2017-18 Beginners Week 14

Hi everyone,
For those of you who celebrated, I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  All that eating is perhaps good motivation for doing some running…!
We have just a few more weeks until winter break and we will accomplish a lot before then.  You all can DO this!  We are so excited for all of you, how well you are doing.  We have several pieces of information below but not quite so long-winded as the past few weeks ?
Holiday Lights Run – December 7
Don’t forget – we are planning to do the early morning holiday lights run on Thursday 7 December.  Please let me know if you think you can NOT make it.   We will send out the specifics next week but we will start at 6 am and you should be back to SJW around 7:15.  It really is a special run so I hope you can all make it!
Some of you may have already purchased new shoes since you started running, but some haven’t.  If you haven’t, it would be good to get a new pair before we start increasing our mileage in January.  If you’re going back to the US for the holidays, you could pick up a pair there (that’s what I did my beginner year).  It’s a good idea to go to a store that knows what it’s doing – that will evaluate your gait and suggest an appropriate shoe for you.  In London, Runners Need (a chain with many locations) or the Asics store on Oxford Street offer gait analysis.  You want to get new shoes soon so you can make sure they are comfortable and don’t cause any issues.  When I was a beginner, I ran the first few months in cross trainers and when I got “real” running shoes, my knees started hurting because I was landing differently in the new shoes.  It took several weeks of alternating with my old and new shoes before everything settled and I was glad to have that time.
THANK YOU to Starbucks
Every year, the M/W/F group organises a gift for the employees at our local St. John’s Wood Starbucks. You are welcome to contribute to that effort if you would like.  We’re suggesting a £5-10 donation, but feel free to give whatever you would like. We’ll also be donating some home-baked goodies. Give your donation (in an envelope with your name) to one of us before Tuesday 13 December. Please email [email protected] if you would like to contribute baked treats. We’ll gather the baked goods on Tuesday 13 December and we’ll give the gift to Starbucks on Wednesday 14 December before the M/W/F group run. Please get your gift to us soon if you would like to participate.
This Week
For Thursday, we are going to run down to Hyde Park and we will be doing 2 25-minute intervals with a 5 minute walk break in between.  We will end at the Starbucks at the Green Park tube so BRING YOUR OYSTER CARD!
Directions for the run:
From Barclays, head down Circus Rd and turn left on Lisson Grove.  Run to Marylebone Road and cross over to Seymour Place.  At the end, turn right, cross over Edgware Road (be careful at this light) and run straight for one block on Seymour Road.  Turn left on Stanhope Place and then cross Hyde Park Pl to get into Hyde Park.  When you see the silver globe, after crossing North Carriage Dr, turn right.  Follow that path to the road (N Carriage Drive) and cross the road (be careful!).  Run down the hill to the Italian Gardens and turn left to run along the gardens (the gardens will be on your left).  Keep to the path closest to the water and run through the tunnel under the road and past the Diana Memorial Fountain and the cafe.  Keep along the water and at the end, bear right to run down onto the path (keep out of the bike path on the right).  At the end of the path, go right to make your way out of the gates to Hyde Park Corner and cross over Knightsbridge to run through the Wellington Arch and into Green Park.  Run straight and then turn left to go towards the tube station at the far end.

Week 14

2017-18 Beginners Week 13

Hi everyone,
Last week was HUGE!  3 15-minute segments – that is fantastic.  We are SO proud of all of you.  And THANK YOU to Clay and all of you for the amazing lunch and delicious chocolates.  It was so special to be able to socialize not wearing our running clothes!

This week, we are keeping it steady with the same 15 minute segments.  For those of you going away for the ASL break, just do your best to get in the runs.  Remember, beginning this week, the Tuesday run is now a total of 45 minutes exercise time and your weekend run should be 30-35 minutes total.  Break it up with walk/runs however feels most comfortable to you.

I am here on Thursday so I am planning to coach the run as usual assuming there is enough interest.  Please respond to let me know if you will be here.  Let’s give us an extra few minutes of sleep and meet at 8:30 am.  We will do a loop so we can get back to SJW to give time to start cooking.
I want to say a little more about pace and such.  We are now getting to the point where the group may start to split up.  This is completely normal.  Please please do not worry about your pace or the pace of anyone else in the group.  You don’t need to worry about going faster.  ALL of you are running at a pace that is completely standard for beginner runners.  And honestly, we will stay at a similar pace throughout the program.  You should not be concerned at all about being fast enough to do the race – it is not about speed, it’s about finishing and finishing with a smile on your face (and sweat on your brow).  As I’ve said before, if you are feeling like you don’t want to talk, you are going too fast.
I have also heard some people worry about their gait.  Everyone has her own gait and it’s generally not a good idea to try to change it unless a licensed professional has said there is a problem and is guiding you.  Some people hit harder on their heels, some run flat, some run on their toes – it’s ALL fine.  We are not trying to be Olympic athletes with the perfect positioning for the fastest marathon (and those Olympic athletes have many professionals guiding them).  If you are hurting, please please see a physio or osteopath to get a professional opinion.

And now for the lengthy part of the email.  Feel free to skim or skip it – I know it is quite verbose!

With Thanksgiving this week and many of us having food on our minds, I thought it would be a good time to talk about nutrition for runners.  The information here is taken directly from Paula, the founder of our group (she is the “I” in the text).  She has years of experience as well as trainer certification.  That said, everyone is different and you need to figure out what will work best for you.


Let’s start with protein because that is probably the most critical component as you increase exercise intensity or duration.  When you run, you create tiny tears in your muscle fibers and protein is required to repair that damage.  For female long-distance runners, experts suggest taking in about 90g a day (or 1.6-1.8g/kg of body weight).  That’s a lot of protein – it takes a concerted effort to get there and at our level, we don’t need that much.  Make it “clean” protein when possible – lean meats, fish, nuts, yogurt, lentils/pulses and low-fat milk (this is the one low-fat product that most nutritionists agree is fine).  Most professional runners eat salmon like crazy – I’ve never heard a nutritionist say that salmon is THAT much better than other fish, but a lot of very experienced runners sing its praises.


A lot of trainers will encourage you to increase your carb intake, but I don’t fully agree (particularly for our type of running).  It may be necessary for athletes training at extemely high intensity zones, but that’s not what we’re doing.  Bottomline….  we are trying to teach our bodies to use fat as fuel.  Fat is easier to access as an energy source and requires less fine-tuning in terms of timing carb intake during exercise.  Our bodies have about 1000-1200 “easy access” calories available which will get most ladies about 10-11 miles (depending on their weight and fitness level).  After that we will use gels (carbs) to fuel that last 2-3 miles of a half-marathon.  If you increase your carb intake on a daily basis, then your body starts expecting a constant feed of carb fuel and may begin to resist going to fat as a fuel source.  Your body needs carbs so don’t completely cut them out – just choose clean carbs, complex when possible, ie. grains, wholewheat products, basmati rice (the longer the grain the better – long grain basmati is better for you than even brown rice).  Bread is not evil, just don’t rely on it as your major carb source.  Sourdough bread is better for you (usually made with naturally occuring yeast) than traditional loaves.


Fat is necessary in our diets.  I would make a nutritionist cringe by explaining it so simply, but basically fat creates a slower release of energy/fuel.  It’s as though you’ve taken a time release medication rather than a typical dose when you combine a bit of fat with your other nutrition sources.  Fat from avocados, olive oil, nuts, etc is obviously better for you than fat in brownies, cookies, etc (sorry about that!!!).  Some current research is suggesting it is actually it’s the sugar in those products rather than the saturated fat that is causing a big problem with obesity, diabetes and heart disease.  We can let the scientists battle that out – for us, just try to get your fat from more natural foods.

With all nutrition, the closer you can get to whole food, the better (i.e., apples are better than applesauce, whole vegetables are better than pre-packaged ones).  Basically, the closer your food looks to how you would find it “in-situ”, the better.  That concept is one thing on which all nutritionists/dietitians seem to agree.
Before you run, I would suggest the following:

  • 50g carbohydrates
  • 5g protein
  • 2-3g fat

That could be a half bagel with cream cheese, yogurt with nuts (if the nuts don’t upset your stomach), a smoothie, or try oatmeal/porridge – it wins the prize for a near-perfect carb/protein/fat mix for pre-run.  Most people find simpler carbs work better before a run than complex carbs as they are more easily digested (so a plain bagel instead of a wholegrain/seeded bagel).  Ideally, eat the pre-run meal 90 minutes before running.  Sometimes that is just not possible, so the closer to the run that you eat, the more you should consider simplier carbs for easier digestion.   The latest research on coffee/caffeine pre-exercise, suggest there is no impact on performance, but a huge impact on perceived exertion.  This is interesting to me – basically these new studies conclude that given two athletes who have eaten the exact same thing, and are asked to perform at the exact same level, and who have the exact same result feel differently about how hard the session was.  The one who has caffeine in their system will feel it was easier – their “perception of exertion” is lower.

Within 30 minutes after you run, I would suggest the following:

  • 50g carbohydrates
  • 10g protein
  • 2g fat

The protein piece is critical as is the timing of this food.  Again, a nutritionist/scientist would cringe at how I try to explain this, but here we go… when you exercise your muscles are agitated/traumatized.  The cell membranes temporarily become more porous (instead of a wall, it’s more like a mesh allowing the flow of nutrients easy passage).  Some post-run ideas would be a latte and yogurt, a latte and a piece of fruit or a latte and half a skinny muffin.  I’ve attached the Starbucks nutritional info to make this easier for you.  Basically a tall, skinny latte has 14g of carbs, 10g of protein and 0g fat – so you’re looking for another 35g of carbs in addition to the latte.  All of this pre/post run info would apply to longer runs and what qualifies as a long run is different from runner to runner.  You are probably just fine eating whatever you normally consume until about mid-end January when our runs lengthen.

Click here for Starbucks beverage nutrition info
Click here for Starbucks food nutrition info

2017-18 Beginners Week 12

Hi Everyone,
First, a big shout out to Kate – what a GREAT show on Thursday!  Good luck in NYC this week – we can’t wait to hear all about it!
Don’t forget that Friday is the potluck lunch gathering at Clay’s at noon at xxx.  Please let her know if you will be there and what you will bring.

We’re really moving along now in our training and you guys are all doing AMAZING! Last week was another jump and you all took it in stride. We will be going up a bit more this week but we will hold the course for next week for Thanksgiving week.

This is a very long email, sorry.  But it has important information so please do your best to read it.

First I want to address the pacing on Tuesday and other runs.  I apologize if I caused some swirl last week regarding the pace.  The point of discussing pace is to make sure you aren’t going too fast on your other runs.  Basically, if you feel like you don’t want to talk, you are going too fast.  On Thursdays, we have been running 13 – 13:30 minute miles.  This translates to about 4.5 miles per hour (for those of you who use a treadmill) or 8 – 8:20 minute kms.  There is a unit translator here that you can use if it’s helpful: https://www.unitjuggler.com/speed-conversion.html.  This is just a guideline if you feel you are out running and want to keep an eye on your speed.  There is no need to watch your speed if you are feeling comfortable in your run.  Please talk to one of the coaches if you have any questions about this!
SAVE THE DATE – December 7 – Holiday Lights Run
A few years ago, a M/W/F runner suggested the group do an early-morning run to see the lights on Oxford and Regent Streets and it has become a tradition. It is incredible to see the lights when it’s dark and there is no one on the street. We will leave at 6 am and will run from Barclays down to Oxford and Regent and circle back to Bond Street to take the tube home. We should be back in SJW around 7:15, give or take a few minutes, so in time to get the kids to school if you have a little help getting them up. I hope you all can make it.
We have some significant increases in our training coming up, but you all are ready – really! But there are some important things we need to discuss, so bear with me because this email is a bit long.

We have reached a turning point in our training with this coming week’s run. We will be running 3 15-minute segments with 3 minutes of walking in between. Think about that – remember running 60 seconds those first weeks and we all thought we were going to die. Then two minutes…. well, it might as well have been a lifetime. We know it’s not easy – learning to run is challenging, but think of where you’ve come from. We’re putting in an hour of total time now – it’s amazing what you’re doing. We are at a critical point in our training where the routine begins to change… so I’ll just jump right in and start explaining.

  • 3 runs a week? If you are aiming to do the half-marathon in the spring, you should be adding a third run each week if you haven’t already. It will make the race a lot easier if you can get in a third run at least from time to time. Let’s be clear – it’s never easy running 13.1 miles, but the more miles you’ve put in, the more comfortable your body will be running that distance.
  • Varying each run – This is the good news….. We have progressed to the point where our runs/routes will begin to vary. Next Tuesday 21 November (or whichever day you are doing your second run) you will no longer simply repeat the route we did together the previous Thursday. After this week, you will be doing one long run with your coaches on Thursdays, one medium run and for the third weekly run, you will do a short run. The medium run (beginning Tuesday 21 Nov) will be 45 minutes total exercise time. Feel free to break that up into whatever intervals you are comfortable with. If you’re not sure where to start, you could try doing a 5 minute warm-up walk followed by three 12 minute jogging intervals separated by 2 minute walking breaks. The third run should be 30-35 minutes total exercise time. This also can be broken down into whatever length intervals make you happy. A place to start may be…. 5 minute warm-up walk followed by three 8-9 minute intervals separated by 2 minute walks. Particularly for this 30-35 minute session, some of you may be interested in doing a walking warm-up then just jogging slowly until you feel you need a break. Then walk for a couple of minutes and jog some more until you reach the 30-35 minute total time. If you want to try that, here are a few tips. First of all, run SLOW, like what we do on Thursdays. Second, don’t look at your watch. Do your 5 min warm-up then start jogging. Look around, watch the people on the streets or in the park, think about anything but running, notice the yellow/gold/red leaves, make a grocery list in your mind, think about what book you want to read next or where you want to go on holiday…. anything but running. When you’ve had enough, then check your watch to see how much time you did, take a walking break and carry on. You may just amaze yourself. On these additional runs, go wherever you want. You know how to get to Hyde Park, Regent’s Park is right there, and access to the canal is super easy. We’ll help you come up with some other ideas if those routes get boring.
  • Consistent Training – For just a minute here we’re going to be a little bit more tough than usual. These Thursday long runs are getting more and more important. If there is any way you can get there, please join us. We know some of you have things you have committed to ages ago and we get it. Until now it has not been a problem because we are simply repeating the Thursday run on the following Tuesday. We’re not asking you to cancel travel plans or quit courses. We are all busy and there are always weeks here and there when we can’t run. Not a problem! The bottom line is this… if you cannot make the majority of the Thursday runs, particularly in the new year, but truly even throughout December, it will be very difficult for you to contemplate doing a half-marathon. We’re not trying to be mean or demanding or threatening, just realistic. As our Thursday long run lengthens, you will want and need help, advice, pacing and someone to complain to. We will be discussing fueling/hydration and trying out different options in that regard. Those are things we need to learn/practice together – it’s not the same as reading it in an email. The other one or two runs each week are much, much less important. That’s the end of that speech….. next topic!
  • What’s your pace? We are beginning to settle into pace groups. This is natural and is not a reflection of your fitness level. We need to each find the pace that feels comfortable. Some of you have longer strides, some take smaller steps, some of you have long legs, some of you are tiny and have to take two steps to every one stride of a taller runner. It’s not only down to height – some tall people have a natural up and down movement with less forward propulsion. Most runners say that if they are asked to adjust their natural pace, things start hurting so it is important to find your natural speed. We need to start thinking about where in the group you are pace-wise. For the race, we will divide ourselves up based on these training paces so everyone will have a group and a trainer to run with. During our training runs start trying to identify others in the group who are running your pace. Who do you seem to naturally fall in sync with? You probably have noticed that we don’t talk about pace in terms of numbers or precise times in this group. It’s not important to have a specific number – it is important to know what feels comfortable to you…. not too fast, not too slow, but just right!
  • Hydration – As our runs get longer, we need to start taking in fluids while we’re running. Hydration requirements vary vastly from runner to runner, but experts suggest targeting about 500ml of fluid for each hour of exercise. Our needs are probably less than that as we are operating at a lower intensity level doing long distance training. You may consider buying a belt that holds little bottles, a tiny camelback (one that sits very high up on your back), or one of those bottles that slips over your hand. I wouldn’t recommend a large backpack – it changes your gait. This need to carry water applies only to your weekly long run. You are fine running 30-45 minutes if you drink before and after your session.

I understand that you have no point of reference, so you have no idea how well you are doing. We’re running 4 miles now, over and over again. I know it’s not easy, but you are doing it. You have the worst of it behind you. It’s A LOT harder going from 0 running minutes to 1 running minute, or from 1 to 2 minutes – those are difficult beyond belief. In the next few weeks, we are transitioning into straight running, no designated walking breaks. That may sound scary, but think about where we run. Even though I say we are running 50 or 60 minutes non-stop, there will be street crossings. You will learn to pray for the little “red-man light”. My message is that you can do this. You have each other to lean on and all of your coaches to help out however we can.

So… on to this week! Here is the route for the week
Head to Regent’s Park via Charlbert. Cross the Outer Circle, enter Regent’s, and stay right, running past the first bridge and then crossing the second one. Take a left on the Inner Circle and continue until York Bridge. Go left onto York Bridge and head out of the park, crossing Marylebone Road. Go left on Marylebone then right on Marylebone High Street which becomes Thayer. Take a right on Hinde Street and a right on Manchester Square. Run past the Wallace Collection and left on George Street to Seymour Place. Go right on Seymour Place, cross Marylebone Road, and take Lisson Grove/Grove End back to Circus. Take a right on Circus to end at Barclays.

Week 12

2017-18 Beginners Week 11

Hi everyone,

I just got back from a show in Islington and on my way there, I happened to walk by the Hen & Chickens Theatre and saw posters for Kate’s show.  I hope your opening night went well, Kate!  I can’t wait to go on Thursday!

So – well done this week!  That was a big jump up in time – going from 7 minute to 10 minute segments.  That’s HUGE!  I know it was hard, but you did it!    This week we will increase our intervals up to 12 minutes.  If you hadn’t noticed, we are increasing our time faster now so it is so important to make sure you are getting at least the Tues/Thurs (or substitute days) in and it will be much easier on you if you are doing that third run on the weekend.  It will be easy to suddenly feel like you’re falling behind and we don’t want that to happen!
Some of you may be away for ISSTs (the high school end of the season sports tournaments for those of you without ASL high schoolers) this week so just try to get the run in when you can.
Don’t forget to keep it SLOW on Tuesdays.  You can get an app for your phone – I recommend MapMyRun, Strava or RunKeeper – that will track how fast you are running.  You should be running between a 12:30 and 13:00 minute mile at the most (and it is completely fine to be slower).  I would recommend that one person be in charge of the timing for Tuesdays and another person keep track of the speed.  You should pause the app when you walk so you’re accurately timing the run portion.  For your weekend run, it’s OK to go a bit faster because it’s for a shorter time and distance.  But don’t kill yourselves!
Finally, if you haven’t booked your hotel room, please do so now.  We sold out the first block of rooms and the hotel has given us a few more, but once these are booked, the next set of rooms will be more expensive.  Please remember that the hotel has a very generous cancellation policy – I think it’s 24 hours in advance, so even if you’re not sure you’re coming, it will be better to book a room and cancel than miss out.
This week for the route, we are going to Notting Hill via Elgin Avenue in Maida Vale.  See you Thursday if not before!

Beginner Week 11

2017-18 Beginners Week 10

Hi everyone,
SO SO fun to run to Big Ben last week!  Big Ben was a huge milestone and you all did it with smiles on your faces. Now if only it wasn’t covered in scaffolding, darn it!  You guys did 40 minutes of running – so amazing!
We have a jump up in time intervals this week but don’t be nervous – you can do it!  You are all doing so well.  If you are worried about the time, or feel tired during the run, just slow down.  We’re not in a hurry!
I know some of you have started adding in an extra run on the weekend.  This is the time for all of you to start doing that if you haven’t already.  This will really help you continue to build your stamina and will make the runs during the week easier.  In general, you don’t want to run a longer segment on the weekend than we are doing during the week – so if you ran next weekend, it shouldn’t have segments longer than 10 minutes.  The run should be no more than 30-35 total minutes including walk time.  Pay attention to your pace, too, so you don’t go too fast.  Your muscles have been building so you can add that third run, but we don’t want you to push too much and get injured.  As we run longer segments, it will become more important to have that extra run on the weekend so the longer runs during the week aren’t so tiring.
Some of you have asked about eating before the run.  In general, it is good to have something in your stomach before you run, but not too much.  The key for all of you is to experiment.  A little later, as we are running for longer, I will send a long, information-packed email put together by WRW’s founder, Paula, on the science and theory behind what to eat before and after a run.  But I don’t think we need that level of detail yet.  For now, you should be trying different things to see what works for you because everyone is different.  Personally, I usually have a yogurt or a banana along with coffee and whole milk.  It’s enough to keep my stomach from grumbling and will give me a little energy, but won’t sit like a lump.  I know other runners like oatmeal or a smoothie or maybe half a bagel with cream cheese.  The important thing is to have something.  As we start to run longer, you will need a little more energy and it’s good to start trying things now.
Also, most of you will experience an increased appetite as a result of this training.  That is normal.  Many runners will say they didn’t lose a pound when they started running.  Usually it’s because you’re hungrier with increased activity levels, so you eat more.  Generally, women don’t lose or gain weight in training, but they have more energy, they can eat more and often digestive issues disappear.  
Let us know if you have any questions about any of this!
It’s time for the new WRW T-shirt order and this year we are also offering some additional WRW kit. (Thank you Carol Bertolino for organising all these great offerings!) Orders are due by5pm on Thursday 2 November. Since we have such a large order, we need to work with the Nike “teamwear” vendors as the inventory levels are always changing. So once we get confirmation that our preferred colour/style is in stock, we need to order ASAP. That means that we can’t extend the deadline or make late additions once we have submitted the order. Don’t be late, or you’ll miss your chance to order! We don’t have an exact price yet from our vendor (depends on the number we order) so we’ve provided you a price range.
2017-2018 T-shirt
We’re offering the same Nike Legend Dri Fit shirt we’ve had the last five years. We’re keeping the shirt and race-hat color a surprise, but trust us it’s going to look great! (The shirt color will be a standard color and not anything sheer or a color you wouldn’t normally wear.) We’ll have our WRW logo on the front and a new saying on the back. If you want to see a sample, I will wear one from a prior year on Thursday. Note that the shirts run a bit big.  I wear a size small in this shirt.  Many runners order a size smaller than their usual size. The price will be £25 – £30 per shirt.
WRW Kit Hat
We’re offering the same Nike Dri-Fit featherlight cap that we’ve had the last two years with the WRW logo, London and the British Flag in classic red/white/blue on the front. At the moment, the only colour in stock is the charcoal grey that we offered two years ago. However, I know that many of you missed a chance to get that hat so we’re offering it again. The price will be between £25-£30 per hat depending on the number we order. Please note that this is NOT the race hat for Utrecht. (We’re ordering a race hat in a fun bright colour for all those who are going to the half marathon.)
WRW Kit Long-sleeve T-shirt in two colours
This year we are also offering a long-sleeved Nike Legend Dri-Fit T-shirt. This is the same style as the short-sleeve shirt just with long sleeves. The colours available are black and cardinal (which actually looks more like a raspberry colour – there is a picture on the google form) and it will have the WRW logo, London and the British Flag in accenting colours printed on the front. The price will be between £35-£45 per shirt.
How to order
If you would like to place an order, please click on the WRW Apparel Order Form to complete the Google Doc. It’s very simple, just follow the directions. If you want to order multiple shirts in multiple sizes, you should submit the form for each shirt size with a different name. For example, Jane Novak1 orders one small shirt and Jane Novak2 orders one large shirt.
If you have trouble with the Google Doc for any reason, please email Carol Bertolino.
Money Collection
We’re going to collect money when the shirts/hats arrive, probably not until January.
If you have any questions about the kit, just let me know.
Also, if anyone still has not received the information about the race hotel and registration, let me know.
Route for this week:
Start down St John’s Wood Terrace to Charlbert and then down to the canal entrance at Regent’s Park.  Run east on the canal towards Camden Market where we exit the canal over the bridge and turn right onto Camden High Street.  We’ll run down Camden High Street to Mornington Crescent Tube Station and veer right onto Hampstead Road, which we will take down to Robert Street.  Turn right on Robert for a few blocks and then a left on Albany Street and then the first right onto Chester Gate.  Run on the Outer Circle of Regents Park until you get to the exit for Charlbert Street.  Take Charlbert back up to St John’s Wood Terrace and then to Starbucks.