I won Snowdon Marathon

I run a lot, but I live in the Cambridgeshire fens so hills and mountains don’t feature strongly in my training. That said I won Snowdon Marathon on Saturday in a time of 3hrs8mins and I am over the moon.

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This was my 3rd marathon and my 4th time running in the beautiful Snowdon and I enjoyed every minute of it. I travelled to Llanberis on Friday with my hubby Ian and we stayed in the stunning Seont Manor hotel (I highly recommend it!). We settled into the hotel after the 5 hour drive and made our way to dinner at 7pm. We were pleasantly surprised by the restaurant, it was fine dining at its poshest – not my usual pre-race meal of pasta and chicken. I felt like I was holiday rather than facing a tough race the next day. As the waiter arrived and took our order, we decided to have some wine (they say don’t change your usual routine pre-race and wine featured strongly throughout the training J). Next the waiter approached the table near us and asked if they wanted wine – they replied ‘no’ as they were going for a walk the next day – a walk? No wine for a walk?? Ian and I had a good giggle about this as I sipped on my glass of wine, talking my plans for the race.

The next morning we woke to rain, heavy rain. I can’t say I felt optimistic about the race, I could have easily stayed in the restaurant drinking more tea rather than getting out to run around a mountain in the wind and rain!! I had the loveliest bowl of porridge and toast – I don’t suffer from nerves in the morning, I don’t think my body can be bothered with nerves, I tend to be very relaxed but thoughtful until I get on the start line and then the adrenaline hits.

Deciding what to wear was tricky, I wanted to be warm, but not too warm, and fully covered with my sponsor Merrell’s logo so I decided to wrap a Merrell snood on my head and wear long compression socks.

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Arriving at the start line was very exciting and nerve wracking, I saw the lady who had won last year Andrea Rowlands and knew she would be my biggest competitor, unless any other secret speedsters turned up. If I’m honest I was there to win. The day before I tried to tell myself to just enjoy the race rather than trying to win, but I really wanted to win.

Before the gun went off, I had a few words with myself for motivation and settled on ‘run strong, run brave and run happy’. This might seem obvious but when the adrenaline is pumping, its sometimes hard to focus on what you really want to achieve. These words became my goal, I wanted very much to enjoy it and I would need to be brave to maintain a good pace, on my own for 3 or so hours. I also decided I wanted my average pace to be between 6.5min/mile and 7min/mile allowing for ups and downs. In reality I had no clue how the ascents would make me feel – I’m no fell runner and a road runner through and through, but I love the mountains.

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As the race started I stayed behind Andrea but felt held back by the pace and so pushed on and overtook her within half a mile. I didn’t particularly want to get into first position, I felt that would be showing my cards too early. I did want to run comfortably though and at that pace I felt too slow. So my first point of bravery was tested and I reminded myself that I had decided I would run strong, brave and happy. As the first mile beeped on my watch I saw 6mins 4secs – eeeeeekkkkkkk too quick stay calm!!! I knew not to worry but that mile had been too quick, I needed to slow down – which I did.

Mile 1 – 6mins 4secs – eek

Mile 2 – 6mins 32secs – perfect

Mile 3 – 7mins 13secs – blah hill

Mile 4 – 7mins 51secs – blinking hill!

Mile 5 – 7mins 58secs – I want to stop now

At around mile 4 I’d had enough to be honest. The hill was rising and I wondered if I could finish the race, let alone maintain first position. This was the only time in the race I felt like this and it was all down to the steep ascent. I plugged on. At this point a cameraman on the back of a motorbike appeared at my side. He asked me if I was first lady, I hesitated to say yes as I didn’t really want him there, the fumes from the motorbike were making me feel sick and a camera in my face was a strange experience. Being filmed makes you question if you’re dribbling and how smoothly you are running. It also says to you, ‘you’re first, don’t slow down otherwise you’re going to look silly having set off so quick!’.

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As the top of the hill finally appeared and the descent began I felt euphoric – honestly I felt amazing! Spectators were starting to shout first lady and although I didn’t let myself think about a win I loved going speedily down the hill for a good couple of miles. At this point I knew this race was mine. I knew I could run strong, brave and I was certainly happy. I felt like I was on a trampoline bouncing around the gorgeous countryside. I didn’t care about the rain.

Mile 6 – 5mins 53secs – thankyou downhill you’re the best!

Mile 7 – 5mins 57secs – did someone say hold back? No thanks I’m going for it

Mile 8 – 6mins 29secs – perfect

Mile 9 – 6mins 29secs – perfect

Mile 10 – 6mins 26 – bit quick for now but ok – took a gel

Mile 11 – 6mins 44secs – perfect

Mile 12 – 6mins 42secs – perfect

Mile 13 – 6mins 34secs – perfect

The next few miles were great, I spoke to some fellow runners, one of which had completed the race in 3hrs3mins last year so I knew I was holding a decent pace. We chatted and discussed the upcoming hills while the camera filmed us almost constantly. We went through pretty villages with amazing crowds. I tried to put my thumbs up to anyone cheering but my hands were frozen and didn’t move as much as I wanted them to. All the while I kept counting down the miles, right from the first mile I told myself ‘only 25miles to go, only 24miles to go’ etc. It kept me focussed and kept me positive. I remember at mile 14, when we started a horror climb on tired legs that I only had 12 miles to go, and that was ok wasn’t it? I imagined all the 12 mile training runs I did and pictured how short and easy my training runs were.

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When I run I try to do the following:-

– Belittle the race by breaking it down into chunks. For this race the chunks were 3 big hills

– Keep positive and tell myself I’m doing well and feeling good (might seem big headed but if you tell yourself you are good you will be good).

– Remind myself that any slight twinge/ache/tired feeling will go away. I once asked my great running friend Ruth Jones for a tip – she told me ‘some bits will be hard but then it will feel easier’. Its always helped me and its true, sometimes you feel rubbish (hills) sometimes you feel great, so don’t worry about the hard bits.

– Picture the finish and write this blog in my head.

Mile 14 – 7mins 43secs – blinking hill

Mile 15 – 8mins 12secs – killer hill wheres the top??

Mile 16 – 7mins 13secs – getting there

Mile 17 – 6mins 36secs – bliss! Took a gel

Miles 16 to 22 are a complete blur. I know that my legs went completed numb, because of the rain and cold. I thought my shorts had ridden all the way but as I went to push them down (cameras darling lets not show ourselves up J!) I realised my shorts were in the same position I just couldn’t feel them – weird! I forced myself not to worry about the hill at mile 22. I actually wasn’t sure where the hill was but I’d heard everyone say it was bad – walkable bad – yikes.

Mile 18 – 7mins – perfect

Mile 19 – 6mins 55secs – perfect

Mile 20 – 6mins 53secs – perfect

Mile 21 – 6mins 56secs – You’re getting there

Mile 22 – 7mins 31secs – horror hill!

Mile 23 – 9mins 33secs – I mean horrific!

Mile 24 – 9mins 40 secs – dying

Mile 25 – 8mins 9secs – treacherous descent but lovely!

Mile 26 – 7mins 47secs – I should have gone quicker

When it came I was shattered, my breathing was all over the place as I climbed up on tired legs. When I reached the top I was ecstatic, I knew I had to hold my position through a steep downhill section all the way into Llanberis where I would see Ian. The downhill was tough though, my legs were tired and I used all my power to concentrate on staying upright over wet grass and rocks. It was impossible to relax but as I saw Ian’s lovely face at mile 25 I let myself believe I might win. I shouted a quick ‘I love you’ to my lovely Ian and went on.

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Once on tarmac I knew this race was mine. I hadn’t killed myself with my first mile (phew) and a quick glance behind me showed no other women. I came round the last corner to the loudest cheers I have ever heard – I cried, I smiled, I cried, I smiled and I enjoyed the feeling of winning after running a positive race. As I crossed the finish line I stopped, wondering what to do with myself and feeling euphoric. With cameras right in front of me my marathon brain decided some Tigger jumps would be the best thing to do!!

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It’s not all about winning its about doing all you can to achieve your goals, mine were to run strong, run brave and run happy.

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(wo)Man vs Mountain – Year 3

Running (wo)Man vs Mountain again is like giving birth to your second child. You know it’s going to be tough, you will do lots of heavy breathing, your body will hurt all over but when you’ve finished, the result will be amazing! Ok ok, so running is nowhere near as painful as giving birth, both my labours with my boys were hard, if I mention forceps I’m sure a few of you will wince in sympathy and understanding. BUT, despite the pain of running up a mountain, the reward of reaching Snowdon’s summit and completing the 20(or so)miles of stunningness is well worth it! Trust me, I’ve done this 3 times now – crazy lady!

I hadn’t planned to race (wo)Man vs Mountain on Saturday, in fact just last Monday I was sunning myself by a Portuguese pool with my family.

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It wasn’t until Wednesday that I was offered the chance to do the race. Maybe that helped, as I didn’t have time to worry about whether I was fit enough, strong enough, nourished enough – blah blah blah, all those worries that go through your mind for at least a month pre-race. I was thrown in at the deep end and that was exciting.

My pre-race carb loading took place the day before (usually I would spend a couple of days munching extra carbs – any excuse) and this is what I ate (everyone loves a good food diary!):-

Breakfast – porridge, greek yoghurt and fruit – oh and my boy’s left over toast (its not stealing, its carb loading – fact!)

Snack – apple and rice cakes

Lunch – egg and chicken sandwich on yummy seeded bread, banana and greek yoghurt

Snack – nuts and seeds

Dinner – chicken and jacket potato with coleslaw and salad

Midnightish feast – 3 slices of malt (yum) loaf and some jelly babies may have sneaked in while I was sorting my bag.

I stayed in Tadwyrst, don’t ask me how you say that but it was 10miles from the start in Caernarfon and aside from the overfamiliarity of staying in a b&b it was good. I registered in Llanberis at 7:30pm on Friday night along with lots of others, like me who had dragged out a bladder pack, dusty first aid kit and survival blanket from under the bed. I held my breath hoping my kit was ok, ain’t no 24hour Tesco in rural Llanberis to top up your supplies! Luckily the nice man smiled and waved me through after I had shown him the contents of my bag – phew – 1st Rat Race obstacle conquered. If you’re planning on doing the race, don’t assume they won’t check and actually if you don’t take the mandatory kit, more fool you – you’re climbing a mountain!

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I slept really well after my malt loaf in bed treat –carb loading is fun! I woke at 5:30am so that I could fuel properly – aka stuff my face with cereal, toast and enough coffee to rocket me up Snowdon. I parked and got into the castle around 7:10am ready for the 8am start. It wasn’t until then that I felt nervous but it’s both awe inspiring and daunting to stand inside the grounds of a fabulous castle waiting to run up a mountain – not an everyday experience!

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The atmosphere at the races is fantastic, it is by far my favourite favourite race. I love the scenery, the mixture of terrain from tarmac to marshland to rocky path, not mention the huge variation in elevation from ‘ooh this is flat like a little 10k race’ to ‘flippin’ eck I can only run 10 steps before walking’ to ‘if I push down on my knees with my hands that will help me scale the mountain like a goat’ and then ‘whoahhhh legs, stop me going too quick down this mountain‘.

I started the race in my usual spirit, at the front where I aimed to stay. Rat Race don’t necessarily promote competitiveness, and I like the fact they don’t, but for me if I’m running with lots of people I want to do well and that means as close to 1st lady as poss. If you cut me in half you would read ‘competitive and mainly fuelled by jelly babies’. I don’t worry about anything pre- race other than having jelly babies as close to my mouth as possible and having plenty of fluid. Gels don’t do it for me. I only take them in races where I can’t eat solids, otherwise its cereal bars and jelly babies.

The route started round Caernarfon castle where I fell in line behind the first few men and established a good running speed for me – 7min/mile. After around 3miles we started to climb a little but nothing dramatic. I eased myself into the race and relaxed into the experience rather than worrying about the fact I would need to run 20miles. Taking the race in chunks seems to suit me, I think of it as a little 10k at first, easy enough to run (which is my forte), then a bit of running up some hills until mile 10. After that it’s a run/walk until mile 12 when you are mainly walking – unless you are in fact a mountain goat – highly handy if you are. I plan my fuelling as I go, in the case of (wo)MvsM that is fluid at 5miles, jelly babies at 10miles and a cereal bar at 12miles . This is tried and tested for me (I couldn’t recommend it to everyone as we’re all different) I don’t like to eat too much when I run but I am also aware that I need fuel for the last few miles to avoid bonking.

When my Garmin beeped for mile 5 I was actually going uphill and therefore not wanting to drink but as soon as I hit the flat I took a few sips. I then consistently had 2-3 sips at around half mile intervals. Mile 6 was tough, our first steep part up a road, but by the time we got to mile 8 I was feeling good and started to chatting to a Dan – a friendly fellow competitor. I was in 6th position overall at that point, not that I realised as the first few men had disappeared ahead. By mile 12 I was walking more than running as we climbed the stunning Snowdon, I knew the summit was around 14miles and I clung to the fact that the race would become much easier once I had climbed the tough bit. I looked down several times to see the most beautiful scenery below – the weather was clear and sunny which made my way to the top easier. Once I reached the top a quick look over the summit was enough for me and my competitive spirit and so I made my way down.

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Descending is my favourite part. In fact its almost the entire reason for going to the top – so that I can run down! Its not quite as easy as letting yourself go, it takes a great deal of focus to stay on your feet and I am not as brave as others at letting myself go. At this point my legs felt much better than in previous years but around half way down I lost my footing for a second and this resulted in a dramatic fall and commando sideward roll down the mountain path. I landed at the feet of a group of 5 male walkers who shouted out in shock. They helped me up and asked me if I was ok – my knees hurt and I was shaking like a leaf but I was fine, so after mentioning the fact that they should have got it on camera so that we could send it to You’ve Been Framed I started running again – hoping my knees would be ok. And they were. The descent didn’t disappoint, walkers cheered me on by telling me I was first lady and I rewarded them with high 5’s – I made it my mission to high 5 as many people as I could during the 4 mile decent.

At the bottom I dropped my bag and knew that my worst bit was coming up – the 1km yeouch vertical bone aching ascent. When you have already climbed Snowdon and are 18 miles into a race, climbing up a mountain for 1km is frankly bonkers. But that’s why I love Rat Race – they’re bonkers and fun and don’t take themselves seriously! I walked up the climb using screaming legs and lungs and as I did I counted to 50 repeatedly to focus my mind on something – and eventually I got to the top. Running back down was a relief and I knew then that the hardest bit was over and I was going to have some fun. Soon enough I got to the abseil where a crowd of angel marshalls sorted me out with a harness and helmet. LOVED the abseil, it was daunting at first to move from running to suddenly manipulating my body down a bridge but a great feeling to be weightless on a rope.

Next came the jump into the quarry. I ran up to the obstacle to the amazing cheers from a group of spectators shouting ‘first lady’. The jump and subsequent landing in chilly water was exhilarating and I ended up running out of the water shouting ‘wow that was amazing’ repeatedly like a crazy wet lady!! 3 more water obstacles followed but none as good as the jump into the quarry. At the last water obstacle I was cheered out of the water and then faced the final challenge to get over 3 high walls. Luckily a kind spectator gave me a leg up as I would never have managed to haul myself up. On the second wall I helped a fellow competitor get over, hoping someone would help me too, which they did – I then landed on my backside – so glam!

Coming over the line as first lady and 20th overall was fantastic – it felt like an amazing achievement and one I will repeat year after year if my body allows! Oh and the soup….simply delicious!

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Once I had warmed up a bit I spoke to my amazing, supportive husband and boys who has stayed at home in case I rang. Love them J

What did I wear?

    • Merrell All Out Rush trainers – they are fairly lightweight, very comfy and sturdy enough across all terrains. During the race I never felt unsteady in them.
    • Rat Race t-shirt and thin long sleeve top – although by the second mile I was v hot. I had a jacket in my bag, that remained in my bag.
    • Full length running leggings, although ¾ lengths would have been better on that day.

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My tips for a successful race are:-

  • Take the race seriously in terms of kit but have fun and help others. Even a quick chat can help other competitors during the tough bits. Having a laugh while doing these crazy races makes it all worthwhile – after all we do this for fun don’t we!
  • Don’t worry about the whole thing. What I mean is, relax and don’t think about running for 20miles, take it in chunks ie another 2 miles to a checkpoint where you can eat and drink, or 1 mile to the summit before you can start running down. Belittling distances is how speedy athletes keep mentally strong throughout a race.
  • Be positive, even if its artificial. Sometimes I feel rubbish but I tell myself I’m feeling good and doing well, mental positivity makes you physically stronger, after all your body will only do what your mind allows.
  • Enjoy the crowd. If people are cheering for you, say thank-you/put your thumbs up/smile – not only are you thanking them but you’re helping the competitors behind as the spectators will be more likely to cheer for them too.
  • Don’t be daunted and do it again!

Cycling to a Beat!

A rare day off from training clients today, so I set myself a challenge! To cycle 32miles with my heart rate remaining above 130bpm (that’s 70% of my maximum heart rate). For anyone who has read my article on Heart Rate Zone Training in Trail Running magazine you will know that this is the ‘Aerobic Training Zone’ – ‘running at this level is perfect for improving cardio-vascular fitness and increasing the size and strength of the heart and increasing lung capacity’

Basically if you keep your heart rate at this level you will get fitter and stronger and, over time, faster!

I wanted to see if I could maintain this level over a fair distance while still feeling comfortable. The aim of this is to test how my body feels when working quite hard for a couple of hours. If I can do this in training it will help me in racing.

Keeping my heart rate high was easy at first. The shock of starting to cycle was enough to cause my heart rate to rise- especially as I started uphill! In fact keeping my heart rate under 90% of my MHR became my biggest challenge for a while.

Going downhill was a bit trickier, as soon as I started to descend the number quickly reduced from 130bpm to 85bpm. I had to spin my little legs as fast as they would go to keep the rate high enough.

What I found was:-

1) The time went really quickly as I concentrated on nothing but keeping my heart rate high enough.

2) I felt comfortable cycling at speed – I maintained a decent average of 20mph which is pretty fast for me. I normally train at around 17mph.

3) I saved time.

4) I enjoyed the focus this challenge gave me. Instead of thinking about speed or distance I had a different aim – which was a welcome change.

I wouldn’t do this more than once a week. I’m a competitive being but cycling is also about enjoyment for me. Getting to places in half the time it takes to run and enjoying the views is what gets me out the door. But for pure speed and experimental purposes I loved this training session and would recommend it if you want to challenge yourself.

 

Fancy having a go? You’ll need some kind of heart rate monitor, either a watch and heart strap or by using an app on your phone. Next find your Maximum Heart Rate (220 minus your age), work out your percentages and off you can go.

 

Alternatively why not do some speed work, for example 1 minute at 90% of your MHR followed by 1 minute at 60% – repeat this 20 times and you’ll be ready for your protein recovery shake!!!

 

My fab new trainers from Merrell – ‘All Out Rush’!

                                                              
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Big thumbs up to Merrell for the ‘All out Rush’ trainers, what an outstanding pair of trainers!
As an all terrain runner, meaning that I generally start on tarmac and end up on country trails, I need an all round shoe that can cope with diverse surfaces. These trainers are light enough that they don’t feel like heavy trail running shoes but grippy enough underfoot that they keep you stable on uneven ground.
When I first put them on I was impressed but slightly dubious about the amount of room around my toes. I thought they would feel stiff and not support my foot enough. I needn’t have worried though, the space around my toes and the low rise around my ankle made it feel like running on marshmallows, and who could resist that!
The shoes are light, with a curve at the back and at the front, making it feel like you can run faster as you lift your foot off the ground more smoothly. The fabric on the top of the foot feels comfy but supportive.
After years wearing minimalist shoes on the road and heavy shoes on the trails I now have a lightweight shoe that lets me run where I want – brilliant!

European Triathlon Championships – My Race

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 I have just come back from competing for GB in my Age Group at the European Triathlon Championships in the breath-taking Kitzbuhel, Austria. What an experience!

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Having qualified in second position at the Newbiggin’ Sprint Triathlon last September I spent 9 months looking forward to, and preparing for this event. Although my training for Triathlon took a slight pause through the winter due to my London Marathon training, I still kept up my cycling. As soon as the London Marathon was done I was back in the pool and out on my bike, relieved to drop the 70mile running weeks down to just 25miles.

I ran 3hrs5mins at the marathon, not bad for my first one, and not bad for such a hot day! I can’t say I enjoyed it as much as I thought I would, nerves seemed to take over as well as sheer knackeredness from the distance!

My coach Dave sent me my Triathlon training plan the week after the marathon, yeah thanks for that Dave, no rest for the wicked! I threw myself wholeheartedly into training, glad of the change of direction from purely running. That was until week 3 of my training when brick sessions being triple brick sessions, ie 20mins cycling, 10mins running, 20mins cycling, 10mins running, 20mins running, 10mins running – lie down and die!

Single leg drills on the bike, lots of speed running and long swim sessions helped to get me back on the Triathlon track. My first event this year was Nottingham Sprint Triathlon, run by OneStepBeyond. This is my favourite Triathlon event, due to the course being so fast and so competitive. I did my fastest ever Sprint Triathlon in 1hr8mins, having averaged 21.5mph on the bike section and 6mins/mile on the run. Like I say it’s a fast course, and that makes it so exhilarating!

In the build-up to the Europeans I felt quite relaxed, apart from a few post marathon chest infections I had completed all the training Dave had given me. As well as setting up my own Personal Training business it was a very busy time but I loved it. For me training for events is the most enjoyable part.

My family, aka Team Pom Pom (Ian, hubby, Joel 7yrs and Ollie 5yrs) and I flew by Ryan Air from Stansted to Salzsburg where my Dad picked us up from the airport. Mum and Dad drove through France and Austria with my bike and triathlon gear (I know I’m a very lucky girl). We all stayed together in a typical Austrian chalet – just idyllic and such a giggle!

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The 2 days prior to the Triathlon were spent attending briefings, parading through Kitzbuhel centre as part of the GB team and getting my bike into the Transition area. Pre -race days are not the most relaxing or enjoyable. You spend your time worrying about the race and trying hard to relax (and eat/drink the right things!). Having my family there however was invaluable, Mum and Dad babysat for us while Ian and I reccied the bike course and Ian helped me relax by reminding me that I just had to do my best.

On the morning of the Triathlon I was itching to get going. My lovely Dad got up at 6am to drive me to Transition so that I could set up my equipment before then driving home so we could have breakfast. I then returned to the race start at 9am where I performed my warm up and squeezed myself into my wetsuit.

For me the swim through lake Schwarzee felt very hard as I struggled to relax and find a rhythm. I was hugely relieved when the swim was over and I was able to get on my lovely Canyon bike. The bike course was superb, up and down the beautiful mountains surrounding Kitzbuhel I felt strong and was able to do most of my overtaking going uphill. I never realised I was a good uphill cyclist! Coming down the mountains was a bit hairy due to the rain and tight turns but I felt exhilarated throughout.

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Running is where I do well in Triathlons, it’s the last discipline therefore the one where doing well is a major advantage. Despite a stitch crossing my diaphragm for the whole run section I was able to overtake several girls. One german girl shouted ‘super’ to me as I ran by her which I thought was lovely.

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 I finished in a very respectable 12th place. For my first European race for GB I feel very proud of my achievements and so grateful that I got to share this experience with my lovely family. I am one happy Triathlete, and already planning and of course training for next year’s GB racing!!

 

London marathon in full swing!!

Marathon training is now well under way as I prepare for the London Marathon in April. I’m actually quite scared by the amount of miles I am going to have to run in the next 12 weeks!!!

I am also trying to fit in enough swimming and cycling that my Triathlon training doesn’t slip pre the European Championships in Kitzbuhel in June. Its going to be a busy few months!

My first challenge is to run 17 miles tomorrow, luckily it will be less windy than it has been lately but its still long bleurgh! To help me on my way I have downloaded Chrissie Wellington’s Audiobook on my iphone, if the greatest female Ironman winner can’t motivate me I’m in trouble!

My plan is to run 7.5min/mile and enjoy it 🙂 

Here are pics from my race last Sunday where I achieved 4th position and qualified to race for Cambridgeshire County. It was a boggy slightly hilly 5.8km course, great for strength training, I finished it in 21:55.

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 That’s me looking at my garmin!

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Am I nearly smiling at the start??

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This is my week’s training:-

Monday – 4.5miles run, 20miles cycle

Tuesday – 4miles run

Wednesday – 6 miles lunch run and evening swim (30mins hard)

Thursday – 11miles @7min/mile run

Friday – Easy 4.5miles to prepare for tomorrows’s 17mile run

Sunday – 9miles including a 5mile race (if my legs are ok :-))

 

I found a great blog this week by a running girl in the US, it made for great reading:-

 

http://www.hungryrunnergirl.com

London Marathon Training- here we go!

My 20 week Marathon Training started a coupl of weeks ago with a 6 mile run at 7min/mile pace. I found this run really hard, mainly due to a busy weekend of cycling and running and playing with my 2 boys!! 

Thankfully I was back on track for the remainder of the week’s training and felt much better by Tuesday.

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

6miles   @ 7min/mile

3×1   mile efforts @5:48/mile

5.5miles   @ 7min/mile

9miles   @ 7:11/mile

4.5miles@   7min/mile

Running   Rest – 16miles cycling

2miles@7.5min/mile   – race 10miles @ 6:15/mile – 2miles @ 8min/mile

 

In terms of marathon training, the 10 mile race on Sunday was a little too hard too soon but it definitely gave me confidence that I can run fast and maintain a good speed. My race pacing was not the best, I completed my first mile in 5:55 which is way too quick for me. I always start quite quick but need to learn to hold back and run more evenly. My miles ended ranged from 5:55 to 6:19, giving me an average of 6:15/mile. I’m really pleased with that, as I was planning to make 6:15/mile over a longer distance my New Years Resolution for 2014!! I may have to reconsider my NYR!

 

The race took place in Peterborough, 2 laps of a 5 mile flat course through a housing estate and woods. I was behind the leading lady in the first mile and much too close to her for my ability. I knew I was going too fast as she can run under 6min/mile over long distances (and I really can’t!!!!!). I tried not to panic when I saw 5:55/mile on my watch and focussed instead on keeping a good pace and not worrying that my fast 1st mile might affect me later in the race. I ran with a small group of men and we maintained around 6:15/mile for the first lap. I knew I was second lady for the first 5 miles but it wasn’t until I hit a bend and saw the 3rd lady just behind me that I realised how close I was to 3rd position. I decided at 5miles that I would start to make the next few miles count. I didn’t want to waste the speed from the first few miles by letting her overtake me 3 miles from the end! And I wanted to avoid the gut wrenching sprint finish. So I upped my pace and gradually pushed away from her. The next time I hit the bend, where I had previously seen her she was no longer there. At that point I knew I had run a good race, I had speeded up in the second half and avoided the sprint finish, I knuckled down in the last half a mile and got my time to 62:39 which was around 4mins quicker than last year.

 

My thought process throughout the race was, relax, you’re second, keep up the cadence and enjoy. I had my imaginary friend next to me and thought about what I would say to motivate her (its crazy but it helps keep me motivated!!).

 

A great race and a great confidence booster for my winter marathon training. My week ahead is as follows:-

 

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

REST   COMPLETELY 🙂

6x800s

5miles

9miles

8/9   hills @ 5/10k pace

 

Running   Rest – 16miles cycle

8miles   – 5miles cross country race with 3miles warm up/cool down

 

I have found the found article on Advanced Progressive Fast-Finish Long Run and will try and incorporate it into my training as I get nearer to the Marathon to try and teach my legs to keep up a good pace throughout the whole race.

 

Advanced Progressive Fast-Finish Long Run

The fast-finish long run is a great weapon to have in your marathon toolbox. However, if you’ve been training a long time and need that extra push, you need to increase the stimulus and take this long run to the next level.

That’s where the progressive long run comes in. For this example, we’ll use a distance of 22 miles.

  • The 22-mile progressive,      fast-finish long run starts with 3 miles at an easy pace. This gets your      body warmed up and your blood pumping.
  • From miles 4 through 12 (8      miles) you’ll target a pace that is 5 percent slower than goal marathon      pace. For those of you who struggle with math like I do, that’s about 15      seconds slower than goal marathon pace. Not quite hard, but still      challenging.
  • Miles 12 to 18 should be run      at marathon pace. Not only is this good practice to help you lock onto      marathon pace as your legs are getting tired, but you’re starting to teach      your body to burn fat as your glycogen stores deplete and you have to      continue to run at a moderate effort.
  • Now comes the hard part.      Miles 18 to 22 (4 miles) should be run at 3 to 5 percent faster than      marathon pace. Three percent is about 10 seconds per mile faster than goal      pace, which will be very difficult. Again, you’ll be low on glycogen and      training yourself to mentally and physically push when you’re tired.
  • Finish off the run with 10      minutes of easy jogging to let the blood flush out of your system and act      as a light cool down.

More: What’s the Best Pace for Long Runs

Teach Your Body To Use Fat as a Fuel Source

One of the most important determinants of marathon success is how efficiently your body can use fat as a fuel source as opposed to carbohydrates.

Since your body can only store about two hours worth of glycogen when running at marathon pace, the more readily you can burn fat at marathon pace, the longer your glycogen stores will last—providing crucial energy for the last 10K of the race.

When running slow and easy, your body can use fat as its primary fuel source. However, the faster you try to run, the more you rely on glycogen. Luckily, this can also be trained and improved with the right mix of workouts.

Here is a marathon-specific long run that will teach you to do just that.

Surge Long Run For Beginners

The surge long run injects a series of short, 60-second to 2-minute surges into your long run to help burn through your available glycogen. By surging repeatedly, your muscles scream for glycogen and begin to run low quickly. When this happens, your body has to learn to conserve the remaining glycogen and become more efficient at burning fat.

An example long run surge workout might be: 16-mile long run with 6 x 90 second surges at 5K pace and five minutes at a normal, easy pace between surges. Start the surges at mile 11.

Surges should begin about two-thirds of the way through the intended long run distance and end when you’ve completed 75 to 90 percent of the run.

The length of the surge itself, the pace, the rest in-between the interval, and the starting point of the surge during the run are all variables that you can adjust to make the workout harder or easier.

Typically, I start most runners out with 4 x 1 minute surges with five minutes normal pace (normal being your average long run pace) between each. For more seasoned runners you may progress to six 2-minute surges with 3 to 4 minutes at an easy pace.

More: 7 Running Experts on Effective Long-Run Training

Surges With a Twist

Sure the surge long runs are great, but to make this even more marathon specific, we can incorporate some of the principles we know about lactate clearance to not only train the body to clear and reconvert lactate quickly, but to also trigger high levels of glycogen depletion and further improve your ability to burn fat as a fuel source at marathon pace.

Like the regular surge long run, the workout is structured around a series of 60- to 90-second surges. However, instead of running easy between the surges, you will run marathon pace as your “rest”. The surges should be between 10K and half marathon pace and the “rest” will be 4 to 5 minutes, depending on your ability level.

An example workout would be: 22-mile long run with 8 x 90 second surges at 10K pace with four minutes at marathon pace between, starting at mile 10. Finish the run at an easy pace.

Surging at 10K pace will burn through more glycogen than running at a moderate, marathon-paced effort. As you slow back down to marathon pace, your body realizes it must conserve glycogen for these 60 to 90 second bursts. At this point, your body will attempt to use fat as a primary fuel source.

More: 2 Workouts to Make Marathon Pace Feel Easier

How Often Should You Do These Long Runs?

I don’t recommend doing these harder long runs every week. That would be too taxing on the body. I advocate including these hard long runs every other week, with a shorter run in between, starting about 12 weeks out from your race.

Implement these marathon-specific long runs into your training plan and I guarantee you’ll bust through that plateau.

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