Sunday, 21 December 2014

2014 retrospective

*blows dust off the blog*

It's late December, which is my usual time for a 2014 retrospective on my running year.


I began training for MK marathon (too early, hindsight is marvellous). I ran Folksworth 15 for the first time, in just over 2 hours, which I was really pleased about.


Training for the marathon was going well. I ran Baldock Beast with my friend Lewis, pacing him to sub 1:50 without either of us blowing up.


In an effort to complete marathon training before I went on holiday to Florida in April, I ran three 20 mile training runs. This was a huge achievement for me, when I trained for Preston Guild Marathon I only managed one 20 mile run (which I had to walk 10 miles of) before getting injured and having to stop all training. I was struggling with a hamstring strain though, which hurt even when I wasn't running.


Marathon training "complete", I tapered by going on holiday to Florida for some "warm weather training". I also had a photoshoot for Runner's World magazine!


I ran MK marathon in 4:22, having to abort my planned 4 hour target at around 20 miles because my right knee and hamstring started to give me trouble. A week later I placed second (female) in the Stotfold 5K. I then began some off-road training for Herts Hobble at the end of June. I also appeared in the June issue of Runner's World!


Training for Herts Hobble continued, and I really enjoyed running around the countryside with a map and my dodgy sense of direction. I discovered some great new routes and started to enjoy running again. I ran Marston 5K in a good time (for me, although not a PB), then completed Herts Hobble with Lewis and Ed in 5 hours and 25 minutes (including rest breaks and lots of walking).


I focussed on club runs, and took the beginners group a few weeks, and led one 10K Standalone training run.


The realisation that I had a swim-run event at the end of August meant I decided to up my swim training (I swam once in August). I continued with beginners club training, and managed a few long runs too (for no reason other than to keep my mileage up). I managed the aquathlon fine, and could have finished second lady if I'd tried a bit harder, which was a blow and a lesson to ALWAYS TRY.


Beginners club training started to wane as family evening commitments meant I was busy being mum taxi (while the husband was out at run club, grrrr.) I also got some good news... I was offered a place in the 2015 London Marathon (VLM) by Stotfold Scout Group. They wanted me to raise some money for them (£750). Thoughts turned to fundraising rather than training. However, I ran Baldock 10K on little training a few seconds over 50 minutes, and it was a great boost ahead of Standalone 10K in October. That course is a lot easier by comparison, so I was confident I could run sub 50 minutes.


Standalone 10K was at the beginning of October. I wasn't feeling very confident (despite the good run at Baldock) and I really didn't want to run Standalone and hate it, so YET AGAIN I ran the race while not really trying. I could've pushed and hated every minute, but I didn't, and as a result I finished in 48:58, around 40 seconds off my PB. You can decide whether or not that annoyed me ;) Later in the month I ran my first ever cross-country event, the Ampthill Trophy, which was very hilly, hard work, and just exhausting (I'm tired just thinking about it). 5 miles in 46 minutes is really rubbish; perhaps I'll just have to run it again next year to see if I can do better!


My training mojo took a nosedive as I started marathon fundraising proper, organising a Christmas Shopping Day and a Quiz Night (raising over £1000 and completing my fundraising commitments before training even begins). With no half marathon planned (which is unusual for me at this time of year) I was a bit lost for training goals. Then, I suddenly was offered a place in the St Neot's half marathon by a friend who had to withdraw. I snapped it up, despite the lack of training, and ran it with my friend Paul, who dragged me around in just over 1 hour 50 minutes, a superb time for me given the shoddy training "plan".


My aim for 2014 was to swim 5 miles, cycle 100 miles, and run 1000 miles. The aim of the aim was to get myself cross-training more, since I know how important it is now to take care of all parts of your body. Unfortunately I failed two of those aims, managing to swim 3.2 miles, cycle 51 miles, and run 1008 miles. I'm actually very pleased about the swimming total; the cycling distance will have been further than 51 miles because I have cycled a lot since September but not recorded the distance on FetchEveryone, but I haven't achieved any long cycle rides like I did in 2013. The run total is actually quite disappointing, having been approaching 1000 since early October, my running all but stopped in late October and I only achieved 1000 in December. The highlight of December was being nominated for and winning Club Member of the Year at Stotfold Runners, by club members' votes. I'm still a bit stunned that people took the time to vote for me and actually think I deserve the award, considering my club commitments waned after August.


To me, 2014 seems a bit of a failure really. I overtrained for MK marathon and then undertrained for all other races. I began to gain weight, and only mild panic that I was sliding back to Fat Sarah made me focus on my diet. I still have food and drink demons that I need to overcome in 2015 and beyond. I also had no real training goals after June, so nothing to focus on. As a result, I have a few goals already for 2015. First, I want to train sensibly for VLM--ie, I don't want to start training too early, or have an overly ambitious target time, and I want to increase my cross-training). Second, I have to make time to run three times a week, including at least once a week at Stotfold Runners. Third, I need to lose weight and tone up at the same time, related directly to my fourth goal, which is to curb the booze and toast. Fifth is to remember to blog weekly! Sixth is to try my best whenever I run.

I've signed up for Janathon again, which I just about completed last year (to exercise every day), and with my new treadmill at home I am hopeful I will manage this challenge (the blogging is the hardest part of Janathon!). If I can complete Janathon perhaps I will be able to complete my weekly blogging aim. We'll see.

To keep up to date with my VLM training during the week (when I'm not blogging...) you can follow me on Twitter (@runnersog) or Facebook (

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Duck N Dash 2014

This morning I took part in the Duck N Dash aquathlon in Letchworth, the second time I've done this race. I entered several months ago, with the aim of beating my time from last year (41:37). I also challenged a couple of friends to do the race with me, and Lewis obliged :)

The Duck race consists of a 400 m swim at Letchworth Outdoor Pool (which is a 50 m pool) and a 6 km run around Norton Common. I usually swim 400 m in 10 minutes, in a 25 m indoor pool, with plenty of breaks at each end. So 50 m stretches at a time are daunting. The pool is beautiful though.

Up until Saturday evening I was not racing, for several reasons: lack of training, slight neck injury from a running fall on Friday, sore shoulders from pitching a tent on Friday, need for new swim costume, hormones, weather. Etc. with the exception of the sore shoulders and neck, and scant training, all other factors were resolved by Saturday, so I decided I might as well take part for fun rather than try to beat last year's time. 

My son (C) was also taking part this year, as a Duckling: 100 m swim and a 1 km run. He was camping with his dad a few miles up the road (at Dad Camp), so me and my mate drove to collect him and his friend at 7:30am. It was a bit early, and they both looked so tired, but C was ready to go. His first proper race!

We arrived and registered, had our numbers written on our right arm and leg, and were given a chip to strap around our ankle. Then we had half an hour or so to set ourselves up in transition, running shoes, top with number pinned on, towel for drying feet. I showed C where he would be swimming and running. The lovely Simon from Freedom Tri showed us the course so C wasn't worried about where to go. 

It was then a matter of hanging around until the start. We listened to the race briefing, then C and his friend were taken off by a Freedom Tri member for another briefing and warm up. My friend Ed's boy F was also swimming, and he set off first and coped well with that honour! C was number 20, and he did brilliantly on the swim. The first length he swam front crawl, then the second was breast stroke. He'd told me before the start that he might change stroke after the first length if he was tired: I was glad he had a plan. :) He looked very strong on his run, unfortunately I couldn't watch that part, but my husband said he looked great, and wasn't out of breath at the end. He needs training to know how to pace himself. Overall time 9:58. 

Just about to enter the pool!
My own swim was OK, I felt tired almost immediately though, my arms were screaming at me. I was worried I wouldn't be able to finish, but then I decided that was silly and told myself to just get on with it and it'd be over soon. I got a mouthful of water towards the end of the first length when I got penned in by a slow swimmer in front and at the side of me, and I had to stand up in the shallow end at the start of length 3 when a woman stopped in front of me and I thought she was in trouble. She said she was OK but I think she was a bit upset at all the people around her. I carried on without any further drama. My mate said I looked confident during my swim, and my husband described it as "consistent: not stylish, but I didn't set off too fast and then flounder". I'll take that as a compliment. 

The transition was a bit rubbish again. I couldn't get my top on, or my socks. I could hear my mate's husband heckling me about stopping for a cup of tea. Anyway, the swim and transition were 11:39, exactly the same as last year!

I felt OK on the run this year. I was very wobbly last time but I didn't fly off and took it steady. Thanks to MC Jacko for the amusing heckling as I set off, about how I'd already been beaten by my son, and how much I was enjoying myself: made me laugh. The first lap probably could've been faster, and the second lap definitely could've been. Yet more heckling from Simon, taunting me about Lewis, who was fast approaching me to overtake (I was more surprised he'd not passed me sooner). I also paused briefly to hand my water bottle to a Drake runner who said she needed water. Overall finish time was 42:13, about 30 seconds slower than last year, but the run was much more enjoyable. And Lewis only beat me by a minute or so, not too shameful :)

Not sure I'll do this race again next year. Think twice is enough! EDIT: I was 5th female to finish the Duck event, and since the lady who came 3rd had an equivalent time to mine last year, I'm kicking myself for not trying too hard! So perhaps I will have a third go at this race.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Random Sunday half marathon

After I gave up on Juneathon I kind of gave up on everything really. I stopped swimming, I wasn't running long distances anymore (no longer than 10K), and I stopped blogging. Lack of mojo!

I ran/walked Herts Hobble at the end of June, 26.5 miles off-road. It was enjoyable in that it was different (self-navigated, along footpaths, and in an area I'm unfamiliar with), but I maintain that running the marathon distance is idiotic. My knee and hamstring began to hurt again, and I had to walk a lot towards the end. Running with friends was fun, but I felt guilty at the end that I'd held them up by wanting to walk. We finished in over 5 hours 20 minutes (5 hours if you exclude checkpoints).

Despite entering Duck N Dash aquathlon again I'm not 100% sure I want to do it. I've not swum at all in the outdoor pool this year, the only reason I'm keeping it in mind is my son has entered a Duckling event, he's swimming 100m and running 1km. If he's doing it I might as well go along too. He's running and swimming well at the moment. He gained his mile swimming badge a month ago, and a few weeks back he completed the St Neots 2km fun run in about 10 minutes. One of us is doing OK!

Another "one of us" doing OK is my husband, who ran St Neots 10K in 41 minutes and Marston 5K under 19 minutes. Annoyingly he's started going to running club, which means I can't run with the intermediate group anymore. Another reason why my distance has fallen off to max 5K. He has started racing too, meaning I have been demoted to fun-running with the kids (unless I can find a babysitter).

I've decided I have to focus on half marathon distance, which is my own domain. Hence why I took myself off for a random Sunday half this morning, to remind my legs how far 13.1 miles is. Aim was to keep between 9 and 10 min/mile pace, which I managed, and not to walk (also successful, despite the presence of hills). Next step is to get faster again. Plan is to run a 10k and a half in training every week from September, with speedwork twice a week (before beginners running club). And to try to remember to do strength work on other days.

One thing at a time...

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Juneathon catchup

I've failed at the blogging side of Juneathon but I have still exercised (sort of) every day. 

Friday June 6
I spent the afternoon pitching a tent on my own. I wore my Garmin because I wanted to see how far I moved while doing it (there's a lot of running in circles involved with tent-pitching). I covered just over 1 mile in more than an hour. I also had to run a third of a mile from home to my kids' school because I was late to pick them up. 

Saturday June 7
I accompanied my daughter and her Beaver Scout friends on a 3.4 mile walk from Henlow to Langford and back. It took just under 2 hours and there was a lot of moaning involved (it rained a LOT, plus Beavers are age 6-8). We did get ice cream though. 
In the afternoon I played cricket and rounders with my son and his friends, rounders is a bit like interval training. ;)

Sunday June 8
I took down a tent, which involves a similar amount of running around in circles. It certainly gets the heart rate going. I had a short walk in the afternoon too when I took my son to his karate lesson and visited a friend who has just moved nearby. 

Monday June 9
I did circuit training, it was a Tabata-style circuit (HIIT training). I was exhausted and sweated loads. Had to run to the class (0.3 miles) too because I was late. 

Tuesday June 10
I ran today, I went for a quick 5K on my own before running club (3.4 miles in 27 mins) then took a group of beginners on a 2.3 mile run around the village in 30 mins. Was good to get some extra miles in, my running has suffered recently since my husband started running too. He takes all the good running slots :(

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Club night, race night!

Tonight was running club. I don't really get to intermediate running club anymore, because my husband has started running and he's faster than me so he can't really attend beginners club. I go to beginners at 7pm on Thursday and my husband comes along at 7:30pm with the children and we do a relay handover, with two children as the baton.

Tonight's club run was really good. Pete took the run-walk group (who are now running for 7 minutes and walking for 2 minutes, after starting at 1 minute running a month or two ago), and Ed and I took the remaining four runners out. We did a race: Ed and two girls ran one way around the village and me and two other girls ran the opposite direction, the aim being to stay together as a group and beat the other team back. One of my group was really struggling to keep pace, and we had to loop back every 5 minutes to keep her motivated. We passed Ed's team sooner than expected, and that demotivated us for a while. But then my team caught up with the run-walkers so we had people to aim at. Lots of shouting happened, and finally we were on the High St and I was trying to encourage my team and some run-walkers to sprint for home. The best thing was seeing the other team sprinting down the High St too! So we weren't all that far behind, a few seconds was all in the end. A great run, 2.5 miles at 9:50 min/mile pace.

Before anyone starts feeling affronted on my behalf at my being prevented from going to running club because my husband is faster than me, we've organised a schedule from July (when my current Pilates class term ends). He's going to attend Tuesday club nights and I'll attend on Thursdays. I do miss my Tuesday beginners but I have family commitments that make 7pm an awkward time to run.

This might be my last Juneathon blog, 5 days in! I have a busy busy weekend looming. It's my son's birthday party Saturday afternoon, but also the Scout Group sponsored walk is in the morning (you can sponsor us at and my daughter's football presentation is after lunch. Blogging will be minimal and include lots of walking (Saturday), and possibly tent-pitching (vigorously so it counts for Juneathon, on Friday).

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Finding my inner knee

Today's Juneathon post is all about Pilates. I went to a different class than my usual Tuesday one, although this will become my new permanent class in 5 weeks' time. I always feel awkward at the Wednesday class, even though I'm more advanced than the people who go to it. I make myself try harder so I don't need the instructor to correct me during exercises. And I usually forget to breathe as a result.

We did exercises with the Pilates ring tonight: leg squeezes and arm raises and stretches. I like the ring thing, although I'm always a bit nervous it's going to snap on me (because of my mighty thigh strength). We also tried to locate our inner knee muscles, working these should strengthen our knees and straighten the knee cap (I am known for my dodgy knees so I paid a lot of attention at this point). We located them while sat down and then attempted to fire them while stood up. This exercise should apparently also entail gluteal muscles, so we had to stand there holding our arses to check they were working too. I was trying not to laugh, so I couldn't do this at all.

After Pilates I walked home, put my kids to bed, then went back out for a fast 5K as practice for a race in a few weeks. The aim was to hit 7:30 min/mile but I failed at that and only managed 7:50 average. My husband (who is now an expert at running 5K, or so you'd think) told me my pacing was hideous and I should try to stay consistent throughout the run rather than slowing on the hills. (I think I forgot what I was doing about halfway round because I slowed right down to 11 min/mile.) I've been told now, consistency is the key! I'll try again next week.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Exercise is not a chore

I was supposed to be at Pilates this evening, an easy Juneathon activity. But this afternoon my son was taken ill and I find myself at home and unable to go to Pilates (I've moved myself to Wednesday's class, that's tomorrow sorted).

So for today, I've had to shoe-horn in a 1.3 mile walk while my husband was briefly around to catch potential vomit. Half an hour of dropping the well child at beavers, walking to the shop, and walking home. Chores AND exercise completed in one go. Marvellous. 

Monday, 2 June 2014

Ditching the ab plan, day 2

Today's Juneathon activity was circuit training, I made a last-minute decision to go to the class based on a lack of work to do and a need to tone ab muscles etc. Ran to class (that must also count for something). Today's circuit featured 16 stations of core/leg/arm/cardio exercises, each done twice.

Had to amend squats and lunges because my knees are playing up, focused on technique. Managed some full press ups with feet on a medicine ball, and again moving the ball hand-to-hand between press ups. Seem to have cracked the "sideways jog things with standing ab curl".

I've decided to ditch the 30-day ab challenge, on day 2. I studied the challenge in detail and I think it just increases in difficulty too quickly, it will only lead to injury! I shall persevere at the leg raises though, we do those in Pilates class and I find them really hard. I did just under 100 ab crunches today during circuits, which counts for something.

Weighed myself too. Need to lose 14 lb before my cousin-by-marriage's wedding in July. This is what happens when you lose focus and think you can eat what you like because you're running loads.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Kick up the ass needed

Since MK Marathon I've felt my running hasn't been easy. Post-marathon-lack-of mojo-itis. I ran Stotfold 5K 2 weeks after the marathon (and was 2nd woman) but my time of 23:07 wasn't spectacular (albeit my best 5K time for more than a year).

Anyway, time to look forward not back. I've decided to do Juneathon as a way to kickstart my mojo again, or at least make me do exercise every day. I'm also doing this 30 day ab challenge that seems to have taken over social media. Although if I can do 125 sit ups, 200 crunches, 65 leg raises, and hold a plank for 2 minutes by June 30th I will eat my own hat (made from rice paper...).

Today I did a 10K interval workout, to heart rate zones. I ran for 10 minutes to warm up, then aimed at 162-170 HR for 7 minutes followed by a 3 minute recovery at 139-145, and repeated that 3 times. I ran the remaining distance as a cool down. Felt very unfit, and struggled to get my heart rate into either the threshold or the recovery zone, it preferred to hang around in the no-man's training land of 150 bpm.


Distance: 6.3 miles
Time: 56:12
Av HR: 154 bpm

30 day ab challenge

15 sit ups
5 crunches
5 leg raises
10 sec plank

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Roger Bannister 60th anniversary mile

Bannister anniversary

Tuesday May 6th was the 60th anniversary of Roger Bannister breaking the 4 minute mile barrier. To mark the occasion, Dan Wymer (@running_dan_w) asked 60 people to run a mile and blog or tweet about the run. Read his blog post about the day.

I signed up to run a mile knowing it would be the day after MK Marathon, so I wasn't expecting to run a fast time. My physio Kieran had advised me to go for a walk on the Tuesday to flush out lactic acid, so a mile jog seemed a good alternative. I went straight after I'd dropped my children at school, and managed a fairly respectable 10:33 minutes for the mile.

Post-marathon recovery

It was a good idea to jog on Tuesday, because my legs felt much less stiff when I got home. I had another cold bath for 10 minutes, then donned a fetching pair of compression tights to wear for the rest of the day. I went for another couple of short walks in the afternoon too (1.5 miles in total), followed by my regular Pilates class in the evening. Drank plenty of water throughout the day, to rehydrate properly from Monday (not a chore though, I was really thirsty), and logged my food on myfitnesspal to make sure I didn't go mad and eat a bucket of pasta.

On Wednesday my legs felt fully recovered, apart from my sore knee, which will take a while to heal. I took my physio's advice to rest fully on Wednesday. I drank lots of water and ate sensibly, logging everything on myfitnesspal so I didn't gorge on chocolate!

I'm feeling ready to brave running club this evening, will be good to have an easy jog with the beginners to test my knee. The intermediates are planning their own Roger Bannister anniversary mile, a series of 100m sprint intervals as a relay, to see if we can beat 4 minutes! I might hold the stopwatch...

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Milton Keynes Marathon

It's 2 days since I ran MK Marathon so I've had a bit of time to reflect on the race. I've been training for this since I PB'd at the Stevenage half marathon in November, 2013.

Prepared, sort of
Got all my stuff ready the night before, so I wouldn't be panicking on Monday for safety pins and my running belt. I woke up at 6am and made myself porridge and had a glass of water. I wasn't really sure what else to eat, normally I don't eat much more than that before a race, but I knew I'd need a bit more sustenance. Opted for a homemade banana and chocolate milkshake, which was a successful breakfast choice the morning I ran the Baldock Beast half marathon.

Got dressed, packed my bag (with some lunch, water, Clif bars, vaseline, spare clothes), and jogged up to the High St for 7:30am to meet Barry, Lewis, and Simon and his wife, who were driving us to MK. Made the trip to MK in super-fast time, and we were in the MK Dons stadium for 8:30am.

MK Dons stadium, finish line

Had a lot of hanging around to do before we had to make our way to the start for 9:30am. Ate a Clif bar to stop any possibly energy deficit, after being reminded about hydration and energy needs by a Pete Luxford text! Was good to relax and have a chat too. Met my friends Jay and Kayleigh in the baggage area just as we were walking to the start, Jay was running the marathon and Kayleigh the half.

Barry, Simon, and me, trying not to look nervous
I was looking out for the sub 4:00 pacer, who was carrying a helium balloon. As soon as I spotted him I said bye to everyone else (who would be running much faster than me) and stuck close. The start area was so crowded, 5000 runners in total, I've never run in such a big race.

When the race started we walked to the start line so that we'd have a nice gap in front of us. Couldn't believe that there were people starting at the front who were running really slowly, or walking. Made the first mile or two quite irritating having to weave in and out. We managed to keep to the intended pace though (9 min/mile). At mile 3 we passed the first water station and I immediately decided I needed a wee. Had to ignore it because if I stopped I knew I'd be in trouble.

I spotted my friend Duncan from running club and his family; I shouted loudly to get his attention! So exciting to see people I knew. The first 6 miles twisted around Center MK, and it was good to spot Simon and Barry running together on the opposite side of the road (although about half a mile in front of me). I stopped to yell at them! As I headed back towards MK Dons stadium I saw some runners in a group carrying a boat, raising money for their rowing club. Crazy!

At mile 8 I suddenly spotted my children and husband at the side of the road. I couldn't believe it, because they'd told me they weren't coming to support (apparently they were at the start but I missed them). I tried not to cry as I ran to them for hugs and kisses, but gave in to the emotion as I set off again down the road.

My stomach gave me the first hint of trouble at this point. I was taking on water regularly, both internally and externally. Also eating Clif shot bloks every few miles. Gatorade when it was available (I'm not a fan of energy drinks though, although Gatorade is the only one I can stomach). But I carried no gels (because of previous stomach woe on long training runs).

At mile 10 the half marathoners split off and headed back to the stadium, whereas we turned off into a housing estate and onto the Redway. I had a chat with a fellow sub 4:00 runner at this point, and admitted that my leg was hurting a lot (my right hamstring had been aching from mile 3 but I'd hoped it would just ache and not get worse). I was full of doubt that I could carry on to be honest, but managed to maintain the sub 4:00 pace for another 8 miles.

Missed the gel station at mile 12 (not worried though because I still had some Clif shot bloks and hadn't planned on taking a gel). We ran around the east side of Willen Lake, and here I was a bit sad to see many runners laid on the grass receiving medical attention. The heat was quite intense at this point because it was very open aspect; luckily I'd been taking on plenty of fluid so wasn't feeling affected by the heat.

At mile 18 we hit a steep hill at the top of Willen Lake and my hamstring finally stiffened in my hips so much that I could hardly move my legs. I decided to stride up the hill to try to loosen everything. The 4 hour pacer was in the distance at this point, but I knew from my pace band that I still had a few minutes in hand, plus he was aiming at 3:56 and I was aiming at 3:59:50. However, as I started to run again I realised my legs had stiffened too much and I was going to be in a lot of pain for the next 8 miles. I made a tearful phone call to my husband to tell him "I might be a bit longer than 4 hours". He offered to come and pick me up but I was determined to carry on and aim at 4:10.

The slower pace was a bit easier, but I still had to walk every so often. Saw Scott and Julie from running club at mile 21, what a fab surprise! I nearly cried on them both too. Scott cheerfully informed me I "only had to run to the roundabouts and back"! I managed to push myself onward by run-walking, before I started to feel my knee seizing up at mile 23. It was the familiar ITB problem I had last time I trained for a marathon. I panicked! At this point the 4:15 pacer passed me and I felt defeated. Texted my husband to tell him where I was (I couldn't bear to ring him), and he said they were all at mile 25 waiting for me. I set my Garmin to a run-walk strategy for some bleepy reassurance and just pushed on.

The marshals were screaming at us to run, use our "energy", "don't walk", "come on you can do it", "this is the last hill" (LIARS!). I walked on the hills; there were a lot of underpasses at this point in the race, steep hills up and down that were painful to run on, even going down. At mile 25 I saw my children and tried not to walk anymore for them. Managed a slow shuffle along the road, then spotted Simon and his wife, and Lewis, at the side of the road. And KFC! Yay, nearly there. Kept on running even though I really wanted to walk for a bit.

Entered the stadium to a massive cheer, and I could hear people calling my name, which was a bit weird! As I crossed the chip mat the announcer said my name and that I'd be the next person to cross the line (at this point an unsporting woman passed me and said "oh no you won't", BITCH!) Heard people cheering for me, and spotted Jess, Ann, and Lynn from running club at the finish line! It was them making all the noise! Brilliant. Crossed the line (4:22:01 chip time, a 37 minute PB) and immediately sobbed all over them, sorry ladies. Barry was there too with his wife, he looked a bit shell-shocked! Collected my medal from an adorable little boy who put it round my neck and said "You've done really well".

Reflecting on what went wrong for me in the race. I paced it fine I think, the problem was my hamstring and knee. Possibly not enough strength work. Possibly I overtrained (peaked too soon and then was tired); I'd been feeling rubbish and unfit throughout April. The Florida holiday perhaps contributed (nothing I could do about that). Perhaps I just overestimated my ability, and should've aimed at 4:15 this time. Maybe I'm just not cut out for the marathon distance, full stop.

Whatever the reason, I know I don't want to run another marathon until I'm much fitter and stronger, until I've finally figured out my diet and got my weight at a steady level. The plan is to get quicker over half marathon distance (which is my favourite distance), and try to PB at 10K distance later this year.

What's up next? Stotfold 5K on May 18th, Marston 5K on June 20th (possibly only as a spectator), then Herts Hobble off-road marathon on June 29th. D'oh! (LOL) I'm taking that one easy, 5:30 at least, and lots of tea and cake en route.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Runner's World Fat Burn feature: what's that all about then?!

If you subscribe to Runner's World UK, by now you will have had your June issue through the post (if you don't, it should be in the shops by end of this week). The regular Fat Burn feature (page 25) is about me this month! How did that happen?!

This is a bit weird 
Back in mid November I spotted a tweet from @runnersworlduk asking for people to get in touch if they'd lost a lot of weight through running and to send before and after photos. I saw it just as I was heading out of the door to collect my children from school. I assumed they would have had loads of replies by the time I saw their tweet, so I wasn't holding my breath about getting a reply and I didn't want to waste too much time finding photos. I fired off a short email saying that yes I had lost weight through running and directed them to a blog post I'd written a month earlier (Why I Started Running...) that included some before and after photos.

The next morning, just as I was stepping out of the door to take my children to school (it doesn't get any more interesting folks), I received a reply: "Would I like to be featured?"; attached was an example of the type of feature they meant. After a quick email discussion with my husband, I agreed. I sent off some high-resolution "before" photos for them to choose from.

The next week I received a list of questions by email to answer. Being the sort of person who likes to chat, I returned an essay (all quality though) to the section editor, my thoughts being that she'd have plenty of quotes to choose from. I was told I'd been penciled into the June issue, but I work in publishing so know how things can change; I wasn't holding my breath on that date or even on eventual publication. I was informed the photographer would be in touch in the New Year to arrange a date to take my photo, but otherwise that was all I had to do. 2 weeks after sending the initial email, it was all over with. I'd managed to tell only a handful of close friends too (out of fear of it all falling through I didn't dare tell more people; I didn't even tell my cousin or my in-law family).

I tried really hard to eat sensibly over Christmas, in case I was contacted by the photographer in January. By February I was at my lowest weight for over a year! By March I was beginning to think they'd forgotten about me. I have some idea about publishing timelines because of where I work. I knew that if I was going to be in the June issue it would be out at the end of April, and they'd need to pass the issue at least 2 weeks before then. I had a holiday booked the first 2 weeks of April (when I guessed they would try to take the photo). So I emailed the section editor again to find out what was going on and to let her know when I was away, in case she had to arrange a photo sooner. Yes, I was right! Fortunately I managed to arrange for the photographer Tom (@photosmudger) to come the afternoon before I went on holiday. Talk about last minute!

My friend Claire (Barberella) offered to put my hair up for me in the morning, she did a fabulous job!

I cannot keep a straight face when asked to pose for a photo
A couple of hours later, Tom arrived. He set up a studio in my conservatory, white paper background and covering the floor, lights either side, it was such a fun half hour really (it honestly didn't take that long!). He snapped away for about 10 minutes, making me try different poses, putting me at ease until I'd lost the urge to burst out laughing.

Setting up the "photography studio" in my conservatory

All in all, a rather pleasant experience. It's really nice to be able to tell my story to a wider audience, hopefully it will inspire a few more people to start running. And I'm so happy that Stotfold Runners got such a large mention. Pete and the other club members are a big influence in my life, they got me started and now I can pass on what I've learnt to our beginners. And my husband, who has just taken up running (he's faster than I am over 5K already, typical!).  

Friday, 25 April 2014

Talking about marathons...

So, last night I spotted a tweet by @marathontalk ( linking to this NY Times article about people who "plod" around marathons. I posted a link to the article on Facebook and invited my friends to comment. Safe to say, it's a touchy subject.

Just read this article thanks to Marathon Talk on twitter. According to "seasoned marathoners", anyone who runs a marathon slower than 4 hours is ruining the skill of running a marathon. I disagree (obviously, with my 4:58 PB). What do you think?

A Finishing a marathon without collapsing is a minor miracle by itself. Comments like that completely undermine the massive personal achievement of anyone who completes a Marathon.

B That's outrageous! What a ridiculous point of view. Anyone who completes a marathon has my total and utter respect. End of.

C Why not make it sub 3 hours? Idiots...

D Hear hear that! My cousin has power walked 10 marathons and raised heaps for cancer research. That’s awesome in my mind.

E I think anyone who has completed a marathon even once has my utmost respect. Regardless of time. It's a personal best and a free country and it's usually those who do it even once raise a ton of money for good causes.

ME Good. I'm glad you all agree with me. Thought I was going mad for a moment.

F It's all relative is it not?
By that I mean, if you are fast then a fast marathon is an achievement, if you are slow a slow marathon is an achievement no? My target for MK is finishing, then finishing under 4hrs is my next target.... My training was done so I could complete a marathon not race a pro!!

G It's a foot race not a running doesn't matter whether you run, skip, walk or shuffle. Walking a marathon is hard work, you are on your feet for a long time. The Long Distance Walkers Association (LDWA) organise some fantastic marathons......and quite often the opposite applies here....the runners are 'gatecrashing' on the walkers event! 

H Taking 6hrs to complete a marathon is harder than taking 4......

G but only if you are capable of completing a marathon in 4hrs

J Does annoy me slightly people walking marathons that are hard to get into, a big part is the time you have spent training in the build up to the event, if you want to enter a mara you gotta be prepared to put in the training hours not just turn up on the day

K As you all know, I think anyone who isn't an Olympian should just quit. I mean anything over 4 hours is just a nice stroll... 

J I think time is irrelevant as long as its the best you can give on the day, but walking isn’t an achievement for most and they are taking up places of people who are prepared to push themselves

K Should every runner be pushing themselves to the limit then? I would say the way the race is marketed dictates who enters it. If the race says 8hr cut off, you'll get those doing it in 8hrs.
If it was 4hrs then you'll get only faster runners. Its a commercial thing though.
More runners, more money. Personally I think both sides are right, its down to the organisers to decide who they want.
If London decided on a 3.30. Cut off I wouldn't mind. I'd just not enter. Probably train to get in though....

D Does that mean power walking too! As i know my cousin trains v hard!

ME I think power walking counts D, because as I've found out, R can walk faster than I can jog! It definitely counts!

I think K  is correct when he says it's up to the organisers who they're marketing. A 4.5 hour cut off would put me off from entering, whereas a 7 hour marathon opens it to most.

L There is always someone faster and always someone slower than you, so its always dangerous to comment on what a good pace is.....
If people get round giving it their best then that is the achievement not the time it takes.

D After going to watch the London one, my first, I was impressed with all of them specially watching an 81 yr old coming to the finish after 6 hrs...god bless him xx

M I think that is why tiered starting waves are really important... The annoying people are those who submit a much faster estimated time just so they can start upfront - and then get in the way!

N I haven't got a problem with how long anyone takes. If you've won a place in the ballot and want to walk it in 7 hours, go you ahead... just don't start near the front so everyone has to weave around you!

P I completely disagree with this article. When I completed the VLM in slightly over 4 hours, I was physically broken afterwards. The people I had real respect for though, were those who finished around 5 hours something. In my mind, they would probably have still run the whole thing or most of it, at a pace that challenges them but they had spent longer on their feet running than me. That must be more knackering. A bloke I know from our club has completing many marathons sub 4 hour but when he walked the xxx walkathon he said that felt harder!

Q I haven't got a problem with how long anyone takes either, but just to play devils advocate - you have 2 people, ones run it in sub 3 and the others walked it in 8. Both get the same medal and can call themselves marathoners - surely it must devalue it for the runner!? Maybe they should have separate entry categories I.e marathon runners and marathon walkers - some races do this.

ME I don't think the time someone else finishes a marathon in devalues the race for someone who ran it faster (you could say the same for a 10K race, who worked harder for their medal, the person who ran 45 mins or who ran 75 mins?). It's about the personal challenge in my opinion.
You challenge yourself to run sub 3, you do it, you're thrilled. You challenge yourself to complete the distance, you do it in 8 hours, you're still thrilled.
And then you rechallenge yourself at a later date to run it again but faster!
Exactly why when I completed my first marathon (sub 5) I was thrilled at first and then became less thrilled as the year passed because I realised I wanted to do it again, but faster.

R Surely its all about the personal achievement. We all have different goals in life and are all at different fitness levels. Finding running difficult I would love to be able to complete a marathon in 4 hours but will be delighted whatever time I complete xxxx in.

S I think the fact that you're timed and that there is a 'winner' - the person who is the fastest racer, is a hint towards what you're meant to be achieving - your fastest possible time, whether that be running or walking for you.
I think in answer to your question though, if you could do it under 4 hours, you should. In my opinion the same applies to 3 and 5 hours.
I saw a picture of a guy who walked it after having a heart bypass a few years previous and he looked shattered, so I think there is a place for walking it if that's the best you can achieve at that time in your life, or if it's a marathon organised by a walking association.
For me personally my biggest battles have been staying injury free and pacing (not going off too fast) so they're the skills I aim to learn at this point in my journey.
I'd best get a good time when I do my first marathon in June now!!!
I would however make a sprint finish compulsory....even if you are walking

J I honestly don’t think the length of time taken makes a difference, but most of the population could walk a marathon (normal walk) if you want a stroll then do a LDWA event, if you want to be a marathoner then put in the training hours.
Big achievements are hard earned and individual some peoples 5ks are the equivalent to a marathon for some but they have trained from walking to run/walks etc

Q Yeah I think if you've covered the distance great, but unless you've run the whole distance (regardless of time taken) you shouldn't call yourself a marathon runner

ME LOL Q  you really are taking "devils advocate" seriously, I feel I should run all the way round MK now to earn my medal  Z  finished xxx in 3:52 by run-walking from mile 18, I like his style.

K I look forward to the day I can call myself a marathon runner

C Harsh Q! Couldn't care less if people did it in 2 hours or 12, don't need other peoples efforts to justify your own achievements. If I ran 20 miles and broke down and had to run/walk/hobble the last 6 I would still consider that I'd 'ran' it. For me, unless you have ambitions to win a race you shouldn't really worry about the strategy of everyone else. For example you can have no idea about others' stories. You might have a 600lb man have lost half their body weight with a goal of walking a marathon, that would be more of an effort than a fitness freak jogging round in five hours, no? In football parlance, concentrate on your own game

J That 600lb man would have put in the training and done fantastically well to lose half his bodyweight, deserves his medal, its the people who enter do little or no training turn up on the day and just plod, as runners we know that a marathon finish started months/years previously with a lot of time and effort in training, if you have put the graft in and do your best on the day and achieve 8hrs then you deserve your medal, if you just turn up and saunter round then im not sure you do

C All I'm saying is that the only medal I'm worried about is mine. If someone wants to rock up and walk round then so be it. Wouldn't devalue my achievement. You worry too much J 

Q I think I just heard Pheidippides turn in his grave 

C Haha. Look at us having reasoned debate. It will never last...

J Certainly wouldn’t devalue your achievement C, just they are taking the place of other people who would have put in a lot more effort

T Who the @*!! do they think they are? If I want to run backwards on my hands I will. It's no one else's business. If some self-pontificating pillock needs his achievement validated by my or anyone else's time, then that says more about his sad life and attitude than others or the sport.

ME J you have reminded me of this story I read recently, asking if you can run a marathon without training. Please ignore the fact Jedward are in it

J "If you walk briskly at 15 minutes per mile, that's six-and-a-half hours to do 26.2 miles - most people could sustain it."

J "Training needs real commitment. Personally I think training for a marathon is more of an accomplishment than running it."

ME J I completely agree, training for a marathon is harder than the race itself. Although when it's pissing down with freezing rain for 4 hours it's pretty hard, eh H?

H you forgot the wind <we’re referring to Preston Guild Marathon>

J Do think the 4hrs thing is complete b#ll###s anyone going sub 4 is officially quick

Q I've only done it once in 3 attempts.

C So J are you just talking about the big over-subscribed races J? If someone strolls round in 8 hours in a local marathon which didn't reach its limit is that more acceptable? I suppose if I actually trained for one my opinion might differ...

J If there making cut offs in a local race that hadn’t filled up then fair enough, that’s prob a good thing supporting local events

G I take my hat off to someone who doesn't train and manages to complete a marathon 

H you would be quicker if you didn’t run in a hat!!

H just for information in the 2012 London marathon 36,705 runners finished..........if they had a cut off at 4 hours only 11,051 would have got a medal..........a 3hr cut off would reduce this to 1,245 medals.....they could make a massive saving.....

N If we are going to ban plodders from marathons as they are not real runners, then surely anyone not wearing proper running attire should be banned as well??? I mean how can you validate your existence if you happen to be beaten (not run as quickly) by the above <I had posted a pic of G in fancy dress at London this year> 

G That's what I was telling everyone I ran past in the last few miles! 

G serious runners - fancy dressers - charity fun runners - plodders - walkers can all exist in perfect harmony. Only an elitist-spoil-sport would say otherwise

H unless Mo Farah is on your shoulder waiting to pounce in the last mile and you are going to win some money out of where you finish.....the only race you are running is against yourself.........if you are seriously worried about your time and worry that people will over estimate and get in your way...........over estimate your own are in control of where you start the damn race!!!

V I entered the ballot but some of you guys are scaring me lol

ME Sorry V I'll remove that photo of G

K Remember Brendan Foster suggested Mo Farah should quit marathons as he could only run 2.08

J He is still reeling from being beaten by me and G last year lol

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Holiday runs

Since my last blog post I've been to Florida with The Family on holiday. It was a rather ill-timed holiday in view of my planned marathon but (a) I didn't plan it and (b) it's tricky explaining (without appearing selfish/crazy) to 10 other people (in September) why you'd rather the family holiday was 2 weeks earlier, a week later, or perhaps postponed until May.

Anyway, I decided to embrace the warmer climate and plan some speedwork for the 2 weeks, calling it "warm weather training" and styling myself as some sort of ATHLETE.

I must have walked miles every day around theme parks (cross training), little bit of daily swimming (recovery), and then some running.

Day 1: 5K tempo run with the husband (he's fast now and has decided to help me get faster). I managed to keep up with him, mainly because he was tired and a bit hungover.

Day 3: 10K easy, aim was to maintain at least 9 min/mile pace.

Day 4: Found a local hill and ran up and down it 7 times, until I'd logged 2 miles.

Day 6: 5K tempo with the husband, saw what 1 min/mile faster than me looks like over a mile. He did slow down after his fast mile to say hello.

Day 7: 10K easy

*insert few days of tiredness and a sickness bug*

Day 12: 10K slow, pushed to a fast(ish) mile near the end

Not quite as speedy or full of training as I'd have liked but at least I got out there, ran in the heat, and didn't gain any weight. Now I'm back in the UK and I'm in full-on taper mode. I ran 15 miles the Saturday after I got home (to remind my legs what they will have to do soon), and I'm planning 8 miles this weekend.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

MK Marathon training: last long run

I've just finished my last 20 mile training run for MK Marathon on May 5th. I've not run since Monday, when I completed my fast mile for Jantastic, because I wanted to rest a tight hamstring. I've been stretching and rolling in the week to help it, and it feels OK now (except when I sit down for a long period).

The plan for the 20 miles was to run 10 laps of the village, which is a 2 mile route we run with the beginners group at Stotfold Runners sometimes. Running laps can be tedious, but it's good mental training for an endurance race, with the added benefit of being able to pop home for a wee :)

I ran with several friends: Ed, Helen, Adam, Tracey, and Ralph. Ed is tapering for Manchester Marathon next weekend so he didn't run far, but it was great he came and he's looking comfortable (and uninjured!) ahead of the race. Helen is coming back from illness and is training (with Adam) for a local 10K next week then their first half marathon in May; they both did really well. Tracey was out running while her family made her Mother's Day breakfast (hope it was good!). 

Ralph came for the last 10 miles, his first run since a nasty accident while on his road bike (stupid dogs). I don't think he intended to stay for 10 miles, but he caught me during my moaning phase -- the point when I hit 14 miles and start to think marathons are a silly idea and I want to go home; he made me carry on despite me saying my legs hurt ("Are they injured hurt or tired hurt?" Tired hurt. "Let's do 20 miles then.")

I'm glad I ran the full 20 miles now I'm home and recovering, I'd have been kicking myself if I'd stopped at 18 miles. I had a cold bath for 10 minutes to help recovery, during which my children brought me Mother's Day breakfast. Eating a bacon sandwich in the bath is very wrong indeed. 

The run was my slowest 20 miler to date, but I'm happy (on reflection) because I've completed three 20-mile training runs this month and I only planned two, plus I didn't walk at all, and when I last trained for a marathon I ran-walked my only 20 miler while injured. Getting to the "end" of marathon training uninjured is a huge relief!

For the next 2 weeks I'm aiming to do some speed training with my husband. He's determined to have me running 5K in 22 minutes! I'm planning a 15 mile run around the Easter holidays as an official start to the taper. Race Day approaches!

March 31CoreRestPilates 5K tempoCore6-10 milesPilates
April 75K tempoCore6-10 milesPilates5K tempoCore6-10 miles
April 14PilatesRestRestClub runCore15 milesPilates
April 215K tempoClub run & Pilates6 milesClub run RestCross
8 miles
April 28CircuitsClub run & Pilates4 milesClub run RestNHRR 5K
2 miles
May 5MK marathon


Monday, 24 March 2014

Mile time trial for Jantastic

It's the last week of Jantastic, a 3-month running challenge. In January the challenge was to set a weekly run target, in February it was meet the weekly run target AND set a weekly long-run distance, and in March it was to meet the weekly run target, the distance challenge, AND run a set distance in a specific time.

I set myself the challenge to run 4 times a week. The long run targets were based on my marathon plan, so had 20 milers on there (failed at this last week when I swapped a shorter run of 14 miles for another 20 miler). But with not having any races booked for March I was a bit stuck for the distance challenge. I decided to challenge myself to run a mile as fast as I could. I originally set a time of 7 minutes, but changed it about a week ago to 7:05 because I got scared (and I decided it would be good to try to match the mile time I set in February when I was challenged by my husband).

I struggle with short distances, I need a few miles to warm up before I can run very fast. I used this morning's circuit training class as a warm up, then ran to the usual club time trial spot on the Greenway (1 mile away). Set off way too fast, but settled down eventually. Hated every moment. Finished in 6:57! That's new mile PB! The run home made 3 miles in total.

This just proves I should have left my Jantastic target well alone. And I shouldn't doubt myself. Blah blah blah...

In other news, my right hamstring is REALLY sore, so I'm going to rest it now until my last 20 mile long run on Saturday. Lots of stretching and rolling in the meantime.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

The seemingly pointless midweek long run

After my second 20 mile long run in 2 weeks last Sunday, the last thing I wanted was to be running long again, it's bad enough making myself run 4 miles of 0.25 mile intervals, but my training plan this week included a 9 mile long run for today (with the last 6 miles at marathon pace).

I use a marathon plan based partly on one from FetchEveryone (which is quite specific about midweek speedwork) and Hal Higdon's Intermediate 2. Higdon's theory is that the total distance of your midweek runs should equal the distance of your one long run on the weekend. Also, the midweek long run is usually half the distance of the weekend long run. So, with 18 miles originally planned for Sunday, this week was supposed to be 2 miles Tuesday + 9 miles Wednesday + 7 miles Thursday (2+5 mile club runs).

I've switched around my plan a bit this week: I'm not running 18 miles this weekend, I'm running 13. I haven't messed with the midweek long run/speedwork plan though; I can't control Tuesday and Thursday runs because they're with the club, but I like to be told what to do on a Wednesday because I tend to dither* if I don't know what to do, then I sometimes do nothing.

Anyway, today's run wasn't strictly speedwork, rather a change of pace at the end. I didn't manage it, I'd eaten breakfast earlier than usual (so much so that I forgot I'd had any), and then dithered* and ended up not running until about 11:30, meaning I'd be running through lunch. So, I was hungry and out of energy. I couldn't decide what route to take either, but eventually opted for the off-road route to Langford, which avoids the need to see people.

I set my Garmin pace band to 8:40-9:40 (knowing I'd never run faster than 8:40) and started off OK, first 4 miles weren't too bad considering I'd run across a field (hurdling a low gate) and up a hill, but then I started to slow on the long downhill from Langford to Henlow (on a downhill!), and I wanted my lunch, and a drink. A series of kissing gates made my watch pause itself through "inactivity", so I had a slow 10 minute mile at the 6 mile mark (that's my excuse anyway).

This run is going down as "recovery" rather than "progressive". And with a reminder to myself to eat more.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

The "nearly finished" training plan

Last week...

I made a triumphant* return to circuits on Monday. It was partner circuits, which means you work in a pair and one person does a number of lunges (for example) while you do sit ups, then you swap over. I was with Tracey, and we were quite evenly matched, but she decided to take her time choosing a resistance band to use for lateral raises, so I ended up doing over a minute of non-stop climbers. I will get my revenge...


On Tuesday I helped at beginners running club and took some of the run-walkers on a 2 mile slow-paced run (2 min run/1 min walk). I think I broke one of the ladies because she told Pete after that her shins really hurt. Oops. Pilates was hard on arms and core this week, with more lateral raises and lots of press ups. I think Zanna and Pete are collaborating :(

I intended to run either after the morning school run or at lunchtime on Wednesday, but work meant I was busy until 2pm. Giving myself 45 minutes, I decided to run up to Wilbury Hills/Standalone Farm. It's just over 5 miles, and I finished in just over 45 minutes (no time for a shower before the school pick up!). A very good tempo run that made me feel happy at the end.

I went to both running club sessions on Thursday. Ed and I took the run-walker beginners for an underpass session (fast up and slow down). I joined in on some of the sprints but didn't push hard. For inters we did a pyramid session: 100m, 200m, 300m, 400m, 300m, 200m, 100m sprints. Didn't do all that badly really, even though I hate doing sprints. 

I didn't do anything on Friday and Saturday in preparation for my long run on Sunday. Original plan was 14 miles as a cutback week, but after chatting to Lewis about long runs he convinced me to run another 20 miler. (Completely screws up my Jantastic plan for March but nevermind!) Ed suggested we run 2 mile laps of Stotfold (the route we take our beginners on), which meant other people could join us for one or more laps and not have to run too far. The aim was to run at marathon pace, which for Ed is 8:30-9:00. I stuck with him for about 10 miles but then started to tire. Lewis joined us at 10 miles and I ran with him for a bit, then with Pete. I thought I was running backwards at one point, perceived slowness. Anyway, finished the 20 miles in 3:03, which is 12 minutes faster than last weekend, thanks mainly to Ed and his fast first 10 miles.

Next week...

Monday: Rest day
Tuesday: Beginners running club (2 miles); Pilates
Wednesday: 9 miles, with 6 @ marathon pace
Thursday: Both running club sessions. I'm leading this week, so will be general runs out and back to Fairfield (for both groups). Will hopefully gain miles by looping back between groups
Friday: Rest day
Saturday: Bike ride, I'm behind on my annual target so I'm thinking of an early morning 15 mile cycle ride around the Greenway
Sunday: 13 miles, running with a friend on the Greenway from Standalone

Sunday, 9 March 2014

3 long runs to go...

Last week...

I helped at Stotfold Runners on Tuesday and took a rather large group of new starters on a 2 minute/1 minute run/walk. We took it really easy and covered 2 miles exactly. Pilates afterwards focused on arms, shoulders, and core, but we had chance to use the foam roller on our legs at the end. That was quite painful and I resolved to use my own roller a lot more regularly.

On Wednesday I had loads of work to do so couldn't go out for my planned long tempo run (boooo). But, I had a bit of a surprise in the post when a parcel arrived for my husband and he told me it was for me: a new Garmin 620! That's the power of moaning constantly, eventually it works*. I set it up to test the intervals feature, and late Wednesday evening I went out and ran 4 x 400 m intervals with a warm up and cool down. The workout feature is really cool and I've been fiddling some more so expect some random interval workouts next week.

*Doesn't always work, see Thursday.

On Thursday we had no broadband and I got really cross and moaned a lot (it didn't help). Because I couldn't work, and I'd missed my long Wednesday run, and I knew I was going to miss Stotfold Runners inters session that evening, I went out for an 8 mile run. I had no plan other than to test my new Garmin and figure out the alerts and other features. I managed to maintain marathon pace (9 min/mile) or faster so that was quite good I reckon. I made Stotfold Runners beginners club and led a 200 m sprint session, we had a short warm up jog, then did 5 x 200 m sprints, with 200 m jogged recoveries, then a cool down jog back. My husband had taken the children out for a mile jog at 7:15, and they met us at 7:30 so my husband could go to the inters speed session. We bought chocolate from the shop and skipped home happily.

The Garmin 620 has a feature that tells you how well you are recovering and how long you should rest for before your next run. I'm not sure how this works but I guess it's something to do with heart rate during the last run. Anyway, it said I needed 26 hours to recover before my next run, so that meant a rest day for Friday, before my long run on Saturday.

Last week was my first 20 mile long run, and I decided to plan it so other club runners could join me if they wanted to. So, similar to my last 20 mile run for marathon training (in 2012, during which I injured my knee and had to stop training 6 weeks before my race), I ran 3 laps of the Standalone 10K route. For the first lap at 6 am I was joined by Andy and John (who were running the full 20 miles with me), Paul (who ran 15 miles), and Robbie (who ran one lap because it was his first run since the end of 2013). I'd set my watch to beep if I ran slower than 10:10 min/mile pace, which is a great feature. We had to be back at the start within 65 minutes for the second lap and to meet any one else running, and we made good progress and finished the first 6.5 miles in 63 minutes. For the second lap, Simon, Tracey, Scott, and Mel joined me Paul, Andy, and John, so it was a good social run. We finished the second lap a bit faster than the first lap, which gave me chance to stop for a wee at Tracey's house... For the third lap, Scott, Mel, and Tracey left and Naomi joined us. We were starting to slow a bit, so Naomi and Simon sped up a bit, and then Simon took off for home (he was running 20 miles also but had to get back to Arlesey so had further to run). John, Andy, and I ran up and down the High St until we made 20 miles, and that was it, 20 miles in the bag. Uninjured, a whole hour faster than I ran 20 miles last time I attempted it (3:15), full of jelly babies. And with my watch telling me to recover for 36 hours.

Next week...

Monday: Circuit training
Tuesday: Beginners run club (2 miles); Pilates
Wednesday: Tempo run: 5 miles (middle 3 miles at 10K pace, or Strava segment run)
Thursday: Run club (both sessions, I've insisted!)
Friday: Rest day
Saturday: Bike ride or swimming
Sunday: 15 miles at marathon pace or faster