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).

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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”