I have some news – Kirk and I have decided to leave London in just over a couple of months. As most of you know, Kirk is working on a 3 year contract with Rio Tinto which comes to an end 31 December 2013. Recently, the company asked to extend that contract and (after much discussion) Kirk agreed as long as he could work from Texas. For us, this is wonderful opportunity – much better than we could ever have hoped for. He will continue to travel a lot (he’s usually gone about 60% of the time), but when he’s home, he’ll be able to start easing into retirement. As this was our choice, the timing is completely up to us. I’ll stay in London through the Bratislava trip – it’ll be my last “hurrah”! Then we’ll pack up and depart probably that next week. Ladies, you are a wonderful group of women. I love this running group and I love doing what I can to help you with your training. I will miss you all!
Some of us bumped into Ian McClelland recently in Starbucks. He organises a running group for recovering addicts and homeless men and women. Read more about him in an article in the Evening Standard – click here for the link. Ian is looking for people to join him for some of the group runs and/or races. In particular, his female members would really benefit from having a runny buddy/mentor from time to time. Please contact Ian (email@example.com) if you are interested in helping or just want further information on his program. Ian has experienced homelessness himself – his story is incredibly inspiring.
OK, for our training….. we have 8 weeks left until the half-marathon. Ladies, you can do this! Depending on which program you are following, you have either 5 or 6 long runs left. That’s it! We need to start doing some routes which provide non-stop running (such as along the canal towpath or the river path). The routes in the coming weeks reflect that need. If you haven’t been running regularly, I would recommend slowing your pace on these routes. It’s hard to get back into a running routine and it’s doubly hard doing that on a non-stop running route. It’s very important to get in the last 5-6 long runs. Each of us should know by now in which group we run and which day is the long run day for that group – so protect that day in your calendar. Try actually inputting it into your calendar – schedule an appointment for your long run. That way you won’t inadvertently schedule something that conflicts with your run. Half-marathons are serious business. It’s a long way to run. If you’re going to do it, you need to train properly – otherwise you are almost asking to be injured. In addition to “scheduling” your long run each week, think about the pace of that run. I’ve harped on about long run pace, but many of our runners are still uncertain about what is right for them. Click here for a link to the December 3-7 note – that week I was pleading my case for long, slow runs.
We’ve talked quite a bit about fueling. Below is an excerpt from a note to the beginner runners last week describing some gels and explaining the basics of fueling. Most of you have seen this information or are very experienced with mid-run fueling – feel free to jump down to routes if you’re bored. I have a bunch of these gels in the trunk of my car. Let me know if you need one. If you don’t want to read all of this, just take a gel at 8 miles on race day if you’re running at a medium pace for you (not as compared to anyone else) or 7 miles if you are running fast for you. You may need another gel about 35-45 minutes later. Try to avoid taking more than one gel within 30 minutes.
Most female runners have approximately 1000-1200 calories of readily-accessible “fuel” for exercise. Think of that “fuel” as being a tank full of petrol. Most of us burn between 600-900 calories per hour running (so we’ll need between 1500 and 2700 calories to fuel a half-marathon). So, we can go for runs up to 80-90 minutes without “topping up the tank”. Just like cars get different gas/petrol mileage per litre/gallon, no two runners will burn/require the same number of calories even if they are running the exact same pace (so these numbers are just guidelines). As a general rule, if two runners are side-by-side running the same pace, the one more comfortable with that pace will burn less calories (or need less fuel) than the one who is pushing herself. Weight and fitness levels also play into the equation as do your general well-being at the time. If you are feeling unwell or particularly anxious on race-day, your heart-rate will be elevated and you will burn more calories. This fueling issue is one of the reasons I constantly ask you to “find your pace”. If you are pushing your pace, your body will require more fuel (which can complicate fueling for a first time half-marathoner). As a runner develops and has more experience, there are some good reasons to push the pace, but beginners are best served by finding their “comfortable” pace and sticking with it. Once a runner has burnt through the 1000-1200 calories of readily-accessible fuel, it is necessary to top up the “petrol in the tank”. The easiest way to add fuel to your system is with gels. Gels are simple carbohydrates. They come in small packets, are made by a range of companies and come in a variety of flavours. Most of the gels have similar formulas so when deciding which gel to use, most athletes chose the gel that is most palatable to them. I’ll bring some gels to the run tomorrow and next week so you can chose one that sounds good to you. A lot of women chose the gel based on the consistency of it. The following is a description of some of the most popular gels:
GU – easily available in the UK, Europe and the US. Comes in a wide range of flavours – some ladies really like the Espresso flavour. In my opinion, GU doesn’t taste as sweet as some other gels (some other brands are sickly sweet to me). The Roctane gels within the GU line of products has a sort of time release on carb delivery so are particularly good for extreme endurance events. They were originally designed for athletes racing/training 8-10 hours but lots of runners love to use this gel for events like a half-marathon. If you are sensitive to sugar, the GU Roctane line is a good choice (you get less of a sugar high/drop). GU Roctane is not as easy to find as the basic GU gel and it comes in less flavour choices. The consistency of all GU products is mid-range (not real liquidy but not as firm as some other gels).
PowerBar – PowerBar Energy is hard to find in the UK but is readily available in the US. Some runners who prefer a more “liquid-like” gel highly prefer this gel. It comes in 4-5 flavours and I like them all. To me, these gels taste like the syrup poured over sno-cones. PowerBar Gel (not Energy, but just Gel) is a favourite of many runners. They come in a wide range of flavours and also are available with added caffeine and/or sodium.
Clif Shots – are the best choice for anyone who is gluten intolerant or needs to avoid maltodextrin. I understand the citrus fruit flavour is the absolute best for anyone with Celiac’s disease. I do not have any of these gels to bring on a run. You can find them in the UK, Europe and the US. They come in a half dozen different flavours and also are available in gel or shot blocks (blocks are between a gummy bear and jello jiggler consistency). Personally, I don’t like the blocks – they are too big; I feel like I’m choking on it (but that’s just me!!!).
Torq – I love this gel and most runners agree with me. They taste good, the consistency is like a runny pudding, and they are easy to find in the UK. They come in 5-6 different flavours and everyone seems to have a favourite.
There are countless more gels to chose from. These are just the brands that I am most familiar with. All gels weigh about 40g, they all have 100-110 calories, 25-29g of carbs and about 10g of sugar. Those numbers don’t change much between brands. Some gels have added caffeine and/or sodium. If you sweat a lot, you might consider a gel with added sodium (or talk to me and I can give you some slow-sodium tablets to take while running). A lot of women love gels with caffeine. It seems to give them a bigger boost. With all gels, a runner should feel a lift usually 8-10 minutes after taking one. Gels work like magic. They don’t taste that great, but they give runners a boost that is fabulous. After they kick in, you’ll feel lighter on your feet as though you’ve just caught a second wind.
Here’s the deal…… it’s almost impossible for a beginner runner to complete a half-marathon without taking in carbs during the race. Some more experienced runners can (particularly those who are running a race slower than they could) because they have taught their bodies how to use fat as fuel. For example, your coaches who normally run at a quicker pace may not take a gel during our race. If they are running what is for them a very comfortable pace, they’ll be using primarily fat to fuel that exercise. So you’ll need to do at least one gel during the race (two for some of you). You really need to try gels before race-day so you know what to expect and you know that your body won’t “reject” it. As we discussed before, sports drink is an alternative to gels but is difficult to carry during the race, we don’t know for sure which sports drink they will be using, we don’t know what formula they will have used to make the drink (how watered down or concentrated it is) so we won’t know how many grams of carbs are in it. To take a gel, you rip off the top, put the gel between your lips and roll the gel package up from the bottom (like rolling a tube of toothpaste). You need to do the entire gel (not just part of it). It is best to drink a bit of water (50-100ml) after taking a gel which brings us to hydration systems. Our runs are getting very long! We all need to be carrying water. We can do another run to Runner’s Need if some of you are still needing to purchase a water bottle/belt/pack. Let me know!!!
Here’s a little tip for anyone who managed to get down this far in the email…. if you are struggling on a run and everything feels far more difficult than it should be – clinch your right fist tightly….. so tightly that your fingernails start digging into the palm of your hand. This pressure initiates auto-processes in the body. Your body knows how to run. If despite being properly hydrated and fueled, your running still feels difficult, it’s usually a psychological issue. If you engage the body’s auto-processes, you begin to run more instinctly. Basically the physical body just takes over and does what it knows how to do. On the other hand (literally), if you are wanting to put mind over matter (say, you really, really need the facilities but can’t find a bathroom), clinch your left hand tightly. This shuts/slows down auto-processes and allows your mind to better control your body.
Routes this Week
Monday, 28 January
Marathon Trainees: For you, this is a recovery week. Your mileage drops back to 10 miles.
Canary Wharf plus a loop (10 miles) – Most of you know the Canary Wharf route. You could have a look under the half-marathon trainees description below if you’re unsure of it. They will be finishing at Canary Wharf and you will add the loop below then meet them at Starbucks. I probably will not be running with this group on Monday so study these maps if you are unsure of the route.
Half-marathon Trainees in the Fast group (8-9 mile long run on your schedule):
Canary Wharf (9 – 9.5 miles) –
For this route, you will join the marathon trainees all the way to Canary Wharf. Have a look at the map above if you don’t know the route. It’s not a great idea to run this route alone. There are places along the canal that are quite isolated. If you are wanting to keep the run to 9 miles (from your training plan), just walk it in from the base of the steps near the big round-about west of the Colonnade.
Half-marathon Trainees in the Mid-level I group (6 mile mid-pace or tempo run):
Sutherland Tempo/Speed loop (5.3 miles) –
This is the route that was to be followed last week when we cancelled the run due to ice. Either run it at a medium pace or try the following tempo work….. Jog from Starbucks down Hall Rd, cross over Maida Vale Rd, and continue jogging until you pass the big round-about near the Warrington Pub. After that round-about, run hard for 1 minute then jog for 3 minutes, run hard for 2 minutes then jog for 3 minutes, run hard for 3 minutes then jog for 3 minutes. Then start dropping down to do 2 minutes of hard running and 3 minutes of jogging, 1 minute of hard running and 3 minutes of jogging. Keep following the route – turn right on Harrow Rd. then left to cross over the canal at Ladbroke Grove. Run along the canal back to Maida Vale. Once you get to Maida Vale Rd./Edgeware Rd., jog slowly back to SJW. This type of speed/tempo work is called pyramids. It’s kind of fun. Basically you follow this routine over and over from the Warrington Pub around to Maida Vale/Edware Rd.
1 min hard 3 min jogging recovery
2 min hard 3 min jogging recovery
3 min hard 3 min jogging recovery
2 min hard 3 min jogging recovery
1 min hard 3 min jogging recovery
If you need to extend the jogging recovery (particularly after the 3 min hard interval), that’s fine. You could do a recovery up to twice the length of the hard interval (so after a 3 min hard interval you could jog up to 6 min to recover).
Half-marathon Trainees in the Mid-level II group (8-9 mile long run on your schedule):
Western London route to Knightsbridge tube station (9 miles) – This is the run that was to be done last week but we cancelled due to ice. The route is quite complicated and Betsy LaMaster is out of town so will not be there to lead the way. If you feel it’s too complicated, you could do the Hyde Park perimeter loop (8 miles) then add a little loop in Regents Park if you want 9 miles. There is a possibility that I’ll be running with this group on Monday – if so, I can show you the way. The route (see the map to the right) goes out the canal to Wood Lane. You can identify the exit off the canal by looking for railroad tracks going over the canal. You’ll run under a bridge then go up some steps to reach Wood Lane. Run south on Wood Lane past the Shepherd’s Bush triangle down to Hammersmith. Turn left onto Hammersmith Rd (which is the same as Kensington High Street). There are options along the way to shorten this run (Wood Lane tube station 5.2 miles, Shepherd’s Bush 5.7 miles, Hammersmith 6.2 miles or Kensington High St 7.7 miles).
Wednesday, 30 January
Marathon Trainees and Half-marathon Trainees in the Fast group (6 mile mid-pace or tempo run):
Sutherland Tempo/Speed loop (5.3 miles) – How about a new type of speed/tempo work? See the description on Monday’s Mid-level I run above. Give it a try! It’s kind of fun in a weird sort of way. If everyone decides to do it, you might consider rotating the time-keeping role so one person isn’t stuck looking at their watch the whole run.
Half-marathon Trainees in the Mid-level I group (8-9 mile long run on your schedule):
Wembley (8 or 9 miles) – This is a great training run. On your schedule, you have a 8-9 mile long run. If you prefer 8 miles, finish your run at Wembley Central. If you prefer 9 miles, run on to Wembley Park. We’ll head down tothe canal as though we are doing the Notting Hill loop. Once we reach the canal, it’s a straight run without street crossings or red lights. We’ll exit off the canal at Alperton and run up Ealing Rd. to the Wembley Central tube/train station. To stretch the run to a bit over 9 miles, carry on running along the High Rd. Turn left at either Park Ln or Empire Way (both lead to the Wembley Park tube station).
Half-marathon Trainees in the Mid-level II group (6 mile mid-pace or tempo run):
The Wall (6 miles) – I know, I know, I know…. it’s boring, but it’s what you need at this point. This route is 6 miles of straight running without street crossings or red-lights. It’s perfect for your training.If you just can’t take the boredom, run down to Oxford St and do a shopping loop along Regent St. and/or Bond St. and/or Marylebone Rd.
Friday, 1 February
On Fridays, everyone goes up the hill to Hampstead and/or the Heath. Take it easy if you haven’t done this route in awhile. Due to the bad weather, some of our runners haven’t been able to tackle the hill since before the holidays. If that’s the case with you, consider doing one of the shorter loops and keep your pace gentle.
After the run, we’ll be celebrating January birthdays with cupcakes:
4 – Lynn Gilbert
12 – Maureen Fossum
14 – Patricia Stracener
20 – Kathy McMahon
22 – Donna Butler
26 – Pam Wakoff