purplecat: Picture of purplecat running the Great North 10K (General:Running)
Feeling rather happier about things today. I've got over finishing slower than I'd have liked, and losing the medal, finishers' T-Shirt and running log and LOOK! I've got my official photos.

Under the Cut )
purplecat: Picture of purplecat running the Great North 10K (General:Running)
I've packed. I have to collect my bib number, timing chip and kit bag from the expo tomorrow before 5pm (the instructions are very clear about this). My plan is to get a train down to London tomorrow and make my way to the expo before seeking out my hotel. Since I need to be able to fit all my possessions into a London Marathon kit bag, I'm travelling light. My entertainment for the evening will be my phone and ebook reader. Mind you, I'm still reading fanfic I loaded onto the ebook reader in January so I have hopes it will sustain me.

The week has been characterised by short easy runs (even the long run, at 8 miles, was shorter than the long runs I attempted before training started), leaving me free to worry about other things namely:

Nutrition: I have read a lot about carbo-loading, modern carbo-loading, carbo-loading myths and so on. As far as I can make out the trick is to have your liver well stocked with glycogen. As I understand it (and I didn't do O' level biology though B. did and G. is currently (assuming GCSEs are the same thing)), when exercising one burns through one's glycogen reserves and then start burning body fat (and at the moment when the glycogen reserve runs out you hit "the wall"). You can manufacture glycogen from anything, but carbohydrates are good since they pack a lot of calories into relatively little space. Anyway, I have been putting on weight steadily all week based on an enthusiastic diet of making sure I actually eat a carbohydrate rich food with every meal (plus one cinnamon roll), so I assume I'm OK on the glycogen front. Of course, I also want to avoid having too much solid stuff in my gut on actual race day (because I know things will start to shut down around 18 miles) and I will be away from home so with moderately less control over food. Yo Sushi is apparently offering free meals to runners. Not sure if that will help.

DLR Strike: In order to get to the expo to acquire bib, timing chip and kit bag, one has to take the Docklands Light Railway. This is a problem if it is on strike. I looked this up and found that the nearest Underground station to the Excel centre is only a 20 minute walk away and, well, if I can't walk for 20 minutes on Saturday things do not look good for running 26 miles on Sunday. So my plan was to walk - particularly once the London Marathon emailed me to say there would be a sign-posted walking route. However it looks like the strike has now been called off. I have an ancient Oyster Card with (or so the sticker I have put on it says) £3.70 credit, however I gather one can use contactless payment these days so the Oyster Card will be remaining at home. On race day my start line is at Blackheath which does not involve the DLR. Also I think I get free travel on race day if I have my bib with me.

The Heat: On Tuesday the official marathon line was all "who knows what will happen on Sunday, long term weather forecasts are tricksy beasts". By yesterday this had morphed to "hottest marathon on record. Do you really need to run in fancy dress?". They are a bit calmer now. The advice is to be more modest about your pacing goals. Now my goal was basically 7mph for the first two hours then see how its going and aim to come in under 4 hours. As far as I can tell looking at miscellaneous weather apps, it is no longer likely to be totally scorching on marathon day - the high appears to be about 21C, and rather lower when one takes wind chill into account - and that won't be reached until 2 hours into the run so I figure the plan remains the same: 7mph for two hours and then see how things are going.

Shelter phoned me during the week to find out how I was doing, which was mildly alarming. I feel mildly fraudulent about Shelter given that, if I had a charity place, I would have had to raise £2,000. Instead I seem to be getting the full "running for Shelter" perks for a 10th of that. Not that they won't be welcome. I think I'll be on my own at the end of the race and knowing there is a pub/restaurant nearby with folk who will help out (or at least supply massages) is reassuring.

KM run this week: 30.9
KM run in 2018: 616




While raising money for charity is not my motivation for participation, it is a big part of the London Marathon. Shelter have bribed me with a T-shirt and the promise of a post-race massage. People have been incredibly generous already, but you can donate here should you feel so inclined.
purplecat: Picture of purplecat running the Great North 10K (General:Running)
I have booked a hotel. I have purchased train tickets (first class open single for return journey). I have pre-purchased a photo pack (because, despite the expense, I always seem to end up buying these and it was £15 off if purchased in advance). I have read all the instructions several times. I have a supply of jelly babies and protein bars. I guess I'm ready...

This week I have been tapering, which means running less in order to be well-rested for the race. Mind you, looking at the training plan, the running less mostly refers to the long run on Sunday since the other runs have been 6.5km, 6.8km and 11km which is pretty typical for the runs on this training plan. I guess I haven't had any threshold runs (fast but not ridiculously so), and I've had shorter intervals with more time between them on the interval runs (intervals being fast runs of a few minutes). The long run on Sunday was 13 miles (though I ran an extra couple of hundred yards at the end just to make it up to a half marathon). This was actually a smidgen further than last week when I was notionally resting the ankle (and further than I would have run before I started marathon training) but still considerably less than the weeks leading up to that. The plan said to practice marathon pace on the long run but didn't specify how long for. In the end I ran 7 miles at marathon pace and then slowed to an easy pace. I was quite tired but I know I can sustain race pace better in an actual race so hopefully this is all good. Another Shelter runner who I'm following on Strava, managed his whole 13 miles at his intended marathon pace, but he's complaining that he's not done well at the shorter runs this week so I guess we're about equally ready?

Shelter (the charity I'm running for) sent me a leaflet with instructions for spectators. I don't know if anyone reading is London based, or might be considering turning up, but Shelter have three dedicated cheering points (marked out in the linked instructions) and say they'll let you in if you mention you are cheering on a Shelter runner to one of the members of staff at the cheering point (one of these cheering points is at the Cutty Sark which, I gather, is usually completely packed so getting into a dedicated area is probably a good idea there). After the race they are holding a reception at All Bar One on Villiers Street, so my plan is to make my way there post race if anyone wants to meet up. The marathon also has a spectator app (I assume you can find this if you search in the app store), among other things this will let you track my progress if you type in my bib number which is 8949. If you're spectating that should give you good warning to look out for me on the road, and if you aren't but fancy checking up on me on the day from wherever you happen to be then I imagine that will let you remotely monitor my progress.

The marathon starts at 10am but all the runners will be in pens (which makes me feel like livestock - or at least a greyhound, I suppose) which will be opened at intervals over half an hour to release the runners and prevent congestion. The pen you are in depends upon the time you predicted yourself when you registered and I've no idea what I put down so I've absolutely no idea when I'll actually start the race. FWIW, I'm reasonably confident I'll be running at about 8 minutes 30 seconds per mile until Tower Bridge (approx 7mph) but after that I think it's anyone's guess what speed I'll be doing.

Really, all I have to do between now and race day, I think, is contrive not to trip over an imaginary crack in the pavement and break a leg.

KM run this week: 45.4
KM run in 2018: 585.1




While raising money for charity is not my motivation for participation, it is a big part of the London Marathon. Shelter have bribed me with a T-shirt and the promise of a post-race massage. People have been incredibly generous already, but you can donate here should you feel so inclined.
purplecat: Picture of purplecat running the Great North 10K (General:Running)
In the end I ran 20km at the weekend (instead of 22 miles). I did the first 10km at my proposed marathon pace and then slowed down for the next 10. Even so I was pretty tired by the end but I keep reminding myself that in every race I've run I've managed a significantly faster speed over the distance than I have in practice, so this will probably work out OK. My ankle was hurting at the end so, following the advice of the masseuse, I fished some ice out of the freezer. However apparently I was doing this wrong (according to B.) and nothing else in the freezer would suffice (according to B.) so I gave up and had a bath and two ibuprofen instead. The ankle then rapidly improved, so much so that I'm reassured that cutting back the mileage a week early was definitely the right decision. To be on the safe side, however, I have invested in a gel pack which is currently sitting unused in the freezer (so that should the ankle hurt again after a run I can ice it in a B. approved fashion) and I dropped £72 on a new pair of trainers. I have a suspicion that the ankle injury was originally caused by a cheap pair of trainers I was wearing as a stop gap, and as my current more expensive pair are nearing the point where Strava is going to email me to get new ones I thought investing in a brand new pair (of the make and model I know I like) couldn't hurt anything except my wallet.

I was organising a conference in Liverpool Wednesday, Thursday, Friday this week which has complicated the training plan - or at least I kept having to sneak out of the conference to go to the gym. I felt vaguely embarrassed at telling the volunteers at the registration desk "I just need to go and spend 35 minutes on a treadmill, but you have my phone number if anything happens". I managed over 25,000 steps yesterday which seems like an awful lot even taking the 35 minutes on a treadmill into account. My legs were feeling a bit wobbly by bed time and my knee was making its presence felt this morning. I'm hoping this is just a minor aberration because I will be seriously annoyed if I survived 10 weeks of training only to do myself in walking the streets of Liverpool in search of a restaurant.

I need to remember to book train tickets to London. I am contemplating weekend first, if such a thing exists on trains to London. Once the train is booked, I think I'm all set...


KM run this week: 37.6
KM run in 2018: 539.7




While raising money for charity is not my motivation for participation, it is a big part of the London Marathon. Shelter have bribed me with a T-shirt and the promise of a post-race massage. People have been incredibly generous already, but you can donate here should you feel so inclined.
purplecat: Picture of purplecat running the Great North 10K (General:Running)
I ran 20 miles again on Sunday and (again) it was mostly fine though I felt a bit wobbly afterwards. Jelly babies proved no better for my gut than gels, but I've decided they are distinctly more pleasant to eat and also they are jelly babies, so I've decided that jelly babies it is. B. has observed that I look considerably happier after running 20 miles, than I did after walking 20 miles last summer - however I suspect the key difference here is not that I'm running, but that I do not start the run with bad blisters and end it with worse blisters. We're planning to walk half the Ridgeway this summer and though no stretch is 20 miles, I am hoping to avoid blisters and then we can make some kind of sensible running/walking happiness comparison. It potentially would have been lovely weather for a run too, however I had staggered out of bed at an ungodly hour (made more ungodly by the time change) in order to be back from the run in time for a violin lesson - so I was actually running most of it through a rather chilly mist.

Having said I felt a bit wobbly afterwards, the wobbliness mostly resolved except for the ankle pain that has been plaguing me on and off since January. This continued through until Tuesday when I finally managed to organise myself to have a sports massage (and was told off by the masseuse for not religious icing the ankle after any run where I could feel it). The massage was perfectly pleasant but I always feel mildly bemused by massages - I certainly felt neither dramatically better nor dramatically worse after this one. The ankle felt better on Wednesday so I ran a cautious 35 minute easy run on it. However my feeling is that it is basically fine with any run of about an hour or less, but it really doesn't like the big long runs. There is only one of these left on the training plan (22 miles this Sunday) and I've decided to skip it - it seems stupid, having come this far, to risk some kind of overuse injury for the sake of one long run which probably won't make a huge difference to my performance on marathon day. I will run on Sunday. I haven't decided quite how far yet. I had bought myself a whole thick shell Hotel Chocolat easter egg on the grounds I would have calories to spare on Sunday. If I run a half marathon then I'll burn about 1000 calories which will make quite a dent on my Easter egg, but 10km would probably be safer ankle-wise - whatever, B. will probably have to help with the egg (oddly, he isn't that devastated by the prospect). My current plan is to practice the actual pace I intend to run at on marathon day and see how far I get, if I reach 6miles/10k/1 hour and feel OK then I'll carry on running but I'll definitely stop at 14 miles.

In other news, final instructions arrived!! This included the unwelcome information that the luggage lorries will only store items presented in an official London Marathon kit bag. You get the kit bag when you attend the Expo (which in my case will have to be the day before the marathon). B. has decided he won't be coming down on the Saturday with me, though he's still contemplating coming down on the Sunday. So my options seem to be to take a reasonable amount of stuff and leave it at the hotel (downside - the hotel is a 15 minute walk from the nearest tube and I'm not convinced I'll want to walk that after having run a marathon - though maybe B. would be able to collect from the hotel before meeting me at the finish?) or to make a guess at how much stuff can be fitted into an official London Marathon kit bag and take only that with me (this might be feasible, they must be big enough to include a change of clothes for big athletic young men and a change of clothes for me, pyjamas, sponge bag, an ebook reader and misc chargers shouldn't take up much more space than that. Of course, it will limit my ability to stock pile some vast amount of chocolate in the kit bag.)

KM run this week: 54.7
KM run in 2018: 502.1




While raising money for charity is not my motivation for participation, it is a big part of the London Marathon. Shelter have bribed me with a T-shirt and the promise of a post-race massage. People have been incredibly generous already, but you can donate here should you feel so inclined.
purplecat: Picture of purplecat running the Great North 10K (General:Running)
And then it snowed again. However needs must, so I ran 20 miles in the snow. Thankfully it wasn't too bad and most of the paths were clear. However to be on the safe side I stuck to the park close to home and so, inevitably, ended up running around it 7 times which didn't actually feel as repetitive as I had feared. I felt a little wobbly and very tired once I was done (but that has been true the last three long runs and I think my knee is coping with them better as I go along) and, even though I had halved my intake of gels, I still had to rush into the loo once I got home. I think I will give the jelly babies another try for comparison purposes.

I had a visitor at work this week and so needed to journey to Liverpool every day. So the rest of my weekly runs were spent on a treadmill in the university gym. It is hard to say anything particularly interesting about treadmills, I can't even give an update on daytime telly because the jogging up and down makes it hard to read the subtitles. I think someone in the Liverpool area stole a beer keg using a baby's buggy.

KM run this week: 58.7
KM run in 2018: 447.4




While raising money for charity is not my motivation for participation, it is a big part of the London Marathon. Shelter have bribed me with a T-shirt and the promise of a post-race massage. People have been incredibly generous already, but you can donate here should you feel so inclined.
purplecat: Picture of purplecat running the Great North 10K (General:Running)
It was an 18 mile run on Sunday. This went much better than last week's 16 miler which could have been for a number of reasons. Having spent most of the week on strike, I was nicely rested. This run didn't require four miles at race pace at the start and end so I wasn't pushing myself as much. Lastly the jelly babies were proving surprisingly controversial in the purplecat household. B. kept insisting that I shouldn't need to eat at all during the marathon, so in the end I asked for advice on the Habitica Runner's Edge group board (since it is a very small and friendly group with a big range of expertise). Ultrarobb, suggested that because the jelly babies got most of their carbohydrate from sugar, I could have been experiencing rapid blood sugar spikes and troughs. He recommended peanut butter, but *blegh!* so I invested in some gels*. So these were... well, not much worse than the jelly babies though I have some sympathy with the person who described them as like eating a gelatinous slug, albeit a fruit flavoured gelatinous slug. But they do derive most of their carbohydrate from starch rather than sugar, and I did feel better during the run so... B. remains skeptical - well he's agreed that maybe I do need to eat something, but he doesn't think it will make much difference to fluctuation in blood sugar levels.

On the downside, about two hours after the run, my digestive system reacted quite dramatically. This was not quite "Runner's Trots" (thank goodness!) but definitely quite dramatic. So I'm going to try halving the quantity I consume. Cue yet more discussion in purplecat household about energy consumption/absorption rate vs. physical size. I'm not 100% sure I understand B's science, but I'll give it a go and see what happens.

According to the plan, I was actually supposed to run a half marathon race this week (not 18 miles). However I was a week behind the plan on the long runs and the only available half marathon nearby was the Wigan Half Marathon. Now admitedly I'm sure Wigan is a lovely place** but the half started too early to get there on public transport and I didn't really fancy driving to Wigan at stupid o'clock, running a half marathon and then driving back. The downside is that I won't get any long race time to calibrate my potential marathon pace by, on the upside I'm back on plan and well, I didn't have to drive to Wigan at stupid o'clock in the morning.

Since then I've spectacularly failed to organise myself a sports' massage. [facebook.com profile] alexandra.stanton reminded me about this last week and I realised I'd forgotten to ask about it at the gym. I resolved to try better this week. I was treadmilling on tuesday (so dull, but needs must) and forgot. Then I completely forgot to go to the gym at all on Wednesday and forgot to even take my gym kit to work today - something tells me I may be self-sabotaging.

KM run this week: 48.2
KM run in 2018: 388.7

* I previously referred to these as "protein gels" but the ones I bought had precisely 0g protein in them so clearly not protein gels.

** This is a grotesque lie. However I have no actual evidence that Wigan is anything other than a lovely place.




While raising money for charity is not my motivation for participation, it is a big part of the London Marathon. Shelter have bribed me with a T-shirt and the promise of a post-race massage. People have been incredibly generous already, but you can donate here should you feel so inclined.
purplecat: Picture of purplecat running the Great North 10K (General:Running)
I ran 16 miles on Sunday. I did not enjoy it. In theory the first and last four miles were supposed to be at my planned marathon pace. I just about managed mile 13 at marathon pace and then slowed dramatically because I was just so tired. Afterwards, I found I had managed to add a calf muscle that was threatening to spasm to my catalogue of aches and pains.

Tuesday's run, which was a bonkers sequence of fast intervals of various durations, was equally hard. I more or less managed the first sequence (2 minutes, 3 minutes, 4 minutes, 5 minutes) at my interval pace but was forced to do the second sequence more slowly.

It is probably fair to say I was feeling pretty down at this point. I even had toothache. However I watched one of the London Marathon motivational Facebook live events in which Martin Yelling smiles professionally and tells people that of course they can do this - though his smile did waver slightly when confronted with the question from someone who had a bone "problem" and had been told to rest up for four weeks and he rather strongly advised consulting a doctor and considering how practical running the marathon would be. Still it was reassuring to realise that lots of people were hitting a bit of a hump and that many had struggled to do any running at all last week because of the snow.

He had a physio with him who suggested heel drops for calf muscles, so I threw some of them into my daily stretches. I'd already added some balancing exercises to the stretches since I had a feeling that the ankle pains I've been having for some time were related to stability muscles and a suspicion that ankle weakness had contributed to whatever was wrong with my knee. Whatever is happening, just regular healing or the additional exercises, my knee is actually feeling at lot better as I type though I'm still walking a little bit funny. The physio also said that unless a pain was causing you to limp or otherwise alter your gait, you were probably OK to run through it when training which was a useful rule of thumb to bear in mind.


Black and white photo.  A female runner with short dark hair, centre, with the number 261 is looking over her shoulder to where a bald man in a black jacket is approaching her.  To her right another (male) runner is leaning in towards the man in the jacket as if to intercept.  To her left another male runner is looking over his shoulder back towards the man.
This is a photo of the moment where Jock Temple attempted to remove Katherine Switzer's race number. There are a surprising number of photos of the incident and its clear that both the man to her left and the man to her right got involved in keeping Temple away from her.


In honour of International Women's Day* the London Marathon announced yesterday that Katherine Switzer would be running. Switzer was the first woman to run the Boston Marathon with an official race number having entered under her initials**. This was at a time when it was generally believed that women were too fragile to manage the marathon distance and the longest competitive race for women was only a mile and a half. Famously a race official, Jock Temple, tried to remove her from the course and take her number though he was prevented by her fiance who was running with her (and, looking at the photos, by several other of the men around her). She's considered a pioneer in opening up marathon running to women. She's never run the London marathon though she did run a marathon in London as part of a campaign to get a women's marathon included in the Olympics. She will be runner 261 which is the number she wore back in 1967 in Boston. If all goes according to plan, I should be ahead of her most of the way around (judging by her recent marathon times), which is fair enough given I wasn't even born when she ran that marathon in Boston, though I shall be keeping my eye out for bib 261 anyway. Mind you I gather she says she always ends marathons these days with soaking wet shoulders because of all the women who come up, give her a hug and then weep all over her, so perhaps I should try to restrain myself, even if I do see her.

KM run this week: 50.4
KM run in 2018: 340.5

* International Men's Day is on the 19th November, before anyone asks.
** She was not the first woman to run the race. Bobbi Gibb ran without a number the year before (hiding in bushes near the start and then entering the race when about a third of the pack had passed).




While raising money for charity is not my motivation for participation, it is a big part of the London Marathon. Shelter have bribed me with a T-shirt and the promise of a post-race massage. People have been incredibly generous already, plus bonus £10 note found in the street* (much appreciated), but you can donate here should you feel so inclined.
purplecat: Picture of purplecat running the Great North 10K (General:Running)
While my knee was not "right" on Sunday, I decided to risk a run. My plan was not to faff around with anything fancy like jelly babies, but go out and start running. If it was not immediately painful I would run 3 miles (unless pain set in), walk a bit to reassess, run another 3 miles and so on until I decided it was a bad idea or I'd gone 15 miles. In the end I ran 14 miles (because I wasn't hundred percent certain I was doing fine in the last couple of walking bits) in moderately dull circles around the local park since I wanted to remain in close walking distance to home the entire time. 14 miles felt like a good place to stop since it was the distance I should have run last Sunday. My knee actually started hurting when I walked back but was fine for the run and certainly no worse (that meaning, it twinges from time to time when walking) the following day.

Encouraged by this I re-gigged the training plan. I'm currently a week behind, but the only crucial part is the long runs on Sundays and I can see how to make them up.

Then 'The Beast from the East' arrived giving my German colleagues plenty of opportunity to scoff at the British reaction to snow. Tuesday was actually pretty pleasant. B. expressed doubts about running but I'd rather run on snow than ice any day and I had a bright and clear 60 minute run at a steady pace. Logistics then made planning a bit tricky. Ideally I'd have left a day between runs but that would have meant running in Swindon (a largely unknown city), in the middle of storm Emma at about 6am in the morning, which didn't seem like the brightest idea I've ever had. In the end I headed out at lunch time on Wednesday for a 35 minute run that wasn't entirely unpleasant but was more blustery than I would have liked on snow that was more compacted and tending towards the slippery than I'd have like either. The knee complained a bit afterwards but overall seemed fine!

Actually the knee is almost completely fine when running, but definitely less happy about walking (particularly in the snow). I have a suspicion it is something to do with over-extension but I'm not anatomist. I'm considering following my BiL's recommendation of getting regular sports' massages. I believe the university gym can provide.

So it looks like I'm still in the game here. I just need to be careful and lucky.

KM run this week: 39.6km
KM run in 2018: 290.1




While raising money for charity is not my motivation for participation, it is a big part of the London Marathon. Shelter have bribed me with a T-shirt and the promise of a post-race massage. People have been incredibly generous already (and at the moment, obviously, it's not entirely clear I'll be running at all), but you can donate here should you feel so inclined.
purplecat: Picture of purplecat running the Great North 10K (General:Running)
I was going to write about jelly babies (probably at length) this week. The training plan for the Sunday long run specified practicing "Hydration and Nutrition". Hydration I'm reasonably happy with but I've never eaten while running, in part because I know running anything like close to a meal (apart from, apparently, breakfast) gives me horrible indigestion. However all advice suggests you ought to eat something while running a marathon and most advice recommends either "protein gels" or jelly babies. Now "protein gel" does have an attractive futuristic sound to it (although information on how they taste ranges from "horrible" to "some have a flavour that is better than others") however, honestly? if the alternative is jelly babies the protein gels aren't going to get much of a look in.

According to the Internet, the human body can absorb between 30-60g carbohydrate per hour. According to the packet, 4 jelly babies contain 21g carbohydrate. This works out at 6-12 jelly babies per hour of running. I settled on 3 every 20 minutes. It was OK, I guess? I found them fiddly and annoying and 24 jelly babies take up a surprisingly large amount of space but it was definitely liveable with.

I was supposed to run 14 miles - this seemed like a big jump in distance to me given the long run at the end of the easy week barely made 5 miles and the long run the previous week was only 10 miles. Rule of thumb is you shouldn't increase your running distance by more than 10% per week, but I vaguely assumed, without checking, that I was having shorter runs earlier in the week to compensate. Anyway off I went, grumbling about jelly babies, on Sunday morning. At 12 miles my knee suddenly started hurting. I slowed to a walk. The knee was fine walking, so after 5 minutes I tentatively started running again and then stopped very quickly and walked home. It seemed to be mostly fine though twingeing occasionally. I elevated it a bit and took some ibuprofen then suddenly, halfway through cooking supper, I had the weirdest sensation of "I'm not sure this leg is actually weight-bearing". It wasn't pain and I didn't collapse to the floor or anything but the leg definitely wasn't right. By Monday morning I was having a return of the ankle pains that had been plaguing me the last few weeks and the knee protested every time I walked at a speed above "very slow". I've not run since. The knee is a lot better, in fact I barely notice it beyond a vague sensation that something isn't quite right but I'm dithering badly about what to do next. I shall probably try a slow (possibly long depending how things are feeling) run on Sunday and see where I am then.

KM run this week: 19.3km
KM run in 2018: 250.5




While raising money for charity is not my motivation for participation, it is a big part of the London Marathon. Shelter have bribed me with a T-shirt (which arrived this week) and the promise of a post-race massage. People have been incredibly generous already (and at the moment, obviously, it's not entirely clear I'll be running at all), but you can donate here should you feel so inclined.
purplecat: Picture of purplecat running the Great North 10K (General:Running)
Saturday and Sunday saw the last two runs from "Easy" week. The first asked for five 90 second hill runs. The absence of convenient hills has already been noted here, but I did wonder, even in hillier locations, what sort of terrain would make five 90 second hill runs possible. Mr [livejournal.com profile] sophievdennis suggested running up and down a multi-storey carpark, but I opted for five interval runs instead with a minute's recovery time between each. The second was a 50 minute long run, which coming in at 8.5km hardly seems worth the name "long".

I was disturbed that, after a trouble free week, my ankle was hurting again after both these runs. After some thought it occurred to me that I was running in my cheap shoes again (having accidentally left my expensive shoes at my mothers). I ran in an old pair of expensive shoes on Monday (40 minutes easy) and my ankle was fine. I then brought my spare pair of expensive trainers back from work and ran in them on Wednesday (10 minutes easy, 15 minutes threshold, 2 minutes easy, 15 minutes threshold, 10 minutes easy - I didn't hold the threshold pace very well in part because of ice) and this morning (10 minutes easy, 10 minutes threshold, 5 minutes easy, 10 minutes steady, 10 minutes easy). My ankle continues fine. Since I think it is a stability muscle that is causing trouble I'm wondering if the cheap trainers have subtley uneven soles or something that's causing the ankle to have to work harder - of course, I've not really done enough trials to be sure its the trainers (rather than just an intermittently dodgy ankle) but I'm not really enthusiastic to want to run an experiment involving a shoe that may be injuring my ankle.

KM run this week: 38.4km
KM run in 2018: 221.2




While raising money for charity is not my motivation for participation, it is a big part of the London Marathon. Shelter have bribed me with a T-shirt and the promise of a post-race massage. People have been incredibly generous already, but you can donate here should you feel so inclined.
purplecat: Picture of purplecat running the Great North 10K (General:Running)
Saturday was my 100th Park Run!!! I think it is fair to say that were it not for Park Run I would not currently be training for the London Marathon. For the uninitiated Park Run is a weekly 5km run in a park. It now runs in numerous parks in the UK and a surprising number world-wide. While it is keen to stress that it is a run not a race - it gives you personal timings, and position overall (at least at the park you ran) and by gender and age. Since there is nothing like points and prizes (or, it would seem, points anyway) for motivating me, Park Run is more or less single-handedly responsible for getting my 5km time down from around 33 minutes to under 23 minutes. The people I've met through park run, both as a runner and as a volunteer, are responsible for getting me into the larger slightly more competitive races and hence the London Marathon. Park Run is a big organisation and these days there are smaller more personal weekly runs you can get involved with, but my local Park Run at least is friendly, welcoming, unpretentious, low commitment and generally a very pleasant experience (well apart from the extensive puddles which are present about 6 months of the year and can lead to an encounter with the "Ditch of Doom" if you stray too far from the centre of the path). The training plan recommended a 25 minute Hill Run on Saturday - Manchester not being over-endowed with hills I was happy to substitute that for my 100th Park Run. At some point I will get a T-shirt commemorating the fact but since Park Run is perenially behind on T-shirts that could take a while.

On Sunday I ran 10 miles of which 4 were theoretically at my planned marathon pace (5:15 minutes per km). However since a) I made mess converting minutes per km to minutes per mile and b) it was icy and I prioritised remaining upright over maintaining pace I was slightly faster than easy on the 6 miles that were not at marathon pace and slightly slower than marathon pace on the 4 miles that were.

The rest of the week was marked as "easy" which I took gratefully since I also donated blood and visited my parents, neither of which circumstances are conducive to long intense runs. I ran 25 minutes at an easy pace on Tuesday and 35 minutes (20 easy, 15 steady) on Wednesday.

No trouble with my ankle at all this week. So hopefully it has sorted itself out. The easy running may have helped.

KM run this week: 40km
KM run in 2018: 182.8




While raising money for charity is not my motivation for participation, it is a big part of the London Marathon. Shelter have bribed me with a T-shirt and the promise of a post-race massage. People have been incredibly generous already, but you can donate here should you feel so inclined.
purplecat: Picture of purplecat running the Great North 10K (General:Running)
Two things of note this week. Firstly, I got a new iPhone. Actually I bought this last week but didn't really start playing with it until this week. My main motivation for buying a new iPhone was that the battery on my old phone was becoming increasingly erratic leaving me with the option of either replacing the battery or buying a new phone - I certainly don't want to risk my phone running out of juice half way around a marathon since I enjoy listening to podcasts as I run. When my Mum expressed an interest in acquiring an old iPhone in order to experiment with Siri, it made up my mind that I'd by a new phone.

Most of this month's "toys" budget later, I have a second-hand iPhone 7. I like the increased memory allowance, I'm distinctly less convinced by the necessity for bluetooth headphones. The set I purchased swing about like mad things when running (unless I clip them to the back of my collar, which I have taken to doing) and then rapidly fall out. I've just got an adapter for more standard headphones and intend to research running headphones in the near future.

The other event of note is pain in, I think, my posterior tibial tendon - on the inside of my ankle anyway. It started last week, but after a couple of days' rest it had gone away and did not reappear either following my Park Run on Saturday, nor my long run on Sunday. However on Monday I had an interval run - a sequence in which I ran pretty fast (4:35minutes per km) for 3 minutes and then slowly for 2 minutes seven times (I did pretty well for the first five, but was struggling during six and seven) - and the whatever it is was definitely hurting afterwards. A "steady" run on Wednesday was also characterised by pain in the ankle towards the end making it harder work than it should have been. It is totally fine now after another two days of rest so I'm not sure quite what to do about it. My current plan is to change shoes (there is a whole saga of running shoes I could relate here, but suffice it to say I'm currently running in cheap shoes, however the pain (on the top of my foot) caused by the expensive shoes seems to have resolved itself so I may as well change back into them and see what happens), and see how next week goes since according to "the plan" it is a light running week. If I'm still having trouble after that, I may need to take a week off.

KM run this week: 43.9
KM run in 2018: 142.8




While raising money for charity is not my motivation for participation, it is a big part of the London Marathon. Shelter have bribed me with a T-shirt and the promise of a post-race massage. People have been incredibly generous already, but you can donate here should you feel so inclined.
purplecat: Picture of purplecat running the Great North 10K (General:Running)
I ran Park Run on Saturday (somewhat slow), and my regular long run on Sunday. The Teenager and I got ready for a run on Sunday afternoon, but on opening the front door she took one look at the rain and changed her mind. Since, I'd already run 15km that day and don't much like the rain either, I didn't argue.

Then I started on the "official" training plan. There are actually several official training plans offered by the London Marathon all by Martin Yelling who also posts motivational videos on their Facebook page. I've picked up one that describes itself as being for Intermediate runners, then ignored weeks 1-4 of the plan since they involved less running than I was doing anyway. To be completely honest, I get the impression the key to a not too terrible marathon run is getting plenty of distance under your belt in the run up - while not scaling up the distance so rapidly that you injure yourself (which was the mistake I think I made with the half marathon last year). Everything else is really set dressing. However, it's quite fun (for a value of "fun" probably only appreciated by people who enjoy running) to have a varied programme of different sorts of run to follow, so I was quite looking forward to getting with the plan.

Week 5 suggests:

40min Fartlek Run

Fartlek, I believe, is Swedish for "speed play" a fartlek run is one where you perform short sprints at high speed followed by slower runs recovering in between. I'm not terribly fond of fartlek runs, I think I find the lack of proscription about how many sprints and how long recovery somewhat unnerving. I also want to do the Park Run again this week (it will be my 99th and I'd like to get to 100 before the marathon), so I've dropped the fartlek run in favour of doing the Park Run on Saturday.

10min Easy (8min Threshold, 2min Easy)x3 10min Easy

As far as I can tell from the Internet, a "Threshold Run" is one at 80% of something technical that can only be ascertained in a lab but is supposed to correlate to effort. It is also supposed to be the point where there is a step change in your breathing pattern. Faffing around with my speed while running to see what my breathing is doing seemed like altogether too much work to me, so I looked up my Threashold pace using an online calculator. To be honest I did this in November and I've forgotten what numbers I plugged in. It gave me a threashold pace of 4:55 min/km which didn't seem unreasonable since my 5k race pace is faster than that, but I've not yet managed 10k at 5:05 min/km.

Anyway, I accomplished this run, covering just over 9km in the time alotted. The 8 minute threshold stretches were hard work, but I managed them.

10min Easy (10min Threshold, 3min Easy)x3 10min Easy

I was a little uncertain going into this second run which was clearly building on the previous one. I'd found 8 minutes at threshold pace quite challenging, it was raining fairly heavily and there was a strong wind blowing. I'm not sure I actually maintained threshold pace for the 3x10 minute segments, but I ran consistently hard for those stretches, didn't slack off and as far as I can tell was at least close to threshold pace (even when running into a headwind). So I felt pretty pleased with myself. I covered just over 11km.

10 miles Long Run

This will be Sunday's run.



Of course, I've forgotten to bring my gym kit into work, so the weekly gym session won't be happening. Hopefully I will survive.

KM run this week: 40.1km
KM run in 2018: 98.9km




While raising money for charity is not my motivation for participation, it is a big part of the London Marathon. Shelter have bribed me with a T-shirt and the promise of a post-race massage. People have been incredibly generous already but you can donate here should you feel so inclined.
purplecat: Picture of purplecat running the Great North 10K (General:Running)
I'm still on my regular training plan which involved a 15km run on Sunday, followed by a gentle 30 minute run with the Teenager. She took up Couch to 5k as part of her Duke of Edinburgh's award with a vague plan to participate in a Park Run. This is actually a very vague plan since I think I am keener on the idea than she is. She's certainly in horror at the idea of being among the last few runners to complete a Park Run. I think this is in part because I've told her how encouraging everyone is and she would frankly rather fade into the background than be cheered across the line. At the moment she's running at a pace of about 8min per km and I think we need to get that down to about 7:30min per km for her to be inconspicuous since there are a whole bunch of people who complete Park Run in about 40 minutes.

Went to the gym on Monday without ill effect, which after last week was a relief.

I then ran 10km on Tuesday which went well (managed just over 2km at 4:35 - the target was 4km but that wasn't going to happen) and on Thursday which was a disaster. My target pace was 5:05 for the whole run and I'd thought setting out I might manage it based on last week's run, but I didn't even manage 200m before having to slow down - so I gave myself a kilometre at an easy pace, then managed 5:05 for the next two and then dropped down well below even "easy" (albeit marginally faster than the Teenager can manage). I gradually forced myself to speed up and managed the final kilometre at 5:05 again, but all in all I was pretty disappointed. I have three hypotheses for what was going on:
  1. Sometimes it happens.
  2. Anaemia. I am prone to anaemia and I had been lethargic getting up. I have put myself back on the iron supplements on the grounds it can't hurt.
  3. Lack of calories. I'd lost track of my calories the previous day and had possibly over-compensated. I had had a perfectly normal breakfast before the run, but when I went shopping afterwards I was feeling much like I do when I get home from a long day at work and need food badly. I stocked up on snacks and made sure I ate enough.

Still a disappointing run to go into the first week of "proper" training.

I also booked a hotel. I had been going to leave this until after the longest training run in late March on the grounds I didn't want to waste money on a hotel I wouldn't use if I got injured. However [personal profile] fififolle had been trying to organise a get together in London that weekend and warned me that hotels were already hard to come by. The London Marathon has arrangements with all the Holiday Inn hotels for miles around which include a bus to the start of the marathon, but these were all non-refundable so after an awful lot of messing around on lastminute, I booked a hotel at a reasonable cost with free cancellation up to 3 days before the marathon. It's 15 minutes walk from the nearest tube station and, of course, the tube and then Docklands Light Railway are going to be heaving with marathoners, so I anticipate a certain amount of stress getting to the start, but I will cross that bridge when I come to it. At least if I get injured I won't have wasted £200.


KM run this week: 38.8km (all last weekend)
KM run in 2018: 58.8km




While raising money for charity is not my motivation for participation, it is a big part of the London Marathon. Shelter have bribed me with a T-shirt and the promise of a post-race massage. People have been incredibly generous already, plus bonus £10 note found in the street* (much appreciated), but you can donate here should you feel so inclined.

*I read your blog post, but then got distracted so didn't comment.
purplecat: Picture of purplecat running the Great North 10K (General:Running)
A couple of years ago [personal profile] isis helped me develop a training plan for my running. I switched to a dedicated half marathon plan in about February last year, but switched back to this one as soon as it was over. The training plan consists of two weekly 10km runs, a 15km run and then the Park Run (if I can make it) and/or an additional 10km run if I'm feeling keen. The two 10km runs are split between one where I run 4km at an easy pace, then 4km at a fast pace and then 2km at an easy pace, and one where I attempt all 10km at a fast steady pace. Over time I've gradually pushed at what counted as "fast" and "fast steady" and just before Christmas I was working at getting fast to 4:35min/km and fast steady to 5:05min/km. During the half marathon training I added a half hour session at the gym to the training plan doing some exercises one of their trainers recommended for running and I've kept that up as well.

I have a dedicated marathon training program to hand but in its early weeks it is covering less distance than my existing plan so I haven't really seen the point of switching to it.

Anyway, I missed Park Run and my long run this week thanks to chaos at JFK.

On Tuesday I went to the gym. This was actually my first gym visit in at least three weeks thanks to Christmas and then being the US. I dialled back the weights I was using the exercises a bit as a result.

Even so I woke up stiff on Wednesday. I struggled out for the first 10km run of the week. This wasn't quite the first run in three weeks, but I'd definitely run less over the Christmas period and then not at all while in the US. I didn't even manage a full km at 4:35min/km. Over the whole run I managed just under 2km at that pace in intervals of between 250m and 750m. I was horribly, horribly stiff by the time I finished. I was a little discouraged by this which was much worse than I had been managing, even though when I thought to weigh myself I realised I was carrying a good 2-2.5kg extra weight thanks to Christmas and the US (which, I realised, neatly offset the weight I'd dialled back in my gym session so for some of those exercises I was carrying exactly the same amount of weight I had been before the break - I will have to dial back more next week). I told myself that the combination of stiff legs, a week off and extra weight accounted for the drop in performance.

However the second run, this morning went much better. I didn't manage the full 10km at 5:05min/km but it was still my fastest 10km since mid-November and the average pace was 5:12min/km including two stops to re-tie shoe laces. I've been running in Ravenna Brooks shoes for the past 9 months which have superb laces that never come untied, but recently had to switch and these new shoes clearly have inferior laces. I will have to dig out my triathlon laces. Once the run was over I waddled back home. I'm still a bit stiff and while I can apparently run just fine, I start waddling again as soon as I slow to a walk. This stiffness isn't entirely out of the blue, something similar happened when I first started gym sessions last year, so hopefully it will be better after my gym session next week and stop being a problem thereafter.

Next week I hope to be back on the plan proper...

KM run this week: 20km
KM run in 2018: 20km




While raising money for charity is not my motivation for participation, it is a big part of the London Marathon. Shelter have bribed me with a T-shirt and the promise of a post-race massage. Lovely people donating last week have, I'm sure, already covered the costs of these, but should anyone else feel so inclined you can donate here.
purplecat: Picture of purplecat running the Great North 10K (General:Running)
In 15 weeks and a couple of days' time (assuming I am counting correctly), I will run the London Marathon.

This was not part of the plan.

Broadly speaking this is all Charlie Brooker's fault. At some point, probably around 2011, I came across an article of his in which he discussed the Couch 2 5k app that could get you running and thought it sound interesting and potentially useful if I wanted to get a bit fitter. When I finally acquired a Smartphone, I installed the app and off I went.

By the time I finished the 9 week course in the app, I could run just under 5k in half an hour and I continued to potter about doing this a couple of times a week while listening to the Zombies! Run! app/game/story/whatever it is. Then I discovered ParkRun which had, if not prizes, at least points and I began to actively try to improve my running speed. Then someone at ParkRun suggested the Great Manchester 10k, so I amused myself working towards that and ran it for the next three years.

In the meantime I had made some friends among the Park Runners and when the 10k spun off a half marathon last year, I was persuaded by A. that I should run this, if only as moral support for her attempt.

Did you know, once you run a half marathon, everyone starts asking you when you are going to run a marathon?

Now B., who has occasionally in his career hung out with Sports Scientists had convinced me many years ago that marathons were a terrible, terrible thing (anatomically speaking at least). However, he mysteriously morphed into the kind of person who muttered about bucket lists and "you have to run at least one." My solution to this situation was the London Marathon ballot - with a success rate of, depending who you ask, between 1 in 6 and 1 in 10, I felt I was pretty safe entering the ballot for a few years while I considered whether I really wanted to do this.

You can guess what happened next.

So, lack of injury permitting, I will be running the London Marathon on the 22nd April.

I wish I could say training had started well with the new year. However my scheduled run on Monday was abandoned when I totted up the list of things I needed to do before going to Florida on Tuesday, factored in not getting back from Stoke, where we had spent new year and concluded the run would have to be skipped. My scheduled run on Friday was abandoned because I couldn't actually get out of Florida because of the Bomb Cyclone in New York. Since I am writing this in Fort Lauderdale airport, I doubt my scheduled run on Saturday will happen either.

KM run this week: 20km (all last weekend)
KM run in 2018: 0




While raising money for charity is not my motivation for participation, it is a big part of the London Marathon. Shelter have bribed me with a T-shirt and the promise of a post-race massage. It would be nice to at least cover the cost of the T-shirt and you can donate here should you feel so inclined.

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