Marathon Prehab at the Ultra Sports Clinic

Training for a marathon can take its toll on your body. Pounding the pavements for mile after mile, often stepping up your distance quite considerably on a weekly basis from what you trained before – it all adds up. From personal experience, I’ve learned it’s far better to address any concerns you have about your running gait or any niggles you might be feeling before they progress to potential injuries. So I took advantage of an offer to go and visit the Ultra Sports Clinic a few weeks ago – call it Marathon Prehab!

The Ultra Sports Clinic

Proud supporters of Save The Rhino International’s 2018 London Marathon campaign, the Ultra Sports Clinic recognises how much of a strain marathon training can be. Working with professional sports teams, private health insurance companies and the general public, they really do have London’s sports fanatics covered across all bases.

I happen to work just a 10 minute stroll from the clinic so managed to fit in a lunchtime appointment with the clinical director and lead physiotherapist, Ashleigh Wienand, who took the time to understand my goals and current complaints. She then took me through various assessments before describing what was causing my niggles.

Assessment & Diagnosis

Ashleigh started by asking questions about my physical state and my current training. She assessed my movement patterns in various exercises – CrossFit has made me move a lot better, but doing pistol squats without a heel raise made me feel like a complete idiot… I’m sure physiotherapists do that on purpose sometimes for a giggle! But they seemed to give her the answers she was looking for, and she quickly came to the conclusion of what was holding me back and giving me my ITB and knee pain.

With the cause of my issues identified, Ashleigh described what was going on with my movements, detailing how and why they were leading to me repeatedly picking up minor injuries. Having seen physiotherapists multiple times, it wasn’t a shock to learn that it all boiled down to my extremely poor ankle mobility. But this time, Ashleigh had given me some new detail to complete the picture.

Treatment & Rehabilitation

Ashleigh ran through some manipulation and gave my back a good click before introducing me to Kate Hayes, the Ultra Sports Clinic’s biokineticist, who took me through some exercises. The focus was to build strength in my soleus and super weak glutes and to encourage balance and stability in my legs, as well as working on my soleus flexibility to push through my limited motion. The exercises she showed me included side lying glute exercises with a band, standing glute abduction, soleus isolation exercises, some single leg pick ups and aeroplanes.

Carryover to Running

Set with my diagnosis and a plan of action, I now know what to add in to my accessory work to help improve my movement and mobility. Kate and Ashleigh have given me the top advice of doing glute activation exercises before every run to make sure they kick in where they’re needed and, alongside my previous experiences, I feel as though I have all the knowledge I need to really work on this issue that’s been plaguing my fitness life for so long.

Thanks to the Ultra Sports Clinic for giving me the opportunity to really learn about my body, and for the kick-start I need to (hopefully!) get through this marathon injury free!

Disclaimer: I was given a free appointment and treatment plan at the Ultra Sports Clinic to understand their services. As always, my opinion is my own and not affected by payment, or items/services gifted to me. To find out more about my policy on this and other matters, see my Disclosure page.

Clinic photos courtesy of the Ultra Sports Clinic.

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!

Racing a Half Marathon While Training for a Marathon

As my marathon training gets into full swing and I’ve started to plan ahead for my long runs, I’ve realised I have 9 more weekends of running, and 4 half marathons, before the London Marathon weekend hits. Despite being far from an experienced marathon runner (I’ve only run one before, and trained for a second before I got injured), even I know it would be irresponsible to try and race all of them… but is it a good idea to race one at all? And if so, how do you choose your goal race?

Should you race a half marathon while training for a marathon?

The answer to this question depends on a number of factors, including things like:

  • How experienced a runner are you? If you’ve gone from couch to 5k to marathon training all in a relatively short space of time, it may be worth focusing on the bigger goal in mind. However, if you’ve got some decent mileage in your running past and/or have run a marathon/half marathon before, you might find racing a half gives you a good indication of your potential marathon time.
  • How quickly do you recover after long runs? It’s an annoying fact of life – some people recover more quickly than others. Racing, especially for longer distances, creates a significant amount of tissue damage and your body will need time to repair. If you usually recover quickly then great, but otherwise, racing a half could knock you out of marathon training for a week or two – not ideal as you get close to the big day.
  • Have you practised things like pacing, race-day nutrition, what kit you’ll wear for the marathon, etc? All of these are important for marathon day, and (in my opinion) only really fully tested when you run at speeds similar to, or faster than, your target marathon pace. But… none of this really applies if you’re running your first marathon and just aim to finish without a goal time in mind – you can practice all of these things on your normal long runs without having to race!

How to choose your goal half marathon race

So, now you’ve decided if you are or aren’t going to race, now to choose the race itself!

Personally, I’d LOVE to get a new half marathon PB, and I’d like to test myself before marathon day, so I’ve decided I want to race one of the halfs I’ve already booked and I’ve chosen the Reading Half Marathon on Sunday 18th March to do it.

A post shared by Georgina Spenceley (@fitcetera) on Here are the things that helped me to choose the Reading Half as my goal race:

  • Timing – the Reading Half Marathon is almost exactly one month before the Virgin London Marathon… pretty good timing to get a hard race in and still leave enough time to run longer before marathon day while allowing time for my muscles to recover from the speed.
  • Course – I ran Reading in 2015 (and loved it!) and managed to get within 3 minutes of my PB from 2012 on not very much training, which suggests to me that the course is pretty good for PB potential. It has a couple of hills, but is mostly flat with some nice downhill sections too… I think the official running term is “undulating”?!
  • Environment – Reading Half has really good support, and it finishes on a straight before heading into the Madejski Stadium for a track finish with a crowd… what better to encourage a final sprint? And to do that with a PB too – that would be amazing.
  • Logistics – the stadium-home of Reading Half means you have great facilities to make that pre- and post-race prep all the more comfortable. It’s a bit miserable sometimes when you go to a race and have to change in a field or walk forever to find your car/a toilet/the-reasons-why-you-decided-to-do-this-in-the-first-place!

I’m also lucky to be running it with the awesome IanRunsLDN, who’s offered to help pace me to my (hopefully) shiny new PB… I’m pretty sure the company will help! He’s already got a pretty good track record, with a 1:39 PB himself and having already paced me to my current 10k PB, so I know I’m in good hands.

A post shared by Georgina Spenceley (@fitcetera) on And as for the other 3 half marathons I’ve got booked? Those will now be likely to be longer training runs at a slower pace, with miles added on before or after.

Are you running Reading Half Marathon? Comment below if you are! And if you haven’t bagged yourself a place yet, you better be quick because entries to the 2018 race close tomorrow, 14th February.

Disclaimer: I have been given free entry to the Reading Half Marathon. As always, my opinion is my own and not affected by payment, or items/services gifted to me. To find out more about my policy on this and other matters, see my Disclosure page. Thank you to Reading Half Marathon for the opportunity to race.

Featured image by Will Patrick Photography.

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!

#FireUpYourRun With Nathan Sports Running Lights

As fireworks go off around the country I’m looking to a different kind of bright lights this autumn and winter. High-visibility running lights, to be exact. I’ve been running for about 6 years now, and it was only recently that the thought even crossed my mind to actually get myself a running light. I used to think it was… a bit dorky. I would begrudgingly wear a high-vis vest, but that was it. Now, as I get older and, perhaps, wiser, I see the importance in being visible when I run.

Luckily, active brand Nathan has created a huge selection of winter running essentials to help you #FireUpYourRun. With their range of strobe lighting, reflective armbands and even clip-on heel lights, you will definitely see and be seen! Nathan kindly sent me a box of goodies to try out, and here’s how I got on!

The #FireUpYourRun Kit

Matchbox-style box Nathan #fireupyourrun

Check out the cute matchbox-style box my Nathan #fireupyourrun kit came in!

Zephyr Fire 100

This flashlight is specifically designed for running. I love how ergonomic it is – it feels super comfortable in my hand. There’s a front-facing torch element to it, which conveniently points downward towards the ground, and also a rear-facing LED to allow you to be seen. The only thing that annoys me is the back light seems to only have a flashing option and not constant light – I don’t particularly like flashing lights.

There is also an alarm button on the underside… just in case.

Pick one up from £33, Nathan Zephyr Fire 100 Hand Torch –

Nathan Zephyr Fire 100

Nathan Zephyr Fire 100

Orion Strobe

Clip light with crystal white LED and red rear LEDs. This strobe comes with a handy belt that you can clip it to, or you can clip it directly to your clothes. It has varying combinations of white constant, red flashy, white flashy and red constant lights which serve to light the path ahead as well as allow you to be seen. I think it looks a little bit like Ironman’s helmet, which makes me like it more!

Get yours from £19.95, here: NATHAN Orion Strobe, Red/Silver

Nathan Orion, Hyperbrite and Pulsar Strobe

Nathan Orion, Hyperbrite and Pulsar Strobe

Hyperbrite Strobe

Clip this strobe light to the belt from the Orion, or to your clothing. This strobe is slightly less powerful than the Orion.

Pick this up here, from £11: Nathan HyperBrite Strobe –

Pulsar Strobe

Light and versatile – great for clipping on trainer laces. This might have to be the exception to my “no flashy lights” rule… just so I can pretend I have a pair of children’s active-light shoes!

The Pulsar can be picked up for just over £9, here: Nathan Pulsar Strobe Light – Red/Silver

Light Spur

This light clips on to the back of your heel allowing your feet to be seen so would be great for cycling. It kinda makes me feel like a Star Wars-esque cowboy.

Go western from just £16, here: NATHAN LightSpur, Black

Nathan Light Spur and Pulsar Strobe

Nathan Light Spur and Pulsar Strobe

Bandolier

This high-vis Bandolier vest is narrower than the standard ones, allowing for free arm movement and stopping you looking like a race-marshall or aircraft runway control. Keep the waist tight to avoid it bouncing around!

Buy it here, from £17: NATHAN Bandolier Vest, Yellow

Nathan Bandolier High-Vis Vest

Nathan Bandolier High-Vis Vest

Fire & Ice Bottle

Not everyone likes to carry water, and I tend not to other than for really long runs, but this bottle
could have its benefits as it supposedly keeps water cooler 20% longer than other insulated bottles. I’ll probably just use it for CrossFit though as I don’t like to carry anything for runs less than 90 mins.

Buy it here for just £9.95: Nathan Fire & Ice 600ml (20oz) Bottle – Double walled – Ultra Reflective – White : Free Wheeler

Nathan Fire and Ice Insulated Reflective Water Bottle

Nathan Fire and Ice Insulated Reflective Water Bottle

Feetures Elite Merino+ Light Cushion Socks

These seam-free compression socks are soooo soft and also have light cushioning for a comfortable, supported run. The support around the arch is lovely!

Buy them here, from £9.99: FEETURES! Running Socks – ELITE MERINO+ ULTRA LIGHT- No Show Tab

Feetures Elite Merino+ Cushion Socks

Feetures Elite Merino+ Cushion Socks

Lock Laces

These are great for triathletes, but can be used by anyone who just wants to get their shoes on and get out the door quickly! Swap out your ordinary laces for these bad boys and all you have to do is pull a toggle to tighten. Bingo!

You can get these here from just £4: Nathan Lock Laces

Final Thoughts

Nathan’s light selection ranges from as little as £10, upwards – a small price to pay for extra safety during those winter runs. I’ll probably stick to the Zephyr, Bandolier, Light Spur and perhaps the Strobe clipped to my trainers for my evening runs, as I think if I wore everything I may look a little like a Christmas tree! But every run and situation has its challenges, and some of the other Strobes may well come in handy for those really low-light situations.

I certainly feel safer knowing I can be well seen, and have an alarm… which I hope I’ll never have to use.

Nathan #fireupyourrun Running Lights

Flashy!

Disclaimer – I was given a selection of products by Nathan to try. As always, all opinions are my own and not affected by items gifted to me. This post includes Amazon Affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase after clicking the link I will receive a small commission – this does not change the price you pay in any way, and just helps me pay towards the cost of running this site! To find out more about this and my policy, please check out my Disclosure page.