London Marathon Training – Week 1

So, here we are. The start of 2019 and the start of another London Marathon training block, I honestly cannot believe how quickly this has come around! I have set myself a huge goal for the marathon this year, which means my training is going to ramp up a notch! I am going to be using my blog as my training diary, I will share the good, the bad and everything in between, and I hope you enjoy sharing the journey with me.

Also, I am not going to be posting every single stat/detail about my runs or sessions. If you would like to follow me on Strava then please click here. 

Week 1 – WC 7th January 2019 

Monday

AM – Easy/Recovery 4 Miles

Gym – Strength Training 

 PM – Steady 6 Miles 

For this block of training, my mileage is increasing which means a couple of days a week I run twice a day. I introduced this into my training back in December to get my body used to the build up, and I actually find it really beneficial, especially when I have had a hard day before! The aim of the morning run is to just shake the legs off, no pressure on pace or speed (which is good as my legs were feeling it from Sundays efforts!) and then pick up the pace a little for the evening run. Which so far, has been working really well!

If you have been following me for a while then you know I am a huge advocate for Strength Training so I always make sure I add at least two sessions a week to my schedule. I have previously done two Strength & Conditioning posts for and Upper & Lower Body workout, and I will be adding more in the near future.

Here is a little video of what I got up to this week

10 miles & day one, done!

Tuesday

AM – Cardio Circuit Class (Fiit) 

Before I moved, I used to regularly attend a Bootcamp/Circuit style class on a Tuesday morning. I have really missed it, and although my gym does do classes, I havent managed to get along to one yet. I have started using the Fiit app which has hundreds of workouts that are led by qualified instructors, all of which you can do from the comfort of your own home! I picked a cardio circuit class which was only 25 minutes long, but definitely hard work and was a good way to get a sweat on before lunch time!

Full disclosure – I was gifted premium membership from FIIT which includes unlimited free classes, a Heart Rate Monitor and exclusive offers. Thank you.

PM – Track 

Ah good old #TrackTuesdays – love it or hate it, speed work is key when marathon training, and it is something I always include (no matter how much I moan about it!) Tonight was my first official track night with my new club, and I can honestly say it was the toughest track session I have ever done! I have never trained with such a large (or fast!) group before and it really pushed me to run faster, and more consistently then I have ever ran before! The session was 8 x 500m/60s rest/300m/60s rest and it was not pretty! But it was just what I needed and gave me a huge confidence boost going into my first week of training.

Wednesday 

AM – Easy/Recovery 3 Miles

PM – Steady 7 

Ah another #doubleday – these sure do come around quickly! I won’t lie, my legs were sore on Wednesday morning! They were so heavy, it felt like I was trying to run through treacle! I forgot how much a tough track session destroys your legs.

For my evening run I was doing something a little different, I was heading to the Olympic Park to the Run Through Chase The Moon Event. I was really excited as I was asked to lead the warm ups at the start of the race (although not sure if you could call it that, it was FREEZING) and then I had the chance to run the 10k afterwards. I am usually guilty of ‘racing’ every single race I do, I cant even trust myself at parkrun! But I had a plan, and I am pleased to say I stuck to it! I ran a nice steady pace the whole way round, and tagged an extra mile on the end to hit my mileage. Result!

Thursday

AM – Gym – Strength Training

PM – Long Run/Hill Session

This is fast becoming a day I love to hate. Mainly because I know its going to be hard work! Thursday is a club night and we train hills – a necessary evil! As I now live in London, I no longer have my car, so to get to my sessions most of the time I run there rather then relying on the tube. It’s a really good way to get those extra miles in, but also makes this tough session that little bit harder! On average these nights end up being around 10-11 miles and means I don’t get home till around 9pm. Its tough, but I just keep telling myself it will all be worth it (hopefully!) on the 28th April! The session tonight was 10 x 60 second hill efforts. Why is it that 60 seconds seems so much longer when you are running up hill?!

Friday 

REST DAY

The most important day in any training plan! I was so looking forward to today. My legs are definitely feeling the increase in mileage & harder sessions this week. I had a good old roll & stretch session and also did a relaxing Yoga class through the FIIT app.

Saturday

AM – Jaybird Sport Meet Up (Easy 5km)

Gym – Strength Training

Thanks to my rubbish body clock, for some reason I was wide awake at 5.30am on Saturday morning, I couldn’t get back to sleep so I took myself to the gym and did one of my allocated strength sessions. I wouldn’t usually train at the gym on the weekend but as I was having an easy run day I decided to get an extra gym session in.

I then headed into Central London to meet up with the rest of the Jaybird Runners team! My legs were feeling a lot better after my rest day, but we kept it pretty easy with an easy paced 5km around Hyde Park! In a way I was quite glad I didn’t make it to Parkrun as I probably would have pushed it and tried to run fast!

Sunday

AM – 17 Miles 

I had been looking forward to this all week! I know I might sound like a weirdo, but if you hadn’t guessed already… I love marathon training, and especially the Sunday long run! I made plans to go with a friend, I reaaaaally wanted to go to Richmond Park, so thats what we did! No pressure on pace, just some nice chatty miles, and we only got lost a handful of times (my speciality!)

Ending the week on 58 miles, my highest ever mileage week! Roll on Week 2!

Jordan xx

Run 3D Gait Analysis & Results

Well well well… hello there! It is safe to say that with everything else going on, I have somewhat neglected my blog the last couple of months! BUT that will soon be changing and I plan to get back to blogging regularly again from the New Year! But to kick it off, I wanted to write about my recent experience with the Run 3D clinic and share my results with you.  

I am very fortunate that aside from #hamstringgate earlier in the year, I have managed to avoid any other niggles or injuries in the last 12 months (keeping everything crossed that as I write this I am not jinxing myself!) but still, I was really interested to get a comprehensive gait analysis to make sure that everything was indeed in working order and that there were no underlying issues before I throw myself into London Marathon training!

Anyway, it was a beautiful Monday morning here in London as I headed into the city for my appointment with Ken at Six Physio in Bank (Run3D have a number of clinics in the UK, you can find your nearest one by clicking here

I was going to be taken through the Run 3D Silver Assessment and then we also went through a musculoskeletal examination (not as scary as it sounds!) to see if there were any areas of my strength, flexibility & mobility I needed to work on (and it turns out there was, but more on that later!) But before we could do anything, we needed to get all the techy bits sorted!

First of all, my shoes and my body were fitted with motion sensors so that they could be picked up by the motion sensor cameras (just like they use in the films!) which then produced a 3D moving image of me on the screens in front of the treadmill (I felt like I was in a Daft Punk video!) This is to ensure that everything can be picked up, and you are given actual facts and numbers rather then relying on judging solely by eye.

 

So now it was time for the fun part, getting to run on the treadmill! First of all you start at walking pace before you then move into a steady/easy run pace. The cameras then record you for approx 30 seconds and measure everything from your hips all the way down to your toes! But I wasn’t done there… Ken then asked me if I wanted to crank the speed up and see how I faired running at my goal marathon pace, which obviously I said yes to!

Here are the results from my test. Overall, I am in good nick and my running style is pretty efficient, but as you can see – my hip alignment definitely needs some work!

‘The results are compared to our database of uninjured controls and presented on a colour-coded scale to give a clear illustration of whether you are above, below or within our control range’

After the gait analysis, it was then time to go through some basic, but key strength and mobility exercises. For me personally these were really interesting, especially those exercises focused around my hip & pelvic mobility. Once again these were measured and compiled into a report, some of the results were determined by eye, but for others Ken used a device which was able to accurately measure the force in some of the exercises.

Overall, Ken was really happy with my results & tried to reassure me that there was nothing to really worry about, but certainly areas I could improve upon! As soon as I left the clinic I sent a message to Alex (@quinnphysio) with something along the lines of… Help me sort out my wonky hips! And I am already booked in for the New Year where we are going to go through my report together in more detail and come up with a plan to get everything in working order – and once we have come up with a plan, I will of course share it with you all!

No matter what level runner you are, I highly recommend getting a gait analysis at some point in your running journey. There are many different types you can get, and the most common is the one you can get in running shops which can help determine which trainers you need to buy. I am in no way knocking these, as they can be extremely useful, but just please be aware that this will not be able to measure everything accurately, as a lot of the time this is tested by eye only.

The Run3D team are going to be at the National Running Show on the 19th-20th January 2019, and for one weekend only they are offering their Run 3D Package for 1/2 price! Spaces are limited, and appointments are 100% essential, so please book on before by clicking here! I will also be at the show on Saturday 19th January, and look forward to hopefully meeting lots of you there!

And lastly, I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas, and an even happier New Year!

Jordan xx

#AD 

#inLOVEwithSWITZERLAND

It’s hard to know where to start when you want to write a blog about quite simply one of the most incredible weekends of your life, but… I will try my best! Back in May, my good friend Andy had a crazy idea.. an idea that combined his love of running, and his love of ‘Running Around Europe’. A chance meeting, and a lot of Sushi later, the idea to travel to Switzerland to run the Swiss City Marathon was starting to become a reality! When Andy asked me if I wanted to be a part of it, I don’t think I even waited a second before saying yes. A chance to run a marathon, in one of the most beautiful countries in the world, with two of my best friends, how on earth could I turn that down?!

Soon enough the #RunSwitzerland team was complete – Myself, Andy, Charlie, Evie & Dan were all set and raring to go! We all had our own reasons for wanting to run the marathon and all had our different goals, which made it even more special! The months turned into weeks, the weeks turned into days, and before I knew it I was packing my suitcase ready for what would become one of the most unforgettable weekends!

Day 1 

The day had finally arrived! My case was packed and after a good night sleep (LOL – good one) I was up at 5am, shovelling a bucket load of oats down me and was ready for the long drive down to the airport! I think there was a part of me that still didn’t believe this whole weekend was happening, and that at some point someone was going to turn around and tell me it was all one big joke; but after meeting the team, checking in & making it through security it was finally starting to feel that little bit more real!

JOTV0194

The flight went by in a flash, and it was such a lovely touch to be given complimentary drinks, lunch & chocolate (although I was sticking to my plan so I had my sandwiches in my lunch box!) on the journey over – us Brits could learn a thing or two!!

Once we landed, we jumped straight on a train to head to Lucerne, the home of the Swiss City Marathon & where we would be staying for the next 3 nights. We all spent the majority of the train journey gawping out of the window – Switzerland was BEAUTIFUL! And I couldn’t wait to explore it properly over the next few days.

 

 

Once we arrived in Lucerne, we went for a quick explore and the chance to get some photos before sunset. The city was absolutely beautiful, it looked like something from a Christmas film.

 

 

Once we had all finished getting our photos, it was time to head to the hotel to check in. The location could not have been more perfect, we were right in the heart of the city, and perhaps more importantly… about 30 seconds away from a McDonalds (I was already looking forward to my post race visit!!)! It’s the little things that can make all the difference and it was such a lovely touch to be greeted with a ‘Good Luck’ goody bag in our hotel rooms, complete with a bag of personalised pasta!

 

 

Soon enough, we were on the move again, this time to the marathon expo to collect our bib numbers! The Swiss City Marathon is not a huge event, especially not on the scale of the marathons I have completed before, so instead of heading to the usual large exhibition centre, we had a short walk to another hotel where the marathon had set up. To be completely honest, I actually preferred this smaller expo. There was absolutely no stress, no large crowds and more importantly – no queuing! There wasn’t many stands but that didn’t really bother me, I hardly ever buy anything from expos anyway!

 

Now, I will warn you. Before reading any further, I would probably go and grab a snack. We were so fortunate to be wined & dined over the whole weekend, and every meal we had was incredible, I don’t think I have ever eaten in so many nice restaurants! And obviously I went for the pasta #carbloadingislife

 

 

All of a sudden, a wave of tiredness hit me – I think the early wake up call & the long day had finally caught up with me, I couldn’t wait to get back to the hotel and go to bed! We had a busy day planned on Saturday & I wanted to make sure I got as much rest as possible.

Day 2

As part of our trip, we were giving the full tourist experience, which included taking a trip to the beautiful Mount Pilatus. But don’t worry – we weren’t hiking up any mountains the day before a marathon, instead we took the most magical train journey all the way to the summit, and I can only describe that it felt like we were travelling into Narnia! What started off as a cloudy, rainy day ended up being a Winter Wonderland!

 

But first, we had to get to the train station. Now I don’t know about you, but if I am travelling somewhere, it doesn’t usually involve getting on a boat! In fact I could probably have counted on one had the amount of times I have travelled this way before the weekend!

 

Due to the heavy snowfall and cloud, the view from the top of the mountain was somewhat obscured, but not that it mattered in the slightest. It was absolutely beautiful! Not only that, but the hotel & visitor centre was so swanky, I felt like I could have been in the middle of a James Bond film!

 

 

Soon enough it was time to eat again, but unfortunately this time I was being a complete bore and rather than join in with everyone at the restaurant, I stuck to my plan and had two ham sandwiches – living the dream right! (So I won’t bore you with pictures of that!)

As much as I was enjoying all of the amazing experiences, slowly but surely the pre race nerves were starting to rear their ugly head, but luckily after we returned from our trip up the mountain we had some much needed chill time before dinner. So I did exactly that – I went back to my room, had a nap and watched some Netflix. It was exactly what I needed!

It was then time to regroup (and no, all of  us wearing grey was NOT planned! ha) and eat all the carbs! I kept it simple with a bowl of pasta, but after demolishing it in approx 5 minutes it was clear it wasn’t enough – so I ate half of Sara’s too! It was clear that thoughts of the marathon were over taking everyones thoughts, so we all called it a night pretty early on and headed to our rooms to try and get a good night sleep (once again, LOL good one!)

 

 

Day 3

Now, I am sorry to keep you all waiting, but the marathon is going to get a whole post of its own, so you will just have to wait to read all about that! 

But, what I am going to talk about is the incredible evening that was arranged for us. This was certainly one of those evenings where you take a step back and think ‘how on earth am I lucky enough to be here’ 

For the second time over the weekend, we were heading back up the mountain, but this time to the Burgenstock Resort Hotel & Spa for an evening of pure relaxation & bliss!

 

I honestly don’t think I had ever been anywhere as fancy in my life. A hotel & spa on the side of a mountain?! In Switzerland?! This was definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity! It was the perfeeeeeeeect way to relax and celebrate what we had all achieved just a few hours earlier, I don’t think any of us wanted to leave!

 

 

After our relaxing evening the spa, we then headed to Verbana Resturant for dinner. Um. WOW! This was definitely the nicest place I had ever been to eat, and I most certainly felt under dressed in a pair of jeans and the post marathon bags already forming under my eyes! The food was exquisite, and the wine, oh my goodness the wine!! It really was the perfect evening after such an amazing day, and it was just wonderful to spend it with everyone celebrating our achievements!

Day 4

I would love to say that I woke up feeling fresh on Monday, but the truth is I got a terrible nights sleep and was wide awake from 4.30 (and I thought running a marathon was supposed to make you tired!!) but nonetheless I was looking forward to what we had planned for our final day in Switzerland before we flew home.

IMG_7179Our first stop was a trip to a local chocolatier – Max Chocolatier. It was right in the centre of Lucurne, and we were lucky enough to be invited for a private tour of the shop, kitchen and then of course, some tasting! I am a hugeeeeeee chocolate fan, so I was really looking forward to this, and it did not disappoint! The only downside was that we couldn’t stay there all day and eat more!

 

 

 

Soon enough, it was time for ‘The Last Supper’ – and once again, we were treated to the best at The Lapin Restaurant. The post marathon hunger had well and truly kicked in now, which was lucky as we had a real feast lined up! They say a picture is worth a thousand words… so I will let these do the talking…

Sadly, it was finally time to say goodbye. Goodbye to the most amazing weekend. Goodbye to the most incredible experiences. And Goodbye to the most beautiful country I have ever visited. But first, obviously we had to fit in one last photo shoot!

IMG_8254IMG_8262IMG_8311

And as if the weekend hadn’t been incredible enough, the wonderful Sara had one final treat lined up for us for the flight home…. Business class baby!  I’m just sad that I had to drive home later that evening & couldn’t take full advantage of the free champagne, maybe next time!!!

 

Jordan xxx

 

 

I would like to say thank you to all of the following businesses for making this trip happen, and for making it so special. It will honestly be a weekend I will never forget!

AD Switzerland TourismSwiss City MarathonLucerne TourismContinental Park LuzerneRestaurant Bellini LocandaSwiss Travel SystemOdloOn Running, Swiss International AirlinesMax ChocolatierMount PilatusHotel SchweizerhofWaldhotel Spa & RestaurantRestaurant Lapin , Run Around Europe

 

 

 

Marathon Week – The Do’s, Dont’s & Everything in between!

So if you have made it this far, CONGRATULATIONS! This means that you have probably been working extremely hard for the last 12-16 weeks, and your marathon date has gone from months, to weeks, to a matter of days!

At the time of writing this, I am just 5 days away from my 6th marathon, and my 3rd of the year, and whilst I am no expert, I have picked up some handy hints & tips over the last couple of years, and especially over the last few months on how to stay sane on these final few days.

So whether this is your 1st marathon, or perhaps you have already done a lot but always struggle with these last few days, I hope you find some of these tips useful! And of course, if you have any of your own pearls of wisdom, pop them in the comments below!

Tapering.

Now this can depend on the individual, some people love the idea of winding down ahead of a big race whilst for others it feels them with dread! The idea of reducing miles and training can put people into a panic. Visions of losing fitness and all the progress you’ve made disappearing before your eyes is completely normal (so if this is you, don’t worry!) but it simply is not true. Tapering (alongside rest & recovery) is a key part to any marathon training plan, and should not be ignored. The idea of tapering is that you get to the start line feeling fresh, the last thing you want to do is get on that start line already feeling exhausted (save that for the finish line!)

taperingA marathon taper tends to be anywhere between 2-3 weeks before the race, but the last week is especially crucial. Please remember that you will not gain anything from going out and smashing a really tough training session the week of a race, your body will not have time to adapt, and in fact it could have the exact opposite effect of what you were hoping to achieve.

Now, here is where some people do get a little bit confused. Tapering does not mean just stop completely, it just means that you reduce your mileage, intensity and level of activity. For me personally, I still keep active during my final taper week, I still run & go to the gym, but just make sure I take it a bit easier! Here is what I will be getting up to this week…

Monday – Easy Paced 6 Miles & Gym (Upper Body – I reduce the weights during taper week)

Tuesday – Track Session – 8 x 400m + WU & CD – This was a ‘feel good session’ not 100% all out, so the aim was to make sure I felt comfortable on every rep, which I did!

Wednesday – Easy Paced 5 Miles

Thursday – 1.5 mile warm up, 1 mile @ marathon pace, 1.5 mile cool down & Gym (Lower Body – again, I will reduce the weights/number of sets) 

Friday – Rest Day + Travelling to Switzerland

Saturday – 2/3 mile VERY EASY run/shakeout

Sunday – RACE DAY!

Maranoia.

maranoia

Following on quite nicely from point number 1 – MARANOIA! Yes, it may be a made up word that people joke about, but it can be a real thing that can really affect people (and sometimes quite badly) ahead of an important race.

The reason why this follows on quite nicely, is that maranoia tends to kick in once you start tapering. As I touched on briefly above, people tend to panic that because they are reducing the number of runs/miles they are doing in the week, that somehow their body is miraculously going to forget how to run (no matter how long you have been running for – this is something I have been guilty of in the past!) But trust me, our bodies are pretty clever, and you will not lose aerobic fitness over this short period of time, especially if you are still keeping active.

Another common maranoia symptom is convincing yourself you have picked up a brand new injury or illness just days away from the race. Sneezed 3 times in a row? You have the flu! Legs aching slightly? Probably a stress fracture! I will admit, it is hard not to panic that something could go wrong and ruin the one thing you have been working towards for months on end. But worrying causes stress. And stress is the last thing you need on top of everything else. It can affect your sleep, your eating habits & your general wellbeing. Remember, as well as feeling physically fresh for the day of the race, it’s also important to look after your mental health too.

So my best piece of advice to try & deal with this, is try to keep busy and not let yourself have lots of time to think about the ifs & buts. Make plans to go and see friends, go out for lunch, go to the cinema, go for a walk, spend time with family – perhaps all the things you neglected when you were training!

Nutrition/Carb Loading.

Now, before you get too excited & have visions of being able to have mountains of pasta, unlimited amounts of bread and the local pizza delivery number on speed dial, carb loading does not mean just being able to eat whatever you want because you are running a marathon. I know, it sucks. And I am sorry.Huge Pile Of Spaghetti On Plate and Twirled Around Fork

BUT, ensuring that you are fuelling your body correctly (which does include more carbs, wohoo!) is important, and this doesn’t just mean cramming lots in the day before, but instead making sure you are eating well leading up to the race, especially in that final week.

The three key macronutrients are Carbohydrates, Fat & Protein – a healthy and balanced diet should include all three of these things, and on the final few days before a marathon the key is to just adjust the amounts of these macronutrients, rather then increasing your calories dramatically (still with me?!) Unfortunately there is not a ‘one size fits all’ way to do this, as every single person is different & will potentially require a different macro nutrient split & a different number of calories. To give you an idea, this is my Calorie & Macronutrient split for marathon week. But please, please, PLEASE remember that this has been calculated specifically for me, and will not work for you! This is purely to give you an idea on how to adjust your own diet

Monday & Tuesday – Calories – 2600/ Protein – 29%/ Fats – 33%/ Carbohydrates – 38%

Wednesday & Thursday – Calories – 2500/ Protein – 19%/ Fats – 27%/ Carbohydrates – 54%

Friday & Saturday – Calories – 3300/ Protein – 22%/ Fats 17%/ Carbohydrates – 61%

If you follow me on Instagram, I am keeping a week long food diary via my stories to give you some meal ideas, but here are a couple of quick & easy snack ideas which are perfect for getting those carbs in!

  • 1 x Cinnamon & Raisin Bagel with 1 x Banana
  • 1 x Trek Bar
  • 0% Greek Yogurt with Strawberries, Kiwi, Apricot, Grapes & 1 x Banana
  • Fruit Juice

I would highly recommend ordering the following book from Renee McGregor – it is packed full of useful hints & recipes to ensure you are fuelling yourself correctly during training & ahead of races. Click here to get your copy of Fast Fuel: Food for Running Success.

I would also not recommend trying anything new on the days leading up to your marathon, you want to be sticking to foods that you know work for you and are tried and tested! I would also hold off on anything too creamy/spicy/cheesy on the final days – basically you don’t want anything that could risk an upset stomach!

Hydration.

Whether you run or not, good hydration is important. It has been proven that the human body can actually survive for longer without food than it can without water.. so if you then throw running 26.2 miles into the mix I think its obvious how important it is you keep yourself hydrated properly!

Now again, similarly to carb loading, this doesn’t just mean downing gallons and gallons of water on a daily basis. Firstly, it will probably mean you are running to the toilet every 20 minutes, but also by drinking too much you can basically wash out all of the good things (salts mainly) that your body relies on during a marathon.

One way to ensure that you are not only staying hydrated (but also not over doing it) is by adding Electrolytes to your water. There are many different brands & products available, but for the past few months I have been using Precision Hydration for all of my pre race hydration needs. I was lucky enough to meet the team back at the Solar Boost Training Camp in June, and got a personalised sweat test, along with a batch of products & my own tailored hydration plan. Again though, you do not need to over do this, simply add one electrolyte tablet to one of your bottles of water on the days leading up to a race should be sufficient. As a rough guide, you should be aiming for around 2-3 litres per day (but please remember, this can depend on activity levels/gender/body weight) and if you REALLY can’t get past the idea of drinking plain water, then add squash – it all does the same job really!

Sleep.

Now you don’t need me to tell you that marathon training is tiring, and that is no different during the tapering weeks. In fact, you will probably find that you feel MORE tired during this time (which again, is completely normal and it doesn’t mean you have become super lazy over night!) so sleep is something you really shouldn’t skimp on.Sleepy1.png

Sleep is where the magic happens, it’s where fitness adaptations are made and also when your muscles can repair and recover… and it is perhaps one of the most overlooked aspects of training. But don’t take my word for it. Tom Goom aka ‘The Running Physio’ has put together a fantastic resource to explain the importance of sleep for runners, click here for loads of hints and tips to help you get into a good routine.

If you are anything like me, then pre race nerves may make it difficult to drift off to sleep, but don’t panic – if you have slept well the week leading up to your event, a night of slightly broken sleep will not be too detrimental. Here are a couple of hints & tips I find help me get to sleep a bit easier the night before a race –

  • Drink a peppermint tea
  • Listen to some relaxing music – I personally love piano music! Spotify has some great playlists! 
  • Watch a film or read a book – distraction techniques! 

 

Get Organised.

‘He’s making a list, he’s checking it twice….’ – go on, admit it, you started singing right??

Yep, thats right, if it’s good enough for Father Christmas, its good enough for us! I am not going to lie & say I am the worlds most organised person, but I like to pretend I am, and one thing I like doing to organise myself is make lists! Whether it’s my food shopping, a list of blog ideas, or just random things that pop into my head, the Notes section on my phone is full of them, and it is exactly the same when I am getting ready for a marathon!

Chances are, that if you are running a marathon, you will be travelling for it, whether its somewhere else in the UK or perhaps you are lucky enough to be going further afield, you still want to make sure you have everything, because whether you are 50 or 500 miles away from home, it would be pretty annoying to wake up on race day and realise you have forgotten your trainers!

Again, if you are like me, I also get pretty overwhelmed if I have to do loads and loads at once, so I like to break it down. This week ahead of my marathon, I am lucky enough to be on half term, which allows me to spread things out over the week and not panic pack/buy everything I need in one go! I started off with just creating my list, literally writing down everything I thought I would need, including things I knew I needed to buy… and that, well is pretty much as far as I have got so far! Here is an example of how I have broken down my list & the things I have included (some of it may seem obvious, but it really helps me having it all written out clearly!)

Race Day

Pre race – Trackies, Hoodie, Spare Trainers & Socks (incase its wet)

Race –  Trainers, Compression Socks, Caffeine Bullets, 4 x SiS Gels, Sports Bra, Shorts, Long Sleeve Top, Running Gloves, Buff, Running Vest, Heart Rate Monitor, Sports Armband, lightweight jacket. – and then you obviously need to do a flat lay picture and post it to Instagram to make sure you definitely have everything 😉 flat lay 2

Post Race – Oofos flip flops, compression leggings, buff

Misc – Power packs, headphone charger, Garmin charger, iPhone charger, travel adaptor (important if you are going abroad!) small backpack, pain killers, resistance band, PASSPORT!

General I wont bore you with this, but things like making sure you have your toiletries, enough underwear, socks, general clothes etc.

It is always worth keeping an eye on the weather forecast too, for example over the last few days the weather forecast in Switzerland has changed dramatically, which has resulted in me having to rethink what I am going to wear for the race, and also meant I had to go and buy an emergency jacket because it is going to be a lot colder than I expected! 

Race Logistics.

As mentioned above, if you are running a marathon, it is usually something you have to travel for, it might be somewhere you have never been before, and in some cases, travelling somewhere where English is not the first language, which can make things even trickier!

charlie and i

I recently went to Berlin for the first time to take part in the Berlin Marathon, and I will be completely honest and say that if it wasn’t for Charlie (@whatcharlierannext) I probably wouldn’t have made it out of the airport, let alone the start line to the race! She was an absolute star and had EVERYTHING sorted – from what trains we had to get, how to get to the hotel & how we were going to get to the start on Sunday. I honestly would have been lost without her!

So this tip is something I need to definitely get better at myself! Here is a list of things I would make sure you know before setting off on your trip

  • Familiarise yourself with the journey to the start line from wherever you are staying – if you can do a ‘test run’ so you can relax about the journey logistics & how long it takes.
  • Have a Plan B to get to the start line – just in case!!
  • If you are driving, make sure you know if/when roads are closing & possible diversions.
  • Make sure you read through the race day information provided & know what time bag drop closes, what time you need to be in your start area etc
  • If you have friends & family coming to support, arrange where you are going to meet them at the end of the race.
  • Or, just go and do a marathon with Charlie and she can look after you! Loveeeeeeee you xx

 

RELAX

Okay, so this might have been a bit of information over load (sorry about that, I get carried away) but really it all just comes down to this… RELAX! 

You have done the months of hard work, and in these last few days there really isn’t anything you can do that will dramatically change the outcome of what happens on race day. So to summarise, here are the key things to remember.

  • REST IS BEST – YOU WILL NOT LOSE ANY FITNESS BY SCALING BACK FOR A COUPLE OF WEEKS
  • EAT A HEALTHY BALANCED DIET (WITH MAYBE A FEW EXTRA CARBS)
  • SLEEP – EARLY NIGHTS, LIE INS, NAPS!
  • DRINK WATER
  • DON’T FORGET TO PACK YOUR TRAINERS!

Good luck to anyone & everyone that has an upcoming marathon. It’s one hell of an achievement and you should be very proud you’ve got to this point! Just remember, the training is the tough part.. the race itself is the sprint finish!

Jordan xxx

 

Top 10 Tips for Beginners

I asked you guys what you wanted to see more of on my blog, and a lot of you have asked for hints & tips on how to get started with running! So, here are my Top 10 Tips of what I think is the best way to kick start your running journey!

I hope that you find these useful, and please feel free to comment below if you have any questions, and finally GOOD LUCK❤️

1) Parkrun.

Personally, I am a very goal orientated person. Whether it’s running related, or other areas of my life, if I set myself a tangible goal I am a million times more likely to stay motivated and work towards it.

For most new runners, the first goal they usually set themselves is to be able to complete a 5k. In fact this was my first running related goal a few years ago. Now I get it, the thought of running 5k (3.1 miles) non stop when you have never ran before can be daunting, but by setting yourself small, mini goals along the way, it makes it seem so much more manageable and achievable.

Most of us are very lucky here in the U.K to have a Parkrun on our doorstep (if you haven’t heard of Parkrun before, it’s a free, weekly, timed 5k run every Saturday morning that is ran completely by volunteers – it’s incredible!) and I personally believe that for a new runner, this is the perfect opportunity to not only immerse yourself in the amazing running community, but to be able to build up to running a 5k.

Parkrun is for absolutely anyone, from super speedy elite athletes to the complete beginner and whether you want to run, jog or walk, everyone is welcome and encouraged to take part.

Here is a session idea to get you started on your Parkrun/Running Journey.

Walk/Warm Up – 10 minutes. Try to steadily increase the pace to a ‘power walk’ towards the end of the 10 minutes.

Jogging – 30 seconds. Do not worry about pace, anything faster then your quick walking pace is fine!

Walk – 90 seconds. Use this as recovery and try to get your HR/breathing back to a normal rhythm

Repeat x 10

Walk/Cool Down – 10 minutes (or until completed) Try to keep a good walking pace and slow down steadily to get your HR back down.

As the weeks progress, you can then increase your running time, reduce the recovery time or increase the number of intervals.

2) Trainers.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who remembers being dragged along to a well known shoe shop on a Saturday afternoon and getting measured and fitted properly for shoes when they were little… every kids worst nightmare right?! But our parents wanted to make sure that the shoes we were getting fitted us properly, were supportive, comfortable and weren’t going to wreck our feet as we grew up! So my advice for running trainers would be to take the same approach as you would when you were buying school shoes as a child. Get fitted, try on lots and speak to a professional.

There are SO many different trainers out there, it almost seems impossible to know where to start! But something I would really recommend is going to a running specialist shop and getting a Gait Analysis done. In simple terms, a gait analysis can give insight into how you run, whether you are a neutral runner, over pronate, a forefoot runner, whether you need support, cushioning etc etc (don’t panic about this, the shop assistant will be able to talk you through everything!) and depending on this, can determine what trainers would suit you best!

For me personally, I know that I do not need an over supportive shoe, so shoes with a lot of cushioning don’t work for me. I much prefer a lightweight, minimalist trainer. So just remember, even if everyone is raving about the bestest, newest most supportive shoe from ‘Brand XYZ’ make sure you know what works for you!

3) Running Buddy.

I am pretty sure that at some point in your life you would have had to rely on a friend, or family member to get you through something tough – whether it’s a break up, a bad day at work, finding out someone ate your leftovers you’ve been looking forward to all day… but basically, we all need support from time to time! And running is no different!

Starting your running journey with a friend will make the experience a whole lot more enjoyable & motivating. Whether it’s arranging to go for a coffee & cake after Parkrun together, or even just having someone to run with on the dark winter nights could make a huge difference.

Also, I don’t know about you, but when I have made plans with someone I don’t like letting them down. So perhaps if you are the same, one way to guarantee you get yourself out the door is if you promise that you will run together. So even if you’re tired, or had a bad day at work you’ve still got that motivation to get out there!

And finally, you can celebrate not only your own, but your friends achievement too. Which is a pretty great feeling!

4) Social Media.

Now, hear me out. I know that at times, social media gets a lot of negative press, BUT it can also be a hugely positive tool for a lot of things, including running!

For me, I personally love Instagram (99.9% of the time) and love scrolling through daily and seeing people’s posts – whether it’s a PB, smashing out a training session, a cheeky #transformationtuesday or anything running related it can really help to motivate and inspire me to get out there & run or workout!

When I first started running and following other runners on Instagram, I was in awe of a lot of people (and still am!) and the incredible things they were achieving, and at the time I never believed that I would be able to do what they were doing, but.. now I am! I am no longer looking at marathon runners thinking ‘how do they do that’ but instead thinking ‘yes! I can do that too’!

So yes, if used correctly social media can be a fantastic way to keep yourself motivated and inspire you – it’s also a great way to meet like minded people! I would now class some of my closest friends as people I have met through the online running community, which is crazy seeing as when we’re younger we are always told to never talk to strangers on the internet 😂

N.B. Just remember though, do not compare yourself to anyone. Every runner has been/is on their own journey, and what may look easy to some may be down to years and years of training! Also, remember that people don’t always post the bad stuff! So use it to help motivate you, but always take things with a pinch of salt!

5) Track Your Progress.

I don’t know about you, but unless I write something down there is about a 100% chance I am going to forget it! I find keeping track of my runs very useful, and especially for beginners it can be really good (and motivating!) to be able to look back and see your progress & how far you’ve come!

Now days it couldn’t be easier to track your runs, and don’t worry, you don’t need to splash out on a running watch straight away, there are many different apps that you can download straight to your phone! My personal preference is Strava, and this would be the one I would recommend to anyone (and it’s completely free!)

If you are looking to treat yourself (or maybe fancy asking Father Christmas for something!) then I would recommend at some point investing in a GPS watch. Again, there are hundreds on the market which vary in price & what they can do, but you don’t need to spend a fortune!

I am a big fan of Garmin, and until I recently upgraded I wore the Forerunner 230 for over two years. It did everything I needed and was a great, easy to use watch, I would definitely recommend, plus it comes it some really nice colours (obviously this is important!)

6) Listen To Your Body.

This one is a biggie. Failing to do so could put a stop to your running journey, and potentially put you off from ever trying it again! If you’re anything like me, when you start something new that you enjoy, you will want to throw yourself in 100% and just keep going! This is what happens a lot of time with new runners once they have got through the initial ‘everything hurts and I’m dying’ phase. And I get it, it’s exciting! But there is no rush to do everything at once!

Getting your body to adapt to running takes time. I remember the first time I ran a half marathon, I couldn’t walk properly for the next 3 days, now days, I’m able to go out the day after a race and do a light recovery run. And although I don’t always get it spot on, I know my body well enough by now to know when to dial it back and take an extra rest day.

So when you are starting, please don’t feel like you have to be out there running every single day, or increasing your mileage too quickly. Running does put your body through stress, there is no getting away from it, and if you do too much too quickly you could be at risk of your body just saying NOPE and then you won’t have a choice but to take a break.

For a beginner, I would say there is no need to run more than 3 x times a week to begin with, and giving yourself at least a days rest in between each run.

7) Recovery.

Following on quite nicely from number 6, this is another really important factor that a lot of new runners might not consider. Rest and recovery is a key part of training, I know this might sound strange, but sometimes doing nothing is the best way to progress!

Our bodies are pretty amazing things, and whilst we are resting (this includes sleep!) it’s busy working away at repairing the muscles we have temporarily damaged during exercise, pretty clever right!

But unfortunately we cannot let our bodies do all the work, and there are a few key things we can do to help aid recovery, including;

  • Stretching
  • Foam Rolling
  • Massages
  • Epsom Salt Baths

Now, I could pretend that I am the perfect advocate for this and that I stretch and roll after every run, but the truth is, I don’t. And it’s something I need to get better at. But I cannot stress at the beginning how important it is. When you first start running, your body isn’t going to have a clue what’s going on, so the chances are once you start running, your legs are going to hurt a little! All of the things listed above can help to ease the pain and help your muscles recover quicker (although sometimes you can’t get away from the DOMs no matter how much stretching you do!)

8) Strength Training.

I know what you’re thinking… ‘I thought this was a blog about running?!’ Don’t panic! It is, and I’m not saying you need to be in the gym 5x a week pounding the weights, but adding 1 or 2 strength sessions a week can really benefit any runner, no matter what level.

Strength training does exactly what it says on the tin, it makes you stronger! And guess what, the stronger you are there is less risk of injury, you will feel fitter and personally I find hitting the gym a great way to relieve stress!

If you have been following me on Instagram, you will know I’m a big fan of the gym, and it’s one of the things I believe has been key to my progress over the last year. I have said it many times, but there is so much more to running, than running!

I have previously done two strength training posts for both an Upper & Lower body workout, which will hopefully help you if you’re a bit stuck with what to do in the gym!

9) Take Your Time.

Okay so I am just going to come out and say it… YOU DO NOT NEED TO RUN A MARATHON TO BE A RUNNER!

This might sound like I am contradicting my earlier point about social media, but if there is one thing that is negative about it, is that people (especially newer runners) can get caught up with the idea that they HAVE to run a marathon to be considered a ‘proper runner’ – which is nonsense!

There is nothing wrong with having goals and aspirations, but feeling like you have to commit to something as big as a marathon so early on can sometimes be a recipe for disaster. When I started running, the thought of a marathon never even crossed my mind, in fact it wasn’t until I was two years into my running journey I considered it, and by this point I was already comfortably at half marathon distance and this felt like the next challenge.

Too often I sadly see runners rushing to get to marathon level, which unfortunately can sometimes end in long term injuries or perhaps even having to stop running for good.

So my advice? Take your time! And enjoy the victories along the way! There will ALWAYS be marathons, and in fact there seems to be more and more happening all the time, so you’ll have plenty of opportunity! But training for and ultimately running a marathon, is not only a huge commitment, but can put your body under a lot of stress, and if you try and cram it all in too quickly, not only will it take all the fun out of it, but you could also really hurt yourself.

10) Enjoy it!

It really is as simple as that! Running (especially at the beginning) should not be something that causes you stress or makes you unhappy. Run because you enjoy it and how it makes you feel. Enter races because your friends are going and you’ve already planned an epic post race treat. Treat yourself to that new pair of trainers or watch because you deserve it. And just remember, progress is never linear! So enjoy the journey, embrace the highs & the lows and look forward to a new quality of life (sorry for the cheese, but it’s true!)

Jordan xxx

VITLHealth.

A little while ago, I was contacted by VITLHealth and they asked if I was interested in receiving one of their DNA Health Kits. Over the last year I have taken my health a lot more seriously,  and have become really interested in knowing how my body works (and making sure it is working as best it can!) so I was happy to accept and I offered to share my results with you all.

Before you can be sent a kit, you need to set up an account on their website. It was really easy to do, but do set aside some time to answer some general health & wellbeing questions (this is important for later on!) Like most things now, there was also an option of downloading an app for your phone, which again makes it really accessible and user friendly! Once you have set up your profile, your DNA kit is then sent to you! I am a sucker for cute packaging & presentation so I absolutely loved the box (before I had even opened it!) The instructions were very clear & simple to understand, and they even provided a paid postage bag for you to send your sample back in.

Screen Shot 2018-10-13 at 16.18.04

And now all I had  to do was wait for the results! They do advise that results can take approx 3-4 weeks to process once they were received. Personally, I did not see this as an issue as the results weren’t something I was depending on, it was just something I was interested in knowing! But soon enough I got the notification that my results were ready (and there were certainly a lot of them!) so when I finally got the chance, I sat down with a coffee and went through them…

So, I mentioned that when you sign up you need to answer a few Health & Wellbeing questions, this is because alongside your DNA results they are then able to paint a greater picture of your overall health.. so make sure you are honest in your questionnaire (especially because DNA doesn’t lie!)

Here are some of my results which I personally found interesting and are things I have questioned in the past before too.

Screen Shot 2018-10-13 at 15.36.44

Caffeine Metabolism – Likely To Be Slow 

I love coffee. Every morning starts with a black coffee, and I usually have around 3 or 4 LARGE cups a day. I have also started to use caffeine in races which so far seems to have worked quite well? BUT, I don’t feel like I get a buzz of coffee anymore, it is simply a habit, and something I enjoy drinking. I have been thinking about cutting down caffeine (even cutting it out completely!) before a race, but I haven’t yet been able to make that commitment! I would be interested to see if it does make a difference though, so, watch this space!

vitl-health-2.png

Alcohol Sensitivity – Likely to be high

I’ll be honest, I didn’t really need an app to tell me this. I wouldn’t say I have an issue at all with alcohol, I can quite easily go weeks without a drink, but when I do drink, I drink a lot. Lately I have noticed this having a really negative effect on my mental health, as well as my physical health. I always feel AWFUL the next day, and as I have got older the hangovers seem to last for days, rather than hours. I am not surprised by this result to be honest, but it has given me the confirmation that perhaps I need to cut down. I had already considered this ahead of the London Marathon next year, in fact my plan is to give up alcohol completely for the 16 week block! And I am looking forward to seeing the difference in both my mental & physical well being!

vitl health 3

Digestion & IBS – Likely to have issues

Now, this is interesting. I won’t go into the gory details, but for quite a while now, I have had slight stomach issues, it doesn’t seem to be bought on by anything in particular but lets just say it doesn’t always work down there like it is supposed to….! At the beginning of the year I cut out cows milk from my daily coffee as I was convinced that was a trigger, and for a while, my stomach did calm down, but the issues seem to be coming back again. I have been reluctant to give up dairy completely (I just love cheese too damn much!) but it may be something I seriously need to consider. I will be speaking to my nutrition coach about this and hopefully between us we can work out what is making my stomach a little iffy!

vitl health 4

Fat & Muscle Composition – Likely to gain muscle 

I will be honest, I was a little sceptical about these results. I do understand that genetics can play a part in body composition, but really it comes down to a good diet & the right training, something that I have learnt a lot more about over the last 12 months. I will be honest and say that when my diet is 100% I do seem to be able to lean out fairly quickly, and my coach himself has called me a ‘carb monster’ on many occasions, so perhaps there is some truth behind this! And if that is the case… THANK YOU GENES FOR ALLOWING ME TO EAT ALL THE CARBS! I would be interested to know peoples thoughts on this, so pop them in the comments below!

vitl health 5

Vitamin B6 – Likely to be low

Hmmmmm, once again I am not completely shocked by this. In fact, most of my vitamins and minerals results were on the low side. I will openly admit I am RUBBISH at taking supplements, in fact, I don’t take any at all! I have tried in the past and perhaps stick to it for a day or two, then the bottles just end up gathering dust in the cupboards!

One thing I have learnt recently, is that even if you feel okay on the outside, it doesn’t always mean your body is okay on the inside. Being low on essential vitamins & minerals can be a disaster waiting to happen, and add being a long distance runner into the mix it could be even more disastrous!

I am not going to promise that I will religiously start taking supplements every day, because pretty much all essential vitamins can be found in food so it may just be a case of looking at my diet and ensuring I have foods that are high in the things I am lacking.

vitl health 7

These are just a few of the results I received from the test (I won’t go through every single one, because you could be reading this for hours!) but hopefully you get the idea of the sort of things you can find out!

If you are interested in your health & making sure your body is getting everything it needs, then you may find the test really beneficial! Although if you have any serious health concerns I would always recommend speaking to your doctor or a registered dietician first!

VITLHealth have also provided me with my very own discount code so you can get your own DNAKit for just £79.99 (Usually £199.99) – simply click here to head straight to the product page!

Jordan xxx

I have not been paid to write this blog post, but the DNA test was gifted to me originally #ad

Berlin Marathon 16.09.18

If you have never taken part in a large race before, then honestly, I don’t know how to explain the atmosphere on race morning. It’s just something else! You are surrounded by THOUSANDS of other people, who are all there to do the same thing… RUN! There’s just this buzz in the air that you don’t really get anywhere else – nerves, excitement, apprehension – it’s amazing!

I headed down to the start with Charlie and after the initial panic of not being able to find my bag drop 😬 (anyone else struggle with this?!) we were finally ready to go! We were in different start waves so we had to go our separate ways, but luckily itwouldn’t be long before I found some more familiar faces! Chris was an absolute hero and saved me a space in one of the hundreds of toilet queues (the less said about those toilets though, the better!) and I also got to see Mel!

But again soon enough we were on the move, and heading to our final positions before we would cross the start line! At this point, the nerves finally kicked in. My stomach felt like it was doing summersaults and the reality of what we were all about to take on set in… and my first thought when we got into our start pen.. ‘Bugger, I need a wee’ (more on that later 🤣)

The build up in those final few minutes is enough to give you goosebumps, and soon enough the wheelchair races were being set off, then the elite introductions, and then it was our turn.

If I am being truthfully honest, I had no idea what my plan was for the race. I had decided due to my injury that I was going to take the pressure off and just enjoy it, but I think there was always still that part of me that wanted to see what I can do. As the start gun went off, I had a decision to make, and I decided to go with my gut & just go out at what I felt was a comfortable pace and see how long I could hold on for. I was excited, but fought every urge to keep it controlled & not go sprinting off!

As I was in starting block D, I crossed the line in just over a minute, and luckily didn’t have to fight my way through too many crowds, which I know can make such a difference to a race, so although it was still busy I felt like I could find my rhythm quite quickly.

It was shaping up to be a warm day, but after the crazy temps I experienced at London, I didn’t let this get to me. In fact I didn’t really let anything bother me, this was the most relaxed I had EVER felt before and during the start of a marathon, and I think it made such a difference to my race!

The miles ticked by so quickly, it felt like I reached 6 miles in the blink of an eye. I took my first gel as planned, but then I had a problem.. I now REALLY needed a wee, I didn’t want to stop or lose my rhythm sooooo… well, I don’t think you need me to spell it out to you. If it’s good enough for Paula, it’s good enough for me 😬😂

I felt a new sense of freedom after #weegate 🤣 and felt so much more comfortable as the miles continued to tick by. I decided that I was going to try and avoid counting down mile by mile, and instead focused on getting to the next mile stone of the Half Marathon (you know, the half way point that everyone knows isn’t really half way 😂)

By this point I was getting used to the water stations. I will admit when I first heard it was cups only, I did panic, but it wasn’t actually that bad! At every station I took a drink I slowed down to take a sip, poured the remainder over me and managed to get back to my pace almost straight away. All that worrying for nothing! I still much prefer being able to drink from a bottle, but it’s definitely given me a confidence boost for future races that use the cup option!

Soon enough I was approaching the elusive half way point, and was only 3 minutes outside of my current PB. What the hell was going on?! I honestly didn’t understand how my body & my legs were doing it! I took on another gel (and yes, they were shoved down my bra – it works for me!) and was just getting more and more excited that I was potentially going to get closer to my original goal then I ever thought I would.

How was I already over half way?! In a weird way I actually felt a little bit sad (no, I don’t understand it either!) but I think it was because I realised I wasn’t really taking ANYTHING in. I don’t remember seeing any amazing landmarks or buildings, all I was focusing on was putting one foot in front of the other, even the crowds became a bit of a blur.

Usually in a marathon I break the race down completely, setting myself mini milestones to reach, but this one was different. After the half way point my next focus was to get to 20 miles – as anyone who has ran a marathon before knows, that’s when the race really begins!

Once again the miles were ticking by so quickly I almost forgot to take my gel, but at 18 miles I took another and still felt like I had so much more in me.

I finally reached the magic 20 miles, I looked at my watch and realised I had just under 45 minutes to achieve my original goal of a sub 3 hour marathon. Part of me wishes I didn’t look, because as soon as I did.. that’s when the mind games started.

It was all going well until around mile 22. I took my final gel (which I got from the aid station) but unfortunately I think it was just that little bit too late. Fatigue was starting to set in, this was now becoming a mental battle of just getting to the next mile.

The one thing that was keeping me going was I knew the epic #cheersquad led by Becca & Lou we’re waiting for me at 37km. That was my next goal, to just get there and see some friendly faces!

Just before my watch buzzed 23 miles, I took my first walk break. It was only 10 seconds, but I needed it. I just counted out loud, took some deep breaths and said to myself ‘only a park run to go’ – my pace dropped for the next two miles, my legs felt heavy & I just couldn’t seem to get my pace back. But I wasn’t ready to give up just yet. I said to myself that I would give that final mile my everything.. and before I knew it, it was time to dig deep.

It was less than a mile to go, and all I was waiting to see was the infamous Brandenburg Gate! That’s when you know you’re almost done.. or, so I bloody thought 🤣

As I ran under the gate I honestly thought I was done, the crowds were getting larger & louder and I *thought* I could see the finish line. I had a quick glance at my watch and thought by some miracle I might have actually scraped a sub 3! But unfortunately.. this wasn’t the day I was going to do it!

My watch ticked over 3 hours and the finish line was just out of my reach. Did I feel disappointed? If I’m honest, a teeny tiny bit, but that all disappeared when I crossed the line.

I was done! Obviously I had the standard leg wobble as I crossed the finish line (I wonder if I’ll ever be able to cross one gracefully?! 🤣) but I felt amazing!

I had just completed my 5th marathon, my 2nd world marathon major in 3:01:00 – a 12 minute and 8 second PB! How could I be disappointed?!

I couldn’t stop smiling, I collected my medal and then started the long walk to collect the rest of my post race goodies! I was desperate to see a friendly face, and as if by magic I bumped into Dai who had just completely smashed his own race and finally got his sub 3! Shortly after we were joined by Chris and after the looooooong walk to bag drop it was finally time to sit down, relax and celebrate what we all achieved!

For me, this was a near perfect race. The weeks leading up to it, I had no expectations and I think it just made the experience that whole lot better. I honestly didn’t think anything would top how I felt after the London Marathon – but, I think we have a new winner 🤩

Berlin, you were amazing! And it was made even more special that I was a part of the world record breaking race! This will certainly be a day I will never forget ❤️

Medichecks.

If you have read my last couple of posts (Honest Post #2 & Blessing in Disguise) you will know that I have started to take my health a lot more seriously, and as well as my actual training runs & gym workouts, I am looking at the bigger picture – rest, recovery & making sure my body is working correctly, as no matter how healthy you look on the outside, how do you really know whats going on inside your body?

medichecks (2)

Thats where Medichecks come in. Medichecks are a private medical company who provide various blood tests with a full medical report (including advice on what to do next) without the faff of having to get a GP appointment or wait for weeks for your results. After speaking to their Customer Service team (who are very quick to respond & helpful!) we decided that the Endurance Check Elite  was the most suitable test for me to ensure that my body was coping okay with the stresses of marathon training.

Endurance Check Elite  – Key Info

  • This test is for endurance athletes of every level who want to optimise their performance and gain insights into their training, nutrition and recovery. 
  • 55 tests included
  • Our Endurance Check Elite has been formulated in consultation with top endurance coaches to check the markers that can make the difference between success and failure. This profile includes a full blood count, liver and kidney function, tests for inflammation and muscle damage, cholesterol for cardiovascular risk, hormones which can be affected by training such as testosterone, oestradiol and cortisol as well as markers for fatigue such as a full iron profile and vitamin B12. Includes key vitamins and minerals such as vitamin D, magnesium and zinc as well as a comprehensive metabolic panel including an insulin resistance test. 

Setting up an account with Medichecks couldn’t be easier. You need to complete a simple health, lifestyle & medical questionnaire and once this is complete your testing kit will be sent out to you. The kit arrived very quickly and was presented in a lovely pink box with really clear, simple instructions (I am very sorry about the poor photo quality!!) and everything was included that was needed for the test.

The test requires a blood sample, so unfortunately it is not something you are able to do yourself. There are many different options – you can visit your GP and they may be able to do the test for you (although they are not obliged to as its a private blood test), you can visit a local clinic that works with Medichecks (they will be able to let you know where your nearest clinic is) or you can get a home visit from a nurse if you do not live near a clinic (this is the option I went with.) 

Soon enough it was the morning of my appointment, for my test I needed to make sure I didn’t eat or drink anything 8 hours prior, so an early morning appointment was essential!! I had a really lovely nurse called Jacqueline come round to take my bloods, luckily I am okay with needles/blood tests, but she was so reassuring and friendly I am sure if I was a nervous patient she would have totally put my mind at rest! The test itself took less than a minute, and she quickly filled 3 tubes with my blood – and that was it, my work was done! Jacqueline disposed of the needles and took my bloods away to be sent off, it really couldn’t have been easier! Now I just needed to wait for my results.

The fantastic customer service continued as I received my results just 3 working days later. Before receiving them I wasn’t really sure what to expect, I am not a medical professional so I was a bit concerned if I got a report just with a load of numbers I wouldn’t have a clue what it meant. But alongside the lab report, you also get a full written report from a GP who goes through each result & highlights any areas for concern.

I am pleased to say, that my results were all pretty spot on! I am going to include a full copy of my results report below.

There was only one area of concern, and that is that I have high levels of ‘Creatine Kinase’ – this can be down to a number of factors, but the fact I recently injured my hamstring could be an underlying factor. Medichecks have suggested I have a follow up blood test for this in one months time, so this is something I will be following up to ensure these levels do not get any higher.

Hi Jordan, I understand you are an endurance athlete and have recently come off the pill and so have had your first period for some time. 

This is an excellent test today. Let me go through it for you:

You have normal red cells.  

Your neutrophils are a little low, a common cause for this is recent infection. Yours are only slightly decreased and are not a cause for concern. 

Your platelets are reported as clumped which usually indicates difficulties in taking your sample. 

Your slight high urea is not an issue given your levels of exercise. 

Similarly the raised alanine transferase is not concerning based on your exercise levels. 

You have a markedly elevated creatine kinase level. This is a breakdown product from injured muscle. It is a common finding in a bodybuilder or athlete, however yours is at a level that starts to raise concerns about a condition called rhabdomyolysis. The threshold at which we start to consider this is 520 in a female of average build.
There are a wide range of potential symptoms. The classic example is dark brown or tea-coloured urine. Other symptoms that would cause concern include muscle tenderness, swelling, stiffness and cramping, accompanied by weakness. There are also some non-specific symptoms, such as malaise, fever, abdominal pain, and nausea and vomiting. If any of these affect you then I recommend attending your local emergency department today. If you are feeling well then I recommend repeating your CK test at least 48 hours after any intensive exercise to establish what your baseline is. 

The rest of your liver function is normal. 

You have normal protein and calcium levels. 

Your uric acid level does not place you at risk of gout. 

Your diabetes screen is normal indicating that you do not have diabetes. The low insulin is not an issue given the fact your are an endurance athlete in training. 

You have healthy iron levels. 

Your cholesterol profile is excellent with healthy levels of protective HDL cholesterol and normal levels of unhealthy LDL cholesterol.  

Your CRP level is normal, suggesting low levels of inflammation within the body. 

Your thyroid stimulating hormone and thyroxine are both normal which suggest healthy thyroid function. 

Your testosterone and oestradiol results are within the normal range. 

Your serum cortisol level is within normal limits making a disorder of your cortisol production unlikely. 

Your magnesium level is normal. 

Your levels of vitamin B12 and folate are normal.  

Your vitamin D level is normal. 

In summary, Jordan, this is a very good test today, although it would be worth finding out your baseline creatine kinase. For a female endurance athlete this test is also reassuring as there are no discrepancies that might indicate that your body is struggling to recover from your exercise regimens. You are well optimised for sport. ‘

Overall I am really pleased with my results, and it has definitely reassured me that my body is working the way it should! If you have any concerns about your health, or like me just want to have a bit of a body ‘MOT’ – then I highly recommend Medichecks & the service they provide.

If you have any questions about how it works, my test & my results, then please drop me a message.

Jordan xxx

 

 

 

 

Blessing In Disguise.

On the 9th July 2018 I tore my hamstring playing a game of rounders at school. At first I was devastated, I cried, I panicked and I thought all of my hard work had gone to waste. Now? Well I am not saying I want to get injured again, especially not anything more serious, but in a strange way, I am actually glad this has happened. hamstring

There is no getting away from it, this year has been hard work. My 16 week plan for the London Marathon started on New Years Day, and its been pretty much non stop since. After London I had a week off, and then went straight back into racing, completing three 10k races in the space of a month (and beating my PB at each one!) there were local 5k races and then before I knew it my training plan for Berlin had begun! I won’t lie, the effects of marathon training kicked in a lot quicker the second time round, although my runs were going well, I was constantly feeling tired. My sleep wasn’t great and I just felt like I was always on the go, but I kept pushing on because I wanted to give my plan everything!

watt bike

Anyway, back to #hamstringgate – so yep, everything was going pretty well, and then before I knew it, I was going from 18 mile training runs, to struggling to walk and sit down without pain. Luckily I managed to see a physio the day it happened – he assessed my leg and we did everything we could – ice, heat, massage, and then I was told the words that NO runner ever wants to hear – ‘You’re going to have to take a week off running’. I won’t lie, this set me off and I cried. I cried because I had been working so hard. I cried because I set myself a huge goal for Berlin and I just saw it slipping away. I cried because I was so angry that I got an injury from playing a game of rounders! To be honest, I just felt shit.

Over the next couple of days the pain did ease, but I behaved myself and didn’t run. Instead, I made friends with the watt bike! I got some seriously sweaty sessions in, and actually started to enjoy it, and it didn’t cause me any pain at all. After about a week, my coach said I was allowed to do a test run. I was so excited and part of me was thinking that everything was going to be fine and I would be back to running normally again. Unfortunately this wasn’t the case! As soon as I started running my hamstring just ached, I have been running for long enough & know when something isn’t right, so I stopped and just accepted my leg wasn’t ready to go again!

I kept Lloyd (my coach) updated constantly with how my leg was feeling and he was absolutely fantastic at adjusting my sessions and trying to keep me calm. But then, there came another blow. When you are cycling, you predominately are working your quads and hamstrings. So although I wasn’t feeling any pain when I was cycling, Lloyd advised that it could be halting the healing process as I wasn’t giving it enough rest. Once again, I felt devastated. Cycling kept me going, I was still getting my heart rate up, I was working my legs, and it didn’t feel like I was losing that much fitness. But that was it – no cycling, no running, and I couldn’t even swim as that pulled on my hamstring too! So the last resort? Aqua Jogging! Click here to watch some great tips from GB athlete Eilish McColgan.

aqua jogging

I was willing to give anything a go, so as soon as I could I ordered my Aqua Belt from Amazon and then got myself down to the pool! If you have never Aqua Jogged before – then let me tell you, it’s bloody hard work! I only did a handful of sessions, but it really helped me mentally as I felt like I was still getting a good work out, and technically I was running – just having to work a hell of a lot harder & not putting any pressure on my legs!

During my time off running, I also went to the gym a lot to do my strength training. I avoided doing any lower body for the first couple of weeks, but instead focused on my upper body, core, and then spent a lot of time with my resistance band (post will be coming soon, I promise!) 

Once again, I was given the green light to run again. I was buzzing, I had been really sensible, done everything I was told to do, so I was certain the run would go well. Did it? Nope! As soon as I started I felt pain in my hamstring, I lasted a mile before I decided to call it day and not make it any worse. I was gutted. Berlin was 7 weeks away, and I couldn’t even run a mile. So it was back to square one, another week of absolutely no running, instead I was a slave to the pool & the gym! bad run

If you read my last blog post, I gave an open and honest account about whats been happening with my body over the last 15 months, and how finally it was starting to work normally again, and one thing I put this down to was how my training had reduced over the month, but also that I was getting a lot more sleep. There is a lot to be said for sleep. You can spend all the money in the world on expensive recovery treatments or the newest ‘must have’ product, but really the best thing we can do for our bodies sometimes is something we have been able to do since we were babies – get some shut eye! I do honestly believe this has also made a huge difference to my recovery, alongside being off work, I have just felt so much more relaxed & chilled out!

Soon enough, it was time to test out my leg with a run. This time I wasn’t excited, I was nervous. What if it still hurt? What if it hadn’t got any better? What if I had forgotten how to run?! I had a million things running through my head when I laced up my trainers and got out there, but finally – I WAS RUNNING PAIN FREE! There was no aching, no pulling – I was over the moon! But we weren’t completely out of the woods yet – rather than going back in 100%, we took it a day at a time. One day running, one day aqua jogging and so on, it was a tad frustrating, but I was just so happy to be back running!

Earlier on in my training block, I had booked a half marathon which I was using as a benchmark to see where I was with my training, I had done the same on the lead up to London and it worked really well as a massive confidence boost. The race was fast approaching, but it was only days after I had started to run pain free again. I was really stuck with what to do. I thought about not doing it, but I had already missed so many races & key training sessions I really didn’t want to miss anymore, so I decided to just use it as a way to get some miles in. Completely take the pressure off and just see if I could run 13.1 miles pain free. On the morning of the race I woke up feeling strangely confident, I usually suffer with really bad pre race nerves & anxiety, but this time couldn’t have felt more different. I had no expectations, no aim to push for a PB, I just wanted to run! I decided that as I had nothing to lose, if I went out at my ‘race pace’ and felt good, I would continue and see what I could do. I had nothing to prove and I made a promise to myself that if I had to slow down, I wouldn’t be disappointed. To get straight to it – the race couldn’t have gone better! I felt strong & in control the entire time, and I finished in 1.26.31, which was only 3 seconds off my PB! I couldn’t believe it, during my time off running I had convinced myself I had lost a lot of endurance & cardio fitness, but yet I just managed to almost match my PB time! newark

The race, alongside my returning period, has given me a massive wake up call. If I am being completely honest with myself, before my injury I think I was at the risk of over training. I wasn’t listening to my body, I was getting up early to fit sessions in, working all day, training again in the evenings and some nights not even sitting down till gone 9pm, and it was starting to take its toll. I definitely used to underestimate the power of rest, and now that I am going to be back to training normally, I am going to make sure that it is a priority. There is now just under 5 weeks until Berlin Marathon. There is nothing I can do about the last 5 weeks, except to take on board what I have learnt and use it. I will train hard, and I will give it my everything, BUT I am also going to listen to my body. So if it means missing an early morning gym session for an extra hour in bed, then so be it.

I am a strong believer that everything happens for a reason, and although it wasn’t ideal, I honestly do think this injury was a sign for me to take a step back, give my body a break and to learn (the hard way) that I am only human & not a machine. And it has also proved that by cross training, eating right (well, most of the time!) and taking the pressure off can do wonders for your running and racing.

So there we have it, I hope this is proof that you can come out the other side of an injury with a smile on your face! Just make sure you listen to your coach, or any professional advice you seek out,  and most importantly, to your body – because it knows you better than anyone!

Jordan xx

 

 

Honest Post #2

I am just going to get straight to it… This week I have had my first proper period since May 2017. There, I’ve said it.

I will be honest, I have been very nervous about writing & posting this. I have also felt embarrassed, and worried what people will say, but after speaking to someone who has also gone through this, I know that is important to share my story, in the hope that if someone else is going through the same thing, they know they are not alone and that they can talk to someone.

To give some background to this story, last May I decided to come off of the contraceptive pill, not because I had any intention of falling pregnant, but after being on the pill for most of my teenage & adult life I decided I wanted to give my body a break, and try to get into a normal and healthy cycle, as one day I was planning on starting a family of my own. I did read online that after being on the pill for a while it can take a little while for your body to adjust and that your monthly cycle may be a bit all over the place for a few months. So weeks passed, and I didn’t get a period, but I wasn’t worried. Soon, those weeks turned into months, but I just kept telling myself it was normal and that my body would start working properly soon. And if I am being completely honest, I didn’t miss them at all! No period pains, no bloating, no crazy hormones – it was a bit of relief.

But soon, those months turned into almost a year of no periods. But still, I was in denial that anything was wrong. I only spoke to a handful of people about it, and brushed off any concern as I didn’t want to admit anything was wrong with me.

If you have been following my blog & my Instagram, you will know that at the beginning of the year I upped my training significantly as I was training for the London Marathon. I was running more than ever, going to the gym 3/4 times a week, I lost a considerable amount of weight and was following a tailored nutrition plan. On the outside I looked healthy, and to be honest I felt it. I was the fittest I had ever been and was seeing so much improvement in my running I didn’t really care about anything else.

I chose to tell very few people about what was going on, but those that did know, were concerned, probably more concerned than I was, which is worrying in itself. I continued to brush off comments with a typical ‘I’m sure it will be fine’ response, which is very irresponsible but sometimes you need to realise these things on your own, and luckily, I now have.

A couple of months back, someone very close to me gave me some information about a condition known as the ‘Female Athlete Triad’ as they were concerned that this may be the reason why I wasn’t having periods. At first I completely brushed it off, this obviously wasn’t what I was suffering with. In my head I wasn’t an elite athlete, I wasn’t small enough, I ate a healthy diet, so I couldn’t possibly be affected by this. In all honesty, I was just majorly in denial that my issue was something that I could do something about.

Triad

Whilst I was training for the London Marathon, although I was training hard & eating right, one thing that I really struggled with was sleeping enough. Although I was tired, I was rarely getting more than 6 hours sleep a night. As an athlete our bodies need sleep to recover and to give our bodies a chance to rest & repair, and I wasn’t doing this. I was making myself get up early to go to the gym or do a session, going to work all day and then training again in the evening. I got so used to doing this, I just considered this normal, and what I needed to do if I wanted to improve and become a better runner. But in reality, I was probably just causing more harm to my body, and that extra hour in bed in the morning would probably been a lot more beneficial then forcing myself to get up and go to the gym.

After some persuasion, I eventually booked an appointment to go to the doctors, I was starting to realise that something wasn’t right, and that I needed to speak to a professional. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the help, nor advice that I was hoping for. I am no way putting down the NHS and the services they offer, but after my appointment I felt like I was just making a big deal out of nothing. I explained to the doctor that I hadn’t had a normal period for over a year, I told her how frequently I exercised and my concerns about the Female Athlete Triad, but unfortunately she wasn’t really aware of the condition and could offer no advice. I was weighed in the surgery, and as I am a healthy weight and my BMI is normal there wasn’t any concern. I had my bloods taken, and they came back as normal, so that was the end of that. I had no answers, no advice, and still no period.

In early July I picked up a hamstring injury. I was devastated. My training for Berlin was going so well, I was getting faster, I was getting stronger and was loving all of my sessions, and I had to just stop. Mentally its been very hard, but luckily I am now at the back end of it, it’s been 5 weeks now and I am still not back to training fully, and although its hard, I now see it may have been a blessing in disguise. During marathon training I was averaging around 40-50 miles a week, as well as 3 x gym sessions a week, working full time & teaching a bootcamp class 4 nights a week, I was always on the go and busy, but recently that has changed.  Since my hamstring injury, my training has reduced dramatically. I have still been exercising every day, but putting my body through a lot less stress as I haven’t been running high mileage or doing tough sessions. I also work in a school, so have the luxury of school holidays currently, and for the first time in a long time, I am averaging around 8 hours sleep a night, in fact it’s actually been a struggle to wake up some mornings. At first I felt extremely guilty, and almost lazy, but now I can see that my body obviously needed it.

To me, it is no coincidence that since my training load has dropped, and my sleep has increased it has allowed my body to function normally, and that is why, for the first time in 15 months I am having a proper period. It has made me realise that although I was exercising & eating healthily, my body was far from healthy. And now I am determined to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

As I was in denial that anything was wrong, I did not discuss this with either of my coaches. So to them, I was completely healthy! But I know I can’t go through another marathon training cycle and put my body through the same thing again. So something has to change. I will now be tracking my monthly cycle and will be keeping my coaches updated – it may be that my training load has to be reduced, my calorie intake will need to be increased or I have additional supplements added into my diet.

Am I scared about having to potentially eat more and that I may gain weight? Absolutely. I have talked openly about my body image issues and this is a whole other issue that I am going to need to work on as I go through this journey to get my body working normally again. But hopefully, with the support of my coaches, my amazing team mates and those closest to me I will get through it.

What I am going through is a real issue, and it shouldn’t be something to be embarrassed or ashamed of. And I hope that now I have shared my story, if any of you are going through the same, you will realise that too.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, and if any of you want someone to talk to, please reach out.

Jordan xx