Cobbles & Red Wine - Sarah’s Paris Marathon Plan: Sub 3:35

Well this is it ... My new thread on which I'll detail my journey to Paris and my sub 3:35 marathon training plan. I know there will definitely be cobbles involved in the Paris Marathon but whether my new coach Steve Smythe will allow any red wine is yet to be divulged...

I started running 2 years ago and I've completed one marathon so far - Liverpool in October in 3:45 and 2 half marathons - Reading in April in 1:44, Bristol in 1:39. My times suggest that I should be capable of a sub 3:30 time ... but whether that will be achieved will be down to following the training plan, staying injury-free and working hard.

Also I suspect to not eating too many mince pies over Christmas which may possibly be the trickiest part ...

5 years ago I was 5 stone overweight and a heavy smoker ... it used to make me out of breath every time I saw a runner. Out of the window. From my seat on the sofa. Now? It's one of my favourite things.



  • Consider yourself bookmarked! imageimageimage

    Watching with interest - go get em girl (trit trot trit trot trit trot) xxx


    Alarm bells should have started ringing when the new ticket was half the price of the original … but nope I was far too excited at the thought of going to visit the Asics Flagship Store on Oxford Street to even think about it ...

    I got to the station this morning to pick up my tickets to London … and back. And found out the very helpful young lady from Virgin Trains who helped me book the tickets over the phone had cancelled my original return ticket and booked me a single.

    I can only assume she imagine I was moving there. Or that I’d have such a lovely time at the Asics store that I’d never want to leave. She was almost right …

    I’d been spoiled by the trip to bootcamp – Birmingham is 35 miles away, but today I was venturing into the Big Smoke. I’d had to drive down to Northampton and catch a train as apparently Rugby isn’t allowed to run London trains early on Sunday mornings in case us hicks start getting big ideas …

    Managed to make it into Euston and met up with Bacon Steve also known as Santa Loves Bacon who is the First Timer in the Asics Target 26.2 project.



    I think he twigged that I was a bit of a novice at all of this train stuff when I tried to stuff the five pound note into the card slot of the ticket machine. And referred to the underground as ‘The Tube Train’.  However, he resigned himself to the role of carer for the Country Bumpkin and managed to navigate us both to Oxford Street where after a bit of a walk we spotted the Asics store.

    My heart leapt … I couldn’t quite believe that I was here and standing outside the flagship Asics store in Oxford Street! And that we were going to get free kit and photos taken! And meet our coaches. And smile for pics. And generally get spoiled rotten! Woo!

    As we were half an hour early and the store wasn’t open yet we decided we could do the tourist thing and have our pics taken outside without fear of being spotted by the others and having the mick taken.



    We put on our cheesiest grins and took in turn to have pics taken. We went off to get our coffee safe in the knowledge that our shameful tourist pics hadn’t been seen when Bacon Steve got a call from Kat in the Runners World team. “Hi, we saw you taking pics of the store… then you disappeared. Are you coming back?” Busted! So much for making a cool and insouciant entrance.

    Kat took us around the store and showed us the clothes. There were also a couple of labs and treadmills all set up ready for gait analyses. It was a really smart store and everything was very hi-tech.

    We were told to choose 2 full sets of training gear and a pair of trainers all up to the value of £500! Let me just say that again … We could choose kit. Get it for free and we could spend up to £500!!! Eeeeek!!

    It was strange … normally in a running store I walk in and find the item I’m looking for. Check the price. If it’s under £25 I try it on, if not. I look for something cheaper. But today I could try on everything … I could even – gasp! - coordinate an outfit!

    Tried on lots of clothes and outfits. Then the camera crew who wanted shots of me smiling while browsing for clothes grabbed me. I

  • Tried on lots of clothes and outfits. Then the camera crew who wanted shots of me smiling while browsing for clothes grabbed me. I was ecstatic to be browsing for sports kit and being given it for free but I’m not very good as staged photographs. The best they could really hope for was a bit of a gurn and mad eyes.

    I tried on the red and black top and black trousers from the Top Impact range and some of the items from the Inner Muscle range. I found a gorgeous pair of long running tights in pink and black. Plus a black top with a zip front and a pick panel. And a beautiful pink running jacket. I had spotted a gap in the Asics range in the shape of garish pink compression socks so I was filling the void with lots and lots of pink clothes.

    I also chose a pair of amazing leg balance running tights. They felt great on and looked really nice and were supposed to reduce muscle fatigue. Sounds like a win for me … especially on the long marathon training runs! They were also very flattering. Suspect I may have a new favourite pair of running bottoms.

    Also chose a sky-blue ‘Inner Muscle’ top that improves posture and apparently reduces injury risk! Anything that stops me doing my ‘Hunchback of Notre Dam’ look at the end of a long run has to be a bonus!

    We were then called for a photo shoot in our new clothes. I came out of the changing room in my pink and black outfit … Mel came out of her changing room and we exchanged looks. Somehow out of all of the clothes in the store, we had decided on exactly the same outfit. Down to the trainers.

    We had a few staged photos with (left to right) Ady (Shady_Ady), Alex (A.W), Mel (MelanieJayne), Steve (Santa Loves Bacon), me (RunnyRunRun.


    I was on the end as seems to be the job of the shortarse. It was quite daunting having a camera pointed at you and knowing the pics would be in such a big magazine as Runners World but it was amazing at the same time … It was slowly starting to sink in that this was it!

    The photographer gave us instructions. We had ‘stern, serious runners’ face. Then ‘smiley’. Then ‘chatty’. I wouldn’t be able to do this for a job and I gained a lot of respect for celebrities who do. After 10 seconds I got glassy eyes and a fixed grimace. A bit like my office job, but no-one is taking pics of me there.

    Tip: Don’t believe photographers who say “Just one more picture” …

    Got whisked upstairs for an interview with Kate from Runners World. She was really lovely although I was put off a little bit by the chap who was doing the lighting and holding a big shiny silver circle opposite my face. It looked like the plate they put Christmas cakes on and I kept thinking I was going to get offered cake.


    The interview wasn’t too bad. Kate was lovely and approachable. As usual I babbled nonsense but managed to rephrase the question into the answer as requested although my waffle-ometer was on high and I was talking at 100 miles per hour as usual. No doubt it will come out like gibberish. Normal Sarah then.


  • Walked downstairs and was told that my coach was going to be Steve Smythe. He was waiting downstairs and we chatted as we walked. He was very approachable and really nice and totally committed to running. I was expecting him to be a bit scary but he really wasn’t. He gave me some great tips too about getting quicker and advised me how to manage the forum thread. We also had a look at the My Asics training plan. He advised we might add some extra speed sessions in at some point but we would be sticking to the basic plan so it would be easier for everyone else to follow too.

    Can’t wait for the plan to come through! I want to get started and get running! The fact that I’ll be able to show off all my awesome new gear is purely coincidentalimage

    After this, I went with Amelia from Asics to do the foot analysis. I took off my shoes and socks and she stuck blue dots to the widest parts of my feet and my ankle bone. I had to put my foot into a machine like a large shoe box that came up to my knee and which took a 3d image of my foot and showed my footprint. My foot looked like an elephants’. Not the delicate ballet dancers ankles we like to think we all own. Looks like I may be the proud owner of cankles. Dammit.


    I seem to have lost a couple of the dots somewhere between the treadmill and the chair when I went to sit down to take them off. No doubt they’ll turn up somewhere odd. Probably on my ear in the middle of an important work meeting or something.



    I then put on a white pair of neutral shoes with strategically placed dots and stripes and had a run on the treadmill so Amelia could have a look at my gait. One foot was neutral and the other was varying between overpronating and supinating. Hmmm. A rogue foot. Tried on a LOT of shoes and probably managed a couple of km on the treadmill with the gait analyses… seems like I am fitting in a run today after all!

    In the end Amelia recommended the GT2000s in a wide fitting. They felt great and I couldn’t believe I was getting a brand new, beautiful pair of trainers for free!

    We went downstairs to tot up the purchases and with the trainers, the total came to £470 … of new kit! Mine, all mine!! My usual sportswear shopping consists of me going into Sports Direct, finding something cheap for under £25 and buying it. Couldn’t get over being given this beautiful, beautiful kit!


    Also … as I was slightly under the £500 limit I was encouraged to go back and grab another sports bra … and some socks! No pink I’m afraid. I’m slightly concerned that this hard training will curb my more bizarre colour choices. Hmmm.

    Then we were all handed a Garmin Forerunner 210! Wow! What a present! I have absolutely NO excuse to not hit my target with all of this support.



  • The photographer took a pic of us all with our bags going out of the shop. I didn’t have a glassy grin this time! It was SO amazing to be given all of this great kit! I kept expecting someone to stop me as I walked out of the shop. Or the security guard to rugby tackle me or something. 

    I walked back to the station in a daze. Today had been SO amazing and I’m at the start of my journey to Paris …!

  • SB - Evening!! Good to see you on here! Hope you didn't drown in the waffle above!! (Throws rubber ring to SB) image

  • Phew

    Lovin' it - glad you didn't get lost in the big city - will look forward to the catwalk photos of all the outfits...

    That should keep you busy for the evening! image

  • MalcsMalcs ✭✭✭

    Jeez - I'm freakin' knackered now image  

    Well, nobody is going to complain about you being thorough Sarah. I've looked over your dissertation several times now and it doesn't look like you left a detail out.

    Fantastic to hear all about the day. Some great photos there too. Well done and best of luck with the training.

    Just don't burn out on the posting too early on. If you continue at this rate RW will have to upgrade their servers and you'll be looking at a nervous breakdown. Remember it's not a sprint, it's a marathon! image

  • SB - Thank you! I had to put a shout out on Twitter when I thought I'd got on the wrong train ... Had a horrible feeling that i was going to end up in Birmingham or something. p.s. When did they stop tea ladies on trains? I totally could have done with a chocolate bar and a cup of coffee on the way home!image


  • ChristMalcs Cracker - Sorry about the waffle ... I got a bit enthusiastic when they gave me free kit and I haven't run out of enthusiasm about that yet ...! image

    I probably should stand by while people read it handing out Hi-5 gels and coffees to the people who make it to the end ...image

  • MalcsMalcs ✭✭✭

    No problem at all. Waffle away - just don't kill yourself in the process image

  • Seriously though, if I could run as fast as I could waffle, Usain Bolt would have NO chance...image

  • Great write up RRR! Could almost feel like I'm there with you - wish I was image. Great pictures!

  • Thanks Sticky!

    It was SO cool! I'm bouncing around just thinking about it! The Asics people in the shop were amazing too. You'd think it would be a pain having us 5 all running around trying all their gear on and getting pics taken but they were SO nice and we were getting so spoiled!! Totally amazing! You doing a Spring marathon Sticky?

  • RRR, I'm still trying to get into VLM, having failed the ballot, and been entering various competition to get a place. I'm in the ChaseThePlace with lucozade and parkrun to get a chance of a place with them! I did the Paris Marathon this year as my first marathon, and absolutely loved it! Tried to get into VLM and didn't, so signed up to Paris instead! I'm signed up for Berlin 2013 though image

  • jenfjenf ✭✭✭

    Hi RRR, great photos! sounded a really tough day! Good luck now with the fun part..running image

  • All read and ready to follow.

    Good Luck

  • Ooh Sticky!

    Fingers crossed for ChaseThePlace with Parkrun! I think there were about 4000 people left in it last week with 3 weeks to go and that number will drop dramatically the last few weeks! How exciting if you got the place!! What did you think of Paris? Is it as flat as I've heard ...? (Crosses fingers in hope!!)image

  • Loving the photos!

    Good luck Sarah, hope you enjoy every minute of your journey image

  • Hi JingleBellsJen!

    I agree! It was terribly tough day - especially carrying all that shopping homeimage At least with the running part it's more familiar - I know I can run ok, it's the gurning in photos bit that's more difficult! image


  • Evening Reg!

    Well done on making it through and not drowning in the waffle!image Fab to hear from you! Loving the new username!! image

  • Evening Sarah Tinsel Toes!

    Really great to hear from you! All sorted for Christmas? 

    Steve wants me to go for a sub 3:30 time to give me more leeway for a Boston qualifier so that would be bang on your target time wouldn't it? I'll be posting the training plan on here and it would be fab to hear how you're getting on with it too! image

  • Wow! what a great report, good luck with your training over the coming months.

  • Evening SC!

    Thank you!! I got a bit carried away with my enthusiasm!! Had such a fab day and everyone was so nice. It was definitely a relief to find that the other 4 were really good guys. Think we'll all going to train hard over the next 4 months but I think it'll help knowing I've got really nice people training in parallel too! image


  • And... breathe! image

    Loving it - was a great day and seems like we've got a great team! Look forward to following your thread image

  • Evening Bacon Steve!

    You mean I'm supposed to breathe AT THE SAME TIME as talking? But ... how do I get all the words in?image

    What is the magnetic glove thing all about? Don't you stick yourslef to things?

  • RunnyRunRun wrote (see)

    Ooh Sticky!

    Fingers crossed for ChaseThePlace with Parkrun! I think there were about 4000 people left in it last week with 3 weeks to go and that number will drop dramatically the last few weeks! How exciting if you got the place!! What did you think of Paris? Is it as flat as I've heard ...? (Crosses fingers in hope!!)image

    Morning RRR! Paris is flatish, some inclines through tunnels but nothing to shout about. The atmosphere was amazing, the crowd support really helps, you'll enjoy it!

    I always thought when I grew up VLM was going to be my first, but getting in seems harder than running it. I'll have my fingers crossed every year until I get in! Still , couldn't have chosen a more romantic city to lose my marathon virginity image.

  • Hi RRR! Have been following your posts and really enjoying them... very pleased you have made it through and good luck with your training! Am a bit of a lurker but will definitely be following your thread image

  • Morning Sticky!

    That's fantastic! Love that there'll be lots of support - I'll have my name on my top this time (I didn't at Liverpool) so it'll be fab to have people cheering me on! Flat is GOOD!

    Ha ha! I bet Paris was an AMAZING first marathon!!  Have a vision of you toasting your medal witha  glass of red in a street cafe now! image

  • Morning Mamafox!

    Fab to hear from you! Thank for you for the good luck wishes - I can't wait to get started on the training now! I got my plan yesterday evening and my first day was a rest day! I managed THAT session no problem! image

    It's going to be strange for me following a structured plan ... but it's going to be lovely too. Knowing that if I do all of the training and sessions, I'll achieve my goal time and come home with a medal AND a Boston Qualifier. It seems amazing! image

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