#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.

How was your weekend running?

Date: 20-22nd July

We’ve never had a summer quite so hot, although one way to steer clear of the heat this weekend was to take part in the Lunar-tic Marathon River Marathon which ran through the night. But we thought it was the perfect conditions for our inaugural GRTW Run Wild trail and yoga retreat. How did you fare this weekend in training or racing?

 


 

Over the weekend, we spoke to lots of runners at our GRTW Trail and Yoga retreat and opinion is evenly split – some people love warm summer running, others much prefer the cooler conditions of autumn or winter.  Whatever the case, a little nifty trick for you – put your running vest in the freeze for 15 minutes before you go out…it will keep you cooler for a little while.

On our trail weekend, we kept our runs to the early morning or late afternoon with a route through Houghton woods for one of the steamiest runs of the weekend on the Sunday. And even on those hotter, hillier runs the reward was stunning views and a delicious breeze on the way back to base. And of course, nothing feels quite as good as yoga after a run, particularly outdoors in the shade.

Elsewhere this weekend, was the Lunar-tic Marathon, a 3 lap night trail along the River Adur, the perfect antidote to the day’s heat and perfect conditions.

We’d love to hear where you trained or raced over the weekend, particularly further afield in Scotland, Wales or further north. Let us know.

 

Vegan Curry

This delicious curry is SUPER quick to make and it’s also raw! Which means it’s perfect for these hot running conditions, while also being really tasty…

Ingredients

2 avocados, 2 lemons, juiced, 2 tbsp sesame oil, 2 tbsp curry powder, 4 carrots, 1 apple, 3oz green beans, 1 red onion, 2 stalks celery, 1 red pepper, 2oz pine nuts, 1oz raisins.

Method

Blend avocado, lemon, sesame oil and curry to a cream in a food processor. Meanwhile, grate carrot and apple, fine slice green beans, onion, celery and red pepper. Add remaining ingredients, stir and serve.

How was your weekend running?

The weekend just passed had us thinking a lot about motivation and will power to push through when training or racing gets tough…

Perhaps this was partly due to my taking on Grafman, a Half Ironman event, which comprises a 1.8km open water swim, followed by a 56 mile bike ride and rounded off by a half marathon at the end. But it was also because it was a weekend of running events that require a lot of mental reserve, such as the Night of the 10km PBs and the North Downs Way 50.

Fittingly enough, the Girls Run the World ultra distance coach, Sarah Sawyer, took home first place this year at the North Downs Way 50 (for coaching advice and mentoring with Sarah, email info@girlsruntheworld.co.uk) and another reason my focus was on mental strategies due to a podcast that I did with her last Friday. After all, who better to ask about mental strategies than a woman who came first in the Crawley 24 Hour Track Race a few months ago, running 127.8 miles in 24 hours around a 400 metre track?

You can listen to the podcast later this week, but what was most interesting about our chat is that Sarah didn’t say ANY of the usual things when it comes to mental strategies. Instead of counting, music or mantras, her main approach is grounded in the fact that she loves running and whenever anything gets tough, she reminds herself of how lucky she is to be running. That and switching up her events so that her ‘journey’ to that final event destination goal stays interesting and enjoyable seem to be her main strategies for staying strong.  At the beginning of this year, she focused on the 24 hour track race, then she switched from flat running to the hills to take on the North Downs 50, which leads her on to the Global Limits 200km Stage Race.

So, when I was running my final six miles of my Half Ironman this weekend, with the sun belting down, I reminded myself that ultimately, I choose to do this, as we all do. At any time, any one of us can say, ‘That’s it, I don’t want to do this any more,’ and stop.

We take part and participate because we enjoy the challenge, the camaraderie and the sense of achievement. And if we remember this, that when we train and it feels tough on a tempo run, or a long run when we’re just not feeling it, try to shift your thinking to accept that that discomfort is simply part of your end goal, making you stronger, and helping you to get to the fantastic end feeling of achievement. If it wasn’t challenging, none of us would feel quite so good at the end of it. Besides, it makes the celebratory beer feel even more amazing.

We’d love to hear about your weekend racing and any strategies you use when the going gets tough. Comment below.

GRTW Recipes for Foodie Runners: Ricotta Pancakes

We don’t know about you, but we often fantasise about what we’re going to enjoy eating during a long run. And so after we tried a version of these at Ott0lenghi one weekend, we had to give them a go ourselves. They’re delicious, and make for a perfect post run brunch at the weekend…

Ingredients 

1 cup ricotta cheese

1 cup plain flour*

1/2 tsp baking powder

1  tbsp caster sugar

3/4 cup of milk or non-diary substitute

2 large eggs, separated

2 tsp cinnamon

Butter for cooking

*for an added protein kick, replace the flour with almond flour although it will make for a denser, less fluffy pancake.

Method

Combine, flour, baking powder, sugar and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, whisk ricotta, milk and the yolks of the eggs.  Combine with the dry ingredients and add the egg until it forms a smooth mixture. It should be a thick batter so if need be, add more milk. Meanwhile, beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Gently fold into the mixture.

In a hot buttered grill pan, drop two ladles of the mixture into a hot pan. Turn the heat down and wait until you begin to see the edges brown and little bubbles appear on the surface. Now flip over. Cook until golden both sides, put to one side in a heated oven until all the mixture is done.

Serve with fruit salad, Greek yoghurt and a drizzle of maple syrup. Sit down, devour!

The best thing about these pancakes is, if you make too many, you can keep them and eat them the next day as snacks.

 

 

 

 

Explore the South Downs Trail Run, Sunday 13 May

Whether you’re a visitor to the area and fancy a trail run or you’re a local looking to explore or build your miles, join us this Sunday for a beautiful off-road run starting at Hove Park

This route starts at the park but immediately takes an off-road route until we arrive at Waterhall Mill.  Built in 1885 by James Holloway, it worked until 1924 and was used in World War II as a lookout post. It was finally converted into a house in 1963.

Here, we’ll leave those runners who would prefer to do four miles to return via the way they came on their own steam. Those who would like to do 8 miles can continue with us up on the South Downs Way, before joining the Sussex Border Path and returning to Hove Park.

If the weather is nice, a 10 minute al fresco yoga session to finish the Sunday run leaving you feeling strong and supple.

Book via our booking page, £10 or £45 for the entire 8 remaining runs. 

Location and details can be found here

How was your weekend running?

Running can get you fit, help you meet new people and explore the world. But as #milesformatt has shown, it also has the power to do a whole lot of good and drive positive change and action…

Matt, right, with his father Martin and brother, Josh

Looking at our Strava club, this weekend was not about races or parkruns (although there were a fair few of those around too) but about running 3.7 miles in memory of the 2017 Masterchef finalist, Matt Campbell who collapsed 3.7 miles before the end of the finish line at last weekend’s London Marathon.

What most people already knew about the 29- year old from the TV show, was that he was a likeable and extremely talented chef and that he’d sadly lost his father, suddenly and unexpectedly in 2016. But then The Brathy Trust, a charity who work to help inspire disadvantaged children and whom Matt had been helping raise money for, released a press release.

It revealed that Matt was not only a fantastic chef and runner (he’d run the Manchester marathon two weeks before in under three hours) but a pretty amazing human being full stop, setting up the Martin Campbell Memorial Fund in memory of his father, which had raised £14,000 to help young people with mental health problems.  He’d been planning to run his third marathon, the Windermere Marathon next month to raise even more money.

So far, £250,000 has been raised in his memory but runners across the UK and beyond running the last 3.7 miles of his marathon. It doesn’t change the fact that a young man has lost his life, tragically leaving behind a family who will miss him terribly. But if anything positive can be drawn from this, it is the power of a running community coming together virtually.

 

 

 

South Downs Trail Run, Sunday 29th April

If you’ve been hibernating or pounding out the miles for marathon training, NOW is the time to get out and enjoy the beauty of the trails in early summer…

This week is the start of our Summer Trail Series in Brighton, £45 for the entire series which runs to the end of June or you can drop in per session to suit.

We have two distances, a shorter one for those who simply want to build their endurance and start running on trails but for fun, and a longer distance that will build week by week for those who are joining us in training for the Bewl 15, July 1st.

This week’s run meets at Ditchling Beacon for a beautiful run along the top of the ridge before heading down for a loop past a local farm and back to the return. The total distance on the start of this season is six miles but it is also open as a four mile route, with runners being able to turn and return on their own should they wish.

Get fit, meet new runners, explore new trails. It is the BEST time to be on the Downs.

For details of the full season, click here. To book visit our booking page and choose the full series or book per run. 

Plus don’t miss our once a month Running Adventures, starting in May. Details coming soon. If you’re not in our Brighton and Hove Facebook group, don’t forget to join. 

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

Congratulations to our Runuary Competition winners

During our 2018 Girls Run the World® Runuary Challenge, over 500 women across the globe participated in running a tiny bit every day of January to help boost their own health, fitness and well being and to help inspire and encourage others. We also ran several competitions that were only open to those who registered for the event. Here are the winners – congratulations girls!

There were so many brilliant entries to our prize to win a running jacket and run leggings with Sundried. We asked people to share why they loved running but we thought the best was from Helen Monk, whose instragram picture and reason why she loved running summed it up. Congratulations Helen (or Molly as she is on her IG!)

 

 

And we are awarding Fi Thomson a three month subscription to The Protein Ball Co.  for her posts which best sum up the ethos of support, inspiration and motivation through GRTW community, #bettertogether. And quite frankly, because her posts were so damn funny! (And yes, they really did create a Strava route in the shape of boobs!)