2021-22 Beginners Week 14

Hello everyone!

I hope those of you that celebrate Thanksgiving had a nice one with your families.  We were grateful to be able to travel this year to my mother-in-law’s in New York where we were joined by my younger daughter. It was so nice to spend some quality time with both of them. In addition, I am thankful for the opportunity to coach and get to know all of you!  

For this Tuesday, just repeat what you did last Tuesday for intervals.

 Tuesday Potluck at Jess’ House
Just a reminder that we are having a social potluck at Jess’ house starting at 6 pm.  Her address is 29 Chepstow Place, London W2 4TT.  We hope to see you all there!

Holiday Lights at 6 am
Remember, we will be meeting on Thursday at 6 am SHARP.  If you will NOT be joining us, please let me know so we are not waiting for you.  But trust me when I say that this is a very special run that you will not want to miss!

This week we will be running two 25 minute segments but there will be many extra stops as we take in the holiday decorations.  It will be important not to start out too fast as the first half of the run will have few stops. 

We will meet at 6 am and plan to start out ASAP so please be on time.  In order to make sure we are back to get the kids off to school, we will do a quick warm up, walk one block down Wellington Road and then we will start running. When we’re waiting at Barclays and when we walk or run by the houses in town, be VERY QUIET. No talking or only whispers. Our group is very loud and we don’t want to wake up the entire neighbourhood at that early hour! Since it will be so dark, please wear bright or reflective clothing and maybe even carry a bike light or head lamp if you have one. And be extra careful of the cars!

The Route for This Week
The map below is the one used by the MWF group and it has us going to Baker Street.  To get home by 7:15, you may need to stop at Bond Street and that is fine.  However, we have found the last couple of years that to finish the full 25 minute segments, we need to run to Baker Street.  So those of you that can do that, that will be our destination if Bond Street doesn’t do it for us.  Please remember your Oyster/contactless card! See you all bright and early on Thursday! 


2021-22 Beginners Week 13

Hi everyone,
Last week was HUGE!  3 15-minute segments – that is fantastic.  We are SO proud of all of you. 

Gathering at Jess’ House – Tuesday 30 November – 6 pm
Jess is hosting a gathering for all of us at her home on Tuesday 30 November – just a time to relax and hang out with each other.  Hopefully the evening time will allow those of you who work to join us.  It is potluck – please bring either a dish to share or a drink.  Jess has plates, glasses, utensils, etc.  Coordinate with each other on your What’sApp group and then let Jess know who is able to come.  Jess’ address is 29 Chepstow Place, W2 4TT.  We hope to see you there!

DON’T FORGET  – Lights Run, 6 am, Thursday 2 December

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.

Jess will be here on Thursday to run with whoever is around.  Meet at the same time – 8:15 – at Barclays.

This is another lengthy email, so please bear with me, but here are some key points:

  • You should be doing 3 runs a week, every week, from now on
  • The Tuesday run is now 45 minutes exercise time and the weekend is 30-35 minutes
  • The pace should be SLOW on Tuesday and can be a little faster on the weekend but ONLY if you want to
  • If your body is hurting, go see a physio NOW!
  • You should be eating something before you run

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.  The sooner you go, the faster you can get it resolved.  Don’t wait!!

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

2021-22 Beginners Week 12

Hi Everyone,

We’re really moving along now in our training and you guys are all doing AMAZING! As I noted after the run, last week was another large jump in time and you all took it in stride (hah!). We will be going up a bit more this week but we know you’ve ALL got this.  So great to see many of you after the run at coffee!  The photos from the week are on the same Flickr album for your viewing pleasure.This is a very long email, sorry.  But it has important information so please do your best to read it.  First, the administrative bit:

Reminder – London Winter 10K
Continuing to poke about this race!  I know, I’m a pain in the rear!  The link again: https://www.londonwinterrun.co.uk

30 November – happy hour at Jess’ house – details will be announced soon but please mark your calendars to join us for a social event to kick off the holiday season
2 December – Holiday Lights Run – 6 am start

The schedule until the holidays:
18 Nov – loop back to SJW – Maida Vale/Paddington
25 Nov – ASL Thanksgiving – some coaches may be here to run if others are, route TBD
2 Dec – Holiday Lights run (6 am start)
9 Dec – destination – Green Park via Hyde Park
16 Dec – loop back to SJW

Next, a bit of talk about our training – why we do what we do and what you need to do to be as strong as you can be.
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 as much as you can. 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 23 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 23 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 2 minute warm-up walk (after your warm up exercises) followed by three 13 minute jogging intervals separated by 2 minute walking breaks and 2+ minute walk at the end. 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…. 2 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 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.  You can also use that short run to go push the pace a bit – but not too much!
  • 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 about 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.As always, if you have questions or concerns, please talk to one of the coaches.

Now, on to this week’s route!
This week’s route:RunGo:  https://routes.rungoapp.com/route/mkZqnaUEBg
Head down Circus and continue on to Hall.  Continue on to Sutherland Avenue until Harrow Road.  Turn left onto Harrow Rd and cross the canal.  Shortly after, take a right onto Alfred Rd and take the path on the left side next to the Harbour Club.  Cross over the tracks and at the bottom of the steps, turn left onto Westbourne Park Villas.  Turn right on Porchester Road and then left onto Bishop’s Bridge Road.  Run until the bridge over the tracks at Paddington.  Cross over the tracks and go left, circling left around the basin to enter the canal.  Go left on the canal and then take the first right up and over the canal to circle back towards SJW.  Exit onto Blomfield Road, cross Maida Vale and stay on Aberdeen Place.  Turn left on Cunningham Place and right on St John’s Wood Road.  Take a left on Grove End and then right on Circus to get back to Barclays.

2021-22 Beginners Week 11

Well done last 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!    And a special shout out to Anindita and Lily who were out for a couple of weeks and had a triumphant return on Thursday!  I added the photos the coaches took into the Flickr album for your viewing and downloading pleasure:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/122036078@N08/albums/72157720094665211

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!

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 13:30 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!

If you’re having trouble making the normal Tuesday run, please reach out to your group and try to connect to run at a different time.  It’s also a good idea to try to connect with a few people for your weekend runs.  It will make you more accountable to have others to run with.  It’s really important to get the routine established now!

Reminder – London Winter 10K
I meant to ask last week if any of you had signed up for the Winter 10K.  I definitely encourage you all to do so – it will be a great taster to what a race is like.  The link again: https://www.londonwinterrun.co.uk

30 November – happy hour at Jess’ house – details will be announced soon but please mark your calendars to join us for a social event to kick off the holiday season
2 December – Holiday Lights Run – 6 am start

Our route for the week takes us to Covent Garden.  I hope many of you can stay a few minutes at the end to have a coffee with us!

The schedule until the holidays:
11 Nov – destination – Covent Garden
18 Nov – loop back to SJW – Notting Hill
25 Nov – ASL Thanksgiving – some coaches may be here to run if others are, route TBD
2 Dec – Holiday Lights run (6 am start)
9 Dec – destination – Green Park via Hyde Park
16 Dec – loop back to SJW

See you Thursday,

This week’s route:
RunGo:  https://routes.rungoapp.com/route/IlKbXGvQ0c

Head down Circus and turn left on Lisson Grove.  Follow Lisson Grove to Marylebone Road and then continue on Seymour Place until it ends.  Turn right, cross Edgware Road and turn right on Stanhope Place and enter Hyde Park.  After crossing N Carriage Drive, turn left and then curve right at Speaker’s Corner to run down the east edge of the park.  Exit at the south entrance, crossing the street and running through the Wellington Arch and into Green Park.  Run straight through until you reach The Mall.  Turn left and run down The Mall all the way to Trafalgar Square.  Run up the east (right) side of Trafalgar Square and turn right onto William IV Street, shortly after St Martin-in-the-Fields.  Take a left onto Chandos Place and another left on to Bedford Street and finally a right onto Henrietta Street to reach Covent Garden.  Le Pain Quotidien is close to the London Transport Museum and has good seating capacity.