Tag Archives: Reading Half Marathon

A fortnight of exercising

19 Jan Running track

After the Reading Half Marathon workshop, I was determined to start my training for this year’s races. I still need to sort out a proper half marathon training schedule, but at least I’m making a move in the right direction.

I’ve been out running with Sarah for the past two Wednesdays. We did just over 5km the first week and 6.5km this week. I’m starting to feel a bit more comfortable again, but I definitely need to start doing some speedwork.

Running track

Photo by Austris Augusts on Unsplash

I’ve also been out running with Rachel and Felix, then on Saturday I took part in Southampton parkrun, so I ran three times in a week for the first time in a long time. I found parkrun really challenging, partly because of my fitness levels, but also because it was so busy. I had M in her buggy, so it was really hard for me to pass slower runners. I started off with Inez who was doing her 100th parkrun, but I couldn’t run alongside her, so I slowed down a bit. Then Linda and her baby caught up with me, so we had a lovely chatty run. There are a lot of stressful things going on for me at the moment, so I’m really enjoying the chance to clear my head either by running on my own or by chatting to friends whilst running. I also loved seeing Tuba Libres at parkrun, there to celebrate Laura’s 250th parkrun.

Southampton parkrun Jan 13 2018

Of course the other big challenge that I’m training for is Swimathon. I’m so excited to be an ambassador again this year – check out my profile. Last week I swam with Stuart on Monday. My arms were aching in the first few hundred metres, but  kept going and managed 1000m. I would have swum more, but I didn’t have enough time. Then this week, I swam on Tuesday and did 1200m. I’m determined to keep building up my strength, speed and distance until I’m back to comfortably doing 2km in an hour… by which  stage I should be ready to start my proper training programme.

Swimmers doing front crawl during Swimathon

Swimmers doing front crawl during Swimathon

I’ve been cycling to work (as usual), but I don’t have any cycling challenges at the moment, which is probably just as well as I’m still getting to grips with balancing work, training and family life.

I’ve also been doing a lot of gardening as it’s finally a bit drier. I spent 2.5 hours raking my garden two weeks ago and last week I spent another 2.5 hours raking. I would have continued with the theme, but there’s no room left in my garden waste bin and it’s wet and cold here. Hopefully, I’ll manage to do some more gardening next week.

Have you got a detailed training schedule for this year?

 

 

Training day for Reading Half Marathon

13 Jan Reading Half training day run

Last Saturday morning, I missed another parkrun… but for good reason. I was off to Reading to take part in a training day in preparation for Reading Half Marathon. I wondered whether I’d be able to fit in a parkrun as there is one nearby, but unfortunately, it was cancelled on Saturday, so I didn’t need to worry about being late to the training day.

I arrived fairly early, so there was plenty of time to meet others who were a mix of newbies, experienced runners and bloggers. I ended up sitting next to Anna, the fab blogger behind Anna The Apple. I also met Tess from The Fit Bits and Katie & Kate from These Girls Do.

Whilst we were waiting for others to arrive we saw a montage of images from previous races. My favourite images were ones of a group of friends who had dressed up as Mario Cart characters. I’ve never properly done a race in fancy dress – I ran a parkrun in a Minions outfit, but I was wearing a running t-shirt and shorts, so I don’t think that really counts. Have you ever raced in fancy dress?

The first activity of the day was a workout with Francesca and Chloe, the Townsend Twins.

The workout was high energy and the twins were so much fun. I also loved their outfits and had to do a bit of online stalking to find out where there leggings were from (Bellum Active – starlight leggings)… if anyone has a bit of spare cash and wants to buy me a present for my birthday next month…

I’ve really not done enough exercise in the last few months, so I was a bit nervous about the workout, but it turned out to be a lot of fun (although I was seriously stiff on Sunday AND Monday!) The music was great and the Townsend Twins explained everything really well. If I learnt anything that I could take into my own fitness career, it was that smiling and being enthusiastic is really important… and that I need to duplicate myself so that one of us can talk and the other can demonstrate!

We did a good mix of exercises, including skaters, squats, jump squats and walking lunges.

We then had a quick refreshment break (water, lucozade and bananas).

 

It was then straight into a pacing workshop with Ali Galbraith, who leads the pacers at a number of events, including Reading Half. I’ve taken notes on all of Ali’s talk as I found it really helpful…

Good training runs lead to great pacing days:

  • Set realistic goals
  • Try to not move the goal posts
  • Practice your pace in training runs
  • You will have good days and bad days – roll with the punches
  • See long training runs as mini race days

I’m really bad at accepting that runs don’t always go to plan. I rarely cut runs short and I never do more than my plan says, so maybe I need to be more flexible.

The necessities of a great pacer

  • Good quality watch
  • Gear you can trust
  • Solid knowledge of the race
  • The ability to adapt

I’ve now got a fantastic watch and I’ll probably wear my favourite black shorts. I need to check out the route of Reading Half as I think it’s changed since I last ran it.

Pre-race preparation

  • Fuel intake – what shall I eat and drink?
  • Route planning
  • Race planning – what will I need?
  • Weather preparation

This was one of my favourite parts of Ali’s talk. When I last ran Reading Half, I tried to fuel up with a vanilla Gu, but it was too thick and my friend threw it in the gutter because she thought I was taking too long and I didn’t have time to waste. Ali said that when he is running he uses Ella’s Kitchen baby food pouches (with Spaghetti Bolognese being a favourite) and Mars bars. I don’t think I could eat something that requires that much chewing when I’m running!

The perfect race morning

  • Review your pre race preparation
  • Get to the race village nice and early
  • Warm up properly using that time to visualise the race
  • Get to your starting pen with plenty of time
  • Never lose a smile

I don’t like being stressed on race day, but I have to admit that even though I arrive early I don’t always do a proper warm up.

Race break down

  • Why break down a race?
  • How I break down a race:
    • Miles 1-3
    • Miles 3-11
    • Miles 11-13.1

Breaking down a race into segments is a good mental strategy – it’s something that I do already.

Miles 1-3

  • Holding back the adrenaline
  • Don’t weave
  • Be prepared for a slower pace
  • Just concentrate on you and getting to mile 3
  • Treat it similar to your warm up in training runs

Last time I ran this race, I definitely wasted time and energy by weaving around people. This time I aim to get myself into the right start pen to and take off at a steady pace. Starting too fast is one of my worst habits. At Gosport Half a few years back, I challenged myself not to look at my watch for the first three miles. I didn’t quite manage it, but it was helpful as it stopped me getting into a panic about going too fast or too slow.

Miles 3-11

  • Ask yourself some questions:
    • How am I feeling?
    • What is my fuel intake?
    • Do I need to slow down?
  • Join a group and interact
  • Settle into your race pace
  • Be prepared for things to get tough

I definitely think that running with others who are going at your pace helps. When I got my half marathon PB, I ran with a friend. We were both running faster than we had ever managed before, but we stuck with each other, which gave us both a mental boost.

Miles 11-13.1

  • Break down into bitesize pieces
  • If you’re looking for a PB, now is the time to start pushing the pace
  • Mental toughness is key in these final miles
  • Treat it as the party bus home

This bit always begins at mile 10 for me as then I repeat my mantra: “parkrun to go!”

After Ali’s talk there was time for a Q&A session before we went out for a warm up and a  5km run.

After a few stretches, we split into two groups. The faster group were going to go at 9-9:30 minute miles. I thought that should be OK as I can usually run parkrun at that pace with a buggy. However, I’ve really not run much since before Christmas, so I found it really hard going… also we started at a slightly quicker pace. I definitely think I needed to start more slowly and build up.

© Anna Smith-James

© Anna Smith-James

My stretch goal for Reading Half is 1:49:59, but I would be happy with anything under 1:52:19. At the moment, I think I’d be amazed if I could finish in under 2 hours, but I know that I was able to make a lot of progress in a short period of time last year, so as long as I’m focused, I should get there.

After another short refreshment break, it was on to the physio and injury prevention workshop, led by Jim Adkins from Berkshire Physiotherapy.

This was another interactive session with a combination of questions, answers, information and activity.

We learned how to warm up properly to help avoid injuries. We did lots of calf stretches, before we did some equipment work.

A common misconception is that running is a cheap sport as there is very little that is required. However, when you speak to someone who has become addicted to running they will explain that they have spent a fortune on the right shoes, socks, clothes, sports watch, other gadgets, nutrition and race entry fees. They may also have spent money on items such as foam rollers, massage balls and resistance bands. Jim introduced us to an innovative piece of equipment that I’ve never tried before…

A paper plate!

The aim of the paper plates was to place one under each foot and then do a bridge and slide your feet in and out. It’s much harder than it sounds and really works your core.

The most interesting stretch that I learnt was the ‘slump stretch’. I tried it out with my work colleagues who’ve renamed it as the bored sulky teenager stretch. It involved sitting on a firm surface with room to swing my legs. I had to slump my lumbar spine (chin to chest) and place my hands behind my back, before swinging alternate legs with my foot flexed. This exercise should ‘floss’ your sciatic nerve, which can help to relieve hamstring tightness.

Overall, this was such a helpful day that has made me feel ready to start tackling my training plan.

If you haven’t already signed up for Reading Half, why not enter now?

If you want to treat yourself, there’s a VIP package, which includes a range of ‘extras’.

There’s also the chance to enter the January competition if you sign up before January 31st.

Returning to my favourite (and fastest) ever race

5 Jan Reading Half training morning
I am so excited to have been selected as a Blogger Ambassador for Reading Half Marathon. The race takes place on Sunday 18th March, 2018. 
I first ran Reading Half in 2012 and was thrilled to achieve a PB of nearly 25 minutes, finishing the race in 1:52:19. I’m fairly confident that I could have smashed that time last year, but my training has suffered, so it will be interesting to see how it goes this year. I absolutely loved running Reading Half in 2012, but I’ve never returned as I’ve been afraid that it wouldn’t live up to my expectations. I still don’t really know how I did so well in 2012 – I sometimes wonder whether it was down to the bottle of Lucozade that I drank before the start of the race!
Reading Half 2012

With team-mates from Lordshill Road Runners after Reading Half Marathon 2012

Some of the things that I enjoyed about the race were the enthusiastic crowds who turned out to support the runners, the music along the course and the finish inside the Madejski Stadium. I also enjoyed running with my training partner, Irene.
After being ill over Christmas, I’ve not been running as much as usual at all, so I’m keen to get back to training. Tomorrow, I’m attending a Training Morning in Reading.
Reading Half training morning
    The morning will start with a workout led by the Townsend Twins, who will also be leading the warm up on race day. I’m still thinking about studying to become a Personal Trainer, so I’ll be seeing whether I can pick up any tips as well as having some fun!
    Next up will be a seminar on pace management led by Ali Galbraithe. I’ve run as a pacer for several events, and it’s a role that I’ve enjoyed, but it’s much easier to run at a consistent pace when you’re within your comfort zone. I’ll be keen to learn how to improve my pacing and maybe even how to go for that elusive negative split.
    After a group run, Berkshire Physio will be leading a cool down and giving an injury prevention talk. I’ve been neglecting my stretches recently, so this might push me into taking more care of myself.
    Overall, I’m so excited about this opportunity. I’ll do my best to take loads of photos and will be reporting back on what I’ve learnt.

     Have you thought about signing up for Reading Half? There’s a competition to win some great kit for anyone who enters during January, so what are you waiting for?!