Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Is two runs a week really going to be enough?

Well the REAL training starts here.

After much perusal, I downloaded a training plan from Asics - www.my.asics.co.uk

I had been umming and ahhing for a while about which schedule was best. I have tried a few different options online - for halves in the past and for my research for this marathon, from the likes of Runnersworld, from the Virgin website, however I found the Asics plan the most flexible - you can choose how many runs you want to do, what time you want to get in the race, what races you have completed before and in what time, and what is the best day for you to be out there running your socks off. You essentially have to describe your "Ideal Week" and then they tell you what you need to be doing.

It will then give you a  summary of the plan split up into sections. I really like these. They are:


As they write in the plan summary - "phases" such as the above bring structure and variety to your running and offer ways to improve your performance steadily, reducing the chances of injury.

I told Asics that I wanted to run two times a week. Now, of course, I know (or at least feel that) I should be running more, and in the past have ran 4-5 times a week - sometimes even more - in the run up to races. But this time I really wanted to incorporate lots of other exercise - this is for 2 reasons.

  1. I am worried that overtraining by just running will knacker my knees, my foot, and other joints. This has happened before. Those aches and pains creep up slowly and it can be a pain in the ass to get rid of them once they start appearing.
  2. I want to keep things interesting. I feel if I do a long weekend run, some shorter runs in the week to mix it up and then continue to follow my regular gym routine (3-4 times a week with lots of core stuff in there and other fun stuff - have you heard me mention anti-gravity yoga yet?) then I'm going to be a strong and efficient runner... and less bored.
Now that's my thinking. Of course, this is my first ever marathon so maybe I will be proved wrong and I really need to do a lot more miles so my body gets used to it. Needless to say, the plan adjusted happily to my 2 runs per week "Ideal" and I think it looks great - normally I have a Tuesday run that varies in speed (between 5-8 miles) and then I have a run with an increasing distance on Saturday (Sunday if I get drunk on Friday).

If I do more runs, then I can log these and feel good about it - (keep it on the hush but I'm going to AIM for more like 3 runs a week). But, surely it's better to achieve your mini goals than constantly missing runs and feeling permanently guilty?

If you would like to sponsor me for my race - you can donate on my Virgin Money Giving page. I am grateful for any donations however small. http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/jennifergraham130

I would also love to hear your thoughts on my training plan and any tips are forever welcome!

Thank you so much for your support!

This is Olly and I after the Royal Parks 1/2 marathon recently. It was a gorgeous day and great route. When I crossed the finish line, all I could say was "urgh, imagine if this was only just half way"

Friday, 13 September 2013

Saturday Running is the best!

I love Saturday morning running. I always feel less pressured. I went running recently with two good girlfriends; one who is training for a marathon, and one who is training for a half marathon (Hi Theresa! Hi Sarah!). We ran around 8 miles in total but stopped for a stretch in the middle and went nice and steadily. We spent the whole time chatting and absorbing the new route (along the canal from Victoria park to Angel, then back for a victory lap of the park). I had such a good time, I didn't feel like I was running at all. We met at 8:30am at the park entrance (relying on last night's promises - as we were not taking our phones running) and then afterwards the three of us went our separate ways for showers and for me, I went home and made some juice out of spirulina and a bunch of veg that had gone off slightly that was lyring around in the kitchen.

Running is a completely different experience in the week for me. I like going to the gym in the morning. Gym classes are different - they're at a set time, mine are 7-7:45am and you know you'll be ready at the same time for work after each workout. A morning run means depending on how fast you run depends on how fast you finish, I only normally go on 30 minute runs as I get worried I'll be late for work, so I tend to bomb it round the park, get sweaty, then throw myself in the shower. I'm definitely going to have to UP this 30 minutes once I get more into my marathon routine.

At the minute longer runs are strictly weekend only. I could change and just run after work but I am such a morning runner, I find it difficult to motivate myself after work, terrible excuse I know, but I'm tired.
I'm normally hungry too and ready for dinner. Perhaps I need to start planning a good late afternoon snack so I'm prepared.

So as you can see, I'm all over the place and I'm still developing a routine to combine running, the gym & cycling. I have found cross training and especially lots of core work the absolute key to my running success so it's trying to balance that with the amount of miles I am doing. It's easy to do loads of one type of exercise, at the same time of day, same time of week, but concocting this comprehensive all-rounder plan that I'm hoping for, I'm finding tricky.

If anybody has the secret then please let me know!

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Finding my motivation... with my new Nike Fuelband

So it's been a month of sporadic little runs. And not enough of them. I've had my birthday, and been at a festival, my best friend has returned from Bangkok, and I've been busy at work. This has meant that too much of my time has been spent feeling tired, getting over hangovers, and wanting to go to bed at 9 o'clock in the evening. I feel run down. The Jen who was leaping out of bed at 6am to go running and wolfing down porridge every morning is a distant memory. I am as close to human sloth as I've ever known.
One thing has helped this strange mood I've been in though. I was very spoiled on my birthday and was given a Nike Fuelband. Not only do I look like a cyborg it's definitely helped me keep motivated, especially when feeling as lethargic and horrible as I do at the minute.

For those of you who don't know what Nike Fuelband does - it is an all-day movement monitoring device that you wear on your wrist, it appeals to the OCD side of every health freak out there. It's like a little personal trainer, it celebrates your achieved goals, and helps you turn a simple daily routine into a sport - not just when you're at the gym or in the park. You plug it in and it tells you when you've been lazy and when you haven't. It records your total active time, over a period of days, weeks and months. it's interesting to discover how active you are on a normal day and helps you improve activity in your everyday life.

I thought I'd share with you my tips on how I'm using the Fuelband and how I'm making it work for me. Not only is it helping me run a little more often than I may have done without it, it is helping me improve my daily activity which should improve my fitness overall. I have noticed I have been making more active choices; walking up the escalators, taking the stairs, going for a walk at lunchtime rather than pinning stuff on Pinterest...

If anyone else has a Fuelband let me know and we can "go social" with our FuelCount (wow - cringiest thing I've said all day) and I'm searching for tips on how to get more active when in an office environment, aside from doing lunges at my desk and freaking out my colleagues.

Here are my Top Tips!

1. Don't begin with too high a goal
I set my goal to 3000. This was considered the amount a normal, active person would reach on a normal day, whilst doing gentle exercise. 5000 would be super active (hitting the gym hard, going on a decent run). 1000-2000 would be a normal non-gym day. Of course this is very vague and approximate, I guess the important factor is that the amount of points you reach is relative, i.e. you should be comparing what you reach day-on-day and see how you improve. I found I consistently hit 3000 when not going to the gym - but cycled to work, went for a walk at lunchtime, and didn't just sit rigid at my desk all day. It is great to check the band and see how active you really are. I was worried having an office job that I was largely sedentary, and seeing only 1500 fuel by lunchtime encouraged me to go to the shops at lunchtime, walk home, go to the gym, or go for a run.
It is during periods of free time that we have time to exercise, and the Fuelband makes you realise this. Why not go for an evening stroll after dinner or run a lap of the park instead of plonking yourself on the sofa? It really does make you rethink your activity levels. I found the Fuelband is more helpful for non gym/running activies - when doing sport I am more concerned with the length of time I am running/working out for, and the calories burned and overall intensity rather than the Nike Fuel I have gained - but the Fuelband I find is there for everything else :)

2. Ignore the calorie counter
The calorie counter on the band really doesn't make sense to me. When you first plug the thing in, it asks you for your height and weight, I'm assuming this is so it calculates your BMI. Then throughout the day it gives you a calorie counter. On a day reaching 3000 fuel, it said I had burned around 800 calories. This is an abitrary number, and irrelevant when it does not take into account CALORIES IN. It is not very transparent, Nike doesn't inform you how these calories are calculated, and without actually measuring your heart rate I didn't see much point taking any notice of it. If I wanted to measure calories I'd have to wear a heart monitor, in my opinion.

3. Use it for a a personal leaderboard - consistently, not just for bouts of exercise.
When I uploaded my first week of results, it was cool to see how I had performed over that entire week. It gives you a little bar chart of points each day, and totally appealed to my obsessive compulsive side. I had been at a festival from the Friday to the Sunday and had knocked up a ridiculous amount of fuel - in one day around 9500 fuel, translating to 25,000 steps, 21km walked. It made me feel like intoxicating myself had just as many pros as there were cons health-wise (probably not a good thing?!), but it is amazing to think the actual amount of energy you expend dancing and having fun!!!!

So overall, I think it's a great little gadget that's more for motivation than for accuracy, and motivation is exactly what I need right now.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Great Trail Challenge, June 2013


The journey begins NOW

So here we go.

I have made the commitment. I am going to do this! I am running the London Marathon on 13th April 2014, and will be representing the Mental Health Foundation.

I have three goals.

1. To raise £2000 for the Mental Health Foundation, to learn more about the charity, it's supporters and how donations are used.
2. To run 26.2 miles.
3. To enjoy running 26.2 miles. This means no puking, collapsing or crying mid race.

My main concerns are:

1. I have never ran farther than 14 miles (I ran the Karrimor Great Trail 22km Challenge earlier in the year - I used everything I had and could not possibly have ran another metre)
2. Most of the training is going to be when it's bloody freezing.
3. I have nerve damage in my left foot, which has meant my left leg is weaker than my right, according to my trusty physio.
4. I feel incredibly unfit and un-runnery right now.

It's extremely early days yet, and I'm currently working on formulating a training plan over the next 9 months.
I have been advised by previous marathon runners (cheers, Pete Tizard!) not to overtrain, and I am currently reading Chi Running (http://www.amazon.com/ChiRunning-Revolutionary-Approach-Effortless-Injury-Free/dp/1416549447) which I hope is going to inspire me! I will post more on this later. For now, I am going to be building general fitness, I'm not going to focus too heavily on increasing mileage - at least until late Autumn.

Runners, and non runners alike, hit me with your hints & tips!