FINAL COUNTDOWN!!

Wow so I’m now in the final week of my London Marathon journey and with just four days to go both the excitement and the nerves have reached their crescendo (I hope)! At this point it’s impossible to convey the huge mix of emotions surrounding this event and the months of training that have led everyone to their own finale at the London Marathon. Training for London and any marathon involves much more than simply running!

My last run was on Saturday and I did 10 miles, cutting my usual route through two beautiful local parks short and having a valid reason to avoid any further hills, hooray! I did come home sporting quite an impressive blister for some reason though (a total mystery as my footwear is the same) however with the help of some castor oil this seems to be subsiding already.

This week I will do NO RUNNING and only a very short, steady cross training session which feels very strange and almost counter intuitive but I know this is the best preparation possible for my body. It has also made me realise that I hate not exercising and my first night in front of the TV continuing to ice my foot left me slightly twitchy and facing a terrible nights sleep as I just didn’t feel tired. However I’m going to try and embrace it for the rest of the week and will line up some good books and TV to see me through. Also as the weather looks so warm the rest of the week it might even mean I can sit outside in the evenings which is a bit nicer than the thought of being cooped up inside all day. Contrary to the wishes of the rest of the population I’m really hoping the predicted heat wave particularly in London this week takes a downward spiral with some clouds and perhaps even some light drizzle just for Sunday morning!

Tune in and watch the magic unfold from 8.30am on Sunday morning on BBC1. The start times are as follows:

 

  • 08:55 – Elite Wheelchair Races
  • 09:00 – World Para Athletics Marathon World Cup ambulant races
  • 09:15 – The Elite Women’s Race
  • 10:00 – The Elite Men’s Race, British Athletics & England Athletics Marathon Championships and Mass Race

Good luck to all my fellow runners and don’t forget to enjoy the experience, one of my running friends reassured me with the most positive message; ‘you’ve done all the hard work in training just see this as your victory lap.’

If you feel inspired, please take a moment to sponsor me via: https://bit.ly/2CL9SWu

Advertisements

Ploughing ahead

The last few weeks have been up and down but I’ve still managed to train albeit slightly differently to how I imagined, definitely proving that marathon training needs to be approached with some degree of flexibility as, shock horror things don’t always go to plan. There has been a lot of time spent cross training at the gym or on our turbo trainer at home to keep the pressure off my foot whilst keeping my cardio fitness up. One things for certain- I’m definitely getting my money’s worth at the gym, I feel like they might start paying me soon! I also managed to get in a 13 mile run last weekend including some hills, being sensible and stopping at this distance as my foot started to niggle. During this run I also (finally) nailed the art of fueling for the first time ever after listening to members of my running club and my husband. I started to take on food after just 20 minutes of running and then every 20 mins after this for the duration of my run which meant I never had a real crash in energy. I felt much stronger in terms of energy on this run proving the fueling strategy had really worked.

The next day was another weekend morning spent sweating away on our turbo trainer at home but at least I could look out onto the garden and not waste time getting to the gym before I could start exercising. I’ve been icing my foot every day and also went into our local running shop to get some more rock tape to keep my foot strapped up for the next few weeks; taping is most definitely an art form and you need approximately three pairs of hands to do this effectively but it definitely improves my confidence to get up and running again.

After a real struggle on a five mile club run last week I did begin to panic slightly (a recurring theme in my training) that such a lack of running may be having an impact on my fitness and my ability to finish the marathon but I was also struck down with a  sickness bug pretty much as soon as I had finished this run so put this down to a blip. I carried on as normal with training after a couple of days rest and reset my focus for the last leg of my training.

Wednesdays are my club run nights and this week I was greeted by a torrential downpour just as I was debating whether I could muster the enthusiasm to head out. I’d seen the routes earlier that day and knew most of the paths in our local nature reserve were currently underwater so had talked myself out of going… that was until there were four minutes left to leave the house and then suddenly the weather turned; the rain stopped and the sun came out so I took this as a sign. Never have I changed and got my kit together so quickly, in the end I was so pleased I made the effort after all as I had my strongest and quickest run in a long time and no real twinges in my foot. Victory! This was exactly what I needed at this point and gave me a real boost. I found myself in the gym the next morning doing some more cross training and will be doing a run home from work later today as well as (fingers crossed) my last longer run over the weekend and then the tapering will really kick in and I will be slowing my down considerably before the marathon.

I’ll be keeping my enthusiasm up by putting together a new playlist over the weekend, it definitely helps running to new music as you find you get lost in following new sounds and lyrics rather than focusing on how much your legs ache or how heavily you’re breathing.  I’ve also ordered some shorts to try out over the next few weeks as I found I was over heating a bit last time even with it being October so worth a trial, lastly I’ll be stocking up on marathon food and reading through my 39 page marathon guide.

Such a cliche but I honestly just can’t believe how quickly the last few weeks have evaporated! The 22nd April feels like it will be upon me in the blink of an eye.

 

 

Injury strikes

After my foot pain of last week was worsening and my anxiety levels were growing I decided the best thing to do was get it checked out by a professional. I headed to a local sports physio who was recommended by someone I run with. The pressure on this outcome of this consultation felt a bit overwhelming as I had done the worst possible thing and googled the symptoms; best case scenario was some over worked muscle, worst case was a stress fracture which would see my marathon dreams over for sure! Emotions were running high and I had a feeling it was damage to my ligaments, which again would not be good news at all especially as I hadn’t completed my longest run yet and in a week or so should actually be tapering.

The physio was great and talked to me about what I thought it could be and what the worst outcome could be. She had a really extensive feel of both feet and my legs after I had found I had some really unpleasant muscle knots in my right calf. I felt I hadn’t drawn a breath in nearly 35 minutes waiting for the verdict. She confirmed my fears that it was likely to be damage to my ligaments around my fifth metatarsal due to a combination of over use and an overly flexible mid foot which with the levels of training I had been doing had caused damage to my outer foot. I was told she didn’t think it was a stress fracture as my pain and responses didn’t correlate with this kind of injury. Despite this I was lacking the sense of relief I’d been hoping for as although it could have been worse it also could have been better and I felt a bit deflated. However we talked through what training I could do and to monitor pain levels, keeping them within a pre-defined score. It did all feel slightly out of control though and I still feel that I’m not out of the woods yet but I’m doing everything possible to give myself the best chance (as I’m typing this I have a large pack of frozen peas on my foot). I have to keep it strapped for the next five weeks, including for the marathon, wear flat, supportive shoes, ice it whenever possible and do lots of cross training to make up for the period of ‘relative rest’ I’m entering into over the next week which feels very alien at this stage. Certainly my aim of getting 22 miles in pre-marathon is no longer possible and I’m feeling anxious at the thought of only being able to get in a maximum of around 18 miles in before I run.

It’s been a really tough week mentally and physically but it’s not over yet and watching sport relief on TV this week puts your own problems well and truly into perspective. I’m determined to be part of the London Marathon 2018 and this has confirmed to me that this will be the end of any desire to do another road marathon ever again.

Things worth doing are never easy!

An icy blip

So after my last post, I have been working hard to keep up my training and trying to focus a little bit more on some strength training to prevent injury. I did a solo run of just over 17 miles the weekend before last which included getting totally and utterly lost (which actually helped keep my interest in the end) but it was satisfying to keep the mileage high. I have to say I have been finding it really hard in the cold weather and lots of early morning weekend starts to keep myself motivated on longer solo runs but I know from experience how important it is to build my distance up steadily without a massive spike in miles. I’ve taken some time to think about small things that will keep me going like updating my music to keep my interest and give my brain something else to focus on rather than zoning out when I hear the same music being piped into my ears. Also thinking about snacks I will enjoy and buying some in to trial on longer runs (the last thing anyone should do is try new fuel on race day, as if it doesn’t suit you, you may face a rather mortifying Paula Radcliffe style Athens 2004 style moment; feel free to google if your curiosity gets the better of you).

I had been building up to my first 20 mile run last Sunday in the form of the Ashby 20 race but unfortunately with the arrival of yet another set of bad weather the race was called off a few days before. I had really mixed feelings about this, obviously I was disappointed not to have the chance to do one final race before the big day; to practice race day prep and learning to deal with nerves, crowds and an entirely new course however after a six day week at work and a bit of a niggle in my foot (not the tin can injured foot), I couldn’t help but feel relieved too as I just didn’t know whether I felt mentally or physically up to it. My concerns were vindicated after a visit to the gym on Sunday in which I barely managed 3 miles of running due to foot twinges, I did make sure I had a good workout though, being sensible and using machines that wouldn’t aggravate the pain but would allow me to keep my heart rate up.

Since then I have been walking, cycling, spinning and doing strength training combined with resting and keeping my foot up as well as my lovely husband providing nightly foot rubs (he’s a keeper)! Hopefully after a few more days I’ll be back to fighting fit and can face the next few weeks with renewed enthusiasm and determination as I know this will be my last road marathon.

 

 

 

 

Hitting pause

Monday of this week could have spelled disaster for me in the most ridiculous of ways. After months of intense training, pressing pause on my social life, changing my diet, being quite possibly the most one dimensional colleague/friend/daughter/sister and wife, I rushed home from a long day at work determined to make a healthy, veggie laden dinner. In my rush to get a list of other chores done during my one night off training I was determined not to waste time and quickly gather all the ingredients together in a rather manic fashion. This saw me smash a whole kilo tub of yoghurt out of the fridge and all over the kitchen floor as well as every conceivable cupboard and surface in sight but stop I did not, I didn’t have time clean the mess up at this point and needed to get dinner started. I carried on gathering the rest of  the ingredients I needed and with one ferocious pull on our pantry cupboard, two tins of canned tomatoes tumbled out from the top shelf gathering speed and hurtling downwards making contact with a hard surface which it turns out was not the floor but my left foot! (Insert choice words here) Obviously it really hurt and bought a tear or two to my eyes but within about thirty seconds and a very real throbbing starting to consume my left foot my attention turned to the thought of potential injury by way of tinned food and whether this could impact on my ability to train!

I was beginning to panic but recognised this feeling from my marathon training last time- its often referred to as total and utter pre race hypochondria. I am told though this is quite common and I can see why! Nothing else I have done has ever consumed my life quite like training for a marathon and to think that something out of your control such as illness (which was a factor last time around) or injury could throw this into jeopardy is quite frankly vomit inducing. I thought I’d see how it felt overnight as I recognised the probability that I was being a bit of a drama queen but each time I rolled over onto it during the night the pain woke me up and by the next morning it had also swollen up- hmmm! At this point I knew I had to get it checked out as I was due to head out and do some sprint training that evening and I couldn’t risk further damage if really had been unlucky enough to do any real damage already.  Luckily I work really close by to my local A&E department so popped over after work to go and see what they thought. Feeling a bit of a fraud I took a sit in the emergency department, preparing myself for a mammoth wait, the triage nurse saw me within about 15 minutes and after a good feel of my foot sent me to x-ray. Again the wait here was minimal and I was back with the nurse after about another 20 minutes.  My name was bellowed out across the waiting area and after taking a deep breath I headed in thinking this could be the end of my London Marathon dream. “So this is your X-ray, we’ve had a good look and it seems…(long, dramatic pause as I recall it) there is no fracture on the bruised part or at the base of your toe so it’s just a soft tissue injury and some bad bruising.” The poor guy had barely taken a breath before I added, “I’m training for a marathon, can I still train as normal? Will I need to rest it or can I head straight out?” Luckily I was assured that it would be fine to train on and just to keep it elevated when I could. I felt I’d dodged a bullet though so went home and indulged in a TV and footstool evening.

The physical toll on your body is something you have to expect when marathon training but the emotional roller coaster, especially the anxiety is something no-one can really prepare you for.

Back on track and heading towards my next race on Sunday 18th to get 20 miles under my belt which feels quite scary in itself but will be really good preparation at this point.

 

Ice, ice baby

This week’s training has required a bit of creativity and compromise thanks to the much anticipated arrival of the ‘Beast from the East’ storm. Our part of the UK was held to ransom from Wednesday onwards and by Thursday conditions were treacherous (by running standards at least). Wednesday saw the first blip to my training schedule in that my Athletics club cancelled their weekly mid week run (though I was in total agreement) I felt a bit all at sea so headed to the gym instead and got busy with some dreaded interval training and a little bit of strength work. Thursday’s weather was worse and by this point I couldn’t walk safely on the pavements let alone think about running anywhere, outside at least. My plan for the weekend was to get my biggest distance yet under my belt and aim for around 17 miles so over the next few days I found myself looking at every weather report and app I could lay my hands on – it wasn’t looking pretty!

28685365_10159959951835368_4241657504792051712_n
So just a little bit of ice on the canal then!

By Friday and after two disrupted days at work I found myself back in the gym AGAIN and feeling a bit deflated. Thankfully I had a day at the IAAF World Indoor Athletics Championships in Birmingham to look forward to which re ignited my enthusiasm to keep going. Ironically watching other people do sport was exactly what I needed to break up the monotony of a weeks training pretty much confined to the indoors.

28577838_10159959952525368_2219368614417399808_n

Sunday morning arrived and I knew I was not feeling confident to chance a go at running outside so instead I headed back to the gym and bagged myself a treadmill. I had to speak to the gym staff to explain why I would be hogging one of their most popular machines for the morning. I did evoke some puzzled looks from other people in the gym after setting up camp on the treadmill with multiple bottles of water, a tennis ball for some post run hip rolling and food! I settled in to watch almost an entire episode of Sunday Brunch undisturbed by my husband’s lack of enthusiasm for this weekend TV indulgence- bliss! Or so I thought but after about 35 minutes I was starting to get a bit twitchy from boredom, I wasn’t used to running for so long without the scenery changing and it was really hard work. I kept going and found I took on more food than I perhaps needed out of sheer boredom. Over two hours later I was done and bored out of my mind but it was done and I was so pleased I had been able to get some bigger miles in.

Indoor run
Torturous describes my love of watching cooking programmes on treadmill runs!

This week has started with a thaw in the snowy, icy weather of last week so I’m hoping to be back out pounding the pavements from tomorrow

 

Stepping it up

With time ticking by it means I am now focusing on moving my training up a gear. I ran the Brighton half marathon last Sunday and despite finding it more difficult than I expected it was really useful to get my head back into racing again. This means dealing with pre-race nerves, deciding on kit to suit the weather on the day beforehand (easier said than done when wind temperature was -5), getting used to running with the masses again, not running with my usual camelbak water pack, dealing with an unfamiliar course and trying to run at race pace again.

I was lucky enough to have access to the press area as my husband was doing some work with the race organiser, what a luxury to have porta loos in a private pen on race day- I’m not joking, race day toilets are not for the faint hearted! The previous day’s weather had been absolutely freezing, walking around Brighton we found it hard to keep warm, despite layering up and the thought of dealing with this sort of weather on race day was making me really anxious. However we got there after a bit of faffing in the morning and I was in my pen in plenty of time and soaking up the fantastic atmosphere at the start, I always find this bit really exciting if not a bit nerve wracking. We set off with a chill to spur us all on but within the first half mile I found I was dropping back already and finding it hard to breathe properly, I don’t always find it easy to run in the cold being Asthmatic and I’m sure I’m not alone in this. However running a race you do get swept along with your fellow runners and so I tried to keep my focus and tune into some music, enjoying the sea views and a change of scenery.

I kept the 1:45 pacer in sight for a few miles and this was the best case scenario as I thought if I pushed myself I could finish in around this sort of time. However at about mile four I began to overheat and was starting to feel a drop in energy. I started to take on some food at this point but couldn’t cool myself down. I even made a call to my husband whilst running (not recommended) at about mile six as I was starting to feel really weak (not at all how I was expecting to feel). With a bit more fuelling and a bit of a re-focus I managed to keep going but my pace took a real knock and I lost sight of the pacer. The miles seemed to be passing painfully slowly and on my way up to mile nine, the first of the men’s field hurtled past in the opposite direction heading towards the finish line. I’m still not sure how it is humanly possible to keep up the pace over anything more than a few hundred metres let alone above thirteen. I found some comfort approaching mile ten as it felt good to be in double figures and on the home straight. I spotted Zoe Ball cheering in the crowds and the amount of people lining this part of the route was growing. One lovely lady cheered out my race number which gave me a real boost and I stepped things up again thrilled to start counting down the last couple of miles. I did have one strange experience with crowds here and found it all a bit overwhelming at the end, getting a bit emotional a couple of times trying to imagine the level of crowds I might face in London became a bit much. Hearing a familiar, friendly voice cheering my name on just as I entered the finishing stretch was just what I needed though and I used this to speed things up as my hips and legs started to feel empty. Another one down and slightly closer to London!

Thanks Brighton and huge thanks Suzanne and Martin for a fantastic race experience, the classiest I’ve ever had!

Brighton_FatBoy
A quick pic with Mr Norman Cook (Fatboy Slim) post race in the VIP area don’t you know!