One more sleep

& it had better be a good sleep.

Saturday has been good. Saw my family. Lots of food & coffee & a nice meandering walk to stretch my legs. Pasta for lunch & dinner, same as dinner last night. I am full of the carbs.

I am a bit nervous, yes. But also very hyped by the amount of good vibes & the possibilities that tomorrow holds. I hope it goes well.

Weather’s still looking perfect. Family & friends & acquaintances are scattered around the course. It’ll be grand. I trust my training & I trust me.

Race week

Marvellous. I am fairly well rested & spent most of Easter enjoying the sunshine, doing loads of laundry, gardening & spending time with family and friends.

Drinking tea & writing up training notes

However, with mere hours to go before the race, there is a lot going on in my head

  • very little patience for anyone coughing or sneezing near me
  • Minimum 4 cups of tea a day for hydration purposes
  • Walking up and down stairs very carefully
  • Going to bed at 10pm (waking at 5am as a result; *slow clap*)
  • What if I forget how to physically move my legs
  • Why did I think this is a good idea in the first place

Also lots of ridiculous non-questions, like can I run this far/can I run at all/am I too old/I also enjoy knitting & reading as hobbies, why not stick to that instead…

The fam group chat is way more excited than I am at this point and I had to mute it until a couple of days ago. Several questions about why does Mo Farah wear compression sleeves and do I need some (Because he likes them, and no…) Luckily I’ve had a busy week at work to keep me occupied.

I imagine, like a lot of other nervous runners, I am checking the long range weather multiple times a day & being cheerful or nervous depending on what it says. Currently it looks pretty good.

This week’s training:

Monday: rest. Easy to do in that lovely sunshine.

Tuesday: 2.5 miles as part of coaching a GFR session: most of it was steady but there were some bursts of speed. I also spent too long messing around on the canalside monkey bars & made my arms sore.

vibe

Wednesday: plan said 4 miles, but I wasn’t feeling too well & managed slightly under half a mile before packing it in. Not ideal, but running with a sore stomach will never really go well & I should have known better than to even try. That’s maranoia for you.

Thursday: got up early to fit in the 4 miles that should have been yesterday’s, & did enjoy it. I love running before work & will try for more of that this summer.

I haven’t done proper fasted cardio for a while, & the nervous energy meant I was faster than an easy run should be, but it was a nice confidence boost.

Friday: travelled to London, & managed a couple of easy shakeout miles along the river in the early evening.

CARBS

& now, it’s chill time.

Ironing the letters onto my club vest was more stressful and tiring than running. After unearthing the iron from the back of a cupboard, the receipt tucked in the box confirmed that I bought it in 2012, meaning it’s been through two house moves & I’ve still never used it. After a few minutes of failure, I realised the iron a) had different settings, and b) was on the lowest setting. That is why the first H is all messed up. Once the iron was firing at full power, progress was made.

Saturday will be rest day before heading to meet my family, go for a pasta dinner, & try for a good night’s sleep. Wish me luck!

Week sixteen

I have miscounted the weeks, clearly. Or the next 7 days does not count as training but just involves gentle jogging, anxiety & pasta. MAYBE IT’S BOTH.

 

I knew that travelling during the taper would mess up my plans a bit, but honestly I thought I would cope better. I used to be good at jetlag but this time it’s been really bad – I was more or less ready for bed by 9pm for the first few days in the US, & then it was time to come back & sleeping on the plane never happens & I was awake from Tuesday morning until Wednesday night. But as a result I’ve had the most & best sleep for months, too. I hope this continues.

Even better, it is so true what they say about rest. I have been beating myself up for a week about enjoying myself too much whilst travelling and not sticking to the plan, but when I have trained, it’s always been amazing. I have felt light, springy & energetic on each run, so clearly the rest & sleep has been good for me and it’s fine.

Monday: stretching, & 30,000 steps in the Chicago sunshine.

love at first sight

Tuesday: 5 miles on the lakefront – started easy but parts of it got a bit faster when I was feeling like stretching it out, which was usually whenever I was out of the serious headwind. It felt nicely challenging.

Wednesday: Jetlag & no sleep = rest day. Fine by me.

Red eye breakfast of champs

Thursday: First full day back at work + jetlag = a steady six miles in the evening. It had cooled down a bit by the time I ran, which was nice.

Friday: Cyclebox. Harsh, especially sprints, and there were some mild arm muscle DOMS the following day. My left shoulder is still a bit painful so when I get back into stuff that’s not running, I am going to have to figure out exactly what’s wrong as it affects my punching as well as lifting. I can run, though, so worth ignoring for now*

*bad advice, terrible

Saturday: a steady 8 (ish) miles, getting used to being on my feet again after a week or so of shorter faster runs.

Sunday: 4 miles & a strength workout, then Easter with my family. I love Easter.

It’s very hot

4 miles was made up of a warm-up run to the gym and 5x400m sprints.

Total miles: 23, which seems super low nowadays. Trust the taper…

Feeling: a bit nervous, now. Trying not to be too stressed about not following the training plan for a week, messing up my good regular pattern of rest days & exercise. I’ve just about clawed it back now, and the walking I did in Chicago kept the leg muscles ticking over, with plenty of stretching whenever I could manage. I didn’t foam roll whilst I was away but have been on it twice a day since getting back.

Nutrition: better, after taking advantage of Chicago’s amazing cuisine & the USA’s cheap 500g bags of peanut butter M+Ms. Since getting back I have been packing in the nutrients like crazy, but I do miss these pancakes.

Meals weren’t always excessive, but US portions are often a bit much. A superfood salad I ordered one evening was delicious – avocado, quinoa, radishes, celery & loads of other crunchy stuff, but it came in a serving bowl and was the size I’d make if I was hosting a small dinner party.

This salmon with pak choi and hazelnut pesto from The Kitchen was amazing, though.

This was equally amazing, but as expected from somewhere I found out about on Instagram, it was more of a photo opportunity than a food item. $8 of sugar, and happily I didn’t even come close to finishing it.

Since I’ve been back it’s all about good protein, green veg & caffeine. Fairly standard for my normal routine, but Chicago was carb-heavy & a few days of that made me feel heavy, bloated & ridiculous. There has been a brief break for Easter egg, but that’s allowed, I think. Happy Easter!

There’s a first time for everything…

Lots of info out there about how the London Marathon differs from other marathons, other majors & other cities. I do take most of this stuff with a pinch of salt – it’s still 26.2 & it’s still down to me to run the thing – but now that I have my race number & starting location, it’s time to think about logistics & top tips for this amazing experience. Trains & accommodation are booked, my bag will be packed once I’ve sorted out stuff from my USA trip last week, and finding somewhere for dinner the night before without walking & wandering the city too extensively will have to be planned in.

Logistics aside, there are some tried and tested Marathon tips that I’ll be following.

I am a slow starter, & it’s always served me well over longer race distances. For a marathon, the first 6 miles just needs to get done in under an hour & I slowly sip Lucozade throughout. I can’t remember who advised me to do this but it works for me, and it is advice I now pass on. This photo taken at 10km into Manchester 2018 sums it up – a group of us from GFR had been having a nice chat for the first few miles & once they were done (“only 20 miles to go!”) that’s when it begins proper.

Not the best of race photos, but there we are. Clutching the precious Lucozade, & doing what I think is licking my lips, but who knows. Race photos are invariably terrible & not worth the money!

Beyond the slow start – which is advised for London anyway, because it’s so crowded – the following tips seem to be standard:

Absorb the Tower Bridge moment: I will hopefully do this. I like this iconic bridge & running across it as part of the London Marathon will be great.

Familiarise yourself with the route: I know London quite well, but will work on this. I have been caught out before, running in places I know well but without considering the specific route. Hills can be surprising, especially when you’re fatigued.

Figure out where your supporters will be: usually I’m quite good at this, with a small amount of forward planning. Frontrunners tend to have a big flag so they are easy to spot, & I have former colleagues from charities I’ve worked for who have promised they will cheer me even if I’m not raising money for them, so I’ll be looking out for their flags too. Spotting my family supporters might be trickier, although I do usually manage.

Run the course: this seems fairly obvious, but as someone who runs a bang-on average marathon time & is aiming for a slight sub-4, I anticipate that it’s going to be quite crowded at all points. Slowing down due to congestion will be fine & picking up the pace will be doable at other parts of the course, without getting too stressed about it.

The other thing to do is savour the moment, of course. I am looking forward to this very much. If you have any first time London tips, please let me know!

Photo: Runner’s World

Week 15

Not long now!

Taper has involved more rest than I expected, after travelling, the midwest’s VERY VARIABLE WEATHER & a weird ankle niggle took more time to get over than I expected. But all training I’ve managed this week has had a purpose & been very well focused.

Monday: Morning Cyclebox. Can you do an hour of spin & HIIT less than 24 hours after knocking out 20 miles?

of course

Seems like it. Struggled a bit on some of the longer sprints but the climbs were fine. I had to down a double espresso 20 minutes before the class started but it worked well enough.

Tuesday: No time for running but I read lots of books, chilled out & drank lots of water as well as the complimentary wine.

Trainers in the hand luggage, obvs. I did actually consider going for a little shakeout run in the evening after I’d got a bit of a second wind, but the tiredness & jet lag hit me like a tidal wave about an hour later, so probably for the best that I was crashed out asleep by 8:30pm. I did see a lot of runners whilst I was wandering around, though.

Wednesday: took some time to explore this city o’skyscrapers & deep dish, with over 30,000 steps walked. No running, though. Still tired after a 5am start to the day (jetlag blows) & it was absolutely freezing with occasional hailstorms, so I ended up having another rest.

It is VERY COLD

Thursday: With the best of intentions, I did not manage to get out for a run today either. I am sleeping so much & eating at the wrong times, & walking around the city a lot has given me a bit of foot/ankle/calf pain that doesn’t feel great to run on. Also the first item on the local news was about someone being attacked in the park I was planning on running through, so that wasn’t the best.

Friday: finally felt up to running, & got my lazy self up for 3 miles on the dreadmill. After a few days of rest it was fast & enjoyable. Sunday to Friday has been the longest break I’ve had from running since December, & it felt very strange & I did get a bit anxious for a while, in between the sleeping.

Saturday: 5 miles: met up with Chicago Frontrunners for their Saturday morning session in beautiful warm weather. Nice & speedy, but the conversation kept me distracted & I barely noticed the good pace.

I was worried about missing the meeting point, but no

Sunday: no more blue skies in Chicago, but a snowstorm. Not that cold but slushy underfoot, so not ideal for running & far too windy. Another day of resting, reading & stretching, but I started with some HIIT & weights.

Total miles: 8! Not quite what I wanted, but enough speedwork to keep my hand in and miles in the bank. The sleeping & resting has more than likely been better for me than running, or at least as good.

Nutrition: average/excessive. Travelling can be a bit of a nightmare for good nutrition but I tried hard.

Are you even flying if you don’t get an airport Wetherspoons

It’s a bit early for carb loading, sadly, as USA style breakfast food is my forever love. But I’m seriously considering the Chicago Marathon just so I get to legitimately fuel this way.

Feeling: good, surprisingly. After meticulous planning at the start of the year, I got a bit nervous about this break because of the potential to mess up the routine, & because work has been very busy. But this trip was booked & planned before either the marathons or the no-longer-new job were a reality, & I do need this break. I have been sleeping so much, & really needed the opportunity to get out of my usual routine & away from reality for a while. Chicago is amazing & I will be coming back here for sure.

Fitting running into a disrupted routine isn’t always easy & couldn’t be done the way I wanted due to tiredness & lack of opportunity, but it’s OK. Reading, sleeping & having fun is good too.

Books & travel is all I need

Onto the second taper week, with hopefully a bit more running…

Feeding

Now that I’m in Chicago & eating too much enjoying the local cuisine, I’ve been thinking about my marathon training diet. Mostly because I’m panicking about my food intake over the last few days – there has been too much snacking due to travelling & being out and about exploring. I like cooking & making my own food most of the time, & whilst I’m not complaining about dining out several times a day in one of the best foodie cities in the world, I look forward to getting back on track when I return.

In normal non-travelling times, I am relatively healthy, but slightly overweight. My fitness Instagram focused on food quite a lot at first, & surprisingly I have only had a small amount of judgement about what I eat. Still a bit surprised that someone would slide into my DMs to criticise the food I’m posting, but whatever. The internet is bonkers most of the time.

Anyway, it generally looks like this:

  • Weekday breakfast is usually scrambled eggs, or overnight oats made with Fage 5% yoghurt & frozen fruit. Weekend breakfast when I’m running is porridge, sometimes with peanut butter, or toast/bagel with jam or hazelnut spread.
  • If I’m not running, it’s likely to be eggs again. Poached or scrambled or omelette. I love them all ways. Usually with some combination of cherry tomatoes, onions, peppers, spinach & cheese in the omelettes. Poached eggs are special & need sourdough bread & serious amounts of chilli salt.
  • Lunch can vary – but if I’m well prepped during the week, it’s either rice, pasta or cous cous with broccoli, kale, random other veg, and some sort of protein: usually cheese or chicken. I mostly work in the centre of Glasgow or Edinburgh, so there is endless choice if I need to buy something in, but for money-saving & macro-tracking reasons I prefer to bring my own lunch. If short of time & money I am quite likely to buy a packet of flatbreads & a pot of hummus – not ideal, but hits the spot.

  • Dinner can be more variable & the evenings are also when I am prone to boredom snacking. I do try to limit carbs in the evening, adding plenty of veg instead, but sometimes a bowl of pasta is required. If I’m running a longer distance the following day, it’s usually pasta or rice that I go for, with chicken.
  • Supplements get discussed quite a lot. I am back on the vitamins for this training cycle, & I do use protein powder occasionally (usually mixing with oats or yoghurt) but that’s all.

    Fuelling on the runs has usually been with SiS gels (grapefruit flavour is the best), jelly babies, and Lucozade Sport. This has been a staple of my long runs for a few years now & it quite possibly has more of a placebo effect than a sugar fix, but the taste reminds me of running now. It’s so interesting how different runners have their own favourites & plans for fuelling – I’ve learned based on what works for me but I will always listen to suggestions from others.

    Heading out for another ridiculous USA breakfast right now: pancakes, probably. I’m running today, so it’s fine…

    Three weeks to go…

    Well, two weeks and six days. Counting down, now. Nerves & excitement in equal measure. Got my number & my starting colour for London, started planning travel logistics for Edinburgh. It is getting very real.

    It’s taper time! How do we taper?

    like dis

    Fair enough. Early Cyclebox to start the week (too many lunges for the day after a 20 mile run), followed by coffee & errands to run in Finnieston.

    damn fine

    This week is a bit calmer. Slightly lower mileage at the same intensity through the week, then just a nice steady 12 miles on Saturday, which I am really looking forward to because half of it will be with Chicago Frontrunners.

    The rest of it will be fitted around flights & jetlag & deep dish pizza. I’ve been salivating over foodie Instagram for a few weeks now, & if anyone has some science-y evidence that mainlining pancakes, churros & Chicago-style hot dogs will have some sort of demonstrable benefit on 28 April, bring it to me please.

    I am going to get fat

    I am also excited about art & architecture as well as food & sleeping; Chicago is really one for the bucket list. There’s a fitness suite at my accommodation, so I can treadmill train if required, but I have packed for all weathers so getting out & running the city will be fab. A change is as good as a rest & I can’t wait!

    I’m so pleased & inspired reading about everyone’s Manchester Marathon successes. Three friends all ran a fantastic race, & loads of Instagram folk got good PBs or ran brilliant first marathons (which is still a PB, of course). I only got sliiiiight twinges of marathon envy yesterday evening – it’s a good medal & finisher shirt, & what everyone says about the crowd support & cheering in Manc is very true.

    Sixteen miles into it in 2018

    Hoping to take these good vibes with me for the next few weeks. Tapering & resting is really important, I trust in the plan & I am not going to lose fitness. I am going to have to try really hard to not eat my body weight in pizza, but I have faith in myself & my bank balance to stay strong.

    Week 14

    I should now be counting in days, I think.

    This week has not been a particularly photogenic one – it’s either been sweaty gym time or raining outside. The weather has been sunny & mild occasionally but I have mostly missed the good stuff, always running in the worst of it instead.

    This made me smile on Wednesday, though. I like Star Wars & I am in awe of anyone who can run in any fancy dress, let alone in kit like this.

    Maybe one day

    It’s not been the best week for the most part. Bad, sad news & associated difficulties around that, alongside general work and life stress. But: keep on keeping on, etc. Running has been the light in the darkness, as it often is.

    Monday: the drive to go to the gym was low after an 11 hour work day and ALL THE STRESS, but it was worth it in the end and actually a good way to wind down. Nice strength session, everything felt comfortable & I made time for proper stretching.

    Tuesday: early gym for a threshold sesh: 5x1km, aiming for a consistent 4:50min/km & a gentle jog of a few minutes in between. 8km later, I began another 11-hour work day & I was glad to get this out of the way.

    It was difficult by the last km, as it always seems to be at this stage. The best tip I’ve read about speed training says not to worry about getting out of breath – you’re supposed to breathe quickly to get enough oxygen – but the last repeat was tough & I had to do two 500m stints with 30 seconds off in between. Did it, though, & spent the evening in Edinburgh feeling smug.

    still loving the light evenings even if I have to work

    Wednesday: 8 miles easy to work: it rained, but the pace was excellent for an easy run & I was really pleased with how easy it felt.

    Didn’t make it to the gym in the evening, despite intentions. I am really neglecting gym sessions the past couple of weeks & it is annoying. I miss it so much but running has to be prioritised & I can’t do everything.

    Thursday: Had a sports massage at lunchtime so gave the planned 5 miles a miss & went for a light evening gym session instead. Good times, & I felt better than I would have done trying to cram this session into Wednesday evening.

    This gym is still super busy all the time but no one likes the 10kg bars except me – I find snatch/clean reps easier with the thinner bar, but it messes up my weight plate calculations. Also it is slightly too short for the platform unless you’re dead centre, so I am usually that person dropping the bar onto the ground from height and making all the noise.

    Massage was great. I am not a fan of heavy pressure sports massage but I have trained with / been massaged by Paul McArdle for several years now and I trust him to listen to me when I ask for less pressure; in return I listen when he tells me not to run after a massage.

    This is my first sports massage of this training cycle due to lack of time, & it has hopefully made a difference. I’ve booked another one for a few days before the race just to freshen the legs up a bit.

    Friday: 8x400m, 1.5km warm up and cool down, average 2 mins between reps but occasionally longer. It felt challenging but the sense of achievement was worth it.

    Also: race number & final instructions came through! So now it is time to start a family/supporters WhatsApp group so they can all figure out where they need to be.

    all quite real now

    Saturday: 5 miles at a steady pace; back to Victoria parkrun & its wonderful lack of inclines. I was feeling a bit of Thursday gym DOMS but once I’d loosened up on the jog there, the actual parkrun was good & I was pleased with how easy it felt to run at that pace. Averaging 5:33/km but there were some faster kms within that.

    Only 5 miles on the plan today though, so coffee & the bus home afterwards.

    Sunday: third of the 20 miles! The actual 26 miles is gonna be a joy after these. Great company, as ever, and a good route round the southside/deep south suburbs that are definitely not Glasgow. I do enjoy crossing a few county boundaries for a real sense of achievement.

    Never heard of it

    Went for a toilet break in McDonalds about half way in, & thought about chicken McNuggets for the rest of the run. Guess what I am having tonight it was very tempting to stop for a coffee, but I managed to hang on until the end.

    Thinking about pals running Manchester kept me going, too. Good results all round from what I can see but will need a full report later. Holly’s running it again, & I sent all the good vibes.

    IT WON’T BE THE SAME WITHOUT ME BESIDE YOU

    Total miles: 43. Not sure where I lost out on two miles, but meh.

    Nutrition: OK. Less snacking this week, but some days have not been nutritious enough & I am obsessed with trying to fuel properly for the longer runs. 8 miles to work, arriving at breakfast time, remains a bit unpleasant & I absolutely demolished a Pret brioche sausage & egg roll & several coffees as soon as I had finished. On other days, I wondered why I was so grumpy & tired at 3pm before realising I’d only had 3 cups of coffee, a slice of toast and a tangerine since 6am. This may well have been the problem with Friday’s sprints, alongside not enough sleep.

    Mostly good when I’ve made the effort though.

    Feeling: good. Some stressful and busy work days again, & a couple of insomnia/busy work day/not enough food/straight to bed days, but it keeps me out of trouble. The end is in sight, and I can’t wait: I miss my life. Marathon training is tough. Edinburgh is barely even a focus right now – the maintenance plan looks reasonable from this side of marathon #1, but I’m sure I’ll feel differently when I’m in the thick of it.

    Midweek shit news was not great, but long runs are good for thinking & remembering, & there was a lot of that.

    Next week is going to be a bit different for training: I hope I can stick to the plan.

    Week 13

    Guys we are so deep in this plan now, where does the time go

    Genuinely measuring the time in days, now. SCARY.

    Monday: I initially scoffed at rest day because I was still high af after the excellent 20-miler the day before. Packed a gym bag & everything. In the end, work & life admin took up a lot of time & energy so I spent the later part of the evening watching TV under a blanket. I did stretch & foam roll though, which is going to happen EVERY DAY from now on (…)

    Tuesday: 7:00am at the gym for 8x400m sprints and a 1500m warm up/cool down. I wanted consistency here so kept the speed slightly lower than flat out, & each repeat was fine. The speed will therefore increase for the next session & 8-10 reps will be challenging & unpleasant again, hooray.

    New shoes went well tho

    7:00pm was gym for strength training. Enjoyable to just keep things moving, with a light weights full body workout of

    • 4×3 push press
    • 4×5 back squat
    • 4×8 lat pulldown
    • 4×8 RDL

    Plenty stretching too, and some core work. My shoulder is still pulling a bit on the push presses, but we’ll see how that goes. It could well be under-use as my arms and shoulders have been rather neglected in the past few weeks.

    Wednesday: easy 5ish  miles home from work, then straight into the shower &  to the cinema, which wasn’t great for a proper post-run stretch but was enjoyable for sure. Slightly faster than easy due to the time pressure, but hey ho.

    mostly because of this

    The actual run was average; it was very mild weather and I had a jacket on because of a need for pockets, but it was too warm despite the riverside breeze. I started feeling a bit sick which may or may not have been related. Ended up fine though.

    Thursday: Running outside didn’t happen due to work nonsense, so a treadmill 5 miles with steady increases of speed happened instead. Pleased with how it went, but it was dull. Treadmill is good for pace consistency.

    Friday: another rest! Truly I am spoiled.

    (only a rest from running, though. I did go & lift some stuff & stretch for a bit)

    I also went to the pub, drank lime & soda & talked about my training with people who don’t run & feigned interest very well. Marathon training turns you into a difficult friend, for sure.

    I learned that they read this blog though, so HI GUYS YOU’RE AWESOME

    I stayed out longer than intended & was eventually on the vodka instead. It was nice to kick back a bit – in this training cycle I have been mostly not drinking at all because of the training volume. I don’t drink much anyway but it does feel like a proper focused training plan should be completely sober.

    I sent this picture to my best pal for reasons that are not obvious

    Saturday: usual parkrun sandwich, but after two speed sessions this week I swapped a fast Victoria for a steadier Drumchapel. Oh, the hills. 2 minutes off my January time, though. Appreciating the downhills, although that 200m finish sprint feels like about a mile.

    The anticipation is worst

    Afterwards, I celebrated with a doughnut at Tantrum Doughnuts, & a nice walk around the West End.

    Yum

    Sunday: the plan was 12 miles easy, partially with a GFR 5 mile group to Ruchill Park flagpole. Lovely weather again, making the snowy Sundays seem a long time ago.

     My legs were heavy for most of it though, & once I’d stretched & cooled down with the group, sticking it out an extra 4 and a bit miles was not appealing. It was warm & I needed coffee: when I saw two friends sitting outside a cafe & I still had two miles to go, I just stopped immediately. Several flat whites & gossip later, I couldn’t be bothered to slow-jog home either…

    Total miles: 32.5 for the last dropback week. 188 total in March.

    ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY EIGHT MILES

    I am a bit speechless at this, to be honest. It is so many miles, & there are so many more to go, & I am surprised at how my body is handling this. Compared to the last quarter of 2018 it’s a huge jump, but as I’ve noted before it is so much higher compared to this time last year too. I can’t understand how I feel so much better on this volume of running.

    Nutrition: mostly good, if slightly excessive some days. There has been a lot of snacking, & not always the best choices. I am so hungry all the time.

    After Tuesday’s long day & double gym session, I made cheese on toast with a can of beans (with spicy sauce added in…) & a poached egg: yes yes yes.

    *homer simpson noises*

    I noticed a skirt I bought before Xmas feeling a bit roomy on the waist so I jumped on the gym scales & I am 4kgs down from January. I dread to think how much of this is muscle loss, but am already counting the days to being back on the weights & protein.

    Me in a few weeks, perhaps

    I was chatting to a running buddy about supplements last week, & Instagram archives reminded me that I was double-dosing multivitamins this time last year, so I will be doing that again. I am considering electrolyte tablets as I am definitely a bit dehydrated sometimes, despite drinking plenty. It’s fine when I am in the office but when I am out on sites or at meetings I get distracted or drink far too much coffee & forget about the water.

    The meals have been good this week though, even with a couple of meals out.

    Feeling: very well. Achy hips this week, possibly from strength training, but running is good & I am mentally feeling much better. Two rest days this week seemed excessive, which illustrates the relentless grind of marathon training, but both of the days were spent well so there is definitely a benefit.

    Next week is high mileage again & a really long long run, & then it’s magical taper time. I am absolutely pumped to cheer people on for Manchester Marathon too – can’t believe it’s been nearly a year since that brilliant weekend.

    Game changer

    As the early spring marathons start to come along and excited posts about race numbers and final instructions show up, I am getting nostalgic about this time last year. I remember the long runs and the post-training cupcakes and the stress of trying to fit all the running around work and life. It worked out in the end, though, and on 8 April 2018 I ran a brilliant marathon and knocked 26 minutes off my previous time.

    so much cake

    Things I have done in the past at the same time as training for a marathon:

    • Travelled to Florida, where I attempted to go for a run but managed about 400m because the air was like soup
    • Wrote a MSc dissertation
    • Went through a multi-stage application and interview process for a job
    • Tried to fit the long runs around party conferences, leading to terrible early morning running around random cities with politicians

    This time,  I have got fewer distractions – work is good, life is good – and I am sticking to the plan very well and mostly hitting the mileage totals each week. I’m training with a slightly modified version of the Hal Higdon Intermediate 2 plan, adding in two speedwork sessions a week. As I’ve noted in the weekly round-ups, it is a big mileage increase from previous plans and a massive jump from the last few months of 2018, when I was averaging about 35 miles a month. I’ve basically quadrupled that & I’m pleased with how good I feel, but I still need more sleep. It’s going to catch up with me at some point.

    eyebags for days

    I don’t often feel tired, but I don’t go to bed early enough and I usually wake earlier than I need to so the actual sleep hours are pretty low. I get concerned when I read well-meaning articles and advice about getting 8 hours’ sleep a night and genuinely I don’t know where people find the time for that in regular life, let alone alongside heavy training schedules. I got a bit obsessed with sleep last time and it was probably for the best as the night before the marathon is usually a bit restless. I will try for the same this time round.

    At the moment, most of my running buddies are doing a different spring marathon – Manchester, Brighton and London are spread throughout April & we’re all slightly out of sync with each other. Chat often turns to tapering, which is no good if you’re still to do your peak weeks. My training plan is strong on maintaining intensity whilst dropping mileage, so the taper weeks will still involve speed work and five running days a week but it will take less time, which is ace. I am very excited.

    I did look at mileage totals in the pre-planning stages and it seemed like a lot, but the actual weekly totals are still surprising me. I am running so much more than in my last training plans & I really hope the mileage pays off into a race pb, when I’m properly rested & have the race day adrenaline going. Long runs are feeling easier than they used to, & recovery times are a little faster. Overall the volume of running is more manageable.

    I didn’t go over 100 miles in a month in 2018

    I do worry that I’m not doing enough speedwork – hopefully I am, and I’m just panicking needlessly because THAT’S WHAT WE DO AT THIS STAGE. Self-coaching sounded like a great idea until the realisation that a coach is meant to provide positivity and moral support, which I am rubbish at doing for myself.

    I have not always managed to keep up with the strength sessions, which is rubbish. I miss the gym, but running has to be prioritised.

    If in doubt, tea & plan & Broad City

    I’m still not sure whether to stick with a pacer for London. It won’t take my mind off doing the mental mathematics, & I will get a bit stressed if I start to struggle at any point. But it will be good company. I’ve had some great chats during marathons & people who are aiming for the same goal will be good to stick with.

    30 days to go…