The Road to Paris - On a Plateau - Asics Target 26.2 Training

The highs, lows (and everything in between) of my 16 week Paris Marathon training plan.

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14/01/2013 at 17:21


I think your diet just needs a bit of a tidy up and I think it might be best to break this down a little. For example: focus on a a great healthy lunch for the next week and a good solid snack mid-morning & mid-afternoon (as want you to eat little and often and feel not so hungry at night). Snack ideas:

  • natural yogurt/rice pudding & fruit x 1
  • 2  large rice cakes with banana topping or  jam or honey or small amount of almond butter or as natural as you can find peanut butter (whole earth types) or some cottage cheese
  • Fruit salad and top with yogurt
  • 2 slices of pre-sliced malt loaf
  • Oat based cereal bar & small glass of milk
  • Handful of nuts and fruit.
  • Suggest others this is only an example.

Try to avoid too many extra handouts in office or if have these snacks then don't have your own.

The only thing I suggest you do at dinner is weigh out (dried weight/not cooked) what you think you have of rice or pasta etc and post these weights just so I can check these. You should be aiming for 3 meals  and 3  snacks (mid-morning, mid afternoon and before bed if wish) and this way you should not get so hungry but no meal should be huge.

My main reason for the above suggestions is to try and get you to eat consistently  as I think you days can be a little haphazard at moment as not planning snacks and meals well enough when in office as this is not helping weight but you may disagree?


14/01/2013 at 19:09

Day 29 - Asics Target 26.2 Paris Marathon Training (14/01/13)

Target: 4 mile jog (9:20 - 10:00m/m). 

Actual: 4.17miles in 39:10 @ 9:24m/m

Mile Splits: 1st: 9:16m/m. 2nd: 9:16m/m. 3rd: 9:17m/m. 4th: 9:18m/m.

There's something therapeutic and primal about running in the snow. It's probably the weather I enjoy running in the most. As big white flakes fell outside, I was counting down the minutes until my recovery run. Disappointingly 10 minutes before I was due to run the snow was replaced with rain and yet again I had no option to go out and get soaked.

I received a few funny looks as I ventured outside in skimpy shorts. I don't blame them, as I wished I was staying inside with a hot lunch inside me!  

Apart from the wintry weather, there is little to add from today's run. I ran my normal lunch time route. I stuck very closely to my pacing guideline. My mind focused on work I had to finish after my run. I did a quick stretch in the rain after my run.

With my estimated time for the Paris Marathon reduced from 3:36 to 3:33, it's probably a good job today was a slow run. It's nice to know I'm moving in the right direction!

Here's my run from today:

As the Garmin website was down yesterday, here's my run from yesterday as well (7.49miles on hilly course):

14/01/2013 at 19:21
Re - pace for race day. I'm sure you know too Ady that all GPS devices tend to over estimate pace by a per cent or two so need to build that into your calculations if you're using one for pace guide too - besides the issue of not running the racing line etc

Shorts in the snow ...nice
14/01/2013 at 19:44

Barnsley Runner........thanks for the advice and info regarding the fastest Parkruns you've done. I was thinking of doing Bushey Park, but looked at alternatives when I saw there are about 1000+ finishers every week, which might make it more difficult to get a free, hassle-free run. I was looking at Crane Park which is just down the road near Teddington. It says that it's fast and flat, so hopefully this will offer me the chance to PB in my next Parkrun!

Mel........I'm sorry to hear you had a similar experience with your Parkrun as well. I will happily share that big bar of chocolate with you when no-one's looking and checking what I'm eating!

Guildford was an enjoyable Parkrun, but I don't think it's suitable if you're looking to go fast. But if you like a challenge!

I still haven't had the chance to try the kurly kale crisp recipe. I should be making my first batch this coming weekend. I'll let you know how it goes! Congratulations on having your estimated finish time lowered as well. That shows your training is going well!

Malcs.........I definitely agree with you that you must have something in place to account for the extra mileage you run during a race due to not following the racing line. The first few times it happened, I stupidly thought the course had been measured incorrectly. As it has happened on every single race, I know that I'm the problem!

Excellent news that you've entered Spitfire as well. I'm sure we will be running around the same pace as well, so it'll certainly be nice to have the company!

Sam........thanks for the updated training program and improved pacing times. I've already sourced a fast, flat Parkrun for week 8 (Crane Park near Teddington), so this should be a better pointer to how far I've come.

Ruth.........I completely agree with your advice. It makes perfect sense. I'll try and add more substantial (healthy) snacks into daily eating. Due to my job, I do struggle with getting my snacks in at the right time, or missing them altogether. Sometimes this is out of my control due to meetings. But I definitely need to increase my intake of food during the day so I'm not as hungry in the evenings. I've already increased the size of my lunch and re-introduced carbs. I do like the sound of 3 meals and 3 good snacks though every day!

The handouts at work were more of a Christmas thing, so they shouldn't be an issue any more. I will add the weights of my dinner the next time for you to assess. Hopefully you won't fall off your chair when you read them!

My weight loss has improved since Xmas and New Year has finished. Last week I lost 2lbs, so I'm hoping a continued improvement in my diet and eating patterns can only make this better! Thanks for the advice. I'll let you know how I get on.

14/01/2013 at 20:17

Calorie Watch! Food & Drink Diary - Sunday 13th January 2013

I've been extremely lucky enough to live, work and travel in various places around the globe. I've eaten many delicacies, national dishes and delights. But nothing beats a home-cooked Sunday roast. It's one of my favourite times of the week. I'm lucky to have a wife who likes to cook. Otherwise I don't think I would enjoy them as often! After a very pleasing hill session, I might have turned a blind eye to a few extra roast potatoes and Yorkshire puddings that found their way on to my plate!

8:30am: Breakfast - Fruit and Fibre cereal with added chai seeds and semi-skimmed milk. Cup of tea, 500ml bottle of water.

10:30am - Hill training session - 7.5 miles (please see earlier post for full update of this run).

11:45am - Water, glass of chocolate milk.

2:30pm - Lunch (didn't want to ruin my roast lunch by snacking beforehand!) - 1 plate of roast beef, steamed broccoli, roast potatoes, roast onions, garlic, carrots and potatoes, Yorkshire pudding and gravy. Piece of homemade coffee and walnut cake (nowhere near as big as what I would previously have eaten!). Blackcurrant squash. Fizzy blackcurrant juice (to replace the normal wine!) and tea.

7:00pm - Dinner (no snacking today due to a filling lunch and having friend's visiting) - Yogurt with handful of walnuts, raisins, apricots and dates. Orange and glass of Clementine juice. Water.

9:00pm - Tea and handful of pistachio nuts.

14/01/2013 at 20:49

Week 4 Weight Loss Watch!

Starting Weight: 162.8lbs (Target Weight: 148lbs)

Weight After Week 1: 162.2lbs (-0.6lbs) (Xmas Parties!)

Weight After Week 2: 161.9lbs (-0.3lbs) (Xmas!)

Weight After Week 3: 160.7lbs (-1.2lbs) (New Year!)

Weight After Week 4: 159.2lbs (-1.5lbs)

Total Loss: 3.6lbs

Now Xmas and New Year festivities are a distant memory, weight loss has been much easier. I'm elated at this week's loss. I still haven't touched a drop of alcohol in the New Year either and I think it's cutting these 'empty' calories out that have proved to be the biggest winner. Reading the advice from Ruth though, I do know there are plenty of improvements still to make.

Considering this weekend I ate Chinese (albeit a healthy one!), a roast dinner and nice slice of coffee and walnut cake, this week's weight loss could have been even higher. My target has always been 1lb per week and I'm almost back on track for this now.

It's not the difference in weight when I step on the scales that has proved to be the biggest motivating factor for me. It's the difference I can see in my body as well. I asked my wife to take a photo of me the day before training started. What I saw repulsed me. It was grotesque, flabby and Homor-esq. I couldn't believe that I had ran several marathons looking like this last year. Even more shocking was I was almost the same weight when I ran my PB marathon. It wasn't at all a pretty sight.

I've thought long and hard whether to add this photo to the forum. It certainly doesn't portray me in the best of lights. I don't think I even have a best side looking like this. But sadly, this is the reality I was dealing with when I started training and looking at this photo makes me realise how much effort I have to continue putting in to reach the starting line of Paris with a fighting chance of a sub 3:30 time. It's definitely a good job I didn't look like this when romancing my wife to be. I'd still be single now! Apologies of this offends!

Now that Mrs. Shady Ady has become accustomed to her husband wearing ill-fitting lycra, I asked her to take another photo after my fourth week of training had ended. The difference speaks for itself and I hope I can continue to see the love handles and squidgy parts rapidly shrinking away.

 I'll be interested to see what differences are evident after the next photois  taken at the end of week 8!

14/01/2013 at 23:25
Evening Ady. Finally caught up on your thread. Even though you didnt get a PB for the parkrun, you did fantastic, to be 3rd in your category and only a min and half behind the winner...thats a huge achievement and you should be proud. The course sounded horrendous...on your usual flat dry route you will have probably easily have gotten your PB. Just think your race on saturday will have strengthened you further, ready for your next park run!

I see that run as a positive rather than a negative...that together with your training run the following day and your successful weight loss programme you should be proud of your achievements...keep it up.

If I do hear anything about York Marathon, I will let you know still just incase, although I have heard many good reports on the Amsterdam marathon.
15/01/2013 at 00:03

Ady - I have to admit that the Spartathlon is a long term project for me. The plan is to get qualified this year, attempt my first one next year (more as a recce to get a feel for what it is like - without really expecting to make all the cut-offs) and then put together a plan for trying to complete it... With regard to Badwater - I don't think I will ever do it, firstly because my running CV just isn't crazy enough and also beacuse I'm much better running in cold conditions than hot - which makes Badwater a really bad idea... Hope to bump into you again over the next few months as our goals are pretty similar (almost identical times a week apart).

Great progress on the spare tyre!

Edited: 15/01/2013 at 00:04
15/01/2013 at 08:56

Hi Ady,

Big differences in those photos there, top work, keep it going!

Just wanted to come over and answer the question you asked re. gels on my long run.

My plan or strategy for the use of gels is going to be 1 gel every 5 miles, so will take one at 6, 11, 16, 21 miles during the race. But I'm only going to make sure the gels agree with me in training, I'm not going to use them on all my long runs.

I tried the GU gels on Sundays run and they went down well so I'm going to go back to runs without fuel now and just have 1 more test run with the same gels in another month or so to make sure they are ok with me. I want my body to be used to using its own reserves so when I do take a gel during the race it has a noticeable effect.

I really noticed a difference when I had each gel. After about 15 - 20 minutes post taking one I got a little bit of a kick for about 20 minutes. It did give me a boost. I don't use anything normally on my longer runs, just water. 

15/01/2013 at 10:14

Great advice from A.W, Ady. I'd suggest trying the no fuelling strategy for the long run in week 6, i fyou want to try it on a relatively long outing, as that run is off-road, less pace-focused AND comes off the back of the training day, so you should be suitably depleted . NOT week 5, when it's all about getting the paces right. 

I probably use the same gel timings as A.W if you translate it in to time, rather than miles. I will typically have one at about 45 minutes, and then one every 40-45 minutes after that. I'm also a big believer in caffeine use. It definitely works for me, it's legal  and every little helps, as they say!

15/01/2013 at 16:10

Ady - what can I say? At the outset you promised to share everything with us, warts and all, and you've certainly delivered. I don't think I'd have been brave enough to post any shots of me in lycra so hats off to you. And wow, what a change - very impressive, you must be really pleased. Six pack by week 8? 

Ruth - I see you suggested malt loaf as a snack. What is 'pre-sliced' and why would it be any different from unsliced (like your average loaf of Soreen) have I missed something? Also, what are hot cross buns or fruit teacakes like - are they acceptably nutritious? I eat them quite often as a snack thinking I'm being relatively healthy but all this talk of nutrition has me wondering. 

15/01/2013 at 20:39

Day 30 - Asics Target 26.2 Paris Marathon Training (15/01/13)

Target: 5 miles FAST (7:20-7:35m/m) (Suggest structuring this as 1 mile easy, 3.5 miles FAST, 1 mile easy)

Actual: 5.78miles in 45:33 @ 7:53m/m (1 mile easy, 3.5 miles FAST, 1 mile easy)

Splits: W/Up: 1.15miles @ 8:58m/m. Fast: 3.51miles @ 7:13m/m. C/Down: 1.11miles @ 8:53m/m

A rarity today - running in sunshine! It might have been almost freezing, but a spot of sun makes running in this temperature so much easier to do.

My left knee was a little stiff when I set off, but it didn't take long for my legs to get warmed-up and the stiffness subsided. In the past when I've been asked to run 'fast' I've struggled to keep close to the pacing time required. Instead I've gone up to 30 seconds faster than what was asked for.

Today I made a conscious effort to hold back slightly. Before the run, I was extremely tempted to use the 3.5 miles as a 5km race situation and run it as fast as I possibly could. Luckily common sense prevailed and I ran it as my training session suggested. A new 5km PB will have to wait a little while longer. On this showing though, if I have a nice flat, fast course, then chances should be high.

Out of all my speed and interval sessions, I enjoy the fast continuous runs the best. Although I've ran faster in training, this session really felt like my lungs got a good work out and it was nice to keep an almost identical pace throughout the 3.5 miles.

Here's my run from today:

15/01/2013 at 21:01

Evening all!

Frazerelli.......I actually didn't know that GPS devices over-estimate pace. I obviously need to go even faster than I thought I needed to. Bring on the challenge!

Sarah.....Thanks for the compliment. I'll learn to be more positive in the future I promise! My long runs are coming up to your levels now. Very much looking forward to the build-up 15.5 miles I have this weekend!

Slow Duck......Hats off to you. I can see why the Spartathlon is a long term project. I watched a youtube video of a vegan attempting to run it. It was this that put the race on the radar. I think the cut-off's are even harder than the distance itself.

I can see why you think Badwater is not the best idea. It just looks insane. Hopefully see you back at the Guildford Parkrun in the near future. I'm also running Dorney Lake Race Your Pace Half Marathon and Spitfire 20 as well before Paris.

Alex.......Thanks for the post and info. It seems both you and Sam have a similar strategy. The last marathon I ran, I used 6 gels, but I think 4 is a more reasonable and sustainable amount to take (and to carry). Excellent idea regarding not taking gels on every long run, so you notice the difference. I'll change my plan now of using them on every run. Thanks for the tips.

Sam.......I'll follow yours and Alex's wise words and fuel during this week's long run, but use only water the following week. The gels I used last time had caffeine in and I really found this gave me a better kick than the same gels I've used without the added caffeine. Like you say, every little helps!

Malcs........Well, there was a slight selfish reason for posting those photos as well. In the past when I've started losing weight, as soon as I've noticed a difference, I start allowing myself to eat the foods I had cut out in the first place - as a treat. Of course, I then put the weight straight back on and end up where I started. I thought by adding the photos (apart from shocking myself and turning most people away from reading this forum page!) it will act as an added incentive to me to keep up the healthy eating as I know I'm going to post another photo in 8 weeks.

I want to see another noticeable difference then as well. As for the 6-pack, I've pencilled that in to the 12 week photo!

I also thought the same as you've asked Ruth regarding the malt loaf. Maybe if you have to cut it yourself, you're more likely to add an extra inch to the slice! That would be my excuse for doing it! 

15/01/2013 at 21:18

Calorie Watch! Food & Drink Diary - Sunday 13th January 2013

There's nothing better than getting into work on a Monday morning and finding out that once the normal morning meetings are over, the rest of the morning will be spent on a training course. Nothing against these meetings and training, but I find it much harder to fit my snacks in and stay hydrated when I'm in them. As per Ruth's advice earlier, I have tried to increase the size of my lunch to stop feeling so hungry in the evening.

6:45am Breakfast - Fruit and Fibre cereal with added Chia seeds and semi-skimmed milk. Glass of Clementine juice.

8:45am - Cup of tea and bottle of water.

11:00am - Banana, bottle of water.

12:00pm - Running session - 4 mile jog (see earlier post for full description).

1:15pm - Beef, cucumber, tomato and lettuce sandwich w/ mustard and cayenne pepper in wholemeal bread. Clementine Bottle of water.

 2:30pm - Cup of tea, bottle of water.

4:45pm - Bottle of water. Handful of pistachio nuts.

7:30pm - Cous-cous with a North-African spiced vegetable soup. Pint of blackcurrant squash.

8:30pm - Blueberry yoghurt. Green tea.

15/01/2013 at 22:05

Ha, yes I think you've hit the nail on the head with the malt loaf   But can you buy it pre-sliced? I've never seen it.

You're doing great on your food stuffs - Ruth will be loving you!

Edited: 15/01/2013 at 22:06
15/01/2013 at 22:46
your more than deserve the compliments, your doing really well.

Your run today looked did you manage to find pavements without ice? Its been pretty bad in York today, I walked to my nursing home at lunch time but didnt dare run.
16/01/2013 at 12:28

Malcs……I’ve never seen pre-sliced malt loaf either. I’ve had Soreen in a few goodie bags after races before and just ate it like it was a bun – no slicing required. Maybe Ruth’s instruction were meant with my past behaviour in mind!

Actually, I think my intake would be better if everything I ate I bought pre-sliced. Some of the doorstop sized bacon sarnies I’ve made on a Sunday morning was virtually half a loaf for each slice of bread!

It’s not been easy on the foodstuffs I have to admit. My body still craves sugar and I’ve had such a strong craving for burgers as well recently. Even the horse-meat uproar hasn’t quelled this!

Sarah……Maybe it has been a bit warmer around where I live and work, as there wasn’t any ice on the ground when I ran. I did my run at lunch and the sun had been out all morning, so maybe I was just lucky.

I think you did the wise thing not risking running and falling on some black ice. I see snow has been forecast for Friday and Saturday. Hopefully this doesn’t affect either of our long runs. It might be difficult to try run at the paces I’ve been given if snow does come. I’ll have to see what Sam says as to what alternative I could do instead!

16/01/2013 at 12:42

Calorie Watch! Food & Drink Diary – Tuesday 15th January 2013

Although the sugar cravings are still continuing, it’s a lot easier now to go the whole day without getting the urge for something sweet and sugary. Any leftover chocolate still in the house is now hidden away in cupboards. I read that the chance of eating such treats drops 70% if you can’t actually see it! That said, with some of Mrs. Shady Ady’s leftover coffee and walnut cake sitting proudly on the kitchen table, I might have succumbed to a few mouthfuls of this today.

6:45am Breakfast - Fruit and Fibre cereal with semi-skimmed milk. Glass of Clementine juice.

8:45am - Cup of tea (with Splenda)

11:15am - Banana, bottle of water, another cup of tea.

12:00pm – Running session – 5.8 miles including 3.5 fast (see above for full details).

1:15pm – Lunch – Bulgar Wheat (never heard of such a thing before reading Ruth’s advice!) with cucumber, tomato and feta cheese mixed with a honey, white wine vinegar, chutney and olive oil dressing (just to add a little extra flavour). Not sure that Bulgar Wheat will find its’ way on the menu every lunch! Clementine and Water

 2:00pm - Cup of tea, bottle of water.

4:30pm – Cup of tea, bottle of water. (very repetitive!)

6:30pm - Apple

7:30pm – Homemade carrot, courgette and chickpea curry with cous-cous (two new grains in the same day must be a record!). Pint of blackcurrant squash.

8:30pm – Cup of tea, pint of water and a slither of walnut and coffee cake (the smallest piece of cake I’ve ever enjoyed eating!)

10:30pm – Pint of water before bed. Definitely not a good idea if you want a good, uninterrupted night’s sleep afterwards!

16/01/2013 at 16:03

Hello there,

I can officially confirm that there is indeed such a thing as pre-sliced Soreen as I have some in my kitchen cupboard! I guess it's recommended as can be more definitive about how many grams of carbs you've had etc. It's quite handy for when you are on the move (say, post-race in the car).

16/01/2013 at 16:06

Hmm, bit worried about the weather this weekend, too. We have a group long run on Sunday (12 of the Rye Runners are training for Paris, too!) and a 3 by 10 mins at lactate threshold run on Saturday (followed by tea and cakes  at Rye Harbour)

I decided to forgo the track last night and did mile reps on the mtn bike trail for better grip. Took 2.5 min recoveries just like you, Ady - important to experience the same levels of training pain as you 

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