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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03/02/2013 at 21:39

Hi Jen, yes Sarah did recommend me getting a roller and I had a go on one at the training day... I must confess though that, as usual, it's been incredibly hectic this end and I haven't got round to sorting one out yet...!

03/02/2013 at 21:47

Saturday – REST DAY

BUPA Fitness Assessment

Saturday was my appointment for my BUPA Fitness Assessment, another part of the fantastic package we’ve been given by Runners World.

As I work Monday to Friday, I asked BUPA if I could have a Saturday appointment and they duly obliged although I did have to travel a bit further to one of their assessment centres that did offer appointments on Saturdays... This meant travelling to Oxford Street with a nine year old with lots of Christmas money left over and me with a fifty pound voucher left over from Christmas as well... So after the appointment, we hit the shops. It’s a tough life, I know.

The assessment itself was fantastic and much more in-depth than I had expected. The assessment centre is state of the art and clearly very new. It was huge and had lovely facilities throughout. Everyone there looked ridiculously healthy – when I walked in, the receptionist was sitting munching on a huge bowl of melon. I decided very early on to keep some of my dietary confessions to myself!

The health technician, Jess, was lovely and we had a general chat about my health and why I was having the assessment done before moving on to taking some measurements. She took my height, weight and a measurement around my abdomen, just above my waist before I then had to do some other tests. My height came in at 176cm (5’ 9.5”) and I weigh 68.2kg (10st 10lbs).

Jess told me that if the measurement around your abdomen comes in at more than half your height, this is a strong indicator that you are at risk of various health issues such as heart disease. It’s a really simple thing to do so you should all have a go! My measurement therefore should have been below 88cm. I can’t recall off the top of my head exactly what it was but I do remember that it was comfortably below that!

We then did a test of my grip strength, which was within the normal expected range, before doing a flexibility test. I thought I was going to be rubbish at this and informed Jess accordingly. I had to sit on the floor with my feet flat against a box that had on top of it a sliding scale marked in centimetres. You then reach forward, keeping your legs straight, to push the sliding scale as far away from you as possible. I managed to push the scale 25cm beyond the end of my feet. I awaited the news that I was ridiculously tight and unflexible, only for Jess to tell me that this was, in fact, well into the above average range for my age and that some people couldn’t even reach the scale, let alone push it away from them. I was pretty surprised at that result!

Then I was told to lie on the bed and take one sock off. I’ll be honest, I was a bit worried about what she might want to do to me that might involve me removing a single sock... but it turned out that all she wanted to do was attach electrodes to my foot and my hand on the same side of my body. She then sent an electric current through one side of my body (a very small one, I might add – I couldn’t feel a thing).

The reason for this is that the current passes faster through lean tissue, such as muscle, and slower through fat. This allows them to calculate very accurately your body fat percentages. I get the full results through the post within a week or two so I will give you all the unvarnished results once I have them... but Jess didn’t fall over in shock or anything so I hope it wasn’t too bad!

After all the tests, we then made our way through to the room where I would be doing the respiratory performance tests. I was instructed to remove my top and lie down so that Jess could stick the pads to my torso that linked up to the heart rate monitor. Ten pads needed to be attached in total.

I am a little hairy in the

03/02/2013 at 21:52

...

chest region and Jess (with, I swear, an evil glint in her eye) informed that it would be necessary to shave me in certain places so that the pads could be properly attached.

I was not expecting this at the start of the day. I had also already arranged to meet a mate down the pub that evening for *ahem* half a pint of shandy and some healthy nibbles... If I met a young lady later on, I was going to have some serious explaining to do when I took my t-shirt off!

Jess finished her expert work with the razor and I looked down to find myself looking like something out of the film “40 Year Old Virgin”, as you can see...

Me after Jess had finished with me:

http://s3.runnersworld.co.uk/members/images/744786/gallery/chest_waxed_0.jpg?width=350

 

Steve Carell after having his chest waxed:

http://s4.runnersworld.co.uk/members/images/744786/gallery/bald_spots_1.jpg?width=350

 

Padded up, I then proceeded to do the respiratory performance checks. The first test involved inserting a rather large mouthpiece and breathing in as much air as I could before violently expelling that air as fast as possible and then to keep pushing and not breathing in for six seconds. This allowed the machine to calculate my lung capacity, how much air I could expel in the first second and then the ratio between the two.

My performance in this test was amazingly good! I was told that the predicted scores on this test were worked out on the basis of what is expected of an athlete (as these are the main type of people tested in this way). Jess said that they would expect most “normal” people to have a lung capacity around 80% of this prediction. The prediction was for a lung capacity of 5.34 litres of air for someone of my age and sex. My lung capacity came in at a whopping 6.53 litres!! That’s 122%!

I was able to expel 5.30 litres in the first second, which was 81% of the total capacity. Again, this was very good and it is expected that between 70% and 80% should be expelled. So I have big lungs and good lung power... This was especially surprising for me given that I smoked for many years and only gave up about three years ago.

Next, I was put on the exercise bike and started to pedal at 60rpm. The resistance was gradually increased in 50W steps and I carried on until I reached 85% of my VO2 max. From this, they were able to calculate all sorts of things including my estimated VO2 maximum.

This was a little low for me and was the thing that I need to improve on the most. It came out at 33.8 mL/kg/min, which doesn’t mean too much to me in all honesty, but Jess showed me a chart and that level is towards the lower end of the ‘average’ range expected for a male of my age. That’s fine but, as every other test I was at the top end of ‘average’ or in the ‘above average’ range this was, relatively speaking, my weakest result. But that will improve naturally with training.

Anyway, after the cycle test, I was taken to a lounge and had some food before Jess came and talked me through some of the results. I’ll save the bulk of the results for when I get the pack through the post but they were, overall, very positive and pleasing and I was left with the impression that I am in pretty good nick, which was great.

It was a very worthwhile experience and I’m very pleased to have had it done!

03/02/2013 at 22:03

Excellent write up of the BUPA Fitness Assessment! Lungs of a horse!

03/02/2013 at 22:35
Shady_Ady wrote (see)

Excellent write up of the BUPA Fitness Assessment! Lungs of a horse!

Haha yes, apparently so! Can't believe it, considering I am an ex-smoker.

Actually, this whole competition is almost verging on leaving me feeling frustrated that I wasted so much training time before! Given that I am making big leaps in performance levels, I was clearly performing way, way, way below my potential before now... It's a bit gutting when you think of it like that! Still, definitely putting that right now

Have you had your full results through the post yet?

03/02/2013 at 22:36

Training - Week 7

Sunday - LONG RUN 14 MILES EASY (8:40 - 9:30 M/M)

So... Long run day. And, for me, this was actually a little intimidating. The furthest I have ever run in my life is 13.1 miles and I have only done this twice, the most recent of which was 2011... So setting out to run 14 miles was actually a bit nerve-wracking, as silly as that sounds when I am training for a marathon!

But fortune favours the brave and so I headed out for the run and, it must be said, it went really well!

Given the pacing I was aiming for on this run (8:40 - 9:30 m/m) I thought it would be criminally stupid to pass up the chance to do a few miles at goal marathon pace... My goal marathon pace for a sub 4 hour marathon is around 9 minutes a mile. I am, however, an eternal optimist and not a little ambitious. So I decided that goal marathon pace is actually 8:55 m/m. Much more sensible!

As Ruth has asked me to give a few gels a go during a longer run, I took three out with me and had the first at 3.5 miles, the second at 7 miles and the last at 10.5 miles. Again, they did seem to really help me and I had no ill effects whatsoever so I think that gels are definitely the way forward for me.

It was a bit nippy out but nothing too over the top. I did wear gloves but, to be honest, I reckon I probably would have been fine without once I was fully warmed up. The best thing was that the gale-force winds from the previous run, which really did make it incredibly tough, had long gone and running felt so much easier!

This actually got me thinking and I’m hoping all you more experienced runners will be able to help me out here – when it is really windy, what is the best thing to do? Maintain form and stay upright or lean into the wind? Is it preferable to sacrifice some good form to lean in and reduce the surface area you are presenting to the wind? Surely that reduces drag and means it is easier to run through... but then you have sacrificed some form and are therefore running less efficiently...?

Such deep questions as these often occupy my mind on longer runs... Anyone know the answer??

On with the run and I felt pretty good throughout. I spent the entire run breathing very easily and felt very relaxed (although slightly less so in mile 14, as you will soon see!) and felt good come the end. I definitely could have run further, which was pleasing for me. Whilst I did feel very comfortable in terms of breathing and perceived effort, my quads and hamstrings did feel very heavy and fatigued just after the 10 mile mark. I did wonder at one point how I was going to get through the last couple of miles but the feeling passed soon enough. After the run, I was definitely feeling a little aching in my quads but it was nothing serious and they feel fine now...

So on to the final two miles and, feeling good about my marathon pacing, I thought I had probably done enough of an experiment and that it would be ok to push the boat out a bit and have a bit of fun on the last two miles...

Fun for me, as you will be well aware, involves copious amounts of speed and I duly picked up the pace.

At the training day, Sam had explained to us how we should be running when we speed up. I think almost the natural reaction is to widen your stride and, therefore, cover more ground. But, as Sam explained, this takes a lot longer for your legs to complete a single stride and, consequently, your cadence decreases. It is much better and more efficient, therefore, not to extend your legs out in front of you but to increase your cadence and have your heels pushing through and rising a lot higher behind you – Alex, Mr Speedy, demonstrated for us and when he was really going for it his heels were flying up behind him, al

03/02/2013 at 22:39

...

almost to his glutes (in essence, he was nearly kicking himself up the backside). He was not extending his legs far in front of him and this meant his turnover for his feet was really fast and, basically, he was flying forward! Again, as Sam has taught me, being aware of and maintaining your form is key.

So, bearing all of this in mind, I sped up and had a bit of a blast for the last two miles and finished feeling strong and with a big smile on my face. It was definitely a huge milestone for me to have run farther than I have ever run before and I was chuffed to get through the run in such good shape.

The last mile, in particular, was hugely impressive for me – I’ve always liked to finish a race with a sprint finish, but finishing this run so quickly over a whole mile was incredible and I was amazed when I looked down at my watch! Hopefully Sam won’t tell me off too much for going a little quickly at the end. All I will say in my defence is that my overall pace was within the goal pacing...

Here are the splits:

Mile 1 – 8:49

Mile 2 – 8:58

Mile 3 – 8:55

Mile 4 – 8:54

Mile 5 – 8:53

Mile 6 – 8:54

Mile 7 – 8:50

Mile 8 – 8:54

Mile 9 – 8:57

Mile 10 – 8:54

Mile 11 – 8:49

Mile 12 – 8:52

Mile 13 – 8:13

Mile 14 – 6:56 (that's huge 5k PB pacing territory for me, and it came at the end of 14 miles!!!)

That works out for the 14 miles at a total time of 2:01:53, meaning an overall pace of 8:42 (see? I was a good boy really, Sam!)

So onwards and upwards towards the next goal, which is the Dorney Lake half marathon in a couple of week’s time...

Edited: 03/02/2013 at 22:47
04/02/2013 at 11:22

Steve

Was about to sit down and write out pre race eating plan/carb load or you when I realised that Adrian, Alex and your good self all weight in at 67-68kg (well Adrian is getting there and have based this on ideal race weight for him) so of you don't mind I will just tweak both their plans and pop on here and see what you think!

04/02/2013 at 11:28
  • Carbohydrate loading should aid with maintaining pace in latter part of race.
  • Suggest follow below plan for up to 3 days before Paris, although you do not need to practise a three day load before but suggest you do try a 2 load before Dorney Lakes? to test how the volume feels etc.
  • You can spread the morning & afternoon snacks out over a whole morning/afternoon. For example you may want to sip on 500ml of juice or snacks over 1-2 hours rather than have it all at once.
  • Protein such as fish/meat/cheese should be kept small or cut out altogether to reduce volume/bulk/extra calories of diet. You will have adequate protein in the below menu when resting anyway.  
  • You should feedback any negatives to me/how you felt doing this.
  • I have based this on 10g of carb per kilogram body weight.

Here is first example!

 

Breakfast

60g of porridge   with 200-250ml of skimmed milk & 200ml glass of fruit juice 1x bagel   topped with large banana. Tea/coffee as usual

130g

Mid-morning

410g tin   of fruit salad & 200g low fat yoghurt (topped on fruit if wish) &   500ml cordial/high juice/regular ribena over morning.

100g

Lunch

150g rice   cooked weight (50g) & 250ml fruit juice.

 

125g

Mid-afternoon

500ml   fruit smoothie OR 500ml low fat milkshake (again can sip on this over the   afternoon) white or brown roll pitta bread with some jam.

95g

Evening meal

150g   cooked rice or pasta with tomato based sauce & 250ml of cordial/high   juice) & 200g low fat yoghurt or rice pudding

140g

Supper

 

 4 x weetabix or large bowl of other cereal (80g) with and 250ml of milk

80g

Total approx carbohydrate (grams)

670g

04/02/2013 at 11:30

Here is Adrian's plan but could also be yours or let me know what other snacks/foods you wish to include and I will alter/include as this is personal to you.

Breakfast: Large bowl of cereal /porridge (60g of dried cereal) with milk & 1 full bagel with generous spread of honey & jam & 200ml glass of orange juice (approx. 130g)

Mid- morning: Nibble on half pack of jelly babies (100g of sweets) and 500ml of low fat milkshake (approx. 120g of carbohydrates)

Lunch:  100g pasta (dried weight) salad, low fat fruit yoghurt & large banana & 20ml glass of fruit juice (approx. 120g of carbohydrates)

Mid afternoon:  banana sandwich and 400ml of fruit juice & 3 jaffa cakes (approx.110g).

Dinner: 100g of pasta or rice or large jacket potato with usual foods but keep vegetables and meat/fish to small portions.  Large glass of fruit juice (300ml) or full sugar diluting juice and low fat fruit yoghurt (approx.115g)

Before bed: large bowl of cereal or 3 slices of toast & jam (approx. 60-70g of carbohydrates)

04/02/2013 at 11:33

Steve. well done on 14miler! Yes, gels appear to work for you and that is fab so one last time at Dorney Lakes: every 30minutes (although may not be neccessary it is good to use in a race situation so you plan how you are going to carry them, how hard they can be to open and get to mouth when tired etc) Then you can relax about using them as often.

Have a good week.

 

04/02/2013 at 11:43

Great thread. 

Been following this a while and finding it really useful.  I'm training for the Paris Marathon also and being my first marathon, the strains and accomplishments your going through are the same as me.  Its a relief to see someone else going through the ups and downs and to see that I'm around the same distances.

I've not tried the gels yet- will look into getting some soon.  Any reccomendations?  Also- as we need this health check for the Marathon, can we just go to an NHS doctor?

 

 

04/02/2013 at 14:21

Great to catch up on last few days Steve - particularly impressed with how you coped with the long run, and your speedy finish!  No telling off needed - if you'd done the FIRST two miles that pace I'd be out to get you though! Like Ady, you have an easy week this week.

I'm surprised at your VO2 max reading - but I do find it baffling that BUPA test you on a bike - as VO2 will vary slightly depending on whether you are weight bearing (as in running) or weight supported (as in cycling). I wish they'd test runners on treadmills and cyclists on bikes  But like they said, it will be improving with training, and your training times suggest that you have a very good ability to work at a high proportion of your maximum already, which is another important factor.

04/02/2013 at 19:41

Evening Bacon Steve!

What a fab long run and your splits were really even ... apart from the last one where you FLEW!! Wow - what a finish to your longest ever run!! Nice one!

04/02/2013 at 21:07

Steve, I am starting to get a bit concerned now. You seem to be mutating into an athlete. This is a highly worrying situation but fear not I have the answer. It'll be tough but if you can stick to the following for the next few weeks you'll be right as rain.

Breakfast: Full English with extra bacon. 

Mid- morning: Greggs cheese and onion pasty, full fat coke, box of Milk Tray 

Lunch:  Double pepperoni pizza, tub of Ben & Jerry's Half Baked Ice Cream

Mid afternoon:  Chilli cheese fries, McD's milkshake, 1 x chocolate orange

Dinner: Chicken Jalfrezi, 2 x Naan, 4 x large Cobra. Finish with a pre-packaged, frozen, ice cream based desert of your choice.

Before bed: Half dozen Kispy Kreme donuts washed down with half a pint of Baileys

04/02/2013 at 22:44

Hi Ruth,

Thanks for all the fab advice

Ady's plan you have put up actually looks pretty good - I am a serious pasta lover so that, combined with banana sandwiches, was all you needed to say! It all sounds like a great day stuffing my face and... well... I'm all for that!

As for gels, is it ok to mix types/brands during runs?? I really like the SIS Go gels and they seem really easy to take in without any ill effects but I like a caffeine one every now and then too - this is what I did on the 14 miler and it worked well for me...

And, for the record, they are a pain in the backside to open when you have gloves on! I ended up resorting to ripping at them with my teeth - was getting more than a few strange looks from passing motorists

Edited: 04/02/2013 at 22:44
04/02/2013 at 22:46
Malcs wrote (see)

Steve, I am starting to get a bit concerned now. You seem to be mutating into an athlete. This is a highly worrying situation but fear not I have the answer. It'll be tough but if you can stick to the following for the next few weeks you'll be right as rain.

Breakfast: Full English with extra bacon. 

Mid- morning: Greggs cheese and onion pasty, full fat coke, box of Milk Tray 

Lunch:  Double pepperoni pizza, tub of Ben & Jerry's Half Baked Ice Cream

Mid afternoon:  Chilli cheese fries, McD's milkshake, 1 x chocolate orange

Dinner: Chicken Jalfrezi, 2 x Naan, 4 x large Cobra. Finish with a pre-packaged, frozen, ice cream based desert of your choice.

Before bed: Half dozen Kispy Kreme donuts washed down with half a pint of Baileys

Malcs......what did I tell you about plagiarizing things from my forum page and stealing my secret dieting techniques? 

Steve......I have had my BUPA results through the post. It was very similar to what they told me in the review straight after the assessment. One thing I did find interesting was that apparently my level of exercise is 10 out of 10. anymore would be classed as overdoing it! I then read further on that as my height/ waist ratio is an immediate concern, I need to increase the amount of times I workout.

It was very educational though. Sadly I don't have any missing patches of chest hair like you. I've still to grow it in the first place!!

04/02/2013 at 22:57
William Cook wrote (see)

Great thread. 

Been following this a while and finding it really useful.  I'm training for the Paris Marathon also and being my first marathon, the strains and accomplishments your going through are the same as me.  Its a relief to see someone else going through the ups and downs and to see that I'm around the same distances.

I've not tried the gels yet- will look into getting some soon.  Any reccomendations?  Also- as we need this health check for the Marathon, can we just go to an NHS doctor? 

Thanks William, glad you're enjoying it - it's been great fun to write!

It is a bit of a voyage of discovery, isn't it - I find some of it verging on intimidating but when you actually push yourself to get out there and get on with it, you consistently surprise yourself... Must be a life lesson in there somewhere

As I said in the post to Ruth right above, having tried three or four, the Sport In Science Go gels seem to me to be the most palatable and easy on the stomach... but then I do like a nice caffeine boost now and again.

There are so many options and I've read a few other threads on here where people have said some taste horrific or are like eating cement that it does seem a bit trial... but SIS could be a good starting point

The fitness assessment was a great bonus as part of the prize - it's not something you need to run the marathon. From what I can understand (and please do correct me anybody if I've got this wrong!) you just need to download a Medical Certificate from the Paris Marathon website and then your GP can sign it off after an examination to say you're fit to run.

04/02/2013 at 23:08
SamMurphyRuns wrote (see)

Great to catch up on last few days Steve - particularly impressed with how you coped with the long run, and your speedy finish!  No telling off needed - if you'd done the FIRST two miles that pace I'd be out to get you though! Like Ady, you have an easy week this week.

I'm surprised at your VO2 max reading - but I do find it baffling that BUPA test you on a bike - as VO2 will vary slightly depending on whether you are weight bearing (as in running) or weight supported (as in cycling). I wish they'd test runners on treadmills and cyclists on bikes  But like they said, it will be improving with training, and your training times suggest that you have a very good ability to work at a high proportion of your maximum already, which is another important factor.

Thanks Sam and phew, was worried I was in for a slapped wrist! It really did feel good - I had a bad patch between 10 and 11 miles but that soon passed and I really did fill full of beans at the end... I was a little shocked, I have to admit, to look down and see this:

http://s4.runnersworld.co.uk/members/images/744786/gallery/14_miles_0.jpg?width=350

 

Yes, given that everything else was very positive it did seem a little strange to me that my VO2 max was as low as it was... but a few more weeks training will sort that out, I'm sure  As you say, it doesn't seem to have slowed me down so far, and the marathon itself will be, one would hope, well below that level of exertion for the most part!

Edited: 04/02/2013 at 23:10
04/02/2013 at 23:12
RunnyRunRun wrote (see)

Evening Bacon Steve!

What a fab long run and your splits were really even ... apart from the last one where you FLEW!! Wow - what a finish to your longest ever run!! Nice one!

Thanks RRR Yes, was pretty pleased with the splits - seemed a great opportunity to try out some marathon pacing and it seemed like it turned out well... and the afterburners being switched on at the end was kind of pleasing too 

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