LONDON MARATHON TRAINING BLOG
Keep track of Cathy and Mollie’s progress as they prepare themselves for the 2020 Virgin Money London Marathon! With just four months until the big event, they both have some serious training to get stuck into.
We'll be following them along the way and posting snippets of their training journey’s, right up to the race itself.
If you're training for a marathon or just keen to build up your running distance, bookmark this blog and keep your eyes peeled for the first instalment!
Cathy Hanson’s Training Blog - 09/04
My strength is finally back and I’m really enjoying my ‘lockdown runs’. It is a good chance to get out of the house, get some air and it feels safer than walking as I am far away from people.
As the sun is getting hotter, and I feel London has really been turned up a few degrees, I am finding I am having to run first thing in the morning or last thing in the evening to avoid the main heat of the day. I am now always bringing water on my runs to ensure I stay hydrated and don’t get heat exhaustion.
This week, I am going to run 20 miles in total. I am hoping to build myself back up to be able to run 25 miles each week in total, hopefully by the end of April.
My goal this week is to re do my marathon training plan to give me some motivation for the coming months!
Cathy Hanson’s Training Blog - 31/03
Back to Basics
On one hand it feels like a very strange time to be thinking about running, however on the other it is really the best time. With new UK laws saying individuals are only allowed out once a day for exercise, I am certainly trying to use 5/7 of my days in the week to run.
Due to my respiratory infection, I did unfortunately have to halt my running for a week. It was very frustrating as I wanted to get outside and run however I knew this wouldn't help my recovery.
With all gyms in the UK now being closed I am finding home workouts to be very productive and supportive for my running. I normally like to spin, as many of you who read my blog regularly will know, but I am having to find different ways to exercise. I am also now fully working from home so it does mean running during the day is a lot easier for me and I am starting to really enjoy my home workouts which vary from strength training to HIIT sessions.
I have taken my running back to basics. Last week I ran a total of 16 miles, which consisted of a couple of 3 mile runs, 4 mile and a 6 mile run. My pace has slowed down as my asthma has been bad as a result of my chest infection however I can slowly feel my strength building up and today I ran my fastest 3 mile run route for the first time in 3 weeks!
I hope to be back up to some slightly longer miles in the next few weeks! On a plus, the weather has been lovely this week and I was able to run in shorts for the first time in 2020. Lets hope this is the start of warmer days.
Cathy Hanson’s Training Blog - 18/03
Where to Start?
When initially receiving the news that the London Marathon was postponed, I was shocked even though I had been saying for weeks that this would be coming. I thought I would be ok about it – more time to train, I can take the pressure off a bit. However, I think I was still gutted given all the training and effort that went in over the winter months.
Nevertheless, I do think every cloud has a silver lining and I am trying to look on the positive side of this.
Currently, I am not able to run as I have a respiratory infection – not COVID-19 but I certainly need to take things easy for a few weeks. I am hoping to do some home workouts while being quarantined. Lots of gyms have taken to Instagram, providing their fitness sessions that can easily be done at home. I think it's important to maintain my level of fitness even when stuck inside, and of course listening to my body while I get over this infection.
When I can run again, I intend to pull things back a bit and almost start my training plan again. Obviously, I’ve been running some longer miles so it will be a bit easier than when I started in January however I will go back to a few 3/5 mile runs each week and then a slightly longer run at the weekends. I am currently working from home now as my office has closed and depending on this everchanging situation, it could be this way for some time. I fully intend to still go out and get some running in, it might even be easier now I am at home as my commute is normally 40 minutes each way, that means with this extra time, I can fit another run in!
I think my main concerns about the new date for the London Marathon is my social life. I find during winter people don’t tend to go out as much, after work drinks don’t happen as often and although its cold outside, as soon as you start running it gets warm quickly! I was gutted when first hearing the marathon would be in October as it means July and August (the hottest months!) will be my heavy training months. But it certainly doesn’t have to take over my life. I can schedule my longer runs around my plans – and if that needs to change, then I should do so in order to maintain a social life!
So, with the current pandemic, a fitness goal for October might be a good thing to get me outside in the fresh air during these uncertain times. Stay safe and keep running!
Mollie Little’s Training Blog - 02/03
After my exam was out of the way on Monday, (luckily with a pass!) I was back to focussing on running. I got caught in another torrential rain and wind storm on both my runs on Tuesday and Saturday, both with sunny intervals as well during the run. The weather is really crazy at the moment! We did the 10km Battersea route at run club, which was good preparation for pacing as I was running the Vitality Big Half at the weekend.
Luckily, the sun was shining on the day of the Big Half, but it made for a very cold start! My pacing was a little all over the place, as I was aiming for a PB and ended up running some parts too fast and some parts too slow. In the end Strava told me I got a PB, but my official time was a little slower. This half turns out to be exactly half way to the full marathon and covers some parts of the route of the London Marathon. I had been told that this is really good when you’re doing the actual marathon as you can recognise where you are. I found the last 5km or so particularly tough, but the crowds were really supportive and it was a great feeling running over Tower Bridge. Thank you very much to New Balance and Runners Need for my place in the Big Half and bring on the next 8 weeks of training!
Mollie Little’s Training Blog - 24/02
The weather has been getting me down lately, but newly inspired by the Run Club route last week, I started off the week’s training by repeating the Northcote Hills, which was an enjoyable session. On Wednesday, we did the Clapham Common 5km route at the run club, which I took at a fairly good pace. Then for my slightly longer run of the week, I ran 11.5km to work on Thursday. Again the weather was quite awful, but I have definitely felt my fitness improve since I previously tried running before work, as I wasn’t nearly as drained all day.
Unfortunately, with poor weather once again at the weekend – including my local park run being cancelled for the second weekend in a row, I didn’t manage a long run at all this week. Additionally, I was revising all weekend for an important exam at work and this really took priority. Although I know that getting out and having break will improve productivity, I was really cramming in the revision. I am a little disappointed in myself that I haven’t done a long run for two weekends and am mildly worried that I haven’t yet ran much further than a half marathon. But I will step it up once the exam is out of the way, and the days are already getting longer, which is a nice feeling.
Mollie Little’s Training Blog - 18/02
I postponed my long run further still from the weekend, and decided to run it on Tuesday. This was a good decision as the wind and rain had finally abated by the time I got out. The distance I needed to run was a half marathon. Even though I had a busy day at work, once I got going, I was feeling really good and I kept up a consistent pace. I ended up running a half marathon PB, which was very unexpected!
I was a little sore from my efforts but I still managed to get myself to Runners Need Run Club on Wednesday night, where we took on the Northcote Hills. Even though I have been going to the run club for some time now, this route was new to me. We ran up and down ten hills off Northcote Road and, although tough, I really enjoyed this session. My marathon training plan includes some hill sessions and I have been lacking in inspiration for where to do these but now I have found the place!
On Thursday, I did another fairly long run of just under 18km. I had a lot of miles under my belt mid-week, but by the weekend my glutes and piriformis muscles had got really tight. I must admit I am not very dedicated to stretching after a run, and this is something I really need to improve on to aid my recovery. As a result of this and the awful weather, I didn’t do a long run for the second weekend in a row. On Saturday, I tried out hot yoga for the first time, as I thought this might help to stretch out my sore legs. It was probably the sweatiest I have ever been, but really enjoyable and I would definitely go again. On Sunday, I continued the cross training with a 2500m swim. Hopefully I will now be well rested and re-energised for the week ahead.
Cathy Hanson’s Training Blog - 12/02
The last few weeks have been pretty hectic. I am starting a new job at the start of March so lots of changes to life in general, which of course will affect my running schedule. I’m feeling very tired and nervous for my bout of long runs that are coming up in the next few weeks, however trying to maintain a routine and continuing with my training.
With the fairly extreme weather it makes running so much harder. It feels like every step forward I make on my run, the wind pushes me back 5! I have had to alter some of my runs to fit in with my new job and to try and avoid the stormy weather. Run Club is something I continue to go to, no matter what the weather or changes to my personal life. It is something that I now have stuck in my week and the self guilt I get for not going is just not worth skipping!
I have my 2nd 13 mile run this weekend which I’m nervous for as it is the first of 4 big runs. I hope to do a 13, 16, 20 and 22 before the marathon. I know once the 13 is done I’ll be in the swing of it and hopefully be feeling very motivated. I fully intend to hit a wall and not be able to run one of these 4! I think it’s natural for this to happen and I’d rather it happen during training rather than on marathon day.
So I’m rolling with the changes to my life and running plan, trying to keep motivated and stay focused on my final distance.
Mollie Little’s Training Blog - 09/02
Week 5 saw my mid-week runs step up in distance, with two 10km runs and a 13.5km run. I tried out my new trainers from New Balance – the 860 V10 and I really liked them. I initially tried them out on a 10km run to break them in, but they felt so comfortable immediately that I wore them all week. On Saturday, I did Tooting Common park run. This was a minor mistake, as I had planned to do my long run (another half marathon distance) on Sunday. However, the severe weather warnings and 60mph winds put paid to this plan. So, I substituted this with a yoga class instead in the warm and dry. I am planning on running my long run home from work on Monday, although I am not exactly looking forward to it after a long day at work and the weather still looks awful.
This week I have been feeling a bit down and running is something I always find helps me when I am feeling like this. I tend to overthink things a lot, and I find getting out and running really gives me space to think. Some of my friends have been asking me recently, if I get bored running for such a long time on these training runs, but the answer is actually no. I haven’t experimented with podcasts whilst running yet, I have three different playlists which I have been alternating and even when I am listening to music, I still feel like I am able to sort out my thoughts as I run.
I have been feeling pretty tired as training for the marathon has been a really big step up in my exercise levels. I have been going to bed at 10pm most nights and getting a full 9 hours sleep but I still feel knackered! This week I started taking iron supplements, which did help me feel better. My cousin who has run two marathons recommended magnesium supplements which are supposed to help your muscles recover and reduce tiredness, so I am going to buy some of those this week. I think these will be needed as the training load looks pretty heavy for the week to come.
Cathy Hanson’s Training Blog - 05/02
Running With Others
Now January is finally over, I feel that my runners January blues have lifted and I’m excited to get into the full swing of my training programme. It’s pretty daunting thinking about some of the long practice runs I have coming up but I keep picturing the actual day of the marathon to help me through.
Personally, something I find that keeps me really motivated is running alongside someone. Don’t get me wrong, training for a marathon, I have very few friends who would be willing to go on a casual 20 mile run on a Saturday morning! I find splitting my runs by the week and who I can run with is a big help.
For example, I try and run on a Monday evening, 7-10 miles with my boyfriend. Wednesday day I like to spin with my work colleagues, in the evening is Run Club with Runners Need where we will run 3-8 miles. Then Saturdays are normally a longer run by myself. With this schedule, I only have to run once by myself! I find I don’t give up on my runs as I wouldn’t just be letting myself down, but also the others I’m running with.
So far, this is working! I am doing my weekly runs and actually enjoying it. It’s a chance to catch up with people and get my miles in. I find setting myself weekly goals is far easier than focusing on the scary 26 miles to come!
Mollie Little’s Training Blog - 02/02
I have just reached the end of week 4 of my training, which means a quarter of the way to the marathon! I managed to balance this week quite well though, as I went to the theatre with my mum on Monday so I gave myself a day off. During my mid-week runs, I have been doing some work to try and get my pace up, for instance on Thursday I did 3x6 mins fast, with 2 minutes slow recovery in between. I have really felt this help my pace overall and so I am going to continue with these. From now on the mid-week runs are getting progressively longer, so recovery is starting to become really important. I ran 55km this week, finishing with a 15-mile-long run on Sunday, which is the furthest I have ever run so far. I took a route through Battersea Park, Hyde Park, past Buckingham Palace and Horse Guards parade. It was busy in some places but an enjoyable route. The inspiration I actually took from one of my fellow runners at Runners Need Run Club who I follow on Strava.
On Saturday, I also received my new kit from New Balance and Runners Need, which was really exciting! I can’t wait to try this out next week! Watch this space for a picture of me wearing it!
Mollie Little’s Training Blog - 26/01
This week of training went pretty smoothly. I got 5 training runs in, totalling 53.4km this week. I can really feel my fitness improving, and each run feels a lot easier than that first week of training and I have improved the pace of my runs. I am conscious however of not pushing myself too hard. For my long run I ran 13 miles from Richmond to Battersea along the river. I was running alone and got a little competitive with myself. I ran about 25 seconds faster per kilometre than on the long run last week, but it felt good and I managed to maintain a pretty even pace throughout. I tried out a SIS energy gel for the first time on this run, as my aim for this week was to improve my nutrition. I liked the taste but I wasn’t a huge fan of the consistency, however I could feel the difference in helping to keep my energy up. When I did my first half marathon in Bristol, they gave out free Clif bloks, which are similar but come in a chewable form rather than a gel. They sell these at Runners Need and I am going to try them out on my next long run, as I liked them when I tried them before.
Next week the long run is 15 miles, which will be the furthest I have ever run before, and the mid-week runs are getting longer too! I am just hoping that the arctic cyclone delivering a foot of snow that has been predicted by the met office does not happen! As I have no idea how I will keep up my training if it does!
Mollie Little’s Training Blog - 19/01
This week got off to a bit of a tough start. Not due to my legs, but due to the awful weather! It was incredibly windy and rainy on Monday night, but I actually didn’t find that run too bad since I was using my new Nike running jacket from Runners Need. On Tuesday, I decided to try out getting my run in before work. I commute out of London, so I got off the train a few stops early in order to get 5 miles in. The problem with experimenting with new routes is that you never quite know how they’re going to turn out. This one started on the road, then went through a park, which I thought was a nice variation. However, it all went wrong when the path I was taking turned into a dirt track. Because it had been raining so much the night before, the path was so muddy and slippery, it felt like I was ice skating. I was particularly disappointed as this run was supposed to be a 5 miler with the middle 3 miles at 5km pace. But I just couldn’t move! My pace slowed right down and I was doing all I could not to slip right over. As you can imagine, I was pretty pleased when I finally made it to work. I was actually glad to get the run over and done with in the morning though, as the wind and rain only seemed to get worse throughout the day.
I had a particularly busy two days at work mid-week, which meant I just didn’t have the time or energy to run on Wednesday or Thursday. I work in a hospital, which means I am on my feet for the majority of the day and these two days were particularly tiring. I am a bit overly keen on planning and I was annoyed with myself for not having been able to stick to my training plan already, with it only being week 2! I considered running to work again on Friday – which is supposed to be my planned rest day, but having stayed almost 3 hours late at work on Thursday, I just couldn’t face it when I woke up.
This tough week at work was probably a blessing in disguise really, as it gave my legs a rest from the shock of my first week of training. So, by the long run on Saturday, my legs were feeling good. I ran with my cousin Alex and her friend Dave. We started off at Clapham Common Park Run – which was the busiest park run I have ever seen! It was also incredibly muddy, which led to quite a bottleneck in places, but I was happy with the slow pace (much slower than I would usually do park run) because I knew we still had another 13km to do afterwards to make the distance up to 11 miles. It was really nice running with other people and we kept just the right pace to not feel too tired. It was only the last 2km that I found particularly tough.
Again, I considered trying to make up for my missed runs on Sunday, but I decided to listen to my body and do a yoga class to stretch out on Sunday. Hopefully things will go a little more to plan next week. I think I need to focus more on my nutrition, particularly as my job is very active so that is something that I am going to concentrate more on next week.
Mollie Little’s Training Blog - 02/01
This Is My First Marathon
This is my first marathon and the first time I have entered the ballot for the London Marathon, and I got a place! So, I feel very lucky.
I have spent my time off over Christmas devising my training plan and my first training run is just a week away. I am using a 16-week template from Runners World for intermediate runners looking to finish between 3:30-4:30.
I have also used Runners Need and Runners World to work out the pace that each of my training runs.
They have pages with all sorts of great running tips including nutrition and podcasts for running.
I am very excited to have recently bought a Garmin running watch, along with some wireless Bluetooth headphones. So, I am looking forward to using the Garmin to pace my training runs.
I also asked for a few pieces of kit for Christmas, all of which I found at Runners Need. These included leggings, a running jacket for that wet and windy weather and a water bottle to hydrate on my longer training runs.
I can't wait to try them out.
Watch this space for my first training run...!
I have just completed week 1 of marathon training, reaching a total of 43km. I only really started running properly in January last year, taking up park run with a friend, so I feel like I have come a long way since then.
It was difficult to motivate myself for the first run of the week as it was slightly rainy, but I always find that it’s much better than anticipated once you get going. On Wednesday I went to the Runners Need run club, where there were a lot of new faces due to New Year’s resolutions! We did the 5km route around Clapham Common and I ran there from my house in Balham in order to get a few more kilometres in. The run on Thursday was in torrential rain but the sun started to shine when I was almost home and I managed to spot a rainbow! My long run this week was 9 miles, so I ran the route from Runners Need to Battersea Park, but again added in a few extra kilometres by running from my house.
Despite using my new Garmin, I struggled this week with pacing myself. The pace I should be aiming for during my training runs feels particularly slow! So, on a few of them I ran a bit faster than I should have done, and particularly at the run club on Wednesday – I always find I run faster when I’m running with a group. My quads are quite sore now though and I am a little bit worried about injuring myself, so I am going to make a conscious effort to slow down a bit next week. And to stretch more! This evening I treated myself to a yoga class followed by a bath with Epsom salts and some deep heat on my legs, so I am hoping that will help me recover!
Next weekend I am going to run the long run which will be 11 miles with my cousin who is a seasoned London Marathoner, so I am looking forward to some company on that!
Cathy Hanson’s Training Blog - 01/01
Coming back to London after 2 weeks off for Christmas and to start properly training was a shock to the system. I spent the first week of January making excuses to miss the gym, running club and my planned runs. Not ideal when the marathon is approaching.
Something that really motivates me is planning so I can see how I can reach my end goal. So in my first week of January, where I achieved minimal things in terms of my training, I sat down and wrote myself a training plan. I looked online at some plans I could use, but the trouble is they all ‘tell’ me to run on a Tuesday (for example), but I don’t want to run on a Tuesday!! I worked out a plan based on the ones online to suit me. For example, I love to go to my run club at Runners Need every Wednesday, so I scheduled that in to my week.
Long story short, it worked! 2nd week of January and I’ve just about managed to pull myself back into my training plan. After the Christmas break it was hard mentally and physically to go on my runs and then push myself when training, but I am feeling much more positive about the next few months before the marathon.
So my advice for anyone looking to start running, get a bit fitter or to train for a run.. write a plan that works for you, it honestly works!
Time to Start?
It’s okay to sign up to a marathon when it’s nearly a year away. When it gets closer to training starting, it becomes more daunting. As a regular 3 - 6 mile runner, increasing my distance by over 20 miles feels impossible at this stage.
However, as daunting as it is, for whatever reason, people will sign up to run the 26 miles that make up the London Marathon.
So my journey starts today, the 1st of January 2020. I will put on my trainers on for what feels more serious than your average 6 mile run, and begin the journey.
Wish me luck!
Mastering your pace during a half marathon or marathon is a fine art that takes practise in training and discipline on race day. Experienced multi-distance racer and Runners Need Clapham Junction Manager Mark Speed explains how we can train for our target marathon time and maintain pacing: