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


6. Food glorious food

I love food. I would be quite happy munching on bread, cheese, and jaffa cakes for the rest of my life. But sadly that’s not a) a balanced diet or b) anywhere near practical. Whenever I start something new, I love to really understand it, get to grips with it and know what I should be doing to make the most of it. I don’t like doing things half hearted. Why bother? In thinking ahead to the marathon, I very quickly realised I’m going to have to assess my food consumption. More to the point, think about what food I eat at what time of day and how much of it. These are big questions for someone who has honestly never really been bothered about watching what I eat and certainly never been on a diet. Hmmm this might take a bit more effort than I first thought. I like to do things properly, and have spent a long time scouring online for marathon diet plans and trying to work out what and when to eat before and after a run (I don’t even want to contemplate ‘during’ the run yet – from seeing the sugar gels mum takes, I’ll be holding off as long as possible). This is also made a little more tricky with the added dimension of me being a veggie. Now I know all you meat-lovers would just say ‘start eating meat then’ – don’t worry, I’ve heard it all before over the past 11 years. And it won’t happen.  So lets move on from the fact that I don’t eat meat (or fish!) and get back to the point. Making sure I take on the right amount of calories, and balanced types of food for slow and quick release energy is important. I haven’t quite sussed it yet, mainly because I can currently sort of get away with eating roughly what I was eating already. I’m still looking in to it, so when I decide I can fully commit to eating particular meals then I’ll let you know (a timetable of weekly meals will no doubt appear). Any other of you vegetables (or non-vegetables but can face a meal without meat) out there who have suggestions of quick healthy meals, preferably that can be prepped in advance? Please pass on your pearls of wisdom. Much appreciated.

But as those longer runs loom in the distance, this could get tough. The only thing keeping me going at the moment is the joy (yes, it will be a joy I revel in) of carb-loading 3 days before the big day (just clarifying in case you fell asleep for a few lines – I’m still talking about the marathon, I’m not getting married). Some of my friends would say I’ve already started practicing to carb-load in preparation. Apparently that isn’t quite the idea. But when it comes to those vital few days, I’ll be on a family holiday. This sounds a bit of a disaster the week before the biggest challenge of my life (I hate that cliche, can’t believe I just used it), but fear not. Where in the world would I rather be for a few days of eating bread and pasta than Italy?! Bingo!