London Marathon Training Diary – Week 3

Week three of training kicked off with a day and a half sick leave from work meaning ZERO training until Wednesday and a fair amount of making up to do. But, the decision to ditch the National Running Show so I could go along to other social events meant I could make a last-minute entry to the Finsbury Park RunThrough event at the weekend meaning… another medal added to the collection! And we all know I love a medal! 

VLM Minus 14 Weeks

Monday

Rest day.

Tuesday

Rest day.

Wednesday

Finally feeling a bit more human I headed to Lee Valley Athletics Track after work to make up for the fact that I’d missed a track session earlier in the week. Kerry told me to smash out 7 x 400m at around 90 second pace, with 90 second recoveries in between. I managed to drag IanRunsLDN along with me and thank god I did as without his company the reps would have been unbearable. A strong headwind on the final 150m of each lap was disgusting and, despite being told to “keep moving” between reps by Kerry, I found myself collapsed on the floor for the last 4-5.

 

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Thursday

On Thursday I was lucky to have an invite to go along to the Reebok CrossFit Nano 8 launch at Whatever It Takes One New Change. Putting the trainers to the test was a workout programmed and announced by none other than CrossFit Games Director Dave Castro, and to demo the workout before we all gave it our shot were 2017 CrossFit Games Champion Tia Clair Toomey, Scott Panchik and Lukas Esslinger, also joined by Dan Bailey who was coaching from the sides.

The workout was 21-15-9 dumbbell snatches and burpees over the dumbbell and it was a sprint like no other!! I struggled with the burpees, like I knew I would, but was super happy to finish under 5 minutes.

The new Nanos are almost certainly my favourite yet – the right balance of supportive yet comfortable. I’m even considering simplifying my collection by cutting down some of the older styles and getting a couple of colour ways of the Nano 8 – something I’ve never considered until this shoe… which has to be saying something, right?! You can shop the Nano 8, and other Reebok CrossFit shoes, here.

 

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Friday

Rest day.

Saturday

Rest day.

Sunday

Running is SO much better with friends! Ian, Derrick and I headed out for a 7 mile loop to Finsbury Park before the RunThrough race. The route was awesome, taking in Alexandra Palace (and THAT hill), Highgate and the awesome Parkland Walk – a walkway that follows the old railway line that used to run that way. We arrived at Finsbury Park in time to collect our race bibs and choose whether we were going for the 5k or 10k race. Ian and I chose the 10k, four laps of the park, while Derrick went with the 5k route running with Martin. We managed to cross the line in just over 50 minutes – not bad going for the end of a 13 mile run!

When I got home I messaged Kerry to tell him about the morning and that I’d accidentally run 2 miles more than planned… little did I realise that the peanut butter cup penalty system would apply to mileage too – 10 Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups added to the total!!

 

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After the run it was time to re-fuel because this afternoon I had to take on the second Battle of Britain qualifier… “Dropping Bombs”. This workout was well and truly up my street – split into two parts, part one was a 3 minute max row for metres and part two was a clean and jerk ladder with one clean and jerk performed every minute at increasing weights. The weight started at 45kg and increased by 5kg every minute until you reach 65kg, then increasing by 2.5kg.

I had set my sights on reaching a certain minimum weight for the clean and jerk and sadly I failed to get it overhead, despite cleaning it relatively comfortably. But, what more could I expect after having run a half marathon in the morning?!

I finished 96th in the row, with 782 metres, and 90th in the clean and jerk, maxing out at 67.5kg. This was SO much better than my placing of 117th in the previous workout so I was still pretty proud of myself.

Training by Numbers

Miles run: 16.5 miles

Medals earned: 3 (including two virtual medals!)

Times nearly pissed myself: 0

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Count: 15

Fundraising total so far: £405 – I managed to break the £400 barrier! Only £950 to go…

Follow me on Strava to see my training progress in more detail, and check out my Instagram for more training updates – including my stories where I document even more of my training, diet and general life!

London Marathon Training Diary – Week 2

So, the second week of training… I definitely didn’t run as much this week as I’d planned to… but with a mid-week accidental PB and a CrossFit competition at the end of the week it was probably good to have a bit of a quieter week of running.

I haven’t done anywhere near enough fundraising though and, with a place at the London Landmarks Half Marathon now also secured with the Royal British Legion, I have a grand total of £2,350 to raise. I have a loose plan of how I’ll get there, but the time to put it all into action is another story. In the meantime, I’m extremely grateful for any donations you can make to help me along the way. If you do want to donate, you can do so here: George Does VLM.

Anyway, here’s my training diary for week 2…

VLM Minus 15 Weeks

Monday

Rest day

Tuesday

Rest day – I was supposed to be doing 5 miles easy (RPE 6), but my ITB was still painful from Sunday’s 9 miles. Since having inflammation of the bone underneath where my ITB connects at the knee after Ragnar Relay I’ve been a bit paranoid about it flaring up again so decided to take the extra rest ahead of tomorrow’s 10k RunThrough race instead.

Wednesday

RunThrough Chase the Moon 10k. Kerry told me to try to take it easy for the race – he had about 52 minutes in mind for me based on my PB of 49:15, but around halfway through the race I realised I’d been consistently running at around 7:30-7:40 minute/mile and decided to try and keep it up for a new PB. I crossed the finish line at 46:25, a nearly 3 minute PB and was super happy! Celebratory Nando’s most definitely earned, but…

Kerry’s punishment to me for going too fast? He devised a penalty system:

I’ll now be tracking my penalty peanut butter cups at the bottom of my training diary!

 

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Thursday

I’d arranged to join Shellie, Louise, Amy, Sophie, Becca and Lizzie for a bit of bouldering fun at The Arch Climbing Wall in Bermondsey. It was such a lovely evening – climbing, laughing, supporting each other and pushing ourselves to our limits. Sadly, Lizzie picked up an injury towards the end of the evening and had to cut her climb short, but the way everyone pulled together to help her just showed what a community we’ve built through the simple act of documenting our training on Instagram! Hope you have a speedy recovery Lizzie.

 

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Friday

Rest day – with my CrossFit pairs competition with Nic up in Manchester tomorrow, I took a half day from work to make the long drive up north.

Saturday

Today was the M-Squared FeMale same sex pairs CrossFit competition. I’d signed up with Nic during a drunken night out back in October/November time and today was the day that we took on the workouts along with dream-team Lisa and Lucy. We had so much fun with three ace workouts:

WOD 1

12 minute time cap to complete:

40 calorie row

10 down ups

40 box jump overs

10 down ups

40 snatches (35kg)

10 down ups

40 toes to bar

WOD 2a

9 minutes to find a max clean complex of:

Clean, hang clean and front squat

1 minute rest, then

WOD 2b

3 minutes to do:

AMRAP hang clean and jerk, at a weight of your choice

As a pair you weren’t allowed to put the bar down at all in the 3 minutes, or your rep count would be reset to zero.

WOD 3

21-15-9

Thrusters (30kg)

Burpees over the bar

Despite me messing up a couple of times in the first workout, we were so happy to finish in the top 10 out of 24 athlete teams in the RX category. Nic and I are also signed up as a team for the Inferno pairs series at Lee Valley over the Easter Weekend and I can’t wait to team up again – I genuinely think we worked really well together!

 

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Sunday

After signing up to take part in the Battle of Britain qualifiers, I had to submit my first workout score. I was aching from yesterday’s competition, but I needed to get this done…

WOD 1 – Welcome to the Suck

4 rounds of:

12 wall balls (6kg)

10 deadlifts (70kg)

8 handstand pushups

6 hang snatches (35kg)

All within a 15 minute time-cap. Sadly I reached the time-cap with 5 handstand pushups and 6 hang snatches to go, but I was really proud of my performance – especially with having not done HSPUs from the floor for a VERY long time.

 

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In the evening I had to fit in my long run for the week – a 10 mile run at 8:45 min/mile pace, which I managed to stick to pretty bang on, avoiding any further penalty peanut butter cups! It was a late run, and along the river towpath too, which meant wearing my Silva headtorch – that thing is seriously awesome, lighting up the path so well in-front of my that I still felt pretty comfortable running at a relatively fast pace.

 

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Training by Numbers

Miles run: 16.2

Medals earned: 1

Times nearly pissed myself: 0

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Count: 5

Fundraising total so far: £395

Follow me on Strava to see my training progress in more detail, and check out my Instagram for more training updates – including my stories where I document even more of my training, diet and general life!

London Marathon Training Diary – Week 1

In case you missed the announcement on my Instagram… I’m running the 2018 Virgin London Marathon! I can’t quite believe it – this is a race I’ve had my heart set on for years now, entering the ballot a grand total (I think) of 7 times! I decided this year had to be my year to do it so, rather than leave my fate in the hands of the ballot, I applied for a select few charities I would be proud to run for. To my absolute delight, The Royal British Legion accepted my application and offered me a place. I’m so excited to be running for them, and can’t wait to wear my poppy vest on race day.

If you’d like to sponsor me to help me reach my fundraising target of £2,500, you can find my JustGiving page here: George Does VLM. I really do appreciate each and every donation, and no amount is too small!

 

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VLM Minus 16 Weeks

So, onto the training… I’m lucky to be receiving coaching from the awesome Kerry McCarthy. Kerry has run a ridiculous 44 marathons and writes features for Runner’s World UK, so I know I’m in good hands when it comes to my training and I’m excited to see what he has in store for me.

Monday

New Years’ Day. I was supposed to run the Serpentine NYD 10k but, after drinking FAR too much whiskey the night before, I woke up not just too late to get to the race, but after the race had actually started!! Facepalm or WHAT. So, having committed to doing Run Every Day January, I headed out for a 1 mile leg loosener late that evening.

Tuesday

Kerry had me do a 5k time trial for my second run of the week. The idea was to do a mile warmup and then go ALL OUT for 5k. It was miserable outside with Storm Eleanor brewing and the out-and-back route was in a headwind for the entire first half. I was convinced I could get under 23 minutes, after running 7:20 pace at the Movember run in November, but came in at 23:35. I shouldn’t have been disappointed given the conditions, but I was.

 

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Wednesday

Today’s run was a 6 mile progression run, starting at 9:15 min/mile and getting faster by 15 seconds each mile. I managed to stick mostly to plan – going a little faster than the prescribed paces but still getting quicker each mile – until the last mile had me walking because I needed to pee! I completed my feedback on my training plan and swiftly got a congratulatory WhatsApp from Kerry for not actually pissing myself haha – thanks Kerry!

Thursday

Thursday was a planned rest day, which meant a mile run for RED January, but an afternoon physio appointment convinced me that this wasn’t the best idea. The pain I’d started to experience towards the end of my Advent Running run streak was shin splints and, with my history of stress fractures, it just didn’t make sense to jeopardise my marathon training for a month-long challenge.

Friday

Rest day.

Saturday

Battersea Park RunThrough 10k… this was in the diary as a social race to catch up with friends and kick off the medal haul in style (in case you don’t know, RunThrough medals are ace!). Kerry planned for me to run 9 miles in total by tagging a couple of laps on to the end of the race, and he told me to aim for a 6/10 RPE (rate of perceived exertion). I ran with Ian and we gradually got quicker and quicker, finishing just 30 seconds over my PB! Although this was faster than planned, I felt pretty good the whole way round, maybe pushing up to a 7-8/10 towards the end.

A few of us followed up with an epic post-run brunch – surely everyone knows that a fry up and pancakes are the perfect post-race fuel?!

 

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Sunday

A well-deserved rest day. My ITB started to ache towards the end of the run yesterday so the time off my feet was definitely needed!

Training by Numbers

Miles run: 20.7

Medals earned: 1

Times nearly pissed myself: 1

Fundraising total so far: £395

Follow me on Strava to see my training progress in more detail, and check out my Instagram for more training updates – including my stories where I document even more of my training, diet and general life!

What it Takes to Run a London Marathon Elite Qualifier

The Virgin Money opened its ballot today for the 37th London Marathon. Like hundreds of thousands of others, I submitted my application. However, only 50,000 runners are accepted each year, with the knowledge that around 40,000 will actually line up. Of this 50k, a certain percentage will be charity runners, securing a place through gold or silver bond charities, some will be deferrals from the previous year, and some will be Championship (elite), Good For Age or competition/media places. With a record 247,069 people entering the ballot last year, and so few (comparatively) places allocated to ballot entrants, it’s worth looking at those alternative means of entry.

The Elusive Championship (Elite) Marathon Qualifier

Most people who run their first marathon aim to “just get round”. You might set yourself a secondary goal of a certain time, and you might even hit that goal first time. I know when I ran Brighton Marathon back in 2012, I set myself a challenging, but realistic, goal of getting in under 4 hours. Unfortunately I missed out by 7 minutes. Even though I said I’d never do another marathon, the bug took hold and I started thinking about whether I could do it all again to get my goal.

Some may aim for milestone times, like 4 hours. Others for named goals, like Good For Age (GFA) or a Boston Qualifier (BQ). Jared, who runs for my local running club, Harlow Running Club, on the other hand, always has his sights set higher. A Championship place, a.k.a. the elite. So just what does it take to run a Championship, or elite, London Marathon qualifier*? I caught up with him after the race to find out.

Jared London FInish

Jared after his Championship qualifying run. His nipples suffered after two marathons in a row!

You just ran an elite qualifying time at the London Marathon, what was your race experience like?

My experience running London always has left me feeling like I have achieved something great. This is because it’s the biggest and the best marathon for me. I have run it for seven consecutive years and each one has its own story. My best was my first by far! But Sunday was amazing after completing Brighton [Jared ran Brighton just a week before, finishing 15th in 2:45:36]. It’s the challenge for me.

You ran Brighton before London, was London your goal race? Was it always the plan to race the marathon distance as part of your training for London?

I wanted to test my limits and after entering both I realised that I would need to “choose” which one to race. Surely I can’t race them both with little rest in between? Well, that’s what my tactic was in the end. I recover quickly from physical activity and I wanted to race BOTH. So I did! And because I’ve been able to maintain a high level of exercise I don’t worry or stress too much. Consistency is the key and if you look at my marathon times, particularly London, they are all consistently under 3hrs.

Jared Brighton Finish

Jared’s 2016 Brighton Marathon finish. He came 15th.

What was your training plan for this marathon? How has it differed from previous marathon plans you’ve followed?

Due to the nature of my work being a personal trainer, I fit in “my training” with clients. I join in with them at classes, PT sessions and find it helps motivate them to challenge themselves. I do follow a strict training plan which does mean I do very early morning runs and also late night strength conditioning sessions. Training with someone quicker than you to keep up is the challenge and most people shy away from it.

You’re a personal trainer and run fitness classes, how do you supplement your running training?

My PT sessions and classes are in addition to my running and I find it helps keep me strong and also reduce any risk of injury. It also gives me a opportunity to strengthen in other areas that are key to a successful marathon.

Jared Running London Portrait

Mid-race… no time to smile for the camera!

How do you fuel your body for the amount of activity you do? Do you feel as though your nutrition strategy was important to your race plan and how it went on the day?

I eat three meals a day and snack on fruit and nuts between meals. I also drink plenty of water. I train my body glycogen depleted to become more efficient, particularly early morning running. I consume fewer carbs towards end of the week so I don’t feel too heavy. My body is also very efficient at using body fat as a source of energy. I do not have protein shakes and have never used them.

How many marathons have you done? When was your first race at the marathon distance and how did that go?

I’m not sure on exactly how many, but could be 30 something. My medals are in a shoe box in the cupboard! My first was London in 2010 for St Clare’s Hospice. I raised loads of money for them with my wife who also completed it and then I proposed at Trafalgar Square. We’ve been married for five years this year! I’ve also raced marathons abroad. My PB is 2.41 at Nice, the Cannes Marathon in 2015.

Jared and Susie London Proposal

Jared and his now-wife Susie, just after he proposed!

Have you always been a natural runner, or do you feel it’s something you’ve really had to work for?

I have always enjoyed running. I ran from school years and played football up until my mid 20s. I really enjoy competitive racing events, that’s why I always try to be better than previous races/years.

What would be your one biggest tip for someone aiming an elite qualifying time?

Come and train with JB FITNESS; I know what it takes to achieve the elite qualification time!

Final Thoughts

You may be excused for thinking that elite times come easy for Jared, having always been into running, but there’s no denying that running a consistent 6:17 minute/mile is no mean feat. Jared trains hard, putting aside the time around his personal training business in often unsociable hours to fit in his run training. Whether you’re aiming for a Good For Age time, or a Championship place, the target is there… you’ve just got to work for it!

Have you ever run a Good For Age or Championship time? What are your top tips for racing this fast? Have you entered the London Marathon ballot? Comment below!

* Championship entry for the Virgin Money London Marathon is currently a sub 2:45 marathon, or sub 1:15 half marathon, for men; sub 3:15 marathon, or sub 1:30 half marathon, for women.