So, I’m running the London Marathon.

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Yes, I have gone and done it. After not securing a place in the London Marathon Ballot I felt a sense of relief. Short lived mind you, as three days later I got a call from The Willow Foundation congratulating me, as I had been selected for a charity place!

26.219 miles, 42.195 kilometers, 385 yards. Double the distance I have ever run, four times the distance of a 10K race. I had never felt such a sense of panic in my life.

I have to keep telling myself every single day “I’m going to run the London Marathon” in the hope that it will eventually sink in.

As soon as I found out the news I put myself to training straight away in the hope to get a head start and to ensure that when the intense schedule kicks in in the New Year I will be more prepared physically and mentally.

In the last two weeks alone I have covered 28 miles with my training buddy Jo. Safe to say the transition back into running has not been in easy. Combining this with my normal boot camp sessions and spinning classes has left my legs feeling tight, heavy and I am generally feeling more fatigued than usual. So much so, that after an evening run this week, we finished with some hot tub down time at a local hotel (and a glass of wine of course).

The past few weeks has proven I need to make significant changes to my training programme and diet. I can no longer go to a early morning spinning session and then go on to an evening boot camp class. The energy is simply not there and It will contribute to my fatigue. So with this in mind, come the New Year I am freezing my Regiment Fitness membership in order for me to be more focused and increase my running strength. I will combine the long and short runs with spinning sessions a couple of times a week to mix up the training. The decision to freeze my membership has been a tough one, especially as it is so much more than a fitness class for me. But needs must. All those I have met through Regiment Fitness have been so supportive since I signed up to the London Marathon – and will still be there when I return from my four month hiatus.

Over the coming months I will be sure to increase the time I spend in the hot tub (due to the lack of bath in our household), perhaps even signing up for a temporary membership so I can come and go as I please. I will also be looking at investing more time in massages. As the miles increase, so will the damage to the muscles in my legs. So I will need to incorporate these into the schedule to help repair and lessen the tightness I will begin to feel.

Diet! I need to eat more! This does not mean eat everything in sight. But to make a concerning effort to eat small portions of food regularly throughout the day – something I am terrible at. Over the past weeks I have got better by ensuring I do batch cooking at the weekend. Preparing food for the week has helped me cut out the crap and means I have food instantly available after training.

The most concerning thing for me, other than covering hundreds of miles and running the actual race, is energy sources for long runs and the day itself. I have had several bad experiences with energy gels in the past that have left me with a nasty taste. But I will need to either give them another chance (would rather not) or find an alternative source. Any suggestions?

So much to think about and so much to plan. This is going to be a challenge I build up to in baby steps. The key is planning. Planing my food, planning ahead with training runs and planning in rest days (and stick to them). And then the final planning – fundraising!

Do you ever sign up to a challenge and think “what the hell was I thinking?” I have for the last few weeks, but this is a once in a lifetime opportunity that I am not going say no to.

http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/showFundraiserProfilePage.action?userUrl=runwillow

 

 

Introducing Jo Lovett – PT

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Shortly after I joined Regiment Fitness back in 2014, I quickly got on with another member Jo Lovett. We bonded over the love of fitness, wine and cheese. The friendship was born.

Back then she was working as a PA for a pharmaceutical firm, but her fate soon changed which gave her the push she needed to combine her love of fitness with a career. Making a massive change to your career at any point in your life is quite a challenge – but Jo made it look so easy (though I know for a fact it hasn’t been). Within a year she had completed all the necessary courses to enable her to become a PT, secured a job at Nuffield and began to develop a solid base of PT clients.

It seems like I have known Jo forever; we train together, drink together and on occasion even holiday together. Last year we decided to be a little bit crazy together and run our first half marathon. Training for this event with Jo was a blast – both of us preferring endurance over speed, we quickly fell into an easy training pace which allowed us to challenge ourselves whilst chatting freely. Sometimes we talked for the whole duration, sometimes we fell into comfortable companionable silence; but 90% of the time we ended up in a pub sharing a bottle of wine. These runs were best; where we would both sense the pub was near during the last mile and without speaking we would speed up – nothing like knowing a bottle of wine is calling to get you to move your ass!

Watching Jo grow as a PT has made me be so proud. Most would be daunted by the challenge of making such a change, but not Jo. She has embraced it and made quite a name for herself.

I have been privileged enough to have some training sessions with her and by no means was it easy. In support of her growing business I attended her first HIIT class at Challenge Gym on Friday and it was pretty intense. I have never sweated so much on an indoor session or hurt the next day.

Though not to be defeated, 9:30am the next day we knocked out a six mile run along the river at Great Amwell to Hertford and back – pretty much non stop.

I cannot put into words how amazed I am by Jo. She has truly shown that age means nothing; it is just a number. She has achieved so much in such a short time and I am so proud to call her my friend, my confidant and my training buddy.

As I approach the toughest six months I will ever face in regards to training I feel so comforted to know that she will be by my side offering advice, at times running alongside me and when the big day comes – waiting at the finish cheering me on with an open bottle of bubbles.

Being a WAR Marshall!

I don’t often say no to races but when WAR – Warrior Adrenaline Race – released their race date for September two days before I was due to go on holiday I had to say no.

So when Regiment Fitness send an email requesting people to be a Marshall at the race I signed up straight away. In return I would receive a free place for April 2017, a free T-shirt (the things us racers do for a free T-shirt!) and a free months membership.

The day before the race all Marshall’s had to meet at the beautiful Woodhall Estate to receive our instructions and to pick our obstacle. Keen to be close to the race village and therefore, lots of atmosphere I chose the “Sheep Dip.”

Problem being with this obstacle is that it is second from last, and the wait for racers to come through was long and boring (especially as we were on site from 7:30am).

So I waited, and waited, and finally the hardcore elite racers started to come through. The racer in third place was a Regiment Fitness member from my area – Bishops Stortford, Sawbridgeworth and Harlow – Andy! It was fantastic to see him come through in such a great time. Showing his sheer strength and speed.

Once the elite runners started coming through, I began to see some familiar faces; members past and present, who I have trained and raced with.

As much as I enjoyed Marshalling at WAR, I did find the wait rather tiresome. I think such activity is more suited to those who don’t like to participate but want to be involved. Personally watching others take part left me with envy – I wished I was racing myself. Plus standing in the rain all day is not much fun, its all about the taking part for me.

That said I thoroughly enjoyed being part of the day, seeing fellow members and taking memorable pictures of them in the sheep dip!

If you are happy to give up your day I would really recommend becoming a Marshall. The free entry to the next race alone is incentive enough. After all, the entry for races does end up totting up if you are a regular to OCR.

Whether you want to just Marshall or race; join me at the next WAR race on 22nd April, with 5K, 10K or an epic 20K – there is a distance for everyone!

Which 10k?

The Willow Foundation 10k at Hatfield House took place today, with a group of my colleagues taking part on behalf of Red Letter Days.

Due to other commitments I was not able to take part, but it brought back great memories. Exactly three years ago Hatfield House was the backdrop for my first ever 10k finishing in a respectable 64 minutes. The same time the following year I ran the race again coming in at 66 minutes.

Since then I have lost count on the number of 10k races I have taken part in. From flat London runs to local underlating races; I have certainly completed my share of both.

I am often asked – “Which kind of run do I prefer.” After completing six this year alone I am starting to be able to find an preference.

London runs; often based in the West End have fast become my favourite despite not enjoying the crowds previously. Although these races tend to take a while to get into due to the sheer volume of runners you have to either over take or over take you – the spirit around the whole course makes the race. During these races throughout the course you will find strangers in the crowd cheering you on, keeping you going and generally making the atmosphere. Less opportunities to break into a walk; after all you don’t want thousands of people seeing you walking. The medals for these races are usually pretty impressive and you are likely to receive a nice finishers T-Shirt too.

Local races, I find, are starting to have much less appeal. Although there are less runners meaning more space for you to break away into your own pace, I find that they can be very lonely. Running along the country roads means that there are very few spectators, making the underlating routes difficult attack. Its all about training the mind for these, which I find a challenge in itself. I often find myself slowing down to a walk at times, obviously impacting my finishing time. At times the terrain can also be extremely testing.

Laps! Laps I hate with a passion, to the point where I actually check how many laps you have to run during the given race before signing up. Again, it’s all about the mind but there is nothing worse for me than seeing the finish line and knowing you have to run that all over again. Perhaps I should try and force myself to run a few more of these in an attempt to train my mind to perform. A goal for 2017 perhaps.

If I was to give someone advice about finding the right 1ok? Sign up for one of each; a larger city run, a local underlating run and a 10k that involves running laps. You will quickly realise your preference.