behind me. Like seriously, BACK UP. I overtook you. Don’t try and repay the favour on my easy run. I had her hound my heels for two miles (mile 3 & 4) which meant I had to run faster than I wanted to to avoid her overtaking me. This is probably all in my head I know.

Strength workout in the evening:

– 4x 18/leg weighted calf raises
– 4x 15 single leg squats (15 more on weaker leg)
– 4.5mins crab walk
– 200/leg clams with resistance band
– 4mins wall sit
– 4mins toe lift
– 2x heel taps

Friday – Alarm set for 5.10am, walk Alfie, out the door 5.45am for a 15 mile bike ride…One mile in feeling great “wooohooo cycling’s not so bad!” …a few minutes later “hmm feels so bumpy, better check my wheel”. GARGH flat tire. Even if I did have a puncture repair kit I wouldn’t know how the hell to fix it. So I turned around and walked a rather miserable 1 mile home. I was not amuse so took my frustration out with cleaning the bathrooms and hoovering.

My lovely husband (finishing at 12.30 on Fridays) fixed the puncture for me so when I got home from work I could try again. I loved it, really enjoyed it. But got to almost 12 miles and bam another puncture.

IMG_7259 But a really nice guy on a bike stopped and helped me. He was very nice and helpful, fixed the puncture after like 20 minutes worth of sorting as my wheel is so tight.

I was very grateful, we then parted ways and two minutes up the road another puncture. Seriously. Ben had to come and collect the bike and me.

Saturday – we went to our local (Netley Park) parkrun. I thought I’d just see how I felt and push it if I fancied. I went with it, pushed hard and got 21:56 and first lady. Quite happy with that!

Sunday – Ben and me and some guys from the running club did the Stansted Slog half marathon. Unbelievably hard. I’ll do a recap post soon. I finished in 1:53:09, fifth female. Brilliant race.


And now I’m shattered! But a good week of training. I’ve got a sports massage tonight with Kyle thank god as my legs ache so much. Good aches though (*touch wood*).

Have you ever had an annoying failed workout?

Have you ever done an off-road, hilly race? It’s like an adventure but so much harder than a road race.

Are you good with maintaining tempo speeds or a set workout without getting carried away?

Week #5 Marathon Training

Still trucking along nicely. I do look out though to the (many) weeks ahead and think “how am I going to survive this?” I’m sure something will crop up injury-wise, I just only hope it’s something minor. How’s that for positivity?

I forgot to mention last week the commencement of the Ab Challenge (er so that would be two weeks ago?) I did complete the 30 days, but as I said previously, I amended it to be bicycle crunches and Russian twists (with the leg raises and plank). It was tough I’m not going to lie. But I felt like I gained some strength (but no six pack thank god). I’m trying to do something every day, whether it’s a plank, some crunches or what-have-you but at the weekend it’s hard because, well, it’s the weekend.

Monday – no running but I did this strength routine:

– 15×4 calf raises with weights
– 4mins crab walk
– 1min x3 plank with side leg touch
– 200/leg clams with resistance band
– 4.5min bridge
– 15×4 bridge leg lifts
– 15 press-ups
– 2min toe lifts

Tuesday – I did another hill running session. One mile warm-up, two miles worth of two hills running up and down, then one mile cool down. The bin men were out and they must have thought I was mad.

Undoubtedly I would be running faster with the running club (as is the nature of running with others) but I’m so motivated at getting up early and running that I’m quite happy to go solo. And I know I harp on about this, but I can fully listen to my body rather than get all competitive and carried away with the club. But I do miss it 🙁

Strength routine in the evening:

– 15 press-ups
– 4mins toe lifts
– 4x 15 calf raises with weights
– 3mins plank
– 3x 1min elbow plank to push up 
– 100 Russian twists
– 200/leg clams with resistance band
– 4.5min crab walk

Wednesday – 4 miles easy recovery run in the morning. Kept around 8.30min/mile pace. Legs felt heavy and niggly though especially one of my calves. I promptly text the wonder that is Kyle, our local sports massage therapist, and he was able to come round that evening and sort it out. I’m all over prompt action for any sort of niggle. Kyle got rid of the issue thankfully. You might think I’m a bit of a paranoid over-reactor when it comes to running niggles. You would be right.

Strength routine:

– 2x 100 bicycle crunches
– 4x 15/leg weighted single leg dead lifts
– 200/leg clams with resistance band
– 1x 1.5min/side plank

Unfortunately I got bored with the side planks and kind of gave up and went home. It happens! Also it was annoying that I’d forgotten my hair bobble. You know when I get bored when I start taking plank selfies…

IMG_7210I’m not pouting, I’m grimacing!!

Thursday – speaking of Kyle, he was able to put me in touch with a guy at Southampton Solent University who is currently doing a study on endurance runners and athletes and needed participants for his current study. This involved me doing a VO2 Max test.


I’ll post more about this in a separate post as I have a lot to say! It was all very interesting but hard work. Probably 2.5 miles running at a guess.

Friday – had some time in the morning so did a few quick strength moves:

– 4×15/leg single leg squats
– 100 Russian twists
– 100/leg clams with resistance band
– 3min wall sit

Saturday – I knew I wouldn’t have time on Sunday for a long run, so I ran to parkrun (4 miles), did parkrun and then ran home again.


I felt really good on the run there and got a bit carried away with my pace but I was just enjoying it. It was so hot though. I made sure to arrive at parkrun just before the start so the gap of stop-starting would be small. I thought I’d put some effort into the parkrun but really had no idea how it would go considering the heat and the four miles already on my legs.Netley parkrun 12.07 Not sure quite why I was looking so happy!

A guy from my club kindly ran with me and helped pace me. I was intending on getting a negative split but it didn’t really happen.


In the end 22:32 which I was happy about. And then I scanned my barcode and dashed off to run home.


My legs felt considerably more tired but still fairly good, though I got a terrible stitch after a mile because I’d chugged down a load of Ben’s water before I ran off home. Rookie error. But a successful 11 miles in the bag!

Later Ben, our friend Nathan, Kyle and me met up for a 15mile bike ride round Durley. Initially I was really not up for it as I was quite tired but as soon as I started pedalling I felt the best I’ve ever felt on the bike. Really strong and comfortable. It spun my legs nicely.

Sunday – urgh. My alarm was set for 5.15am as we needed to leave the house to go marshal a local race at 8.30am. I wanted to get 6 miles and I really didn’t fancy leaving the run till later when I’d want to chill. Just a recovery run so kept it easy.

Ben had his alarm set for 4.30am as he wanted to do 12 miles. He was meeting another friend at 5.30am (madness!). Unfortunately he slept through his alarm and when mine went off I was like “er, Ben, why are you still asleep?” I’ve never seen that boy move so quickly in my life. Or heard such language so early in the morning 😉

It’s currently Monday morning and I’m shattered. Absolutely drained. Come on body, don’t fail me now please!

Ever set your alarm ridiculously early to make a workout?

Have you ever done a VO2 max test?

Have you ever done any 30 day workout challenge?