Tackling Christmas - the big push

Hi everybody

Thank you for reading this thread! - I am looking for some advice...

About a month ago I signed up to run the brighton half marathon in February 2013, and have been training for htis for a few months now. Last sunday I got out in my local park early and successfully completed the 13.2 miles in 1:47:55 (albeit pretty slow over the last mile). My objective has always been just to FINISH the BHM so I was really happy with this result.

I wanted advice on what to do from now on. I know I can hit the distance if I really push myself, i do not use any gels or sweets (have just been fuelling up well the night before a run) so would be ineterested to hear about what the best products are for getting that 'extra 5%' whilst out running. I would also love to know what training I should now be doing to make sure that I don't fall short in February (ESPECIALLY SEEING AS CHRISTMAS IS COMING AND THE AVERAGE PERSON PUTS ON 5LBS OVER THIS TIME!)


I currently weigh 144 lbs and am 5 ft 10, so I have alittle slack in terms of weight, but don't want to turn podgy the month before the big race!




  • Hi

    I'm not sure where the average figure of 5lbs weight gain over xmas comes from. since it's not a census question, i guess it's been taken from some sort of survey and extrapolated, then published possibly by organisations with a vested interest in making you feel fat, e.g. vendors of weight loss products. My weight doesn't usually flucuate very much, so i don't worry too much about weight, but either way even if you do put on a little weight over xmas 5lbs is nothing in the scheme of things, if you're running regularly and eat healthily then it'll be gone by February. enjoy xmas, get out for a few runs if you can, and don't worry about it.

    Your half marathon time is already good, so congratulations for that. If you want to improve further in the remaining 3 months I'd continue what you're already doing. Perhaps a do some threshold runs, if you're not already, to increase the pace that you can run aerobically, making it more comfortable to run faster over that distance. if you can run a 1:47 now and you're happy not using gels or sports drinks, then carry on as you are. if you want to try gels etc, i'd suggest you do this a few times before race day, and don't try anything new on race day (last thing you want is an iffy stomach a couple of miles in).

    Good luck

  • I don't think there's a product which will give you the extra 5% you're looking for (amphetamines aside!).

    Only training harder and/or better.

    (I don't put on 5lbs over Christmas either, and agree with AG that it's probably a marketing ploy!)

  • I had previously read that somewhere and knew it was very unlikely to carry much weight scientifically - I will keep up with the runs where possible and see what position I am in come January!

    Are there any particular Gels that you use for your long runs?

  • i use jelly beans for my long runs. bassets, not the own brand rubbish. about 1 per mile does the trick for me. i've tried various gels and bars, but most of them make me want to barf.

  • A common problem! image - Thanks

  • Hi Tom.

    There are some good gels out there - try SiS, or Maxmuscle(Viper).  If you want an alternative 'pick me up' try chocolate covered espresso beans - will give you a good kick!



  • 5lbs? I can do that on Christmas eve.....image

  • stutyrstutyr ✭✭✭

    Don't worry about gels and energy drinks for a half-mara.  They take at least twenty mins to digest - so by the time you've taken them, you'll be near the end of the race.

    They have there place for runs over 2 hours, but if you can run a 13 miles in less than this during training, you won't be exceeding two hours on race day.

    If you've tried to run the distance at race pace in trianing, you've made a common mistake.  It sounds counter-intuitive, but you need to slow down to speed up.  Make sure your training consists of long runs at slow pace, with other more intense runs (e.g. intervals & tempo).

  • Ok great - thanks for the advice stutyr

    I am new to both running and competetive events, having only completed one 10km so far. I'll slow down my runs and extend the distances and throw in some shorter faster morning runs too


  • Gls, get working on now to work out what works for you. I now only use Power Bar products as they don't make me gag and also they do some with caffeine for that little kick. My running partner can't stand them and swears by SiS which I can't abide. On a marathon I usually take five with me and normally only need four. I take at 6/12/18 and 22 miles along with some water to get  them down in one. Keep the training going and you sound like sub 4 is on the cards if not better. Check out the RW schedules in the search bar. Your weight and gheight suggest that even 5lbs over Christmas wouldn't be a hindrance. I'm at 170lb+ and about your height running quite comfortably at marathon distances 

  • I'm a fan of long slow runs; they do help improve with the shorter runs, I also think the recovery time from a long slow run is quicker and there's less chance of injury.

    I now increase my long slow run each fortnight, with a shorter long slow run on the weekend between increases, so it may look like this:

    Week 1 - 13 miles

    Week 2 -  7 miles

    Week 3 - 14 miles

    Week  4 - 8 miles

    Week 5 - 15 miles

    And I just keep going.  I've got a 22 mile run this weekend, but what I'm finding is that when I run distances like 13 miles, I'm faster, and I feel strong and comfortable.  And if I want to run and enjoy a half marathon I have to train longer than that distance.

    I don't do a lot of speed work, but I do include a lot of hills in my long slow runs (I can't avoid them around here).

    I'm no expert though; I'm just posting what I think works for me.

  • Tom

    My personal trick with Christmas is that I set a rule which says that I have to run on more days than I drink / stuff my face. This gets loosely translated into I either have to have done a run on any day that I am going to drink / stuff my face, or I can do a run one day in the build up to Christmas, and then bank it for use on Christmas Day...

    Last year I think I lost weight over the Christmas and New Year break, as, for me, it's a great opportunity to get in a bit more training than I normally can manage in the week.

    Also, I agree with not bothering with gels for a 1/2 marathon, and would definitely suggest you continue to increase your longer runs, with the majority of these being at a pace at least 60-90 seconds slower than you intend to race the HM (so probably around 9:30 mins/mile for you).  This will build endurance, and will help to reduce the amount by which you need to slow down in the latter stages of the race.

    Good luck with it all....

  • In "Racing Weight" Matt Fitzgerald mentions the 5lb myth being that Americans put on 5lb during the 6 week period between Thanksgiving and New Year. He then states that recent research has shown that it is actually 1lb, but they never lose it. So don't worry too much, keep running over the holiday period, and lose that 1lb in January!

    I've never used gels or bars, but I've never run over 16 miles.

  • Thank you everybody

    I love how open this forum is to people (like me) with little experienve and questiions which could be described as simplistic image - I hope to see some of you out on the roads at some major races!


    If anybody is tacking the Brighton HM let me know!

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