FitBits - fitness for fun and wellbeing: March 2014

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Thursday, 27 March 2014

You are ready.

Someone shared this in the Mind Brighton and London Marathons Facebook group and I don't think there's anything I needed to hear more right now as I try and quiet my brain from telling me I'm not capable of running my first marathon.

This is for all of us who are doubting ourselves as we enter the marathon taper.

All of us who are dealing with niggles, old and new, wondering how the hell we're gonna get round the course next Sunday (or the one after if you're running London).

For all of us who, like me, for the past 15 weeks, have been, and still are, battling equal measures of excitement and terror at what lies ahead, just read this...

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Right now you are already in or are about to enter the taper for the marathon. Perhaps you're new to this running craze, perhaps you've been at this for literally a life time. For some of you this is your first marathon, for others, a long-overdue welcome back to an experience that very few races can match.

You've been following your training plan to the best of your ability. You've ran mile after mile discovering places so close to your own home that you never even knew existed. Your washing basket filled with sports gear at an alarming rate.

You ran in the cold. You ran in the rain. You ran in the warming spring sunshine.

You went out when others stayed home. You were out running so early on a Sunday morning, whilst others simply pulled the covers over their heads.

The time that used to be filled with your feet pounding those streets relentlessly will soon be replaced by silent muscles, taking their final, well-earned rest. While this taper is something your body desperately needs, your mind cast off to the background for so very long, will start to speak to you.

It won't be pretty.

It will bring up thoughts of doubt, pain, hunger, thirst, failure, and loss. It will give you reasons why you aren't ready. It will try and make one last stand to stop you, because your brain doesn't know what the body already does. Your body knows the truth:

You are ready.

Your brain won't believe it. It will use the taper to convince you that this is foolish - that there is too much that can go wrong.

You are ready.

Finishing a marathon is never an accident. It's the result of dedication, focus, hard work, and belief that all those long runs will be worth it. It comes from that first long run where you wondered, "How will I ever be ready?" to the last long run where you smiled to yourself with one mile to go...knowing that you'd found the answer.

It is worth it. Now that you're at the taper, you know it will be worth it. The workload becomes less. The body winds up and prepares, and you just need to quiet your worried mind. Not easy, but you can do it.

You are ready.

You will make your way over to the start line feeling more nervous than you have in a long time but smile because the day you have waited for so VERY long is finally here. The volume of people on that start line will simply take your breath away.

You’ll see people in fancy dress outfits, you’ll see charity runners so proud of what they are about to accomplish, you’ll see serious athletes in pure focus.

The countdown will happen, the race will start and you will eventually shuffle over the start line. You'll stop thinking about the marathon, because you're now racing it!

The voices, the cowbells, and the relentless clapping will give you a hero's sendoff and you won’t be able to wipe the smile off your face. If it’s your first marathon then you will run the first mile too quickly. Everybody does.

Mile 2 will come and you'll settle down to your race. The crowds won’t disappear, they were with you at the start and they will be with you every step of the way. You’ll get into your rhythm and start to control your marathon.

More miles will pass. Maybe you’re feeling great. Maybe you're not feeling so good now. You'll keep running. You'll keep drinking at the water stations.

You'll keep moving.

Put on your game face. This is your day.

You’ll pass half way. Doubts will fight for your focus. Have I gone too quickly, am I too tired to make it to the end? It’s your mind playing tricks on you. Everyone struggles here. 

Stopping would be nice, but you won't - not here. 

Not today.

You'll cover more miles, you’ll get past 16 miles and think – I’m down to single digits now. Listen to the crowd. Let their energy push you. Let them see your eyes. 

Smile when they cheer for you - your body will get just that little bit lighter.

Grind. Fight. Suffer. Persevere.

You’ll get past mile 20 and your legs will be sore. That's okay. You knew it couldn't all be that easy. You’ll think only 10k to go, that’s one of my shorter training runs. No matter how you feel, don't panic - this is the part of the day where whatever you're feeling, you can be sure it won't last.

You'll keep moving. You'll keep drinking. Maybe you'll be right on plan - maybe you won't. If you're ahead of schedule, don't worry - believe. If you're behind, don't panic - roll with it. Everyone comes up with a brilliant race plan for the marathon, and then everyone has to deal with the reality that it’s probably not going to work out perfectly.

How you react to the changes in your plan will dictate your day. Don't waste energy worrying about things - just do what you have to when you have to, walk if you must but keep moving. Keep drinking.

 Just don't stop - don't EVER stop.

Last few miles now. Run if you can. Walk if you have to. Just keep moving.

You'll start to believe that you're going to make it. You'll start to imagine how good it's going to feel when you get there. Let those feelings drive you on. When your legs just don't want to move anymore, think about what it's going to be like when someone catches you… and puts a medal over your head... all you have to do is get there.

You’ll hit mile 25. Your marathon will have 1.2 miles – just 2km left in it. You'll start to approach that finish. You'll start to realise that the day is almost over. You'll be exhausted, wiped out, barely able to run, but you'll ask yourself, "Where did the whole morning go?" 

You'll be standing on the edge of two feelings - the desire to finally stop, and the desire to take these last moments and make them last as long as possible.

You'll run. You'll find your legs. You'll fly. 

You won't know how, but you will run. The last few yards will come and you will see that finishing clock. When you get there, it'll stop for you.

Soon they'll see you. Soon, everyone will see you cross that finishing line.

The finishing line is in sight. You'll keep running. Nothing will hurt.

The moment will be yours - for one moment, it will seem like the entire world will be looking at you and only you.

You’ll pass under the finishing gantry, 26.2 miles after starting your journey.

You'll stop. You'll finally stop. Your legs will wobble their last, and suddenly...be capable of nothing more.

Someone will catch you. You'll lean into them.

It will suddenly hit you. 

YOU HAVE JUST FINISHED THE MARATHON!

You are ready. You are ready.

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Don't you think words are just so powerful?
That's why I love writing. I wish I'd written that.

Now hands up who's got a lump in their throat?! *throws hands in the air*





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Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Tess in Tapertown - approach with caution!


Well hello there. It's been a while, hasn't it?

I haven't written in a while, I've been trying to do that thing called go to bed at a sensible hour. I've been mega busy recently with work, marathon training and wedding planning, (I am doing it, I promise!!), and all that along with the shoddiest internet connection we've ever had has made it pretty easy to neglect the blog and get to bed between 10-10.30pm most nights this month.

Apart from tonight of course, because I'm actually writing! Shhh! Don't tell Tess.

The pre-bedtime alarm 
Despite the initial protest my body put up with the early bedtimes I have to say I do feel much more energised and refreshed now that I'm getting a solid seven or eight hours a night minimum as opposed to my usual six.

With the weekly mileage ramping up and everything else in my life so busy something had to give before I knackered myself out and I'm glad it was the temperamental internet connection that forced me to bed rather than a broken body.


Welcome to Tapertown


That's not saying my body isn't knackered though - I'm in week 15 of training for Brighton now which basically means HELLO TAPERTOWN, and I've gone and given myself an angry hip flexor haven't I!

After 15 weeks of working really hard to strengthen my knees, change running gait, listening to my body and putting all my energy into managing one issue I go and give myself another niggle! Apparently it's muscular though and not a joint issue so will settle with rest so I'm on strict orders not to run until marathon day to let it settle properly.


Marathon taper meme


I noticed it achey during last weekend's 10miler, but it was nothing I couldn't run through, so I carried on. It was only when I stopped that I realised I'd done it in - I couldn't lift my leg without it hurting and stairs were even more of a nightmare than normal.

Maranoia set in and after a few panicked tweets and a phone call to Tom (aka RunningPhysio) I was glad to see it settle after a couple of days so tried an easy pace runcommute this morning. But just over three miles in and I had to stop as it flared up again.

Rest hard to run hard


A painful (but great) sports massage and physio session with Tom tonight has reassured me that all I need is rest to be ready for the big day, so with 11 days until the marathon I'm hereby pledging not to run again until next Sunday, and will do bugger all exercise-wise until at least Monday when I might do some hot yoga and mayyyybe cycle to work if completely comfortable.

Gutted I'll miss the last RunBrighton group run but I've got too much to lose now at this stage and won't gain anything from running on a niggle, but only make it worse.

I can't believe I've got this far and the marathon actually happening, I'm so excited!! I've also hit my initial fundraising target for Mind and Cancer Research so massive thank you to everyone who's donated. If you'd like to throw a few pennies my way you can do so here.


Anyway, here's how the past few weeks have gone:

Week 12

Monday: Core class + physio exercises 
Tuesday:  Rest 
Wednesday: Cycle to/from work
Thursday: Threshold runcommute with messed up lap splits. Pressed wrong button on the Garmin. 
Friday:  Cycle commute to/from work
Saturday:  Parkrun (first one in a while for me and also Chris' debut. (He smashed it, of course, while I puffed and panted my way round on tired legs) + sports massage 


Our first joint parkrun :) 

Sunday:  RunBrighton long run - 16miles!!! Last two were pretty hellish as hamstrings seized up even though I tried lucozade instead of just water and gels. Decided to try electrolyte tabs the following Sunday. 


Brighton Marathon Training - RunBrighton long run

Week 13

Monday: Rest 
Tuesday:  30mins easy run - trying to spell rude words. Running can be boring sometimes, it's good to liven it up a bit! :) 



Wednesday: Cycle to/from work + hot yoga
Thursday: A glorious, sunshiney threshold runcommute, with wise words from beautiful Brighton:


Friday:  Cycle to/from work 
Saturday:  Amazing lie in and best breakfast ever. 
Sunday:  19MILES!!!!!!!!! Fuelled by PB on toast + banana, 4 gels, 2 SiS electrolyte tabs = NO HAMSTRING CRAMPING!!! :D :D :D This was a glorious, comfortable long run in the sunshine with no knee pain or otherwise, I even felt like I had more in the tank at the end but didn't wanna run more than 3.5hours in training so stopped at 19. I knew after this that I could do the marathon and it was just the most amazing feeling. 


Week 14

Preston Park Parkrun Brighton
Carla's first parkrun
Monday: Rest hard after yesterday's epic long run. 
Tuesday:  Cycle to/from work + pool kayaking - last session. Completely nailed the screw roll now and can set it up under water after having boat thrown over. Excited to get in the sea after the marathon and see if I can do it in there too. :) 
Wednesday: Hot yoga + sports massage
Thursday: Uncomfortable runcommute (shorter route)
Friday:  Cycle to/from work  
Saturday:  Penultimate long run - 10miles with Parkrun @ the end - introducing my good mate Carla to the joys of Parkrun (which she smashed, in the rain, like a boss). This was the day I picked up the hip flexor niggle though :( 
Sunday:  Rest (watched Hastings Half Marathon) 

So there you have it. This week so far I've only managed to cycle in to work and a niggly runcommute cut short from hip niggles so a somewhat forced but welcome rest. 11 days to go and I'm hoping the rest will do me good and get me ready for the big 26.2.

Whatever happens, however it goes, it's gonna be EPIC I know that much - the all-important climax to the most difficult but rewarding journey of my life so far! 

I don't even care if that sounds melodramatic, I'm gonna milk this for all it's worth! 

Are you suffering from maranoia, taper madness or niggles that are suddenly showing up now? How are you staying positive?

Edit: I did it!!! Read my gushing race report here. 


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Saturday, 15 March 2014

22 days until 26.2 - I've got this!


A word has been bandied round the online running community this past few weeks, one that resonates with me to my very core - MARANOIA.

Urban Dictionary reckons it's to do with weed but we all know it's actually all to do with the big 26.2 - that terrifying combination of miles that we've all spent months training for. I've taken the liberty of amending the UD definition:

Maranoia
                (noun) 1. A state of paranoia of abject failure while under the influence of marathon training. 

"Tess became consumed by maranoia as the weeks drew closer to the marathon." 

I'm not a negative person but for the past few weeks, maranoia has got hold of me big time - basically since the epic, and wonderful, and couldn't-have-gone-better Brighton Half Marathon. Everything above 13.1miles has been unchartered territory. And it bloody hurts. 

The midweek run sessions are getting done (with a little added twist to make it more interesting) and so are the core classes and yoga, (Dynamic Hot Yoga, I heart you), but the long runs are getting longer, and it's these that have been the hardest for me recently as my body gets used to pushing into new distances. 

Manoeuvring stairs is like an episode of the Crystal Maze, especially on Mondays after the long run. On the (very) few occasions I make it to and from the kitchen at work like a normal human being I think about playing my very own fanfare through the building's speakers to celebrate. 


one does not simply meme running marathon training long run



Shut up legs 

But you know what? Despite all the pain, and all the doubt I've allowed to creep in, and all of the occasions during runs when I've questioned my sanity and reasons for doing this, and all of the times that I've put my head in my hands and whined to people when they ask how training's going or how far away it is, I'm still so stupidly excited (and utterly shitting it) for the big day to come. 

When I started training I didn't think I'd make it this far, and neither did a few people close to me, mainly because of my knees and the state they were in after the Running Show 10k. But I was always going to give it my best shot. 

I've changed my running gait, am going to physio, getting regular sports massages, bought new trainers/foam roller/compression gear/running socks, trying to (mostly) eat right, hitting the sessions when the knees allow, resting hard when they don't, cross training like a mofo and am working on strength and conditioning exercises in between. 

However long it takes on the day, I've got this. 


Running Brighton Marathon for Mind
The marathon kit is ready! 


My last long run is tomorrow - I'm attempting 18miles - then it's the taper. This will be the furthest I've ever ran. Last week I ran 16miles, and although it wasn't pretty at the end and we had to do a few haphazard laps of the field next to the carpark to make it up to 16, I was/am/will always be so proud of my chunky lil legs for carrying me that far.

My Mind vest came today.* My race number was emailed to me yesterday - 14796. Brighton Marathon is bloody happening. 

I won't be the fastest and may not be at my strongest but I will get to that start line and I will run this marathon. 

I will get that medal, and I'll most definitely cry when I do. 

And I can't bloody wait!!! :D :D :D :D




*I'm also fundraising for Cancer Research but am wearing the Mind vest. If you want to sponsor me visit my page and throw me some monies!! x  


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Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Brighton Marathon training: Weeks 9, 10 & 11


OK so we're in week 12 now (WEEK BLOODY 12!!!) and if I'm honest it's all getting a bit scary. Marathon day is approaching and there's nothing I can do to stall it. Training's been going OK the past few weeks but it's been manic at work which means I haven't been able to hit all the planned sessions due to lack of time, energy and general enthusiasm on some parts.

2 at a time baby, yeah. 
My legs haven't been the happiest either - for the past two long runs my hamstrings have started screaming at me later in the runs and my right knee in particular has been wanting to make itself known to the world. I've been taping the knees up for the long runs and getting right on the heat and ice afterwards to try and aid recovery.

This last push towards the big day is the toughest part of training so far as accumulative fatigue seems to be right on my tail and trying to up mileage while running on tired and unhappy legs isn't the easiest of tasks. Ever since smashing the half everything hurts. I think it's a combination of my body not being used to running further than 13.1miles (everything from now is a distance PB), accumulative fatigue from the past 11 weeks of training and also the fact that I'm quite probably still recovering from the half, on a deeper, cellular level.

Anyway, I'm not gonna give up now, with only 32 days to go *gulp* I need to do everything I can to make sure I'm as ready as I can be to take on the big 26.2.

Here's how the past couple of weeks have gone:

Week 9

Monday: Physio exercises + Core class  
Tuesday: Cycle commute to/from work + Kayaking
Wednesday: Progression runcommute to work. Nailed the pace and felt strong. Got to work a red faced, sweaty mess. Happy days. 

Thursday: Cycle commute to/from work
Friday: Marathon pace runcommute (ended up being a bit faster than marathon pace, I've got to work on getting it right and slowing down). 
Saturday: Rest
Sunday: Smashed the Brighton Half Marathon. Felt strong to the finish, raced my heart out. Probably why I'm still knackered now. 


Brighton Half Marathon 2014


Week 10 

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: Cycle commute to/from work + last session of kayaking in the pool. Can now do screw roll with a paddle!  
Wednesday: Cycle commute to/from work. Cancelled yoga due to overtime 
Thursday: Cycle commute to/fromRest (overtime at work)
Friday: Runcommute to work (overtime in evening) 
Saturday: Broke in the new trail shoes with 4miles round the park (+ overtime) 
Sunday: RunBrighton long run up the Downs. The hardest run of my life. :(


RunBrighton marathon training runs  Brighton Marathon
Before the wheels fell off 

Week 11

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: Cycle commute to/from work + hot yoga class 
Wednesday: Progression runcommute. Not an easy one, but beautiful morning for it.  
                     bfit CLASS + Yoga class. 
Brighton beach morning run
Beautiful runcommute view


Thursday: Cycle commute to/from work   
Friday: Cycle commute to/from work    
Saturday: Rest 
Sunday: RunBrighton long run (wanted to hit 16miles, managed 15 but was in pain for last 2-3). Last BM Training Day. 

Brighton marathon training day
15 sunny seafront miles and the last BM Training Day
The past couple of weeks since the half have been hard, but looking back at what I did running/exercise-wise I think I can see what I need to sort. I need to make sure I hit the run sessions as per the training plan, make sure I fuel properly for the long runs (two gels and water is no longer enough for the longer distances), and probably also need to allow my body time to recover from the half. 

Even though my legs felt OK the next day, there's definitely some recovery still to be had. I also definitely need to make my physio exercises a priority again for these last few weeks - especially the hamstring strengthening ones. 

32 days until the big day, guys. 32 bloody days. Hold me. 







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Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Healthy protein pancakes recipe

IT'S PANCAKE DAY!!

Ignoring the fact that I have pancakes at least once every week or so anyway but didn't pull my finger out to get the ingredients ready for this morning's breakfast, I thought I'd share my* recipe with you all so you can enjoy them on my behalf.

They're so easy to make, taste UH-MAZING and if you have them for breakkie they'll keep you full 'til lunchtime.

Healthy protein pancakes pancake day


GO GO GO!!

Preparation time – A couple of minutes 
Cooking time – 1-2 minutes per pancake (maybe not even that actually, I'm crap at timings. Keep an eye on them)

Ingredients (serves 2)

For the pancakes
– 2 eggs
– 1 scoop vanilla whey protein (optional)
– 1 banana, chopped
– 1-2 tbsp Total Greek yoghurt
– 1 tbsp peanut butter
– 1-2 heaped tbsp porridge oats
– Coconut oil (to fry them in)
For the topping
– 1-2 tbsp Total Greek yoghurt
– Raspberries and blueberries, banana and cinnamon, nuts and honey, basically anything you fancy (I have yet to try Nutella - maybe that's a job for tonight??)


Method

1. Crack eggs into a mixing bowl, add all ingredients for the pancake mix and whisk with a hand blender (or fork).
2. Add some coconut oil to a frying pan and pour some of the mixture out – about the size of shop-bought American-style pancakes.
3. Wait for it to cook on one side (don’t turn it over too quick as it’ll break and go all over the place).
4. When cooked on one side (after about 30 seconds), flip over and cook the other side.
5. Repeat for the rest of the mixture and stack pancakes on top of each other.
6. Leave some to cool for tomorrow’s breakfast or a snack for later.
7. Add a healthy dollop of Greek yoghurt, blueberries and raspberries, banana and cinnamon, or whatever you like on top. (As you can see I like to smother mine...) 
Healthy protein banana pancakes pancake day

Enjoy! 


* recipe stolen and bastardised from Soph last year - check hers out, she's got better pictures and everything! x

If anyone's got any other pancake recipes or wicked topping ideas lemme know, I'm all ears!! 

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