#grtwproject26.2 ‘It hurt but would I do it again? Yes!’

With less than a week before the London marathon, our #grtwproject26.2 runner, Rachel Sparkhall, who we coached for the Paris Marathon has these thoughts to share for those about to run their first marathon in London…

 

I sit here typing this as a marathon runner, feeling proud as punch even though the Paris marathon didn’t go quite according to plan. 

Right from the start, my pace was off target but I kept calm because the training that I’ve done with Tara of Girls Run the World has taught me to hold a little back at the start and aim for a stronger finish. I tend to work better with negative splits and the elevation profile indicated that I should be able to gain a little through miles 10-18. 

However, the reality was the crowds got heavier along this section and then came along the tunnels with more enthusiastic supporters so where I thought I could gain, I didn’t.  But all the training that I’ve done with GRTW provided me with the self belief and ability to adjust to plan B, which is that it’s better to finish 5 or 10 mins slower than not at all!!

Running in Paris was always going to be a big deal.  With 60,000 other competitors, I don’t think you can really 100% prepare for it, however much you plan and research.  With morning temperatures of 1 degrees but full sun expected during the day, it meant starting very cold or running hot with too many layers.

So I started cold but actually ended up pouring water over meat each water station to keep the body temperature down as the sun got hotter, a tip coach Tara gave me. When I was shivering in the morning with four layers on, it was a hard call to make but it’s so important to remember all the runs you have done in training, the outfits you wore, how you felt and stick with what you know because 4 hours is a long time to be uncomfortable.

The first section down the Champs-Elysées was amazing and actually it’s only on reflection when you see the place full of cars and tourists the next day that you appreciate how the centre of Paris with no traffic!

A serious amount of energy zapping cobbles add to the charm of running in this city and whilst you could not use the term hills, Paris is not a flat course. Inclines and tunnels test your ability to control pace. Even though I studied the route and had a pace plan which had culminated from all the weeks of training, I was not prepared for the mass of runners, the variety of speeds around me and the slowing down for the tunnels. Pacing in Paris was harder than any other races I had done to date.

Controlling my pace is something that has improved hugely with #grtwproject26.  Previously my running lacked structure;   I ran my long runs too fast, my shorter runs too slow and put no effort into intervals or speed work.  With Tara planning each week for me, detailing what type of run to do each day and at what pace/distance, it has made me a more consistent runner. The training plan challenged my ability to run at different speeds, kept me honest but also took away the thinking part.  I know that sounds silly but marathon training is all consuming and just being able to look at the calendar each day and not have to think about what run to do was one less thing on the list.

As a marathon newbie you worry about hitting the wall and although I struggled at mile 21-22, thankfully, there was no wall,   the discipline from training was in there. The experience from having blissful 20 mile runs where I could lift the pace at the end to others of pure hell all help to develop mental strength. The training doesn’t stop the pain or make it any easier on the day but it’s not a new feeling, you have been there before and come through the other side so you know you can keep going.

If I ran Paris again, I would not change anything in the sense that I ran the best race I could on that day – which explains why I am not devastated with the 33 seconds over 4 hours.  I didn’t go too fast, eat too little or too much.  However, that doesn’t mean that I haven’t learnt a massive amount that I will take to other races.

If I were to sum up three fundamental benefits that online personal coaching with GRTW gave me, it would be these.

 

Structured training ensured I didn’t ramp up my the mileage too quickly. It helped me understand pacing and ensured I built up strength work so I didn’t fatigue or get injured.

It kept me honest on the ‘can’t be ar*d days, compared to my sick days, keeping me consistent.

I loved the motivation of getting weekly feedback from Tara. Friends and family are you biggest supports but then can get really bored. Independent praise and feedback is a great motivator.

And final thoughts on running my first marathon…

I was jealous of all the runners running for fun with no time plan!

I was slower than what I know I can run but I’m now much more realistic and respectful of the race conditions on these bigger events. I trained perfectly until taper but still had an off day and that made it really hard so have your A, B and C plan and finish.

Did it hurt … YES!!

Would I do it again….? YES!!
With a time of 4 hours 33 seconds I have unfinished business pastedGraphic.png

General thoughts about Paris as a first marathon 

Spectators can easily watch and even join in with hardly any barriers, which makes it frustrating with spectators crossing roads and tripping over small children to cross the finish line.


Water and feed stations were plentiful but watch your footing, expect to slow down and loose a least a minute per station – I found they were like mini battle stations and quite chaotic!


It’s not flat, it’s not hilly but long inclines are energy zapping – be prepared.

It’s a great place to run, the sights and the after experience of macarons, cakes and cafes! Indulgence is not hard to find!

The Saturday breakfast run is a lovely experience and very inclusive. It’s only 5km but be wary of the time on feet.

 

 

5 Ways to Tackle the Post marathon blues

You feel so fantastic after crossing that finish line of the marathon, and it tides you right through  to …ooh, about 24 hours later. Then the blues hit. Here’s our guide on how to avoid it – 

After spending 12 to even 20 weeks training for a marathon, and pretty much the last fortnight leading up to the marathon obsessing over every little detail, it’s small wonder that the majority of runners spend the next week feeling really down.

It’s partly because you are left with a huge vacuum where all that training and obsessing used to sit in your diary and your mind. Now real life prevails and any of those problems you have been pushing to that side of your brain marked, ‘deal with later,’ will rear its head.

Not a big deal if that was ‘see friends.’ Not so great if it was, ‘sort out job, I hate it,’ or relationship woes.  But the other reason for such a slump is purely to do with your body’s physiological response to running that far and the impact this has on your body’s hormone response.

During the race itself, you are in fight or flight response,  cortisol flooding your body. The result? BIG comedown. Added to that, all those ‘rundorphins,’ you get from the flood of serotonin, that is released with exercise is suddenly gone.

So, how do you avoid getting the post race downs?

Go for a run

You may think, ‘Ouch, are you kidding?’ but a gentle run will not only help you ease out your muscles, particularly if you foam roll first (see our how to videos on YouTube here), but it will help to boost your mood. No heroics though! Your body does need to recover so don’t go off on an interval or tempo session.

Meet up with your non run friends

Running can get obsessive, no more so than when training for a marathon or ultra when it takes up so much time. The temptation when you’re on the post race high is to jump straight back in again and sign up for another one. But remember, there’s a whole world out there of friends and amazing things to do, and see with them.

Reconnect and go to that exhibition that you kept meaning to go to but never had the time, or for a drink to that amazing cocktail bar that you knew you’d just fall asleep in if you’d gone during your training. It does you good to keep perspective – just don’t spend the entire night regaling them with tales from every mile of your marathon.

Eat well

After a marathon, the post race ‘I can eat what I like,’ can sometimes extend for days, if not weeks. Doughnuts still for breakfast anyone?  Yes, your body needs carbohydrates to help replenish your lost glycogen stores but not to the exclusion of all else. Plus, this is likely to be contributing to your post marathon blues.

Sugar is a dopamine hit, causing more of that serotonin to be released followed by a massive slump. Eating a well balanced mix of proteins, slow release carbohydrates and healthy fats is the best thing you can do to help your body to recover and to help you pick yourself back up.

Streeeeetch

No, your leg stretch against and foot hanging off the kerb calf stretch straight after the race is NOT what we mean. Try a good yoga class of if no time for that,  try some of our free yoga recovery sets on our YouTube channel.

Yoga is a form of mediation and creates a relaxation response, working with the parasympathetic nervous system. Parasympathetic stimulation causes a slowing down of the heartbeat, lowering of blood pressure, increased blood flow to the skin and viscera, and peristalsis of the GI tract.

This will help your body to recover more quickly as well as helping to undo the harmful effects of stress.

Enter an inspiring race!

Now, this is the one that most marathon finishers do almost immediately, but we’re going to caveat it by saying THINK about the race that you really want to enter before you get carried along on the tide of endorphins and press, sign up.

All too often we see runners sign up to another road marathon, quite soon after the one they’ve just finished and burn out.

Think back on your training and all the things that you thought when you were doing it…were you dreaming of hitting the trails? Then sign up to a jaw dropping, sight seeing trail run. Got fed up with run training during the training? Then check out a triathlon, sportive or a swimrun such as BrecaSwimRun.

And then check your diary…can you fit the training in, are school holidays in the middle of it going to make that impossible, what about your work/family/life…are you giving yourself enough time not just to train but to be able to juggle everything else in your life?

If you can say yes to all of that, go for it! And do share what race you’re going to be doing next.

#grtwproject26.2 ‘I said never again but….’

With just two weeks to go before the Virgin Money London Marathon, our project26.2 first time marathon runner, Catriona Ward Sell reflects on the unexpected discoveries she’s made on her marathon training journey….

 

Easy running is difficult!

Tara, my coach at GRTW, has probably found my tendency to run too fast concerning. Maybe I can contain my pace on the day – but maybe I can’t. I know she’s right, though; blowing out on pace early on at London will mean disaster.

I take encouragement from the fact that I managed my pace well in the Oundle 20 miler last month – despite other females speeding off, I raced my own race, managed to catch many of them to finish 3rd female. But it’s difficult, some days, 5-minute kilometres feels like walking, and I struggle in the moment to believe it’s beneficial. Other days, especially after a heavy gun run session (Ed: Cat is in the Army) or a long run the day before, 5 minute kilometres are exhausting. If you’d told me at the start of marathon training that I would have struggled at this pace, I’d have walked away with dented pride. BUT I’ve learned that slower running is not to be ashamed of, and is necessary.

There’s so MUCH slow running

Tara has taught me that 80% of my running should be kept at that conversational pace, with 20% hard running. Previously, my training would have been the other way around – I love fast and hard sessions. But running slower has made me appreciate and feel the benefit of harder sessions more. It’s been hard sometimes to stay motivated to run slow, but it is proving worthwhile, and has taught me to look at the bigger picture.

Marathon training is SO expensive

When I was starting out, someone said to me they were disenchanted with running as it is now “a rich mans sport”. Then, I laughed – how expensive can putting one foot in front of the other be? Now, I agree.

Running has become a lucrative industry, and someone like me could be easily be priced out. The one running watch I’ve ever owned is a freebie I won last year – I wouldn’t own one otherwise. It’s fit for purpose, if you don’t mind it taking 250 metres to catch up. Compared to the mini computers that other marathoners wear on their wrists, displaying everything from lap splits and recommended recoveries to virtual pacing in real-time, mine is a cute child’s toy.

Similarly, I’ve jogged past many runners sporting the latest waterproof shoes and wind cheaters, and can’t help but note that my Karrimors have seen me through all my marathon training (and more). When it rains, I put plastic bags inside my socks. As for waterproof jackets – well, skin is waterproof, right?

None of this equipment is necessary, but it helps, and the surprising cost of marathoning must put people off. But I’ve chosen to deal with this through seeing a flip side; however misguided and arrogant this is, I take a pinch of pride in knowing that others may have gear, but I have very well-trained legs. It sounds obvious, but if I was to give one piece of advice, it would be to stay away from industry magazines which review all kit with a 8/10, and avoid comparing yourself with others: use your energy to concentrate on simply moving your legs forwards.

Weight gain

I appreciate this is my own fault, but at the start of my training, I turned vegan, logged calories, and quickly lost several kilograms – which I needed to. As mentioned in my last blog, I was feeling light on my feet and hitting my paces easily. A review of my diet mid-plan, and I started to concentrate on eating healthier rather than calories. Three weeks later, and I’d lumped all the weight back on.

When you’re eating healthy food AND logging ridiculous miles, it’s so easy to overeat – it seems justifiable. But healthy food has calories too.  As for the confidence to wear a running vest, let’s not go there, or I’ll cry.

Weight gain, dodgy sunburn and freckle lines, blistered feet, veiny knees, marathoning, surprisingly, can hugely negatively effect your body-confidence, even if your running confidence is stronger than ever. No race photos, please

I’ve entered another one!

I’ve said multiple times on Instagram NEVER AGAIN. The relative tedium of longer slow running, the frustrations at my lack of running equipment, the embarrassment at my own body, the sore knees, the lack of time in a day for multi-hour runs, the friendships it strains, there’s been plenty of times I’ve sworn I’m never marathoning again.

And yet… the other day I found myself googling the Waterford marathon, Ireland. To return home to take on such a big running feat would be a homecoming like no other. To race in the beautiful town in my home country, which taught me to love sport in the first place,  well, there’s something romantic, exciting and slightly terrifying about it.

So I’ll leave you with surprising fact number 5, and a part of me is still in disbelief: marathon running, for all its sins, when coached in good hands, is addictive. Who would have thought?

 

Girls Run the World offer personalised one to one virtual coaching. For more details click here

And don’t miss our NEW digital training platform which puts you in charge of your own training, providing a range of online products and services to make you stronger, fitter, faster, injury-free and more flexible. Check out the new platform here. 

#grtwproject26.2 ‘Five things that have helped me through the taper terrors.’

If you’ve still got a few weeks before your marathon, read about how our #grtwproject26.2 runner, Marie Knight coped with her first experience of marathon tapering

Reviewing all that I’ve achieved

Looking back at my training plan on Training Peaks, which GRTW use for virtual coaching, along with my weekly updates on  Instagram has helped reinforce how prepared I am for this race…and how far I’ve come in 13 weeks. Six miles felt like a Long Run in the week after Xmas and soon I will be running 26.2 miles

Yin Yoga

Despite my doubts about this yin yoga at the start of my training (I usually need yoga to be more dynamic otherwise I get agitated which is probably the very reason why I need to do more of this kind of stuff!) it has been really good for settling the noise in my head and reminding me to focus on one thing at a time. (PSSST! Check out our 30 Day Recovery Programme launching May on our online training platform – want to sign up for an exclusive discount? Do it here).

The Girls Run the World mental strategies worksheet

This has helped loads. I was asked to write down specific runs which went well and why, and ones that didn’t go great and how I’d change my strategy to ensure the outcome was different if I did it again. Reviewing this has helped me focus on strategy and gain confidence in remembering everything that I’ve done well and that there are reasons when things didn’t.

A hot toddy with lots of whisky

These were medicinal to start with to help with a cold but appear to have have continued since the cold cleared….:o)

 Relaxing baths

I’ve spent a small fortune on fancy bath oils and Epsom salts over the past few weeks.

 

 

As with many marathon runners, another main driving force for Marie is that she’s running it to raise money for a little girl who is close to her heart. You can read about her story here. GoFundMe site for Team Ufi

 Want to join our FREE Facebook community here for further support? Click here.

#grtwproject26.2 ‘I’ve gone vegan while marathon training.’

In this month’s blog, #grtwproject26.2 runner, Catriona Ward-Sell, explains how changing her running technique is helping her run..and the big change to her nutrition

When training for a marathon, it’s easy to let an obsession with stats and goals touch every part of your life. ‘Will I finish work in time to get my long run in? Will these biscuits I’m eating fuel or hinder tomorrow’s paces? Should I take my foam roller to the cinema with me?’  I have also been thinking about how my running fits into the bigger picture of my life, health, and the world around me. This has resulted in two fairly dramatic changes in my running career.

Firstly, I’ve decided to continue my marathon training as a vegan. I’ve been vegetarian previously for a 13 year stint but cycling 8000km solo across Europe in five months during 2017 ended that. I was welcomed warmly into the homes of strangers across the continent with a bowl of chicken soup, or hearty traditional meal. Call me ill-disciplined, but in those grateful moments, I felt in no place to refuse such hospitality. Indeed, after cycling up to 150km in sub-zero Serbian winters, I didn’t exactly feel like refusing such delicious food, either.

Joining the Army upon my return, I found little motivation to switch back to being vegetarian. Fully catered for during training, the Army’s vegetarian options are unvaried, and on exercise, beans aren’t always the best fuel for moving at quick readiness.

Now that I’m out of training, I have more control over my diet, and having read and heard so much recently about how bad meat and diary is for the planet I’ve found that I’ve been reflecting on this. After all, a 30km run through local countryside not only gives exposure to nature, but also two hours of thinking space within it.

However, I was nervous about going vegan and the effect that having less protein would have on my running. But a conversation with some vegan runners put my mind at ease, and I decided to make some changes. These changes were reinforced by keeping a nutrition diary by Girls Run The World to check that I was fuelling well for training and recovery. I won’t go into the recipes here but I’ve noticed a few differences in my running since changing my nutrition.

I’ve felt lighter on runs, and my recovery time has been noticeably quicker. I think this is because I’m being more mindful on the whole of getting the right nutrients – tracking it all on My Fitness Pal, I’ve surprisingly not lacked protein at all. I previously didn’t pay much attention to macros, just “ate normally”. It’s likely that any increased mindfulness to a training diet will cause positive changes, but  veganism has definitely played a part.

However,  my transition to a plant-based running diet (where I can – sometimes, I’m forced to vegetarian) is not necessarily a fast track to improvement. There’s been negatives too. Perhaps similar to living on Army ration packs of beans, beans and beans, I’ve had an increasing need to ensure that a public toilet is on my running route. Vegan runners certainly don’t lack fibre in their diet!  That’s something I need to remedy before the marathon.

Speaking of my upcoming race, this leads me on to the second significant change to my running since I’ve been coached by Girls Run The World. Knowing that speedy running will have to take a back foot, I’ve started concentrating on, well, the back of my feet. Namely, my ungainly (yet somehow uneconomically not-slow…!) running style: heel striking.

I immediately identified to Tara, my coach, that I was a heel striker, but that I would like to change this. It’s not that I heel strike occasionally or when I get tired: every single pace of mine is an over-stretch.  It’s been proven time and time again that forefoot and mid-foot strikers are the speedy runners over the distances I enjoy.  However, getting out of a habit I’ve had for long is going to be painful. It will be a gradual, sometimes frustrating, and slow process, but ultimately worth it… much like running a marathon!

Slowing down my pace but getting lots of miles in has given me the opportunity to address my form. Tara has given me lots of tips, such as concentrating on my hips rather than the actual heel itself, and how the entire leg works – not just the foot. Initially, just a few kilometres would have me in major DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) the next day. Now, I have completed an entire parkrun without reverting to heel striking.  So far, I’m not  identifiably quicker but it has given me the potential to work on that sub-19 parkrun and sub-40 10km which has so far eluded me. Not only this, but running with a better form should allow me to have a longer and healthier running career.

So, all in all, marathon training is proving to be quite a health-focussed, holistic and spiritual journey. With quite a few public toilets on the way!

Cat working on fast efforts, focusing on improved run technique

 

#grtwproject26.2 ‘I’m riding a rollercoaster of emotions.’

Pre marathon anxiety is now kicking in, not least what to wear. Is planning your marathon day outfit as complicated as choosing your wedding outfit?!It’s beginning to seem so for Rachel Sparkhall 

With the second four week block of training provided by Girls Run the World, Tara completed, it certainly feels like the clock is starting to tick fast and training intensity is ramping up.

Nerves are rumbling around and whilst I’ve completed all the training and hit the required mileage, I’m riding a roller-coaster of emotions.  ‘Can I get my nutrition right on the day and not need to dash to the loo?  Can I control my pace well enough so that I hit the time I think I am capable of but not blow up too early? ‘

As the big day gets closer, I find myself becoming absorbed in details such as outfit planning; wanting to look smart to  vs just being really comfy in worn out 10 year old leggings. It seems that everything associated with running a marathon is all consuming, justifiably so I guess, after all 26.2 miles is a really long way!  A niggle that can be tolerated for an hour is manageable but chafing or leggings that ride up or down is unacceptable for 4 hours and needs much more consideration.

Rachel tries out her gels and outfit for the day

 Unlike the first training block, I’ve not had one bad week where I’ve felt completely fatigued, just the odd run where I have lacked energy or motivation.  A particular tempo session stands out where even the 10 min mile warm up pace felt hard,  let alone the speed sections  But overall, I think my body and mindset has adjusted well to the format of running every other day. 

I have relaxed my attitude to other commitments I used to have with other fitness classes which has helped me to keep the balance with energy levels, life and work.  And the lower mileage week at the end of the four week block was very welcome, especially as I was hit with a really bad run of migraine which was not ideal prior to my strategically planned Cambridge Half Marathon, a stunning race setting where I was able to put some of the training and advice to the test.

   Tara had provided me with some excellent guidance on pacing strategy to use, as well as nutrition and timing throughout the race. I had a set pace to target and hold throughout the race, and to try and lift and run faster in the last few miles if I felt strong enough. 

To be honest, I’d felt so awful the 2 days before the event, combined with wet and windy conditions, I had no expectations of a fast time, even on a flat course. However, I ran strong even with all the weaving and although I struggled to lift the pace and finish strong, I achieved a PB by over two minutes and learnt some very good lessons about runner traffic congestion and what to expect on a very busy Paris marathon.

Rachel with her Cambridge Half Marathon medal

This run was a massive confidence boost and really underlines the consistency of the training plan and improvements it is bringing to my running.  On a bad day, feeling pretty crappy, I still ran a really good race. I continue to trust in the training.

I am looking forward to the final block where the highest mileage will be achieved, with more focus on race strategy and pacing so no doubt a few tough weeks ahead before taper begins.

Girls Run the World coaches provide personalised one to one virtual coaching to female runners and triathletes of all levels from around the world. From coaching women whose goal is simply to run their first half marathon or ultra, to those aiming for personal bests, we are experts in coaching women. For more details visit our mentoring page.

#grtwproject26.2 ‘Keeping a food diary has helped prevent me chain-eating biscuits’

For the first time, #grtwproject26.2 runner, Marie Knight, believes that running the marathon really is possible. And how to ensure that she doesn’t eat herself out of house and home as the miles increase 

Marie even had time to learn to ski within her training

When I was growing up, The Wizard of Oz was one of my favourite films and never have Dorothy’s words ‘I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore,’ felt more true.

I’m writing this feeling very pleased with myself for having finished my long run, 17 MILES. This is the longest distance I have ever run, and more than I’d normally cover in a total of seven days running in my normal running world. 

Approaching the end of block 2 of GRTW project26.2, and with just 6 weeks to go until the Brighton Marathon, it’s not a surprise that my running mileage has increased considerably, but it is a surprise to discover how good I feel about it. Today was a prime example of waking up with a multitude of reasons for not running.

It was a perfect Sunday for staying inside with coffee, newspapers, Netflix – dark sky, horizontal rain, and gusty winds. But the great thing about having a race approaching and a tailored plan to ensure that you make it to that goal, is that you feel compelled to get out and run and it holds you accountable. 

The leap in mileage this month has been accompanied by a massive increase in my appetite. And whilst it’s been tempting to use this as an excuse to chain-eat cake and biscuits, it has made me much more mindful about nutrition, the value of what I put into my body and how this effects my running.

I’ve noticed that when I’ve had a few days of quick food on the hop, or lazy cooking that isn’t really ticking all the right boxes. As part of project26.2, we were all asked to complete a food diary over a weekend which helped me understand more about how I was feeling both during and after the different types of run that I do.

I can quite often feel headachy or nauseous at the end of a long run and looking at my food diary I could see that I wasn’t drinking  enough water on the days before a long run. Hints and tips from Coach Rachael have helped me adapt what I eat and drink, and more importantly, what time of day I am eating it.

The two big revelations for me is that I rely too heavily on sports rehydration salts to hydrate (I thought the salts were helping!), and that by bringing my meal times forward by an hour or so here and there, I can remove the need for unnecessary snacks. The result so far is feeling better fuelled and feeling more settled during and after each run.

Everyone told me that marathon training is all consuming and I can confirm that this is true – joyfully so! But as well as noticeably building up my strength and mileage in February, I also managed to enjoy a full week away from running for some much-needed holiday time. I am not sure my legs would 100% agree that the holiday was a true rest from running given that I decided to put them through a different kind of punishment instead by learning to ski.

It was amazing to go away and feel confident and fit enough to give this a go. I’m not sure I would have done this three years ago and a lot of this confidence has come about from my running and the different events I’ve done in the past, knowing how much the human body can do if you give it the chance. It was a good reminder that completing the marathon is definitely possible!

A week off in the middle of training like this would normally have felt like a ridiculous thing to have planned, and put me in a spin about what a disaster this would be for the rest of my marathon training. However, part of the point of a personalised training plan is that it works around your life and the plan was designed to work me hard in the weeks before I went away to allow me this week of ‘rest’.

My plan is giving me a new-found respect for proper rest and recovery. Despite giving my legs and feet the shock of their life by spending a week in ski boots, I came back from my week in the Alps feeling well rested and ready to get back to running. There was a 16-mile run scheduled for day after I returned which initially felt impossible, but I managed to get out there and complete nevertheless. 

Rest and recovery remain a key feature in my training now that I’m back from the mountains albeit that it sadly involves a lot less cheese-based cuisine. Sleeping is my super power; my friends often joke that I could sleep standing up and I think I’ve come pretty close a couple of times this month. I’ve noticed a definite need to sleep more in February as the miles have increased and particularly after the interval sessions which did not normally make up part of my weekly running routine. These seem to work me harder than the long distances.

Sports massage and foam rolling are also regular components which is a lot less easy to make myself do than heading to bed an hour early but are still a necessary evil. My feet in particularly are feeling tight which apparently is a result of tight calf muscles and hamstrings. I now have a whole selection of beastly but annoyingly effective foam rollers dotted around my flat so that I can roll whenever I have a free moment or chance to watch the tele. I definitely prefer the deep baths full of fancy bath oil to treat tight muscles and aide recovery, but they don’t seem have quite the same effect. On the plus side, I’ve stopped arguing and ranting at the TV and radio because I am now too busy grimacing on the foam roller.

 

How Yin Yoga can transform your running

Read about Girls Run the World founder, Rachael Woolston discussing the benefits of yin yoga in Women’s Running magazine.

And if you fancy joining our 30 day Yoga Recovery programme for marathon runners, sign up for our launch offer on our NEW digital training platform created for female runners and triathletes inspired by goals HERE. By signing up, you’ll get access to a limited number sign up offer.

How to achieve your running goals by doing less

Want to know the secret for unlocking  your perfect running year? Achieve your personal bests and stay injury with one simple tip…

You might assume that the key to having your best year ever is all to do with how you train, how often and how challenging it is. But actually it’s far simpler than this as we revealed in a recent Facebook Live in our FREE Community Group.

All you have to do is plan your year. This one simple thing enables you to avoid the pitfalls that can derail even the best runners.

Planning your year…

Helps you to avoid injury

If you avoid injury, you remain consistent in your training and that will ensure the biggest improvements.

Reduces stress

When you’re juggling training with work and relationships, it gets stressful. It’s easy to get carried away with how much you love running and enter lots of events. But eventually, you’ll get stressed about it and start thinking, ‘oh god, I’ve got this race next week, how am I going to do it? And I haven’t seen my friends for ages and who is going to look after the kids?’

You want running to be an empowering and enjoyable experience, not one where you end up stressed. Planning helps you avoid these pitfalls.

Helps you to avoid overtraining and have planned recovery

Something that has been come up a lot in the blogs by our gRTW Project 26.2 runners is the benefit of recovery, both in terms of slow runs and time off entirely.

If you’re short on time because you’ve entered so much, you’ll often see women going out and just doing the hard stuff as they think it will get them fitter quicker. It mainly just means that you’re not giving your body time to recover. It’s in recovering – which means not racing all the time, that your body adapts and gets stronger.

Ensures you maintain your #runlove and motivation

Have you ever stopped enjoying running entirely because you suddenly feel like all you’re doing is training and or racing? It happens a lot. And it just means that you’re not putting in the right effort or attention to your training anyway. Do less. Not more.

 

So, here’s how to plan…

 

Spend some time looking at which races you really want to do and decide on a few A races, the ones that mean the most to you, either because you have a target time in mind or it’s a beautiful race that you’ve just always wanted to do in a stunning location.

Now, create a hand drawn breakdown of your year, broken by months and by weeks. You can use different colours to denote fun races that are just with friends, those that are important key training races and your A races themselves.

Most importantly, don’t forget to also add big work events, holidays and family engagements which will all impact on how successful – or sensible it is – to enter a race near that kind of time.

Once you’ve done that, add your a races, and then work from that, adding events that will help you to achieve your A race goal, which can be anything from wanting to achieve a PB or simply to finish and enjoy the race feeling strong. and training on the way to that A Race.

If you write it on paper, you can see more easily whether you’ve put too many races close together – or whether you are inadvertently thinking about a race that’s very close to your holiday.

There are a lot of fantastic race websites out there. FindARace.com for example to help you plan. Improvement comes from enjoyment, consistency and not getting injured.

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