The training has been especially tough in the last few weeks as I was increasing my long run to 20 miles. I also added another mid-week training day to help me cope with the longer run at the weekend. My weekly schedule for the last month was 6 or 8 miles on Tuesday and Thursday and 10 miles on Wednesdays. I was then taking 2 days rest before my long run on Sunday. My focus was getting more miles under my feet than speed and was now covering around 42-45 miles per week!
I planned a 20 mile route using mapmyrun.com which was quite hilly but had a flat finish along Lea Valley canal. The first time I got a little lost and ended up doing nearly 22 miles. I was quite wary so went out at a much slower pace. I started to feel hungry halfway through and always carried a Lucozade energy bar with me so I ate that. By mile 15 I was really tired but I still had a long way to go. When I came off the canal, I only had a couple of miles to go so I kept plodding on. Unbelievably in the last mile home I suddenly found some hidden energy. Maybe it was relief of being nearly home. I picked up my pace and even managed a sprint the last quarter mile. The second time I ran this 20 mile route I felt more confident. I went out with a much better mindset to get stuck in and get the run done. It was a much better run but I had completely run out of energy by the end.
Maybe I had gone out too fast or maybe it was because I didn’t have the Lucozade energy bar?
GADE VALLEY HARRIERS 20 MILE TRAINING RUN
It was time for the final training run with Gade Valley Harriers in Hemel Hempstead. This time we were doing 20 miles! I felt tired before we started the run and was cold and shivering.
The run always started along a canal but when I started the run I was still cold and my ankles were hurting which gave me a much slower start. On the previous training runs the first hill I found pretty easy and wondered what the other runners were groaning about but this time it was a real challenge. I had no energy and struggled the steep climb. It was strange as I’d never felt like this before. I also felt bloated as I’d been eating more carbs and a had large bowl of porridge which made me feel lethargic and caused me to get stomach cramps during the run.
Once I warmed up I felt a lot better, I met a guy who was also training for the London Marathon so we ran together. As we approached mile 16 I was surprised how quickly the run had gone and I still had a some energy in store. We ‘dug deep’, as they call it, and increased our speed till the end, pushing ourselves to the limit and the last few miles we were running at 8.50 min/miles! I really don’t know where I found the energy especially with how I was feeling at the start of the run. It definitely makes a difference to find a running partner especially when you need that extra push.
When we arrived back, we were really pleased with our time until we realised we had gone the wrong way and missed a 3 mile loop out so we had only done 17 miles!!
I took this as a blessing in disguise as I then realised that I’d over trained in the last couple of weeks. It was still a good run and we did some great speed work at the end.
With most training plans you increase the mileage then have an easy week. I wasn’t taking that easy week. A lesson to be learned. Luckily my body only switched off on the last long run and I have managed to pick it up again through tapering. I have gradually decreased my mileage but increased my speed to keep my fitness levels up.
Another learning curve was the large bowl of porridge in the morning. As I mentioned in my previous blog, part of the training is the preparation for the day. I have learned that my body prefers smaller meals so I shall have a small bowl of porridge and take a small peanut butter sandwich to eat an hour or so before starting the Marathon.
MY FUEL PLAN FOR MARATHON DAY
Part of my training for the Marathon is trying to work out what you may personally need to fuel the 26.2 miles and this is what I feel will be good for me:
6.30 am small bowl of porridge with fruit, almond milk and natural yoghurt.
9.00 am small peanut butter sandwich and glucose/caffeine drink.
5 miles into race and every hour 1 energy gel
10 and 20 miles Lucozade bar
The London Marathon also provide you with Lucozade Energy drinks and gels and plenty of water along the route.
If you have enough glycogen stores in your body which can be topped up with glucose and carbohydrates they can sustain your energy for longer.
Now I am at the tapering stage and feel much better my runs have naturally got faster. I have gradually cut my long runs down from 17 to 15 to 10 to 8 with midweek runs being 5 miles. It feels strange to just run for 4 miles in the last week.
It is advisable to have a sports massage a couple of weeks before the marathon. These can be very painful but definitely well worth it. I had a few niggles in my ankles as I have some shin splints which is why I’ve had a lot of pain during the long mileage. I have now seen Amrit, my Sports Therapist who did some work on my legs which has definitely relieved the pain.
Part of tapering and preparing for the London Marathon is Carb Loading. I’m not a big fan of starchy carbohydrates so I eat plenty of fruit and vegetables but as I will be running 26.2 miles I feel it is important that I add in some starchy carbohydrates such as potatoes, wholegrain pasta and rice and wholegrain bread and whole oats.
Carbohydrates is the cleanest fuel our body uses to it is important to top up our stores beforehand. In the last 72 hours it can be good to cut the protein down slightly so you are able to eat more carbohydrates.
The best way to get glycogen into your muscles is to eat little and often. Our muscles can only store so much glycogen at a time otherwise it is stored as fat.
The day before the Marathon I plan to have a high carbohydrate meal around 5pm so I am not too bloated the next morning when I will start the day with a small bowl of porridge.
My only concern now is my pace. I should by now have a pace but as it is my first time I am really unsure. It is important that I don’t go out too fast and pace myself comfortably to last the 26.2 miles.
I do have a plan to start the race quite slow then increase slightly every 5 miles.
I have 3 goals, first is to complete the London Marathon, second is to complete in under 4.30hrs and third is complete in under 4hrs!!
THE CHILDREN’S TRUST
I will be running for The Children’s Trust and it’s stories like this that will inspire me when things get tough.
If you would like to make a donation you can easily through my fundraising page:- http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/DavinaGutteridge1