Category Archives: Marathon de Paris

Marathon de Paris : the aftermath

Ok, *way* to foreboding a title. The ‘aftermath’ of Paris was really not that bad. While I was stiff, I was in pretty good shape and could walk without trouble. My glutes and hamstrings which were quite painful after the race had settled down completely, it was really just my quads that were pretty sore, making going down stairs and sitting down an exercise in controlled falling…

Monday in Paris was spent seeing off Mark and his Lovely Fiancée, doing lots some sightseeing, and a bit lot of eating, most of which was conducted on a walking food tour of the St Germain district. If you’re in Paris, marathon or not, I can recommend the Paris by Mouth walking tour.

On the tour we had a fantastic guide, and also met a lovely couple Chuck and Lisa who had also come for the marathon. It turned out to be Chuck’s twelfth marathon! Amazing effort. Naturally our discussion turned to the race and it turned out we’d had similar experiences with water stations, the cobbles and ‘the tunnel’ but overall had found the race very enjoyable. We also found the cheese, charcuterie and wine on the walking tour much to our liking as well…

Running wise I took the WHOLE week after the marathon off. I loved it. I admit it. Not ‘having’ to run was a bit of a treat, and I didn’t run until Saturday when I did a shakedown run to see how everything was. I did a slow half-mile then built up to a bit slower than marathon pace for the rest of the two mile run, followed with 5x100m strides at a bit slower than 800m pace to test the muscles and joints. Overall I was happy with how I felt, no injuries as such and the strides felt pretty comfortable. So I signed myself off ‘fit’ to play Aussie rules on Sunday, and (un)surprisingly found myself much more bruised and battered from the game than the marathon.

Last night I hit the gym for the first big strength session of the year. I didn’t go too heavy on the weight, but by doing super-sets I was able to give myself a good dose of DOMS today. I’m walking worse than after the marathon 😉

Going forwards, the plan is to go easy on the running for at least the next month and instead focus on strength training to resolve my glute weakness/activation issues. While certainly my glute strength/activation is a lot better than it was at the end of last year when I got my calf injury, my right hand side is still weaker and not firing correctly, which is the cause of the tendinitis problems I had before the marathon.

So it’s time for more gym action for me. But not today. Today I feel like I slept in a washing machine and, as it’s sunny, a beer on the Thames riverside is in order!

Anyone else looking to ‘reset and reload’ after their spring racing in preparation for autumn’s races?

Happy running everyone!

Bernie

Get Going, Get Running!

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Marathon de Paris : Race Recap

Crowds, cobbles and classic sights

Well, the fourth marathon is in the bag, and while not the fastest is likely to stand out for some time as my most enjoyable marathon. There isn’t one thing that I can pinpoint as being ‘the thing’ that leads me to this conclusion, just a bunch of things that added up to be an all round great race. I got a time I was happy with, without having to thrash myself to do it, leaving me to actually ‘experience’ the race. The course was brilliant even though there were some sections that weren’t great. It was crowded for the entire race, but that meant there weren’t any lonely sections. And the weather, well for racing it couldn’t have been much better.

Anyway, before the race came the day-before-the-race. Lovely Girlfriend and I arrived in Paris on Friday afternoon, meeting up with my running buddy Mark and his Lovely Fiancée who had arrived that morning. We went to dinner and had some pretty amazing duck, and met a good uni friend of Mark’s Lovely Fiancée as well. On the Saturday it was running expo day so Mark and I went to pick up our race packs while the girls did some shopping (Mark’s LF to buy clothing to fill in the gap while their airline found their lost bags), my Lovely Girlfriend to go the Saint Germain food market.

marathon-de-paris-race-pack-pickup

A slightly optimistic finish time…

After Mark and I had done our race packet pickup (and taken a cheesy photo), we joined our better halves and did some sightseeing and a big walk through the Faubourg Saint-Germain area and back along to the left bank. Paris is a beautiful city and despite the marathon the next day it would have been a crime not to walk around and see some of the sights. By the end of this four hour effort our feet were a little sore but we figured it wouldn’t do too much to hurt our race. I mean, it’s Paris! You can’t sit in your hotel room with your feet up the whole time. Marathon or not! Dinner was at a good Italian pace that some other runners had sought out, including a work mate who I didn’t know would be there (who went on to finish his first marathon in a very nifty 3:22 – awesome effort!) Read the rest of this entry

Thursday Training Tip : How to carbo load for a marathon

It’s marathon week for me so as I’ve turned a more focussed eye on my pre-race nutrition I thought I would share what I’ve learnt over the last few marathons.

Now, one of the very common questions I see around the interweb about carbo loading is:

Can a carbo-load prevent hitting the wall?

In all honesty, probably not. But it will prolong the time before you hit the wall and can even lessen its effect if you hit the wall. The reason is that for almost all marathoners the energy deficit between stored energy and that required to complete the race is so great that a carbo load can’t hope to make up the difference. Your body primarily uses glycogen (what carbohydrate converts to) for energy. When you deplete your glycogen stores, the body relies on metabolising fat (a much slower source of energy) and your pace drops dramatically. Couple this with dehydration and an elevated core temperature from the exertion and *boom*, it can feel like someone built a 10ft high masonry fence across the course.

However, optimising your energy levels before the start of the race, coupled with good in-race fuelling, will certainly increase the time before you reach ‘energy-deficit’ – that point when the wall starts looming in the distance – and can help minimise its impact if you do hit it.

 

0007 – Licensed to eat

James Bond took his carbo-load too far...

James Bond took his carbo-load too far…

Image Credit

Despite what a lot of people think, and most of us hope, carbo-loading for endurance events like half and full marathons isn’t a licence to gorge on pasta, fizzy drinks and sugary cereal. Carbo-loading is an important part of race preparation, and should receive the same level of focus as your physical and mental preparation.

Firstly, if you’re about to start your carbo-load and you’re still running, STOP RUNNING! Most people follow a taper plan before a marathon, but some then freak out in the last few days and think if they don’t run they’ll lose their edge. This is simply not true. The repair and fuelling of your muscles you will be able to achieve in the last few days will help to deliver you to the starting line in the best possible condition to race. Your likely marathon performance was already set 3-4 weeks before the race, running lots right up to the event will hinder, not help.

Ready to load? Here are my 8 tips to help you get the most out of your carbo-loading:

Save the ‘loading’ for later:

If you are tapering properly, keeping your same healthy training diet during the two weeks before the marathon will yield a natural carbo-load as your energy expenditure drops. As the intensity of your sessions drops, those extra calories will manifest themselves as glycogen in your body. However, it is important that you eat carbs for energy, not fat. Carbs will convert to glycogen, fat doesn’t.

 

Keep your ‘load’ close to the race:

It’s the last 72-48 hours before the race that you need to start ‘loading’. Doing it beforehand or over several days won’t top your glycogen levels up even more, and can in fact leave you sluggish as your body struggles to deal with the massive carb intake (or worse, decides you’re now living the life of plenty and starts storing it as fat).

 

Eat what you know:

Don’t drastically change your diet for the load – doing so can lead to stomach upsets. Start to move your diet towards your ‘load foods’ in the two weeks before the race by slowly cutting out the things you won’t be eating. Like pizza, in my case at least…
Try to stick to unprocessed foods if you can, the nutrients are unlikely to have been lost in the processing stage and will be better for you. Pasta, rice, wholemeal breads, oats, beans, lentils and beans are good sources for your extra carbs.

Pasta is a usual favourite for runners when carbo loading

Pasta is a usual favourite for runners when carbo loading

Image Credit

Water, water, water:

Drink lots of water! For every gram of carbohydrate stored as glycogen, your body needs to store 3 grams of water. If you weigh yourself regularly then expect your weight to jump up about 2kg if you’ve loaded properly. TMI warning – Make sure you’re producing a good volume of urine every 2-4 hours (that’s about 5-7 trips to the loo a day), and that it is pale yellow in colour. If it looks like pure water, it is, and you should reduce your water intake.

3 days to go – It’s ‘load’ time:

A 70kg runner needs about 350 – 490 grams of carbohydrates a day (5-7g per kg of bodyweight) making up about 60% of their total calorie intake when training. In the load period 72-48 hours out from the race, increase this intake to 8-10g per kg of bodyweight – our 70kg runner is now looking to intake 560-700g of carbohydrate per day and take 75-85% of calorie intake as carbs.

This is hard work as you will be eating more than usual, however it will be easier and better for you to add meals into your day instead of making your meals larger. 5 small meals is a lot more palatable than 3 massive meals and will also help keep your sugar levels from bouncing around too much. Your partner might thank you too, smoothing out your sugar levels will help minimise mood swings, one of the usual side effects of the ‘taper crazies’.

Also, supplement your food-based carb intake with carbs from liquid as well. Sports drinks are best, try drinking 1-1.5 litres of your favourite sports drink to help ‘top up’ between meals, but you can use fruit juice and small amounts of caffeine-free fizzy drinks as well. But don’t stop drinking water. Just gauge your hydration levels from your urination amount and colour.

carbo-loading-sports-drinks

Sports drinks come in all sorts of types and flavours, just make sure they are isotonic so they contain the right balance of minerals and salts

 

Here’s an example of what to eat during your ‘loading’ phase (courtesy of the Australian Institute of Sport)

Breakfast 3 cups of low-fibre breakfast cereal with 1 1/2 cups of reduced fat milk
1 medium banana
250ml orange juice
Snack toasted muffin with honey
500ml sports drink
Lunch 2 sandwiches (4 slices of bread) with filling as desired
200g tub of low-fat fruit yoghurt
375ml can of soft drink
Snack banana smoothie made with low-fat milk, banana and honey
cereal bar
Dinner 1 cup of pasta sauce with 2 cups of cooked pasta
3 slices of garlic bread
2 glasses of cordial
Late Snack toasted muffin and jam
500ml sports drink

Tomorrow is Race Day:

On the day before the race make sure 85-95% of your energy intake is carbs. Try to eat dinner early, ideally you want to be finished eating 12 hours before the race start so you have time to digest and get the carbs to your muscles (and your food through your digestive tract). Drink a sports drink before bed, and maybe add a small snack like a sports bar, but definitely not anything heavy.

Race Day:

Start eating 3-4 hours before the race starts, trying to get about 150 calories of carbohydrate in. Don’t overeat! You’ve already loaded your body with glycogen, the breakfast is just to replace the calories lost from your sleep. As you make your way to the race, make sure to be drinking sports drink to ensure optimum hydration and ‘brim your tank’ with energy. Tip: if you’ve got an early race start, get up, eat, then go back to bed. But be sure to set your alarm again! Twice…

During the race:

OK, this isn’t technically carb ‘loading’, however the energy deficit I discussed before means that you need to keep up your energy intake during the race to reduce the energy deficit and the impact of the wall if you hit it.

Gels, sports drink, candy, flat coke and bananas are good sources. Again, don’t gorge. If you’re reasonably fit (you should be, you’re running a marathon!), your body can handle a maximum of about 380 calories per hour when running. Any more than that and you run the risk of a GI upset and a frantic search for a porta-potty. If you eat 1.5 gels (one every 45 minutes) and drink half a bottle of sports drink you’ll be around 300 calories per hour. Add half a banana and you’re near to the limit. Again, try to even out your intake. Don’t get to an aid station and squeeze a gel, eat a banana and then gulp a sports drink all at the same time. At best you’ll give yourself a stitch but at worse, well, better hope there is a porta-potty nearby…

 

I hope with these tips you can master the carbo-load and give yourself the best chance of avoiding or minimising the effects of the wall. Now, where did I leave the pasta sauce? It’s time to start my carbo-load!

Happy running everyone!

Bernie

Get Going, Get Running!

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#ParisMarathon Schneider Electric Training Box

Schneider-Electric-Stridebox-01

In a really cool reach-out, Schneider Electric – main sponsors of the Marathon de Paris for 2014 (their second year) – sent me a StrideBox full of gear to help my run be more efficient. There were also a few inspirational messages – #ParisMarathon or bust! being my favourite – it has kind of summed up my unorthodox training to overcome injury and get to the start line…

Schneider-Electric-Stridebox-02

Goodies include energy gels, energy bars, recovery drink mix and some other goodies to help my run go smoother.

Swag included in the box:

  • Honey Stinger Protein bar: for a between-run snack or for recovery
  • Hylands ‘Bioplasma Sport’ with Electrolytes: A powdered electrolyte supplement designed to be placed directly on the tongue or mixed with water
  • Lenny&Larrys Protein Brownie: gluten free and no artificial colours for snacking without guilt
  • Fluid Recovery Drink Mix: complex carbohydrates with protein and glutamine for muscle recovery and repair
  • Skin Strong Anti Chafing Cream: for those little problem areas that can cause big discomfort during a race
  • Gu Energy Electrolyte Brew: a slightly more tech mix with 2:1 complex-to-simple carbohydrates for energy and electrolyte replacement while on the run
  • Gu Enery Gel: Salted caramel flavour: a new one for Gu, and for me – so it might be the perfect counterpoint to the usually sickly sweet Gu gels.
  • Stash Sports Lace Locker: A handy Velcro based product which slips over your laces to lock them down onto the top of your shoe and prevent unintended stops to re-tie.

Schneider-Electric-Stridebox-04

I must say, I was pretty stoked to receive all this stuff. I’ll certainly be using the Gu Gel and Lace Locker for the race, the rest I’ll use for recovery – I have a rule about not using new supplements on race day – but thanks to Schneider Electric I’m pretty well sorted for my recovery drinks and snacks now. One more thing ticked off the pre-race admin list. Sorted!

Pumped for Paris!  #XperienceSE  #ParisMarathon

Happy running everyone!
Bernie

Get Going, Get Running!Disclaimer: Schneider Electric, the sponsor of Marathon de Paris 2014, provided this StrideBox to me free of charge, for my use and review.


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Marathon de Paris : Race week

It’s race week so there isn’t much running going on, instead it’s more about recovery and preparation for the race.

That said, the main reason there isn’t much running going on is because I missed my run today due to a ‘scheduling error’. I thought I could go for a run tonight, however Lovely Girlfriend reminded me this morning that we were going out, and that the date was, contrary to my initial belief, in my calendar. Completely my fault, however missing a single easy pace 5k run today isn’t really going to affect my marathon. If anything, the stretch and foam rolling session I did this morning will have helped keep my muscles looser and more supple. I’ll just run tomorrow morning instead.

I’m off the booze as well, from the Sunday before last. I don’t really drink a huge amount anyway, but I must admit to really wanting a beer on Saturday when I was at the pub with some mates. But, coke with a slice of lemon it was. I am, however, already able to taste that celebratory Kronenbourg waiting for me at the finish line…

Nutrition wise I’m off the pizza as well. Shock horror I know! Other ‘takeaway’ type meals are off the menu also. So it’s healthy(ish) food from now on, with small snacks between meals to keep my energy up and keep my sugar levels from bottoming out. As I didn’t run today I ate a little less, but I’m trying to keep the same energy intake as my training weeks to give my body that little bit of extra energy to aid recovery. The carbo load proper will start on Thursday night, about 60 hours before race start. Watch this space.

Admin prep is also in full swing. All my tech gear has been washed. I mean ALL of it. I have a shirt and shorts that I don’t race in to use for the rest of the week, but everything else needed to cover all temperature eventualities is clean and ready to be packed.
20140401-181705.jpg I’ve also printed tickets for the Eurostar, the hotel booking, race convocation and medical certificate and have already packed them with passport and residency card. And checked them. A re-checked them. Like 20 times…

So now it’s the calm before the storm. That itchy time you get when you’ve finished your training but not yet had to put it to use. The energy levels peak, your muscles start to ‘need’ to run and well, as any partner of a marathoner can confirm, the taper crazies start to take hold…

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Happy running everyone!

Bernie

Get Going, Get Running!

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Marathon de Paris : R minus 10

And the unorthodox training continues…

But this time in a good way.

It’s 10 days to go to Marathon de Paris and it is ‘metronome week’ for me, but yesterday’s workout was a little different in that it was broken into three parts – football training sandwiched between two marathon-pace efforts.

The first block was 7.5km at marathon pace, however I was speeding (again) in some sections. I need to get that under control by being more focussed on my pace and not accelerating even if the pace feels easy. It’s meant to feel easy in the early stages, so it doesn’t become impossible to keep up in the latter stages!

The second block was football training which started with 2x400m sprints and then drills. I find football training a really good ‘cross train’ for distance running because of the Fartlek nature of the training. The short sprints build power, the turning and changing acceleration builds stability and keeps your ankles and knees strong, and because Aussie Rules is a contact sport there is a large core strength component to it. While the session covered close to 5km, it was over more than an hour so as a ‘run’ it wasn’t too hard.

The third block was the run home from training and again was at marathon pace, with a ‘fast finish’ kilometre before the last mile cool-down. It went a bit awry in kilometre four because of the combination of a steep, long hill and the fatigue from the first two sessions, but after that slow kilometre I was able to get it together for the ‘fast finish’ with a kilometre at something close to 10k pace.

Overall a good, but slightly tiring session. I only have two 5km runs left this week, then a final ‘long run’ on Sunday of about 13km and then it’s The Final Coutdown. Daahhhh, da duh duh duh…dah daahhhh daahhhh…dadadahhh…

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Finally something that isn’t about Marathon de Paris!

All I seem to be talking about lately is Marathon de Paris, even I’m getting sick of it. So here’s something else!

I can’t remember if I’ve said this before but I’m taking part in the Around the World Running Blog Relay organised by Kyla over at Early Bird Fitness (you may know her from her old site ‘Motivation’), so with the above runs that makes 24.3km this week so far for #ATWRBR2014 with a current total of 155.1km for March. If you are interested in taking part, drop past her site and follow the link to register. Last week we managed a massive 1397.52km together – read about it here.

#ATWRBR2014

 

 

I’m also taking part in the Virtual Running UK Blog Hop, organised by Kirsten at Virtual Running. This is a virtual 5k race where you enter a ‘race’ by providing proof (via screen shot or garmin link) of your 5k run, plus the ‘hop’ bit is you post about your previous month’s run on the first Saturday of the next month. I’ve chosen my 5k run for the month already (astute readers may know which one I chose), but I’ll have to wait until the first Saturday of the month to ‘hop’ about it…

Circle-Hop

That’s it for today. Time to go lace up…

 

Happy running everyone!

Bernie

Get Going, Get Running!

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Marathon de Paris : Two weeks to go

Or; ‘The unorthodox training continues…’

In a recent post I talked about my ‘unorthodox’ training build-up for Marathon de Paris, but that I had managed to find a strong finish to the last week of training before the taper.

Or so I thought. Turns out my cold which stopped me running for the early part of last week decided to rear it’s (very ugly) head on Saturday and Sunday, so I missed my last long 30km run in my schedule.

Yeah, I admit I have a bit of trepidation about missing that run, but I’m sticking to the key rule that is relevant to all runners of all experience – always stick to the plan.

Read the rest of this entry

Sometimes you just need to go for a blast…

I knew this was going to be a fast run even before I put on my shoes. My mind was telling me, my body was telling me, yelling at me – “MUST RUN!”

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Read the rest of this entry

Paris Marathon Training : and some new recovery snacks

It’s three weeks until Paris and yesterday I completed my longest run of this build up, a 27km TLT (Threshold-Long-Threashold) session. The session went like this:
– Dynamic warmup: squats, walking lunges, leg swings, sideways leg swings, hip-openers, glute-activators followed by 1km slow run.
Threshold : Three repeats of 3.2km run to HR at Zone 4.5-5.0 pace, followed by 3 minute walk break.
Long : 13km ‘LSD’ run to HR at Zone 3.8-4.2 pace, followed by 3 minute walk break.
Threshold : 3.2km run to HR at Zone 4.5-5.0 pace.
– Cool-down : 0.5km slow jog, 800m walk.

Read the rest of this entry

Wait. What?

Running rehab again today. Overall, good progress. My strength and glute/core activation is improving as is my form. However, seems my mental capacity isn’t, because I asked my trainer a stupid question…
“Can I do Parkrun AND my 10kRunning Group tomorrow morning?”
This was the look my trainer gave me:

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Can’t blame him really. I knew it was a stupid question before I asked it, but it did serve to open the dialogue about Marathon de Paris, and it turns out that Paris is go!

After my rehab session I had a chat with Mike, the performance director (ie the Big Boss Man) at The Running School. From his training of both professional athletes and Average Joe runners like me, Mike understands that some people want to compete so long as they are able to, not just when they are 100%. Sure, I could spend six months doing a really good build-up, focussed training, workout schedules and all that sort of stuff and shoot for a PB in an Autumn marathon. However, for me, running is fun, and the time I achieve is less important to me than the doing. I may never beat my marathon PB ever again, but so long as I’m always running to the best of my ability that is what it’s about for me.

So, Mike understands that, and he’s building me a schedule which will get me to Paris in 11 weeks, able to compete. The focus will be on smart running to build strength and endurance without a repeat of my self-inflicted overuse injury. I’m looking forward to it!

Oh, and just in case you were wondering. Running Group was the answer. Parkrun is going to have to wait for at least another few weeks…

Happy running everyone!

Bernie

Get Going, Get Running!

On Facebook? ‘Like’ my Facebook page and keep up with my day-to-day happenings, hints, tips and shares
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