London: Final Training

T minus 11 days til I’m lurking around the starting pens in Greenwich, trying to eat a banana and convince myself that I don’t need to pee again. Yesterday was my last long run before the event, so I am officially on The Taper!!!


Two weeks ago I managed my first proper long run, which was 17 miles. I set out at my ideal marathon pace, and my head was in the right space. Except …. not much else was. I was using a different energy shot because I couldn’t find my usual gels, and despite trying to eat properly before hand, I started to get hungry at around mile 7.


During the run itself I felt ok, except I was hungry! But afterwards, I crashed. I felt so ill, and had no energy. I drank my chocolate milk, but waited far too long before eating so that by the end of the evening I was feeling sorry for myself on the couch and nibbling on biscuits.


Cue 12 days of feeling nervous, apprehensive and scared! Did I even want to run a marathon? Why didn’t I opt to spend the time with Baby B instead of running? How are we even going to get to London on the train, with all my gear and everything the bubba needs? What the hell was I thinking?


And yet. And yet, there’s always a little voice in my head that says ‘yeah, but you wait til you’re on the starting line. You wait till you’re pushing through mile 18, you wait til you’re running down the mall and you wait til you’re holding Baby B after having run the London marathon’. The experience itself will be amazing, and the training will be harder than the event.


Yesterday I did 20 miles in 3.5 hours. This time I had my usual gels, and I also had some additional food for during the run. My head was in the right space too: keep it cool, and take it steady. Mentally I approached it like four 5-mile runs, which was a lot better (but not at 13.1 when I realised I was only half way through!). As soon as I finished I was eating, and continued to eat and drink in small amounts until I went to sleep.


So here I find myself in the shortest taper ever, wondering how to approach it. I’ve followed a plan, but only roughly because flexibility is the name of the game when training with a baby. I think I’ll have two days off, and then start gentle gym sessions until the big day. And by gentle, I mean with lots of jacuzzi time factored in.


The countdown is on. And I feel…. good scared terrified ecstatic realistic. And also excited.


Marathon Update – Finally!

Heyyyyyyy everyone! I blinked and another 6 weeks has passed. London is less than 40 days away (thanks to the London Marathon Facebook page and their helpful updates!), and I am feeling… petrified.


Training was going well for the rest of February. My mileage was increasing, and my long runs went from 6 miles to 12 miles with no issues. I was getting to the gym twice a week for some treadmill and strength training (and maybe definitely a little jacuzzi or two).


And then two things happened: the temperatures dropped and Baby B caught a cold. So. It was too cold to taker her out in the buggy, and she was not well enough to go to the creche at the gym. For the last four weeks training is pretty much at a standstill.


Most training takes place either with Baby B in the buggy, or at the gym. The longest I’ve run with the bubba is 12 miles, and I wouldn’t do any more as she gets bored – I had her nursery rhymes on repeat on my iPhone speakers for the last 45 minutes! She isn’t one of those babies who sleeps as soon as she’s moving.


Two Sundays ago I did 13.1 miles in 2 hours 7 mins, and it didn’t hurt at the time but I was certainly stiff the next day! I had forgotten how hard training is! Today I had planned to do a 16 mile run split between the buggy and the gym, but Baby B had other plans and decided to get a stomach bug instead. So instead of running, I’m disinfecting everything like a man woman to try and make sure she doesn’t pass it on.


And that’s where we’re at right now. I’m really worried that I am not getting the longer runs in. Part of me thinks that as long as I grit my teeth and dig in on the day, I’ll be able to do it, but I also know that is wishful thinking too.


How will I get on if I can’t run any further than 13.1 miles in training? And will I regret throwing myself into it so completely instead of chillaxing while I can with Baby B?


Only time will tell…..


Ellie B

Revised postpartum exercise plan!

Well, we’re four weeks in to this parenting thing. And my ideas on what exercise is possible have completely altered: I severely underestimated how life would change once my bump became a person!


I had imagined long walks in the Autumn sun, with a contented baby sleeping the afternoon away. I had imagined working on my core muscles during nap time, and being able to eat healthily to help me feed Baby B and to regain my figure.


But reality was a nightmare somewhat different! I never really understood how challenging the first few weeks would be: sure you’re sleep deprived, but you can sleep in the day, right? And all you have to do is feed the baby – sitting on the couch snuggling all day sounds very cosy.


I didn’t realise that a newborn baby likes to feed all.the.time. Snuggling on the couch quickly turns into feeling a little like jail as I can’t stand up for hours, even to go to the loo. It is also pretty lonely because leaving the house is tricky – which is hard for someone used to the fresh air of an outdoor run, and a regular endorphin high. I’m like an addict craving that next hit. And one night of sleep deprivation is ok, but night after night with four hours sleep quickly turns you into an emotional wreck who isn’t sure whether to laugh hysterically or cry and throw dirty nappies in your partner’s face for merely suggesting you might like to wash your dressing gown.

You can tell this isn't a real picture because she had time to put rollers in her hair, and her robe is clean.

You can tell this isn’t a real picture because she had time to put rollers in her hair, and her dressing gown is clean.


Ok, I’m only joking. I never threw dirty nappies in SB’s face. My self control is strong 😉


Now we’re in the swing of it (touch wood), and I’ve learned that the only routine is that there is no routine. We’ve made it to town on the bus a few times, and I’ve gone to my first mum & baby group (with no sign of the alpha mother…. yet!). Plus, the baby is very cute and I can’t help but smile at her all day long. Hopefully the initial days of shell-shock are in the past….


Anyway, like I said, I have had to re-think my postpartum exercise plans. I’m quite a way from being the yummy mummy with the push chair, the high ponytail and the sports drink.

This is the goal.

This is the goal.


These days my exercise looks like this:

  • Running around the house doing all the chores in the ten minutes that Baby B isn’t crying or eating. In a 3 story house, this definitely counts. Cardio – check!
  • Pushing the pram aggressively fast to make sure there are enough bumps to keep Baby B settled (she’s not convinced about her pram yet). An impatient pedestrian before, I now have no time for slow walkers, and find myself zig-zagging across the road to avoid them. Cardio – check!
  • Pushing the pram one handed when Baby B decides she’s had enough of being in there. She likes to look around when she’s out. Core muscles – check!
  • Carrying Baby B around for 18 hours a day. She’s not yet 3 kilos, so it doesn’t sound like much. But having her in the crook of my arm all day certainly gives my triceps a workout. Plus, holding my legs in a certain position to support the Bub while breast feeding is good for my quads. Resistance/strength – check!


My diet isn’t very good because its hard to chop salad vegetables one handed. But fruit is a life saver – easy to eat on the go, tastes fresh and clean, and provides energy. My other lifesaver is M&Ms, I’m not going to lie. Plus, I’m racing through Sons of Anarchy and The Good Wife on tv so I’m getting a good education on motorcycle gangs with an attractive, bearded hero as well as the Chicago legal system. Don’t tell me that’s not a good use of time – I won’t believe you.


I’m told that at 6 weeks babies start to get more independent, are happier being put down, and don’t need to feed as obsessively. As much as I was whining above, I will miss it (and I wanted to try and articulate just what is hard about those first few weeks). But then hopefully I can start working on the plan to beacon the high-ponytail yummy mummy. And London marathon prep will need to start soon….


Finally – how cute is this pic??? I’d love to take Baby B to a baby spa session where she can bob around in a pool. She loves bath time.

baby spa


Ellie B

Join the Club

This month Runner’s World UK are running an article featuring none other than my Wednesday night running club, Elvet Striders! Pretty exciting stuff for us Purplies.


Ahhhh exciting times for Striders.

Ahhhh exciting times for Striders.

On Wednesday I made it back to my running club for the first time since before Christmas. It felt so good to run with them again, and then when I saw the article celebrating running clubs, I wanted to copy join in the party and share my own running group propaganda.


I was very nervous about joining the club: what if they were too fast? What if it wasn’t for me? How do I run without my headphones? On my first night I introduced myself to a woman who made sure I was put into a suitable group, and we set off. I kept one earphone in because I had actually never run without music, and before I knew it, we had just run 11k on a Wednesday night.


On a Wednesday! Usually my mid-week runs were 6-8k, and I did a 10k at the weekend. But if I could do 11k on a Wednesday, why shouldn’t I aim for 13 or 14 on a weekend? And thus began my development as a runner.


Running with a running group made doing races much more accessible –  I chatted to people about different events, and started proudly wearing purple when racing. Every Strider who raced on the weekend was celebrated in a weekly roundup email, and every regular Wednesday run was something new: off-road, hill runs, track work, and road running.

Another club benefit: free running pics!

Another club benefit: free running pics!

With the support of the group, I have set and achieved lots of goals: my first half marathon, my half marathon PB, trained for my first marathon and fared better that I had hoped! There is nothing more inspiring than chatting with runners who are some 30 years older than me about the marathon they ran on the weekend. Plus my sappy little heart loves celebrating the success of everyone in the group: here is our 2014 yearbook…..


All clubs are different. Ours is about having a good time and doing your best on the day, and another local club focuses a lot more on times and league points. Some clubs have a coach who really work with everyone on their goals and technique, where as others are about like-minded people coming together. Gilly has achieved some amazing goals with her running club, and mine has gently encouraged me to identify my goals and work to smash them.


On Wednesday, we did a 4k warm up, hill repeats, and then a 3k cool down. Apparently my secret is not-so-secret anymore, and I was told that  I was ‘carrying a bit of extra weight, so we did wonder’. And this is the other best bit about running clubs: everyone was soooooooo nice during the run, and even though I only ran up half the hill  (it’s a bloody steep hill), everyone called out ‘well done!’, even though they ran up the whole thing. It doesn’t matter what you do as long as you do your best in the moment!


So, if you’re a bit intimidated about joining a club, or you’re wanting to make running more established in your routine, or you’re looking for a way to push yourself to the next step, I cannot recommend joining a club enough. You can usually try it out for a couple of weeks before you commit to joining, so what is there to lose?


And on a completely un-related topic, last night I found my dream car. Forget Lamborghinis, this one had disco lights, a karaoke machine, copious champagne, and a pole. Ladies and gentlemen, it turns out that my dream car is the Birmingham Fun Bus, which we rode on the way to a restaurant for a friend’s birthday. It was a huge shame that I couldn’t join in either the champagne or the pole. But I have bookmarked it for later. I think it’s appropriate transportation for a christening, right?


Ellie B

The Truth About 2015

Well. I think it’s time to be completely honest with you guys. You’ll have to forgive me – for about 4 months now I’ve been keeping secrets from you all. Can you believe it? What a bad blogger.


But…. the truth is…. that I am going to have a little mini-B! Yep. Later on this year, we will welcome a new addition to our family, and we’re crossing our fingers that a) it won’t mind being put in a running stroller, and b) that it likes Nutella. Because if it has problems with either of those two, we’ll have to consider some serious lifestyle changes. I know that a baby usually brings a whole host of changes, but let’s be honest. These are the ones that will matter.


So! Now hopefully it all makes sense as to why I mysteriously couldn’t run fast in December, and why I was ‘slowly building back up’ this year.


Next week I’ll fill you all in on how running has really been this year. It’s not very different to what I’ve written already, but I’ve had to re-work my expectations on what constitutes a good run, a fast run, and what are good running conditions. But I just wanted to quickly share the news with you as I’m well aware that the past three-four months have been somewhat running-lite compared to before!


I hope you all have a great weekend. I am a bridesmaid at a family wedding, which will be fun and ANOTHER chance to tear up the dance floor. If nothing else, thanks to Beyonce workshops, Miami and this weekend, this bub should have good rhythm!


Ellie B