London Marathon: The Plan


I’m not entirely sure if it’s completely sunk in yet, this whole running-another-marathon thing. It feels like it is forever away. I’m not quite so petrified about the idea like I was when I entered Paris – I feel quite calm this time. I guess I know my body can get through it, it can do the distance if I put the training in, and so I’m just treating it as “winter training as usual”.

I’ve been reflecting on my training last season – what went right, what went wrong (injury), what I want to change for this time. My biggest adjustment is that I don’t want to run more than 3 times a week, and my biggest focus is NOT TO GET INJURED.

Paris Marathon 2014

For Paris Marathon I followed Hal Higdon’s Novice 1 plan – it came highly recommended, lots of other newbies were following it, and I didn’t really know any different. I wasn’t training for time – I just wanted to get around and finish – and that plan did that for me. It was 4 runs a week, of various distances – building up to the marathon. Except I struggled to get those 4 runs in – I was lucky if I got in 3 good runs, with the 4th always falling by the wayside. A lot of the time I was runcommuting or running junk miles just to get the run in. I was constantly tired (and hungry and grumpy), and by skipping that 4th run I added the extra emotion of guilt in to the mix. I didn’t prioritise ANYTHING other than running – no yoga, no strength training, nothing.

Marathon Training

This time, I want my runs to have purpose. Instead of just running and running and running to get the distance under my feet, I want to include different types of running workouts. I’ve seen a few people have really good success with the FIRST training plan, so I bought the book Run Less, Run Faster and downloaded the app. The plan revolves around 3 runs a week – a track repeats session, a tempo run, and a long run. You supplement these runs with strength and stretch workout sessions.

Team Naturally Run

I’m really loving the app – you pick your 5k time, and it automatically calculates what pace you need to run at for the track and tempo training sessions. This is especially good for people like me who are multi-lingual in miles and kilometres, but can’t convert EITHER into pace timings! I’ve never really run at a certain pace before, or paid much attention to it – preferring instead to plod it out and then be pleasantly surprised (or a bit disappointed!) so this will be a steep learning curve for me. I’m planning to do quite a few of these on treadmills (kill me now) as it’s much easier to set your pace and stick to it. Once I am more confident in my pacing then I will take these runs outside.

Team Naturally Run

The other interesting part of my plan is that only 50% of my training will be in London. I’ll be in New Zealand for the month of March – which adds a whole new element to the training. I won’t be working, which means I will be free to run whenever I want – and it also means I can shift longer runs around to do on different days, instead of having to wait for the weekends to have the time. Yes – this does mean I will be avoiding that 18miler scheduled on my wedding day, and the 20miler scheduled the day of my flight back to London – and doing those MUCH earlier in the week!

Being in New Zealand also means OMGEXCITEMENT at all the new places I can run. I wasn’t a “real runner” when I left home – and I cannot WAIT to run the beach at my parents place, along the Auckland waterfront, the Wellington waterfront, and the Hutt River trail. I honestly think I could sink a sweet 15miler easily by being distracted by all the amazing places I will now get to run. I’m already locking in some running dates with friends for when I am back – two birds and all that!


The month of April could be an interesting challenge. We’ll be travelling through Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia, and Serbia in the three weeks immediately prior to the marathon. While I will be tapering at this time and the distances won’t quite be so big – there will still be 3 runs a week to do! Jase has agreed to do some with me and I’m going to start researching routes/ areas that will be safe and suitable for training. Our travel plans very clearly have training runs marked on the schedule – but I also realise I am going to have to be flexible and go with the flow as well.

Team Naturally Run

To keep up the strength and stretching side of the training plan I’m going to continue on the Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide (man how I wish that had a better name, from here on I will refer to it as BBG!). These workouts have been seriously kicking my ass and making me a hot sweaty mess – and I can do them easily in the space in my living room, without too much additional equipment. I plan to continue my Friday morning yoga date at The Power Yoga Company until I leave London, and then utilise youtube yoga video’s for on-the-go.

Team Naturally Run

My official start date for the FIRST plan is 5th January (perfect timing for returning from holiday, and starting my Whole 30!). However, my first long run that week is 13kms – so in between now and Christmas I am going to be working at getting my running fitness level back up. I’ve definitely let it slide since having my knee problems at Spitfire Scramble, and haven’t been regularly running since. It’s been good to have a rest (with a few fun runs along the way) but now it’s time to start working back up to my next goal – showing that marathon who is boss.

That’s the plan, anyway!

The Wrong Time for a Whole 30

Right now I am literally gagging for a Whole 30.

My skin’s gone to shit, I’m feeling lethargic and less than stellar (oh gee thanks Winter), and my insomnia is raging again. The waist line is feeling a little bit squishy and I’m just not sparking on all cylinders like I should be. Jase claims he is feeling the same. We’ve relaxed on our diets a little too much when we are outside of the home – eating out more than normal, getting takeaways or picking up food on the way home a little too often. Having a Sunday Roast with ALL the trimmings and THEN dessert. The sugar dragon is back.

Whole 30

Lost: my Whole 30 spark

Usually these would be my triggers to say “STOP, Whole 30 time!” and launch straight back in to the programme. But. Yes, there is a BUT. Right now, I KNOW I would fail at 30 days. It’s completely the wrong timing for me, with the various commitments we have coming up. You could argue that these are just excuses, that if I really wanted to I could plan ahead and find a way to eat Whole 30 around these commitments – and you know what, you would be 100% right. I’ve Whole 30’d my way through harder situations before! However I’m a massive advocate of living life, and right now, that involves food (and drink) too.

I want to have a beer while I watch the All Blacks play in Edinburgh next weekend, and in Cardiff the weekend after that (these are my first EVER All Blacks games, can you believe that?).

Mulled Wine

I want to drink mulled wine and hot cider, and eat Bratwurst at the various Christmas Markets we plan to visit in December. I bloody love Christmas and we don’t get Markets like these in New Zealand – so I want to enjoy the last winter experiences while I can.

Kiwi Christmas

I want to eat festive cheeses and kiwi dip at our kiwi orphans Christmas lunch. Every year we’ve celebrated Christmas one way or another with these friends-who-are-like-family and we like to indulge in both Christmas treats that are new to us (turkey and cranberry sauce) and our own New Zealand traditions (kiwi dip and chips).

I want to taste stars and drink Champagne when we are in Reims for New Years Eve.

Those things above mean that a true 30 days is not possible for me right now. It’s not the right time – and I think knowing that and accepting it means that I am not starting something, failing at it, and then feeling worse. Right now I want a Whole 30, but I am not so 100% set in my mindset that nothing would break me. I know those situations above would always be more important to me than a Whole 30.

Whole 30 week 4 meals

So, what’s the answer? Jase and I have resolved to stick to Whole 5’s – meaning we eat 100% Whole 30 compliant during the week, and relax on the weekends. It’s 80/20 if you will (although I strongly dislike that analogy – it involves a mindset of steel to correctly stick to it!). This is actually how we eat most of the time – we still have our regular eggs, chorizo & sweet potato for breakfast; we still eat salad with chicken or tuna for lunch; and 99% of our dinners are Whole 30 recipes anyway. But like I said above, we have been relaxing a little too much – accepting the chocolate cake at work, or snacking on crisps, or grabbing a sandwich on the go, or having a drink at night when we get home. If we tighten up on these things during the week and be strict on ourselves in the day to day – it means we can relax during our upcoming weekends away, truly taste, enjoy and experience the things we are doing and the foods we are eating.

If I am just shoving a bratwurst in my gob because I am hungry and it’s the first thing I see – well, that’s not exactly enjoying the experience is it? But if I am wandering through Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park with Jase, seeing the sights and sounds of Christmas around me, and stopping to sip on a hot cider while it warms my hands through my gloves? THAT is worth it.

Our next Whole 30 will commence on Sunday 4th January. That’s the day we return from our Christmas and New Years trip, and I’ve always found a January Whole 30 is a great start to the year. It’s also the start of my marathon training, and I know I perform better and recover quicker when on a Whole 30 diet – so I am really looking forward to starting marathon training on the right fuel.

Does anyone else fancy a Whole 30 January with me? How do you stay on top of your diet over the festive season? 

Playing the Mins Game

Lissy was the ringleader. One by one she got us to agree to take part. Little did we know what was ahead of us, how addicted we would get to the challenge, how unwilling we were to give up. In a few short days we were in up to our necks, obsessing over it, and pondering our next move, wanting to make it to the end, be victorious, be the winner.

The Mins Game (or, as we affectionately renamed it – the Chuck It Challenge) was created by the bloggers at The Minimalists. The main idea is to try and get rid of your excess “stuff”, the clutter, the crap that surrounds you. On day one, you simply throw out, get rid of, bin, donate, give away, or sell – ONE item. On the second day, two things. On the third, three things. And on and on it goes until there is only one chucker left standing. Sounds easy enough in theory – but if you total all those items together, it’s 465 items over 30 days. Woah.

I was well up for the challenge. In a few short months I have to pack up my wee London flat, ship my precious and valuables in tea chests back to New Zealand, and strap on a less-than-20kg-backpack for travelling. There isn’t room in any of those things for the crap, the junk, and the “stuff”. The Mins Game was ON.

Mins Game

The first few days passed by easily. To motivate ourselves we started a whatsapp group, and every day sent a picture of our chuck it items to each other. You learn a lot about your friends when you see their junk – we had a secret snowboarder and gamer, a tote bag/scarf/bracelet collector, someone who loved hair/makeup/beauty products but never used any of them, she-who-had-many-random-ornaments, and one who just had far too many clothes. There were a few discussions around what counted (a pair of shoes = 1 item, but two individual un-matched shoes could = 2, desk drawers at work did not count etc). It was a bit of fun and a laugh each day.

Mins Game

As we started getting into the “teens” it got harder and harder. Digging deep into our houses – we scoured bedrooms, bathrooms, living rooms, and kitchens. I had a stellar day when I chucked 15 mismatching forks from our cutlery draw! I found that I kept a lot of packaging – I had boxes and containers from a lot of items still hanging around the house. Bags were being taken out to the bins daily, and I was making regular trips to the charity shop and clothing bins to donate as much as I could. I had two houseguests at the time who were over the moon to pick through my chuck it items and take away new drink bottles, magazines, or workout clothes I no longer wanted.

Mins Game

Mins Game

The house started feeling lighter, emptier, cleaner – and along with it so did I. Instead of drowning in too much crap, I felt the weight of it lifting off my shoulders. Who really needs to keep a stash of old magazines, piles of birthday cards, worn out shoes, or clothes that make you feel fat? The more I got rid of, the better I felt.

Mins Game

By day 22 all the other chuckers had fallen, exhausted and cleansed and wrung out of crap to chuck. I managed to keep pulling things together to get to day 29, before I too couldn’t go any further.  Charlie emerged victorious on Day 30 – a full 465 items less in her life.

Mins Game

The Mins Game started as a bit of fun – but I actually learnt a hell of a lot about minimalist living and how it makes me feel. Jason says that my worst habit is being a hoarder – I simply think of it as “saving things”. The reality is – I just have too many things, and with very little storage in our tiny London flat, I let it crowd in around our ears and stifle us. Since doing the Mins Game I have found myself to be a lot more ruthless – I throw things out a lot more easily, and I have continued working my way around the flat and minimising where I can. Sometimes it can take two or three visits to a drawer or cupboard before you feel comfortable with letting go of the things inside – but once they are out of the house you don’t really miss them/ notice them gone at all.

Mins Game

One of the things that I read on the Minimalists blog said “if you desperately need something, 99% of the time you can buy it for less than $20, in less than 20 minutes”. I found this to be true – the only day I regretted a chuck was when I needed a protein shaker – and I knew I had given away a really good brand new one to one of my houseguests. I was able to pop in to sportsdirect and buy a new one for £2.99 on my way to work – less than 20mins later. That’s only one TINY regret out of 435 items – and in the end, no harm done.

I’m planning to restart the Chuck It Challenge mid January – with the aim to have chucked out/ donated OR boxed to send home everything in our flat by mid February. I think having the extra motivation of the Mins Game will help me be much more ruthless than I would be otherwise!

Who’s with me?

Are you a chucker or a hoarder? Ruthless or sentimental? Have you ever gone on a massive clear out spree? Any tips for someone who likes to save things “just in case”? 

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