Longest Run Before The Big Day

Whenever it comes up that I’m running the London Marathon – which lets face it, is practically every conversation I have right now, especially with new and random people,  the matter of mileage comes in to focus.

“How many miles are you up to?” is the most frequently asked question after “Why?” followed by their response of “I could never do that”.

At a recent family event, I bumped in to my sister-in-law’s uber fit friend, Nicole, who is also running the London Marathon and I found myself making the same enquiry.

During the weekend when all London Marathon runners are arduously running their longest distance to date before the tapering starts, I began to ponder why people are so interested in the distance. Myself included. Why did I (silently?) panic on hearing about her imminent 20 miles in the face of my ‘paltry’ 13.

Is it the biggest indicator of how ready you are to run a marathon? Does it demonstrate your running ability? Or is it people’s polite chitchat with the running bore standing in front of them?

This weekend, I ran 18 miles. It’s my longest distance to date and I sure felt it when it was done. However, I ran it in three parts, over two days. Six miles a pop.

This makes me proud. And also nervous.

How am I going to find the energy to run 8.2 more miles on top of that? And all in one go?

Yikes. I guess that’s what jelly babies and a bloody big crowd are for…

The split training is to help me remain injury free in the lead up to the marathon yet ensures my body is exposed to the miles it has to endure on race day.

They say you never run a marathon before a marathon.

Phew. 18 miles it is.

Taper Time

Whoah, it’s April. Marathon Month. How did that happen? Seems like it was only yesterday  that I inadvertently signed up for the London Marathon 2013 via facebook.

Lucky for me, training for the marathon has been more consistent than writing about it, though Facebook & twitter has been with me through every step of the way. Fundraising is going pretty well too.

After two helpful training days under my belt [Asthma UK and London Marathon respectively], my first (and only) half marathon [adidas Silverstone Half Marathon] and my longest run before the big day, my trainer has handed me my Final Program – the tapering off one.

Tapering will allow my body to reach optimal performance before the marathon by decreasing the amount of exercise I do in the lead up to the big day. The trick is to ensure the muscles are kept in good working order but also have a chance to rest.

So as much as I hoped it was going to be three weeks of telly watching, sleep and chocolate – my plan looks more like this:

Final phase of Marathon Training

Final phase of Marathon Training

Not bad, eh? Very doable. And the best thing is, I think I can squeeze in some telly watching, sleep and chocolate too.

Running with Big Tits

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When I was at the gym the other day I was reminded of the importance of a good sports bra. There was a girl, going hell for leather on the treadmill, followed by her large breasts. I thought lives were going to be lost. Well, perhaps just a black eye or two.

As luck would have it – and I do consider myself very lucky, I’m a fully paid up member of the Big Tits Brigade. Fortunately, I didn’t actually have to pay for them but I do have to pay attention and look after them properly. By that I don’t mean putting them in a steel box with only a dehumidifier for comfort but wearing suitable structural support.

Sweatshop rightly says that there are two vital pieces of equipment for a female runner, good running shoes and the right sports bra. I want to concentrate on the latter piece of hardware. Choosing the wrong bra not only hurts like hell but can also give you terrible Runner’s Droop. And no one want to be part of SagNation™.

Seeing that it’s impractical – though not illegal – to employ (one or) two people to run alongside me, cupping my breast(s), I invested in some good bra action as soon as I signed up for the London Marathon. I use these ones for normal gym sessions when the bounce is minimal. For running, I wear bras without an underwire but with a double clasp. I also wear running tops with a secret shelf for extra support. The double clasp takes a bit of getting used to, especially if I go for an early morning run as my arms struggle to reach the back. I usually have to do up the first clasp at the front, twist the bra round and put my arms in. (Sexy!) I then busy myself for about 20 minutes getting ready and then attempt to join the second clasp. Very Challenge Anneka. Sometimes, it takes me several attempts before I’m successful. (Yet another reason for continuing with my weekly Yoga and pilates sessions.) Haven’t tried the front fastening ones yet.

I have three months left until the Marathon so we’ll see how I get on, especially as I’m going to be running for longer distances and time. I have been told that chaffing can occur. Eeek!  If my running shoes are anything to go by, I will need to invest in another bra (and maybe some vaseline?) in the next month as the material becomes less supportive with more running and washing machine action. On reflection, I do have several bras which I alternate wearing as opposed one pair running shoes.

But it’s not all bad news, LessBounce offer a Sports Bra Amnesty which gives you £3 discount off their bras when you post back your old one. Perky!

Stretching the Iliotibial Band

From not being able to run for more than 30 secs to being able to run 10 miles, I’m still getting used to the idea that I’m a runner. My iliotibial band, however, is very aware.

An iliotibial band is critical in stabilizing the knee during running and is a big thick band of tissue on the outside of the knee which extends into your butt cheeks.

Iliotibial band syndrome is one of the main causes of lateral knee pain in runners. The band gets tight, pulls on the opposite muscle and the area becomes inflamed. I can confirm it bloody hurts.

So for now, the amount of running I am doing has dramatically decreased. I’ve swapped it for  activities such as rowing, using the cross trainer and cycling which are less high- impact. I’m also stretching a hell of a lot.

In fact, I’m off to stretch it now…

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Secret of Success: Goal Setting

Apologies, it’s been a month and a half since my last update. A lot has happened.

We bypassed the end of the world as predicted by the Mayans, rejoiced at having another Royal mouth to feed, enjoyed all of London’s fireworks from a festive Parliament Hill but most importantly, I ran 10 miles. 10 fricking miles.

Epic news only for me admittedly. Not only because this is my furthest distance to date but Monday 31st December saw me achieve my goal of running 10 miles before 2013. It also facilitated the discovery of two of life’s many secrets; the power of goal setting and the importance of the iliotibial band.

My ambition to run 10 miles was to prepare me to run 13 of those bad boys in January/early February so that I can achieve my ultimate goal in April;  the Virgin London Marathon 2013. Having mapped out my route on MapMyRun, I needed to know how far 10 miles felt as well as ensure my mind and body were prepared for it.

Although it took me a whopping 2hours12 mins, I felt absolutely elated when I finished the run. The adrenalin surged round my body. I punched my hand into the air. Truly victorious.

Achieving my goal made me feel as if anything is possible. Even running 26.2miles.

So as I settle in to 2013, I know I’ve got an exciting year ahead. I just need to set achievable goals, run my own race and make sure I map out where I want to go. And I’m not just talking about running.

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What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

I’ve just picked up my flatmate’s book What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Japanese author and translator Haruki Murakami.

Whilst I have heard mention of his name, I have not yet read one of his books.  Up until now. Something which delights me no end as I’ve suddenly got a brand new author to get my teeth in to.

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is a departure from most of his bibliography apparently. It’s more of a memoir about Haruki and what running has meant to him as a person.

Seeing that Murakami took up running at the grand age of 33 (I’m 35) and has run more than 25 marathons, (I’m running my first on April 21st 2013), you can understand why I’m enjoying it as much as I am.

I have come across tons of sections that have inspired me and I’m only on Chapter 3. The most overriding factor, however, is that I need to blog more often to keep a handle of my progress. Time is whizzing by so fast and I need to be on top of it both physically and psychologically.

So here we are: Stage 3 out of 5 in my marathon training.

Having plucked my 10k cherry at the beginning of November, my sights now move to the 10 mile mark. And as Murakami’s words float around my head,  I know that it’s within my grasp.

“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional”

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If you can suggest any other inspirational books you think I should be reading, please feel free to comment below or tweet me @runwithfrankie. Many thanks.

Running with the Running Community

At the beginning of November I ran my first ever 10K at the Mornington Chasers Regent’s Park 10K Winter Series.

Having (unfortunately but sensibly) forgone friends’ parties respectively celebrating 40th birthday and hen do the night before, I turned up at Regents Park at 8am in preparation for a 9am start. A valuable lesson I learnt from my first ever 5K.

The weather was heinous. Super cold with torrential rain.

Lovely.

But it didn’t matter really. It just added to the excitement of my task that lay ahead. Besides, I had psyched myself up sufficiently. Luckily Chris, my trainer, had bestowed a few words of wisdom the night before when the panic in me began to rise as a head cold suddenly developed.

Runners (of all ages) started piling in to register their number. The feeling that I had been internalising became a shared group experience as more than 250+ people gathered and excitedly talked to friends and strangers alike. The atmostphere was thrilling. There was a real buzz. Everyone was so friendly.

And that’s one of the things I love about this new hobby of mine. The running community.

I didn’t really know it existed. Or rather, I wasn’t fully aware of it’s magnitude or reach before I spontaneously decided to run the London Marathon.

But I love the running tips you receive from different people – either online or face to face – as they share their own experiences of the sport (a reason why I started this blog)

I’m indebted to:

  • the woman who registered my number and advised me to only wear a vest top and waterproof jacket (3 layers she said was overkill – and she was right);
  • the 45 year old man I met before the race began who broke down the race into laps (that got me through the difficult second ‘already halfway there’ lap and gave me an unbridled energy for the third ‘practically home’ lap);  as well as
  • the unflinching encouragement of the stewards who stood in the pouring rain and spurred me on when I felt like stopping.

Running is a strange beast. You get a sense being truly part of something and yet we all have to run our own race. Even amongst all those runners, the only person we are truly running against is ourselves.

When I crossed that line at 1: 09 the feeling of achievement pumped round my body with the same robustness as the blood in my arteries (and I sprinted the last 200m). Although I did stop three times to stretch my calves with each lap, there were even times where I entered into a meditative state. (albeit briefly)

The next one is on Sunday 2nd December. Will you be joining me?

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