Taper Time

Whoah, it’s April. Marathon Month. How did that happen? Seems like it was only yesterday  that I inadvertently signed up for the London Marathon 2013 via facebook.

Lucky for me, training for the marathon has been more consistent than writing about it, though Facebook & twitter has been with me through every step of the way. Fundraising is going pretty well too.

After two helpful training days under my belt [Asthma UK and London Marathon respectively], my first (and only) half marathon [adidas Silverstone Half Marathon] and my longest run before the big day, my trainer has handed me my Final Program – the tapering off one.

Tapering will allow my body to reach optimal performance before the marathon by decreasing the amount of exercise I do in the lead up to the big day. The trick is to ensure the muscles are kept in good working order but also have a chance to rest.

So as much as I hoped it was going to be three weeks of telly watching, sleep and chocolate – my plan looks more like this:

Final phase of Marathon Training

Final phase of Marathon Training

Not bad, eh? Very doable. And the best thing is, I think I can squeeze in some telly watching, sleep and chocolate too.

Stretching the Iliotibial Band

From not being able to run for more than 30 secs to being able to run 10 miles, I’m still getting used to the idea that I’m a runner. My iliotibial band, however, is very aware.

An iliotibial band is critical in stabilizing the knee during running and is a big thick band of tissue on the outside of the knee which extends into your butt cheeks.

Iliotibial band syndrome is one of the main causes of lateral knee pain in runners. The band gets tight, pulls on the opposite muscle and the area becomes inflamed. I can confirm it bloody hurts.

So for now, the amount of running I am doing has dramatically decreased. I’ve swapped it for  activities such as rowing, using the cross trainer and cycling which are less high- impact. I’m also stretching a hell of a lot.

In fact, I’m off to stretch it now…

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What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

I’ve just picked up my flatmate’s book What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Japanese author and translator Haruki Murakami.

Whilst I have heard mention of his name, I have not yet read one of his books.  Up until now. Something which delights me no end as I’ve suddenly got a brand new author to get my teeth in to.

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is a departure from most of his bibliography apparently. It’s more of a memoir about Haruki and what running has meant to him as a person.

Seeing that Murakami took up running at the grand age of 33 (I’m 35) and has run more than 25 marathons, (I’m running my first on April 21st 2013), you can understand why I’m enjoying it as much as I am.

I have come across tons of sections that have inspired me and I’m only on Chapter 3. The most overriding factor, however, is that I need to blog more often to keep a handle of my progress. Time is whizzing by so fast and I need to be on top of it both physically and psychologically.

So here we are: Stage 3 out of 5 in my marathon training.

Having plucked my 10k cherry at the beginning of November, my sights now move to the 10 mile mark. And as Murakami’s words float around my head,  I know that it’s within my grasp.

“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional”

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If you can suggest any other inspirational books you think I should be reading, please feel free to comment below or tweet me @runwithfrankie. Many thanks.

Overcoming a Mental Block

As I reflect upon my second organised 5k park run this morning, these last few weeks have presented an incredible number of firsts:

And now I have experienced another first; how to run past a mental block.

This morning’s park run was HARD. The weather was fresh and the sky deep blue. A stupendously beautiful morning with colder than cold air.

But last night I hosted a dinner party and we all got carried away with the prosecco, red wine and cheese. Slumber didn’t arrive until the very small hours of the morning. As I hit snooze for the umpteenth time, I realised I was going to be late and jumped out of bed.

Turning up to the race with only 5 minutes to spare meant I didnt have time to line up my music – my rhythmic driving force  – and was still faffing with my HRM watch when the race began. I was also holding on to my ipod instead of it being neatly tucked away in the case strap on my arm.

My body felt so tired. I hadnt rested properly. The 15 minute run before the race to ensure they wouldn’t start without me didnt make things any easier. I was struggling to catch my breath. Struggling to muster up some energy into my muscles.

I must have walked for half of it. Felt like I was taking forever. All the stewards had gone, I felt like a failure. I kept starting and stopping. Berating myself for not being able to run, not being able to breathe deep enough, not sticking to water the night before a race, not getting an early night. But as I saw the other runners mill around the finish line, I realised I had 25% of the course to go. “Not long to go now” I said to myself, “don’t worry – you’re here and doing it” I kept repeating and I soon found myself at the finish line.

I ran the first 5k in 36.09, the second in 37.02. Not bad considering I walked for more than half of it..

So when the running angel and walking devil are vying for my attention, I know that mind over matter and a strong focus will help to get me through. That plus more sleep and less alcohol.