All going to plan? The schedule!

I’m putting all my faith in the folks at the Virgin London Marathon and using their intermediate training plan to (hopefully!) get me to London. Four running days per week just seems a lot less daunting than the five listed in their advanced plan!

I have it sitting on my coffee table as a constant reminder of my journey (lest I forget while relaxing on the sofa with a tub of ice-cream!).

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As with all marathon training plans, this 17-week plan includes one long run each week  – the most important run that you really shouldn’t skip – and then a mixture of shorter runs during the week (which you also shouldn’t skip…. but, you know…!). It’s quite refreshing mixing up the runs and alternating the speed – it keeps you focused and is far better for your fitness development (apparently!).

If I’m able to follow this plan diligently, I’ll be running substantially more ‘longer’ runs than I have in past training. Looking over the distances ahead of me: 22.5km, 26km, 29km, 32km, another 32km, and finaly 35km before the full 42km on the day – it’s all quite daunting. Let’s hope I don’t run out of bike paths!

In addition to the four days of running, at least one day each week should be dedicated to these torturous activities (cat participation is not recommended):

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Torturous exercise one: Foam rolling. That’s what the orange tube is for (the ridges in this one make it extra hardcore!), and the handheld black one. The idea is you literally roll out the knots and tension in your legs. Supple legs mean less chance of a dreaded injury. The more tense everything is, the more painful it will be when using these. Grown men have been known to scream. Honestly, if you’re partial to a bit of pain, get yourself one of these. You won’t regret it!

Torturous exercise two: Planking. When I first started running, I kept getting injured. Runners’ knee, aggravated IT band, tendonitis… I went through the lot! During my first visit to the physio, the guy was astonished that I was expecting to run a half marathon yet I didn’t do any work on my core. Leaving his office slightly humiliated, but armed with a new arsenal against my recurring injuries, I was determined to locate those abs (and the rest!) and give them a bit of a thrashing. I still don’t enjoy core work, or do it often enough, but I know how vital it is if you want to increase your chances of running injury-free. It also helps running efficiency – when the middle part of you is (somewhat) toned and not wobbling around, more of your energy is directed to your legs which need it the most.

Less tortuous exercise three: Therabands. These oversized elastic bands are great for strengthening your hips and lateral leg muscles. Since running consists of forward motion only, if your main or only form of exercise is running, it won’t be long before the muscles in the front and back of your legs will be a lot stronger than those down the sides. These imbalances can easily lead to injury, so strengthening them with therabands is a great prevention.

Torturous exercise four: The cold shower. While there are conflicting opinions about this, taking a cold shower after a long run certainly won’t do you any harm, and can be truly invigorating. I also do think it helps speed up recovery. Plus, it’s great for enhancing your mood and chasing away those blues. Win-win! It also secretly makes you feel like a bit of an Andy Murray pro (maybe that’s just me though…).

Best exercise of all: Rest! This is, hands-down, my favourite exercise. It’s during the rest days that your body rebuilds your muscles, repairing all those little tears that occur during exercise, making you stronger. If only every day could be a rest day!

The motivational song that just has to go with these training exercises: Stronger by Kanye West. Na na na na that don’t kill me…..(sometimes it feels like it might)… can only make me stronger…

Please consider sponsoring me for the London Marathon. I’m running for Chance for Childhood, a charity that protects children from the devastating consequences of extreme poverty, conflict and disability.

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