23 Beginner Note 23 February 2014


Dear Beginner runners,


I hope you all enjoyed your break and ‘recovery week’.  We are now 5 weeks away from the race!  We have 3 more long runs – this week’s run for 1 hour 50 minutes, then a 2 hour run to Canary Wharf, and a 2 hour 10 minute run to Kew on March 20th which will be to Kew.  Please clear your schedules for these runs – the ones to Canary and Kew will take up a large part of the morning because of the destinations.  Please let me know if for some reason you are unable to run on one of these days – it is essential that you try to run with the group for these long runs – the routes are not so easy to figure out on your own as they are either on the canal, or on a dirt track along the river (as in the Kew run) and you need to know which exits to take off the canal/river path. 


This week we have a run which will be part canal, part street and part park running, plus a hill!  This is a good route to take before we do the Canary Wharf next week which is almost all canal running.  Once again, do not take any notice of the mileage on the map – depending on where in the pack you are running, the coaches will be making adjustments to the route towards the end.   


Now a bit about gels.  There has been all sorts of information, and opinions about gels, so I have decided to copy and paste what Paula wrote this time last year to the beginner runners then.  She is the expert on running, and it is best to take the read the information in her words.  Please take the time to read this carefully.    


You are all incredibly bright women and many of you are doing a bunch of research/reading/studying about running (which is fabulous).  Announcing to your friends that you’re running a half-marathon usually results in an onslaught of advice.  It’s kind of like having a baby.  The unsolicited advice just pours in.  So, it’s highly likely that you are getting information that conflicts with my advice/guidance/suggestions.  The problem with that is their advice is usually valid but doesn’t always apply to beginner running (or our type of beginner running).  Competitive/elite runners have an entirely different fuel requirement than we do.  Runners completing races at high intensities fuel differently.  Uninformed racers fuel differently than we do.  There are beginner groups who’s goal is to do a race in a fast time so they fuel differently.  Our group/program is designed to complete a half-marathon (with time being very secondary).  So, I think this is how we should proceed….  I’ll give my recommendation and everyone can decide whether they want to take that advice or not.  I promise I won’t be offended if you disagree.

What type of fuel?

I recommend gels.  Period.  There are issues/problems/complications with all other types of fuel when considering what our group is trying to achieve.  Again, this would be different if we were not beginner runners who’s aim it is to finish a half-marathon.  If you chose to use a different fuel source, I recommend taking in an equivalent amount of carbs at the same time that everyone else is doing their gel.  For example, if you are going to use shot-blocks or sport-beans, you need to take in the equivalent of a gel within a few minutes (not just eating a shot-block every now and then).  The body responds differently to periodic fuel injections (snacking on sport-beans) than a one-off significant fuel injection (ie., a gel).  For what we are trying to achieve, a one-off injection has less of a chance of disturbing the body’s fuel sourcing system.  We want the body to fuel primarily with fat for this half-marathon.  Once you have one half-marathon under your belt, then you can decide to push the pace (or distance) and you will have different fuel requirements.  Remember to drink 50-100ml of water after doing most gels.  There are a few gels that don’t require water.  The downsides of those types of gels is that they are bulkier and I’ve seen quite a few women throw them up (which is kind of unpleasant but more importantly, you lose the carbs you just took in).

When to fuel?

For our three remaining long runs and the race, I recommend doing a gel between 70-80 minutes (of running time).  I’m sure you’ve noticed that some runners are needing a gel earlier and some later.  This window will give everyone fuel before you reach meltdown!  On race-day, I will recommend that everyone do a second gel at 1:55-2:10.  It is a really bad idea to do gels/sport-beans/shot-blocks before the race or before 70 minutes in the race.  It is also a bad idea to do gels closer together than 35 minutes (again, these guidelines are for us as beginner runners).  These guidelines will keep us safe and best prepared for the distance.


Please let any of your coaches know if you have any questions/concerns. 


See you on Thursday!




Beginner Note 23 February 2014

Sunday, February 23, 2014


10 Beginner Note 10 February 2014


Hi Runners,


Another great run last Thursday – I know it was hard, but everyone did so well!  This week we will run for 100 minutes, and because of the tube strike, we will have another round trip, but one that I hope you agree will be fun.  I know Friday is a holiday for ASL, but I am hoping that most of you will be able to run – please let me know if you have a conflict.  Once again, bring your gels – we need to keep testing and trying to make sure we are completely comfortable with the taste/texture before the race.  You will all need to take at least one gel, and probably 2 during the race.  I know a lot of you felt that the gel made a difference, and for those of you who didn’t feel that way, you most likely would have felt much worse at the end of the run had it not been for the gel!  Trust me on this one!


Happy running,





Beginner Note 10 February 2014

Monday, February 10, 2014


2 Beginner Note 2 February 2014


Dear Runners,


Wow, what a great run last week!  It exceeded my expectations – having not run with you the two weeks previously, I was naturally very apprehensive as to how the 80 minute run would go (especially given that I know a few of you had conflicts and have not been coming out with the group at 8:15).  We had a great turnout, with 21 runners (I know Kavita and Colleen have been doing a great job with keeping up with their training) and you all did exceptionally well.  You all ran the paces you were comfortable with, talked throughout the run and managed to impress Jane, Bonnie and I!  Ladies we have 8 weeks for the half marathon, and you are well on target with your training!  You are all running 2 other days of the week, and some of you have already started tackling the hills – thanks so much for making our job easier!  It is truly exciting to see how well you are doing and how motivated you are!


This week we will be running 90 minutes.  I had planned a destination run to Vauxhall through Hyde and Battersea Parks, so we would have some uninterrupted periods of running, but it sounds as though there is a tube strike this week, which will make it difficult for us to get back from Vauxhall.  If things change between now and Thursday, I will revert to the original route, but as it stands now, I have planned a route that will bring us back to SJW.  Please be sure to bring your gels – you will need to take a gel during this run.  I will have some with me for those who have not managed to pick some up, but bear in mind you will also need to bring water.  These runs are getting longer and longer and hydration is essential, but also the gels are better taken with water.  If you want more information on what types of gels there are, let me know – and there is also information in last week’s email to the MWF group, which you can find on the Women Running the World website (www.womenrunningtheworld.com).  Please understand that you do need to take at least one gel, and maybe even two, during the race, and you need to get used to doing that from now.  I have a few different flavours, so let me know if you have not managed to get some in time for Thursday’s run.  During the run, we (the coaches) will let you know when to take a gel.


See you Thursday!



Beginner Note 2 February 2014

Sunday, February 2, 2014