Beginners Week 22: 31 Jan 2016

Congratulations to Denise, Gisele, Magali, and Paola on your 10K run on Sunday!  Here’s a photo, courtesy of Magali.  You guys rock!

Well done on running 70 minutes on Thursday!  You may not believe us, but the hardest part is behind us.  Once someone can run an hour, bumping up a session 10 minutes each week is not a significant jump in terms of fitness/cardio requirement.  The hard part is learning how to run and building a base.  It’s tough to move from walking/jogging intervals to non-stop running.  We’ve done that hard work and are more than ready to start extending our mileage.

A few notes about training over the coming weeks:
  • It’s very important to get in the following runs between now and race day:  80, 90, 100, 110, 110, 120, 100, 135 minutes
  • It’s important to not steadily increase your time every week – it is best to lengthen your session for 3-4 weeks then drop back for one week to allow your body to recover/rest.  We will rest the week of ASL’s February break.
  • Please continue to email/talk to each other when you have scheduling conflicts – it’s a great way to get those longer runs in if you can’t make a Thursday
This week, we have a great run to Borough Market.  Don’t forget your Oyster card and some cash for coffee at Monmouth Coffee. They are known for their filter coffee – they always have a line out the door.
The route:
We head to Hyde Park via the usual route. Start heading west on Circus Road and turn left on Grove End and follow south as it becomes Lisson Grove.  Cross over Marylebone Road and continue on Seymour Place until the end.  Turn right and cross over Edgware Road and then left to enter Hyde Park at the intersection with Stanhope Place.   Run along the eastern edge of the park to Hyde Park Corner, under Wellington Arch and down Constitution Hill.  Run past the Victoria Memorial down the mall and enter St. James Park.  Run over the pond and out of the park, turning left onto Birdcage Walk and down into Parliament Square to Big Ben.  Continue past Big Ben and cross Westminster Bridge. After the bridge turn left to run along the Thames until the river path ends after Southwark Bridge. Borough Market is under the railway bridge near the London Bridge station.
Borough Market via Westminster Bridge 6 miles.png

Beginners Week 21: 26 Jan 2016

Hi everyone,

Well, we are really starting things this week.  Up until now, we have been building our muscles and our lungs and our psyche to know that we can run for 60 minutes.  We will now start to add on a bit each Thursday to build you up to the distance you need to run that race.  Think of how far you’ve come – it really is amazing.  We can’t wait to watch you grow from here!
Here are my bullet points for the week:
  • Running 3x/week – Thursday long, weekend 30 min, Tuesday 45 min
  • It is normal to move among pace groups each week or day
  • Bring water for the Thursday runs
  • Eat something before the Thursday runs
  • The Thursday run is SLOW
Looking ahead, after ASL’s February break, we will be increasing your non-Thursday run time to 45 min on the weekend and 60 min on Tuesdays.
Today’s lecture – why we run slowly.  This is from Paula Mitchell, our founder.
Why do we run the long run slower than race pace?
The quick answer is that it has to do with how your body builds fuel, which is something you’ll need for the race! I’ll delve into the basic science of fueling (which I have hugely over-simplified but hopefully it’ll get my point across). To fuel our runs we have 3 options – Creatine Phosphate (CP), glycogen and fat.
Creatine Phosphate- You have about 15 seconds worth of CP fuel – that’s it. Think Usain Bolt running the 100m – he fuels with CP and it works because he can run 100m in less than 15 seconds. CP is where your body will go first looking for fuel, particularly if you take off like a rocket from Barclays. Think of CP as kindling on a fire – it catches fire easily but burns out very quickly.
Glycogen- Glycogen is the next fuel option. Glycogen is basically stored in your muscles and in your liver and because of that it makes glycogen a bit more difficult to burn as fuel (think of damp firewood – it will eventually burn but it takes quite a bit to get it going).
Fat- Fat is the 3rd source of fuel and most runners, even the very lean women, have an ample supply of it. Think of fat as a butane tank of gas on the BBQ grill – once it’s lit, you can have countless cook-outs before the fuel is gone.
Here’s the important part- All of those fuel sources – kindling, damp firewood or butane gas need something to ignite them and keep them burning. Physiologically speaking that ignition or burning “tool” is ATP which is created by mitochondria; so, the more mitochondria you have the more efficient you are as a fuel burning machine.
What is mitochondria and how do we get more of it?  Some of us are genetically blessed with higher mitochondria counts. Thank your mother for that – it comes through the maternal side of the genetic equation. If you didn’t win the genetic lottery, then the only way you can increase mitochondria is through LONG, SLOW, ENDURANCE training (LSE). When you go for a long run at a slow pace, you actually produce mitochondria. Kind of cool, huh? Now remember – we need mitochondria to help ignite our fuel sources. So what does that mean for you? It means SLOW DOWN on your long run – give your body a chance to become a mitochondria production factory. If you do your long run at a strong pace, you’re missing out on this benefit.
So we will be keeping it SLOW on Thursdays, and now you know why.
Our route this week is going to be to Hyde Park and back.  Head down Circus Road and t turn right on Grove End/ Lisson Grove.  Cross over Marylebone Rd (now you’re on Seymour Pl) and run until the road ends.  Turn right on Seymour St, cross Edgware Rd, and turn left at the next street (Stanhope Pl).  Cross into Hyde Park, cross over the Carriage Rd.  Where we go in the park will depend on how we are doing on time when we get there.  Coming home, we will exit at the east side of the park at Upper Brook St.  You’ll know you’re in the right place if you run past the Animals in War Memorial.  After you cross Park Ln, make your first left onto Park St and keep going until you get to Park Rd.  Turn left on Park Rd and make your way past Regents Park back to Starbucks.
See you Thursday!

Beginners Week 20: 20 Jan 2016

Week 20??  Holy cow – how did we get here already?  You guys ROCK after last week’s full-on 60 minutes.  We coaches knew you could do it and you proved us right.  We hope it wasn’t as bad as you had feared.  We have one more week of 60 minutes and then we start moving that needle forward.

We have revised the training plan since the race is a week later than the original plan anticipated.  I am attaching it here.  You’ll see that we have noted the weeks that we will do some of our iconic training runs so mark your calendars!  Before then we will plan some good runs including one to Borough Market before ASL’s February break.  As always, if you have any questions about the training plan, please ask any of us!
In the meantime, let’s review those bullet points from last week:
  • You should be running 3 times per week now
  • The Tuesday run should be about 45 minutes and the weekend run should be about 30 minutes
  • It is OK to break up into smaller pace groups on your weekend and Tuesday runs but it is normal for pace groups to ebb and flow from week to week
  • Bring water for the Thursday runs
  • Eat something before the Thursday runs
  • The Thursday run is SLOW
I’ve added one on to the end – the Thursday run should be SLOW.  As we run for longer times, we will be puling all of you back a little.  Running slowly builds your body and muscles in a different way.  I will send our founder, Paula’s, lengthy description of that next week once we start lengthening – get ready.
Here’s our route for the week – a version of one of the regular runs we do in the M/W/F group – Kensal Rise:
Go out Circus/Hall/Sutherland until it hits Harrow.  Take a right on Harrow to the intersection with Elgin.  Go left over the bridge and enter the canal. Go west on the canal and exit at Ladbroke Grove.  Take a right and run to Kilburn Lane where you go right and follow the road as it becomes Carlton Vale then Carlton Hill.  Go right on Abbey Road and left on Hall back to Starbucks.

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See you on Thursday!

Beginners Week 19: 11 Jan 2016

What a fun evening it was on Thursday!  So nice to see everyone out and not in hats and ponytails!  And well done to jumping right back into the routine for Thursdays run.

We had lots of questions from you guys on the run and since I know some of you work better in bullet points, here are the key things to know:
  • You should be running 3 times per week now
  • The Tuesday run should be about 45 minutes and the weekend run should be about 30 minutes
  • It is OK to break up into smaller pace groups on your weekend and Tuesday runs but it is normal for pace groups to ebb and flow from week to week
  • Bring water for the Thursday runs
  • Eat something before the Thursday runs
We cannot emphasize enough that the way to build up to the half is to just put in the time and miles.  Also, it is important to understand that the pace groups will continue to morph throughout our training and that is completely normal.  Some days you feel like you be towards the front, sometimes you feel like it’s just not your day and you’re slower.  This happens in the M/W/F group, too.  We have lots of time and as you know, it’s about finishing and feeling good about it, not about how fast you can go.  Save that for next year 🙂
Water and Nutrition
As our runs get longer, you will want water along to hydrate.  It will make you feel better on the run and will help your body recover faster.  Also, please please eat something, just a little something, before our Thursday runs.  We don’t want you feeling faint from lack of energy.  Maybe some yogurt or a banana – just a little something for your body to use to fuel you.  In February, as our runs get longer, we will talk to you about fueling for much longer runs and during the race, but we’re not ready for that yet.
We will try to send you the route beforehand each week.  You can use some of them, especially ones we’ve sent up to now, as examples for your Tuesday runs.  Also, if there are places you would like us to go, please tell us!  We had a Borough Market suggestion on Thursday and we are happy to do that route when we are ready for that mileage (in just another week or two!).
This Week
Big day on Thursday – 60 minutes, no walk breaks.  But there will be plenty of little stops for lights and such so no worries!  Plus after last week’s run, we are more than confident this will be a walk (run?) in the park for you.  Regent’s Park, that is.  Here is the route for Thursday:
Start down St John’s Wood Terrace to Townsend, go left on Townsend, right on Acacia, and left on Avenue.  Cross Avenue and head down Ellsworthy, turning right to enter Primrose Hill.  Run diagonally across Primrose, exiting at Regent’s Park Road.  Follow Regent’s Park Rd, crossing the bridge and veering right, until it ends at Chalk Farm.  Take a right and run down Chalk Farm past the Camden tube station, then go right on Parkway to the Outer Circle.  Go left on the Outer Circle then right on Chester Road to the Inner Circle.  Go counterclockwise about 2/3rds of the way around and exit at York Bridge.  Take the Outer Circle to the right, exit at Charlbert, and head down Prince Albert Road to the churchyard for stretching.

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And since we didn’t manage to get the route out before the run last Thursday, I thought I’d add it in here so you have it if you want it:
Run down Circus/Hall Rd, right on Hamilton Terrace, left on Abercorn which becomes Elgin.  We take Elgin all the way to the end, cross at the big intersection and go over the over pass, run past the Westbourne Park tube, and take a right on Westbourne Park Road.  We go left on Ledbury, left on Westbourne Grove, and take the canal home.
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See you on Thursday!

Beginners Week 18: 4 Jan 2016

Happy 2016!
We hope you all had a relaxing break and you’re ready to start building up those run times. Hopefully you were able to get in a few runs over the past few weeks. If not, please make sure you get out there on Tuesday and Thursday to get yourself back on track. This Thursday we will do one more run of two 30 minute intervals and then next week we move to a full hour with no stops. But don’t panic – there will be red men who work in our favor. 🙂

On a more sobering note, we wanted to make sure you all knew about Mary Holtze. On Christmas Eve while visiting family in Minnesota, Mary suffered a brain aneurysm and was rushed into emergency surgery.  Since then, she has been improving daily although she she remains in the ICU in Minnesota. Her family has created a CaringBridge site ( if you are interested in receiving updates on her progress. Her older daughter has come to London so her 10th grade daughter could return to school. I believe a Meal Train schedule will be set up shortly for them and we will pass on that information once we have it. Please keep Mary and her family in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.

See you on Thursday,

Amy, Vicky and Meg