Lucozade Sport Super Six: Vicky (sub-4:30)

Goal: sub-4:30
Mentor: Liz Yelling
Sport Scientist: Emma Kingzett
Forum nickname: Hashette

Age: 46
Running for: 10 years
No. of marathons: 2

1
PB for 10K: 52:01 Half-Marathon: 1:54 Marathon 4:39
Strengths: I really really want to break sub-4:30 and know that with proper training I'd have a cracking chance.
Weaknesses: Chardonnay; Sauvignon Blanc.
Did you know? I've got a fabulous, feathery family of five ex-battery hens. They're currently lined up in front of the back door, yelling their heads offand demanding cheese...
Vicky's Schedule | Vicky's Training Thread | Vicky's profile

Weeks 10 - 11

Vicky says: I’m so grateful for all the support and the lovely comments on my thread, but unfortunately there are times when you just need to be realistic. This is not going to happen for me. I have to be realistic and admit that I haven’t been able to do any of the past nine weeks of the training plan, and if two miles of very gentle jogging on grass has me in so much pain, then there’s no way on God’s good earth I can get myself ready to run 26 miles in six weeks’ time without doing even more damage.

I’ve got two choices now. I can either crawl under a stone sobbing “Woe is me”, or I can stand at Mudchute with my head held high, hug the life out of my thread buddies and my lovely Super Six mates, to send all of you speeding to the finish line. Guess which it’s going to be.

Liz says: Vicky’s Virgin London Marathon campaign was interrupted right from the off, and disappointingly we never really got going. Vicky threw herself into the project with her total energy, passion and full commitment, but just days into the training she picked up a knee injury that has hassled her ever since. It’s been the bane of her marathon preparation, and instead of putting her energy into running Vicky has had to face every runner’s nightmare, trying desperately to fix herself and get back into the swing of her running again. She has done all the rehab exercises ever created, used enough ice to cause an avalanche and been diligent, controlled and very cautious. Reaching the start of a marathon is very much a juggling act and Vicky faced injury woes right from the start - a great shame as her determination and grit shone.

Just as we thought Vicky was on the mend the injury flared up again, and as the marathon drew closer the pressure built. It is with a lot of tears and disappointment that Vicky has withdrawn from this year’s Virgin London Marathon. It is the best way forward for her long-term health and running , but naturally Vicky is gutted and I am gutted for her. It is frustrating, upsetting and mentally tough to see your goal but be unable to work towards it. Vicky is not going to feel sorry for herself though - come April 25 she’ll don her waterproof mascara and support her team mates every step of the way. She can hold her head high knowing she did all she could to make it to the start line but this year just wasn’t her time.

Emma says: The last two weeks have been very testing times for Vicky, with her injury problems continuing to detract from her running. I feel she has made a very brave and sensible decision to withdraw from running the Virgin London Marathon this year, although she is understandably very disappointed. I know she will continue to support her fellow runners on her thread, and continue to provide encouragement and advice. Her insight and past experience with regard to nutrition will continue to be valuable to everyone.


Weeks 8 - 9

Vicky says: The last couple of weeks have been such a rollercoaster – good runs some days, huge amounts of pain on others. We've pretty much run out of ice cubes and frozen peas at home! It seems that my body is protecting my knee by stressing other bits, resulting in a variety of new (but related) pains, so there's a lot of sorting out to do. Liz and I have agreed to junk the idea of a sub-4:30 finish. There's only eight weeks to go, I'm nowhere near on plan, and can't realistically get back on track now. However, I will be on the start line. I will be on the finish line too, just possibly a bit later than advertised. I'm upset at having to temporarily admit defeat, but also relieved that the pressure's off and I can give myself a chance to heal. I've been running or cross-training most days and it's getting worse rather than better. Hopefully, with a serious amount of physio, I'll be in a very different place when I start running again.

Liz says: Vicky has had a very tough few weeks. Having thought she was on the mend, her injury has come back with a vengeance. She is really disappointed - although she has been ticking every box to help the injury heal, it's just not co-operating. Vicky is now worried about causing long-lasting damage as she has found it very hard to step back and has often run through the pain. She is feeling immense pressure to feel worthy of this amazing opportunity. The marathon journey is rarely straightforward and there are times when a refocus is necessary. This isn't a failure - it should be seen as success for having the commitment to rethink and reset your goals. Vicky clearly isn't going to be in the shape she wanted but that doesn't mean she's not still as dedicated and committed to seeing this challenge through - just with a new focus.

Vicky is going to be taking two weeks off running - and we all know how hard this is - to give her injury time to heal and give her a fresh approach to getting back on track and crossing the finish line on April 25. Goals have had to be amended sometimes and now we are going to adapt a "get round" run-walk strategy - fingers crossed her knee will respond well to the rest. I know Vicky is determined to get to the finish line and we'll be doing everything possible to help her achieve this. That said, there will always be another marathon and we need to ensure she doesn't do herself any long-term damage through being so determined!

Emma says: Vicky has documented her previously successful marathon nutrition strategy as follows: bread and jam as a pre-race snack, then regular water and Jelly Babies to fuel and hydrate her during the race. Vicky's nutritional priorities now are to maintain a healthy and balanced diet suitable to see her through her rest period, keeping her vitamin and mineral intake high via plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables to help boost her immunity and avoid illness.


Weeks 6 - 7

Vicky says: Logically I know there will be good days and bad, but it still feels so hard when my knee's been OK, then hurts again. Still, it's leaps and bounds ahead of three weeks ago, and there's time yet. Sometimes I can't help thinking about this time last year though - especially when all the races I ran occur on the same weekends! But whatever the week before throws at me, it feels like the Cambridge Parkrun is my time - when I'm running, I don't have an injury, I'm just another runner, surrounded by her mates, doing her best and loving every minute of it.

Hopefully this willl be my last week on the bench. I'm so much further forward, and even if I can't do the distance it says on the RW training plan, hopefully Liz will give me a plan to get me there. This is where I start getting back on track, and make up for some lost time.

Liz says: What a difference a fortnight makes! Vicky has been on a real rollercoaster of emotions but finally there is light at the end of the tunnel. Her physio Gary has been her saviour during the last two weeks and got to the root of the problem by unlocking her back to release a misbehaving nerve route. This has enabled Vicky to run pain-free again!

Having bagged three consecutive parkruns, Vicky now has parkrun fever! They have really helped with her motivation - taking her first tentative steps back was a nerve-racking affair but the parkrun camaraderie provided her with the confidence to take her first running steps surrounded by familiar faces from the Cambridge Hash and fellow Super Sixer spinkletoes.

Since this jump-start Vicky has been slowly progressing her runs with a view to rejoining the RW plan again in the next few weeks. It's exciting that Vicky is nearly back on track. Reaching the start of a marathon is so often a journey littered with obstacles, high and lows and barriers to overcome. It's rarely simple and flexibility of planning is essential! Vicky has been humbled by the immense support on the forums (and her fellow Super Sixers) and can't wait to be back out on the roads with them.

Emma says: Vicky continues to maintain healthy eating day to day to support her running and recovery from injury, and where necessary is making good use of Lucozade Sport products in training. As the volume and intensity of her schedule gradually increases she will need to pay even more attention to nutrition and begin to practice her race-day strategy during long runs. Vicky has already started to think about this –as she cannot tolerate carbo-gels she will need to experiment with alternatives.


Weeks 4 - 5

Vicky says: It's official - wish therapy heals poorly knees. After lots more physio, cross-training and even more patience, I asked my physio about the possibility of doing a parkrun race. She suggested I run-walk it, stopping instantly if the knee complained even slightly. I've never had such a fabulous time putting in a personal worst in my life! Spinkletoes kept me company and was really encouraging.

The short runs were going okay, so I ran a bit more. I was doing it - running pain-free, in glorious scenery, with my friends around me (okay, quite far in front of me, but let's gloss over that!). I was careful to walk every five minutes, and stopped to give the knee a bit of a rub, but it just got better and better. When I saw the sign for the finish I lost it, and burst into tears of joy. I don't even know what my time was - I was too busy bawling to remember to switch my Garmin off!

Liz says: Vicky has had a tough few weeks. Her injury has continued to hamper her preparations and she has felt challenged by the pressure and expectation. It brings a new meaning to your running when lots of people follow what you do and at times, especially when you're injured, this can be hard. That said, she has drawn massive strength from others who have been able to empathise with her and offer both much-needed support and positive feedback.

Vicky says that her husband has been especially supportive and understanding even though he has been on crutches himself! Despite these recent low points - especially withdrawing from starting two races - there is a chink of light emerging! She's reverted back to her neutral trainers and having given her fragile knee much TLC, she has managed some light runs and even completed a parkrun 5K last Saturday. The journey to the marathon start line is full of ups and downs - that's why the finish line is so welcoming and deserving. Vicky is getting back on track and she's done well to maintain her fitness with cross-trainer workouts. She's going to be back running properly very soon and we're both really excited about the next ten weeks.

Emma says: Advice around nutrition has been minimal over the last fortnight as Vicky has been focusing on low-intensity sessions, predominantly on the cross-trainer. She continues to be comfortable with the basics of a balanced diet and good hydration to see her through this phase of her preparation.Vicky is also starting to think about her race-day strategy (and rehearsing this in training) so we have been looking at hydration and fuel options. The inclusion of Carbo-Gel stations on the Virgin London Marathon course should help when planning her race-day nutrition.


Weeks 2 - 3

Vicky says: The last two weeks I've been poked and prodded by physios and doing all manner of pummelling, stretching and cross-training myself. Thanks to years of inadequate stretching, I have stupidly tight ITBs, hamstrings, glutes, you name it and it's led to a nasty case of runner's knee. It's got better and worse and everything in between in the last couple of weeks, and it's been driving me crazy. I'm trying to be positive – this problem was a ticking time bomb, and it's better it happens now rather than later in the training programme. I know what to do to put it right, and I just need to do the exercises I've been given, cross-train, subject myself to sports massages, ice like the snow queen and be patient!

The outpouring of support on the forum, over email and from the other Super Sixers and Liz has kept me going - all those good vibes are going to do it more good than any amount of ultrasound ever could. This is just a setback, and come hell or high water I will be on that start line.

Liz says: The last two weeks have been a real struggle for Vicky. A niggle in her knee has reared its head since she was advised to change her neutral running shoes for a motion-control shoe. This has understandably been very frustrating. Instead of running, her days have been spent with rest, ice packs and cross-training and as we all know, runners aren't great to be around when they're injured and unable to run! I really feel for her.

Despite this immense disappointment, Vicky's been incredibly proactive and dedicated to her marathon cause. It's to easy to throw our toys out of the pram when we're injured and put everything on hold. But not Vicky. She did the right thing and went to see a physio early on, who explained the problem and advised her that with some rest and TLC she should be back running again soon. In the meantime, she's hit the gym to maintain her fitness and has been doing some gruelling sessions on the cross-trainer. This will give her a great base to bounce back from when she is given the green light to hit the roads again.

If you're having a few problems and are not able to run yet, don't panic - you're still in the running for the big day! Like Vicky, you have plenty of time to recover and build in a good 12 weeks of marathon-specific training.

Emma says: Vicky's focus for the last couple of weeks has been cross-training and her usual, well-practiced nutritional strategies were easily able to satisfy her fuel requirements. As she's not been able to complete any long runs just yet, there has been no need to experiment with her fuelling and hydration so far, but we have discussed some ideas so she is well prepared. And, as her focus shifts away from injury rehabilitation and back onto running, I plan to introduce a ‘topic of the week' on her thread to try and spark some debate. A key area will definitely be recovery, both to keep fatigue at bay and help minimise her risk of aggravating her injury.


Week 1

Vicky says: I've kicked off my VLM campaign with a sub-2:00 half-marathon (Bedford, December 13). Okay, sub-2:00 hours by all of 29 seconds, but who's counting?! I'm really excited at the moment because in ten years of running I've never had any form of coaching and suddenly all this! I'm going to be good and do what I'm told by the physios, osteos, nutritionists and Liz. I didn't want to start training by going backwards so Liz is "hiding" mileage in my warm up and cool downs. The whole "warm up and cool down" concept isn't something I normally bother with, so that's the first thing that will be different about following a proper schedule.

My training was going well, until winter and a nasty cold descended on Hash Hall… The big freeze is driving me mad – and after slipping on an icy patch, I've got a touch of runner's knee. Luckily a fabulous physio - and a few tricks with a wine bottle - seems to have sorted it. Since this project started I've been completely paranoid about every little twinge…

Liz says: Like many runners, the winter white-out has frustrated Vicky - she only has the option to run on country lanes and treacherous conditions have left her with no option but to take some enforced time off. On Christmas Eve she was able to finish work early and, like a wound-up spring, ran 9 miles off-road to get home. She was then able to fit in more structured training over the Christmas period and ended the year by running the Buntingford Year End 10. The ice caused problems yet again though, and despite her best efforts she slipped a few times and ended the race with a sore knee, forcing her to take a further week of rest. Thankfully it was nothing too serious and her first few easy runs of the New Year have gone well.

I am not too worried about the time that Vicky had to take off - typically it's good to have some "down-time" before embarking on a period of hard marathon training if you're already a regular runner. The rest will have been great for Vicky's enthusiasm for the challenge ahead, and it just goes to show that running a marathon is as much about taking the trials and tribulations of the preparation in your stride as it is completing the 26.2 miles on race day.

Emma says: After a more restful Christmas period - and having now recovered from a cold - Vicky is very keen and excited to get stuck into her training. A knee niggle knocked her confidence a little, but I have been giving her advice to help with her recovery, including recommendations on foods with potential anti-inflammatory properties.

Otherwise, Vicky still seems happy with her existing hydration and fuelling strategy. However, as her training plan has been condensed into three days per week for the first two months at least, our focus will be on maximising her recovery so she gets the most out of each session and in particular, her long, slow runs.


About Vicky

Vicky says: I started running when I had to pass a fitness test. I had to run three miles in 27 minutes to pass the test, but my idea of exercise at that time was walking to my car. Training for the test was six months of hell, followed by a murderous bleep test. But I got through,and then the next morning I decided to go for "one more run" - and absolutely loved it. That was nearly 10 years ago and I've been hooked ever since.

I did my first marathon in 2005 – I was adamant I'd only do one. In fact, the next year I didn't even apply. But then I went to Mudchute with the other forumites to support at Mile 17, and I just wanted to jump over the barrier and join in. I ran again this year and it was great - it felt like one big party, from Mudchute to the wall of people screaming my name along the Embankment. I cried with happiness at the finish, so I feel like I've got to do it one more time, if only for a decent photo!

I'm looking forward to the support and general nattering on the forum, and us Super Sixers feel like a bunch of mates already. Those tough long runs in the depth of winter are so much easier if you know everyone else is doing one too...

Liz says: I guess you could call Vicky an experienced runner - she's been running for 10 years and regularly races over different distances. Yet despite being a runner for a decade this will only be her third marathon. The marathon is a totally different animal to other distances and helping Vicky get to grips with the preparation and race itself is going to be great fun and rewarding for us both.

Despite being a regular runner this will be the first time Vicky has received any running coaching. She's really looking forward to seeing what areas she can improve on technically, physically, nutritionally and mentally. There's a lot there and I hope I get it right and can help!

Vicky's training loads have recently been limited by a back niggle that she has to manage and balance with rest days. We're really going to have to pay attention to the subtle balancing act of progression and enthusiasm - trying to get her strong and robust with regular running before "upping" anything. This will require me to adapt the schedule to fit with Vicky's individual needs as a runner - to pull out the most important sessions,and work with her to seamlessly blend everything together to get her to the start line in great shape.

The journey to a successful marathon is 90% before the day and only 10% on the day. If you can get to the start line having banked all the miles and confident you can do that's the battle mostly won!

Emma says: Nutrition is something Vicky values as important to her running and as such, she already has sensible hydration and fuelling practices. She has begun to use products to help fuel her longer weekend runs. Recovery is an area she could improve to get even more performance rewards from her training.