The Road to Brighton

With just 10 sleeps left until the Brighton Marathon I’m starting to get that familiar nervous, sickening, slightly uncontrollable panic that only the taper can bring.

How do you ever know if you’ve done enough?  People ask how you’re feeling, if you’re ready, whether you’ll hit your target…I genuinely don’t know what to say.  However, what I do know for sure is that the way I’m feeling now is worlds apart from how I was feeling this close to Amsterdam.

It’s fair to say my injury set me back more than I thought in October, foolishly I don’t think I ever really believed I was injured but, given it hurt to walk a lot of the time, I think it’s safe to say I was!  My runs were slow and laboured, my legs didn’t work and I just didn’t enjoy running.  Whilst Marathon day was nothing short of a disaster, it was a lesson well learned.

Coming out of Amsterdam my resolution was to remember why I love running and the most obvious way I could think of was to start running with my friends again.  Training for the last marathon involved a lot of long, slow, solo miles, I wasn’t going to track, I wasn’t going to tempo, I wasn’t having fun, and it clearly showed.

I went back to basics. My PB still stands in Frankfurt 2013 and that was the marathon I went into with no expectations.  It was the first time I had run 2 marathons in a year so I promised myself if I was going to do it I would only commit to 4 runs a week and I wouldn’t be a slave to the plan.

My approach to training for Brighton has followed these rules.  Of course there is a plan, it’s actually a very carefully structured and beautifully colour-coded spreadsheet (I love a good spreadsheet me) but it’s pretty fluid and flexible.

Sometimes, you really, really don’t feel like going for a run after back to back meetings, and other times you love nothing more than a stress busting 10 miler after work.  The body doesn’t always follow a plan, you have to roll with it.

Step 1: Get some speed back

The first thing I did was reinstate club track and tempo sessions into my training. I had become painfully slow, for me, and these sessions really work to improve your pace.

Hard, sweaty, lung busting speed sessions are tough, but meeting the club at track on a freezing night to chase them round a set of 800s, or having a gossip with Ruth and Laura before knocking out a few tempo laps of Battersea Park in the rain, is infinitely easier and more rewarding than plodding the dark streets of SW London on my own.

An Inviting Battersea Park: The Stomping Ground


Step 2: Cross-Training

The next thing I did was commit to a yoga and spinning session each week.

I had forgotten how much I love spinning with it’s loud music and high energy.  Combining intervals and hills, spinning is great for some additional low impact training, and I’ve used this as a substitute for a 5th run.

Yoga has also become an important part of my plan to improve core stability, posture and muscle tone.  60 minutes of sun salutations, lunges, cobras, triangles, back bends, and even head stands, yoga has been more challenging than I thought it would be but I’m really starting to enjoy it.

I’m now one of those people that gets up at 5.50am on a Tuesday to get bendy on a mat in Waterloo. I don’t recognise myself.

Me: Being a Tree


Step 3: Enjoying the LSR

Finally I wanted to start (sort of) enjoying the long runs again so, wherever possible, I’ve joined forces with some of the Chaser girls to tick off the miles together.  That’s what friends are for right?!

I genuinely have no idea how race day will go. I feel so much stronger than I did 6 months ago but I have an ongoing cramp in my calf and I’m still running slower than before Frankfurt…I don’t know.

To Brighton…


The Art of Running Slowly

We all know how it works. If you want to improve as a runner you need to mix up your sessions and introduce some speed work, plodding along at one pace won’t get you anywhere. However, in order to make the most of the hard sessions you need to slow down the easy runs. You also need to vary the pace of your long runs.  Start slow, introduce some marathon pace and finish strong.

It all makes perfect sense to me, I get it. However, as with most things it’s a lot easier in theory than in practise.


On Friday I went for a run at lunch (RUNch as we call it) & it was supposed to be an easy run. An easy run is 60-90 secs slower than MP. For a 3.45 marathon, MP is 8.35, add on 60-90 seconds and that’s 9.35-10.05 pace.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there was a time when I only dreamt of running that pace but, for me, at this point, it just doesn’t feel natural, I can’t do it.  So I compromised at 9mm…but only ended up running 1 mile at that before falling into 8.30. Fail.

I don’t really like running to be too complicated. The beauty of running is its simplicity. But I know that if I want new PBs I need to control my pace a lot more.

Today’s long run was 135 mins in total. 60 easy, 60 steady and 15 MP or faster. I was determined to stick to it! Generally my long runs are pretty consistent in pace, maybe dropping towards the end if I’m tired, but I know this isn’t the way to do it.  I was going to try really hard.

I set out slow. It felt slow, a bit like I was shuffling but I stuck to it. My route took me round Clapham Common and up to Battersea Park. There were loads of other runners out and they were all running faster than me…


Running around Battersea Park I was eager to pick the pace up. This was my territory, this was where I came for speed work not shuffles. Then I spyed a tall girl bobbing up and down next to me. She was bobbing up and down, she was being tall and she was RACING me. She was, I know she was, how was I supposed to control myself now?! Luckily, by the time I had finished pondering this she turned off. I must have scared her, she knew she couldn’t take me….

Anyway, tall bobby girl out the way I focused on my pace again. As I ran across Chelsea Bridge I started to worry that I wouldn’t be able to run faster now. I’m not sure I’ve ever run a negative split before. However, I waited until 57 minutes on the clock (I just couldn’t wait until 60, patience isn’t my strong point) and picked it up.  It felt ok.

By the time I got to 2 hours I was still feeling good and ready to pick it up again, so I went for it.

Obviously I looked exactly like this…cool, calm, in control and fast…


The clock reached 135 minutes and had done it!! I ran the first half slow, the second near MP and the last 15 at tempo. And I finished strong. It made me so happy!

Now I just need to nail these jogs. I just wish I could get Kanye West out of my head…’drive slow homie’