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



  • Tenjiso – I’ve never managed to get many runs in in the early morning – do you eat before you leave or when you get back?

    I can definitely recommend night time races!! Have done a few now and am hooked!

  • Sarah O – I left about a third of a cake at my parents … but have an entire uncut cake at my house … shhhh! Don’t tell anyone!image

    Parkrun was good thanks … should be able to maintain pace better next time – once I’ve done a time it’s SO much easier to do it next time! I'm on your trail, lady!!image

  • MCS – Morning! How’s the training going?

    Morning Steve Marathon Coach – Hope long run goes well today and sounds like good result for the cross-country yesterday!

  • Week 3, Day 6

    Goal: Parkrun or 5 miles of hills

    Actual: Parkrun + 1 mile warm up & 1 mile cool down


    Swindon Parkrun is a lovely course in Lydiard Park and the route is like a balloon on a string. You start on a nice straight path and do 2 loops of the park at the top of the path and then at the end of the final lap you come back down the ‘string’ and a sharp left to the finish funnel! It’s nice because the paths are all hard surfaced - although you get a bit of cross-country with the puddles - and you can see the runners spread out in front and behind you all the way around. So you have a visual reference as to whether you’re going too fast … or slow!



    Map Of Course Here

    I have been reading on Sarah Osborne’s thread (RW Forum 6 sub-3.30) about the importance of proper warm-ups so I made sure that I actually included one which is something I don’t usually do. (Slapped wrist!)

    I did a gentle mile around the park and then did the drills shown by Steve Smythe at the bootcamp; some strides, high knees, high kicks behind, grapevine and backwards running. I didn’t knock anyone over, fall over my own feet OR run into a tree. Which quite frankly, I count as a win. I’m not the most coordinated person …

    Swindon parkrun always has a nice friendly atmosphere and today was no different. There were a lot of gold and blue shirts as Wootton Bassett Hounds had their first run of the season and the friendly competitiveness set the tone for the parkrun. 

    It was announced before the start that today the route was going to be run in reverse … so instead of a short, sharp uphill and a long lovely slow downhill we had a sharp downhill and a long slog up the hill at the back.

    As is tradition at Parkruns, everyone – including me - started off too fast.  Although when Swindon parkrun does the route in reverse, it’s sensible planning to avoid the bottleneck at the gate at the bottom of the first hill!  It felt great though to run with so many other people (337 in total today!) as I do a lot of running on my own. It’s so much more fun with other people although there was a fair amount of dodging around people involved and a dog hurdling incident …!

    I felt comfortable the first mile and held the pace fairly well. The 2nd mile was quicker as it involved a bit more downhill and I knew I just had to hold the pace for a new PB. However, that was the difficult part …

    There were fairly big puddles as you came up the path on the back hill and if you were running too close to the runners in front you ended up wearing a fetching pattern of mud splatters. The puddles were quite deep so a fair amount of strategy was involved. Do you run on through hoping that the path you picked was in the shallow end or do you hope from path island to path island?

    The first lap was comfortable but I struggled to hold the pace coming up the long uphill for the second time. I was overtaken by a chap in a blue shirt, but after checking my Garmin and panicking seeing a pace in the 7 nminute/miles rather than the 6s I quickened up and caught him again. I decided he could be my pacer for the uphill …

  • Just to the next corner, then it’s flat, just to the next corner … trying to persuade my legs to move a bit quicker … a short downhill and then a sharp short uphill I overtook Mr Blue Shirt … even though he let me go through the deep puddle first. There’s fair play and then there’s going for a new PB …


    One last straight path and –in theory – a downhill although I couldn’t persuade my legs that. Pushing down the last straight and a sharp left around the corner and the finish funnel in the distance. Grab the token … and finish. 

    I was gutted. Didn’t even check Garmin. Saw the average pace when I stopped was 7:44 min / mile which would have put me miles away from a PB or even consistent splits…. I didn’t think to consider the last lap would only have been 0.1 of a mile ... And that I’d forgotten to stop the Garmin until after I’d been standing in the queue for a while …

    I waited for Bertie and Simon to finish and went for a cool down run around the lake ... But on the way we found a zip wire with a tyre ... Well have to test these things. Make sure they’re safe for the kids …


    Finished the cool down and headed back to the cafe for a coffee and a chat. The café is filled with runners and above the noise of the chat you can hear the discussions of the course, ‘paces’, ‘puddles’ and ‘damp to the knees’.

    Met up with Heather and Reuben in the cafe and had a coffee and a catch up as is our Swindon parkrun tradition now. They had Ryan and his parents with them today. Ryan had been around the course with Heather and Reuben today in the running buggy which gave him as a chance to experience the parkrun as a disabled athlete.

    Tested out the coffee … and the ice creams and discussed the best puddle-avoiding strategies. Although apparently this week we had it easy as the last couple of weeks they’ve been ankle deep. Eek!


    I had to wait until 6pm for the results to be loaded onto the Parkrun website but it was good news … new PB, 2nd woman and 1st in age category.

    Course PB by 45 secs and 5k PB by 25 secs.


    Mile 1 6:47

    Mile 2 6:44

    Mile 3 7:01

    So splits weren't terribly good, but I've knocked over 20 seconds each time off of my last 2 parkruns (within last 6 weeks) so with practise I should be able to maintain the pace throughout rather than setting out too fast and hoping to hang on!


    Garmin Info Here

  • RRR - wherever possible I try to eat a light breakfast (cereal+milk) 60-90 minutes before a medium/long run.  If that's not possible I'll take a gel before setting off.  For short runs, I'll eat when I've finished.

  • Congratulations on your parkrun RRR - with the hills, presume third mile is harder than second so the slow down in the last mile isn't too drastic and another great description of run.

    I think it would be quicker the other way as you probably can't relax as much on a steeper downhill and the gain is less.

    Personally, if the run isn't going to be too fast but quite long, I seem to get away with a bowl of cereals and some marmalade and toast 30 minutes to a hour before my long run.

  • congrats on your park run Sarah....looks like your hot on my tail....think I had better pull my fingers out and do another one soon!

    Glad you had a good race.

    With regards to the christmas cake...your secret is safe with me. I bought some fruit and nut bread at tescos yesterday...its a good substitute for xmas cake!
  • oo have you tried the Malt loaf loaf? Lightly toasted so it's squidgy in the middle OMG it is heaven especially with lurpak on!!

    as for a kebab... go girl I'm with you!!  but You can make your own its some much nicer! Mince, onions, fresh and a touch of chilli powder, curry powder, fresh ginger, garlic, natural yogurt, then add the rest of the yogurt to some mint sauce, lettuce and pitta!!  can freeze it before adding the yogurt!

    Can't run but can cook!!

  • RRR - already said it on Twitter (and facebook as well I think!!) but well done on that PB! Was a great time - you two Sarah's are leaving me behind...!

    Hopefully Mr Blue Shirt is on the forums and realises what an important role he played as pacer image


  • Evening Tenjiso!

    I hadn’t even thought about a gel *beforehand* …! image They don't upset your tummy doing that?

  • Evening Steve Marathon Coach! – Thanks for the congrats! If I can only knock off 25 seconds next time too … I’ll be getting closer to that elusive sub-20! image

    Thanks for the breakfast advice. What would you advise for a quicker run? Would a heavier breakfast a longer time before be best? Such as porridge 2 hours before?

  • Evening Sarah O!

    No … I think you should take it easier on parkruns for a while. Relax … take it easy. Let me get some more speed training in first!!image

    Argh no – can’t eat bread! Does terrible things to my tummy … makes the username more apt …

  • Evening Tigger!

    Oh you are most definitely my new best friend!! I’m sure Ruth would approve of freshly home cooked food … even if it’s a kebab!! Sounds delicious! It’s nearly midnight but you’ve managed to make my tummy rumble!!

  • Evening Bacon Steve! – Thanks! You are only 10 seconds behind the PB I broke about 6 weeks ago … I’m sure you’ll smash that time on your parkrun this weekend. No pressure, mind …!image

    Agree! Thank you Mr Blue Shirt!!

  • Food Diary 6th January

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

    Lunch: Cheddar cheese 40g (Left long run too late to have a proper lunch beforehand!)

    Tea: 3 spring onions, 4 x new potatoes, lots of sliced beetroot, 2 x hard boiled eggs, large portion of baked ham, 15g brie, 15g stilton, 15g edam, 15g wensleydale with cranberries in, 5 carrot sticks, large portion of lettuce, ¼ bell pepper, 4 slices of cucumber, chopped celery, 2.5 tablespoons mayonnaise. 

    Snacks: 1 x navel orange, 8 x cherry tomatoes, 1 x Lindor truffle ball,

    Drinks: 5 x coffee with small amount of semi-skimmed milk, 3 pints of lemon squash.

    Exercise: 12 miles run.

  • Week 3, Day 7

    Goal: 12 miles in 8:30 min/mile

    Actual: 12 miles in 8:08 min/mile


    I thought I'd give you todays run in pictures instead ...


    Lily (my 3 year old) waving goodbye from her Grandparents' house. She didn't want to come outside ... too cold apparently.


     Lots of flooding in the fields around Kempsford ...


    View across the flooded field to Castle Eaton church


     The river in Castle Eaton has completely burst its banks making this quite possibly the best treehouse EVER!! Now only accessible by boat!!


     View from the top of the big hill between Castle Eaton and Hannington.



    Mile Splits:

    1 8:11

    2 8:15

    3 8:02

    4 8:14

    5 8:09

    6 8:23

    7 7:53

    8 7:53

    9 8:00

    10 8:10

    11 8:16

    12 8:11

    Garmin Info Here


  • Week 4 Training Schedule:


    Mon Jan 7th:                 Rest

    Tues Jan 8th:                10 x 400 in approx 95 secs, starting every 2 mins 30

                                        (7M total)

    Weds Jan 9th:               8M slow in 8:30-9 min miles

    Thurs Jan 10th:             5M build up run - starting at slower than 8s and ending up

                                        at 7:20s.

    Fri Jan 11th:                  Rest

    Sat Jan 12th:                 Fartlek - 5M in total

    Sun Jan 13th:                14M steady in 8:30s

    Week total:                   39 miles

  • Congrats on a pb well done. Did a nice little hilly 7 miles yesterday with some immense hills in which is what I am working on for my race. Have a good week training. Looks fairly steady all the best.image

  • Thanks for this RRR! I would also like to see a day of what is more typical for you.

    You mentioned that you usually have porridge at home instead of cornflakes. Porridge is the less processed option and this with a little honey and some brightly coloured fruit such as berries would be a good start. However cornflakes and in your instance without the sugar (this sugar is worth 420kcal of energy each week without any nutrients i.e. vitamins and minerals) is not a bad option; it may not have the fibre & have more salt but it is a good start for a runner as it has lots of added vitamins and minerals and the added milk is a great protein boost. I personally think a bowl of cornflakes makes a great recovery snack whereas before a long run or race (if enjoy it) porridge is a great start. But I would be happy with you mixing it up and having both as if you eat 5-10 proteins of fruit you fibre intake is high. The porridge is the healthier option but you have to look at a diet as a whole. For those with cholesterol issues then porridge is a good start. do seem to like this. My advice would be only 30g a day of these type of cheeses (match box size) and only one protein is needed at each meal for example blue cheese and tuna - just the tuna. If have a lot of cheese based sauces could this be replaced for some tomato based sauce with lots of veg and if wish, grate 30g of a strong cheddar into this sauce to give a little hint of cheese?

    I would try and have some carbs at each meal for example; the day you have tuna and blue cheese, did you have any wrap, potato etc with this? Also cheese alone before a run would be hard to digest and perhaps a banana & yoghurt may have been a better option when little time or one slice of toast with jam/honey or if a run under 45mins which does not need to be a quality session I would just go and run it with no food if not left enough time.

    In regards timing of eating, we all have to figure out what we can stomach. As Steve has said you generally can get away with eating nearer run time if not an intense runs . For example I can eat 1.5 hours before a run if not intense but would be nearer 2-2.5 hours before an intense session of intervals/ hill reps. Before a race I need to have eaten my last snack over 2 hours before although if running a race longer than 90minutes I would eat a light snack 90minutes before but this is what works for me. As a general rule before racing and runs, have well practised snacks/foods and times you can eat these. Keep the food low fat, not too high in fibre or even protein as carbs with little fat or too much protein will digest quicker. Cereal/toast are good options but so is pasta/rice/potatoes with tomato based sauces/low fat fillings as long as portion works for you. Some people claim no matter what they eat before or during a race is affects their gut in a bad way but there is evidence that you can train your gut to absorb carbs in a race and often it is just lack of practice in training or poor gut health that causes problems on race day.

    Sorry think I have waffled enough but keen to get more food diaries as you get back into “normal” eating and even at this stage start working on pre race foods!



  • Wensyldale Grommit!!!
    Love Cheese!!!image   I do have porridge everyday with honey and raisins and that keeps me fuelled for the long run or the whole morning.........Get that down you RRR.image

  • That's a very good run yesterday and probably just a little bit too quick - especially in middle where you averaged 7:55 for miles 7 to 9. Good if you can do it and stay relaxed but faster than goal marathon pace for that long this early in the schedule isn't necessary and you don't want to over tire yourself for the week ahead - I averaged over 8:40 for my 15 yesterday and thought it was quick enough for me after a xc day bedore and on the terrain and think I'm in sub-3 shape in terms of pace but some way short in terms of endurance.

    re breakfasts, I also feel I can get away with a not too big breakfast within a hour of a parkrun as it's over fairly quickly and I don't take hugely seriously but I would aim for a breakfast two to three hours before a longer race - anything between 5 miles and half-marathon and nothing cooked - just toast, porridge/cereals etc

  • Hi Sarah - I have continued to lurk but not posted much. Loving your thread! The reports are amazingly detailed and fantastic that RW photographers are with you on every run!!!!!image

    I thought you were running in the Edinburgh XC on Saturday afternoon when I switched the telly on and saw 'the socks' scampering up a hillimage

    Keep up the good work!

  • Ruth you obviously aren't aware of Sarah's stomach post bread.... it ain't pretty....Please I beg you dont tell her to eat bread - i do have to share a bathroom with her at our parent's house form time to time...... 

  • Glad they didn't supply sandwiches at the Asics store day!

    No french bread for you in Paris, RRR.

  • Ah that'll be fine - she can eat as much bread as she likes in Paris Steve... as long as I'm in the UK..image

  • Hmm... Not sure if that'll get her disqualified...

    Does your time count if it is wind-assisted?

  • Thanks MCS! Nice! Hilly runs are definitely the most fun … but I bet your 21 mile fell race will be tough … but AWESOME!!! What's your next run? Are you focusing on hills?

    It looks like a pretty good week this week training-wise. I might struggle with time with the 400s tomorrow – might see whether I can shift my lunchtime to the end of the day so I’ve got a bit of time to get to a track … otherwise will be doing them at midnight in an industrial estate!

    Ha ha!! I could definitely be Wallace … I ADORE cheese!! image

  • Evening Ruth Mckean!

    Thanks for the feedback – this looks really, really helpful! Cornflakes tend to be a bit of a special treat. They don’t really fill me up (I’m always ravenous by lunchtime!) so I treat them as a bit of a ‘special occasion’ food. Nice to have but probably not the best option! image

    I definitely have a weakness for Stilton and cottage cheese but the other types of cheese are again ‘special occasion food’ so hopefully these won’t be too much of a problem. I rarely have sauces on my food except I eat a lot of cottage cheese with my fish and veg … I wouldn’t like to cut this out but would if it’s absolutely necessary.

    I tend to eat mainly whole food (except at other people’s houses) and it tends to be a lot of veg and fish … I have a horrible suspicion you may ask me at some point to cut down on the amount of fish I eat … I'd have it with every meal if I could ...

    I tend to get most of my carbs from the veg I eat. I can’t eat bread and I’m not much of a fan of rice, pasta or potatoes. Would sweet potatoes be ok?

    I tend to be ok to run straight after eating so long as I’m not having to run too quickly (thanks to having to take a beginner friend out on runs straight after tea – it’s come in quite handy!) but I wasn’t sure what was the best option. I’ll make sure I keep the snacks light and low-fat. I hadn’t considered things in a tomato-based sauce but I’ll give that a try!

    I’m back at home now so my food-diary should be a bit more typical. I tend to eat a lot of the same things … so I have a horrible suspicion I will be told to branch out a bit! image

  • Evening Steve Marathon Coach,

    Thanks for the feedback … looking at the splits I can definitely tell where the downhills were yesterday! image I’ll slow the longer runs down … I ran to what felt right yesterday rather than to what was sensible. I’ll keep the pace a bit closer to the target on the longer run on Wednesday. 

    Thanks for the breakfast advice. I’ll stick to porridge and attempt to wean myself off of the 3 teaspoons of sugar! Maybe raisins or something instead.

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