Monthly Archives: February 2016

Desire lines

Sunrise Hillyfields

Last Friday’s run was before breakfast, beautiful, but on jelly legs

On Thursdays I run at 6.45am with my best running buddy, who is a consultant psychiatrist. A high achiever, (you’ll have guessed that both from the job description and the early doors start), married to another ambitious soul, with children much younger than mine, she is an inspiration. She’s very well read and a great listener. We run and chat, quite puffily, as we try to maintain a brisk pace. She has a big important job to get to (she uses a gym next door to ready herself for a long day) and I? Well I, as a freelance writer and PT, fritter away my days not earning money but hopefully being inspirational in my own small way.

Today we talked about charismatic husbands (hers not mine), strong-willed mothers (mine and hers), horrible ovarian cancer death (my mother’s), body dysmorphia (both of ours) and, our favourite subject, Elena Ferrante.

As I ran back, having left her at her workplace, I crossed frosty greensward and used a so-called desire line in an attempt to keep my feet dry. I love that expression. I can’t remember when I first came across it: it was either at a council meeting or, I prefer to think, in Robert Macfarlane’s The Old Ways. It describes the natural paths made by thousands of trampers who know where they want to go, and how to get there quickest, so eschew the tarmac paths designed for them by the Powers That Be. Desire line is also the name I give to the blue line Virgin Money London Marathon route setters paint on the roads for runners, to show them the very quickest way to get round. Every metre saved adds up to that PB.

This morning a very obliging Professor of Applied Sports Science sent me a marathon training programme I might like to follow. I’ll check it out to see if it’s any less exhausting than this one. It’s back to 49 miles this week. The 39 dictated last week was a kindly sweetener to help you recover before upping the mileage once more. I do not feel particularly refreshed, for all that.

This is what I achieved last week

Mon: REST and too much wine in the evening

Tue: 7M total (about 4m easy and hard track session involving 4x1200m at 5k (7m/m)pace alternating with 4x400m at mile (6.30m/m) pace

Wed: 5M steady

Thur: 10M with 3 of them at marathon pace

Fri: 8M, with some hills and achey legs


My Weekly mileage was 38 miles

The week the plan is a daunting 49 miles, but I am midway through and on track to achieve that without losing too much sanity or sleep

This is what’s on the plan:

Mon: 8miles, a few at marathon pace

Tues: Track session 4x1300m, 2x800m with a couple of warm-up, warm down miles

Wed: Recovery 5 miles

Thur: 13 miles, with some at marathon pace

Fri: 4-5 miles hilly

Sat: rest (just cycling)

Sun: long slow run of 16miles or so

….And plenty of much-desired sleep. And black bean brownies (much, much nicer than they sound)







How romantic

Tower Bridge.jpg

We heart London

14 February 2016

It’s Sunday, it’s the feast of St Valentine, so naturally I leave my husband in the shower while I go off and run 17 miles on tired legs.

Welcome to a most belated marathon training blog from a woman with something to prove.

Last year I wrote a daily marathon training blog to cover the 365 days of training to run a decent time in the Virgin Money London Marathon. It worked well, and it’s still working, because I am able to use last year’s A Year of Training Seriously to check on my programme for this year’s race, which is, I tremble to add, in precisely ten weeks’ time. This is frightening. Last year, I managed 3 hours 44 minutes and 8 seconds. I exceeded my expectations, as I noted in the blog. This year I have heightened expectations, but have been lazy over my training.

Perhaps it would be sensible to note down my goals for VMLM 2016. I need to follow a training schedule for a 3:30 marathon, even though I hesitate to try for much quicker than 3:37.

My advanced years (53) and ‘weaker’ sex (I’m female, and it’s true that official marathon Good For Age times are wildly generous toward women, which makes me feel a bit sorry for my male training buddies) mean that I am Good For Age as long as I run inside four hours, so I’ll put that down as my least ambitious goal. Next up would be what I really hope for, which is sub 3:40. Lastly my Wildest Dreams time (3:30).

So the schedule, sub 3:30. for week 10 training. It goes like this


Tue: 9M total (it’s track night so there’ll be 3M fast, plus 2M warm up/warm down, plus sundry 4M to make up number)

Wed: 7 M steady

Thur: 5M with 3 of them at marathon pace


Sat: parkrun and two extra M

Sun: LSR 15M but it says on schedule 13 of them must be half marathon pace. Yikes

Weekly mileage should be 39 miles

Next week we’ll see what I actually managed. Best go and cook something loving for clean but disgruntled husband.