To help with my training and for my own personal reflection, AND for the benefit of anyone else out there feeling crazy enough to consider training for a marathon, I decided I wanted to to keep some sort of journal as I train for the biggest physical challenge of my life – the 2017 Paris Marathon. You only get to be a first time marathon runner once and I decided I wanted to document it as much as possible. So since the beginning of February I’ve been trying to keep track of how each run has gone for me; how I fuelled it, how I fought it and and how I finished it (although please be reminded, my training began before February).
Apologies for forgetting a few of the foods and drinks I consumed before hand, I forgot to make a note of every single detail, something I will try harder to record for the month of March. And apologies for the, ahem, talk of poop, but sh** happens, literally.
Things to note: I run at least 1.5 hours after I finish eating my food, and leave it no more than 2.5.
02/02/2017 | 4.2 MILES
Time: 38:28 Pace: 9’05
I Ate: Spinach, soft cheese & ham on a wholemeal, seeded bagel
I Drank: 500ml water + 1 coffee (white with sweetener’s)
Just a local run near my house, managing 4.23 miles. Not much to report on this one, a nice smooth run.
06/02/2017 | 14 MILES
Time: 02:11:43 Pace: 9’24
I Ate: Chopped banana & Peanut Butter with honey on a toasted wholemeal seeded bagel
I Drank: 750ml water w/ 1 Vitabiotics energy tablet + 1 coffee (white with sweetener’s)
After four days off from training, I really had to force myself to get out and run. I’d been busy with loads of prep for job interviews and had put my marathon training to one side. But once I was out there I actually surprised myself. I was aiming for a half marathon, but as usual, that naughty voice popped up in my head – I’ve decided to call her Aubrey – daring me to run 14 miles! Whatever goal I set out to do, Aubrey will always challenge it before I’ve even finished tying up my laces.
I managed 14.02 miles without a single stop or drink. Go me! I finished my run at the Co-op which is where I often finish my long runs so that I can have a nice warm-down on the walk home. It’s also so that I can treat myself to a Lucozade. However, this time I decided to try something called an Acti-shake; I’d read online that drinking chocolate milk after a big run was a good idea because both the carbohydrates in the chocolate and the protein in the milk help to rebuild and recover muscle. As a lover of chocolate milkshakes I gulped down this drink on my way home but by the time I walked through my front door I felt like I was going to vomit. Groce. Me no likey.
In other news, on the 29th of January I hit a new Half Marathon PB of 02:03:04 (with my previous being 02:19:30) but on this 14 miler I smashed it again and earned a new HM PB of 02:01:34. I’m getting very close to doing it in under 2 hours – but that’s another goal for another time
08/02/2017 | 3 MILES
Time: 25:37 Pace: 8’20
This was a speed run, a short but fast run, something I was advised to do once a week in order to break up my long distance runs and apparently improve my overall time. BUT, if I’m honest, I’m not sure I’m going to carry on with them. I always find my legs hurt a little afterwards and the last thing I need is an injury. Also, with this being my first marathon, I’m really not bothered about timings too much, I just want to make sure I can finish the dam thing. So I think I’ll be ditching the sprints.
09/02/2017 | 3.1 MILES
Time: 28.44 Pace: 9’17
I got a call whilst on this run. A call I had been waiting for regarding a job I desperately wanted. As I headed into open space on my third mile, the phone rang. I paused my run to take the call in hope that it would be good news, good news that could fuel a further seven miles! All I needed to hear was “you’ve got the job” and I knew my high would kick in several miles early and carry me all the way from the field to the beach.
Alas it was a call to tell me I’d been pipped to the post. Disappointment doesn’t even begin to cover how I felt. Made worse by the fact that some old lady who didn’t realise I was talking to someone on my hands free, began shouting at me about some dog poo that clearly had nothing to do with me, since, y’know, I didn’t even have a dog with me!
I ugly cried in the middle of the open field afterwards. Then I cut my run short and went home in a sulk.
10/02/2017 | 10.1 MILES
Time: 01:34:38 Pace: 9’24
Now that my sulk was over (which had ended prematurely thanks to a big bubble bath, a cup of tea and devouring enough chocolate to satisfy Willy Wonka) I decided to head out on the run that I had intended to finish the day before.
Nothing fuels a run like failure! No I didn’t get the job, yes I was gutted, sad and genuinely feeling like oh-em-gee, will I ever get a job again, I’m beginning to lose my mind, somebody help me, arrghhh HY$%&VN*KJ£ but those are the days when I benefit most from a run. I headed out and did a decent 10 mile run, sprinting along the beach, clearing my head in the process and taking in some beautiful Crosby views.
17/02/2017 | 10 MILES
Time: 01:36:44 Pace: 9’39
I Ate: 2 slices of wholemeal toast with Peanut Butter, honey and a chopped Banana
I Drank: 750ml of water w/ 1 Vitabiotics energy tablet + a Latte (with 2 sweetener’s)
I basically decided to run away to my Sisters house for a few weeks to help out as she was expecting her second child. Somehow I sort of accidentally left it a week between runs (oops!)
But using Google Maps I created a five mile route near her house, and then just looped it twice. Unfortunately I didn’t realise there was a HUGE hill in it. I mean huge. It didn’t bother me at first, but by the time I was finishing the run, the muscle in my groin was in agony. I made a note to look up exercises that warm up that area.
20/02/2017 | 5.5 MILES
Time: 38:27 Pace: 9’09
I avoided the hill on this run as my groin was still a bit sore.
I was also working on trying to slow my pace down and concentrating on my breathing. I have a tendency to start off too fast. Aubrey’s fault.
21/02/2017 | 16 MILES
Time: 02:39:12 Pace: 9’56
I Ate: Coco Berry Oats (a Bodycoach Porridge recipe) + 1 chopped Banana
I Drank: 750ml water + 2 cups of coffee (white with sweetener’s)
16 miles! I ran 16 bloody miles!!
This was by far the hardest, toughest and most painful run yet. Once again it was Aubrey’s fault. I set out to do 14 and as I exited my Sisters house to begin my warm up, she was already whispering in my ear ’16, 16, 16’. That bitch! I shushed her, assuring myself I was sticking to 14.
I began with the hill route, looping it twice again, but during my first descent down the other side of the hill, I very suddenly and urgently needed to, ahem, use the toilet. When I say urgently, I mean, yeah, urgently! Should I slow down? Maybe walk? Maybe that will help. Nope that did not help, it made it worse. So after just four miles I had to make a detour and sprint Usain Bolt style to my Sisters house, thrust the key in the door, practically spring up the stairs like Tigger and hop onto the loo, before rushing back out to carry on (a little lighter of course).
This does worry me, I’ve heard horror stories about marathon poop situations! No-one wants that to happen. I decided to blame the porridge (and maybe the double coffee load). Porridge is a fantastic fuel for a big run, but a few other runners I’ve spoken to have said that eating porridge on the morning of a run has left them in a similar situation, and let’s be honest, I do not want to run the risk of pooping my pants in Paris. No thank you!
Toilet drama over, I headed back out. As I ascended up the hill for the second time round it felt like I’d had all the life sucked out of me; I felt as weak as a kitten, it’s as if emptying my bowels had emptied my fuel tank! But I eventually reached the top feeling like Rocky, and I trotted my sweaty self along the bridge to begin my run down the other side of the hill. My descent down couldn’t have been more different than my run up. As the wind flew past me, along with speeding cars, my pace picked up and I had Lady Gaga pumping out my headphones, motivating me to run faster. My energy returned and I felt invincible, like a super hero. Yaaaaas!!!
But the superhero died by mile nine and I felt dead again. I couldn’t believe how up and down I felt on this run.
Aware that there will be refreshments along the way on my marathon, and wanting my training to be as close to the real thing as possible, I had worked a shop into my route at mile 10 where I could pick up a Lucozade. It’s crazy what a sugary drink can do to you on a run. I downed as much as I could and within a few minutes I was bounding my way to mile 11, that feeling of invincibility returning to my mind, body and soul. And that’s when Aubrey piped up again “You’re nearly at mile 11, what’s another 5 miles? You can totally do it.”
Y’know what, I can do it! I can! I found myself agreeing with her. And I did feel good. I’d felt up and down, but now I felt good, amazing in fact. How am I doing this? I proudly thought, a big smile on my face beaming at all the cars now crawling past me in traffic.
Two miles later…
How am I doing this? I painfully thought. My happy, amazeballs, sugared up energy had all but evaporated by mile 13. Not wanting to steer too far away from Sisters in case I died, I had ended up in a little park near her house, running circles in a muddy field not far from the kids play area. Everything in me was aching, but I knew if I stopped I would not be starting again. If I stopped I’d be making an emergency call to my bro-in-law to come pick me up.
At first I couldn’t understand why this run felt so different to my other half marathons. They hadn’t been this painful. I blamed the hill. The stupidly ginormous ‘look at me I’m a hill’ hill, that I had stupidly planned in my route. Twice. Stupid stupid stupid.
Mums and their kids watched on confused as I whimpered out loud and stumbled through mud and puddles. I wasn’t even running anymore, I was just shuffling along, my pace had dropped dramatically. Eventually I decided no more, no more Aubrey. I carried on running but exited the park and began heading towards my Sisters house, ready to quit, when suddenly the Nike App lady declared ’16 Miles’ in my ear! I very nearly fell to the floor and cried. It was over. No more. It was really over.
But it wasn’t over. How am I going to run 10 more miles on top of that?? Was basically all I could think for the rest of the day. I didn’t want to ever run again.
23/02/2017 | 6.1 MILES
Time: 57:03 Pace: 9’20
I Ate: Cream cheese with ham & spinach on a white toasted bagel
I Drank: 750ml of water
I imagine long distance running is a bit like childbirth. I mean in the sense that much like childbirth, it is painful and traumatic and the mothers vow never to do it again, yet two years later they are excitedly announcing “I’m Pregnant” with a big smile, all that pain and trauma but a distant memory.
Two days after a run that had made me cry, whimper, and unable to walk for hours, I was out running again. Sigh. Oh Aubrey.
25/02/2017 | 4.1 MILES
Time: 37:22 Pace: 9’05
I Ate: Toast with Peanut Butter & Honey + 1 Banana
I Drank: 1 Coffee (white with sweetener’s)
I returned to the Hill.
Never again. No more hills, please for the love of God, no more hills.
26/02/2017 | 18.1 MILES
Time: 03:01:14 Pace: 10’02
I Ate: Protein Pancakes (inc eggs, oats, banana & protein powder) with chai seeds, blueberries, crème fraiche, honey & 1 chopped banana
I Drank: 750ml Water + Coffee (white with 2 tsps of sugar)
This run was officially my furthest and longest run ever. Sundays are the day I do super-duper long runs, and now that I was back home up North, I decided to run my 16 miler that I had already planned in. But who do you think showed up?
Yup *nods head* Aubrey!
But I’m happy to report, this run was MUCH better than my 16 miler, probably because there was no hill involved. I think it also had a lot to do with the pancake breakfast I had which was full of protein and energy. As Aubrey pushed me to do 18 miles, I found myself accepting the challenge pretty much straight away. Despite my 16 miler almost killing me, completing it had given me a brand new runners confidence, a kind of confidence I hadn’t had before.
Once again I made a shop pitstop, this time at mile 11, where I grabbed a Lucozade. Last time I tried to down it all in one go. This time I drank some, then carried it with me and drank a few sips at every mile, until mile 16 when it ran out. This actually helped a lot. I didn’t feel anywhere near the amount of pain and exhaustion I had felt on my 16 miler earlier that week (although, no big hills, so that helped). That’s not to say that I wasn’t VERY GLAD when I heard the Nike App lady announce ’18 miles’ in my headphones and I could slow down into my walk. I felt tired and sore, but I also felt bloody fantastic!
Oh, and hungry. Starving in fact. I realised that now that I was more than two thirds of the way through my run, I was ready to start figuring out how I’m going to refuel. Grabbing one sports drink will not be enough to see me through 26.2 miles – eeek!
28/02/2017 | 10.5 MILES
Time: 01:42:28 Pace: 9’36
I Ate: 2 x Butter Croissant w/ added butter + chocolate biscuit + Banana (oops!)
I Drank: 500ml of water, 1 x Latte and 2 x coffee (white with sweetner’s)
She couldn’t just leave it could she?
As I sat in my PJ’s, looking out at the wet and dreary weather, digesting my breakfast with a latte in one hand and my phone in the other, I reflected on my AMAZING February progress. I realised that according to my Nike App, I had clocked up 94 miles over the month – and it was a short month too. I felt so incredibly proud of myself, so strong, so capable.
But Aubrey felt annoyed.
“94? Well surely you can notch up six more to make it an even 100, right?”
DAM YOU AUBREY! DAM YOU TO HELL!
And that’s how my plan to spend a rainy Tuesday indoors watching Netflix, turned into me running 10.5 miles in rain, hail, wind and mud. Oh the mud. I accidentally misjudged the depth of more than a few puddles and ended up getting my trainers, socks and feet soaking wet with rainwater and mud as I splashed my way through them.
Despite this, my 10 mile run felt like one of my best of the month. I may have been very very very wet and muddy, and I most certainly didn’t eat any of my usual running fuel, yet on this run I felt like I couldn’t stop. I planned for six miles, but at six I decided to do one more, then at seven I felt I could go on so decided to do nine miles. Then at nine I thought why not round it up to an even 10? Even at mile 10 I still ended up running half a mile home.
Something has happened to me that has turned me into an obsessed running freak.
And I kinda like it … a lot!
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t impressed with my February training progress. At the beginning of January I was struggling to run 10k and all my runs involved breaks at every two miles to catch my breath. Yet by the beginning of February I’d managed to ditch all stops and power through. And now here I am hitting 18 miles. The human body is an amazing thing.
I think a big part of my progress has been carb-loading as well as massively reducing my alcohol intake. Throughout the month of February I drank on just three occasions, and on the second and third occasions I’m talking just one drink per occasion. This is a big deal for me, the girl who was drinking nearly every day throughout the month of December. I’ve also introduced a lot more pasta and rice to my diet as well as protein by adding protein powder to things like shakes, pancakes, porridge and cakes.
Let’s hope the month of March sees me progress even further as I creep closer to the big day *crosses fingers*
Any fellow runners out there got any marathon training tips for me?