The last one before the big one

All the gear…

All the gear…

It is Wednesday the 24th of April at the time of starting this blog.  I have just returned home from club run and completed my very last training run with any real speed… 7 miles with 2 at marathon pace.  A run that I’m sure is meant to give a runner all the confidence in the world, but seems to strike fear into the heart of anyone who has to do it.  I have 2 more training runs left: 5 recovery miles before work on Friday (Also the perfect excuse to wear running kit to the expo on Friday evening.  Also the perfect example of my deep spiral into maranoia/taper crazies. I am LITERALLY worrying about what to wear to pick up my race number and collect all the samples I can fit into my bag), and an easy 4 miles on Saturday which will likely include parkrun. (If you are reading this pre-parkrun and see me running anything remotely faster than 9 minute miles, feel free to tell me to slow the **** down).  

As it is the last week of training, the mileage and intensity have eased off, and I finally have some time to rest, relax and reflect on the past 18 weeks of training.  Eighteen weeks is a long time! Throughout training, I have done over 700 miles, 184 laps of Osterley track, bought three new pairs of trainers, run in 3 different countries and eaten my weight in pasta several times over.  

Training for this marathon couldn’t have come at a better time.  It has made me physically stronger, a more resilient athlete and lifted me out of a dark place.  There have been a few points during my training cycle that I’ve had to dig deep and find something within myself I didn’t think possible - mainly Fleet Half and my second 20 miler on that horrible windy Sunday in March. Sure, there were tears, but after that was a certain stubbornness and drive to keep going.  I’ve begun to realise just how strong I am. How fierce I am and how resilient I am. As tough as those days were, I got through them and the other hundreds of miles necessary to make it to this point. Every obstacle along the way has made me more stronger and more focussed.

18 weeks of lessons and celebrations

18 weeks of lessons and celebrations

Mentally, this marathon came at the perfect time.  You always hear about the positive benefits running has on your mental health, and I can absolutely 100% vouch for this.  I was in a very dark place at the start of my training. My confidence and self worth were at an ultimate low, and was struggling with who I was and want I wanted.  Training has allowed me to channel all this negative energy into running. Days when I was feeling down or low were converted into fuel for tough track sessions or long runs.  Little by little, I began building myself up. I started listening to the positive voices around me telling me how strong I was, how valued I was and how worthy I was. Running has allowed me to rebuild myself mentally and become happy, self confident and resilient. When I say I #runhappy I mean it, because it has made me elated.

Also, running a million miles a week and eating relatively healthy has made me absolutely shed weight, develop a killer set of legs and due to my pre-race hot holiday, gave me an amazing tan.  

Somewhere under a rainbow

Somewhere under a rainbow

My taper started in a rather enviable way with a trip to visit my parents in Palm Springs, California.  It was a fitting end to the training as my parents watched my training begin during Christmas in Vancouver, and would get to see the very end stages at their home in Palm Spring. Also, after cheering in the heat last year, I knew a bit of hot weather training wouldn’t hurt! And oh man was it hot!!  I foolishly woke up for a 7 am start on my first day… it was already 25 degrees in the shade! All subsequent runs took place between 5:30 and 6:15, which worked well with an 8 hour time change and gave adequate time to rest/work on my tan. I was also really silly and didn’t pack enough gels, and as it turns out, SIS gels are very hard to come across in Southern California.  I was able to make due with local California dates, GU gels (yuck) and Gatorade blocks (YUM, YUM, YUM). I returned back from holidays refreshed, renewed and bronzed. My holiday was a fitting end to 18 weeks of obstacles, training and overall self improvement also set a clear way to transition from a training mentality to “race mode”.

Overall I am incredibly excited for Sunday.  I feel my training plan has adequately prepared me for the race. The time I once found laughable now seems achievable.



I have a number.

I have a plan.

I have mile 23.

See you there!

Eagle Friends

I’m not going to lie.  This blog post has been one of the most difficult ones for me to write.  Not due to lack of material (there’s actually too much to write about), but more due to me not wanting to sound too sappy or emotional.

Making friends in a new area was the main reason I became an Eagle in 2015.  I had recently moved to Ealing for work and didn’t know a soul so I decided joining a running club would be the best way to meet new people.  I barely ever ran and was SO nervous before my first club run. An occasional Parkrun was the extent of my running at that point, and I wasn’t sure I would even be able to make it round without walking.  Eagle support and encouragement started from the second I arrived. Allie was leading that night and was incredibly positive, welcoming and reassuring. Something that I see week in week out when new members are welcomed with open arms.  My first club run also happened to be a social night, so I had the added bonus of meeting loads of Eagles! I was hooked from day 1!

Clean and shiny Eagle friends

Clean and shiny Eagle friends

I have met so many of you over the past 2 and a half years and made so many life-changing friendships.  You guys are some of the most encouraging, supportive and helpful people I have ever met. The friends I have made in this club have not only supported my running, but been there when I needed a shoulder to cry on, a bit of a bitch and a moan or a well deserved late night out on the town.

As a runner, so many of you have been there for me in your own unique way.  These range from drunken encouragement that I could make the Welsh Castles team, letting me chase you around the track, up and down hills (Charlotte and Abi basically put me on the bus to Wales), pacing me to PBs while I swear at you silently under my breath, and most importantly helping me to respect the process and celebrate each and every success along the way.  This last bit is what makes this club so unique. We have such a wide range of speed and endurance yet still take time to encourage each other.

There is no way I would have ever dreamed of running a marathon without the support of the friends I have made in this club.   And without that support, and some gentle pushing I would have no business setting my sights on a 3:30 marathon. The past 14 weeks of marathon training have been mentally and physically tough; training for a marathon can be an isolating experience.  There have been days where I've been on the top of the world and days where all I've wanted to do was hang up my shoes and curl into a ball. Having a supportive network of Eagles has kept me going. Your words of encouragement, congratulations and kudos have picked me up after a bad run and pushed me to try even harder after a great session.  

Supportive team of Eagle Ladies at the SEAA relays

Supportive team of Eagle Ladies at the SEAA relays

Fleet half was not my day.  My legs weren't fresh, my head wasn't into it, and I had a lovely cold brewing.  I would never have made it without Yvette dragging me around the last 3 miles and was overwhelmed with the messages of support I received in the following days.  I was able to bounce back, refocus on my training and got a considerable 5k PB a mere 7 days later at the SEAA relays in Milton Keynes (a race done with the Eagles which is probably a contributing factor.  Although there was an Eagle or two who were very quick to suggest if it's not Gunnersbury, does it count?).

PB face on!

PB face on!

So what am I going to take from this?  The first is the fantastic friends I have made and friendships that have gotten stronger.  There's nothing quite as special as knowing so many people have your back. I'll be carrying this with me on race day.  The second is resilience. All the encouragement I've received has made me realise just how strong and unbreakable I am.

I am so proud that in just a mere 3 weeks I will get to fly around London on behalf of each and every one of you.  

Not broken, just dysfunctional

It’s a point we all get to when marathon training.  Something doesn’t feel quite right. It manifests itself differently for each of us from a gammy knee or a dodgy calf to a niggly glute or achy back.  We’ve all been there. Preventing and dealing with injury is part and parcel of marathon training. I know what you’re thinking, I am not injured, just a bit wonky (nothing new there!).  The other 3 VLM bloggers have already written about it, so I suppose it’s now my turn!

It all started a few weeks ago in the days leading up to the last met league race of the season.  I had been feeling a bit stiff and less flexible than usual, and at the time put it down to upping the mileage after being ill for 2 weeks.  I had spent the better part of the week humming and hawing about whether or not I should just go and see the physio just to be sure nothing was wrong with me.  

The last straw came halfway through a 12 mile training/commute run when I stopped at home to drop my backpack and I spent a bit too long staring at some post on the table.  As I turned to return to my run my glute felt very wrong, almost like someone had moved it up and to the side about six inches. Fortunately there wasn’t much pain, just the feeling as if something wasn’t quite right.  I went cold and honestly thought I was going to vomit. I saved my run and stared at the wall for a good 5 minutes before immediately calling the physio and making appointment.

That wasn’t a good night.  I spent most of the evening catastrophizing, thinking London was slipping out of my hands.  Yes, I was absolutely overreacting, but it was due to past experience and the knock on effect injury had on my running.  I was meant to run the Manchester marathon last year but had to pull out a mere 3 weeks before the race due to a bad glute strain.  I wasn’t able to run for a month, lost loads of fitness and spent a great deal of time questioning if I was going to be fit enough to race Green Belt or Welsh Castles.  I was fortunate to come back in time to do both races, but was not on the top of my game and not happy with my performance in either race. It took me a good 6 months to get back into PB form and feel like I was back in the game.  All of this was running through my head before visiting the physio!

So physio day came.  She did a quick assessment and diagnosed me with some seriously tight and dysfunctional muscles and the warning that if I kept doing what I was doing I WOULD end up injured.  A few needles to the back and an elbow to the glute for good measure and I was sent off with a strict training and recovery regimen. I was (and still am) to stretch every day for 15 minutes, foam roll 3 times and week and fit in strength and conditioning 3 times per week.  Some days it feels like a bit of a drag, and my bedroom is beginning to look like a mini gym with foam rollers, resistance bands, a yoga mat, lacrosse ball and yoga ball. Getting injured last year was horrible - but I feel I’ve become better at reading the signs my body is giving me.  I’m also starting to get a set of abs, so that’s nice too!

Hurts so good

Hurts so good

All this stretching and strengthening is also beginning to pay off in my running as well!  I did my highest mileage week of my life during half term - 70 MILES!!! (It wasn’t meant to be that high, but I bumped my long run to Monday as I was off work).  I’m also getting faster - I think. I finished my 70 mile week with Cross Country National Championships in Leeds on the Saturday, and Wokingham half on the Sunday.  I ran nationals nearly 10 seconds per kilometre faster than the previous year and shaved off 200 places in the process. Wokingham was MEANT to be a marathon paced training run (and it sort of started that way), but despite the very tired and overworked legs and serious lack of sleep or proper nutrition (70 MILES GUYS) I nearly managed a half marathon PB!  I was a mere 7 seconds off of my 1:40:09 at Ealing half! Oops and yaay… the plan was to go a bit faster at the start to get a time on the board for Welsh Castles and then ease off, buuuuut I got a bit carried away. That being said, I am feeling far more confident about my training and target time for London and can’t wait to see what I can do in Fleet where I will be properly rested and fueled with a mini taper!  

Lovely race, but sad the season is over

Lovely race, but sad the season is over

Training this week has continued to go very well!  I did a solo VO2 track session on Wednesday and according to strava, even with 400 metre recoveries I managed to clock my 2nd fastest 5k time! So maybe it’s time for a parkrun tear up! In the meantime I’ll be over here eating enough for a small army…. But more on that next time!

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Miss Kandt runs a marathon

I thought I would mix it up this week and bring in another one of my passions: teaching.  I have taught nursery and reception for the past 5 years, and in the 2 and a half years since I began running I have loved sharing my challenges and experiences with my students.  In the lead up to my first half and full marathons in the Spring of 2017, I often shared my training, various races, the amount of time I was spending running, and how I found what I was doing to be a personal challenge.  Sure, some of this was for selfish reasons to gain some sympathy from children as they watched my attempt to lower my sore adult self into a teeny tiny EYFS chair.

Another reason I felt it was important is that I feel it is important to share our passions, and struggles with children (even if we aren’t teachers).  In school we constantly ask children to challenge themselves and feel a bit uncomfortable when learning to do something new. Running is much the same. We constantly feel the need to go that little bit faster, enter new and unique races, and set and achieve our goals.

The fact that I run is known quite school-wide.  Children constantly ask my how races are going, colleagues begin the week demanding to know what “crazy” race or distance I have done on the weekend gone.  I’ve even had a child come up to me and state in her own words: “Miss I googled you and I found that you are an athlete!! WOW!”. Running has also allowed me to make a positive impact on my school.  One of my roles outside the classroom is as our healthy schools coordinator. I have been able to bring in the daily mile (Which is exactly as it sounds: at some point in the day children run up to a mile on a near daily basis) and often get the opportunity to join in with the children (some of them are getting seriously fast!).

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Anyways, onto the fun stuff.  One of the most fun parts about teaching is getting to hear all the hilarious and insightful things children have to say.  So I thought it would be fitting to interview some of the children from nursery to year 6 about running, marathons and the fact that I would running one in a few months.

What is a marathon? (asked to a group of year 1s)

Child 1: “It’s like running!”

Child 2: “But with your arms AND legs!”

Child 3: “Is it like America?  That’s where ostriches live.

Me: “It’s like the daily mile but 26 of them in a row”

Child 4: “No no, that’s just too far to run!”

Child 5: “Oh I’ve already done that when I was 4”

Why do you think Miss Kandt wants to run a marathon? (asked to my nursery class)

Child 1: “Because people will come watch you!”

Child 2: “I have no idea…”

Child 3: “To get fit and strong…”

Child 4: “ need to have big muscles” The child then flexed their own arms and continued “but you have small muscles!”

What am I going to need to eat before the race?

Child 1: “Pepperoni….. Pickles and pepperoni”

Child 2: “six eggs, or maybe even more!”

Child 3: “Carbohydrates like bread or pasta because they are good for you!”

How long will it take me to run the marathon?

Child 1: “6 hours”

Child 2: “100 minutes”

Child 3: “1, maybe 2 minutes”

Child 4: “Probably 10 days”

What is going to happen during and after the race?

Child 1: “You will be tired cuz you have to run fast and then have a nap”

Child 2: “You will win and then be happy with your new trophy”

Child 3: “You will be tired and your face will turn red.”

Child 4: “I think you will be tired and happy but also maybe a bit hungry.

So there you have it.  According to the children at my school I will not only outright win the London marathon but I will do it sub 100 minutes on a diet of pickles, eggs and pepperoni.  They aren’t wrong about some things:

  • I will continue my diet of delicious carbohydrates up to (and beyond) race day,

  • I will be very happy and I’m sure rather tired and in need of a nap (nothing new there)

  • And I will hopefully finish somewhere between 100 minutes and 10 days.  

We’ve got just 68 days to see how these predictions pan out!

Trying to do it all ...then coming down with laryngitis ...and then a chest infection!

Here it goes… my 3rd attempt at writing this blog post!  With January done, I’ve had some time to step back and look at the month just gone.  My training started out with a bang! I officially started my London training on Christmas day, but it was January where I really got stuck in, and began really putting the miles in.  The plan was to race a bunch, train a bunch and stay healthy. Unfortunately, things don’t always go to play… more on that in a bit.

Racing started VERY well in early January!  I spent the last morning of my 20s getting myself a shiny new 5k PB at my local Parkrun in Vancouver, and then flew straight back to England where I arrived as a 30 year old.  (Flying on your bday is overrated by the way, I missed MOST of my birthday sitting in a mediocre seat, watching films). Next up was a bit of cross country at the Met League Wormwood Scrubs fixture.  That race also went very well, I took 4-ish minutes off my time from the previous year and earned myself a place on the ladies A team. Following that was the race I had very mixed feelings about: The Box Hill Fell race.  

Going into this race I knew I was much stronger and more experienced than the previous year.  I also knew the course and exactly what doing well would entail, but was apprehensive as it was a race I really struggled with the previous year.  I’m happy to report the race went swimmingly and I was able to take a whopping 20 minutes off my time from the previous year!! I must say I owe much of this success to Abi and Charlotte Levin.  Abi, in her pink gloves, was always just on the horizon which pushed me to try and catch up to. Charlotte, who’s just returned from injury and is looking worryingly strong was an absolute beast on the hills and forced me to pick up pace even when it felt very uncomfortable to do so.  The three of us finished within spitting distance of each other, fitting for a group of girls who often lovingly refer to ourselves as “flower sniffers” (basically we are prone to taking it a bit too hard sometimes).

flower sniffers.jpg

Unfortunately, the day after called for a 14 mile training run.  I think these two runs, paired with a few very busy weeks at work, and the stress of moving house caught up with me.  That evening I went to bed feeling a bit off, and woke the next morning feeling absolutely awful! I spent most of the week of the 21st, in bed, shivering, hopped up on day nurse. It was during this period that I made attempt 1 of writing this post.  I was nonsense… obviously! Turns out I had laryngitis, and sadly was in no shape to do much of anything, and definitely no running! Sadly this also meant no Southern England cross country champs. If you’ve never raced there I highly recommend it, the last kilometer is a beautiful downhill sprint and the perfect chance to overtake a handful of competitors.

After a week of missed work, I decided I was back.  My body didn’t. It decided I had a chest infection! So 3 more days off work and running and a new round of antibiotics!  Luckily, I am very much on the mend thanks to my friends Slothy the hot water bottle, sleep and amoxicillin! I’ve managed a few solid runs the past few days and still feel quite strong.  I’ve even treated myself to a new pair of beautiful risky white Adidas adios that will hopefully make it to at least Fleet before becoming a mess.

So, what have I learned in all of this?  First off, if you’re not well: rest, rest, rest and rest.  Next, it’s perfectly okay to miss a run or two when you’ve got too much on!  Much better to take an extra rest day than overwork yourself and risk injury or illness.  Lastly, a new pair of shoes is a great “get well present” to myself, but probably not feasible following any minor setbacks.  

Anyways, I’m back on track with the training, still feeling strong and looking forwards to continuing with the training!

Hayley's 1st VLM blog

Well it’s been just over 3 weeks since I received my London place and I am still absolutely buzzing!  Sitting in front of everyone with my jazzy painted burger king crown is probably the closest I’ve ever been or ever will be to becoming a queen (prom, beauty, HM, Beyonce etc etc) – besides, who wants to do those when you can run the London Marathon!  I can’t wait to run for the club in 16ish weeks, and run a marathon where I feel like I actually know what I’m doing. (Please don’t talk to the people who tell me I train too fast, they’re all liars.)

I am going to start this blog by providing you with a brief history of my background in running and sport in generally.  While my journey as a runner began just over 2 years ago, sport has always played a fundamental role in my life. My first true love was one typical of many Canadian children – ice hockey.  From the age of 4 to 18 the ice rink was my second home. I feel much of my success as a runner stem from hockey – from the ability to push myself during training and competition, set personal goals in my performance and my competitive drive.  It’s probably no shock why I love cross country so much!


“The young athlete, aged 6”

I fell in love with running shortly after I moved to Ealing and joined the Eagles.  I had ZERO intention of becoming a “runner” as I was simply looking to get a bit fitter and meet some people.  It’s safe to say that I have most definitely become a “runner” and kept myself rather busy with all the training, racing and social opportunities that come along with the club!  Joining the club was one of the best decisions I have made in my adult life. I’ve been able to meet so many people, challenge myself, relight my competitive side, get seriously faster and compete in some very interesting races!

Leading up to the race I have a few goals that I would like to achieve in my training and racing:

  1. STAY INJURY FREE – I trained for Manchester last year and was injured on my very last long training run.

  2. Run Fleet half in the 90-99:59 minute bracket to qualify for the Welsh Castles ladies team, and to get a new PB (Currently it sits at a frustrating 1:40:09 from EHM)

  3. Maintain my speed in other distances.  I’ve set a fair few PBs in the last 6 months, and I would like to continue to build on those in the lead up to London.

As for the race itself, I am hoping to shave an hour of my 2 year old marathon PB which currently stands at 4:40:55.  Typing that out sounds slightly scary, but I have learned loads over the past 2 years, built a ton of speed and most importantly become more vigilant in my training.  Like many others Eagles, I will be following the ever famous P&D training plan pulled from the book “Advanced Marathoning”. I’ve been lucky to get my hands on the complicated and VERY technical interactive spreadsheet. No, I am not being sarcastic… If you’re interested in seeing it, ask me to pull it up on my phone the next time you see me, and marvel at its glory.  Filling it in after every run feels like some weird backwards running advent calendar.

Going forwards, I’ll probably write mostly about running (obviously), loads and loads of cross country, trying to fit training in when you get race FOMO so you sign up for everything (remind me again why I signed up for Box Hill???), eating (I may even include some tips on how to slink into the storage cupboard at work, shovel food in and exit so your boss doesn’t catch you and tell you off), more eating, and many other wonderful surprises (I didn’t say poo, so way to go being immature and thinking it).


“The still young athlete, aged 29”