So it’s finally the time that I’ve managed to get my master’s dissertation to the data collection point. The study includes questions regarding perfectionism, motivation, identity, and exhaustion. It’s up now on Survey monkey and shouldn’t take you more than 10 minutes to complete.
I need LOADS of participants so could you please pretty please fill it for me? It would be greatly appreciated!
I’ve always been a huge breakfast fan and never understood the people who can’t eat in the morning. Like how?? I wake up hungry every morning and I don’t think I need to tell you that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
When I lived in Australia I got into the habit of going out for breakfast as that is a very popular thing there. On the weekends people go and enjoy breakfast together, be it with your boyfriend or catch-up with friends. I used to love it, especially after a run or gym you’d build up the hunger even more and it was amazing to go and eat all these delicious bircher-mueslis, eggs or creamy porridges.. I prefer breakfast dates over dinner dates anytime.
In Wales breakfasts are a thing as well, but unfortunately you don’t get that nice weather to go with it and you can hardly sit outside when you are enjoying your morning meal.
When I got back to Finland, I was pretty shocked to find out that some cafes were closed on Sundays or opened at 10-11 o’clock with no breakfast selection. I think in the last couple of years it’s become more of a popular thing and I’ve seen people going out for breakfasts more now.
But what I wanted to talk about was breakfasts before running. My most common breakfast has probably been muesli, and always included coffee. Before my first half marathon I had no idea what to eat in the morning and I was given advice by an older (very experienced marathoner) gentleman that I should skip the muesli and have toast with jam, and not have coffee but tea instead. I listened to him because I didn’t know better and had toast and skipped my coffee. I’m no expert and I don’t know the science behind this but I’m pretty sure coffee isn’t that bad for you before your races. Most people probably have coffee before they run and I think it’s all to do with what you are used to. If you’ve always had a coffee in the morning (like I have since I was 15) you shouldn’t not have it just because some people say it dehydrates you. Pretty sure I’ve read somewhere that caffeine boosts your performance as well… In addition, I know of very successful athletes who have weetabix for breakfast before they race so I don’t think you have to have toast in order to race well. At the time I had no clue what to have and wanted advice but now I know that you know your body best. Some people can handle a British fry-up before they race, others need a proper porridge and a banana and some can hardly eat before. You just need to find what works for you.
I used to do runs up to 15km without breakfast and only eat if the run was longer than that. Before my long runs I got into the habit of eating peanut butter on toast (because I heard somewhere that’s what you should have) and banana, because, well, every runner has bananas before they run right? 😛 The only problem with this was that I’d have to wait 1.5-2 hours before I could actually run because otherwise I was feeling too full. This obviously meant that for my long runs I had to get up super early and also the 2 hours when you are just waiting to go for a run are annoying as I always used to lose motivation to go while waiting to go. If that makes sense.
However, you guessed it, Minna helped me out again and suggested I try Herbalife’s milkshake before my runs. Minna has been using Herbalife for years now but I never really got into it until last year. I’m still not a huge consumer and have only tried few products but I have to say that the milkshake is my favourite thing!
Basically this milkshake contains about 220 calories (when made with milk) and loads of good vitamins and minerals. When I have it in the morning I only need about 30 mins (45 if I’m doing speedwork) until I can go for a run because it digests so quickly. It has saved my mornings big time. Now I can get up, have my milkshake, and while I get dressed, scroll through my instagram (priorities), and pack lunch for the day the 30 mins have gone by and I can go.
Because of the low calories I thought I’d be hungry very quickly but it’s quite the opposite. Even on my long runs I don’t get hungry and I have the milkshake before marathons too! Toast with peanut butter and banana used to be about 500 calories yet I got hungry on my long runs. So it’s not the amount of calories but the quality of them that counts. On marathon mornings I do have a banana and Herbalife’s sports drinks in addition to the milkshake just to get enough energy.
Some people might associate Herbalife with weight loss and yes, the milkshakes are used as meal replacements when trying to lose weight (combined with a healthy lifestyle) but I personally use them for different purpose. For me they are the perfect fuel for my morning runs. I couldn’t imagine running hungry anymore, I have to have the milkshake before every run now and even on the days I don’t run it’s the first thing I have. I used to always get hungry 2 hours after breakfast even if I ate things that are meant to keep you full for longer (porridge, eggs etc) but with the Herbalife milkshake I can easily go 4-6 hours without being hungry. I don’t suggest not eating for that many hours, I prefer eating more often but sometimes due to work/uni you can’t get a meal and Herbalife has kept me full when needed.
I know people who’ve found that the milkshakes make them more energised and have less cravings for sweet things. The latter definitely happened to me; my enormous chocolate cravings have decreased (which I didn’t think was possible).
The milkshakes come in variety of flavours (my favourite is surprise surprise chocolate :P) and are a good breakfast/snack/meal replacement for anyone.
This wasn’t meant to be an advertisement for Herbalife even though it sounds a bit like it but I just wanted to share my views on breakfast and what works for me with running. As someone who used to love big breakfasts I’m now quite happy with just my milkshake in the morning. However, I do still LOVE going out for breakfast!!
If you have any questions or want to know more on how to order them I’m more than happy to answer.
I don’t know what it is with me and medical professionals but I don’t like to seek help until I absolutely have to and genuinely think I might be dying. It’s the same with normal doctors as well as with sport specialists.
When I first started running I trained for a half and then full marathon without any niggles or injuries. I had hardly any muscle soreness after my runs and I remember thinking I must be some kind of special person who just doesn’t get injured (I was wrong).
I broke my ankle on New Years Eve 2012 (not even a cool accident but high heels and too much alcohol) and that’s when all the troubles started. I snapped bones on both inside and outside of my foot and had to have a surgery where a metal plate and 7 screws were placed in my ankle. Happy New Year to me! I had to be off running for few months but I was told it won’t affect my running afterwards.
Obviously after I got off the crutches I should’ve strengthened and mobilised my ankle first but instead I rushed into running almost immediately. It took about two weeks and a weird hip flexor pain appeared. After couple of weeks of resting the pain was still there even worse than before.
I went to see a physio (I have to say here that this was a free walk-in clinic where the patients are seen for about 15 min) and she told me I needed some movement on my leg and I should go to the swimming pool and walk around the pool and kick my legs in the water. I did that and you bet I looked stupid 😀
The pain didn’t go anywhere, it appeared as soon as I tried running. So I went to see an osteopath but they couldn’t figure it out either and told me to just rest more and alternate hot and cold compressions on it. I did and it didn’t help. By the summer 2013 I had had this pain for about 2-3 months so I was getting slightly frustrated.
In Finland my friend Minna (who I’ve told you, knows everything) suggested I go and see a specialist who treats your body holistically for all sort of imbalances in your bones etc (For Finnish readers: Jäsenkorjaaja). It’s kind of like a chiropractor but milder version of that. I don’t know what it’s called in English but it’s a type of bonesetting or body joint manipulation (the one I went to here). She looked at my body and knew immediately what was wrong; my spine was twisted and was pressing on the nerve which then reflected on the front of my leg causing the pain. She said I had a mild scoliosis and it had all started when I fell and hit my tailbone really hard back in high school. The vertebrea had shifted then and due to my ankle operation I had been running with a slight limp (as I was still careful of the ankle) and that had twisted my spine even more. The treatment involved few hours of gently straightening my back and few days of resting afterwards because you are not allowed to lift anything heavy or twist and turn few days after the treatment. As soon as I went for my first run there was NO pain. After about 3 months I was finally pain free. Had I been listening to the physio and osteopath I would still be kicking my legs in the pool and putting hot/cold compressions on it 😀
In all fairness to the physio and osteopath, I’m sure if I had spent longer time with them they might’ve been able to help too but I am very impatient and want to get help immediately and not wait for many treatments. Because of that experience back then, everytime I get an injury I just google the symptoms and diagnose myself now. It has worked at times. I went to a physio this spring with an ITB issue because I really wanted help but all I got from there was a diagnosis I already knew and he told me to book another appointment for advise on some exercises. (I didn’t, I used google). The common answer to most running injuries is that you have weak glutes and they aren’t firing properly but the worst is when you pay to see someone and they tell you to just rest.
What I actually wanted to say with this post is that my faith in physiotherapists has been restored with my recent visit to a physio. I decided that my knee pain that I’ve been on about for a while now needs to be assessed by someone. I heard pretty good reviews about this particular physio in Cardiff called Andrew Seary so I booked a time to see him. And he is amazing. I instantly got the feeling that he knows exactly what he is doing. He checked everything and told me that my weak ankle that’s lacking strength and mobility has caused the trouble in my knee by shifting my knee cap out of alignment. My flat feet, overpronation and leg length discrepancies don’t help the issue either 😀
The best thing is that he gave me diagnosis (that google couldn’t tell me), different exercises to do for my leg and for my ankle, recommended me some shoes, and showed me how to tape the knee. I was so happy that I finally got some answers and actual help so I could leave the appointment knowing what to do. It wasn’t expensive at all, and I’d been happy to pay even more for that sort of treatment.
Unfortunately he had an operation on his knee so he is away for few weeks now but if anyone in Cardiff ever needs a good physiotherapist then Andrew Seary is the person to go to (his clinic website is here).
Next time I get an injury I might actually get it checked before 3 months goes by in pain now that I know there are people who can help you immediately.
P.S. Can you tell I miss the summer and beaches and travelling just a tiny bit??
I think I’ve already mentioned (few times) that I like to set myself goals when it comes to running. It’s the best way to keep you focused and motivated and working hard, and the feeling of accomplishment when you reach your goal is the best feeling ever.
At the moment I don’t have any running goals as I’m still nursing my knee injury. There are, however different challenges that I can take.
In January I did the ab-challenge by blogilates (link here) and in February I did a 28-day plank challenge which I found somewhere on facebook. Don’t know about you but planking for 4 mins is no joke.
I haven’t however, taken part in any stretching challenges and in all fairness I haven’t been very good at stretching at all in the last years. Back in my golden teenage years I used to dance ballet, jazz, hip hop, reggaeton etc.. and needless to say I was more flexible then. I know some people are naturally flexible and if you start ballet very early you will become beyond flexible. I didn’t start ballet as a child, but when I was about 11. I wasn’t particularly flexible but I was determined to do splits with both legs no matter how much stretching it took. I can’t remember how long it took me but I remember stretching every night at home desperate to get into splits. And eventually, I did. I know there’s still a photo somewhere in a photo album where I am showing off the split to my mum because I was so proud.
I’ve been envying people who are flexible recently and been wishing I could so splits again..
SO, my goal now is to get into that split. I was meant to make this an October challenge but kind of forgot to start before the marathon and I think I will need every extra day to stretch my little old (and very stiff) legs. I took a before photo on the 8th of October which is here:
Yes. I know. Nowhere near a split. But hey, you gotta start from somewhere.
Instead of doing this a 30 day challenge until 8th of November, I will set the goal day for the 5th because it’s my birthday.
So the aim is to be able to do a split again by my 26th birthday 🙂
It won’t be easy and I don’t even know if it’s achievable, but it will definitely make me work towards something.
Wish me luck and join me if you want!
P.S. When I first started this blog I told you I had just entered the London ballot. Just an update: I didn’t get in and I’m wearing the “loser” jumper in the above photo. It’s a nice little consolation gift when you don’t get a place plus me and Minna have already made a lot better marathon plans for the spring. Who wants to run in London anyway? 😉
I’ve discovered there is life after the marathon. Last week I wasn’t sure of this; every plan I made was related to the marathon or only concerned the time before Sunday. Even food I bought was with the frame of mind that “I won’t eat this before the marathon anyway so no point of buying it”. As if I would never eat again after Sunday. Ha. Quite the opposite. I don’t know if anyone else gets like this but I just get so focused on an important event and forget that life goes on after that as well. (Life has moved on but my legs still remind me that I’ve run a marathon everytime I take the stairs!)
Anyhow what are my plans now after the marathon has been done?
School wise I really need to get my ass in gear and focus on my dissertation. Also, I’m a maid of honour for my sister’s wedding this December (which is super exciting!!!) and that involves some planning and bits and bobs I need to sort out before.
But what are my plans for running?
Before the marathon I was struggling with a serious knee pain and very unsure if I could run the marathon at all. I made a deal with my body then that if it will let me run the marathon without any major knee pain, I will let it rest from running for 2 weeks or a month. (I think I promised month but I have modified it to 2-3 weeks now :D). I really don’t want to not run, however, my body did let me run the marathon and I don’t want to let down my promise of giving it a rest.
I’ve been extremely injury prone for the last few years but I tend to ignore injuries and run through them as much as I can. This knee pain has been a problem since May so I think it’s time for me to take it seriously and actually rest and recover properly. I am also going to the physio next week to get it diagnosed as it has been extremely painful today and I think it’s time to get professional advice on it.
Any races planned? Yes and no. I wrote down a 10k race and a half marathon for November couple of months ago but I really don’t think that is wise. Chester marathon was the main aim, and although I would like to get a half marathon pb for this year there will be plenty more races next year and I think I can live with “just” a marathon pb until then. The smartest thing I can do is not rush into running but heal my knee and every niggle before I go back.
It’s hard when the Autumn weather is designed for running though.
The plan is to focus on strengthening my body and make it injury-proof (if that’s possible). I’ll be going to the gym for some cardio to keep up fitness but also use the equipment to strengthen my body overall. I’ve been neglecting ab workouts and upper body workouts (can probably tell from my puny arms :D) when in marathon training so I’ll change the focus now to maintain the strenghtening exercises for legs plus add abs and upper body in now that I have more time.
I’ll probably still continue going to pilates because it makes me happy (and I tell myself it helps with injuries). I might look into yoga classes as well and see if I get hooked into that. Also, more stretching. Definitely more stretching. I’m actually planning on setting myself a very challenging goal related to stretching but I’ll tell you more about that next time 🙂
Right, my first marathon race recap. The longer the run the longer the recap so be warned, this is going to be long 😀
We stayed in a hotel in Chester and I had a very light sleep the night before waking up many times. I had made sure I’d slept really well the whole week so I knew one bad night won’t affect anything. In the morning I said to JP I really didn’t feel like running that day but he told me to stop thinking like that. It was just weird I wasn’t as excited for it, possibly due to my knee.
When the race started I had told myself to stick with 5:05 min/km and see how that goes. The race started with the first loop on the grass on the Chester racecourse. As soon as we hit the roads in the city centre my knee started hurting. The first kilometers I just kept thinking that if I had to pull out now it would really suck. Then I started thinking if I get an awesome pb out of this but end up on crutches because I damage my knee so badly will it be worth it? I think I concluded yes it will and continued running 😀 After about 10km I really don’t remember the knee pain, it either faded away or I just didn’t pay attention to it.
The course itself was lovely, I have only done city marathons before (Amsterdam, London & Dublin) so it was very different running in the countryside on little countrylanes and surrounded by fields. The air was so fresh, apart from the occasional smell of cow manure. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect for running. It did get a little warm in the sun later on (but I’m just a wuss when it comes to running in warm weather).
I felt great, the pace felt comfortable, and I was in a flow between 10-20km, maybe because I think there was a lot of gentle downhill. By halfway point I realised I’m tired but I felt a lot better than at the halfway point in London and Dublin so I was happy with that. My time was 1:47:28. At this point I overheard another runner say that there will be more uphills in the second half (I knew it) but I decided there’s no point worrying about it. After halfway between 22-25km I got another spurge of runner’s high and ran few faster splits. I told myself that it’s not the time to speed up yet and I should wait til 30km to see if I can pick up the pace then. Just before the 16 mile sign (26km) I thought it will be like nothing from then on, 16 km is so short, it’s only 10 miles. Well. I got to the 16 mile mark and just after that to the first proper uphill. Getting up that was a struggle and then I realised how tired my muscles really were. At the top when my garmin beeped 27km I was devastated I still have to run another 15km. Only one km before I was so excited because 16km is such a short distance 😀
From that 27km on it was a constant struggle, especially when it got to 30km I was sooo tired. I think everyone who has run a marathon knows this feeling when your legs just feel like jelly. You move them but it feels like you are moving in slow motion or even moving backwards. The urge to stop and stretch or walk for a bit is overwhelming and whenever I saw someone who walked I was so jealous. Last year in Dublin marathon I wanted to stop about million times. When I was telling Minna that after the race she just said “but you didn’t”. And that’s what matters. That’s what I kept thinking at the race. It doesn’t matter how many times I wanted to stop in Dublin, I didn’t stop, and I knew I’d feel so good at the finish line of Chester if I didn’t stop. I decided I’m allowed to slow down but I won’t stop.
Somewhere between 30-35 km was another hill which I somehow got up. At this point we were also merged together with the metric marathon runners (who ran 26,2km). There was points where it got crowded and these people ran in groups of five next to each other and it was impossible to get past them. I had no energy to ask them to move so I just huffed, puffed and coughed behind them until someone realised to move and let me pass.
At about 10km left to go I looked at my watch and realised that even if I slowed down to 6 min/km I would still make it sub 3:40. That made me so happy because I knew that no matter how tired I was, I wouldn’t slow down to 6min/km. So at that point I decided I don’t care about my other goal of sub 3:35, all I care about is the goal of sub 3:40. (Setting many goals did help!) As soon as I told myself I’m allowed to slow down and I felt like I was moving at a snail pace I still managed very decent pace around 5:15/km. Even the lap at 32km I somehow managed a 5:03/km but from then on it slowed down to 5:10-5:25 and my slowest km ended up being at 40km (5:36).
It really is true that your brain thinks you need to stop so much earlier than your body does. My brain would have given up at 29km but somehow I had another 13km in my legs.
On the positive side of things my hydration was spot on, I had made sure the week before I drank at least 2,5 litres of water a day and on the course I drank few sips of water at every station and gatorade at 2 of them. I never felt like I was super thirsty or dehydrated. I had 4 gels on me. I don’t normally take that many gels but I wanted to make sure I don’t get that energy loss when you run out of carbs. I took the gels at 10km, 19km, 28km and 36km I think. I got stitches and stomach pain after every gel I took but luckily that disappeared within the next 5-10 minutes. I thought I’d rather the stitches than a total energy loss.
To my surprise as well, I had no blisters, no chafing and no pain really apart from the knee pain at the start. I didn’t have any muscle cramps or anything and I wasn’t physically in pain when I was running. I just couldn’t get my legs moving quicker towards the end because they just felt weak. I don’t know if more gels would have helped as I’m not sure my stomach could have handled more. I didn’t carb load that much the week leading up to the race so I don’t know if that could have affected it. I think it’s just also the fact that I hadn’t done as much training as I probably should have. As I mentioned before, my weekly mileage was very low for marathon training, so maybe my legs just weren’t prepared enough.
At the finish line two different people asked me if I was okay. I felt so dizzy and must’ve looked like I’m about to collapse. I had to sit down on the grass in the first bit of shade I saw. When I eventually made it to meet up with JP I still had to lay down on the grass and couldn’t move for about half hour. I felt so sick I’m surprised I didn’t actually vomit. I think that proved me that I had given my everything and I had nothing left to give.
My second half took about 1:50, so I didn’t get my negative split but it wasn’t the worst positive split either. My average pace according to my garmin was 5:08 (my garmin also says I ran extra 200m). The finish time was 3:37:27, which is a 9 minute pb from last year. I might have said in my previous post that sub 3:40 will make me happy, but I am more than just happy, I am very very beyond happy with that 🙂
(Sorry about the lengthy post, well done if you made it to the end).
So Chester marathon is on Sunday. That’s two sleeps away (help!).
What are my goals for the marathon? Well my first goal is to be able to finish the marathon without major knee pain. I went for a little test run today and my knee still hurts so that hasn’t exactly filled me with confidence. BUT, last year on my last run before Dublin marathon I was still injured and had hip pain, yet during the marathon I never felt it. Sooo maybe I won’t feel my knee pain on Sunday either (wishful thinking). I have never not finished a race but if it comes to that on Sunday then I will have to do it. At the end of the day running is only running and there will always be other races. I need that knee to be able to run a lot more in the future.
But ignoring this knee pain, what are my goals for Chester marathon?
Definitely a pb. That has always been the goal for a marathon and I don’t see why it couldn’t happen this time. But what time am I actually aiming for? I still don’t know.
For about 2 years now I’ve been dreaming about sub 3:30 but it hasn’t happened and I haven’t even been near it. And now sub 3:30 sounds impossible as well. In training my goal marathon pace runs have been just under 5 min/km which equals to about 3:30 marathon. But I don’t feel confident that that time is doable.
There are numerous race time predictors that help you estimate your marathon time based on half marathon time for instance:
Runners world has one here According to this I should be able to run a 3:23 marathon. There’s another one here again predicting me about 3:23 finish. And the McMillan calculator here predicting me a time of 3:25. They all sound very ambitious. My recent half marathon was 1:37:38, double that it’s about 3:15 and according to the first two calculators I’d only spend extra 8 minutes for a full one. Emmm. I don’t think so. Maybe someone else would but not me with my fitness levels.
I managed to find another one that actually takes into account not only your recent race time but your average weekly mileage as well (makes a whole lot more sense to me). That calculator is here According to this one my marathon time would be either 3:37 or 3:39 depending on if I added just my half marathon time or my 10k and half marathon times to the calculator. As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, my weekly mileage has been quite low and since this predictor is taking that into account it’s probably closer to the truth than the 3:23. That’s a huge difference between the calculators!!
So now it comes down to the pacing strategies.. I’ve always struggled to keep my pace consistent and especially in longer races it’s easy to start off way too fast as you are full of adrenaline and feeling great. There’s absolutely nothing worse than realising half way through a marathon that you started too fast because the second half can be pure hell from then on (been there done that). My goal is to try and pace myself so that I can enjoy the whole marathon. That being said, I’m not sure if you should enjoy running a marathon but at least I’d like to feel like I’m still alive at the 30km mark.
I recently read that you should set yourself multiple goals so you won’t be so disappointed if you don’t reach your only goal. For instance goal times that are “Amazing”, “well done”, and “I can live with that”.
I’ve made myself a list of times and how they’d make me feel:
Sub 3:30 = Ridiculously unbelievably happy
Sub 3:35 = Very very happy
Sub 3:40 = Happy
Sub 3:45 = I can live with that.
My previous pb is 3:46, and I do believe I am in a better form than I was when I ran that. So if I break my pb by less than 5 minutes I will be disappointed. I know it’s still a pb but I know myself and I know I won’t be as happy.
The racing strategy is to aim for a negative split (run second half faster than first) but I don’t really know my form well enough and I can’t decide if I should start off with 5:05-5:10 pace and pick it up if I feel good or should I just ambitiously go for the 5 min/km pace and hope it’s not too fast. I’d hate to hit the wall because of my pacing but I’d also hate to feel like I should’ve started faster and I didn’t give my everything out on the course. Also, if I don’t make a plan what pace to stick with but just go with how I feel on the day I know I will go out too fast. I’ll have to decide before Sunday what my starting pace will be… Decisions decisions..
I hope I don’t get DNF next to my name. But all time goals and paces aside, you have to respect the marathon distance, and anything can happen during it. Sometimes it just isn’t your day, and that is okay too.
At the end of the day, my biggest concern is my knee, if that knee doesn’t let me finish then so be it. And if it slows me down then fine, I’ll have to live with a time that’s slower than 3:45 but hey ho, it’s still another marathon done 🙂