Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Marathon Countdown - Week 9

My to-do list for this week includes activities to improve upon shortfalls of last week.


1. Get more sleep
I had a few spontaneously late nights last week which involved meeting friends, eating Indian food, and playing trivial pursuit. Awesome. However, trying to get up for a run following four hours sleep is hard work/impossible/didn't happen. Hence I only went for two runs and one swim as I had less energy to get out. Whilst I'm no athlete aiming for a sub 3hour time, I want to feel comfortable and confident on the day of the marathon so need to ensure I get enough sleep to, in turn, train enough to feel happy.

2. Sort-of plan my runs
I'm not much of a planner in my personal life. I like to keep an open-ish calendar and wing things, as this feels far more exciting to me than filling the calendar weeks ahead and knowing exactly what's around the corner. So far, I've applied this to my training schedule. I was never going to adopt the detailed training plan method, as again, if I could see 50 + runs all lined up in my diary I would have felt pretty overwhelmed and restricted. Perhaps this is considered an airy-fairy approach by some, but I like to run according to feel and according to what else I've got on that week in work, uni, with friends and so on. Even so, winging it can only be stretched so far before it means things don't get done. Back to point one - sleep! I'll continue to go with the flow and fit runs around life, and vice versa, but with a more mindful, balanced approach than last week, and even if I don't have a plan on paper, a rough one in my head will enable me to be more efficient.

3. Buy de-caffeinated teabags
Quite easy this one. I've cut out caffeine as it gives me headaches and makes me feel dehydrated and lethargic. Rubbish for running. Last week I slipped back into bad habit mode of drinking caffeinated tea as I'd run out of my alternatives. So. To the shops!

I could add eat less KitKat Chunkys to my list, but that would be ridiculous.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Marathon Countdown - Week 10

Sunday, February 12th marked 10 weeks until the London Marathon.
Since the last post, I have mostly been thinking about breakfasts and new running routes.

Sunrise at Swansea seafront, 8am, February 11th 2012
Whilst Cardiff is great for running in terms of having a plentiful supply of parks and water to run through and alongside, scenery fatigue has been kicking in recently. In a bid to keep things interesting I took an early Saturday morning trip to Swansea's seafront, and ran from the civic centre to Mumbles pier and back again. I absolutely loved this. I arrived in time to see a super cool sunrise, the views from the pier were epic, and Swansea's runners are extra friendly - I even got a cheer from a group of strangers running in the opposite direction! I've since talked to other runners who reported similar experiences further West. Smiles - and cheers - go a long way to making a run more pleasurable. Cardiff runners take note! With the exception of my running friends, I've noticed this city's runners can be sullen at times, making me look like a grinning lunatic bounding around the streets with unreturned smiles. Maybe Swansea's sea air makes their runners happier? Or maybe my presence triggers this reaction?! I plan to continue sharing smiles with the happy and annoying moody runners regardless.

View from Mumbles Pier, 9am, February 11th 2012
If anyone is planning a similar crack-of-dawn wintery trip,  I recommend taking a vehicle with working heaters. Despite gloves, hat, fleece, scarf and sleeping-bag-like coat, I thought my freezing fingers were going to stiffen into permanent claws whilst driving back.

Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day, so when a man who runs through ice-bogs* mentioned how great pancake breakfasts are for runners, immediately a seed was sewn. My pre-long-run version this week combined blueberries and honey. Lovely! And not sure I should be revealing this...but I also ate pancakes and honey with scrambled eggs and spinach this week. My palate is combination trained, but perhaps it's not for everyone! A more everyday addition to my breakfasting has been gluten free oats - also a great energy giver and again great mixed with the old favourites of blueberries and honey. 
During the week ahead I plan to incorporate a 15 mile run, have a physio session to keep my currently repairing shins in check, improve my iPod playlists and continue to plan my fundraising** events. I'll post details of those very soon, but I'm excited to say that lots of lovely people have agreed to help out - thank you those people. Big thanks also to the folks who have donated to my justgiving site this week, and thank YOU for reading my blog post!

* Said guy recently ran the crazy Hellrunner race for The Prostate Project, which involves heaps of hills, mud and ice-bogs! To sponsor him and read more, check out his fundraising page here.

**If you'd like to sponsor my challenge for Tenovus Cancer Charity, you can do so here.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Marathon Countdown - Weeks 12 & 11

My laptop broke last week. Well, when I say broke, the moral of the story is don’t drink tea near computers kids. Its lack of functionality meant I wasn’t able to write a blog update until getting my hands on another, so I suddenly have two and a bit weeks worth of pre-marathon-ness to cover. It is pretty scary to think about how quickly the last fortnight has flown by when there are just eleven weeks left to the BIG LM. So, best not to think about that and just get on with some more training I think!

What can I update you on? Well, hill sprints have entered my life, courtesy of Coach Cotsen. As Mr C ran the London Marathon a few years ago and has been offering me welcome tips based on his real-life experiences I’ve decided upon the nickname. During a late evening training session, Coach C decided upon a starting lamppost at the base of a Cyncoed hill, and one towards the top. The aim of the game was to run up from one to the other as fast as possible, walk down slowly afterwards to recover, and repeat, ten times. It burned, but was fun, and no doubt a great fitness boost. I found myself repeating on the following Wednesday, February 1st, and managed eleven that time. I hope to add an extra rep each week.

On Sunday January 29th I decided to go for a long, slow run, taking in the Cardiff sights and a few photographs along the way. Here they are, mapping my 10.7 mile journey around the city. I felt very entertained by all there was to see, so I’m hoping for even more distraction in London when I’ll be passing heaps of landmarks.

1. The Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff Bay, during the Britain's Got Talent Auditions

2. I ran over the Cardiff Bay barrage, planning to head to Penarth but the bridge was up so I reversed my route instead!

3. Next section : along the Taff Embankment, past the Millennium Stadium (one of my favourite parts of the city) into Bute Park.

4. Past the RWCMD, onto Cathays Park (pictured, and looks amazing at night!) back to Roath via Cathays.
Oh, and another noteworthy feature of my recent running has been THE NIPPLE SPLINTERING COLD. My method of encouraging myself out of bed and out the door? Pre and post running hot showers. But in spite of my shower trick, the cold has disrupted my training a bit. I’d planned a long valleys run when I went home for my dad’s birthday last weekend which had to be cancelled as the pavements were too icy, so I went to the gym instead. However, a 9 mile run early on snowy Saturday felt great and it was quite entertaining to see the seagulls skating on the frozen Roath park lake. And, whilst leaving my cold flat to run in the cold weather might initially be a wrench, once I'm out I love it. Cold weather running beats hot any day for its invigorating effects, plus it makes me less beetrooty looking than when I'm outdoors in the sunshine.

My shins hurt as I type – no connection between the two - but as such, I’m going to make more of an effort to fit in yoga and swimming to increase my stretching and promote muscle soothing. I’m also being kneaded by a chiropractor which is hopefully helping but not very soothing! I may give physio a try soon. Any other suggestions gratefully recieved.

This weekend I plan to find a new long route, possibly via an early morning run along the Swansea seafront into Mumbles. I will continue to follow this man’s super motivational tweets. And I will also continue to reward my efforts now and again with incentive such as this white chocolate panna cotta.

Worth a month of cold weather runs!