Monday, 16 December 2013

Marathon training - 3 weeks in

So, with my race diary filling up for next year I decided to start my training in plenty of time, with space for the dreaded injuries that so many of my friends have sustained during marathon training. I changed jobs at the end of November to a much easier department for 4 months so thought that was a good time to start. 
I read nearly every marathon training plan out there, bought the fantastic Women's Running Marathon Training Guide and finally settled on a tried a tested Hal Higdon Training plan. I chose this plan as it didn't look too scary and lots of friends have used it for there first marathon. 
Having read nearly every blog/book/article out there, there were several aspects of training I was keen to ensure I incorporated to help prevent injuries and ensure I can get around the 26.2 miles.
1)Run lots.
It sounds silly, but for me I've had to change mindset to be running nearly every day and at every opportunity. I now plan my life around my running, for instant meeting friends for dinner at 8 not 7 so I can squeeze a run in first, or running back from the supermarket whilst my husband drives, and actually it is making running much easier, although I am constantly in my running gear now.

2) Cross training

Whilst training for races before all I have done is running, and as much as I love it, it can get mindnumbingly boring, so this time I'm making sure I incorporate other forms of exercise into my plan. At the moment I'm loving spinning twice a week, but in the new year I'm going to try swimming once a week as well. 

3 ) Rest days

I've discovered rest days need to be actual rest days, not days when your too busy to run so they then become a running rest day... I tend to have sunday as a rest day after doing my training monday to saturday. I'm trying to bake something new each week, chill with a film or relax with a book. Proper rest. 
4) Sport massages

Now, I haven't booked in for a sports massage yet, but mainly a runner swear by them so I'm on the hunt for a physio/massage therapist to book in with once a month for some muscle therapy. 

Moving on to my actual training so far, this is what the last few weeks have looked like;

Week 1

Monday - Military fitness with a hour of hill running carrying a car tyre 

Tuesday - 3 miles treadmill speed work with a plan from Women's Running January Issue
Wednesday - Rest
Thursday - 7 miles with lots of hills
Friday - rest

Saturday -  Ice Skating (I can count this as cross training right?)

Sunday - Rest

Week 2 
Monday - 3 miles
Tuesday - 3 miles speed work and 45 mins of Spinning
Wedsnesday - Rest
Thursday -  45 mins of spinning
Friday - 7 miles with hills
Saturday - rest
Sunday 7.5 miles in London 

Week 3 

Monday - on call at work

Tuesday  - 3 mile hill run

Wednesday - rest

Thursday - rest

Friday - 3 miles in York 

Saturday - 3 miles in Edinburgh

Sunday - Exhausted and ill

York Cathedral 
Edinburgh Castle

Has anyone else starting training for a marathon? How you getting on?

Friday, 6 December 2013

Addicted to running events

Me and my bank balance have a bit of a problem. I am addicted to running events. I'm having a phase of looking at Runner's World daily looking for new events to try to fill my diary up for next year! And have signed up to a few so far. 

My biggest problem is living outside of london at the moment for work and being bored stiff of my running route options = zero, so I'm trying to sign up for lots of events as "training" for my marathon, rather than having to find routes around here. (lazy I know)

Anyways, here's whats on the agenda so far.

I am a born and bred Sussex girl and spent most of my youth in the lovely seaside town of Brighton. This will be my first half marathon ( I had to drop out of run to the beat last year) and I'm oober excited about running in my hometown. Its on the 16th Feb and there are still charity places avaliable!

2) Paris Half

I love Paris, its such a beautiful and romantic city, full of treats like Macaroons, Crossiants, cheese, wine..... and I really wanted to do an event (or two) abroad next year, so Paris half it is! Its on the 2nd March.

3) Wholefoods Breakfast Run

Human Race run tons of training runs to help you with your marathon training, including a race your pace half and this wholefoods 8.2 or 16 mile run. Lots of runners seem to use this event as a training run with a medal, which is exactly what I plan to do, and hopefully to take some of the fear away from the Marathon in May.

Crazy person that I am, I  am signed up for the Edinburgh Marathon. Having studied in this beautiful city I am thrilled about running here and have lots of mates still in the city so am hoping to get lots of supporters! I'm also running with my dad, who has run tons of marathons. Hopefully we'll still be talking by the end of it.

There's tons of others I've got my eye on including; The Electric Run on 26th April, Royal Parks Half , Bacchus in Sept and The Energizer night run again!

Let me know if your signed up to any of the same events



Friday, 15 November 2013

Pre marathon training training

So as you know I've signed up for a marathon. Its not until May so I'm planning to start my training in December with 6 months to go.

I wanted to start my training from a baseline of being generally quite fit, so have been trying out lots of new classes to gain a bit of overall fitness in the month of november, and its been a really nice break from just running.

So here's what I've been up to.

Military Fitness

Once or twice a week I head to Bootcamp Physical Training in Northampton (because that is where the NHS have sent me for a year) and do there Military Fitness class. Its an outdoor, headtorch lit, running through the woods type scenario with loads of variety and a great bunch of folks. Its tough, but I've already noticed a huge different in my general fitness in only a month.


Now I used to be petrified of spinning, all those superfit people sweating buckets, but I joined Pure Gym for its cheap membership and 24 hour access (only 15.99 a month!) and thought I'd give it a go! I love it! Its fast paced and always makes you feel like you've had a great work out. They have spin classes everyday ranging from 30 mins to an hour.

I've always wanted to be good at yoga. But never quite got there. All the slim toned yogi's sort of put me off. But I know its suppose to be really good for runners so I've been trying to go at Pure Gym once a week and have crazily booked a yoga (and surf) retreat in India in March at Soul and Surf

Long Run

I do love a long sunday run, and have been trying to keep this up during my pre marathon training training. Love it. I try and do between 6 - 10 miles a time. and have been trying to mix it up by running different routes each week.

So, what do you think?

How do you train when your not training for an event?

I did something silly....

So, this time last year I couldn't and wouldn't run. I hated it. and now I'm a convert, I've done something a little bit silly.

So, I took the plunge and signed up for a marathon!

In a wildly optimistic gesture I put in for a london marathon ballot place with my dad, seasoned marathon runner as its his 60th next year and he had said he'd only ever do another marathon if me or my brother joined him.

Unfortunately he got a ballot place and I didnt, so we decided to go for Edinburgh Marathon instead!

I actually went to university in Edinburgh, so thought it would be a good place to run as I know the sights and can visualise the route.

Here's the link to the big event!

So now starts the training, prep, blood sweat and tears!

First step find a marathon training plan that doesn't make me want to cry....

Any ideas?

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Homemade crumble

On these blustery autumn evenings, nothing beats a good crumble. Especially on a sunday evening after a long run in the cold! And when you can make one almost for free. On many a running route I've found tons and tons of blackberries, longing to be picked!

Now, I've never made crumble before, but I recruited a willing expert/ friend (who happens to have a very convenient apple tree) and off we went.

So you need some blackberries, as many as you can pick.....

and some apples... 4 or 5 depending how many you can reach!!!

Wash all the fruit of and scrub the apples a little...

As our apples were a little under ripe we stew them (basically cut them into chunks and heat with a little water and sugar see here for details)

You then just layer the fruit, as much as you need to fill your dish and sprinkle with sugar (as much or as little as you like!)

Then add the crumble (you can cheat and but it ready made)

The crumble is made as per these instructions

And here you go! Half eaten before I could even get a pic!

Any good baking ideas guys?

Monday, 30 September 2013

these boots were made for hiking

Personally I've never been keen on "going on a walk" I just don't really see the point. However, on our recent cornish holiday I rediscovered a childhood activity of hiking. 

Hiking is very different to walking in my eyes (although probably not really that different!) It involves a tough trail, going of the path, always at least one huge hill and achey muscles the day after. 

There's are huge health benefits in hiking giving you a good cardio session over hours and working our nearly every muscle in your body, particularly those calves! Its also a great upper body work out, you really have to move those arms to get up the huge hills! In addition its great for stability and core, making it a great all rounder, and great for runners!

Our first hike of the trip was a 4/5 miler around Trellisick Gardens National Trust. We did there Woodland Walk with quite a few hills and beautiful scenery and views of the River Fal. Utterly stunning.

The following day we headed to the coast to the well known Perranporth Beach. This is a 4 mile stretch of gorgeous sandy beach with tough sand dunes along side for a more challenging hike!

We started off barefooted (much better workout for the legs) along the gorgeous sandy beach for 4 miles

 then turned up a huge hill and hiked back to town up and down the dunes. I think it was 7 - 8 miles by the time we got back and 2 hours.

On the way home we headed along the Dorset coast to the famous Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door. The last time
I came here was a geography field trip at school!

Its a short but beautiful hike along the coast, with an infamous huge hill at the start. 

We parked up a the lulworth cove car park and stocked up on fudge for the hike, by the time we got to the top of the huge hill were absolutely knackered! 

The path diverts inland due to a recent cliff collapse into the sea! We then headed back down the othe side of the hill with this gorgeous view to greet us at the end!

You can then scrabble down the side of the cliff to the beach and crystal clear water to see durdle door itself.

There's so many great places in the uk for a good hike! And the best thing is its a great fitness activity to do that's free!

Any recommendations? 

Cornish fun

At last, some much needed time of and a little holiday in the delightful cornwall. Having not been to cornwall since I was a kid, and not really expecting much more than a good catch up with friends, I simply fell in love with the cornish coast - fabulous food and tons and tons of outdoor adventures to pursue!

There were the world's most amazing fish and chips in Falmouth from Harbour Lights fish and chip shop in the harbour (according to the locals this is even better than the Rick Stein's fish shop in Falmouth. (Fish and chips are my favourite post event treat, I think these are the best I've ever had!)

We wandered around the quaint sea side towns of Falmouth and Truro 

And Visited the Eden Project

We enjoyed fresh fish (caught by the boy) for lunch

And enjoyed fresh hen's eggs from the chicken's on the farm we stayed at. 

Divine. We also enjoyed tons of a new activity I haven't done for years.... Hiking! Post to follow. 

What active holidays have you been on? where would you recommend?

Friday, 27 September 2013

Post operative fitness

Hey guys, sorry for my radio silence. With a combination of new job, new town and an unexpected operation meaning I couldn't exercise for 6 weeks I've been feeling a little uninspired on both the trainers and the treats front.

It's been more a time of fighting fire. Working late, and eating pretty poorly. 

However on Friday I got the thumbs up from the docs to start exercising again (two days before run to the beat, needless to say I had to drop out) and I'm finally getting to grips with the new job and am beginning to be able to leave somewhere a little closer to on time meaning my evenings are free for exercise and cooking healthy meals!

I have some new golden rules for health at fitness thanks to the extensive reading I've been doing over the last few weeks....

I've also been getting some great tips from some fantastic blogs I've discovered such as Naturally Leah and The Londoner (which has some amazing recipes on such as guilt free egg fried rice (without the rice))

I've also been finding lots of yummy recipes and been trying out a few new cookbooks (posts to follow)...

So here are my new golden rules (for those of you that are interested...)

  • Monday to Friday lunch time is healthy and fitness time - for me, having a structure to being healthy and keeping fit works. If I have strict boundaries on my healthy eating and exercising I tend to stick to it better, knowing I'll have treats at the weekend.
  • Weekends I eat healthy 50% of the time. Don't get me wrong. Weekends are for treats. But I've found if I eat crap all weekend I never lose weight and put all my hard word to shame. So I've decided every other weekend meal I can choose unhealthy options if I so wish (kinda fits into the 80% 20% overall rule)
  • Just because I'm eating out doesn't mean I have to eat unhealthily. This idea came from a book I recently read called the Manhattan Diet, a book about New York women and how they stay so slim despite the huge number of fabulous restaurants in NYC. Its a great read to help pick healthier dishes in restaurants rather than just going for it like I usually do....
  • Variety. In Everything. I am the kind of person who gets bored unbelievably easily. So I've discovered I eat better and exercise better if I have tons of variety. I've found this easier to do with eating -  I have so many cookery books its insane, but have realised its time to spice up the old exercise side of things. I had got to a point where all I was doing was running, but now I've joined Pure Gym (15.99 a month and open 24 hours) for classes like spinning, yoga, circuits and joined a miltary fitness group with a running club for some ourdoor fitness fun! Not to mention found my local pool does free swims on a thursday (many london pools have the same on a friday)
  • Organising leisure activities that involve exercise. Meeting a friend for a run or cycle, going for a long walk with parents, going on a pedalo in a London Park or booking an afternoon horseriding. Every friend I've asked has said yes!
  • Book lots of events. My last new rule is something I've found hugely useful. If I book events then I'm motivated to train and motivated to push myself harder to get a new PB. Simples

So what this space, there are tons of new posts coming your way!'

First run back

I begrudging joined a gym last week are years of being an outdoor fitness class goer and an outdoor runner, but having struggled to find new running routes when I first moved, and finding a 24 hour gym with tons of classes included for £15 a month, I was sold.

My first trip did fill me will the old dread I used to have about gyms, it's full or super fit people and trainers that will just laugh at me. 

And, my age old fear, the dread mill. 

Before starting running at the start of the year, I hated gyms and most of all hated running of a treadmill. 

However, I convinced myself I'd come a long way since my last gym trip and jus had an operation, I needed to give myself a break. 

So a slow and tough 5km later, with a new playlist and remembering how good it feels to go for a run,I was starting to get over my fear. So much so, I went back and did the same the next day! Hopefully I'll start to get my speed and fitness back in a few weeks!

Thursday, 15 August 2013

The hardest thing about being a runner is not running

Well, after months of adjusting my life to make room for my new love of running, looking for a new home around running routes and planning annual leave around races my running has been promptly put to a stop by being very unwell and needing emergency surgery earlier this week.

The old me would have relished the time off work and loved the excuse not to exercise but I'm already having mega withdrawal symptoms from not being able to run for 2 weeks and longingly looking out the apartment along the river as the after work runners.

Its funny, I never thought running would ever be something I loved, let alone my escapism and the place I can refocus and get perspective on what's going on in my day to day life. Running has become way more that just exercise or training for a race. It's made me more grounded, its given me the headspace to think over decisions and process what has happened in my day, something which has been great with a new job and new responsibilities of being a doctor.

After the surgery the first question I asked was "when can I start running again?" and the second "can I still do my half marathon in 3 1/2 weeks?" Hopefully i'll be back to running in a few weeks but my training for my first half has been hugely hindered by this unexpected turn of events.

So runners, any tips on how to cope when you can't run? any thoughts on me still doing my half?

Saturday, 3 August 2013

6 weeks to go and running in a new town

Well, what a week! New town, new job and the boy has a new job too. I am officially exhausted. However, with 6 weeks to go to run to the beat, I did manage a few runs this week. Only 3 but I'm still quite happy with that on top of everything else going on.

The biggest issue has been finding running routes in a new town. I love my London Canals, and know how many miles I can rack up running up and down them, adding miles running round parks and docks. I have my running routes sussed. But moving to a new area has been tricky. Especially with no internet to plan routes. Nightmare.

Luckerly our new flat overlooks the river, and when we moved in I noticed a path below going in both directions river side.

On Sunday after moving day on saturday, I got up early and decided to head out and explore before attempting to rectify the chaos in the flat and the obligatory ikea trip. I ran a mile or so along the river, which was scattered with canal boats and swans and soon came to a deadish end. Running a little further over a bridge and ending up mid field. For a bona fide city girl this was not ideal so I turned back with just 3 miles under my belt, but happy to have got some fresh air and discovered a short route.

On Monday I thought I'd give it another go, wanted to find a medium route (6/7 miles). I headed of towards a local abbey and park I had driven past the day before, and with a lap of the grounds only clocked up about 2 miles, all be it very pretty with swans and bunny rabbits running around. 

I turned back towards the apartment and decided to run along the river again, stopping a few other runners to try to sus out new routes. I did about 6/7 miles in the end, slowly a rather frustrated.

Come Wednesday I new I needed to do a long run, with the fear of the half marathon looming. But this point we had internet and I'd mapped out a route ready to go.

Now I know most people love running in the country, but I really did not enjoy this run, I headed out along the river with insects flying at my face, and bees following me, past open fields with cows getting way to close for comfort. At mile 5 I tried to turn back into town, but ended up running along an A road for half a mile and then getting lost in a housing estate with just one road in and out. The run back into town was better, getting up some speed and completing 10 miles, my longest run yet, but definitely one of my least happy runs.

So in total this week it's been:
Sunday - 3 miles
Monday - 6.5 miles
Wednesday 10 miles
So a total of 19 and a half miles with no cross training. Next week I need to find a running club or some other runners to help me out!

How do you find running routes in new areas? I need your help!!!

Friday, 26 July 2013

Run to the beat - 7 weeks to go

I've started to properly get the fear and doubt about my first half marathon, run to the beat on September 8th this year. I signed up after the buzz of my first 10km when I thought I could conquer the world, and with a few other tougher 10kms under my belt and the struggle to train in the heat I now have the fear.

As other bloggers have done, I've decided to blog my progress for the next 7 weeks up to the race. Hopefully to help others training for their first half, but also to keep me accountable for my training! Each week I'll write about my runs and other training and do a feature on "what I learnt about running this week". I hope you find it interesting and helpful!
Who else is doing run to the beat??

7 weeks to go!

My training weeks tend to start at the weekends and run till Friday so here goes for last week.


A hot day visiting family in Sussex. A spot of open water swimming (only half and hour or so!) in the sea. I don't think I've done this for years but it was so nice after the mugginess of London over the last few weeks.

This was followed but a 3 miler along the sea front in the early evening. It was so good to run with a breeze in the fresh sea air! It reminded me why I love running!

Sunday: rest day


Monday was suppose to be a 10 miler according to my asics training plan. Over the weekend I'd visited decathlon to stock up on a variety of gels, which people keep saying I should use for long runs. I also dug out and old travel money belt to keep said gels and cash to buy water along the way.

I had a good breakfast early and set out for my run about half 11, along my beloved london canals.

The first 4 miles were great, I had downloaded one of the free remixes for rock my run and was at a good pace down to the Thames and back towards Victoria park. At mile 5 I decide to pause in Victoria park for a toliet stop, buy more water and try a gel. 

But this point it was just after 12 and about 30 degrees. I set of for a lap of the park and then up to Islington canal side, but really struggled. Nothing was hurting, it was just so so hot, and the self doubt began to creep in. I made it up to shoreditch with a few stop starts and decided to turn back home, a little disappointed but happy with my decision not to push myself too hard in the blistering sun. I later found out this was the hottest day of the year so far. 32 degrees. Too hot for a red headed freckly thing.

I popped home and after a quick pasta lunch went to meet some friends at London fields lido. Have lived in east london for 5 years I can't believe I had never been here before! It's amazing!

The plan was a dip and some sunbathing, however this soon turned into 30 lengths (of a 50 meter pool), as I'd forgotten how much I used to love swimming. I cycled home knackered but happy as larry, but promptly fell asleep on the sofa after my day of exercise. Needless to say the next day I was still knackered.

Tuesday - rest day, plan was to do the lorna Jane pop up 5km but was hurting too much from previous days activities


After a lovely day frolicking in the country with a lovely friend (including a yummy pub lunch) I returned to the smoke quite late so didn't get out for a run until 8:30pm However it was lovely, much cooler than the recent runs I had recently had in London, 3 miles of bliss and very fast for me! Happy run day.

Thursday - rest day


For my final run of the week I was pretty knackered after a day of packing up my london flat for the big move tomorrow, but none the less I wanted to really enjoy my last run in east London for a while, especially as this is the place I found my running mojo. I set of about 8pm and headed towards the canals for my usual jornt but decided to take a different canal up towards the Olympic park. It was spectacular! Especially as there was a legacy event on and they were interviewing British atheles!

I paused and reflected on how far I'd come. I couldn't of imagined this time last year I'd be running at all, let alone miles at a time and training for a half marathon!

I turned back through my beloved Victoria park and along the canal home feeling happy and content. And faster than my regular pace to my surprise!

Overall I did about 6miles in around an hour. Very happy running day!

What I've learnt about running this week

  • What a foam roller is, something I am suppose to use to stretch my ITB, right, better invest
  • If I've having a good day I run better, faster and I enjoy it more
  • The importance of cross training - I have rediscovered swimming!
  • I need to stretch more

How is your training going? How are you coping with the heat? What are you training for?

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

British 10km

I was really excited about taking part in this year's British 10km for lots of reasons. The last few weeks have been a hugely significant time in my life with a transition from a student to a doctor, preparing to move outside of london for 2 years and feeling like I might actually be a runner.

Me and the boy decided to take part in the 10km to mark these events and raise money for London's Air Ambulance, a charity I believe in whole heartedly, with doctors who have massively influenced my career. One of the best things about the British 10km is that they charge charities the same prices as the public for race places, which is great (compared to several other well known races.....)

All the pre race organisation was done through London's Air Ambulance and our race packs complete with charity running tops arrived in good time for the race, complete with a full booklet on how the race day was organised. Impressed so far

To be honest I was feeling rather cocky about this race, having ran just under 10 miles as part of my run to the beat training the week before.

Race day arrived, and it was a fairly early start, especially as I hadn't done a day time run before (wasn't sure when to eat etc) but the excitement built as we spotted other runners on the tube on the way to the start, all chatty away to each other.

Having heard about "bag drops" and invisaging chaos, I was pleasantly surprised but the number of volunteers, ushers and bag drop helpers, making things all rather smooth sailing. There were two bag drops, one for charities and one for individuals. There were also a lot of porter loos with short queues. 

We then make the walk up to the start, a good 20 mins but passed Buckingham Palace and the like in the morning sun

The start line was on Picadilly and we were lined up around both sides of the road to manage the 28000 people doing the race. From where we were we could actually here the PA system and KAtrina and the waves getting the crowd going, we were mostly just overheating in the 28 degree heat! However we did find another London air ambulance runner which was nice! 

The race started about 15 mins late and the start was staggered which was really good. Once we got going the route was great as well as the atmosphere but the heat was just unbearable! No breeze just a reall intense heat which felt like it was radiating off the road. At 3km we were down on embankment, still no breeze but the first of the water stations (I think there were 4) and London air ambulance supporters cheering us on. At 5/6km there were a few underpasses which were great for a bit of rest bite from the sun.

My favourite part was the photo below coming back over westminister bridge towards Big Ben. 

I couldn't get to the finish quick enough (although quick is something I definately was not!) it was so hot, I was constantly thirsty and just generally unhappy in this run!

We finally made it in a slow time of 1:15 with a short break to help a partially sighted chap who had fallen over. The medals were great! And organised well so you picked up from the bag drop to keep things moving at the finish line! The Gatorade was a welcome treat, I really hadn't timed Pre race fueling well, with just a smoothie for breakfast.

Overall a fab race, well organised and terrific to raise money (a first time run raising money for us) just don't ask me to run in that kinda heat again!!!