Running the London marathon 2016: February update

Update: follow the link if you’d like to jump straight to my report of running the London marathon.

I cannot believe I’m already writing my February update. The month has flown by and the London marathon is now less than 60 days away, a scary thought. How am I getting on?

Training

On Saturday I ran the longest run of my life. 14 miles. Woo hoo! Two months ago I couldn’t contemplate running this far but I’ve trusted my plan and, dare I say, it wasn’t too bad at all. Although my legs are still a little achy.

I’ve missed out one training session. During half term we went to London for the day; I was supposed to run for 50 minutes that evening but we didn’t get home until 8pm and the thought of heading back out wasn’t appealing. In fairness I had been on my feet for most of the day and must have easily walked 6 miles.

The only other training I’ve changed was a speed session. To put it bluntly, I just couldn’t be bothered. I much prefer to pootle along at my own pace and although I know speed sessions are beneficial I don’t enjoy them. That said, I have managed to take 30 seconds off my Parkrun personal best this month so all the running must be doing me some good!

Touch wood I haven’t picked up any injuries from running yet. I do have neck and back problems but that’s more to do with age and years of bad posture. Aside from this I get niggles in my legs which last about a mile and then just as I’m starting to worry about them they’ll stop and something else starts hurting instead.

Gear

I’m slowly getting to grips with my new Garmin watch. It’s definitely more accurate than my phone app which was over-estimating both my distance and pace (pity). Despite the time it takes to locate a GPS signal I find it much easier to access and use whilst out on a run. The downside is that I’m having to carry my phone too in case of emergencies.

The trainers are still comfortable and the roller is being rolled on although I’m yet to be convinced it makes the slightest difference.

Food and drink

All of the marathon advice I’ve read stresses the importance of correct fuelling. Most seem to advocate gels and energy drinks but I’m not too keen on using these so I’ve been practising eating real food (Nakd energy bars) whilst I run. I haven’t choked yet!

Similarly I don’t generally drink much if I’m running but I know that if it’s a warm day I’m going to have to. I don’t normally carry a water bottle but will force myself to do so on longer runs so that I can get used to drinking on the go.

The month ahead

March is by far the hardest month of the training plan with four very long runs scheduled. I’m already struggling to find new and interesting routes so I think I’ll be pretty bored of running by the end of the month. I’m off to Belfast for a few days after Easter so will somehow need to fit runs in (and take all my running gear in my plane hand luggage) but at least I’ll have somewhere different to run.

According to the plan I should also be scheduling a half-marathon in. The organiser of the the local half-marathon I’m interested in obviously isn’t following my training plan as the date clashes with my longest run! I still haven’t decided what to do but am wondering if it’s a bad thing to delay my long run a week (into my taper period) or to run an extra 7 miles after I finish the half marathon. Watch this space…..

Are you training for the London marathon? Do leave a comment to let me know how you’re getting on.

Running the London Marathon 2016: January update

As you may have read in my previous post I’m hoping to run the London marathon in April 2016. The good news is that I’ve survived my first full month of training; read on to find out how I’m getting on.

Marathon training

The first month has been relatively easy, primarily because I’m running distances I’m already comfortable with. The hardest part is fitting the runs into the week and I know this is going to get much more difficult over the next two months.

My London marathon training plan consists of 4 runs per week. During the week I run in the early evening, which generally means I’m running around the streets during rush hour. I’m not convinced that breathing in fumes from cars spewing out exhaust fumes is healthier than not running. But I haven’t got the motivation to get up and go for an early morning jog.

My Saturday morning running route
My Saturday morning running route

At the weekend I manage to get out during daylight and run beside quiet roads and on footpaths. I ran 10 miles on Saturday and although the route was a tad muddy in places it was lovely to breathe fresh air and hear birdsong.

New kit

Thanks to Christmas and my birthday I have some shiny new gear. Most importantly, a pair of trainers; the most expensive I’ve ever owned. I had my gait analysed on a treadmill at a local running shop and this indicated I needed extra support. After trying on most of the shop’s stock I finally chose a pair of Mizuno Wave Inspire 12 trainers which were comfy the minute I put them on. Sadly, courtesy of the winter weather, they don’t look very new any more.

My 'new' Mizuno trainers
My ‘new’ Mizuno trainers

Trainers aside, I received a foam roller and running clothes too. I quite enjoy rolling back and forth on the roller. Primarily as it seems easier than doing all the strength exercises I’m supposed to be doing.

I’m also considering buying a Garmin GPS watch. I never thought I’d need one (and realistically I don’t) but my old iPhone has questionable battery life and no sound. The app I use on it also suggested I was running 7 minute miles; great if this was true but it seems to be missing a couple of minutes somewhere!

Nutrition and health

I’m attempting to eat healthier. Not cutting down on food but, with the exception of chocolate, trying to eat more nutrient rich options. So instead of crisps and biscuits I’m eating almonds and tubs of addictive Munchy Seeds. I’ve started taking a multi-vitamin with iron tablet. I think my diet is pretty healthy but I’ve had low iron levels in the past and as I’m also vegetarian and significantly increasing my running mileage I thought it best to pre-empt any problems.

Being of a certain age I was also able to take advantage of the NHS Health Check offered to people aged 40+. The test checks blood pressure, heart rate, cholesterol levels and general lifestyle factors to give you a risk factor of having a heart attack or stroke in the next 10 years. Mine came out at 0.8% which is obviously good news for the marathon run. I’m just hoping my creaky legs last long enough!

Into February

The marathon training steps up a gear this month. The runs are getting longer and I’m also supposed to be speeding up some of the shorter workouts. I’m looking forward to the nights getting longer and the opportunity that gives me to run away from the main road routes.

Are you training for any events this year? How’s it going?

Running the London Marathon 2016: December update

From reading the title you might think this has turned into a running blog. It hasn’t. But in 2016 I’ll (hopefully) be running the London Marathon. The training will take over my life and shape our family days out for the next few months so I’ve decided to write a monthly update about the experience. I’ll also be able to look back in future years and remind myself not to enter the ballot again!

Why did I apply?

For purely selfish reasons. At the back of my mind I’ve always thought it would be quite an achievement to run the London marathon. I entered the ballot unsuccessfully for a couple of years so was amazed to find out I’d got a place this year.

I know there are plenty of other marathons out there. But when I saw the lonely tail runners hobbling around the deserted business park that forms part of our local marathon route I knew I’d only be motivated to run in a much larger and well supported event.

I’m also relieved that I don’t have to raise large amounts of money for a charity place. This would have been easier in my old corporate role but I work in a much smaller place now with far fewer fund raising opportunities. I’ll still run for a charity (to be decided) but will be spared the pressure of finding time for both training and lots of fund raising.

My running history

I’ve been an intermittent runner over the last few years. I love the feeling after a run but unless I have a goal I’m happy to find an excuse not to run. It’s always too windy, too wet, too sunny or too hot. That said, I much prefer to run outside, preferably along country footpaths. You’ll never find me in a gym on a treadmill!

Running is near enough my only exercise, with the exception of a daily lunchtime walk. In the summer months I cycle to and from work a couple of times a week. Sadly the route I use is too muddy (and currently closed) at this time of year.

The most sustained running period of my life was whilst training for the Reading half-marathon almost four years ago. Despite atrocious weather on half-marathon day I achieved the sub-2 hour time I was hoping for.

Since the Reading half I’ve only run once or twice a week, always meaning to enter another event and never quite getting around to it. I’ve taken part in my local Parkrun since the start of 2015 but until last month my weekly mileage hovered around the 6 mile mark, some way off marathon level!

My London Marathon training plan

My goal is to complete the course with minimal walking and ideally in less than 5 hours. This is achievable, given my half-marathon time, but I’ll be a first time marathoner at the age of 46 and it pays to be realistic. If things don’t work out on the day I won’t worry too much, after all it will still be a PB!

Over the last month I’ve spent a lot of time researching other runner’s blogs and reading about their training regimes. It’s a whole new language; from threshold runs to hill repeats to fartlek. 

My plan is to keep it simple. I immediately discounted every plan I found that involved running more than 4 times per week. I’ve got too many creaky joints to run too frequently and not end up injured prior to the race. Instead I’m adapting a plan I found so that I end up with one long run a week (building up to 20 miles), a fast 3 mile Parkrun and a couple of other runs during the week. I’ll vary the speeds and distances of these according to how I feel. I won’t break any records with this approach but my life is already busy enough.

My 16 week training plan officially starts on the 4th January. However I’ve upped my mileage in preparation and am currently running around 15 miles per week, including an hour long run once a week.

Other preparation

I know from my copious blog reading that I should be incorporating stretching, core strength training, yoga,  swimming and the like into my training plan. That doesn’t mean I’ll actually get around to doing any of these. Even though I know it’s the right thing to do!

And lastly, perhaps most importantly, it’s time for some new running trainers. I finally replaced my Reading half-marathon pair earlier this year (ahem, a couple of years late). However my replacement pair doesn’t offer as much support and I’m already getting sore feet when I run longer distances. So this weekend I’ll be trotting off to my local running shop for a spot of Christmas present trainer purchasing.

That’s all for this month. In January I’ll be back with a training progress update. If you’ve ever run a marathon, or indeed have a place in one, I’d love to hear how you got on so please do leave a comment below.