London Winter Run

First race in the calendar for 2018 and having had a blast last year I was really looking forward to it. My marathon training has been sporadic at best over the last month, I had a goal in mind, I wanted to go sub 60 minutes but I was realistic and decided that I would be pleased if I managed to beat last year’s time of 1hr 14mins.

The day started off well, I had slept well, had all my kit laid out so nothing was forgotten, had a decent breakfast and importantly, had been able to properly go to the toilet following my morning coffee. The trains were running and I arrived in time to do a quick warm up before heading to the start line for my wave. As I crossed the start line it was a little congested and I found myself doing some weaving to be able to properly start running. When I did I was pleasantly surprised that my legs felt good, no tight calves or shin pain, the first mile seemed to fly by, I clocked 9 mins 54 seconds on my watch.

As the sights of London flew past, spotting faces I recognised also running and taking in the fun atmosphere I continued to feel good. The Penguin party at the halfway mark was great fun and lifted my spirits further and I dug a little deeper. I always enjoy the second half of a run or race more, something twigs in my mind and it’s like right time to get to that finish line/home.

Mile 4 – 5 I clocked 9:27 min/mile on the watch. I was loving that my brain and legs were working together for once. I knew that if I could just push a little bit harder, go that little bit faster, I had a shot at sneaking in just under 60 minutes. With half a mile to go, my legs and lungs were burning. My watch hit the 60 minute mark and having felt like I worked so hard I was a little bit gutted. I was hurting but I wasn’t going to stop, because the real goal was always to beat last year’s time and that I was on track for.

Through the Yeti cave, a series of high fives, I powered down The Strand. Passing Trafalgar Square I turned the corner and the finish line was in sight. Well sort of, I was going as full pelt as I could manage but it didn’t seem to be getting any closer. After what seemed like forever I finally crossed the line, 10k – 01:02:13 on the watch. 10:00 min/miles average pace, ranging from 8:59 – 10:25 min/miles over the race. 11 minutes 47 seconds faster than last year.

For the first time in a very very long time I felt genuinely proud of my performance. I was pleasantly surprised that for once everything had gone right. Polar bear hugs and another medal to add to the collection were the perfect ending. It’s given me a great confidence boost going into the final 8 weeks of marathon training. A big thank you to Human Race for the race bib. The London Winter Run remains my favourite 10k and I will definitely be back next year.

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Paris Marathon Training – Weeks 3 & 4

Major life changes have been happening in the last seven days! We bought and moved into our first home, so I’m now a home owner (it was a life goal before turning thirty) and I moved jobs. Both of which I’m very excited about and are progressing my life in the right direction, but are equally exhausting to do at the same time.

So Week 4 of marathon training can best be described as, not a sausage. Other than the packing, lifting, more lifting and unpacking of lots of boxes and furniture, I didn’t run or go to the gym the entire week. Honestly, I didn’t even have the headspace to panic about this, what with everything else I had to co-ordinate and think about. I had planned to get a run in over the weekend but I also managed to roll my ankle on the stairs on Thursday evening so was nursing a minor sprain with some almighty bruising and I was just plain tired.

Week 3 had however been a relatively strong week. Three runs, a gym session and a snow walk in the bag!

On Monday and Wednesday I had two very different run commutes. One was extremely strong, with an average pace of 9:42 pace over 3.23 miles. I felt ridiculously good on the run and it was like a culmination of all the training since October. The second was distinctly average at best, my legs felt like lead and my watch died. It felt a lot slower. Saturday’s long run was 7 miles which took me 1hr 20 mins at 11:26 average pace. Distinctly slower. So it took me 11 minutes to run 0.6 miles further than the week before. Luckily with all the packing I had to do it didn’t give me time to dwell too much. If anything Week 3 reinforced for me that not every run or week in marathon training are you going to see improvement. It’s about being able to process that and not mentally let it hold you back moving into the following week. So Week 5 is underway. One run down. First week in a new job, I’m likely to be tired and need to prioritise rest to be able to take on all new information. Equally I haven’t currently rearranged my gym membership to a branch closer to the new flat and so the gym sessions are mostly likely to be postponed this week. Very glad I decided to opt for a twenty week training plan to allow for weeks where it’s not possible to stick to the plan! I am also really excited for everyone doing 18/16 week programmes to start their marathon training, I love the community spirit and marathon hype!

Paris Marathon training – Week 2

‘Baby it’s cold outside’ – wow the temperatures have really dropped over the past week making for three very chilly runs. On Saturday’s long run I finally nailed the layering combo, for now at least, until it decides to get even colder!

My short runs this week involved two partial run commutes, I forgot how hellish it can be to battle the crowds of central London. I was forced off the pavement at one point when a group of people decided it was acceptable to walk four abreast towards me on a pavement. Don’t even get me started on people walking eye down glued to their phones. Other people will look at you from a distance and it’s like a game of chicken as to who is going to dodge. I fully accept I’m the one going above walking speed and will weave in and out as much as necessary but come on, could we just co-exist nicely, festive goodwill and all…. share the damn pavement!

So Monday the calves were cripplingly tight. For all the stretching etc I was rather frustrated. On Wednesdays run, for the first mile I was trying to pin point when the tightness had started. Had a bit of a light bulb moment, it was when I started wearing my extra firm compression socks to run in, they did wonders for my shins. Stopped the watch, sat at a bus stop with some bemused onlookers, whilst I yanked my socks down from under my running tights, with some difficulty! For the next two and a half miles my legs felt glorious. Problem sorted. Except then my shins weren’t as happy….. are compression gaiters are thing?

Saturday I had 6 miles on the plan. I planned and out and back route from home, but by the time I ran 0.2 miles in the wrong direction, I decided to see where I was in terms of a 10k time and went for 6.4 miles. My last time for a 10k, that I remember, was 1 hour 14 minutes. So I was pretty happy Saturday’s run was done in 1:09:14 and I wasn’t going at maximum effort for the entire run. This run left me feeling really strong and positive.

With 9 weeks until the London Winter Run 10km on 4 February, I’m aiming to shave ten minutes off and come in just under an hour. If you fancy joining me for a sub 60 minute attempt please let me know. This is definitely the sort of race best shared with others. You might want to think about signing up by 6th December as afterwards the entry fee increases. Little disclaimer, I’ve kindly been given a free bib for the race, in exchange for spreading the love, but I enjoyed it so much last year I would totally have paid the entry fee.

Other than my three runs, I got my two rest days, spent packing up our flat for moving next week and one out of two cross training sessions done. Tuesday evening 8:30pm I found my train coming from central London, terminating at my train station and 16 minutes until the next train to get to the gym…. I’d been up since 6:45am and wanted to be home and having eaten dinner before 10:30pm. Sometimes these things happen. I’m working on not feeling overly guilty if I miss one session.

Heading into Week 3 excited to work on the progress I’ve seen over the last few weeks.

Paris Marathon training – Week 1

Hello or more appropriately Bonjour! It’s been a while but with training for marathon number three under way it felt like the right time to reignite the blog.

Back in 2015/16 training for Brighton marathon my goal was to simply finish. My training was very much the hit and miss of someone who had only recently started running and was totally clueless. My goal was to simply finish.

Fast forward to London marathon in 2017, I only found out I had a place with 12 weeks to go and my training was an utter shambles, I just wasn’t in the right head space. I relied solely on the fact that I was bloody minded and had done the distance once, I could do it again. I hauled myself round that course and vowed I would never put myself through running a marathon again without properly training.

So this is it. Paris 2018. My first international marathon, in one of my all time favourite cities. Time to see what happens if I commit, like really really commit and push myself further than I’ve been willing to before. A special thank you has to go to ASICS for the bib (*spot in the race) and the kit you will see me wearing through my training.

I decided to do two weeks of pre-marathon training to get my head and legs in the game, followed by a twenty week training programme. I found a number of training plans online and after painstaking analysis of them put together my own, drawing the bests bits from different sources and fitting it round my schedule.

Two weeks of pre- marathon training went without a hitch, minus one missed 40min run. It was a bit of a shock to the system but it helped me to focus and confirm that I really wanted to do this. I found this fire starting to burn in me that screamed, the timing is right let’s do this. I haven’t felt with running for a very long time.

Week 1 of official training saw a great deal of tight calves and perseverance but I got the job done. I received lots of helpful tips on how to remedy this and sports massage recommendations. So it’s morning and evening stretching sessions and I’m going to get myself booked in before this becomes more of an issue.

Monday – Wednesday went smoothly. On Thursday there was a cross training session on the plan but having been unable to sleep for several nights and having seen 4:20am that day I was exhausted and decided to take it as an additional rest day, which was far more valuable to my body than 40 mins on a bike or rowing machine.

I need my sleep, I don’t function well without it which doesn’t go well because come 2-3am I’m a world class worse-case-scenario analyst. Last week my anxiety levels were off the charts, with exchanging contracts on our first flat, potentially loosing the new flat, potentially not having anywhere to live as we have to move out of current flat. Of course none of this ended up happening.

Despite the worrying, I have noticed a significant improvement in my general mental outlook and wellbeing, consistently exercising over the last three weeks. I’m also starting to feel physically fitter after such a short time, so I’m excited to see what can happen in the months to come.

Heading into Week 2 ready and raring to go. Let me know if you are planning to run a spring 2018 marathon, sharing the highs and lows of marathon training with the running community I find really gets you through those tough weeks.

Disclaimer: I am very grateful that ASICS have given me a place to run Paris Marathon and will be providing me with running kit to see me through my training. This is not a paid collaboration.

London 10 Mile 

I want to start by saying how much I loved this race. Not because everything went to plan, it didn’t, but inspite of the things that went wrong I’m already planning on signing up for 2018.

I was lucky to be given a place by the race organisers, this was only a matter of weeks beforehand but my personalised race number arrived swiftly. You could have anything you wanted on your bib which was a nice touch, it also provided me with a laugh during the race.

On the morning of the race, my alarm went off late, we got stuck in traffic and I turned up with 6 minutes until the very respectable start time of 10:30am. Not only was I desperate for the toilet, I’d forgotten my pre-race lucozade and more importantly my race number. The race was held in one of my favourite green spaces in London, Richmond Park.
Dashing to locate the help desk a nice lady sorted me out with a new number and immediately after the race I was very impressed with the efficiency of the operation because I received a text corresponding to the chip time of my new race number. This level of efficiency is an absolute rarity in my experience! The whole race felt very well organised.

Toilets were ample and after a quick change from shorts, which had started irritating me in the walk from the car alone, to a Sapir pair of leggings, I located my pen. Luckily for me the race didn’t start on time and I had the chance to chat with some familiar faces and do the awkward pre-start not enough room to really stretch, but I feel I ought to try, routine.

I was in the green starting pen amongst the speedsters, I think I must have put down my estimated 10km not 10 mile finish time, but it meant I was over the line within a minute of the gun.
The theme of the race was one recurring thought on loop:  it’s so hot, I’m getting sunburnt, is this hill ever going to end, oh god another hill, ooo there’s a deer, what stunning road race scenery, I want a sub 2 time. 

I’m not irresponsible, I had suncream on but I am stupidly sensitive to the sun. I didn’t however look closely enough at the course to appreciate the hills, maybe it’s better I didn’t know what was coming. Heat and hills are a killer combo. The mile marker signs kept me entertained and I was surprised at how many people recognised me from behind, as they over took and said hello, it must be the long ginger hair? It was lovely to see so many friendly faces.


I have to be honest I really wasn’t a massive fan of the water stations. I simply can’t run and drink out of a cup and there definitely wasn’t enough water to go around considering the heat. The course looped past the starting point at Mile 3 and if it’s the same layout next year I think if I had someone with me spectating I’d ask them to hold a bottle for me. I do however fully appreciate the environmental benefits of having paper cups over bottles.

In contrast I was delighted to have Cliff Shot Blocks avalaible at a fuel station, in three different flavours, just before the 5 mile mark. When I’m not scoffing fizzy sweets these are my number 1 choice of fuel.

So on to the inevitable timing blurb. Normally I have a rough idea of what time I’d like to achieve but I never concern myself too much by it. This was different, I wanted to run a sub 2hr and as the race went on I became increasingly fixated on timings. I felt like I had something to prove. I’m not sure what, who to or why, let’s just say it was the heat and that I’d dragged a hungover Alex out of bed across London on a Sunday morning.

I had to stop to drink water at two of the stations, having choaked and then soaked myself at the first one and there was a hill which I had to power walk up, it was probably faster than me trying to run, but otherwise I really did give it my all. My watch stats show that I ran at a faster pace than I usually do or that I’m comfortable at over any distance. It was the first race in a while that I really really pushed.


Coming down that final Hill the watch said 1:58, turning into the home stretch the finish line in sight 1:59, I felt all the lactic acid swirling around in my stomach, could barely breathe and my vision was going blurry, meters to go still 1:59. Crossed the line – 2:00:00, official time 2:00:21. Dissappointed yes, but I put up a damn good fight and managed a finishing smile! I know that those 22 seconds and dare I say a little more, can be knocked off next time. Maybe when I haven’t run a half marathon the week before.


I think I’ve found my favourite distance.

If you fancy signing up for next year, entries are now open on the London 10 Mile website – if you need any more convincing, there were free race photos, a chunky medal and a great post run picnic atmosphere.

Hackney Festival of Fitness 

Hackney holds a very fond place in my running journey. Back in 2015 it was my first half marathon. When I lined up absolutely clueless wearing totally inappropriate trainers, eaten a bacon sandwich for breakfast, having only been running for 2 months.


Fast forward two years and two full marathons later, I was feeling a little twitchy a week after London and wanted not only run but I was craving the buzz of race day. My legs weren’t up to 13.1 miles but the idea of a 5.5km in a race setting was rather appealing. I was also intrigued by Virgin Sport’s takeover of the event and the concept of turning the day into a festival.


I had every good intention to arrive around 10am to cheer on the half marathoners but a few too many glasses of prosecco the night before meant we arrived around 1pm. We had shopping and cinema plans later in the day so decided to drive and park in Westfields which is a pleasant 25 minute amble through The Olympic Park to the start line in Hackney Marshes.
The 5.5km was due to start at 1:45pm. I’m not an early bird but even for me this was a little late. Having started the half marathon at 9am it would have perhaps been better to start at 12:30/1pm so that more of the half runners might have stayed to add to the atmosphere. Unfortunately, this was coupled with the British weather letting us down. It was overcast and I suspect if it had been a sunny day the crowds would have stuck around for some gentle post race basking/ getting gently sozzled. It was however perfect running weather.

Following a group warm up, which I always feel very awkward taking part in but is great to learn new exercises, we made our way to the start line. If you wanted to race it required some elbowing to get to the start line but I was going no where fast.


Thanks for the delightful mid run goofy photo Charlie.

Unfortunately the course itself was a little uninspiring, with an unexpected hill thrown in.  Given the green surroundings two double backs on a road seemed a wasted opportunity. However it did ensure that everything was kept compact and meant that there seemed like more spectators on route. It was a pleasant surprise that there was a water station around the 2km mark. I saw a 1km marker but other than that there didn’t seem to be any, so running without a watch, I had no sense of distance. I would have at least liked a half way marker but perhaps I just didn’t spot them.

Before I knew it we were heading back into the park and the race was over. It may have just been 5.5km but we were still treated to the full works – chip timing, medal, finishers t-shirt and an array of snacks and drinks.


I was lucky to have been given a race bib by Virgin Sport. The 5.5km was priced at £25, which initially I winced at, however the theme of race was “Chase your mate” and this also included a bib for your friend. So if you split it, at £12.50 I’d say it was well worth the pennies if you are looking for the race day experience; particularly if it’s your first and don’t want to tackle a 10km just yet.  There were even race photos taken on the course, avaliable for free online afterwards.

For a 5.5km race I was pretty impressed. It also made me question my sanity of running full marathons when this distance got me the race experience and saw me back in just over half an hour for lunch.

Another thing which I was pleasant surprised about was Virgin Sport App which provided me with all the information I needed about the day, a festival village map and even for the 5.5km a breakdown of my 3 & 5km splits.

Post race, I headed over to the Fitness Stage for some yoga/stretching. Through out the day there had been a series of workouts led by the likes of Bradley Simmons, Shona Vertue and Faisal (Mr PMA). Should have thought about getting here earlier for this before the fifth glass of prosecco!

Had I of done the half marathon I would have been straight into the massage tent but food was calling and I have to say as a massive street food lover I was pretty delighted with the selection on offer. Chicken burger and fries were first up from Butchies. Followed by CrossTown Doughnuts who really ought to be at every race finish line. Alex even found decent coffee and beer to keep him entertained whilst I was running, which isn’t always easy at races. Big thumbs up on the catering front!

The race was perfect for my post marathon legs. With a little tweaking to timings and the course for the 5.5km, I think Virgin Sport are on to a winning concept of a festival here and everything felt very professionally organised. I’m certainly planning on coming back next year to run the Half Marathon.

In the mean time I’ve been having a peak at the other festivals Virgin Sport have planned. There’s one centering round a 10km in Westminster in July, they are coming to Oxford in October for a half marathon and perhaps most tempting is San Francisco; I will make it to America one day soon!

London Marathon 2017

I can’t quite put into words how much running London Marathon meant to me. I’m sure i could gush for page after page but put simply, I fell in love with running in London and more than any other race wanted to run the marathon of my city.

I first entered the ballot in 2010, before I even ran, I did it because a friend was and I got caught up in her enthusiasm. It became a yearly tradition of entering, entirely forgetting about it for six months and then October approaching and wanting to race home to frantically check the post. 7 years and I became familiar with the thud of the rejection magazine.

Then on 26 January 2017 I received a message from Lucy Fitness that changed everything, would I like a place in the London Marathon. Cue squeals of excitement and a lump in my throat. The lovely people at KIND Snacks UK, who were one of the products in the finisher’s good bag wanted to offer us the Golden Ticket, as fate would have it I had eaten a KIND bar for breakfast that morning.

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With only 12 weeks to go I was a little apprehensive,  given that for Brighton marathon I had trained for 20 weeks but it was an opportunity that I simply couldn’t pass up and was determined to make the most of the training time I had.

The journey to the start line was rocky to say the least. A very bad half marathon race experience, the constant feeling I was way behind everyone else in terms of mileage and missed training. I had moments when I considered deferring but I had wanted this for so long, I simply didn’t want to wait another year. I normally get excited before races but never nervous. But from the Monday before I was jittery, had butterflies and lost count of the number of times I broke out in a cold sweat. I couldn’t figure out why, was I concerned that I wasn’t prepared or was it the anticipation of realising one of my biggest running goals.

When a race pack gets delivered its always exciting but going to the Expo was something else. My registration form accidentally got binned, the replacement got left in the office  but the lovely people on the help desk sorted it instantly. Picking up my number on the Friday made it all very real – 58058 – it had a nice ring to it. Lucy and I had a quick browse and got some snaps but unfortunately it was far too hot to stay for any length of time.

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On the Saturday I was a bridesmaid at a friend’s wedding. It was an absolutely stunning day and kept me well and truly distracted from any pre-marathon nerves. Sunday morning I was so nervous I had to force myself to eat my banana topped porridge. Coffee in hand, wrapped up with my throw away jumper, I set out to the start line in Greenwich, which luckily was a straight forward 40 minute journey.

I arrived at 9:15am, jumped in the queue for the toilets, which went surprisingly quick and did some gentle stretching. It was completely cloudy but I still decided to apply some Sun cream to my face, which I was very thankful for later on. I also bumped into a few familiar faces with kept the nerves at bay. Then before I knew I was in my starting pen, counting down to 10am and easing towards the start. It took around 16 minutes me to cross the start line and I was so overwhelmed by it all that I forgot to start my watch for at least a minute.

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My goal, I just wanted to finish, uninjured. Ideally I would have liked to have finished in 5hrs 29 mins. So I set off wearing a 5hr 30 pace band, which equates to a 12:35 minute mile. The first 6/7 miles were relatively uneventful, I found my rhythm and was feeling good at 11:50 pace. I reached the Cutty Sark and the atmosphere was buzzing. This is when it really struck me. I’m running the London Marathon, I’m not sat at home watching or spectating but actually running it myself!

From Mile 7 to 12 my pace starting to slow but I was still running within 12:35 min/mile and more than anything I was enjoying myself. Rounding the corner of Tooley street, I spotted Alex and stopped for a quick hug, to grab some strawberry laces. Having seen me at a similar point in Brighton marathon Alex thought I was looking on good form and waved me off on to one of the points in the course I was most looking forward to, running over Tower Bridge. I was like a Cheshire Cat bounding along loving the cheers from the densely packed spectators on either side.

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I came off the bridge, rounded the corner and headed towards the half way mark. I was feeling so much better than how I felt by this point in the North London Half or during a long training run. Half way point was marked with live music from coming from a London Pride Bus parked in the centre of the road and at this point I spotted some of my super speedy friends who were already at the Mile 22 mark.

As I headed towards 14 miles my hip flexors started to feel tight which became increasingly painful. A pain that didn’t go away until several days post marathon. Mentally it also hit me that I was about to embark on the hardest part of the course, Canary Wharf. I knew it was coming and I knew I was going to have to dig deep but when at Mile 16 my watch said I had already run an extra 0.52 of a mile and the hip pain was getting worse with every step I had to get really inventive. I had been trying to stick to the blue lines and decided to use them to pull me through this bad patch. Run for the distance between 26 lines then walk for 13. Mile 18 my headphones suddenly died. Mile 19 my watch storage bleeped as full and then died. I was in agony and had nothing to distract me.

 

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But suddenly, with no headphones I started to hear the cheers from the crowd. Total strangers shouting my name, encouraging me along. I hit Mile 20 and kept saying out loud, just keep running, just keep running. Those miles felt long and lonely but this was London Marathon and I had long agreed with myself that my mental strength would pull me through when it really started to hurt.

I hit Mile 21 and Run Dem Crew had put on a fantastic cheer station. I must have looked rather pained because another runner turned to me and said its less than 10km to go, you’ve trained for a marathon you can run 10km.

Mile 21-23 I remember very little other than a little girl with a sign saying Jelly Baby fairy handing me a mini pack of Haribo, a lady I grabbed an orange jelly snack off and the man who thrust a very welcome Percy Pig in my direction. Fuelling strategy had all but gone out the window by this point and it was all about the sweets.

Coming up out of Blackfriars Tunnel and onto Embankment there was a massive lump in my throat, this to me was what London Marathon was about. Running down the middle of the road, spectators roaring, across the River from the London Eye heading towards Big Ben. I plastered a grin on my face and drew on the energy from the crowd. At Mile 25 I spotted Alex and two of my friends. I was somewhat delirious by this point but the fizzy lucozade and another dose of strawberry laces were welcome. All I remember was blurting out “BURGER”. I was really rather hungry but this point. My face says it all when Alex gently responded saying yes as soon as you finish the race, off you go.

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My spirits were lifted and I plodded on towards the Houses of Parliament, were brilliantly placed right underneath Big Ben stood my parents, who had patiently been waiting for several hours. A quick hello and hug and they too told me to get on and finish it. The final mile seemed to stretch on forever and I focused my sights on chasing a bare footed man dressed as the purple triangle Mr Men who had managed to overtake me.

As I rounded that final corner, passed Buckingham Palace, and headed down the flag lined final stretch, I fixed my sights on the finish line I’ve been wanting to cross for so many years.

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6 hours 18 minutes 55 seconds and proud.

Its a time that most would be devastated with but just consider how much mental strength it takes to keep going for that long particularly without a toilet break.

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As that medal was put over my neck I could barely whisper thank you, I walked around in a circle disorientated before promptly being over come with emotion and I started sobbing. A lovely volunteer guided me to have a finisher’s photo and I stumbled passed the baggage lorries to meet my family and get my burger.

I was exhausted but it was by the far the best race I’ve ever run and I am so very grateful to Kind Snacks for the opportunity.

I’ll be back one day to do justice with a faster time but for now I am ecstatic to have ticked off the number one race on my bucket list.