32. Friends, fashion and fuel

Good morning! Time to crack on with the training for another week – the countdown has started: 7 weeks to go! So I thought I’d share with you a few gems of wisdom, mostly from chatting to FI over the past couple of weeks, and some of my own experience. It was a really helpful session, and it’s amazing how little things all add to make a big change.

If you want to stay friends with members of the public, shout ‘excuse me’ before you crash into them and barge past.

If you are on the pavement and you can see a runner coming towards you, it is massively appreciated if you can possibly move to one side. Especially if you’re a group of sixth form girls waiting for a bus and decide to take up the whole width of the path and even when I am right next to you you don’t move so I have to go in the road *hint hint*.

Appreciate the support you have from friends around you. They no doubt think you’re mad, but they really do want you to do well.

Top tip from FI – all running shoes have an extra hole by the ankle for the lace to go through again to make a loop for the opposite lace to go through, so that it can be tied tighter. I had no idea about this, but tried it on Friday and was genuinely surprised how much of a difference it made. Tricks of the trade and all that.

Check your running shoes aren’t too warn down on the sole. You don’t want to leave it to the week before the big day to get new shoes if they are completely wrecked. The latest is probs around a month before, to give you time to wear them in.
Buy a cheap hoodie and bottoms (charity shops are good) for race day that you can take off at the start line and are happy to leave there. You need to stay warm until the race starts, especially in the joys of the current British weather.

Here’s the really important stuff – according to FI, fuel is your biggest ally when it comes to a long run (more than 12 miles). I burn over 100 calories a mile, which means when it comes to the marathon that’s over 2,600 calories. And as the NHS suggest a woman’s average daily calorie intake should be around 2,000, I’ll be running on minus by the end. Not a good plan.

To combat this, it all starts two days before the race. You need to increase your carb consumption to double, so your body starts storing the energy. This means when it comes to the day you’ll be starting on full as opposed to anything less. The more you start with, the easier it will be. I like this part of training – being told to eat as much pasta as you can is a dream come true.

Fluid intake – I’m the worst person for drinking enough water on a normal day, let alone when I’m running, and especially for long distances. Try to drink 1.5-2 litres a day. That’s loads for me, so I’m currently just trying to up it a bit at a time. I’ve used a running bottle from the start (one which looks like an oval so you can hold it easily) so I’m used to carrying it. I’ve now switched to larger one so I can carry more water with me on long runs. Advice from FI – add electrolyte tablets to your water, so make it more useful to your body without having to carry more water.

During the run – energy on the go – try different sorts of energy gels. The first ones I used were incredibly sickly sweet and took me half an hour to get through. I’ve now found some that taste much nicer (High5 energy gels), aren’t as sweet and I can stomach in just a few mins – and are much easier to open. Winner. Also have boiled sweets to have on the way round.

Do you have any other pearls of wisdom? Let me know! It’s all the little things that add up to make a big difference.

If you want to sponsor me for this madness, you can do here: http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/mimsmission


24. The Penguin Marathon Strategy

At the end of a busy term, I look back over the past couple of months and wonder how I’ve managed to keep this running lark up. But then again, I’ve had a plan all along – to tell people I’m running a marathon, then they keep asking me how it’s going, so I have to do some running to have something to update them on. And its worked (so far) – win! My pride would not allow me to back out now. It’s all or nothing.

I was doing a little bit of research recently about the marathon and looked up how many ballot applications there were this year, and found this out… 125,000 applications for the ballot were made in less than 12 hours! I have to say, I was not expecting that! I was clearly not the only one who set a reminder on my phone to apply as soon as it opened. I clearly didn’t think through the fact that as soon as I clicked ‘apply’, it did in fact give me the tiniest chance of getting a place. And that tiny chance could actually become a reality. I will keep reminding myself of this when I want to give up…124,999 other people wanted this place, but I got it. Don’t stop.

As some of you know (I keep raving about it) I’ve been reading Marathon Running for Mortals. There are some great words of wisdom in it, and anyone planning on or in the process of training for a marathon MUST read it! I am not an avid reader by any stretch of the imagination, but I have loved reading this brilliant mix of invaluable advice, personal anecdotes and good humour.

For those of you who don’t have time/patience/energy to read it, here are a few quotes that I enjoy…

  • If you’ve got this far [starting the race], if you are standing in the pack at the start of your goal race, you have already accomplished more than most. Take the time right there and then to congratulate yourself. For you, and the for the hundreds or thousands of other participants, the party is just about to begin.
    (NB. I might wear a party hat at the start of the marathon, you never know…)
  • Don’t try anything new on race day. Don’t try anything new on race day. Whatever you are feeling during race week, it’s normal. Don’t try anything new on race day.
  • When you get to the race site, immediately get into the portable-toilet queue. I’m not joking. Do not stop to talk. Do not look around for friends. Make a bee-line for the portable toilets. I don’t care how often you go to the toilet before you leave the hotel; you are going to need to go again before the race starts. Don’t take any chances. Get in the queue. When you’ve got to the front of the queue, then got in and out of the portable toilet, get back in the queue again. Trust me on this one. Stay in the portable toilet queue until you have to line up for the race.
  • Mile 20 is ‘the wall’. For many runner and walkers, this is where the marathon starts. As a friend of mine used to say, the marathon is 20 miles of hope followed by 6 miles of truth.
  • What you decide to do with that medal is up to you. We recommend that you wear it until you have annoyed everyone in your life. Wear it to work. Wear it to college. Wear it to bed. Wear it everywhere. Show it to everyone. Tell everyone how you earned it. And don’t take it off until someone pries it from your fingers.
  • The gift of finishing is available to everyone standing at the start line. It’s available to everyone who is willing to accept who they are at that moment – not who they want to be or wanted to be, but who they are.
  • And finally – The Penguin Marathon Strategy: