Chicago Marathon Training Week 1

I always start a new marathon training plan with a mixture of nerves and excitement, and this time round is no exception. In fact, I am feeling more than a little apprehension at the enormity of what I am trying to achieve. But fear is good, and I’m hoping it’s going to scare me into action!

We Run London 10K race

SundayWe Run London

10K @8.34 pace

Monday- Rest

Tuesday– 1 mile warm up with last mile at mgp (marathon goal pace) 8.10

4 X 400m @ 6.25, 6.21, 6.27, 6.20 pace

This was my first return to speedwork for 8 months and wow- my lungs were burning! I have a lot of cardiovascular fitness to work on.

Paola’s Body Barre workout – so so hard, so good.

WednesdayProject Awesome

Rooftop Yoga – I was invited along by Cardinal Place  in Victoria to take part in a free tennis themed outdoor yoga class, I already had plans to catch up with Sophie so this seemed like the perfect event. The class was suitable for all levels, and was fairly slow which was actually lovely. We used our tennis balls to really work into our feet muscles, perfect for runners. The yoga class was to promote their rooftop Wimbledon screenings over the next fortnight, complete with pop-up bars, strawberries & cream, and my favourite alcoholic iced tea. If you’re in London you should definitely go along one day/evening- I’m sad to be missing out while I’m away!

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Thursday– Tennis with Roger Federer (more on this in a post to come!)

Friday– Project Awesome Hill repeats in Primrose Hill (with some ab moves thrown in for good measure!)

SaturdayParkRun 5K in about 26 mins (wasn’t wearing a watch and forgot to bring my barcode- whoops).

Park Run Fulham Palace

Sunday – Another whoops. Was feeling a little too ropey after the Taylor Swift concert so 8 miles was off the cards.

Monday– Snuck my 8 miles in before work in the sunshine. It was so glorious outside and the perfect running weather. I remember why I prefer marathon training in the summer! Used my RunKeeper app which was either pretty useless or I have suddenly become an Olympic level runner, clocking miles at 5.13. I would guess I was running around a 8.50-9min mile (I HOPE!).

And we RUN

Bit of a Swifty reference in today’s title for my fellow fans!

This weekend was pretty epic; running, an engagement party and Taylor Swift live in Hyde Park! Saturday morning began with a group run to #igniteLondon- as part of my 21 day project, PUMA challenged me to get a group of friends together for a run. A 5K Parkrun around Bishop’s park in Fulham seemed like the perfect location. It’s easy to get to, a pretty course plus there’s a great coffee shop for afterwards.

PUMA kindly sent me some t-shirts to give out to our group- loved being a matching team. A lot of people asked us if we were a running club!

Park Run Fulham Palace

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A family friend that I hadn’t seen for years noticed my Facebook status about the Fulham Palace Parkrun and came along, it was so good to catch up with her. Love that running brings people together. I even convinced Tom to join us, bribing him with a bacon sarnie which he ate before the run!

pre Park Run Bacon sarnie

Our group each had different goals for the 5Ks so split up as soon as we crossed the start line, I fell into pace with Sophia which was great to catch up as we ran. The race is 2 and 3/4 laps around the flat park, with quite a few turns and twists to keep it interesting.

Becs and Andy were super speedy- Becs even placed 2nd woman! Sophia and I weren’t quite so fast, we finished in about 26 minutes. It was a lovely warm day, which meant that post race photos were pretty sweaty. After having our barcodes scanned for official Parkrun times we met up with our other runners to head for coffee and cake in the sunshine. Banana bread is breakfast, right?

Park Run Fulham Palace

The afternoon took me to a friend’s engagement BBQ. I am so excited to have been asked to be a bridesmaid in their wedding, and I took my responsibilities yesterday very seriously- eating and drinking! Sadly I couldn’t stay too long however as I had a long standing date with my best friend Tay to attend.

Taylor Swift Hyde Park

We were so lucky to get tickets through family to Taylor Swift’s sold out 1989 tour in Hyde Park. We were there with the champagne sponsors- Monopole for the evening, which came with flowing drinks and access to the tree houses (elevated viewing areas) that gave us incredible views. After watching Ellie Goulding, I practically pushed my way to the front of the tree house to secure a good location for Taylor. Success!

Taylor Swift Hyde Park

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Taylor Swift Hyde Park

I thought she performed amazingly, with 65,000 people cheering and singing along. I have been listening non-stop to her album so sang a little too loudly throughout her set. What an incredible night! Hope you had a great weekend x

Your running stories & PUMA trainers winner

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I really loved all of the running stories so I thought it would be fun to share a few of them with you, starting with the Puma trainers winner – Rachel. (Rachel please email me charliewatson88@hotmail.co.uk)

Rachel: I’ve only been running seriously for 10 months now, but it feels like much longer than that. Up until last September, I had phases where I would go out, run for a month or two and then stop. I’ve always been a sporty person, playing badminton and doing countless sports through school, but I’ve found it harder and harder to do these sports after graduating university and keep up my fitness to a level where I can perform in my other sports well.

My mum was an avid runner, and she did many 10k races and a couple of half marathons in her time (including the Great North Run). We did a couple of Race for Life 5k races together when I was around 12/13 years old, and I remember absolutely hating the training! My mum died in 2010 from breast and secondary liver cancer, and finally at the back end of 2014 I got myself into gear, said to myself that I wanted to make a lifestyle change and follow in her footsteps. I signed up to the 2015 Reading Half Marathon, and after five months of training (and a bout of shin splints in between!) I managed to finish in 2:04:09.

For my first half marathon, I ran for the charity that looks after the Cancer Hospital where my mum and grandpa both stayed when they were ill. I’m proud to say that I raised £680 for them, and a race means so much more when you are running for a cause you are so close to. That first half marathon has only ignited my love for running more; I’m now a member of a running club which I go to every week and I’m starting to really improve my pace and stamina. Running gives me a sense of freedom that I can’t get from any other sport, and it pushes me more than I’ve ever pushed myself before.

Lizzy: When I was younger I was never particularly sporty – I’m not competitive and was always hideously self-conscious. At one point I hired a personal trainer and did start to run in 30 min bursts three times a week, but it was only ever with a view to losing weight. It was so, so boring, and I hated every knee-slamming, blister-bursting minute!
This April, however, after driving home through awful traffic on a beautiful sunny day, I felt something new. An urge to get outside. But more than that – to run. Not for my figure or for anyone else, but simply because I could. I paced myself (something I’d never really done before) and was delighted to see how far my little legs could carry me. It was a revelation – running wasn’t about losing weight, punishing myself or even, really, about getting fit. It was about pleasure, and seeing how capable and strong I really was. Since then I’ve built up to 5k twice a week (still slow and steady, but it never did the tortoise any harm, right?) and even – I can’t believe I am saying this – joined a running club last night. Everyone was really welcoming, and even though I was right near the back, I was just pleased that I didn’t need to stop at all en route.
I’ve always been a bit of a workaholic, obsessed with promotions and goals and praise. It’s such a relief – and a joy – to discover a world where I can set my own goals, however small, and continue to meet them and surprise myself. There aren’t many other activities that could boast that in just 40 minutes, a couple of times a week.
I’m delighted to have found your blog, and to see all of the races, events and challenges which (hopefully) now await me.

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Laura: This is super-long, because my running journey has been a long one, and I don’t have a blog to post it on, so apologies!

My running story started in 2009. I was recovering from an auto-immune illness and had been doing Pilates and some strength training for some time to aid my recovery. During that time, I found a career path I wanted to follow, and it required a certain level of fitness. All very well, I knew I had it in me to pass the strength tests. But I’d have to be able to run in order to pass the fitness tests.

I never liked running. I was overweight in secondary school, hated PE, and when we had to run around the track I wouldn’t get far before having to stop to walk. My teacher would stop me after the first lap, because I would have held up the whole class if they’d had to wait for me to do another. So I never thought I could run. But I wanted this job, so I went out and bought a pair of trainers, an armband to stick my iPod in, and I started to run. It was every bit as hard and awful as I remembered. But this time I was fitter, and I had a goal that I was determined to reach. I started running in country lanes, which wasn’t ideal but it was the only place close to home. Between the traffic and potholes, I decided it was too dangerous and invested in a treadmill.

It was when I got the treadmill set up in the shed, beside the Pilates reformer, that I fell in love with running. The alone time was great and I built up my endurance and ability whilst blasting the Glee soundtracks really loudly. Good thing we didn’t have neighbours!

Sadly, the new career didn’t pan out. My health got in the way and so I kept bumbling along in the part-time job I’d been doing, but I kept running. Then in 2010 disaster struck when I found myself with hip and sciatic pain. I couldn’t walk, let alone run. I had problems with that for a very long time, and despite numerous trips to several different GPs, none of them came up with a cause or solution, or even an MRI to try and help. Thank goodness for my osteopath! She got me moving again, but I was too afraid to run without knowing the cause of the problem. I had a few attempts over the next couple of years but encountered pain every time and eventually decided to sell my treadmill.

In 2014, having seen my boyfriend train for the Wales Marathon, I decided it was time to start running again. Dr Google came to my aid and helped me to find out that it was piriformis syndrome causing my pain. So, armed with this knowledge and a lot of helpful stretches, I started running again. By now I was living in a more built-up area, so I had roads and parks I could run in. Wow, running outdoors is more difficult than I ever remembered it being on the treadmill! And the number of flies I swallowed whilst gasping for breath…
Let’s just say I wasn’t enjoying my return to running. It was so hard, and I felt as though I was getting nowhere. It seemed like every week I had a new injury, and I could not get as far as a mile. Eventually, I gave up. I was in constant pain (probably due to awful trainers, which I’ve now thrown away) and just felt totally disheartened seeing all the other runners fly by looking so happy.

I was so miserable having failed at running. I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t do it, knowing that I’d done it in the past. I let it go, and over the next 9 months or so also let myself go. I didn’t work out much, partly because I let fear of injury get in my way, but also because of an awful defeatist attitude.

Early in 2015 I gave myself a kick in the backside and made myself start training again. Pilates, strength training, exercise bike… And then the little running niggle came back. So I downloaded C25K and dragged my boyfriend out to run along the canal bank with me. He hated it, but I loved it. Somehow I’d found a positive attitude and was determined to succeed. My C25K app failed me on one solo run, and instead of running for 2 minutes I found I’d run through 2 songs on my iPod. Whoop! I actually abandoned the app and just started listening to my body. I joined the beginners group of my local running club and started to go out with them on Monday evenings to train. I smashed my first mile on a not-very-flat run with my boyfriend. A few days later I hit 2.19, and the run after that I got to 3 miles.

My next goal is to do the local Parkrun. It’s a tricky one because it’s not flat, but I’m gonna beat it! I’m going to work on my speed for a little while this summer, and I’ve signed up for a 10k charity run in February, so later in the year I’ll be upping my distance to train for that.

I never, ever thought I’d be a runner. If only my 15-year-old self could see me now…

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Ciara: Thank you for sharing your story and I have loved reading everyone else’s inspiration!

I have never been a runner, I did ballet for 15 years and other dance whilst I was growing up and then discovered Zumba and other classes at the Uni gym but running never appealed!

The Christmas before last I decided to run a 10k for the spinal injuries association who help people all over the UK recover and get back to independence after an accident. This was a charity close to my heart as they were a huge help to my own brother following his accident 10 years ago. I roped my boyfriend and my oldest brother into the run with me and we signed up to the Bupa 10K run in March 2014. Bearing in mind I had never run before, when I set out on my first ‘training session’ I ran less than 1km and told my boyfriend I was having an asthma attack and had to stop to which he told me ‘you don’t even have asthma, come on’ which was very fair as I was just being totally weak! I kept my training up, going running 3 times a week building up to 9k in the end and then completed the run in just over an hour which I was so pleased with. Since I signed up to that first run, I have kept running and completed another 10k in Regents Park earlier this year. I have discovered a whole new world of health, food and fitness which I love exploring and finding new recipes, sites and recommendations. Running lets me de stress after a long day at work, explore new places and keeps me happy and healthy, I love it now and I am looking ahead to my 3rd 10k in October which is in Scarborough! I hope to beat my PB and I am looking to the fresh sea air and the promise of fish and chips on the seafront after to push me on! Most of all I think I am lucky to be able to run for these charities who are so deserving of our conations and I am grateful to my friends and family who put up with me always asking for fundraising!

You should also check out these great blogger’s sharing their running stories;

Elle – Keep it Simpelle

Amy – The Scientist Runs

Chris – The Accidental Triathlete

Lesli- Fit and Happy

Emma – Stripes & Snapshots

Have a great weekend!!

The Chicago Plan: Project BQ

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It’s no secret that I have a rather large goal for the Chicago marathon in October. Project BQ (or as close as I can possibly get to a BQ). For those of you unfamiliar with the term BQ, it means Boston Qualifier, and is the qualifying time that you need to achieve for your age group to get into the Boston Marathon. For my current age group that means I need to run a sub 3.35 or more importantly, knock nearly 15 minutes off my current marathon time.

Is it possible?

Yes.

Will I achieve it this year?

I don’t know.

Will I give it a damn good go?

Hell, yes.

After a nutritious dinner of burger and courgette fries with my ‘coach’ last week, I feel fired up and ready to train. The next 16 weeks will involve a lot of hard work, early mornings, hard runs, long runs and a few sacrifices. I’ll be running 3 times a week, like I did for my Berlin training plan, with a speed workout, a long run and a tempo/mid distance run.

I am really excited to be trying out something new in this training cycle, and am using Barre classes as my main method of crosstraining. I’m really thrilled to be working with Barrecore for this project, where I’ll be attending 3-4 classes a week over the next few months.

I’ve written before about why Barre is so great for runners, it focuses on isometric strength training, involving exercises with a small range of motion but a high number of reps, targeting specific muscles for maximum burn.

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Barrecore 1

These low impact workouts centre around strengthening and toning muscles, although there’s usually elements of cardio too. As well as core work, barre work requires a lot of balance, which improve stability as well as strength in feet, ankles and toes, which could lead to better gait and foot mobility. Paola di Lanzo, founder of Paola’s Body Barre, explains that ‘barre is ideal for runners who need to lengthen their hamstrings, open their hips and increase shoulder mobility’.

Pure Barre devotee and fellow runner Jamie Wells has taken her marathon time from 3.51 to a 3.18 with the help of regular barre classes, crediting the stretching in each session for keeping her injury free, whilst a Pure barre instructor Jolene has seen her shin splints disappear along with her IT band issues thanks to improved leg muscle balance and strength.

 

 

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I’m in good company with this whole ‘barre for marathon training’ thing- American distance runner Tere Zacher, who’s currently training for the 2016 Olympic marathon, uses barre to tone muscles without creating bulk. She likened the focus it takes to stick with sections at the barre, and the determination to finish long runs. ‘When you’re at the barre, after 40 seconds it hurts like crazy, it’s the same kind of pain as when you’re racing.’ It pushes you out of your comfort zone and tests your mental strength. I totally agree with this!

I’ll be posting weekly roundups of my training here on the blog, as well as most workouts on instagram. Now that Barrecore is on Classpass feel free to join me for a barre workout too-I’ll be the runner with the poor flexibility in the corner!

25 Min Ab Workout with TruBe

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As a fitness and health blogger, I feel a a lot of pressure to have ripped abs- something I shared more about in a recent post- Why I don’t want a Six Pack.

Sadly I think I like cake too much to ever get washboard abs, however I’d like to work on my stomach before an upcoming holiday. Abs are my least favourite area to train, I easily back off when it gets too tough, or skip them altogether.

I’m working with the TruBe trainers over the next 3 weeks to get beach ready- not to get a six pack, but to work towards a stomach that I can confidently show off when I’m in Portugal with my friends this Summer. TruBe trainers are available across London, you simply book a session on the app for your preferred time, and a trainer nearby is assigned to you. You can workout in your home, local park or at a home or office gym.  It’s so easy to book and to cancel (up to 12 hours before your session – a bonus when other trainers charge you a 24 hour cancellation fee).

My first session was with Alex in my local park and brought Zoe along too so that we could be put through our paces together. I love that you can bring along up to two friends for the £65 fee- if you had a group of you each week that would be a really affordable training session for all!

TruBe trainign with Zoe 1

To target the stomach, you can’t just complete hundreds of sit-ups, it’s important to include fat burning full body exercises too. Alex has a wealth of experience, and that really came through with the fun yet incredibly challenging workout he put together for us.

We completed a circuit workout, including planks, burpees, shuttle runs, press ups and mountain climbers- these exercises worked the entire body, whilst targeting the entire core. Many people don’t realise that the muscles collectively known as ‘the core’ actually include your back, and muscles that stretch into your bum and thighs.

Trube mountain climbers

This circuit is similar to the one Alex took us through and is a great core workout; including a warm up and cool down, it should take about 30 minutes. Complete the following exercises for 45 seconds, with a 15 second break before moving on to the next exercise. Repeat 3 times.

TruBe 25 min ab workout