Brighton Marathon Training Day #1

Runners are a friendly bunch, aren’t they?

Obviously we all knew that already, but it was really noticeable yesterday. I went along to the Brighton Marathon Training Day by myself, feeling a little nervous, but the minute I sat down people started chatting to me. Although I was in a room full of total strangers, everyone was SO approachable. It was wonderful!

I met people who had never run more than 10k, to people who had run dozens of marathons (at paces that I can only dream of!) They were all different ages, shapes, sizes and backgrounds, and it reminded me that ANYONE can be a runner. You don’t need to run fast, you don’t need to be stick thin, you don’t need to have been doing it all your life – you just need to get out there and run.

The thing I really love about the running community is that you can chat to a sub-3hr marathon runner about your recent 1hr 10k, and not feel inferior – instead, you get tons of encouragement and support, and are made to feel great about GETTING OUT THERE AND TRYING. That really is all that matters πŸ™‚

The session was run by the Run Lounge Coaches (although it was just Nick there this time), with the help of the BM race director, the guys from Saucony, and the physios from Body Rehab.

The session was titled ‘Let’s Get Organised!’ and covered tons of interesting topics:

  • How to plan your training around the months ahead
  • Getting the right kit for this winter
  • How to fuel my running and surviving Christmas!
  • What training is required – the key elements explained
  • Stretching and core conditioning workshop
  • Intro from the race director

They gave us lots of Gatorade and High5 goodies, which is great as I haven’t used either of those brands before, and as they’re the event sponsors it’ll be their products handed out at the aid stations. They also gave us a water pouch to try out, which I’m obviously going to accidentally explode all over my face:

Gatorade
Yesterday made things feel very real. They started by showing us a video of the 2013 Brighton Marathon – it had loads of clips from the finishing line, and I swear, the tension in the room was crazy. It suddenly seemed to sink in that it would be US crossing that line next – in just 132 days! Is it weird that I got a little bit emotional watching it!? (No tears, of course. I’m way too tough for that!)

One of the sentences in Nick’s opening presentation really stood out to me:

There will be weeks when you ask yourself what you’re capable of. But the fact that you’re sitting here now, tells me that you’ll all be fine‘.

The session was encouraging, and gave me the confidence that I’ve been lacking so far. Honestly, the motivational speeches by themselves made the session worth paying for! The presentations were funny, interesting and full of loads of useful tips. They also answered every. single. question, even if they touched on topics that were to be covered in future training days.

There were a few points that really interested me. The first was the idea of training by time, rather than distance – especially for the long runs. They pointed out that if elite and novice runners both aim for a 20-mile long run before the taper, the elite will run it in around 2 hours, whereas a novice would probably be running closer to 4.(Think about the difference in recovery time – after a 3-week taper, the elite will be starting the marathon on fresh legs, whilst the novice may still be recovering).

Studies have shown that the benefits in relation to effort significantly decrease past the 3-hour mark, and that runners shouldn’t aim to run for more than 3h-3h15 for their longest training run (or, as mentioned, they may not be fully recovered in time for the marathon).

This is something I’m really going to stick toΒ  this time round – during my last training cycle I put way too much emphasis on the miles, and not on the time. I think that was part of the reason I got injured – I spent too much time on my feet during my long runs, and as a result I didn’t give myself enough time to recover in between. They suggested that it would be better to run for slightly less time, maintaining your marathon pace for the second half (to get used to running at marathon pace on tired legs), than plodding along at a much slower pace for an extra hour. Makes sense!

Nutrition was another big topic yesterday, and something I really don’t know much about! One of their tips was to reduce the size of your 3 main meals, but to regularly snack in between, to keep your metabolism working at a higher rate (burning more calories at rest – win!) and to maintain your blood sugar levels. They said that this would actually aid recovery, and train your body to store fuel as glycogen, rather than fat (making it easier to access during your next run!)

The idea is that if you let yourself become hungry, your body will already be lacking the extra calories it needs to repair your muscles (similar to thirst indicating that you’re already dehydrated). This is something to carry over into the marathon – fuel before you feel the need (i.e., before you deplete your glycogen stores), so that by the time you finish, you body already has the energy it needs to begin the recovery process, rather than being in calorie deficit. Much more efficient than an ’emergency refuel’ after you cross the finish line!

They also mentioned something that I’ve never paid enough attention to – iron levels. I became a blood donator a few years ago, but the past few times I’ve tried to give blood, I’ve failed the hemoglobin/finger prick test they do beforehand, due to low iron levels. In fact, at one point I was borderline anemic, and prescribed iron tablets. But I had never considered how it would affect my running.

The thing is, we all know that iron is involved in transporting oxygen to your muscles via your red blood cells, and being on the low side would inhibit this process – which isn’t what you want when your muscles are working hard! (Duh) ..

There’s also the side effect of low energy, and generally feeling run down. Again, not what you want when training for a marathon!

As I know that I have low iron levels (they suggested heading to your GP for a blood test if you’re unsure) I’m going to get back into taking multivitamins with iron, and increasing the iron-rich foods in my diet (as well as having more vitamin C, which aids iron absorption). It’s something worth thinking about if you find yourself feeling tired, run down, or lacking energy!

If any of you guys are training for Brighton, I can’t recommend these sessions enough. At only Β£20 a go, they’re a steal! As well as the presentations, they offered a stretching and core conditioning workshop (which made every runner in the room groan in discomfort, but REALLY WORKED, and was definitely a bit of a giggle); gait analysis; half price physio checkups/sports massages, and HUGELY reduced Saucony kit. I’d never bought any Saucony gear before the weekend, but I fell in love with the stuff I saw yesterday, and nabbed a few bits πŸ˜€ They even had running shoes reduced to Β£25! Insane!

I’ll definitely be going to the other events! (And I won’t skip the group running session next time ..)

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One for the girls

My friend and I decided to stop off at Evans Cycles on the way home last night, for their ‘One for the Girls’ evening. The session included free nibbles, wine, a goodie bag, a talk on preparing for winter cycling, general advice and a 20% discount on clothes and accessories! What’s not to love!?

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Given that my friend and I cycled there in the cold and the dark and the rain, we felt extremely justified in eating multiple cupcakes πŸ˜€ I actually felt like a proper cyclist, stood there in my cycling jacket, with my helmet in one hand and goodie bag in the other.

They had a mechanic and a few staff members on hand to answer questions, which for me was REALLY useful because I still know almost nothing about anything when it comes to cycling. I needed a spare inner tube and a puncture repair kit (yes, after 8 months of cycling I still hadn’t invested in either – I’ve either been extremely lucky, or have puncture-proof tyres ..) and I had no idea where to start.

I was hoping to just grab an all-in-one repair kit, but unluckily for me they only had the individual bits in stock. Turns out that all I needed was patches and a set of tyre levers. Simplest thing ever! I also got some chain oil – something I hadn’t considered when I got my bike, but will definitely help to maintain it. With all the rain, debris, and dirt .. Let’s just say that my bike has seen better days!

As far as the inner tube goes, I had no idea what size my tyre is (still don’t – and why it didn’t occur to me that I’d need that information, I don’t know) so will have to check that out and order online. Whilst I now miss out on the 20% discount that they offered last night, they included a Β£5 voucher in our goodie bags – so I still save money! Win!

They had a short demonstration on winter kit, and OMG, I wanted to buy ALL THE THINGS. Funky base layers (with a handy back pocket), bright buffs and gloves, cosy hats .. And I found a neon yellow helmet that was ALL KINDS OF AWESOME! (But I resisted, even when I then spotted a white and blue helmet that matched the road bike I’m currently in love with!!) And man, they had some GORGEOUS road bikes in store. They were offering a 10% discount on all bikes last night, but I managed to hold back. I’ve decided that I’m going to wait until the new year, and then get one .. But man, they were sooo preeetty!

For the shop, these kinds of events are absolute genius. Get a bunch of bike enthusiasts into a bike shop, show them all of the lovely things they can get (most of which, if a newbie like me, they’d never have even thought of), give them cake and wine and off they go!

Then again, it was also pretty awesome for me. Cake, wine, discounts, a goodie bag and a chance to ask stupid questions without feeling stupid? What more could a girl want!?

It was back down to reality this morning though. I was cycling through the town center (30mph limit), and pulled into the middle of the lane to pass a bus at a bus stop, as this was a 1-lane road with the bus on one side and a pedestrian island on the other. As I did, some idiot on a motorbike somehow managed to squeeze past me to overtake at about 40mph! Absolute moron!

I yelled at him, but all I got was a cursory glance over his shoulder before he put his foot down and disappeared.

But hey, I made it to work in one piece πŸ™‚

A perfect morning for a run

I ran to work this morning. It was BEAUTIFUL.

When I got up at 6h40, it was still dark. I had a banana and some water, layered up (long sleeve compression top as a base layer; short sleeve top over it; running jacket over that; neck warmer; long running tights; double-layer socks, and my running gloves), grabbed my stuff and headed out by 7am. According to the weather forecast, it was about 2 degrees this morning, with just a veeery slight breeze. Brilliant!

I ran the same route that I cycle, although with building work going on along the river path I had to go through town instead at the beginning. I then followed the normal route, along the main roads. Thing is, even though I cycle (and run) along a big 60mph A road, the views to either side are wonderful, as it cuts straight through the Surrey countryside. I got to see the sun rise:

1

This was at the top of the biggest hill on the route:

2

And, being so early, the roads were almost deserted. It was just me, the sun, the crisp Autumn air and some awesome music! Really, really peaceful πŸ˜€

I ran to the supermarket by the office, bought some lunch (got a few weird looks, but I was buzzing, so whatever!) and then walked the last half mile to the office to stretch out my legs. (That bit was FREEZING!) I ran 6.5 miles altogether; the Garmin auto-paused when I stopped (the footpath KEPT changing sides, so i had to cross the road about 5 or 6 times!), but I only walked when crossing roads, and ran the rest of the way. Including ALL of the hills – yay!

Then I got into the office, changed into thick leggings and a cosy jumper dress, and had a huge bowl of porridge. As I walked in (in my running gear) my colleagues asked if I ran the whole way here – and when I said yes, they all called me a crazy fool. I’ll take it πŸ˜€

All that I need now is a nap – but I guess that’ll have to wait!

A perfect morning for a run!

I ran to work this morning. It was BEAUTIFUL.

When I got up at 6h40, it was still dark. I had a banana and some water, layered up (long sleeve compression top as a base layer; short sleeve top over it; running jacket over that; neck warmer; long running tights; double-layer socks, and my running gloves), grabbed my stuff and headed out by 7am. According to the weather forecast, it was about 2 degrees this morning, with just a veeery slight breeze. Brilliant!

I ran the same route that I cycle, although with building work going on along the river path I had to go through town instead at the beginning. I then followed the normal route, along the main roads. Thing is, even though I cycle (and run) along a big 60mph A road, the views to either side are wonderful, as it cuts straight through the Surrey countryside. I got to see the sun rise:

1

This was at the top of the biggest hill on the route:

2

And, being so early, the roads were almost deserted. It was just me, the sun, the crisp Autumn air and some awesome music! Really, really peaceful πŸ˜€

I ran to the supermarket by the office, bought some lunch (got a few weird looks, but I was buzzing, so whatever!) and then walked the last half mile to the office to stretch out my legs. (That bit was FREEZING!) I ran 6.5 miles altogether; the Garmin auto-paused when I stopped (the footpath KEPT changing sides, so i had to cross the road about 5 or 6 times!), but I only walked when crossing roads, and ran the rest of the way. Including ALL of the hills – yay!

Then I got into the office, changed into thick leggings and a cosy jumper dress, and had a huge bowl of porridge. As I walked in (in my running gear) my colleagues asked if I ran the whole way here – and when I said yes, they all called me a crazy fool. I’ll take it πŸ˜€

All that I need now is a nap – but I guess that’ll have to wait!

Training through winter weather

I’m beyond impressed with my new cycling jacket. I really needed something good quality, wind proof, waterproof and breathable, in a bright colour – and this one delivers on all fronts. Every day that I’ve worn it this past week and a bit (through torrential rain, fog, drizzle, wind and frost), I’ve got to work (and back) dry and warm. Well, besides my ears, hands and toes! It’s made SUCH a difference.

I got the Altura Sirius Plus 2012 (long name for a jacket ..) as my friend has been using a similar Altura jacket in yellow, and has often commented on how warm and breathable it was. Hers was over Β£90, which I couldn’t really stretch to, so for months I made do with my Karrimor trail running jacket (not quite so waterproof!) But then I noticed that a bunch of jackets were reduced – and I ended up getting this one for under Β£50 (instead of Β£130!) Absolute win!

Given the way English winters tend to go, I’m SO glad I invested in such a sturdy jacket now – the weather’s just getting worse and worse. Apparently we’re predicted a fair bit of snow this year? Not sure I’m tough enough to cycle in that, but we’ll see .. Might have to find some thermal socks before then! πŸ˜€

I’ve been curious for a little while about how fast I cycle each day, and whether I’m getting faster or not (it definitely doesn’t feel like it, but who knows!) so I decided to record my commute with my Garmin this morning. It has an auto pause function, which is perfect for traffic jams and red lights, but it took a mile and a bit to get the GPS signal 😦 It managed to measure the last 5.5 miles, which isn’t too bad, and I apparently managed 4:57/mile! It saved it as a run though, which is going to skew my stats a little – haaa.

I actually really struggled this morning. I haven’t had a rest day since my 8-miler on Sunday – I think in future I’ll get the train on Mondays to give the legs a break – and as a result my quads were really burning for most of the way in. I swear, I nearly rolled backwards on the steeper bits (well ok, maybe not. But it felt like I might!) so to know that I still averaged over 12mph was really good to see! For me, at least. I know 12mph isn’t hugely fast in the grand scheme of things. I wonder if I can beat that speed on my way home this evening ..

Whilst I may not have had a rest day, I haven’t run since Sunday. I’m heading to the gym this evening for a weights session, and a little 20 minute jog to loosen the legs, and I’m aiming to run to work tomorrow. I guess I’ll have to see how I’m feeling, but I think it’ll be good! It’s going to be very cold again, but dry and not too windy, so with my cosy base layer the conditions should be perfect for an early morning run! It’ll be a good challenge, anyway πŸ˜€