|At a Glance Profile|
Strengths: Determination - and according to some friends - an unbelievable likeness in character to Lisa Simpson!
Most dreading: My knee injury putting in a re-appearance; being severely reprimanded by the sports scientists; and having feet with nails that resemble something from Middle Earth.
Did you know? I have white water rafted the Zambezi...
Flora London Marathon: Race Day
Meg says: It was absolutely fantastic! The weather certainly wasn’t what I’d been expecting but the crowds were amazing. Everyone had told me they would be, but they were even better than I’d imagined. I’d put my name on my shirt and at the start of the race a couple of people shouted for me – by the time I reached the final miles, loads of people were urging me on. It was a real testament to the spirit of London!
The start was quite busy and there was quite a lot of hopping up and down off the pavement. I did my best to just stay out of the way and managed to keep moving forwards. Around Mile 13, I found a group running at my pace and stuck with them. I never felt that I dropped back in the pack which was brilliant.
All my race-day strategies worked too. I took a carb gel about Mile 6, then another one at Mile 13. They really helped me overcome any wobbles, although I did feel a bit queasy at the end.
Everybody told me that the marathon starts when you get to Mile 20 so from then on, I was determined to take the race once mile at a time. It also helped knowing my husband, children and parents were going to be at Mile 24. I saw so many friendly faces in that final stretch.
Tower Bridge was awesome. The section just before had been rather quiet and rather embarrassingly, when I caught sight of the bridge, I heard myself shout “Tower Bridge, let’s go!” The man next to me gave me quite an odd look!
Coming out of Blackfriars Tunnel along Embankment was also a highlight – at that point, I knew I was nearly home.
I’m very close to reaching my fundraising target – I’ve raised almost £10,000 for Spinal Research now. I was running on behalf of a friend who was injured in a car crash – I spoke to him briefly after the race, and he was chuffed to bits.The whole experience has been so incredible, and I haven’t really formulated my thoughts yet. I’ve discovered that’s there a whole lot more to the marathon than just doing the training, both in terms of nutrition and planning. It’s like there’s a whole other side to running that I didn’t realise was there until I got involved. I feel such a huge sense of achievement that I finished!
Meg's Video Diary
Weeks 13 - 14
Meg says: PB time again - I finished the Reading Half-Marathon in 1:50:05! Some of the split times even started with a 7. All this despite it feeling at times like I'd taken a wrong turning and ended up in Antarctica - brr it was cold! I kept up with the 1:50 pace maker all the way, and I think I've finally sorted my fuelling strategy too. I took a gel just before the start and then another just after Mile 6 - it even saw me past the dreaded Mile 9, where I always seem to go a bit loopy for about a mile.
It's good news on the nutrition front all-round this fortnight. I've made sure I've had a proper breakfast every day this week. I took a couple of rest days recently too. I was feeling really tired, and a painful twinge in my left foot was not getting any better. I was hoping a couple of days off would see me right, and it has! No more pain, no more exhaustion.
I'm so nearly there now. It's my last long run on Sunday, and I can't believe it's here already. Now I just have to dig in for another couple of weeks, and then it's time to get excited!
Liz says: Meg’s confidence is starting to bloom and she knows she is on schedule to run a fast debut marathon. Now it's just a question of how fast she is going to go! Meg is showing that she is feeling strong and her confidence is improving. She is coping with her projected marathon pace comfortably in training and managing to run faster towards the end of her long runs and faster-paced workouts. This all points to a good marathon performance. Being able to raise her game at the end of a long hard session is a great indicator that Meg is near the end of her journey and approaching the top of her fitness peak.
Meg ran a fantastic PB in the Reading Half-Marathon clinching a 1:50 finish. This was a massive confidence booster and confirmation that all Meg's hard work has paid off. Meg used Reading as a pre-London practice race. This was the opportunity for her to put her pre-race and race hydration and re-fuelling strategies in place in a race situation. It all went well and the fact that she felt so strong towards the end of the race was testament not only to her training but also to her diligence in putting these routines in place.
In reality Meg is relieved to have made it to the taper phase injury-free and feeling strong and buoyant about her running. This is a wonderful place to be as the race draws closer. She now just has the final touches to put on top - the icing of her training so she is rocking on April 26. The taper is all about Meg having faith in the training she has done and making sure she is prepared for race day. She cannot get any fitter now. She needs to hold back, trust her training and focus on the goal ahead!
Weeks 11 - 12
Meg says: This fortnight, I ran the fastest I've ever run during a fartlek session. I also think I'm getting the hang of pacing at last. For a ten-mile run almost all of my mile splits hovered around the 8:30 mark - hooray!
On the down side, I was getting frequent headaches. My GP friend thought they were tension-related - I don't think I realised how much the pressure of the marathon was getting to me. The other explanation could be that I wasn't always managing to have breakfast or eat enough after training.
Liz told me off about it, and I'm now fuelling much better. It's made an instant difference. The headaches have gone, and the end of the hard training is in sight. I drove up Pall Mall this week, and realised that the next time I'm there, I'll be finishing the marathon!
I've got the Reading Half-Marathon this weekend (March 29), then one more long run... and then I'm almost there!
Liz says: Meg has had a really good build-up in her marathon-training phase. She is starting to see the fruits of her labour in her long runs, where she is now feeling like an endurance queen! Like most people Meg has had to manage small niggles now and then but she has been sensible and listened to her body. This is essential in any marathon build-up - ignore any niggles at your peril.
Taking an easier week can often be enough to see off less serious injuries, and leading into the Reading Half-Marathon, this has come at just the right time for Meg.
Meg is really looking forward to racing again, and to practising her race-day routine. This will be her last opportunity to do so before April 26.
Meg is at the stage now where the marathon is starting to feel very real, and with that come nerves and apprehension. This is very common for first-time marathon runners but - like Meg - have the faith in the training you have done. It will be enough to get you round on race day as long as you have also thought about your hydration, re-fuelling and pacing strategies.
Meg is currently fine-tuning these aspects and is gradually getting to grips with the nitty-gritty of race day. This will pay great dividends when those nerves kick in on April 26. Knowing exactly what you are doing, when and where can be reassuring and calming among what seems like madness on Blackheath!
Weeks 9 - 10
Meg says: The last fortnight has been fantastic for my confidence. I had my big half-marathon last week, and had anxiety dreams and pre-race nerves a-go-go. But on the day, the course was much better in the light and I did it in 1:53 – a PB!
I had a wobble at Mile 9 – funnily enough, at exactly the same spot as my practice run - but I pulled myself together and quite enjoyed the last few miles. Berkhamsted is a hilly course and had I not had the wobble, I would have been quicker. In fact, I’m quietly confident that on a flatter course - like the other races in my schedule - I could even run sub-1:50.
Now the weather’s better, I’m really enjoying my long runs. I took last week’s session very easy and even at the end of 15 miles I felt like I had at least another five in the tank. The last three miles were my fastest – hallelujah, my pacing strategy is working!
Liz says: The last two weeks have whizzed by and Meg can now sense the marathon approaching. She has started to think about the finer detail of her training and pre-race preparation, such as planning for race day and thinking about her hydration and refuelling strategies. This is very important for all marathon runners: each of you should have a definite strategy for race day that you have practiced in training.
Meg is beginning to notice her endurance base improving and is gaining confidence from her long runs. She is even feeling like she could run further at the end of these long runs which is a great sign.
Meg is still doing really well with juggling a busy family life with her running commitments and work. At times we have had be a little flexible with rest days but Meg is very adaptable. She doesn't beat herself up if she has to miss a run. Instead, she's pro-active and quick to find a different time in the week where she can fit the run in - a great role model for busy mothers!
You are all in the hardest phase of marathon training right now, and Meg is no different. But though she is feeling more tired in the evenings, she is still feeling strong in her runs. This shows that we have the balance just right.
The proof in the pudding will be Meg's performance in the Reading Half-Marathon (March 29). This will give us a great indicator of her fitness pre-London.
Weeks 7 - 8
Meg says: This week I had the big one - my longest run so far (2:35). I knew pacing would be tricky, so staying slow was my main focus. In fact, I actually really enjoyed it - although I was bored by the end and sped up to finish it off!
The first race in my diary is the Berkhamsted Half-Marathon (March 1), which I'm supposed to run "how I feel and in control". I know exactly what that means, but I also want to get round quickly. A friend is pacing me and keeps mentioning a target time of 1:40 - we shall see!
In preparation, I ran the course before work. We started at 6.20am with headtorches - sounds mad, doesn't it? It's a lovely course though and we finished in 1:55. Hopefully I'll run quicker on the day.
Preparing for the half-marathon has made me realise how much I'm learning - three months ago I wouldn't have had a clue how fast I run, or what HR to aim for.
Liz says: Meg has been running some great times in her training runs and this has highlighted a possible need to review her predicted marathon finish time. Training plans are not set in stone, nor should they impose boundaries or restrictions on what people can achieve.
The key lies with plan interpretation and knowing yourself. Once Meg has raced the Berkhamsted Half-Marathon we will think about what is a realistic finish time for her over the marathon distance. Training-wise she has been coping very well, ticking off all the sessions until this week when she was sensible and rested with a nasty headache.
Meg feels she is getting faster in her training runs and that she is stronger over the longer distances although she is still finding the prospect of running 26 miles quite daunting. This is very common for first-time marathon runners. Once she has completed some of the longer runs she will start to believe in her ability to run the marathon distance - the key is to be patient and not just run 26 miles in training because it will make you feel better. Running a good marathon is about your accumulation of training and consistency over weeks and months of preparation.
Meg is finding the schedule very manageable and finally feels she has got her running fitness back after the birth of her two daughters.
Weeks 4 - 6
Meg says: I went on holiday this week, and psychologically the end of my holiday was quite a milestone. Now there's nothing between me and the Flora London Marathon! It's scary enough to make me up the ante, and I'm working hard to keep my training on track.
The fast-pace work I've been doing has been a revelation - I can really see it making tangible improvementd to my speed and endurance. I know that sounds pretty obvious - but I've been running at my "comfy" pace for so long, I almost thought that was all I was capable of doing. Finally, I'm getting faster without tipping into my threshold zone - hooray! I've also realised that I haven't always run "with intent" and that's going to change.
Overall, everything seems to be coming together, and I'm beginning to feel like the training is paying off. Although I hope I'm not setting myself up for a fall by admitting that!
Liz says: Meg is feeling very positive about her running right now. She is starting to see improvements in her fitness - her marathon pace has begun to feel more comfortable and her range of pace is improving. Not only is she able to run faster now, but she can run for longer too. She is starting to get to grips with different paces and how they should feel, and is starting to become a real master of her marathon pace. Getting used to your your marathon pace is key to running well on race day, so make sure you use some of this in your training and understand how it feels.
Meg is looking forwards to her first build-up race: a half-marathon on March 1. This will be a real benchmark of her progress and will also tell us if we need to adapt her target marathon time.
Weeks 1 - 3
Meg says: After being struck down with a dodgy knee, I was super keen to get going. I’m really having to stop myself going all out – I miss long runs! I’m proceeding with caution, but I do think I’m nearly there with my knee – this has to be the most persistent, molly-coddled knee injury in history!
Week Two was an interesting week as far as my training was concerned since I was away on a course. I had to do my sessions on a treadmill at the conference centre - the only other alternative being to run through unfamiliar country lanes in the pitch black with headtorch which, given my sense of direction, and the sanity of any local wildlife - was probably not an option!
Now I just need to stop obsessing over my GPS stats… after looking at my speed meticulously, I’m starting to get designs on a faster target. Well, a girl can dream, can’t she?!
Liz says: Meg has been building her base mileage after a short rest with a knee niggle. So far she has been able to progress without any reoccurrence of pain.
Meg been juggling her training around life and work commitments and has been very sensible in protecting her time to run. She has done this well by planning ahead and we have adapted the schedule to fit in with her hectic life. Together we have maintained the balance of Meg’s hard and easy runs providing her with some gentle progress in her running.
From here on, we are going to gently build Meg’s mileage up. She needs time on her feet. We’re also going to spend time helping her recognise and understand her marathon pace. Even though her main goal is to finish she’s got to get to grips with judging how she’s going to feel at the start, midway and in the later stages of the marathon.
Meg says: I’ve always been very sporty – I was a keen gymnast at school, and took up running at university. I’ve always wanted to run the Flora London Marathon, but I’ve spent the last five years focusing on my family so it’s never seemed like quite the right time.
This year though, I’ve a strong emotional reason for taking on the challenge. A friend of mine broke his back in a car crash seven years ago and he asked me to consider running the marathon on his behalf. Of course I said yes – but only later did the reality of what I’d agreed to hit home.
I have to admit I love a challenge, and for me, the marathon is the ultimate test. I’m a very determined person: I’m not going to fail. I know that, with winter on its way, there’s a physical reality to fitting in the training, but I’m confident that I’ll find a way to make it fun and stay motivated.
I feel very privileged to be working with Liz, and think the educational aspect of the project will be really interesting. Although I’ve run half-marathons before, I’ve always run them at my own pace and in my own way. I’m looking forward to see how much I can improve and hopefully do so with a smattering of style, a smile on my face, and a heart full of memories to laugh at for the rest of my running days!
Liz says: Meg is a bubbly, energetic, and highly-driven person who often sets her alarm at 5am to get her running done before the family wakes up.
She has been running for 15 years mainly to keep fit but has rarely raced. Recently she has embarked on a few races and has posted some respectable times.
Although a novice marathon runner she has all the basic ingredients in place to make her journey to the start line and her race day a real success. Her main goal is to finish but she’s keen to do it to the best of her ability, and hopefully achieve her goal of a sub-4:30 debut marathon.
Meg currently runs four or five times a week already and so has developed a sound routine and base to kick-start some specific marathon work.
Meg has had a few niggles in her knee and foot of which we will need to be very mindful. For a successful marathon build- up staying healthy and injury-free is as important as running the miles. We’ll specifically need to focus on developing Meg’s long run and marathon-specific endurance. I also need to build Meg’s confidence so that she really believes that she can do it!