Chester Marathon week.. Not as excited as I should be

SO the week of the marathon is here and I don’t even know how I’m feeling.
I was meant to do my last “long” run on Sunday which was going to be 15km. My knee started hurting from the start and just got worse from then on. Normally I run through the pain if it’s mild and just try and stretch it out.. I could count with one hand the times I’ve cut a run short. Call it determination or stupidity but even when I’ve been in pain I have finished the distance I’ve planned to do. This Sunday I turned back and cut the run just under 2km short running 13.3km. My leg was in agony for the rest of the day.. even walking hurt.. So I obviously got a bit terrified as I knew it was just a week left for the marathon. I’ve had this similar knee/IT band pain before and also on my right leg and it took forever to completely disappear. I’m not sure what eventually made it go away as I did so many things, hence I’m trying everything possible now as well.

I’ve been icing the leg like there’s no tomorrow, stretching, foam rolling, wearing compression sleeves, spraying magnesium joint spray, using ice power gel, ibuprofein gel…kneepain
I’ve been doing glute and quad strengthening exercises and tried to mobilise my ankle in case it’s to do with some other weaknesses in the kinetic chain.. In case it’s inflammation I’ve been taking cod liver oil, turmeric and black pepper as they all have anti-inflammatory effects.


I tweeted about the pain asking advice using the hashtag  #ukrunchat (which is great for advice btw!) and many people recommend physios. I don’t think that a physio can necessarily help me this close to the day. Often when I’ve been to see any experts they take so long doing the first assessment of the injury, then diagnose it and tell you to come back for treatments.. Or even worse, they just tell you to rest. As I don’t really have time or money for that and I know vaguely what kind of exercises and stretches to do I decided not to go see anyone.

After the marathon (if I can run it) I have promised myself to take a good few weeks off running and let all my injuries properly heal. Then I might go and see a physio as well to get assessed and treated without relying on just google 🙂

Today I was going to run 8km but instead I used the crosstrainer for 45 minutes. Rest of the day will be resting..

At the moment I’m sitting here with a salt compression around my knee drinking ridiculous amounts of water. Who knows, maybe I just need to be hydrated and then the pain will disappear.. I’ll believe in anything right now 😀 Keep your fingers crossed for me so I can run the marathon on Sunday.

Do you have any quick fixes for knee/IT band pain??


A little bit different marathon training

It’s just under 2 weeks til Chester Marathon so I thought I’d share something about my training.

I’ve never followed a strict plan and I’ve never started marathon training exactly 12 or 16 weeks before until now.  I told you in my last post that I decided to train for a marathon without really committing to one. I knew training would suffer if I didn’t plan though, so I did count 16 weeks backwards from Chester Marathon and started my “official” training for it. I had been running before it as well though so I didn’t start from zero.

Because of my history of injuries I decided to do things differently this time. I made a plan that I would only run 4 times a week, cross train twice and have one rest day a week. I also told myself not to exceed 65km per week just in case. I don’t think that kind of week ever happened.

At the start I was being very careful not to overdo my training and not to run too much too soon. Despite that I still started to get niggles and injuries, this time around it’s been my knee. Training has suffered and overall I have had to take quite a few rest days and a whole week off during this training period. I have run on average only 3 times a week and I think my weekly average has been about 50km. So very little running for marathon training. This time I have been going to the gym fairly regularly though. What has definitely differed is that in my previous marathon training cycles whenever I have got injured I have fallen into total despair where I just give up on life and lay on the couch eating crap food and feeling sorry for myself. Whereas this time when there was knee pain I went to the gym and did what I could there so even though there were days I couldn’t run there hasn’t been that many where I couldn’t exercise.

Another thing I did differently was the length of my longest run. For all my previous marathons I have run 32km at least once. This has been mainly for me to know psychologically that only 10km needs to be added to the distance on the day. This time I decided to try and leave the super long run out. Knowing my injury history I thought that it might just tire me out too much doing it too close to the day and I don’t know if it is necessary to run that 32km. If you look at any marathon training plans or follow any runners’ blogs or instagrams most people run 22 miles as they longest run. This equals to just over 35km. To me that sounds crazy. I understand that elite athletes practise the actual marathon distances sometimes but for a normal runner I really don’t see if running 35km in training is necessary. But then again, I’m no expert.

My friend has run quite a few marathons and for one of them last year her longest training run was 25km. For some that may seem very short but she felt that was enough for her.  And I’m not talking about someone who plods the marathons, she ran a pb of 3:11. So I guess I believe that if she could do it with 25km as her longest run I don’t have to run the 32km let alone 35km to do well in mine. I was too scared to leave it at 25km however, so I did 29km as my longest 😀

I always listen to her advice 🙂


I have also changed my longs runs a bit and included faster sections for some of my long runs. Before I used to do all my long runs at a slow easy pace and my tempos were shorter runs. Now I added some Goal Marathon Pace (GMP) kilometers to my long runs. For instance I ran 24km where the middle 8km was bit faster than GMP, or I did 26km where the last 10km where GMP. I don’t know if this makes a difference to anything but let’s hope so.

So the things that I have done completely differently this training cycle:

  1. Only 3 times running a week as opposed to about 5-6.
  2. Lower mileage than ever before for marathon training (During previous marathon trainings I have run anywhere between 50-90km a week)
  3. Cross-training (bike, crosstrainer, pilates) every week
  4. Shorter longest run than before (29km vs 32km)
  5. GMP included in long runs.

Based on this above list it might sound like I’m not very well prepared for the marathon. I just hope that the runs I have done have been of good enough quality and the quantity of the kilometers won’t matter as much. Some days I feel like I’m well prepared and will do well in Chester and other days I realise that the reality is that my training has not been what marathon training should be like and I have not run enough to be able to push through 42km in a steady pace. I guess I won’t know until race day.

Do you have a specific amount a week you need to run in order to feel prepared for a marathon? Or a certain distance for your longest run?


Training for a marathon behind my back… Not anymore.

Is it possible to train for a marathon and not tell yourself that? I’m not sure, but I sure tried.

The idea behind it was that maybe my body doesn’t get injured if it doesn’t know it has something important coming up (e.g. running a marathon).

The last marathon I was meant to do was in Paris this last April but a really bad ITB injury left me so undertrained and I could hardly run 5k without pain, so that didn’t happen. Me and Minna went to Paris anyway. We were both injured but there was enough to see in Paris even though we couldn’t run the marathon.


The marathon before that, in Dublin in Oct 2014 I got injured as well.  3 weeks before the marathon a weird hip pain stopped me from running so I hardly ran leading up to the race. I still ran the marathon as I was going to Dublin anyway and the pain wasn’t too bad but it was annoying and obviously affected my performance.

Dublin Marathon 2014

Since injuries just love me, the training for the London Marathon 2014 was full of injuries as well but it was one of those “once in a lifetime”- moments because you don’t always get a ballot place to London so I ran it anyway. My worst EVER race, including heat stroke and hour and a half in an emergency tent. I still don’t know how I finished.

London Marathon 2014

Anyhow,  after this year’s Paris disappointment I was obviously looking ahead to Autumn marathons. As I love to travel for a marathon (way more exciting that way) I had my eyes on Budapest, Frankfurt and Lake Garda marathons, and for few years now I’ve been considering a marathon that goes from Nice to Cannes on the French Riviera.

What I have learnt from previous experiences though is that apart from my first marathon, I just seem to get injured. And because Paris marathon didn’t happen and I had obviously lost money on that entry as well (wasn’t cheap!) I did realise that maybe it’s time for me to just run and focus on staying injury-free and not enter any marathons, especially not ones that are abroad and involve travel planning etc because what if I get injured again.

First (and so far my favourite) marathon in Amsterdam 2012.

So what did I do instead? I started training and doing long runs (as if I was training for a marathon) but told myself I’m not allowed to enter one until it’s so close to the time that I know I can’t get injured. And instead of booking ones abroad I decided to run a smaller event in the UK instead. This way I knew that there won’t be massive travel plans involved, the entries won’t get full and I can just see how I feel closer to the time. Even though I told myself I won’t decide on any particular event, I obviously did. I couldn’t NOT know what I was training for. So I picked Chester Marathon. I wasn’t looking for much in the event, I wanted it to be October time, not too far from Cardiff, (I did consider Loch Ness but flying to Scotland would have cost me more than a marathon somewhere in Europe!),  and one that had good reviews. Also, I didn’t want the event to be super tiny either, I think you need the atmosphere and support when running a marathon and a small event in the middle of nowhere doesn’t sound appealing. Anyway, I picked Chester and had that in mind when training this summer, although I tried to hide it from myself so that I wouldn’t know to get injured in anticipation 😀

I’ve had few ITB issues and a knee injury all summer but I’ve managed to run relatively well. I am not in the greatest shape and my mileage has been lowest it’s ever been when in marathon training, but we’ll see how things go. I could have moved the marathon time and picked another one later in the year to get more quality training in but I really just want to run one now as it’s been almost a year since my last one. Chester sounds like a nice course and people have said good things about it so we’ll see what happens.

Oh and since it’s 4 weeks away and I managed to run 29km today pain free, I’ve decided my body can do it injury-free.

Entered today!!!! No turning back now 🙂