2020-21 Beginners – Week 23

Hi everyone!

This is going to be a VERY long email, but it has a lot of important information so I’m going to do a little table of contents at the top to make sure you don’t miss anything.  Here are topics we will cover:

  • Hampton Court Race Update
  • Revised Training Schedule
  • Increasing the Non-Thursday Run Time
  • Coach/Runner match-ups
  • WRW Watch Party
  • Where We’ve Live
  • This week’s route

First, the race update.  I’m just going to let Micki say it – I’ve taken this from the email she sent to the M/W/F runners yesterday:


IMPORTANT!  Hampton Court Half Update.  Obviously we all have been wondering about the status of our annual half marathon on March 21st at Hampton Court Palace.  Race Boss Sue Wheeler has kept in contact with the race organizers, and as of this week they have not yet made a decision.  But we feel the chance of it proceeding in its original format is increasingly unlikely given the extension of the UK lockdown to March 8.  Further, as your WRW-organising team, even if the race goes on, we would be concerned– as many of you might be– about sending our community into a very large group event just seven weeks from now, and less than two weeks after the potential end of UK lockdown restrictions.  For these reasons, we have decided to officially move our training target to a late April or early May half marathon.  

It is possible the Hampton Court Palace Half itself could be rescheduled for that window (which would be great!) but if not, we have been assured by organisers that we will still have the option to run it as a virtual event, with flexibility in the timing.  So while we wait to see if the official race is rescheduled and for when, we are working on a backup plan to try to offer the best version of a WRW community-wide event we can!


Revised Training Schedule
OK, so what does this mean for you, the beginner group?  It’s really not much different from the regular group.  We are going to revise the training schedule so we have a more gradual build and add some rest weeks in there.  Since we now have a bit of breathing room, we are really going to start emphasizing the mileage over the minutes (sorry!) for the Thursday runs.  We are going to keep our 90 minute run for this week (which translates to about 7.25 miles) but as you can see from the schedule, we pare the increases back a bit.  We may revise this a bit after February break but for now, this is the new schedule.  The far right column shows the expected mileage.

The training plan minutes assume you are running about a 13 min/mi.  Some of you are faster than that, some of you are slower.  But the half marathon will be 13.1 miles for all of you so that’s what we need to be training towards at this point.

For those of you who have been, or are, injured, this might allow you to build up and catch up with us.  Your assigned coach will work with you on this – more on that below.
Increasing your non-Thursday run timeStarting this week, you should increase your running time so you are running 45 minutes on the weekend and 60 minutes on Tuesdays (so start this on Tuesday if you can).  You’ll keep doing this for the rest of the training until the race. Remember to keep it nice and slow!  Also, make sure you stretch, and use a foam roller if you have one, after EVERY run.  This is so important!

Coach/Runner Match-upsWe coaches have been feeling a bit out of touch with the group as a whole (that Zoom meeting was SO GREAT to reconnect!) and we want to make sure no one is slipping through the cracks and that everyone has someone to go to for guidance on any physical issues or questions about anything.  To do this, we are going to try out coach/runner match-ups.  Each coach (including our regular guest coaches Shannon, Sue and Micki) each have 2 or 3 of you as their match-up.  If they haven’t already, they will reach out and let you know they are your assigned coach.  This does NOT mean that coach will be running with you on Thursday.  We will continue to rotate among coaches and runners on Thursday because we all love seeing all of you!  This is really so you have a first point of contact and so we all can make sure you are feeling supported and that we know how you’re doing each week.
For those of you who are not in London or who are injured, the coaches will plan to reach out weekly, or more often if necessary, to see how you’re doing, make sure you got the runs in, etc.  If you’re in London and running with a coach on Thursdays (or whenever), they likely won’t need to reach out because we coaches will report in about how the run was and how amazing you all are, as usual.  This doesn’t mean you can’t email/talk to another coach – this is really about not slipping through the cracks, as I said before.  We are the mama birds – we want to make sure all of our chicks are ready to fly before we push them out of the nest 🙂

WRW Watch Party this week
Here’s another bit copied from the M/W/F email from WRW.  Everyone is invited to join in so we didn’t want you to miss out!
How about some big-screen running inspiration together on the small screen?  We’re going to try to have a couple of ‘Watch Parties’ using Amazon Prime.  We will post the link on the WRW Facebook page 30 minutes before the party starts (see below for times).  You’ll need a UK Amazon Prime account to join (apologies to our friends not in the UK).  Once you join the party, we will watch in sync and with the benefit of a chat function.  You can always do this with a smaller group of friends, but what a potentially fun way to connect with the broader WRW group we’ve been missing!  The selections are two running-related movies:

Wednesday, February 3, 8pm:  “Skid Row Marathon“– a truly inspiring documentary about a running club created by an L.A. judge (the trailer will make you cry!).  Only 84 minutes.  If you don’t join the watch party, try to catch it on your own sometime!  

Thursday, February 4, 9pm:  “Brittany Runs a Marathon“– about a woman who reluctantly starts running for her health and ends up changing her life.  At least one of our pace groups got together last year to watch this (yes, like, in the same room– can you imagine?).  It’s funny and inspirational, and won audience-choice awards at the Sundance Festival.  If you haven’t seen it, or you want a rewatch, join us!

Where We’ve Lived
So fun to see where everyone has lived and kind of trace their journeys to London!  I think Tammy wins with the most places and Paola has the fewest.  Many of us have spent time in NYC and in the Washington DC area.  Several of us have lived on both coasts and in the middle of the country.  Many have lived multiple places abroad but for a few of us, London is the first.  Of the people who responded, only Paola has not spent any time living in the US.  I’ve copied everyone’s responses at the bottom of the email.  For those of you who did not respond yet, feel free to Reply All to this email so we can see where you’ve lived!

Route this Week – 90+ minutes/7.25 miles

This week, we have a route with a lot of pauses.  You’re welcome!  Also, your coach will probably get lost so you’ll have even more stops.  This is a sightseeing route through Notting Hill with lots of local landmarks, many from movies.  It’s a little complicated so we recommend using RunGo to help you.

But here is the write-up:This route goes thru tons of fun & history in Notting Hill, but please be mindful of the lack of official crossings! Head down St Johns Wood Rd alongside the Cricket ground. Cross at the light and take the usual left on Cunningham Pl and then around on Aberdeen Place. Make your way thru the light and along the canal on Blomfield Rd. Continue alongside and turn left to cross the bridge on Westbourne Terrace Rd. Make an immediate right when you cross to Delamere Terrace and jump onto the canal tow path. Continue on for less than a half mile and then veer to the left before the Harrow Rd bridge. Make a left at the top to briefly run to the light on Harrow Rd. in front of Westminster Academy. Cross here and continue straight down the side road, Alfred Rd. You will see the Westminster Academy on your left and Harbour Club coming up as well. There is a small footpath between them. Make a left before Harbour Club to follow the path, and eventual colorful footbridge that takes you across the train tracks into Notting Hill!

When you get down the stairs, make a left onto Westbourne Park Villas and stay to the right as it bends and continues into Westbourne Park Road. Continue until St Luke’s Rd on your right. Make an immediate left onto St Luke’s Mews. It is hidden and cobblestone. On the left, at 27 St Lukes Mews is a bright pink house from Love Actually. Make a right coming out onto All Saint Rd, the street that has been the center of much racial transformation to the area from Carribean immigrants. Make your first left onto Lancaster Rd to enjoy the colorful houses alongside. Turn left on Portobello Rd and your first left on Westbourne Park Rd. Hugh Grant’s character’s flat (282)  from the movie Notting Hill is on your left. Keep going until you make a right on Blenheim Crescent.
Make a right on Clarendon Road and an immediate right on Portland Road. Follow it around and then make a right on Portland Road again (confusing!). On your left is Hippodrome Mews, which was the site of the former Kensington Racetrack stables. Follow the road until you see the park in front of you and cross carefully, making a left on Walmer Road. On your left you will see a strange site – a giant kiln from the brickmaking days this area was once known for. Continue past and you will see a sign for Earl of Zetland. Go thru to the street on the left of this, Pottery Lane. which also has a church alongside it. Hard to believe that “Cut Throat (Pottery) Lane” was one of the former worst slums in London. Make a sharp left when you get to the bottom at Penzance Pl and see a beautifully curved pink house. Follow Penzance Pl up to the left and make a right at shops at Clarendon Cross. Make a quick left and then right UP Lansdowne Rise. Turn left on Lansdowne Rd and another quick left on Rosemead Gardens. This is the stop from Notting Hill movie where they jump the fence into the private garden. Make a right on Elgin Crescent and follow it until it hits Portobello Rd.

Make a right on Portobello Rd. You will pass the Travel Book shop, Alice’s Antique Shop and Orson Welles house on your left as you run down it. When the road stops, make a right on Pembridge Rd  and cross carefully when you hit the roundabout towards Notting Hill Gate (tube) Rd. Make a right and you will see The Coronet Theatre. Turn left on Hillgate Rd and a quick right on Uxbridge St. This is a pretty & hidden pocket of colorful houses! Make a left on Farm Pl and follow it around to Hillgate Pl. making a rectangle when you turn left on Jameson St and back through a small passageway to the right on Uxbridge St. Cross back over Notting Hill Gate and make a right. Then make a left on Pembridge Gardens. Take your first right on Pembridge Square and go by Prince William and Prince Harry’s preschool. When the gardens end, make a left and continue up Chepstow Pl.
Congrats! The twists and turns are almost over! Follow it up until you hit Talbot Rd. Make a right. Talbot end at Westbourne Park Rd and there is a small hidden passage when you cross the street. The passageway gets you directly to the pedestrian bridge we took over. Make a right on Alfred and then left on Harrow Rd. Cross the street and Sutherland Ave is a few streets up on your right. Take it straight into SJW High street!

2020-21 Beginners – Week 22

Hi everyone,
Congratulations to those of you who did the 70 min run this week!  I heard a bit about how difficult it was so I wanted to talk a little bit about that.

Although this year is different in many ways, one way it is not different is the concern expressed by many beginners in prior years at this point in the training.  The Thursday/long runs take a lot out of you.  You’re tired for much of the rest of the day.  You have some little niggles in your body.  This is all completely normal.  Every year, most beginners cannot fathom how we can go from running 60-70 minutes to running double that, or more, for the half.  I know, it’s craziness!   But here’s the even crazier thing – every year, it happens!  It is about trusting the program and getting the runs in, and really nothing more than that.  

You may not believe us, but the hardest part is behind you.  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.

The thing that makes it so much harder this year is that many of you are having to do either your extra runs or ALL of your runs on your own.  It’s so so much easier to push/drag yourself for those last 10 minutes of the long run when you have a coach, or others, with you, pushing and encouraging you and feeling similarly to you.  I wish I could wave my magic wand and have that difficulty go away 🙁

If you are struggling with getting out there, or need guidance because you’re not up to 80 min yet, let us know and we will see what we can do to help!

OK – on to this ridiculously long email – sorry!

Zoom Call
I believe Melissa is working to organise a Zoom call for all of us to actually see each other!  So I look forward to connecting with most of you then.  Stay tuned with the details from Melissa.

Group Fun
Since we can’t be together, I thought it might be fun to have a bit of “let’s get to know each other better” activity.  We will see how this goes, but let’s try it!  Each week I will ask for information and I want you guys to respond to me with your answers and I’ll put them in the follow week’s email for all to see.  Coaches, too!This week – tell me all of the places you have lived!  Let’s see who has the most, who has the fewest, who has the most countries.  If you moved house but stayed in the same metro area, that counts as one (for example, I lived in the Washington DC area but technically lived in Silver Spring, Alexandria and Arlington during my time there – but I will count that just as DC Metro Area) and if you lived in the same metro area twice, it should also be counted once.

Here’s mine as an example:
St. Louis
South Hadley, MA (college)
Washington DC
London(I think I might be in the running for fewest places… but we will see)

FAQs from prior years at this point in the program
In prior years, we get the chance to chat with many of you during the runs and hear about questions and concerns you might have.  Not so much this year.  So I went back to last year’s email at this time to see what people were asking then and I thought I’d drop a few in, just in case these have crossed your mind.

Running Playlists
There are running playlists and songs that can match the pace you want.  It’s important to test out the beats per minute (bpm) yourself and not just rely on what I say or what websites say.  It can vary quite a lot based on your stride length.  I have found that for me, especially as I’m getting tired, I take smaller strides at a faster pace, so 180 bpm, which one site says equals a 7 min/mi equals more like a 9+ min/mi for me when I’m tired.  Conversely, when I was trying to keep myself slower during a run, when I used one for 10-10:30 min/mi (150 bpm) I ended up going faster.  So I think perhaps take some music out that you like to run to and pay attention – does one song cause you to speed up?  Or slow down?  Then type those songs into the links below to see what the bpm is to get a sense.

I have created a bunch of playlists on my Spotify for a wide range of bpm – 120 – 180.  You can go to my profile and follow any of them that you want and/or use them to help build your own:  https://open.spotify.com/user/aewgrace?si=bapDYQyZR9CJfBZdPLZcsA

Sites I use to find songs:
https://jog.fm/workout-songs – can search for songs with a certain bpm or search a particular song to find the bpm
https://songbpm.com – this one has a nicer interface but you have to type the song in, you can’t just look for songs with a certain bpm.I know there are many others out there – just do a search for them.

My knees hurt, my hips hurt, my <insert body part> hurts
First, buy a foam roller.  Something basic, like this:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Maximo-Fitness-Superior-Instructions-Included/dp/B06Y97NVKZ/ref=cts_sp_1_vtp  (mine is 45 cm, not 90 but I’m sure either is fine).  Use it on your IT band.  Search YouTube for videos on how to roll.

Second, go see an expert to make sure all is OK.  I have used Victor and Soliman and find both are good for different areas.  Victor is great for making sure things are “working” the way they should.  He is also great for any doubts you have about if you can do this.  Soliman has been better for me with sciatica.  Let me know if you want their information. Both are currently open during lockdown.  Other people see various people, too – but go if you’re having niggles that won’t resolve within about 10 min of the run.

When should we increase our weekend/Tuesday running time?
This will happen starting next week.  You will start running 60 min on Tuesdays and 45 min on the weekends.  I’ll put it in next week’s email as a reminder.

Can we/should we add another run in during the week?
No.  Running is a repetitive movement and we don’t want you to injure yourselves by running too much.  However, you can certainly do other exercise – spinning, yoga, pilates, walking, swimming, whatever! – to increase your stamina and muscle strength.

Running this week – 80 min/about 6.5-7 miles
This week we have 80 minutes on the schedule which equates to not quite 7 miles.If you get to 80 minutes and you’re fairly far from 7 miles, don’t worry about pushing it too much.  I’ll be happy you did 80 :-)In a normal world, this week would be our run through Brompton Cemetery, ending at Kensington Whole Foods.  Sigh.  Instead, I’m going to suggest a canal route to keep it nice and flat for you.  This is a modified version of what the regular running group does sometimes – a run to The Wall.  Running along the canal past Camden, there is a point where the path ends and you would run into a brick wall; hence, The Wall.  This route adds a little bit at the start in Regents to get us up over 6 miles.  It’s just at 6.25 miles but since the route has no red men (sorry!), a slightly shorter distance will hopefully make up for that. And if you’re feeling good and/or not yet to 80 min, just add a bit on.

Melissa will be organizing the pairings again this week from your What’sApp.
The RunGo is here:  https://routes.rungoapp.com/route/WIHmniTdHA

You start out from Barclays, running down Wellington Road, crossing at the crosswalk and heading to the mosque.  Enter the park there and cross Outer Circle to enter the park.  Run straight, crossing over the bridge and then bear left and take the farthest left path.  Cross back over the Outer Circle and just after crossing the canal, turn right and head to the canal path.  You can keep straight to run along the smaller, elevated path if you’d like.  Head towards Camden.  When you reach Camden Markets, you turn left into the market area and basically are going around them to get back onto the canal – so you turn right and another right to go around and the left to get back onto the canal.  Once back on the canal, just keep running straight until you hit that brick wall (it is customary in WRW to tap the wall…).  Then turn around and run back, retracing your steps except when you come up off the canal, turn right and head up Charlbert towards the SJW High Street and Starbucks.

Modified Wall for Beg.png

2020-21 Beginners – Week 21

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.  The other thing to know is that while we plan the runs for a certain amount of time, we won’t all finish the planned distance at that time.  So depending on your pace for that day, you may run a little less than the expected time or a little more, but we will all need to run the same distance for the race so we all need to build up to that distance even if it takes different times for each of you.  I will start putting the expected miles so we all know how far we should be running each week since we aren’t running together.

Melissa will continue to coordinate coach/runner pairs on your What’sApp group.  I can’t wait to run with someone this week!!

Think of how far you’ve come – it really is amazing.  We can’t wait to watch you grow from here!

A few reminders:

  • 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 (Tuesday runs will get longer in a few weeks, but not yet)
  • It is OK to try to run a bit faster on the weekend run, but only if you want to
  • Bring water for the Thursday runs
  • Eat something before the Thursday runs
  • The Thursday run is SLOW

We cannot emphasize enough that the way to build up to the half is to just put in the time and miles.  As we run for longer times on Thursdays, we will continue to make you run more slowly than you might otherwise.  Running slowly builds your body and muscles in a different way.  Why?  Read on later in this email for our founder, Paula’s explanation.

HOWEVER – I know that these are extraordinary times and that many of you are away or otherwise unable to run with a coach on Thursdays.  If you are struggling mentally to get out there and do the increased time/miles, please just get out and do what you CAN do, even if it’s 45 or 60 minutes, 3 times a week.  Although we have the goal of the race, the REAL goal of this program is to turn you into runners (shhh!) who can get out there without fear.  ALL of you have done more than a 5K.  Once you do the 70 min run, you’ll be just about to a 10K.  That is a HUGE milestone.  We are still hoping our planned Hampton Court race will still happen (they have told us it’s still a go right now) but even if it does not, we hope to create a virtual event in line with whatever rules exist then, so we are going to continue on our training schedule and keep pushing you.  If you have questions or concerns, please reach out to any of us.

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 the Thursday run.  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.  As our runs get longer in a few weeks, we will talk to you about fueling for much longer runs and during the race, but we’re not ready for that yet.

OK – 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.

Proposed Route – 70 min/about 6 miles – Hyde Park Loop
RunGo:  https://routes.rungoapp.com/route/ybk4zOsBh9
Starting point is Barclays.  From there, run down Circus Road and turn left 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.  Turn right at the silver sphere after entering the park.  Cross over N Carriage Rd and turn left just after the Italian Gardens at the bottom of the hill.  Run along the water (it turns into the Serpentine) and turn right at the end to run along the southern edge of the park toward Hyde Park Corner.  Then turn left and head back up along the eastern edge of the park before exiting at the Upper Brook St/Animals of War exit.  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 back to Starbucks.

HydePark 6.5.png

2020-21 Beginners – Week 20

Hello everyone!

I hope you have all had a wonderful break – I have really missed running and catching up with you all.  I am in New Orleans seeing my older daughter and am heading back to London tomorrow.  I won’t be able to run with you until Jan 21 due to quarantine, unfortunately, but I will be cheering you on 🙂

So – lockdown.  We are back to what we were in November, and potentially even more strict.  The UK government is telling us to act as if we have Covid although we are still allowed to leave our homes once a day and exercise with one other person outside of our household.  We all need to review our personal comfort level to determine what is right for us.  Our plan is to match those of you in London up with a coach but if you do not feel comfortable with that, please let me know – and that is totally fine!

This week is a 60 minute run on Thursday – to get us back on track, make sure we are all on the same page.  I hope most of you have been able to run during the break.  If you have not, please let us know so we can work with you to make sure you can build up and not be injured.

These are extraordinary times – we know everyone is stressed and out of sorts.  This is new for us, too, and we are trying to keep you all motivated and on track as much as we can.  PLEASE reach out to any coach if you have questions or concerns about your training.  The most important thing for us is that you are motivated and uninjured.
This is the status of each of you as I know it right now.  Please let me know if this is not correct.  We will plan to send out coach pairings mid-week for Thursday.  I believe Melissa is on your What’sApp group so you can respond if you’re good to run on Thursday there.  We are going to try to pair people up with the same person each week to limit the exposure.  We can’t guarantee it, but that will be the goal.

In London, ready to run:
Darlene – in London but distance learning may keep her from running with a coach

Not sure of status:

Kathryn – working on her own recovery
Sony – on her own

Not in London:
Jennifer – return to London end of January
Natasha – return to UK from US end of January
Devyani – return to UK TBD
Heloisa – return to UK TBD
Tessa – return to UK TBD
Ash – return to UK TBD
Tayna – return to UK TBD

I just want to acknowledge how impressed I am with ALL of you.  This is a crazy year and it is SO HARD to do this without the full group support and you guys have really been SO INCREDIBLE with how you are PERSEVERING!  Seriously – I could not be more impressed or prouder of all of you.  Anything, really ANYTHING, that any of the coaches can do to help you keep on keeping on, please let us know.  I love what all of you are becoming!