How was your weekend running?

This was a big weekend for running, with Rome, Rotterdam, Manchester and Paris marathons setting off the Spring marathon series, along with some more unusual races such as the 24 hour track race

 

Paris marathon was only my third marathon back in 2013, and so it holds a special place in my heart.  Although it was freezing cold on the start line when I ran, so much so that I couldn’t feel my feet (you can read about it here), I know from other participants who that it can often be unseasonably warm, which appears to have been the case this year with temperatures hitting 22 degrees.

We had runners in both Paris, Manchester and the Berlin Half Marathon and all but one of these races (go on, guess which one?) looked baking hot, so well done to ALL you runners who reached the finish line.

And spare a thought for Lizzie Roswell, who ran the Paris Marathon today and will continue running ‘In the Footsteps of the Fallen,’ via the Western Front finishing with the London marathon – that’s 360 odd miles in about two weeks!

If that inspires you but makes you run for your slippers, what do you think of Girls Run the World Ultra marathon coach, Sarah Sawyer who won first female at the Crawley 24 hour track race this weekend, running a total of 127.5 miles in 24 hours. Crazy, huh? Once she’s had a chance to recover we’ll be interviewing Sarah in a podcast about the mental strategies she used to get her though it. But running doesn’t HAVE to involve big long distances to create an enjoyable challenge that works you hard to give you that endorphin buzz.

This weekend, I missed my Half Ironman training (oops !) to take part in the Sussex Road Relay Championships, a 2 mile, flat-out, bust-your-lungs, eyeballs-out relay race. Just because they’re shorter, they’re no less anxiety provoking at the start but they are over much more quickly. And they’re fun. Yes, it hurts but there is something absolutely exhilarating about trying to go as fast as you can over a short distance.

So, if you have just finished or are just about to do a marathon and are wondering what your next goal is going to be, don’t assume it always has to be another marathon or a longer distance. Taking time out and moving your body in a different way – which it does if you run faster, can be a good way of pushing the reset button.

Well done to all your fantastic finishers of whatever race or training you did, including all our GRTW runners who came together for our Girls Run the World Get Together Parkrun this weekend all over the UK.

 

If you are in town for Brighton to support friends or to run, please let us know by commenting. We will be at mile 19/22 so if you want to join us in support or want us to give you a special cheer or call out (and those miles can be crucial) comment with your name and race number. 

Marathon Mastery Series: The Mental Game

We’re now just a few days away from the start of the marathon weekend extravaganza that is Paris, Manchester, Brighton, ending in London. You’ve done the physical stuff, now it’s time to ensure you’ve nailed your mental game..

Seville, the one where I managed to avoid the cracks!

Some of what you’re going to read now is going to see so obvious, you’ll be thinking, ‘Jeez, I’m not THAT clueless.’ But really, it’s amazing the impact that pre-race marathon anxiety can have on your mind so do everything you can NOW to nail  your mental game.

Race pace

So, you’ve probably been training using your race pace for certain parts of your training for between 12-20 weeks by now. But write it down anyway, and keep repeating it.

What to do: Perhaps even write it down on the back of your hand on race day. Seriously, I can’t remember the amount of times I’ve stood on the start line and had a panic about what my race pace is because I suddenly can’t remember it.

Prepare for the marathon mile crunch points

I’ve run about ten marathons and every event I’ve had crunch points at the same mile markers. These are where a chink appears in your mental resolve, which can quickly turn into an ever widening fault line if you don’t have mental strategies in place. Personally, my crunch points are mile 15 (‘Oh jesus, I’ve got to run nine more miles at this pace?‘), mile 18, (seconds after you think, ‘Wow, I’m flying,’ you realise the remaining miles are going to feel like a 10km race and there’s no flying feeling going on with that) and mile 24, when you’re SO close but suddenly calculate those miles into pace and how much time that means is left on your feet (personally, two miles seems less to me than calculating time).

What to do: Everyone has their own mantras and strategies for getting through the battlefield that goes on in your brain when you’re running. If you don’t, write them down now, whether it’s a memory of a training run that you didn’t think you were going to get through, a reason for why you’re running or even organising someone to be at what you think will be  your crunch points to help get you through. Mine is very boring, I just count backwards from 100 to filter out the voice telling me to stop.

Beware the wormhole

You can get so deeply introspective when running a marathon, it’s easy for one negative thought to send you down a wormhole until you feel like you’re legs are like lead and you’ve convinced yourself that you’re crap and you won’t ever finish.

What to do: Break the pattern, look outward and talk to someone else. In fact, if you pass someone who looks like they’re struggling, encourage them. It can take your mind completely off your own struggles and you’ll probably be fine within a few minutes.

The positive panel 

So many women do this; they think of all the miles or the training sessions they didn’t do, or the runs that went badly and have all this shored up when they stand on that start line. Bin this. You all rock, you’re on the start line!

What to do: Write down all those training runs where you felt fantastic, where things went to plan, the tuning races that you did to get where you are, the friends you’ve made along your training journey. Have this front and foremost when you hit that start line.

 

What mental strategies do you use when running a marathon. We’d love for you to share them so do comment below and help others.  

 

 

 

 

South Downs Trail Run, Sunday 8th April

Work off that Easter chocolate frenzy this weekend with a beautiful off-road eight mile route from Rottingdean

This is a challenging but stunning route with as many lovely, recovery downhills as uphills to build your strength and endurance on hills (particularly beneficial for those of you joining us for the Girls Run the World get together at Angmering BlueBell Trail Races or the upcoming Snowdonia Maverick Race in September.

The hardship will be rewarded with stunning views, gambolling baby lambs and a route that overlooks Breaky Bottom vineyard (who produce some delicious sparkling wine!) before heading down through Saltdean and along the cliff for a stunning sea side finish.

Will it be 8 miles, or will you add some more at the end to really fire up your face finish for the Bluebell 10 mile trail race? Remember that dastardly hill? Whether you’re taking part in the event or just joining us for the runs, this is a beautiful run that takes in Downs, sea and even a glimpse of Breaky Bottom vineyards!

Location: bottom of Bazehill Road, Rottingdean here/ Parking free.

Footwear: Road shoes will be OK but trail shoes are preferable!

The run is open to all as long as you are regularly running this kind of distance. This is our LAST run before the BlueBell Trail Race. Summer Season starts Sunday 29th April when we drop distance again.

Book online under weekend runs. Lift share via our Girls Run the World Brighton and Hove Facebook group. 

GRTW Recipes for Foodie Runners: Lemon & Turmeric rice

In celebration of Spring and the carpet of daffodils springing up, a delicious lemon and turmeric flavoured rice that you can serve with  meat, fish or a falafel …

 

Serves 4–6
400g basmati rice
3 tbsp vegetable or corn oil
1 tbsp mustard seeds
1 tbsp chana dhal (split yellow chickpeas)
20 fresh curry leaves (you can get these frozen from most Asian grocers)
2 tsp ground turmeric
1½ tsp salt
Juice of 3 lemons

Wash the rice in and then leave it to soak in more clean, cold water. Drain. (To be fair, it’s rare that I have time to do this!). Bring 1 litre of water to the boil in a saucepan and add the rice. Cook uncovered, for 8–10 minutes, until the grains are tender, then drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large pan, add the mustard seeds and chana dhal and let them crackle. When the dhal and lentils start to turn golden, add the curry leaves and turmeric, and stir for 1 minute. You could need to sprinkle in water to prevent the turmeric burning. Add the cooked rice, salt and lemon juice and toss gently and serve.

With turmeric, renowned for it’s anti-inflammatory properties will also help you to fuel the night before an endurance run.

How was your Easter weekend of running?

So, how did you run off the chocolate eggs this Easter? 

From special Good Friday runs like the Easter Victoria Park 10km in London to the numerous Bank Holiday Monday events, there were lots of opportunities to enjoy some shorter distances runs this weekend. Frustrating though for all the marathon runners out there… you get FOUR days to fit a long run in and you’re on your taper!

This was my last weekend taking it easy before my training kicks into a more intense phase for Half Ironman triathlon training and a strength phase for some autumn mountain races, including the Girls Run the World Get Together event in Snowdonia, September 29th (read our newsletter in your inbox for details – or sign up for the newsletter via our front page).

My usual weekly running regime involves five or six runs per week, including a long run, tempo,interval or hill and some easy runs. But I’ve had to take a step back while I rehabbed a tight calf – and at the beginning of the year, a kickboxing injury (don’t ask…I forgot that I was 46 for a minute not 18!).

Injury or niggles can drive you mad but they can also be an opportunity, the chance to try something different and learn a new skill. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post about what to do when you’re injured but need/want to stay in running shape, what you replace it with should be something that creates the same or as similar a physiological effect as running has on your body…and gives you that same mental buzz!

And this weekend, that was road bike track race training for me. In pairs, we set off with a time handicap between teams, the goal to catch the people in front and avoid capture from those behind. Has anyone ever tried it? It’s brilliant, all the fun and challenge of interval running but without that stress on the part of your body that you’re rehabbing.

The other thing about not running and returning to it, is that it reminds you once again of just how fantastic running is, how it makes you feel to just get out and run. And through a daffodil strewn wood on Easter Sunday, empty but a lone mountain biker, that’s just what I did.

How was your Easter weekend of running?

 

 

Event Review: London Landmarks Half Marathon

Last weekend Sabiene North, 39, took part in the inaugural London Landmarks Half Marathon, an opportunity to experience the atmosphere and sights of running in London without having to do a full marathon and with added entertainment en-route

 

Picture credit: Joel Ford

 

We travelled from Oxford on the morning of the race just when the clocks went forward so it was an early start but as soon as we got off the bus and started walking towards the race village around the corner from Trafalgar Square, we were so excited.

The atmosphere was fantastic with thousands of runners, most wearing charity running tops or the yellow LLHM event t-shirts that had been sent to us in our race pack.It was a wave start, meaning that runners went off at different times according to their predicted times, and so we jogged in line to warm up as the waves of runners moved forward.

 

I’m a relatively new runner, having lost over six stone since I first started running 18 months ago, and the London Landmarks Half Marathon was only my fourth race. But I was impressed that the start pens didn’t make me feel hemmed in and we didn’t have to queue for ages to start running, although there was entertainment all along the start funnel from cheerleaders to Pearly Kings and Queens to keep you entertained, which turned out to be only a taste of what was to come.

There was entertainment at every turn, from dance acts to brass bands, Samba to choirs although the best support came from the charity volunteer stations. I’ve never experienced such support at a race before, with everyone clapping and cheering. And if that wasn’t enough, there were nine London themed areas to run through, from Harry Potter Party to a Suffragist Pageant and at each mile marker, a snippet of history.

The landmarks the route covered where amazing, which is one of the reasons I signed up to this race; when else would I get the opportunity to run on closed roads past St. Pauls Cathedral, the Bank of England, Monument and the Great Tower of London?  The downside, was this meant the route was quite winding, and double backed on itself. As I turned the corner to run the final stretch, I could see the finish line in sight just outside Downing Street and I gave it a final push to race across the line where I was handed my medal by one of the volunteers who were all dressed in fancy dress as historical figures including Kings and Queens of England. As for the medal itself, it’s now my favourite as it opens like a locket.

Despite stopping for selfies, I managed to get a new PB by 3 seconds – I loved the event, which was well organised, had lots of entertainment and a fantastic atmosphere!

The Event in Brief: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

The Good

  • Fantastic entertainment, landmarks and a great race medal which opens like a locket.

 

The Bad

  • Not enough toilets, as usual with ridiculously long queues

The Ugly

  • The clocks went forward on the day, which meant for a very early start!

Race Bag Haul: Haul or Hoard?

Verdict: Hoard

  • Clear yellow LLHM tie string bag for baggage drop
  • LLHM race T-shirt
  • Fab medal
  • Bottle of water & Lucozade
  • High Protein bar
  • LLMH sweat band with zip

Pre register for next years race 24th March 2019 https://www.llhm.co.uk/pre-register

Words & pictures: Sabiene North

Marathon Mastery Series: The Taper

Are you having the terror tapers? Join the other millions of women who are more than likely feeling exactly the same. Here’s how to handle the marathon taper and figure out what is worth being disciplined about and what you should put down to complete maranoia…

How to get to the end of the rainbow of your taper period

I feel so lardy and out of shape. I’m losing all my fitness. Argh.

As long as you haven’t just stopped running completely as part of your taper, you will NOT be getting out of shape. While volume should be decreased (and how much you should decrease mileage varies according to what level of runner you are) , you should be keeping up your fast, speed and tempo work if that is the intensity that you are used to.

If you run at a certain pace for your threshold or sessions, continue to do so. Your legs are used to running now and this turnover helps to keep your muscles tuned and primed for the marathon. Don’t be come one of those runners who suddenly feels like they need to sit on the sofa and NOT move.

However, you can be doing ALL of those things and still be feeling like you’ve just eaten the Christmas dinner. This can simply be a result of a drop in mileage for your long runs but that you’re still eating the same as if you’d run that long. It’s normal, don’t sweat it.

Oh my god, running at even my slowest pace feels hard. How am I going to run marathon pace for 26.2 miles?

We’ve ALL felt this one. When you’re one to three weeks out from your marathon goal, which you’ve been training towards for up to 20 weeks, you can still wonder how you’re EVER going to run at the pace you’ve been training for; it can seem impossible, particularly when even your easy runs now feel hard.

Why do they feel hard? I’m of the view that mentally, you spend so long looking forward to the taper, expecting to suddenly feel full of life as if you could race Jessica Ennis that when it doesn’t, it seems extra hard.

However, on race day, if you’ve done your training and completed tempo sessions and long runs with some of it at  marathon pace, the magic just happens. It feels like magic because even 15 minutes after you cross the finish line having achieved your goal, you find yourself wondering how you ever managed to run at the pace you’ve just achieved.

I missed one long training run. Surely it would be better to just do one last long run?

No, it really wouldn’t. Your legs need the chance to recover…hell, mentally you need time to recharge and be prepared for the battle ahead (and marathons are amazing, but be clear, you do need to face a mental battle). Running for the sake of getting that one last run in, is far more likely to leave you exhausted, or worse injured, come marathon day. Stick to the taper plan.

 So, tapering means I can start going out and forget about running for a bit. Hurrah!  

On the flip side, tapering does NOT mean simply sitting on the sofa and scoffing pasta and cake three weeks before the marathon or that you simply can’t run at all. Keeping up the frequency of your runs, even if they are shorter will help prevent you feeling sluggish and getting antsy, particularly when you are so used to the mood boosting hormones that come with running.

 

 

 

 

The Strava Chronicles

 

A recent article in The Times by Peta Bee highlighted the rise of online virtual training apps like Strava. 

Love it or loathe it (and she was on the fence due to being confronted when meeting her virtual followers in real life – read the article here), being on Strava creates some funny behaviour. Do you recognise yourself in any of these…? I certainly do, I’m embarrassed to say…

The one where you spell out every bit of your training regime 

No, not come across this? Or perhaps you don’t even know what it means and you think it is some kind of secret morse code. It will read something like; WU, 2m@HMP, 2m@MP x 3, WD. And that’s just a simplified version.

I’ve done it, others have done it. Why? It helps you to keep track of your training diary so that when you scroll back through your activities, you can see what pace you were hitting and what training you did. But it could equally be seen as showing off about your running know-how.

Which is silly because let’s face it, none of us on Strava are Paula Radcliffe…erm, although I do hear that Jo Pavey is on Strava.

Run with RP

The secret runner…this is the one where someone keeps their running companion a secret. Is it because someone couldn’t make the effort to write out their companion’s full name (although why bother to write at all?) or that they want to keep their running partner secret?

Perhaps they’re having an affair, or they want their other running friends to know about someone new they’re running with? Maybe it’s a new boyfriend? Or maybe it’s totally innocent and we should all have something better to do than wondering who it is?

Easy run with the kids

The one where you want to make sure your followers don’t think you’ve run really slowly, more slower than you’ve ver done before. Fair enough if you really have run with the kids. Not so cool if you actually ran by yourself and you just wanted to go on a slower run but couldn’t bear not posting it because you’d miss out on your Strava monthly miles target.

Felt awful, feeling sick, last mile my leg hurt. Then my head fell off. And I lost my running shoe.

The traumatised runner…this is the one where a runner explains in minute detail every feeling and niggle that occurred on a training run. Usually written just after a long training run when someone is still so internally focused, they don’t quite realise how much they’ve just shared via Strava because they’re still reeling – and glycogen deprived – from the run.

Sun run, feeling fine. OR, Running off the work headache. Stress. Feel like I could punch someone.

The confessional runner where someone inadvertently (or perhaps not?) shares a little too much information about what’s going in their life in general.

 

Despite all of this, we are BIG fans of Strava at Girls Run the World as a training app. It helps you to set challenges, connect with others, keeps track of your training and even gives you ideas about how to train by following other people.

Our community is small, around 3000 around the UK with a few outpost in the US and Australia but we’re growing all the time.  By joining our club on Strava, we’re creating a network of GRTW runners which means that maybe next time you’re travelling to New York, Sydney or Mumbai, there might be another GRTW local runner who could show you her city. 

Join Girls Run the World on Strava here. And if you’re worried about privacy settings, here’s a little video about how you can create privacy zones. Click here

Documentary: Skid Row marathon

If you’re a runner, you know how transformative running is; it can change your mood in all the time that it takes to run for 20 minutes. And with each goal you achieve, whether a personal best or a new distance target, your confidence to believe you are capable of achieving more encourages you to challenge yourself to be a better you in all areas of your life.

If it needed any more proof, this is illustrated by Skid Row Marathon, a new documentary that has won a slew of US film awards and launches in the UK on London Marathon weekend.

It tells the true story of a group of runners, former homeless and drug users from LA’s Skid Row, who are trained over a period of four years by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Craig Mitchell to run a marathon.

If club members refrain from drug abuse, and stay off the streets and out of prison, the judge will them round the world to run marathons. If you’re training for a marathon or any race, you probably appreciate just how much the effect of having that discipline of getting out and training has on your life, add to that the friendship groups that you make when you run, and you can probably already get a taste of how transformative the project ends up being.

The documentary screens on London Marathon weekend at 02 Cineworld and Everyman Canary Wharf, followed by general release. For more details, visit www.skidrowmarathontickets.co.uk

Twitter: @skidrowmarathon
@skidrowmarathon

 

GRTW Easter South Downs Sunday Trail Run

Escape the family melee and build up an appetite (or, ahem, create a calorie deficit to make up for those Easter eggs) this Sunday April 1st.

We have a beautiful seven mile route planned that will take in all the deans, Rottingdean, Woodingdean and Ovingdean, exploring the South Downs in Spring.

Expect lambs, daffodils and a beautiful run that will incorporate some hills for those of our runners who are training for our Get Together Events, the sold out Angmering Trail Run 10km or 10 miles.

But if you’re NOT training for anything and simply fancy exploring a new route, join us and PAYG by booking online, £10 per run.

We have one more run as part of our Spring Series before our Summer Trail Series kicks in on Sunday 29th April and runs for 9 weeks. You can save 50% off single session runs by booking the full course for £45.

For details of locations/mileage you can visit our schedule here.

All runs start at 8.30am.