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



  • Hi RRR

    Congratulations on the forum so far. I have enjoyed reading through all the posts especially the Asics store write up, the hill run photos and most of all you going for a run in a santa suit! 

    My name is Ruth and I am the Asics Pro Team Dietitian. I have worked with athletes now for 12 years from young developing athletes to Olympic level athletes and enjoy the challenges that sports nutrition brings; research continues to move at a  pace, but often getting the basics right will have the greatest results throughout training and on on race day. Good nutrition will benefit immunity, motivation and recovery. A sucessful race day is dependant on a well practiced nutrition plan.

    Please feel free to post typical daily food and drink consumption, including meal & snack times as well as sleeping and training times. Also include any recent dietary changes.

     I look forward to see how your journey will progress over the coming few months. I tend to come onto the forums a couple of times  a week (likely to be Monday & Thursday) and try to answer all nutrition questions.

     Great as always to have the support of everyone posting on forums.


  • Afternoon Sarah!

    Canal paths are lovely! I live fairly close to the Oxford Canal and it’s amazing in the summer but it gets a bit lonely this time of year. Argh! 5 miles on an empty stomach sounds hard! But … better than an impromptu stop!!image

    My headtorch is an Energizer one and cost abot £18. A lot of people have been raving about the Alpkit headtorches, but they’re about £50 but I haven’t tried one out and I’m unwilling to pay out £50 for something I haven’t seen in action …

    I’ve tried loads and have found wind up ones a waste of money as they’ve been too bulky for running and the bulb ones have been a waste of time too. LEDs the way to go and they’ve got a good long battery life too usually.

  • Alpkit Gamma is only £15, not £50.  Highly recommended as a first purchase, and a bargain at the price.

    I've only used mine once so far, but it was comfortable and adequate on a pitch-black trail. It felt a bit surreal seeing the trail move beneath my feet with no perception of scenery moving past me (except in wooded areas where I could see trees moving past).  At times it felt as if I was running on a treadmill. image

  • Hi Ruth McKean!

    Great to hear from you and glad that you’re enjoying the pics and my waffle!image I’m looking forward to working with you and hoping you won’t slap my wrist too much for the amount of Christmas cake I seem to be eating at the moment!

    Do you need weight and height info? I’ve tracked my food and exercise for the last 5 years using an app on my phone … after I lost 5 stone I was paranoid about putting it back on again and then tracking it became a habit!

  • Week 3, Day 4

    Goal: 5 miles with middle 3 miles at half marathon pace (7:30 min/mile)

    Actual: 5 miles with middle 3 miles at 7:15 min/mile


    Decided to use Yeovil Country Park as my route today – known locally as Nine Springs. It used to be a mud bath when I went there as a kid in my wellies and clutching a bag of bread for the ducks. But apparently they’ve tarmaced all the paths since then and wellies are no longer compulsory … or even required.

    I parked at the train station and walked up to the start of the Country Park path alongside a gaggle of kids on pushbikes and waited to cross the road. Across from me was Wyndham hill with the distinctive 4 trees on the top. The trail is where a railway used to run so it’s fairly flat and fairly straight. The route is mainly tree covered and feels quite remote and it’s difficult to tell you’re close to a big town.



    A few dogs came to greet me – apparently lycra attracts them - and I had 2 large wet pawprints on my running tights before I even set off. A smiling corgi and a happy Jack Russell who was apparently 16 years old but was rolling around in the muddy grass, happy as a puppy.

    The first mile was a warm up mile so I just ran at a comfortable pace for a mile. I had a tributary of the River Yeo on my left and high banks on the right for most of the way and then all of a sudden I came out next to the Cineworld Cinema and got a glimpse of civilisation briefly before the path wound behind some buildings and I was back to being surrounded by wintery trees and a wet gravel path.

    The path opened out briefly and there were high hills on my left with old, tall trees and a playground with plenty of toddlers shouting and enjoying the equipment despite the damp weather and then I was passing a brown lake with ducks I could hear but not see. There were a few people about, bundled up in coats and hats and children weaving around on pushbikes, but it was a good path to run.

    Over an arched wooden bridge and it was time to start the 3 miles at Half Marathon Pace. I had to restart the Garmin to get to the average pace for this (yes … will get out the Garmin manual tomorrow…) and set off at about a 7:15 minute/mile aiming to keep it between this and 7:30 min/mile which had been my pace for Bristol Half Marathon. 

    I passed several families walking 3 or 4 abreast with toddlers running all directions, but the verges were low and not too muddy so I could avoid everyone fairly easily and stick to pace. Passed the leisure centre and empty swimming pool on my right and some runners doing some hill sprints on my left. Watching them run up a very steep hill made my run seem a lot easier …

    Under an old railway bridge built of enormous blocks of stone and between high brick walls to the end of the Country Park … and it was only about half of a mile into the 3 mile half-marathon pace section … so onto the pavements and along the A3088 and instead of wintery trees and ducks and rivers, I was accompanied by 4 lanes of traffic and Morrissons and B&Q and abandoned Christmas trees leaning against railings in children’s playgrounds …

  • I had 1.7 miles of running on the (thankfully wide) pavements, only having to stop once for cars and wave at another runner but I was glad to be back on the gravel paths and under the shade of the trees for the final 8th of a mile at HM pace.

    I completed the final mile at an enjoyable pace and was back at the gate near the bottom of Wyndham Hill. I had a slight twinge at the back of my right knee which was new but I thought maybe a walk to ease my legs? I looked up at the hill … well it would be a shame not too …



    … 10 minutes later I was running down the hill at top speed knowing that the steep walk up was DEFINITELY worth the full-pelt, mad dash back down to the bottom on the tufty grass of the field!!

    I’ve imported the run into Garmin Connect and the pace looks a bit choppy but I think that was because the path was mainly covered by trees and the signal was maybe dropping in and out. I used Steve Smythe’s advice and kept it on average pace for the timed 3 miles in the middle to get more of an idea of the overall pace. I wasn’t sure how to program this session into it with the slower outside miles so maybe a sit down with the manual and some patience will provide the answer tomorrow and I can do that for the next session.


    Lap 1   Dist 1m   Pace 8:23 min/mile     Garmin Info Here

    Lap 2   Dist 3mi   Pace 7:15 min/mile (7:19, 7:14, 7:11) Garmin Info Here

    Lap 3   Dist 1mi   Pace 8:08 min/mile     Garmin Info Here


    This run is in 3 different sections in Garmin Connect as I didn’t want to get a false average pace that took into account the slower miles 1 and 5.


    Hooray!! Just had an email from The Wolf Run confirming they’ll defer my race entry!!

    I entered the run in November after I applied for the Asics Target 26.2 thinking … “I’ll never get through to bootcamp …I should be fine to enter an obstacle run on the 6th April …!” Never thinking I’d get to Paris Marathon on the 7th April!!! image

    So … if anyone fancies entering as a big team … there are 3 of us so far ...

    Haha.....did you not fancy trying to do both???

    Cant believe that your on week 3 already. Your run today seemed similar to mine on tue with the paces image

  • Evening Sarah!

    Ha ha!! I was dead for about 3 days after the Wolf Run September 2011 ... and it's only 6 miles!! Don't think I'd be much good for Paris after that! image

    The weeks have FLOWN past, haven't they? Yes I thought that too about your run - that was the same day as my Weymouth run so I was interested to have a look at your paces! Fab that we're doing similar (faster in your case!image ) training for marathons this year!!

  • Food Diary … as requested by Ruth!

    Eek! Why do I have to be asked to do a food diary this week?! I’m having a brief holiday at my parents and hoovering up (with my mouth) all the Christmas food and attempting (unsuccessfully I might add) my Mother’s attempts to fatten me up …

    OK… (deep breath)

    I’m 5’4 and as of this morning 8 stone 11.


    Breakfast: Cornflakes with semi-skimmed milk and 3 teaspoons of sugar

    Lunch: Tin of tuna & tablespoon of mayo, plus 60g of assorted cheese including stilton, wensleydale with apricots and brie.

    Tea: Homemade Chile con Carne with rice.

    Snacks: 1 and a half slices of Christmas cake with icing and marzipan, 1 piece of shortbread and a small wrinkly apple.


    In my defence I genuinely eat between 5-10 portions of fruit and veg at home but like I said … Christmas food …!


    Exercise: 5 mile run. Walk up to Wyndham Hill and mad dash back down (approx a mile) and walk back to car about half a mile.

    1 hour walking dog and chasing my 3 year old daughter around Ham Hill.

  • Evening Tenjiso!

    I missed your post earlier – sorry!

    Alpkit Gamma for £15? Well that’s not too bad at all – thanks for the correction on that one! Where did you get it from? Can’t have too many decent headtorches … (Since taking up running I’ve changed this from handbags to headtorchesimage

    Ha ha! Definitely know what you mean about feeling you were on a treadmill! It’s odd isn’t it? And did you find that you don’t notice the hills so much in the dark? I definitely find hilly runs easier at night!

  • Here you go:  Alpkit Gamma

    It's the feeling of going nowhere that I found bizarre.  Good fun though.  I certainly noticed a few sounds that I hadn't noticed during daylight hours.  Heightened senses image

  • Another excellent run and great description. sounds good run along the former rail track valley. Hopefully the knee discomfort is nothing serious.

    Food intake looks ok though Ruth's obviously the expert. what about your fluid intake? 

  • Get rid of that sugar on the cornflakes!!!image What app do you use to track calories? I ate too much cake over the hols as although having Coeliac(gluten free diet required) my mother always makes us a huge cake!! Its nearly all gone though.
    I am doing a 21 mile fell race locally in Derbyshire, the Grindleford Gallop as I was rejected by Asics on March 9th. Its run by a local school to raise school funds.  Tony Adenshaw from Emmerdale and Marathon Talk fame runs it most years. I am using one of RW Ultimate Marathon Schedules, probably written by Steve above just cutting the long run mileage down a touch as not going to 26 miles but probably in effort due to the hills the effort is going to be up there.
    Sounds like its going well for you! Keep at it.

  • I was thinking get rid of that fruit in your cheese!!

  • Evening Tenjiso!

    Thanks for that link … Sold out … Have bookmarked the page and will keep an eye out on eBay too!

    Have you got any more night runs scheduled? I did the Skeleton Run in October which was a hill run in the dark … really good fun! image

  • Evening Steve Marathon Coach!

    The twinge behind my knee was only when I stopped and it disappeared after I walked for a few minutes and it didn’t reappear after the dash down the hill but I’ll keep an eye on it – see if the twinge happens again.

    Ah – thank you … fluid intake tracked today!

  • Evening MCS!

    I used to be so good a couple of years ago … but since I started running the treats have crept back into the healthy eating …! I’ll be off cornflakes and back on tuna or porridge when I’m back home next week. They’re my treat when I’m away from home!image

    I use Tap & Track to track exercise and food. I’ve got it as an app on my phone so no excuse to conveniently ‘forget’ things I’ve eaten. Can’t resist Christmas cake though … but still impressed you’ve nearly eaten all yours! image

    Wow! A 21 mile fell race! That’s going to be amazing and really tough!! Would love to see some pics when you’ve completed it!! Pop some on this thread – would be great to see them!

    Yep! I’m enjoying the training and it’s lovely having it all written down for me … no chance for me to slack off and wonder why I didn’t hit my target!image I’m tracking it all on the MyAsics app too so it’s nice to get a running total of the miles I’ve put towards the marathon training so far. I’m going to see whether I can put a weekly summary up with my mileage summary – might be interesting.

  • Evening Xyloid!

    Nooooo! That’s how you know it’s Christmas cheese!!image

  • Lol, "wrinkly apple"....can tell its been christmas image

  • Hi Steve marathon coach.....I was just wondering when it comes to a rest day/cross training day, would resistence/strength training be acceptable to do on that day?

    I was also wondering if you recommend doing resistence/strength training prior to any of the runs or if you would actually advise against it ? many thanks

  • Food Diary 4th January

    Breakfast: Cornflakes, skimmed milk, 3 x teaspoon of sugar

    Lunch:Tin of tuna & tablespoon of reduced fat mayonnaise, bowl of spinach & 40g blue cheese

    Tea: (Homemade) Vegetables in cheese sauce (peas, sweetcorn, onion, broccoli, mange tout, runner beans), 5 chestnut mushrooms, 1 x farmhouse sausage.

    Snacks: 1 slice of Christmas cake

    Drinks: 4 x pints of orange squash, 5 x coffees (with small amount of semi-skimmed milk)

    Exercise: 2 x 1hr walks (rest day)

  • Evening Sarah - Yep! Also wrinkly oranges and shrivelled grapes ....image

  • You better have left some Christmas cake for me.... if youve eaten it all you'll be in BIG troubleimage 

  • Sarah O.

    On the key runs - speedwork and long runs, I would avoid strength training and resistance work and don't see a problem in doing them when you are doing easy runs or recovery runs or on your running rest days. Personally, I prefer doing the strength training after i've run when I am warmed up though they are good warm up exercises.

    Presume you have seen Sam's picture guide:

    which I think are very good.  

  • RunnyRunRun wrote (see)

    Thanks for that link … Sold out … Have bookmarked the page and will keep an eye out on eBay too!

    I had the same problem last year.  For some reason, they seem to sell out in December/January image  I learned my lesson and bought mine several months ago, before the short daylight hours arrived.  At least you already have a torch in the meantime.

    I haven't got anything scheduled.  At the moment I'm getting by starting most of my runs at 7:30am, just as it starts getting lighter.  However, I can't do this all the time, so I need the torch for the earlier starts in the dark.  I've never considered running a night time race, but I see that more are beginning to appear.  That'll be something for the future.


  • Thankyou ever so much Steve Marathon Coach for your help and advice.


    Sarah....have you left and christmas cake for anyone else? Hope your park run went well today. image

  • Thanks Steve for Sams exercise link. Are you in a different country or do you not sleep??image
    I have a 21 mile fell race in 9 weeks and am following an Ultimate RW schedule and wondered how far my long runs should be? I thought of doing up to 16 miles approx. Hope you are keeping fit and are you planning to do the VLM again this year?

  • Sleep occasionally.

    re the long run - even though you are only doing a 21 fell race, I would aim to go at least 20 in training, but not necessarily on the fells but ideally off-road. Of course it depends on the volume of climbing but a 21 fell race could be as tough as a flat 26 mile on the road.

    Reasonably fit thanks and no injuries at present but haven't really started mileage yet but hope to run long tomorrow. Did county cross-country today and probably slightly better form than for a few winters and no one older ahead!


  • Food Diary 5th January

    Breakfast: Cornflakes, skimmed milk, 3 x teaspoon of sugar

    Lunch: Tuna, cheese and salad wrap.

    Tea: (Party buffet!) 20g of stilton, 10g of brie, 2 x slice of mini quiche, 4 cherry tomatoes, 4 slices of cucumber, 1 x slice chorizo, 1 x slice ham, 1 x slice turkey, 4 tablespoons of chopped bell peppers, 1 x breaded chilli.

    Snacks: 1 x banana, 1 x tablespoon pumpkin seeds & dried cranberries, 1 x apple.

    Drinks: ½ bottle of diet coke, 3 x coffee with small amount of semi-skimmed milk, 3 large glasses of orange squash.

    Exercise: 5 miles run, 1.5 hr walk.

    I'm being really good as I'm logging my food at the moment but I suspect you'll find me face-down in a doner kebab any day now ...!

  • Running for Chocolate – There was about 1/3 of the Christmas cake there when I left but I suspect Littlest Sis and Dad may have been at it since then …

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