Target 26.2 - First Timer Steve's Journey to Paris

Long runs, speed sessions... and a pair of rather tight leggings.

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18/01/2013 at 08:56

Congrat Steve on your training so far keep at it. Just had a nice run through the snow on the trail just my prints and the odd badger and fox prints to look at.......bootiful and the sky is heavy still so more to come round here I reckon. Happy running all. Time for a warm up and a coffee I reckon.

18/01/2013 at 15:22
RUTH MCKEAN wrote (see)

Hi Sarah

Yes, that will be long enough to be fasted  but what is the point of the session? If it  is an interval/intense session you will flag and it will not be a quality session. Quality sessions should  be just that. Also you would be better to do a run before breakfast as this sort of fast during the day is not recommended - are you planning to eat anything? not even a meat salad? The training low is not a fasting diet, it is training low in carbs . The idea of training low can be made to happen in many ways but I have never heard of the fasting during the day method and I would not do this. You can train low by just eating more protein and salads but with a small amount of carbs in meals and you will still have low stores, if do this sort of diet for a few days when training hard OR  do a hard session  or a 90min plus hard run and then no carbs for a few hours after this depleting session then start on high protein and salad type diet and the next session you will be low to start with. Only some sessions or a block of session should be carried out low .  

I know this training low has evidence but I do not do this with my athletes until they have absolutely got everything else right in their diet and their body composition is optimal as these will get you results. Then we may add in phases of training low to seek a slight edge.

I do not mean to be negative but think you can get into more trouble training low unless really planned out what session/block of training you plan to do this for and fully understand how to train low. I feel I may annoy people about this post but feel I am here to give advice and do not want people to start lacking motivation as they feel so low in fuel or to not get the benefits of training low as the progress to do this is not right for that runner.


Just wanted to echo Ruth's thoughts, really. You've probably heard about British Cycling's 'marginal gains' theory - the idea that everything, from the cut of your sleeves to the angle of your saddle to the timing of your pre-ride snack - can make a diffference, how ever tiny, to your performance. This is true, but it's really most reelvant when it comes to people who are already incredibly close to their 'genetic ceiling', ie. who need to work incredibly hard to make even a minuscule improvement. Most of us don't fit that category and with strategies that have risks or disadvantages, you have to think carefully about whether it's worth it. 

As another example, there's been a lot of talk about explosive hill sprints - absolute max intensity 10-12 second hill sprints in boosting power and leg strength. But I wouldn't get my clients to do them because the risks of injury are pretty high and there are many less risky options to consider.

Good luck with running this weekend everyone. I'm so p'eed off with this weather. It's snow joke 

18/01/2013 at 20:10

Hi Steve, sorry you've had such a manic week. Hope you've managed some decent relax time and have still enjoyed your runs.

I've had a good week running, some good hills, conquered one big beast I'd not run all way up before!  I was well happy!

18/01/2013 at 22:05
Thankyou Sam for your advice. Im suposed to be doing a half on Sunday...find out tomorrow afternoon if its still on or not. Hope you have a good weekend and you manage to get some runs in
19/01/2013 at 10:27

@ Sam - - you've been spending too much time on these forums - the humour is wearing off on you!  Off to the joke-corner with you.  Finger on lips! Four minutes should do it

I love running in snow - enjoy it while you can peeps - it won't be here for long!

19/01/2013 at 19:24

Hi everyone, thanks for all your lovely comments and sorry I haven't been answering this week...

It's been a bit of a busy one this end and had all sorts going on! But, thankfully, I have a spare half hour to dedicate to you lovely people and update you on my week so far...

19/01/2013 at 19:54

Training - Week 4

Sunday - REST DAY

So, flushed with success from my wonderful PB at the parkrun, I woke up on Sunday feeling great and gutted that I had a rest day!

I decided to do something low-impact as I was really keen to do something active and carry on the good work from saturday. I figured a few lengths of the pool would be a good bet so I jumped in the car and headed to the pool.

Unfortunately, I only got two roundabouts away from my house when the clutch pedal suddenly went spongy and I couldn't select a gear. So I sat in the middle of the road about to enter a roundabout with my hazards on... until the police turned up.

The officer moaned at me for not carrying a tow rope, tutted at me and everything... I asked if I could use his. He said he didn't have one. So stop moaning at me then!

Anyway, the officers and I managed to push it onto the side of the roundabout and my sister and brother-in-law (Ijon Tichy - well gutted he is commenting on here; can't lie about sneaky bacon sandwiches!!) came to the rescue. Mr Tichy, our brother-in-law and I managed to push the car the mile or so home... I will admit to spending half of that sitting in the drivers seat and steering... Another police car turned up and one of the officers helped hugely with the pushing and the squad car rolled along behind us with his blue lights on - felt rather important!

The car, unfortunately, is no more. The slave cylinder in the clutch, it turns out, has blown and it's a bit of a job to get to, involving taking out the entire gearbox... the car was pretty low value and it just isn't justifiable to spend the hundreds of pounds on sorting the problem. Hence one reason why the week has been so hectic - car-hunting. Thankfully, today I bought a new one so training day in Birmingham next Saturday is back on!

Not the cross-training I had in mind, but the car-pushing was a great strength work out and did get the old blood flowing!

19/01/2013 at 20:09

Training - Week 5


Today was supposed to be 5 miles steady but, due to work commitments and chasing around looking for cars, I had to take this as a rest day and do the run on Tuesday instead...


Tuesday - 5 MILES STEADY

With my new pacings Sam has given me, steady runs are between 08:05 and 08:40m/m.

I felt a bit tired on this run - it had been a hectic couple of days so I wasn't surprised. But, once I was in to my running, it was alright. Sam said that the pacings should feel to me much like they are described and so I ran a couple of miles at slightly different paces to see how they felt so the mile splits are not as consistent as usual but I was treating the run as more of a pacing experiment! Overall, yes, it did feel pretty steady (but cold!!) so I was pretty pleased with the session...

I got through the miles as follows:

Mile 1 - 08:04

Mile 2 - 08:02

Mile 3 - 08:20

Mile 4 - 08:07

Mile 5 - 08:05

Actual - 5 MILES in 40:39 - 08:08m/m

Edited: 19/01/2013 at 20:11
19/01/2013 at 20:16

Training - Week 5

Wednesday - 4 MILE JOG

Again, my nice new paces were in play so I needed to run this somewhere between 09:45 and 10:30 m/m.

This was a nice, easy session and I finished it breathing as if I had just been out for a walk and was left with so much more energy for the rest of the evening. Going slow is definitely the new going fast!

I got through the miles as follows:

Mile 1 - 09:41

Mile 2 - 09:45

Mile 3 - 09:45

Mile 4 - 09:46

I, again, was paying attention to whether or not I was feeling "as described" at that particular pace and, yes, it did feel very easy and a lovely pace to poodle along at. Whilst I would be happy to plod along at a slower pace for a long easy run, for a slow recovery jog I really don't think I'd want to be going much slower than this...

Actual - 4 MILES in 39:00 - 09:44m/m

Edited: 19/01/2013 at 20:23
19/01/2013 at 20:43

Thursday was a rest day and, as it happens, I was in London at meetings until mid-evening anyway so I wouldn't have had the time to do anything even if I had wanted to...

Training - Week 5

Friday - Intervals

Friday was supposed to be a speed/interval session at the track - Sam had asked if I could swap this for the jog on Wednesday but unfortunately the track had already been booked by a club so they wouldn't let me use it!

And by friday, the weather had hit - we didn't get huge amounts of snow but it was enough to mean the track was out of action.

I went out for a run anyway but, as we had only had a cm or two of snow, it was actually pretty slipp out - more so than if a decent amount had fallen. Some areas had very little or no snow, some had a couple of cms and others were sheet ice. It was a little... um... treacherous.

As a result, I really didn't feel safe doing intervals - I didn't really want to be pushing my luck going too fast if I hit a patch of ice! Not worth the resulting broken leg...!

So, although it felt like I was pretty much just doing junk miles and I'm sure Sam will not overly approve, I did three miles at the following paces:

Mile 1 - 08:26

Mile 2 - 08:41

Mile 3 - 08:36

The plan was to run the three miles at comfortable pace (i.e. 08:40 m/m ish) - I did go through the first mile a little quicker as it was well into minus temperatures and I was bloody freezing and wanted to warm up!! I did also jog the last few hundred yards home and forgot to stop the Garmin straight away so the overall time and pacing is a little off... Running in the snow though was amazing good fun!

Actual - 3 MILES in 26:00 - 08:35 m/m

Anyway, that's the week so far - I have 12 miles planned for tomorrow although the forecast is currently for some heavy-ish snow overnight tonight and most of tomorrow in south Essex so will have to see what happens and how I get on. Running in the snow is great fun but not sure how that will pan out over 12 miles...

Hopefully, with the car sorted now, some sort of normality will return and I can be a bit more on top of things next week!

Ruth, you'll be pleased to hear that I have been following your recommendations pretty much throughout - lots of home-cooked food. I did have one meal while out due to work but chose as healthily as I could... Other than that, I've been a very good boy and am feeling pretty proud of myself!

20/01/2013 at 19:15

Sounds like a busy few days Steve so well done on getting the runs in. And there's no way you could have done your intervals outdoors in those conditions so the only option would have been a treadmill  (not sure if you have access to one?)

Hope your long run went OK today. I went out with a group of 8 for a 2.5 hour easy run but it was pretty hard going even at a slow pace as the ground ranged from springy grass to frozen tractor tyre ruts to cracking ice! It's all time on feet though 

20/01/2013 at 20:29
Hi Steve, looks like you've had a busy week!!! Seems like the running is still going well. 5 weeks done 11 to go! Time is flying by!
21/01/2013 at 10:43


As A.W says time is flying in!

Steve loves bacon wrote (see)

Ruth, you'll be pleased to hear that I have been following your recommendations pretty much throughout - lots of home-cooked food. I did have one meal while out due to work but chose as healthily as I could... Other than that, I've been a very good boy and am feeling pretty proud of myself!

Steve, that is great. You are a busy man and all credit to you! Please keep it up as I know it will be a great help.

We need to start on race day fuelling. As this is your first marathon do you have any plan of how you are going to fuel the actual race, gels, sweets, fluid etc.  If you have a vague idea of how you think you might like to do this let me know and I can turn it into a plan that we can at least  start with? Including what a pre-race meal/breakfast might be.

Hope the weather improves soon!


21/01/2013 at 19:28

Hi Sam, yes the footing was a little treacherous but I managed to get out anyway so no complaints from me - I might substitute the session for one of the sessions this week if the snow clears and you think that is a good idea? (Not just because I love those sessions!).

Alex, yes it is flying past, isn't it? Been a little busy this end but hopefully some sort of normality will return after this week once I pick up my new car and the weather improves... hopefully not famous last words

Ruth, I've been quite impressed with myself and what I have been eating - it really has been a bit of a step change and I'm eating so much more (well, even 'some' would be much more!) fresh fruit and veg.

I've also taken on board what you said about eating every three hours as well.

I'm not going to lie and say I've been perfect but definitely a huge step in the right direction.

I will have a think about race fuelling and what to eat on the day and will post something before Thursday. I have used gels once in the past but haven't generally run far enough for it to become an issue for me.

I find I can feel quite tired after long runs - is this me not eating properly beforehand and in general, do you think? Hopefully that is something I have addressed with the diet change...

21/01/2013 at 19:57

Training - Week 5

Sunday - 12 MILE RUN 9:45 - 10:30 M/M

Well this was, in a nutshell, bloody hard work but terrific fun!

In Essex we had very little snow until Sunday, when it snowed constantly all day. We ended up with a few inches and it was out into this wintery wonderland that I headed for my long run.

Sam advised me on Twitter not to worry about pacings and to concentrate on time on my feet with this session although, to be fair, it was rather nippy and snowing constantly so if I went to slow I got rather cold! As a result, the pacings actually aren't that bad.

Given the conditions, I thought it would be rather clever (!) to head over to the local nature reserve, Langdon Hills. The name is appropriate. There are a lot of hills. However, it is a beautiful enough place at the best of times and, covered in snow, it was really quite special - certainly special enough to make a few hills seem more than worth the while.

It was, because of the hills, also jam-packed with families and dog-walkers out sledging, building snowmen and enjoying the snow and every single person I saw had a huge smile on their faces and I had more waves and 'hellos' then in probably a whole month of running previously!

Running through the snow, which was pretty deep in places, was a bit of a challenge though. I think I turned my ankle about three or four times and at one point found myself running over either a extremely large puddle or extremely small pond (still not sure which) which had frozen over and was perfectly camouflaged under a thick layer of snow. I only found out once I was ankle-deep in freezing water. I slithered and slid down a few slopes and really struggled up one particularly steep hill whilst sledging kids whizzed past in the other, more sensible, direction. I got to the top and was told "you're well fit". This would have been great if it wasn't coming from a rather portly gentleman in his fifties and was entirely referring to my cardio-vascular capabilities.

But, strangely, I really did enjoy it and it really took me back to my school cross-country days - I had a similar experience of running a borough cross-country race through snow-filled woods and got my bright-red face and terrible school boy haircut into the local paper.

After about seven miles, I ran out of nature reserve and, rather than repeat the course, headed out onto the streets for the remainder of the run. The going was a lot easier and I suddenly realised that, amidst all the fun and hills and snow and larks, I had been breathing quite heavily and not really taking it as easy as maybe I could/should on a long run.

I had the Garmin recording the run but I didn't really look at it more than twice during the entire run - I just listened out for it beeping to tell me I'd done another mile.

Just as I got past the 11 mile mark, the Garmin ran out of battery so I'm not sure exactly how far I ran in total. However, it was definitely somewhere between 11.5 and 12 miles simply because of how far away I was from home when the watch gave up the ghost.

So here are the pacings for the first eleven miles, and you'll have to use your imaginations for the final mile:

Mile 1 - 9:51

Mile 2 - 10:39

Mile 3 - 09:49

Mile 4 - 09:26

Mile 5 - 09:45

Mile 6 - 09:57

Mile 7 - 10:11

Mile 8 - 09:38

Mile 9 - 10:05

Mile 10 - 10:03

Mile 11 - 09:51

Edited: 21/01/2013 at 19:58
21/01/2013 at 19:58


So I got home looking like a rosy-cheeked drowned rat and was pitied hugely by my sister and Mr Tichy, who was kind enough to make me possibly the nicest cup of tea I have ever drunk and brought me biscuits (sorry Ruth).

All in all, fantastic good fun. Although I do hope the snow clears soon! It was great as a novelty but I don't think I'd want every long run to be in those conditions!

Edited: 21/01/2013 at 19:59
21/01/2013 at 20:14

Here are some pics from the spectacular snow run, starting with a panoramic shot from the top of a huge hill - could literally see for miles...


This was a shortcut through a farmer's field to get to said hill, which you can just see the start of on the right hand side:


This was one of the many little routes through the trees. The place is lovely enough as it is, but in the snow it is really transformed and is a pleasure to run through:


And another. You can't quite see it in this shot but just ahead is Narnia:


Here is a little pond with a tree that goes over the path - it just looked so beautiful that it took me a moment to realise I had stopped running to take it in!


21/01/2013 at 20:48

Fantastic stuff Steveo! Running when it's snowing can be quite uncomfortable, particularly if it's blowing in your face. If there's no wind it's amazing though.

Do you have any races coming up? 

21/01/2013 at 21:39

Thanks Malcs, enjoyed it immensely - think the trees probably shielded me from the worst of the wind!

Yes, running the Dorney Lake half marathon on 16th Feb with A.W., Runny Run Run, Shady_Ady and melaniejayne. Should be great fun!

Undecided whether to use it to practice marathon pace... or just go nuts and try for a PB... if you've got to know me at all by now, you might be able to guess the likeliest answer to that


I forgot to mention my moment of utter genius for the long snow run... I figured 12 miles was probably long enough to start experimenting with some race fuelling and, having tried gels and got on pretty well with them, I thought it might be an idea to see if my stomach could handle sweets on a run (I wasn't too concerned - I have the stomach of a concrete elephant).

So... I stumbled across the ultimate snow sweet - hot chilli-pepper flavour jellies! A lovely little sugar boost and they really warmed me up. I'll say it again - utter genius


21/01/2013 at 22:06
stunning scenery and a fabulous long run...not sure how you managed to run on hot chilli pepper jellies though!
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