100 days to go!

IMG_9265All this training and preparation is starting to kick up a notch. Am I excited, overwhelmed, enthusiastic or just in denial? Well, It depends what time of day you ask me!

There’s so much to start thinking about and every time I pick up a running magazine the information I get is different to the last. I’m not sure how much I really need to pay attention to or how much of it is overkill?

While I get my head round the ins and outs of staying hydrated before, during and post run, what food I should be eating, what combination of running sessions I should be doing and at what pace, I thought now would be a good time to ask for a favour.

Even though I have a ballot place this year, I would still like to run the marathon for a good cause. Actually, two good causes. They are two amazing charities and I have picked them because they’re both close to my heart. If you can spare the money, however small the amount please consider helping me to raise money for Mind and JDRF by making a donation to my fundraising page.

Claire’s London Marathon fundraising page

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I vant to suck your blood!

It turns out I have “the vampire bite”. A term for a very painful foot injury.

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One of the reasons I deferred my entry to the 2014 London Marathon was because my feet were causing me so much agro and it didn’t look like it was going to get sorted in time for race day. The problem being that my right foot would consistently ‘go to sleep’ after around 25 minutes of running. Every time, without fail. It would gradually get worse and creep up my leg before I had to walk it off.

When this happened I desperately sought advice from many different people in an attempt to still get to the starting line of the marathon. I got various pieces of advice, none of which worked. Here’s a list of what I tried:

  • Wear thinner socks.
  • Loosen those laces. Your feet expand when you run and the tight laces are restricting blood flow.
  • Tie those laces up differently to allow for more room in the middle of the shoe.
  • Loosen those laces some more.
  • Laces are now so loose that I can’t tie them up. Buy elasticated laces.
  • Buy a pedi-roller and try to remember to use it every evening before bed.
  • Get a gait test at my local running shop, shell out for shiny new trainers.
  • Stretch, stretch, stretch.
  • Cry.
  • Eat Ben & Jerry’s.
  • Stretch some more.
  • Fork out for sports massages on my calves to increase blood flow to my feet.

Here I am many months later, and while it looked like I may have turned a corner, the arch in my right foot is now quite sore – all the time. If I get up after sitting for any length of time I spend about 30 seconds hobbling around like an old woman from the stiffness and pain.acupuncture-for-plantar-fasciitis_full

Que an appointment with a fully fledged physio therapist. Even though it was expensive I highly recommend it. She analysed my running behaviour, how I walk, my posture, the shoes I wear to work, and even what my working day looks like. After trying out some stretches her verdict was that I have plantar fasciitis (the tissue that runs along the bottom of your foot from the heel to your toes.) It’s been damaged partly from overly tight calf muscles and is now causing shooting pains when I’m walking anywhere.

She’s given me lots of handy tips of how to manage the pain and massage it out in ways that I can do when I’m sat at my desk at work, along with extensively stretching my calves when I’m not. So for the next few weeks my life will revolve around my calves. I’ve been ordered to lay off running for the next 3/4 days and then I must only do a gentle 3 mile run to see how the stretching has affected my foot before deciding the next course of action.

On the bright side she did give me the green light to go shopping for some new sandals that will better support my feet so, every cloud!

 

If in doubt, join a running club

One of the main things that has kept me a runner over the past few years is being a member of my local running club. I heard about the Striders when I was going along to a gym-lead running group in Rochford, the gym stopped running it but one of the runners recommended I try out one that meets twice a week along the seafront.

For a small annual fee to secure your membership and benefit from discounted entry into races, I joined the Leigh-on-Sea Striders club. What struck me about this club was the community spirit that I hadn’t really experienced in running by myself, other than at a 5km race for life I ran back at uni. As much as I enjoy my solo runs, there’s a lot to be said for running with a group.

Safety

In the dark winter months particularly, after a long commute back from London I feel much safer being part of a group of 50 or so other runners running the same route, with leaders to make sure everyone is accounted for.

Moral support

This can mean the difference between cutting a run short if you’re ‘not feeling it’ and proving to yourself that you can do it. I have lost count of the number of times when I have acknowledged that I would have stopped for a cheeky walk had I not been running with other people at the same pace as me.

You’re forced out of your comfort zone

Case in point: this week the Wednesday session was based on running sprinting on the sand, and doing squat thrusts (eugh!). This is a method of training I would have happily steered clear of if I wasn’t part of a club. If you’re on your own it’s much easier to stick to what you know and what you think is within your limits. When you’re part of a club you soon realise those limits were just… pathetic.

Knowledge base

There are people who lead each group session, plus many other members who are extremely experienced runners. They’ve done every method of training you can think of, run countless races of varying distances (from a 5 mile cross country up to ultra-marathons across a desert), they know about stretching, nutrition, running technique. You can guarantee that combined they’ve had every injury going and they’re more than happy to offer tips and advice to those who are seeking it. Beats Google any day.

It’s fun

The people in the club don’t take themselves too seriously, and try to inject an element of fun into the training (from cheering passing runners as we’re stretching in the cool down to donning fairy lights on the last session before Christmas). The fact that our club has been dubbed “the drinking club with a running problem” sums up the atmosphere of the group!

26.2 reasons why I’m running a marathon

It’s JUNE!! Which for me means the month that I pay my ill or injured entry fee into the 2015 London Marathon. It’s paid. I’M IN! To mark this scary exciting moment I have put together my 26.2 reasons why I’m running a marathon.

  1. It’s the biggest fundraising event in the world. To say that I’m going to be a part of the 35th one of those is quite cool (to me at least).
  2. It’s in London, and London is amazing. I may be slightly biased on this one since I work in and live near to London, but I think it’s the best city in the world. I’m lucky that my marathon debut will be here.
  3. It’s a flat course. No hills – hooray!
  4. It’s one of the few courses where spectators line every single mile of the course. Which means there’s always someone there to cheer you on.
  5. The spectators are amazing. I should know, I’ve been one three times!
  6. I’m young and (relatively) fit and healthy. Now is as good a time as any to put my body under the pressures of a marathon.
  7. I want the medal. (AKA I want the prestige).
  8. I made a bucket list at the age of 15. And running the London Marathon before I turn 30 is on there.
  9. It will be fun… right?
  10. I can pass the time by trying to spot celebs running it too. Note to self: Google which celebs are running first!
  11. I can also pass the time by daydreaming about this turning into a reality: #wishfulthinking…tumblr_mj7h6xHP5Z1s2cmkto1_500
  12. As a runner you get to travel on the underground for free! I love a good freebie.
  13. Free burger and prosecco. When you show your medal on the day at GBK you get a free burger… did I mention I love a good freebie?
  14. Sense of achievement. Twenty-six point two miles of achievement.
  15. Running is my stress reliever. Training against this back drop helps all my troubles fade away…cropped-1959814_814117365478_489781666_n1.jpg
  16. To inspire others. My mum is now a runner! That never would have happened if me and my dad hadn’t taken up running.
  17. I don’t know if I can actually run that far. But I’m crazy brave enough determined to find out.
  18. Carb loading before race day. This has got to be the best part of all that hard training. Getting to eat lots of carbs in the few days before the marathon. Pasta party anyone?
  19. I enjoy running. I’d have to to want to run 26.2 miles!! I may not be comparatively very fast, but I’m competitive against myself and myself alone which suits me down to the ground.
  20. An excuse to listen to that cheesy pop music I not so secretly love. One Direction, Five Megamix, Eye of the Tiger…you name it, I love it.
  21. Because it’s quicker than walking?
  22. And no one really needs their toenails…
  23. To give this blog a purpose and fill my friends’ Facebook feeds with inspirational quotes like this: ca713e962d3211e39d5922000ae91047_7
  24. I’ll be raising money. For Mind, the mental health charity.
  25. And possibly one other charity…watch this space!
  26. If a 101-year-old man, a woman missing half a lung and a man carrying a fridge on his back can run a marathon, what’s stopping me? 

26.2 I got a ballot place. I know a lot of people who have tried for a ballot place five or more times with no joy. These things are like gold dust!

 

Slow and steady really is best

Let me post my first of probably many many running stats:

500 meter sprints:

09/04       22/04
1: 2.45 2.36
2: 2.41 2.34
3: 2.40 2.35
4: 2.50 2.45

An average of 6 seconds faster per sprint! To some that might not mean anything, but to me it’s a great achievement. Over the past two weeks I have not focused my efforts on running, I haven’t set out to get faster and it was by pure coincidence that I decided to do these sprint sessions two weeks apart.

Over the past two weeks I have mainly been going to the gym, trying out (and loving) hot yoga, and training my mum up to be able to run 5km. Her pace is somewhat slower than mine and we walk portions of the 5km route. At no point during these two weeks have I gone out and run at my pace.

And yet, I managed to beat my sprints! This just goes to show that slow running (aka slower than race pace) does not mean you aren’t improving. I googled a little bit about slow running when I was stepping up my training before I deferred my marathon place but I don’t think I ever saw the benefits of the method – until now. Here are a few other benefits:

  • It’s good active recovery. Meaning it helps your legs to recover by facilitating blood flow to damaged muscles.
  • It builds aerobic fitness, endurance, and fat-burning capacity.
  • It’s a way to build mileage in your training without putting your body under too much wear and tear. (The theory is, run slower = able to run further).

I will definitely be building some easy runs into my plan when I step up my training from now on!