Training, Tapering, Panicking…

I think I’m probably worse at blogging than I am at marathon training which is saying something! I’m now 9 days away from standing on the start line of the 2017 London Marathon and I’m starting to really panic about whether I can do this.

Once I recovered from my back injury in February I did manage to get back to training pretty consistently. I managed to knock five minutes off my half marathon PB at the Village Bakery Wrexham Half Marathon in mid-February despite virtually two weeks off due to injury which was reassuring.

March’s training went well from the perspective of building up miles. I managed one 18 mile run, two twenty mile runs, and a twenty two mile epic around Rutland Water. I’ve been disappointed that I’ve never quite made it back to the consistent three runs a week rhythm that I had prior to getting injured though. A couple of bad colds, combined with increasing exhaustion from weekend long runs has meant that I’ve definitely done less training than I intended to. Apart from occasional yoga I’ve also really struggled to do much cross-training which has been a surprise – I thought my triathlon background would help with this but I seriously underestimated how much the long runs would take out of me.

I’m now in the final stage of my training – the taper! This, for any non-runners reading, is the two or three weeks before a major race where you start to cut back on your training in order to make sure you end up fresh and rested on race day. My first week of tapering did not go to plan at all – due to yet another cold and some family commitments I only did ten miles of the twenty five I had planned. There’s no time to make the distance up so all I can really do is panic about not being ready – which is possibly the worst situation to be in. I feel like I should be getting excited about running in one of the world’s most famous marathons but I just keep getting more and more scared. If anyone has any advice for a terrified first time marathon runner please let me know!

I’ve raised over £600 for the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital so far which is incredible. I’d really love to break the £1000 barrier if possible but at this stage every penny is like a motivational speech! If you can spare any money for a really great cause then please consider donating via my JustGiving page or by texting RJAH 77 £10 to 70070.





Harder Than You Think

I’m six weeks into my London Marathon training and it’s safe to say it’s been a mixed bag so far. I started out well enough at the start of January, coming off the back of some good training over Christmas which culminated in a nine mile trail run on New Year’s Eve. The first two weeks went well enough – I started running with a faster group at my running club sessions, my first long run went like a dream and I was generally feeling pretty good.

Then I had possibly the worst run I’ve ever had in the whole two years I’ve been running. It was 14 miles of pure awfulness from start to finish and nothing but sheer willpower kept me going. I’ve never experienced anything like it, every single step was hard and I felt utterly defeated once it was over.

The next two weeks were overshadowed by that experience. I hadn’t stretched properly once I got home so I spent the next few days in agony and just found every single run I did incredibly difficult. I did however manage to grind my way up to a massive 17 mile long run by the end of January which, whilst tough, put me pretty much right on track with where I wanted to be.

In total I ran 105 miles in my first four weeks of training and even managed to get in some cross-training, primarily through the Yoga with Adriene Yoga Revolution programme which is amazing!

The first two weeks of February have been somewhat less successful – to say the least! Last week coincided with my first big deadline in my new job which meant later nights than usual and less time for running. Last Saturday evening I fell down some stairs – an unfortunate combination of socks and wooden floors – which has resulted in a week with no running at all until today. I’m pretty confident I’m not suffering any permanent damage but I’m seeing a physio on Tuesday to get the all clear before I ramp up my training again.

What’s struck me most is how much harder it is to train for a marathon than I was expecting. The training I did for the half marathon I ran last year was (mostly) enjoyable and I assumed training for a marathon would be much the same. It hasn’t been so far – although it doesn’t help that at the moment the weather is pretty much permanently cold, wet, dark or icy which does rather suck the joy out of running around outside for hours on end.

I honestly think I might have just given up if I wasn’t running for something other than personal satisfaction. Running for three hours might be hard but it’s nothing compared to having to learn to walk again after having a hip replacement – which is what my mum has spent the past four months doing. Given the current state of NHS funding I’m also keen to do what I can to ensure that other people have access to the incredible world-class expertise and care offered by the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopedic Hospital.

If you can spare any money to contribute to my fundraising efforts and help me make it through the next ten weeks of training then please donate via my JustGiving page or by texting RJAH 77 and the amount you’d like to donate (£5, £10 etc) to 70070.

Now We Are 28: On Beauty and Bravery

This week on the internet women taking pictures of themselves without makeup on has been a bit of a thing. It’s supposedly in aid of cancer awareness and the associated donations have raised more than £2 million for Cancer Research UK. Millions of pounds in under a week from one-off donations and goodness knows how much more over the long term from people deciding to commit to regular donations to combat a disease which kills people indiscriminately and whose cure often leaves people maimed and forever changed is pretty incredible. So surely an internet campaign that not only raises awareness of cancer but also funding for research into a cure for cancer is good, right?

Apparently not… I’ve seen a significant amount of criticism of the campaign for various reasons: people taking photographs without donating, which to a certain extent is fair enough, although given the outcome I can’t see how this is a legitimate complaint; and the word “brave” being applied to both bare-faced women and cancer sufferers. Taking a photograph of yourself without cosmetic enhancement is seen somehow as a fluffy, ethereal thing and not worthy of sharing an adjective with people suffering from a life-threatening disease. Whilst I agree that taking a photograph and fighting cancer are clearly not the same thing I really object to the belittlement of people making a genuine gesture for a cause they believe in – particularly in light of the outcome.

The undertone to a lot of the criticism I’ve seen is also extremely patronising – silly little girls thinking they are brave for putting a photograph of their naked face on the internet, they obviously don’t understand what it means to be really brave. However, for a huge number of women in our hyper-sexualised, image obsessed society, going without makeup or appearing in any way less than “perfect” is a genuinely courageous thing to do. Standing up and saying “here I am, with all my flaws and imperfections naked to the world” is a very hard thing for women to do because we are told constantly that being ourselves is just not good enough. As women we are constantly told we need to be thinner, curvier, prettier, fitter, quieter, happier, sexier, more natural, less demanding, more demanding and so on, ad infinitum. To challenge that in any way, however minor, is an act of defiance. It doesn’t make cancer sufferers any less brave, it simply demonstrates a willingness to challenge yourself in support of a greater cause.