Lucy says: When I’m in a tough situation I like to come up with three words to sum it up. Sunday’s are: mortified, frustrated but unbowed. I knew it was going to be tough. My guts were churning, but I put it down to nerves. My plan was to run nine minutes and walk one, which I did for the first five miles and then I started feeling sick. I slowed to a walk, kept going and drinking Lucozade. The miles didn’t exactly tick off quickly...
At Mile 16, Sir Spinkle declared he was going to walk with me and on we went… The last few miles I was dragged, pushed, and peeled off a tree trunk on the Embankment. Sir Spinkle got me all the way to the finish line, and he deserves a medal too.
I really don't know what went wrong - I did the training and I had great support. But I have got a shiny medal - and Gordon Ramsey hasn't. I’ve enjoyed being part of a team, with the Super Six and with everyone on my thread. I still believe I can do a marathon the way I want to. When that will be I just don't know - perhaps I’ll save myself for a 40th birthday marathon in 2012…
Paul says: The thing that really struck me when I first meet Lucy was her determination. I never ever doubted that Lucy would cross the finish line in London. But Lucy was dogged from day one with injuries and illness or both - you name it, poor Lucy got it. Because of this Lucy's planned training went out of the window, so in the end Lucy's main challenge became getting to the start line in one piece.
I never doubted for one minute that Lucy would finish, and with the training she missed though injury and illness she did well to complete the race. I am sure when the blisters have healed, Lucy will look back at the last four months with fond memories. There have been high and lows, but both I know Lucy has enjoyed being part of the Super Six and its journey.
Gareth says: Nutritionally Lucy was very inexperienced but willing to try the products that she was supplied with. She found her favoured training partners with the Lite drink and jelly beans so was ready to fuel the race. Unfortunately pre-race nerves and a bad night’s sleep meant Lucy missed out of her goal but she finished the race nonetheless.
Weeks 14 - 15
Lucy says: After long runs and tough speedwork, I am the proud owner of three black nails and a blood blister or two. Thinking of painting my toenails but I’m also slightly, weirdly proud of them - they’re badges of honour. After adding another couple of blisters to the collection, I'll be hitting the gym this week. I'm even getting a bit (shhh...) fed up of running. Perhaps I shouldn't admit to that.
But I've bagged the last long one. There was no drama, the rain held off and I came home and did an Eddie (had a cold bath!) and settled down to watch the Sound of Music from the sofa. That's it people – taper time. Just think – soon we shall be swanning around with shiny medals!
Paul says: Lucy is good to go. She has had her problems but always bounced back. The last few weeks Lucy has had problems with blisters, so she has been cross training - we do not want to take any chances now. She has eased off the training and added some shorter, sharper runs into her programme. Everything is ‘err on the side of caution’ this week, and she must be sick of me saying, ‘don’t blow it now!’
It’s been a long haul but I think Lucy has good cause to be confident standing on that start line.
Gareth says: For the forum users on Lucy’s thread the taper has been welcomed. The runners have been discussing diet in the lead up to VLM - what they should be eating and how much. Carbohydrate and hydration are the key factors to a successful run. It’s important to maintain a good level of hydration along with plenty of pasta, rice and potatoes to boost your carbohydrate stores in the days leading up to the big race.
Weeks 12 - 13
Lucy says: My feet seem to disintegrating at an alarming rate at the moment. Let's just say I'm keeping Compeed in business… I’m really enjoying my running at the moment – a plod here, a bimble there – but my feet are a bit of a mess so I’ve been glad of the rest days written into my plan. I actually think it's my orthotics rubbing a bit, but quite why they've chosen to do that now after all this time I'll never know! So I’ve been off to the gym, forgoing the treadmill for the cross trainer and bike. I headed off to Dorney hoping to have a bit of fun - I wasn’t looking for a PB. But unfortunately the darned blisters flared up again and I had to pull out.
But my registration pack is on the mantelpiece, the taper is in sight, and it’s all coming together. Quite exciting, isn’t it?
Paul says: Lucy's build up has been dogged with injury and illness, and unfortunately she is not out of the woods yet. Lucy ran at Dorney Lake last Sunday and had to pull out halfway through thanks to blisters. She is now having a few days’ rest to allow the blisters time to heal. The plan (blisters allowing) is to spend this weekend training, then reducing Lucy’s mileage as London approaches.
Lucy will not race again until London - getting Lucy to the start line fit and healthy and ready to run remains our goal.
Gareth says: The Race Your Pace Half-Marathon proved a disappointing end to a good week of running for Lucy. She was looking to nail down her marathon pace but unfortunately her blisters were too painful and she was unable to complete the event. She is clearly very disappointed and hopefully they will heal quickly.
It been great to read that many of the other runners on Lucy’s thread have been having successful experiences with gels and finding out the benefits first hand. This experience will give them a huge advantage on the day of the VLM.
Weeks 10 - 11
Lucy says: Phew, long runs take a lot of prep! The iPod and Garmin need charging, bottles filled ready for dropping off, plus the all-important checking of the map. But after all that, job done. 16.61 miles this week and it was good. It was an out-and-back course, so no loops to make me feel loopy. No fading out at the end, I maintained a good steady pace (even though it was hilly), there were no dramas and I enjoyed myself. Thanks must also go to the cast of Glee for inspiration, and the pigs in the field for putting up with my version of 'Don't Stop Believin’'.
It’s all about enjoying the training – I even tolerated my speedwork session this week. And if you can’t enjoy it, then just keep in mind the medal at the end of it all…
Paul says: Lucy’s training is going really well. She’s sticking to the schedule and notching up plenty of time on her feet, which is the most important aspect of her training. The long runs are really important for Lucy’s success, and she’s tackling them really well. Lucy hasn’t raced an awful lot, but she has enough confidence that this won’t be a problem for her.
Overall, Lucy is doing really well and I’m looking forward to seeing her on the startline in London.
Gareth says: Lucy has had a successful fortnight, avoiding illness getting some good miles under her belt and completing some long runs. This has boosted Lucy’s confidence and she is happy to be back out on the road running (despite falling over a couple of times!).
Nutritional strategies have been tried and tested but the perfect plan has not quite been discovered. Pre-race carb consumption has been discussed on her thread - some of the runners have been using an energy bar as a substitution for breakfast which I quickly said was not ideal, and that it’s better to go for porridge, toast or cereal.
Weeks 8 - 9
Lucy says: I am officially a parkrun fan! At the parkrun last week, not only did I shave six whole seconds off my time, I also breezed past various people on the way! Which felt weird - I never usually pass anyone. I felt like I should apologise as I ran past...
Now, after a very wet run in which I discovered that my waterproof jacket was not, I’m just hoping the weather takes a turn for the better. Is it me or does it seem like this winter has gone on for forever?!
Paul says: A clean bill of health at last for Lucy, after her horrendous cough and cold. Thankfully, she's now fully recovered and having done two parkruns recently, even improved her time over the same distance. She is back on track with her long runs (her key session), building them up nicely each week. Both Christina and Lucy have suffered serious setbacks over the last month, but have shown their true spirit by bouncing back stronger!
Gareth says: Lucy has successfully completed a 14-mile run now and despite a couple of slips and scrapes was happy with her progress. Gels have been thoroughly discussed on her thread - people have been sharing their experiences of different brands and how often to use them. So far as Lucy's long-run fuelling strategy is concerned, she's discovered that running a loop to get extra drinks isn't for her so it's back to the drawing board for next time!
Lucy has also sent me a food diary which I will be analysing over the next week or so. There is nothing major to worry about in her diet but I'll still be looking at how she can improve in certain key areas.
Weeks 6 - 7
Lucy says: I've been laid low recently, wheezing like mad and feeling shattered. The doc said it was a "viral cough". He hasn't given me any drugs, just prescribed 'rest'. I could have banged my head against a brick wall! But it looks like the resting worked, and my lungs are feeling much more healthy now. I stayed sensible and stuck to my plan and hopefully I'll be feeling normal again soon.
Paul says: Poor Lucy has been struggling with a cold recently. The bug went straight to her chest, so she was unable to train for a week. I am happy to report that she is back, running and has reported that the chest feels fine! We are spending this week just feeling our way back into things gradually, and hopefully, all being well, Lucy will get her long run done this weekend and we will be back on track. Thankfully, a week at this stage is neither here or there!
Gareth says: Lucy picked up a nasty illness this week which prevented much progression in her training. However, there have been some good questions on her thread about carbo gels and Body Fuel - some runners weren't aware that you can't mix the gels with water. We've also talked about what will be available on the Virgin London Marathon course.
Weeks 4 - 5
Lucy says: I was struck down by a cold last week, but decided to run despite my dripping nose – bad idea. If I'd stopped for a couple of days it wouldn't have gone on so long. I never seem to learn! Just a bit of a cough left now. I figured if I was deemed well enough for work then I can run. Once that was out of the way, I went to a parkrun with Hashette. I wore my new trail shoes because of the snow (and mashed one of my toes - mmm nice red sock) but still slid around. I came in last in 42:19 but I was pleased considering the terrain.
Everything seems to be chugging along nicely and I'm really enjoying it! Lots of steady runs banked and I'm ticking over nicely even if the land speed record's safe. It's all good.
Paul says: Lucy has been laid low with a chesty cold over the last couple of days, but seems to now be on the mend and able to train again. Up until this point, everything had been going perfectly. Thankfully, Lucy was smart and took a couple of days off to recuperate so now we are back on track.
Lucy ran a parkrun 5K last Saturday and plans to run a 10K in a couple of weeks. By mixing in these races with her usual long, slow runs - which are increasing in distance week on week with the aim of reaching 20 miles by the end of March - I'm confident Lucy will achieve her goal in London.
Gareth says: Lucy has had a slow couple of weeks due to illness. Conversations on her thread have centred on the fine balance between energy consumption and weight loss. Lucy is cautious not to take on too many calories (compared to what she burns off) but this can be very hard to achieve during marathon training. The more you run, the more your body will crave food for recovery the following day. This could be one of the reasons that Lucy is getting ill so I will be looking at Lucy's food diary in the coming weeks. Lucy has said she hopes to cut back on her caffeine consumption (Diet Coke) and try using Caffeine Boost - it's great that she is trying different strategies to improve her performance.
Weeks 2 - 3
Lucy says: After spending an infuriating four weeks crocked with a stupid virus, hell can freeze over (literally, it seems, at the moment) and I will somehow get out there and do my training. Despite more and more snow, I ticked off the sessions – even if they did feel pointlessly slow at times. Once it started to thaw it was actually more slippery - it was like running through Slush Puppy! My recent long run was hard work, though. My legs wouldn't sync with my head. They also appeared to be made of lead and the road was made of treacle. I slugged it out to the end, but it wasn't pretty. Going for a long run at the end of the week on short rations was not a good idea. Clearly, I need to rethink the grub side of things.
As the miles start to pile on, I'm reminded of the mental toughness it takes to even contemplate running for five hours or more…
Paul says: Having run 6:00 in the Edinburgh Marathon last year, running 5:30 in London will be a big ask for Lucy but she has sheer determination in bucketloads. Her key session is going to be her long slow run (LSR) to get her used to time on her feet. Everything else will fit around and complement this session, which will increase in distance and duration week on week. I'm happy to report that Lucy has really taken to the training so far and as a mentor, I'm delighted to be working with someone who's giving 100% commitment to the task in hand.
Gareth says: Lucy has been questioning the benefits of sports nutrition because she isn't running as fast as the others but during recent runs, she has been feeling tired in the later stages. I have since discovered that although she is eating enough breakfast before her long runs, she isn't fuelling up again during the session. If you are running for longer than 90 minutes, regardless of your speed or the distance you cover, we'd recommend you take a gel. Lucy has tried drinking some Body Fuel on the go and agreed she felt slightly better towards the end. With this in mind, I'll be looking to introduce her to a few more products over the coming weeks including those that will aid her recovery. As she increases her training, recovery will be crucial for her progression.
Lucy says: I feel so lucky to have been picked as a Super Sixer and I'm sure there's both laughter and tears ahead. It was really frustrating to be struck down by a nasty bug last month - it hung around and disrupted my running for much longer than I would have liked. It seems to have died down now, but I'll be taking it easy for a while - I just can't afford any more illness. I'm scoffing veggies, stocking up on disinfectant hand gel and considering wearing a surgical mask for all of April…
I'm properly snowed in too now, and the village is covered. I've been given permission to use the school playing field to run around if I get desperate, but I'm not sure what my son will make of mum going past his classroom a trillion times!
Paul says: Lucy is a working mum so the first thing we needed to establish was which days she was able to train. Lucy wanted to leave the weekend free so she could spend time with her family so she will be doing her long runs on Fridays rather than Sundays (as the schedule suggests). The long runs will be Lucy's key focus over the next sixteen weeks - she will be building up her distance week on week and combining this with a shorter faster run and a club night session during the week. Lucy and I have decided to work on a month-by-month basis, monitoring her progress closely and tweaking her accordingly.
Lucy won't be racing in January - for now, our emphasis is on building a fitness base. Her first race will be on February 21, though she may well use some of her local parkruns (5Ks) to replace her tempo runs.
Unfortunately, Lucy had a really bad cold over the festive period which slowed her down a bit, but she is now fit, healthy and raring to go. Watch this space!
Gareth says: Lucy had a slow December due to the terrible weather conditions and a nagging illness. However, starting her training programme has given her a huge lift and she has managed to complete her first runs successfully. Using Lucozade Sport Hydro-Active has been a beneficial addition to her training - knowing that she is going out for a run fully hydrated means she can just focus on the run itself. Now she has received the rest of her Lucozade Sport Runner's Training Pack, she is looking forward to experimenting with the other energy and recovery products.
Lucy says: I started running to keep tabs on my weight, and ran on the treadmill at the gym for years. From there, I entered a local 10K, and loved it - even if I was probably last! I've gone on to do more and more races and have been running consistently for the last couple of years.
The marathon was a big step up for me, but I did it because I think that it's important to challenge myself, grab the opportunities that come along and generally live life to the full. I can't wait to get some professional help, and have my training taken seriously. My coach is lovely, and we even support the same football team! We're going to work on keeping me fit, preparing for the time on my feet and getting me ready to run-walk on the day.
I'm looking forward to the teamwork and camaraderie, within the forum and the team – the six of us get on really well. I can't wait to have my own forum thread – it's so nice to know that there are so many people out there doing the same thing as me, and it'll be a great motivation to keep me going through tough sessions.
Paul says: This will be Lucy's second marathon, so she has covered the distance before. Lucy's goal is to get round as quick as she can, with a view to getting under 5:30. She is a very determined young lady and definitely has the mental toughness that the marathon demands.
Lucy is an enthusiastic runner and will train as much as it takes (a model athlete) so my main challenge will be to keep her energy contained for now. Over the course of the 16-week schedule, our focus will be building up Lucy's long run (her key session) while keeping her fit and healthy along the way. Getting to the start line fit and healthy is our first priority.
Gareth says: Lucy runs on average 12 – 15 miles per week. To stay properly hydrated and fuelled during her runs, Lucy needs to maintain a healthy diet that includes enough carbohydrate to give her energy without compromising her desire to lose weight. Running is a great way to stay fit and burn calories, so I will be working with Lucy on a nutrition plan to compliment her marathon training and beyond.