My running secrets

For those of you who have followed Virtual Runner for some years are likely to know some of this. But here is a blog about where I am at with my running just now.

I have ran a few marathons over the years since I took up running in 2013 including the London Marathon on two separate occasions. After my last marathon where I ran the full 26.2 miles, I decided I had nothing else to prove with this long distance race and vowed never to do another.

That was until I started running better. Around 18 months ago my running was improving as I changed my training to concentrate on shorter distances and speed. At this time, I was also quite new to canicross.  This along with my speed work helped me dramatically improve my times (Pbs are now sat at 00:19:58 for 5k, 00:43:37 for 10k and 01:40:44 for the half marathon). So, the marathon started niggling me again. Could I do another and get a personal best?

Although I did initially start out on shorter distances after a very serious injury. I built up slowly to 20 miles over a period of around 8 months.  Through my charity challenge of completing 36 miles a week for 36 weeks with a combination of running and cycling, my running continued to improve as not only was I doing canicross and speed work, I had re-introduced cross training.

My confidence grew (thanks to my dog who showed me that I could run that fast) and running felt more comfortable. Not only that I was feeling stronger and was achieving regular very steady mileage figures each week – all without injury. Something I have not managed to do consistently before. 2019 will be my best running year by far – I have PB’d in all distances up to half and also paced a friend around a marathon. Never did I think I could pace a marathon. I have ran more than double the mileage I achieved last year, all further evidence was running is on the up!


One big area (no pun intended) I needed to tackle was my diet. In January, I joined ww (previously known as weight watchers) and followed the plan to suit me, my family life and my running. Having a focus of a plan to follow made me accountable and although I know how to eat well and fuel correctly, I also did love a take away or a quick meal around my busy schedule being a mum and running Virtual Runner. I am also very partial to a gin, wine or prosecco. I lost close to 1.5 stones in around 6 months and this supported my running even further. With the weight loss things felt so much easier!

What next?

So what is the next step? A marathon of course! However, I am not necessarily going for a PB. I have chosen to do a canicross marathon in the ‘hills’ of the Breacon Beacons, Wales with Red Kite. This has promised to be a challenging course and nothing like the any of the road marathons I’ve done in the past. For me though, it does come with the huge benefit of running with my faithful four legged friend who has more confidence in my running abilities that I do myself.

This week marks the start of week 1 of our training plan. After all, Bailey is having to train with me too! We plan to run between 3-5 runs together and then independently I will be cross training (cycling and swimming) and for the first time taking strength and conditioning seriously.

Strength and conditioning

Now like my food, I know what I should be doing, but I am not good at cracking on with it. I am also not great at being in the gym alongside others who are lifting quite serious weights whilst I am just at a more beginner level. I saw that local physio KH Physiotherapy was offering a S&C course with a tailor made plan with follow ups. This would keep me focused. It would also provide me with the knowledge that my form was good to avoid injury. Additionally and very importantly, to provide me confidence to be in the weight area of the gym.

Kerstine worked with me to figure out what level I was at and then we agreed a very simple to follow plan. I am delighted to say that I have succeeded in two strength programmes in week 1 and even managed to lift heavier than I expected.

Over the next 16 weeks, I plan to run lots, run strong, run faster. This will be supported with good food choices, alcohol as a rare treat, strength and conditioning training, hill work and some cycling and swimming. Watch this space for my next blog to hear how i’m getting on. I can’t promise not to waffle on the next one though…

Wish me luck!