Checking in

Over half way now: the spare room still has my weights & stuff in it (“you can’t keep calling it the spare room, Heather…”) & I am enjoying the space before it gets taken up by a cot & a pram & whatever else. Still not sure how to explain it all to the cats.

I have news for you, my friend

People keep asking if I am going to buy a running buggy. I am now an expert on prams* so the answer is yes, probably, when I have replaced the ££££ I have already shelled out on miscellaneous nonsense so far, & figured out how to run again. No point in splashing out until I know whether running will even be an option.

*up until a month ago, I thought a car seat was a carrycot, a carrycot was a pram, & a travel system was a separate thing

It’s also time to slow down a bit. A moderate workout gives serious DOMS, & a couple of days of work travel can ruin me for the rest of the week. I am yawning my head off at 9:30pm even after an average day.

I am enjoying the shopping, although my bank balance disagrees.

what else for a tiny marathoner

So what am I missing?

Fast (ish) running. Natural but frustrating, even though I’ve never been a particularly fast runner. Keeping an eye on my heart rate isn’t always working as it always goes high at a moderate effort (and then recovers really quickly). Running once or twice a week right now, and fitting in Cyclebox once a week or so if I need it. This is enough cardio.

Caffeine. So bad. I have a couple of filter coffees a week & those days are *chef’s kiss* even when they are usually saved for stressful work days.

Sleep. I know it’s a cliche but I didn’t expect the crap sleep to start so soon, it kicked in quite early & was mostly about anxiety & a racing mind. Now it’s more about discomfort, or for NO REASON AT ALL I AM JUST AWAKE AT 3AM. I am good at sleeping on my left side but I must be a thrashy sleeper most of the time: several hours of not moving much can wake me up with a killer ache in my hip & I have to get out of bed to alleviate it. I’m a 6am riser during the week & still quite early at weekends – a marathon training habit that refuses to die – so my sleep is quite diminished. It’s manageable for now because every 10 days or so I have a huge crash & go to bed at 8pm. I think I am now just permanently tired.

Tying my shoes easily. Enough said.

Cheeses. I have ordered & sent back blue cheese dressing several times, because I am stupid. I have also been merrily eating unpasteurised Parmesan until a few days ago because apparently I can’t read either. Christmas will be tough because cheese is a staple. I am going on a proper Brie binge in the new year.

Those are the big things for now, as I approach the six month mark & start to worry about fitting behind the steering wheel.

But yes: still running (slowly, not far), lifting (not heavy, no snatches), spinning (occasionally dropping a sprint) and going out (if I can be home by 10:30). It’s still good.

Week before race week…

& it’s amazing how much better I feel mentally. Physically, I am needing a bit of a rest or a change, & I can’t wait until it’s all over…

Monday: rest day. Not difficult in the lovely sunshine. Did some yoga stretches in the garden, listening to the relaxing sounds of my cat’s enraged howling that another cat had dared to come within 5 metres of the house.

CONSTANT VIGILANCE

Tuesday: still sunny, but headed to the air-conditioned gym for a speed session. Kept the speed a bit more tempo-style & managed 12 reps of 250m, with 60 seconds recovery time & a short warmup and cooldown of about 1km each. Finished off with a bit of strength training, mostly back and arms to give the legs a break.

Wednesday: skipped the easy run again & went for a sports massage, which was niiiiiiice & found all the knots in my right calf that have been slowly improving since London. My calves have usually been fairly reliable so soreness & stiffness mid-race was unusual.

Thursday: 4 miles of speed work, outside when it got a bit cooler. The plan was to run at lunchtime but I was too hungry to only have a light lunch & running by the river can be tough when it’s hot.

It went well, with defined fast & slow kms.

Friday: strength session in the form of pole. Managed to get upside down for a bit, & more gracefully than last time I practiced, but my grip & core strength has deteriorated a bit & shoulder mounts just feel like pain. I’ll get there.

Saturday: was planning Drumchapel parkrun, but with the weather being a bit damp & drizzly, a flatter option seemed better to save my hamstrings. Good solid time on a moderate effort, & a nice steady run there & back covered almost 8 miles.

Sunday: A steady couple of miles with Cyclebox, later in the day than my usual Sunday run. Topped up the miles with another 3 miles on the treadmill, a good tempo pace all the way.

Kelvingrove steps fear

Total miles: 19.5. I hadn’t appreciated how much mileage the easy runs added. Skipping the midweek 6-8 milers, mostly due to time pressures, really brings the total distance down. I’ve replaced with strength sessions, sports massages or general rest, so that’s OK – I see the benefit of miles in the bank during the bulk of the training, but right now is about preventing fatigue.

Nutrition: interesting this week. I’ve been mostly vegetarian (mostly = not checking labels strictly, but all meals have been meat free). No particular reason, but I feel good for it anyway. Had a couple of alcoholic drinks midweek too, something I have been avoiding for the vast majority of the plan except that time at the end of March.

halloumi fries solve everything

Feeling: good. A bit of pain in the right hip, not sure if it’s linked to running as I first started feeling it when sleeping on my right side, but now it aches after running too. Stretching sort of helps but it’s in the soft tissue around the hip bone, not the hip flexor itself, so it does feel a bit weird. Sore to the touch.

Friday’s pole session is still being felt all over my shoulders & triceps, but there’s less core stiffness than last week, so I must be re-learning how to use my core properly rather than relying on momentum & luck.

no fear of heights though

I’m working away for the first half of next week, so rather than trying to squeeze exercise sessions in, I will concentrate on good nutrition & sleep. It’s a shame because I am working in one of my favourite parts of London that has some awesome running routes, but I can’t fit in everything. The kit will come with me, of course, but if it doesn’t happen then I won’t stress.

“Two marathons in a month?”

Yes. London was a bit of an anomaly in the plan.

Headed out this morning for my first ‘proper’ run since London, easing back into a training plan that had me taking a couple of rest days & a couple of recovery runs before hitting the proper miles again. Now LDN’s done & dusted, it’s all about EMF.

more like East Lothian marathon really but

Edinburgh is one of the nearest marathons to me, and despite it being a bit of a boring route and a bit late in the year for a spring marathon, it has a good medal, a good atmosphere & I can sleep in my own bed the night before, which is always a joy. I’ve done the half marathon twice, spectated & supported on a few more, & always had a decent race.

I noticed a few dual or triple marathoners last year on Instagram using the Hal Higdon maintenance plan, as well as getting good feedback from club mates who use these plans. This is why I went for a Higdon plan in the first place, starting from the point of view of more than one marathon and working backwards. There are a range of plans available; four weeks between seems a long time, especially after seeing folk on Instagram running Manchester & Paris/Brighton, or one of these and then London too, but it is not overly regimented & advises intermediate & advanced runners to keep the speedwork up but pay attention to how they feel.

Four weeks between has the speed work kept up twice a week, plus a couple of easy longer distances to remind your body of the long run feels. Set off this morning with the plan to do 10 miles minimum, & 12 if it felt OK.

Ended up as 15.5 because I joined the GFR group catching the train to Balloch, & that’s how long it takes to get back to my house from there. Not ideal as recovery, but the pace was very steady & I was fully prepared to stop earlier if I felt it was needed. The rest of the team are legends & did the full 23 miles back to the city.

It was nice to run the Balloch to Clydebank half marathon route in slightly better weather than last time, & running with company is nice. It struck me that during London I didn’t speak to anyone after the starting pen until the final corner, unlike any other marathon where I have always had company. It maybe had an effect I didn’t realise at the time.

Currently feeling pretty good, but slightly sore after today’s miles. Same quad ache that I had following the marathon, and calf pain has moved into the Achilles’ tendon on one side which is actually quite painful to walk on too, so I will be cautious. This is quite a lot to put my body through & still stay injury-free. Nutrition and sleep remain as important as getting the miles in – & it’s not ideal, as work has been chaotic & I have been skipping lunch, eating doughnuts & staying up too late since London. Getting back on track with a long Sunday run has helped me focus, although I’m typing this with a glass of wine in hand…

Weekly round-up:

Monday: rest, except for a brief saunter to Tower Bridge for a post-marathon medal photo & a slow walk to my London workplace which has SO MANY STAIRS I never noticed this before today. 4 hours on the train home was better than I thought it would be for soreness.

Tuesday: more rest. Some foam rolling, which was sore. A very slow jog as part of coaching GFR, which didn’t feel good at all: probably less than 500m covered in an hour long session but it was always very slow. Legs were achy.

Wednesday: a steady 3 miles before dinner. It felt a bit weird – breathing hard but my heart rate stayed low & Garmin called it ‘unproductive’. Slightly tender calves & quads were not great but this was loosened by running in a way that stretching hadn’t helped with, so that was a nice bonus.

Showcasing some of the ££££ I spent at the expo

Thursday: in the midst of a very busy work day, I managed a 4 mile jaunt up and down the Clyde, at a much improved recovery speed.

Friday: rest day. Went to see Avengers: Endgame, finally. Cried a bit.

Saturday: an easy 5 miles was the plan. Pace was all over the place, my Achilles hurt during & my hip hurt once I stopped. Recovery is weird.

Sunday: 15.5 miles down the River Leven & Forth and Clyde Canal. Point to point is fun for motivation, although on balance I prefer running out & then heading back with a coffee (unless it’s rainy). The chatty group on the train got quieter & quieter as we sped away from Glasgow towards Loch Lomond, realising just how far it is. But weather conditions were perfect & everyone did well.

Total miles: 27.7. Good, with so many rest days. No lifting or cross-training at all.

Nutrition: a few days off track this week. Wasn’t overly hungry on Monday morning, so just snacked all day & then got a takeaway when I arrived home. Didn’t get to the supermarket properly until Wednesday, so this week has been a bit off course & there have been too many poor choices. Back on it by Saturday with roast veg pasta.

Feeling: fine enough. Not too sore on Monday/Tuesday & kept stretching & walking as much as I could. Running fine by Thursday, mildly achy after the long run. Baths & stretching & kino tape required to keep me together.

My left foot is a bit damaged looking. Toenails are useful, I think – the toes without them are struggling. Otherwise all is good.

Higher mileage & higher intensity next week: hopefully I am properly recovered.

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!

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…

    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.

    Week 12

    Ups and downs, physically & mentally, but this week has seen a mileage peak and some good speedy runs as part of that. Didn’t quite split the mileage as the plan specified, but it all evened out by the end of the week.

     

    Monday: Cyclebox for the cross-training day. Legs felt strong & weren’t burning during the cycling, which was good as I was hitting the levels each track. Left shoulder is still a little sore when boxing, which has also happened when shoulder pressing/push pressing/anything involving arms over the head. This niggle moved down my back over the next couple of days & was mostly fine when easy running, but I could feel it a bit when going faster. It seems to have resolved itself but back injuries scare me so I am keeping a close eye on it and stretching a lot.

    Tuesday: 10x400m sprints with 2ish minutes recovery in between and a 1 mile warm up and cool down. Did this on the skillmill as my recovery time can be really variable and I don’t always want to faff around with the treadmill settings. Skillmill solved that, but 45 minutes of me being VERY LOUD in the middle of the gym was probably not ideal for the morning crowd. Worked for me, though, and the sprints were at a good pace.

    Wednesday: Working in London, & the intention had been to hit up London Frontrunners for their Regent’s Park loop, as it’s my favourite run of theirs & my favourite social afterwards. The last few times I’ve been it has been too dark to take in the Primrose Hill views, so I wanted that. But circumstances happened & work was very busy & I would have struggled to fit everything in, so I moved rest day & went for dinner with my dad instead.

    Pumpkin & sage gnocchi: nice work

    I did get stressed again about changing the plan at last minute, but managed my expectations/got over myself quite quickly. Also made sure to turbo-charge rest day by having a very early night. Spending time with my loved ones was awesome too.

    Thursday: 6 miles steady, & the impromptu rest gave me the energy for a bit of fartlek to keep it interesting. Needed the company & good chat of GFR to keep a decent steady pace, & it worked.

    Friday: lovely rest Not a proper rest day, but kept the should-have-been-Wednesday’s 8 miles very easy. Ran home from work, with daylight & podcasts all the way, and I made it home before the rain started AND dinner was ready when I got home.

    enjoying the lighter evenings too

    Saturday: 7 miles, split into 4 miles easy & 3 miles of parkrun at race pace. Pleased with the parkrun time of 25:49 – it felt nicely challenging but not flat out, which bodes well for a sub-25 soon when I am less tired.

    Sunday: The second of three 20 milers in this plan. Last time I did this it was livened up with a race as well as a hailstorm, but I was happy for this effort to be a steady plod and not feel too exhausted by it. Time on the feet is more important.

    Apprehension for this distance sets in quick but the run turned out excellent, mostly because of the company and a good route through the Southside. I’ve not been very adventurous with running routes for various reasons so exploring some different bits of the city is always nice.

    img_0860
    team thumbs up

    Kept a pretty good pace, slightly slower than what I wanted but there was a lot of rain & headwind so I’m knocking off a few minutes for that. Cake at the end, obviously:

    Total miles: 45.6. I definitely have the energy for a 400 yard jog…

    img_0854
    On Sundays we run far

    Nutrition: very good, even when travelling. Made aneffort this week to stay off the trash snacks, & it’s been good – lots of pasta and lots of protein. As always, prep is key.

    I had no resolve when invited to Stack & Still, though I did choose the protein pancakes.

    Exceptional pancakes

    Feeling: good enough. Achy calf, shoulder & back at various stages of pretty much every run, but I stretched lots, slept well (although not always enough hours) & work was so busy that getting out & running was always a relief. Rooted to the sofa binge-watching Fleabag for a couple of evenings was good for resting too.

    I got really down for a while on Wednesday when I wasn’t able to go for my planned run because of travelling for work, but was able to get through it OK. Being away from routine and home in a high mileage week isn’t good, but things improved. Mood swings are a bit too frequent at the moment, & tiredness is probably compounding it.

    With 5 weeks to go, I also got new trainers. A few easy treadmill runs will be necessary to settle these in, but I am fairly brand-loyal & have never had any problems with Brooks.

    IMG_0863

    These are the updated version of my current shoes which have done nearly 500 miles. I like the colour the way these feel so I’m sticking with them. Great service at Run4it, as usual.

    Next week is more speedwork and less mileage again, and fitting in more strength sessions will be good too. Meticulous planning is required.

    Week 9

    Big mileage jump after last week’s chill, and the first of three heavy mileage peak weeks. Various last-minute changes to the planned sessions wasn’t always great, but it’s been a good overall.

    Monday: wattbike & weights, split over two sessions. Wattbike was dull but did 30 mins pedalling with mixed resistance. Weights were upper back & arms focused, hooray.

    Tuesday: 8x400m sprints, 1km wu/cd. 4 miles total. Felt quite good – sprinting at about 13kph, which is sustainable over all the reps. Faster would be good, but I start needing walk breaks between the last few reps so I’d rather get to continuous running first rather than speeding up the faster bits. Improving all the time though.

    Wednesday: easy run home from work, with some looping to get it up to 7 and a half miles. I couldn’t find an extra half mile in my legs or my mind, & I left work later than intended so I was concerned with getting home for dinner anyway. Nice weather made it OK though.

    Thursday: when it all started unravelling a bit. Had intended a 6 miler with GFR, but the following events occurred:

    • Worked through my lunch break & also stayed at work too late to get to the club run, even though I was leading one of the runs
    • Decided to go to the gym on the way home instead
    • Got to gym, started to get changed, realised I only had half a bag of kit with me anyway

    I dealt with this by having a bit of an angry cry going home. Decided dinner was a better idea than trying to force anxiety & stress into a 4 mile late evening jaunt; if the run hadn’t gone well I would have been beside myself with irritation & even closer a sneaky hate spiral, if crying in the gym changing room wasn’t close enough to that anyway.

    The fretting about being a ridiculous excuse for a human only lasted a couple of hours, & I was fine with an impromptu rest day. Work has been stressful and I was quite tired.

    Friday: Ended up as a better day for a quick 4 miles as I had a couple of long train and road journeys and an early start so I was more than ready for it by late afternoon. Managed a good progression, increasing the pace on each mile.

    Saturday: easy 8 miles, then a nice brunch and also a nice lunch because why the hell not. Hit up Absurd Bird for chicken & fries.

    Sunday: 17 miles, & the first time I’ve followed a proper nutrition schedule with regular gels at 6 miles, 10 miles & 14 miles. Also a Lucozade towards the end because I was thirsty. By the last couple of km I was getting achy hips and legs, so I’ll need to keep an eye on form and posture over the next couple of weeks to stop this from getting any worse.

    Total miles: 41. 136 total in February, which is the most mileage in one month EVER.

    Nutrition: fairly good. Thai curry, scrambled eggs, aubergine & grilled chicken all featured, as well as spicy overload at AbsurdBird. On a couple of the busy work days, I mostly had biscuits and coffee, which isn’t great but I do prefer running on an empty stomach over a full one and 4 miles is fine to do on just caffeine (NB this is not official coaching advice, do not do this)

    Getting back into overnight oats rather than porridge now the weather’s a bit milder. Still eating too much frozen fruit.

    Yum

    I really fancied Supernoodles after the long run, so that also happened. Made up for it with real food later.

    Feeling: Physically, fine. Plenty of stretching time and plenty of quality sleep. Getting to the stage where I’m more than happy to go to bed at 10pm. Not enough foam rolling, because I haaaaate it I keep forgetting about it and need to keep the rollers in the living room to remind me they exist.

    Mentally, not so fine. Thursday was particularly not good: after being at work 8-6 and the entire day being really stressful, I was quite looking forward to a run, but getting annoyed with myself for firstly missing the club run and secondly not even having a full set of kit with me put me in a really shit mood. Friday was almost the same until I actually got out running, because I’d spent the day driving around with only half a mind on work, then when I finally got back to the office after 4pm there was still loads to do and I had to make a decision to leave things unfinished and put my trainers on instead. The run itself was fine enough, but I am prone to negative thought patterns and I spent most of the run worrying about work, and then an hour afterwards worrying about the run, & then more worrying about how stupid I was to have forgotten my kit the previous day, plus work, along with several other uncontrollable aspects of my life at the moment. I am starting to recognise what I need to do to get out of these thought patterns and stop them from getting too catastrophic, but it’s not always that easy.

    I’m glad the weekend miles went well. The longer runs are easier because I’m not under (much) time pressure with them. The midweek speed sessions, never more than 5 miles, are sometimes stressful because I am trying to fit them around the working day. I haven’t managed a lunchtime session for a couple of weeks due to other commitments, but the double benefit of getting the miles done and making sure I have time away from my desk during the day is really important.

    With only 55 days to go until the first marathon, I’m heading into the next peak week keen to stay injury-free. I have another race coming up  but if I’m not feeling the pace on the day, I’ll certainly be taking it steady. The medal will still be there at the end.

    February miles: game changer.

    Week six: training stage 2

    T-12 to London. This week’s been… OK.

    Monday: a nice enough strength day. Not great, as the gym is still far too busy & I was stepping over people trying to get set up in a corner with my barbell. But the moves were all fine & I finished up with a gentle 30 mins on the bike. Nice for the legs but indoor cycling is still boring unless it’s Cyclebox.

    Boxing boots, giving the running shoes a rest

    Tuesday: 4 miles of speed work. I had talked myself into making the step outside for this – there is a 400m Strava segment near my house that I have been keeping an eye on my time over for a while now. The heavy rain was off-putting, but I warmed up for 10 minutes before finally using my Garmin to nearer its full capability by running the segment hill 5 times & jogging back the long way, about 700m & flat/downhill.

    I enjoyed it more than I thought I would, despite the rain & forgetting to lap one of the repeats & messing up the stats. I took my head torch, which came in handy, but my reps got slower, which is something to work on in the future. Outdoor speed work is now definitely something I’ll make time for, as I only need 15 seconds off the time for the segment QOM. Currently 4th fastest.

    Forgot to split lap 3 like a twat

    Wednesday: strength session, finished with an easy 7 miles. Strength training is still working well for me at the moment, but I will be cutting the weight soon as the weekly mileage increases more and focusing on volume & leg strength.

    The run was meh. It felt easy, but was dull. The books / blogs say you should finish an easy run raring to go again, and I wasn’t quite there, but that was probably more mental than physical.

    Thursday: 4 miles tempo. Planned my usual lunchtime route, but work was busy & I didn’t feel like pushing myself after a not-so-good night’s sleep, so I left it to the treadmill to set the pace properly but even that worked less well than I thought. Too hot, tired, and still sore from Wednesday’s strength session meant I was not able to push past the can’t-be-bothered feeling and ended up resenting most of the 4 miles. Even had a couple of walk breaks.

    Friday: rest, praise be. Made some pretty epic beef rendang & had a glass of wine. I don’t drink much, but spicy food does call for a good wine or beer. Stretched and foam rolled everything & watched a lot of Netflix.

    Curry, cat, & Brooklyn 99

    Saturday: parkrun, with a 6km slow warm up. Feeling a bit better this week and managed a decent enough parkrun effort of just over 27 minutes, after keeping the rest of the run super easy. Blaming the relative slowness on the harsh winds of Storm Erik, as running in the headwind was unpleasant.

    Sunday: 15 miles easy. Hooked up with Frontrunners for some of it; it’s great to be able to attend club runs even though my pace & distance doesn’t match the club runs very well at the moment.

    Gorgeous day for it

    I didn’t really feel into it at the beginning, but had a new podcast on & the first 8 miles flew by with that. Middle five miles with GFR, then was chatting about distance & route at the end with someone who said I might as well run home. So I did.

    The best part is I felt like I could have kept going. Really trying hard to keep the easy runs to an easy effort, & did well with that.

    Total miles: 38 – slightly more than intended. I really have to get better at sticking to the planned distance… an extra half mile on almost every session is adding up.

    Nutrition: very good, mostly. Felt like I needed a bit of a soft reset so have been on the fruit & veg constantly, but also went out for a lovely meal with a friend midweek and had pad Thai, cheesecake and a beer. Everything in moderation, even though I could cheerfully eat pad Thai every day.

    Some comments this week at work about how much I eat for lunch/is that healthy?/I can’t believe how much oil you put on your food/how long does that take to make?

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    Chicken, aubergine, courgette, peppers, broccoli
    • It’s not that much (rice not pictured, but it’s still not that much)
    • Yes, it’s healthy
    • Olive oil is good for your brain
    • Leftovers are your friend

    Honestly, this is from people who don’t eat breakfast, eat a Cup-A-Soup or a crappy supermarket sandwich for lunch & wonder why they’re in the biscuits at 3pm. Eat some protein, I beg you. I know that people have busy lives, different priorities, varying finances etc but really.

    Feeling: pretty good. Committed to training consistently this week & it has helped my sleep & my mental health a lot, even though the actual training hasn’t always been great. I don’t need to work 8-6 every day & I should not feel guilty about taking an hour to run or go to the gym, especially on the days when work is stressful. Working in a busy communications/press office is not good for work-life balance, but it’s always necessary to have some time & head space away, despite everything seeming to kick off as soon as I step away from my desk.

    A switch up in my strength training midweek gave me some quite long lasting lower back DOMS, and I have a bit of calf strain which isn’t great but I am stretching all the time. Also foam rolling & using this slightly suspect looking massage ball:

    torture device

    Week 7 sees more of the same, with just one more mile on the long run. I’ll try not to wimp out of a threshold run this week: 4 miles shouldn’t be such a trial. I’m mixing up the days too due to other commitments at the weekend.