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



  • Evening Steve Marathon Coach,

    Thanks for the positive feedback! It was so difficult not to catch the others up when they speeded up on their first 4 laps … my brain wanted to switch on race mode and catch them!

  • Evening Mel!

    Fab to hear from you! Can’t believe we turned up in the same kit again … even the trainers! image Loved the pic of you on Twitter modelling your new Tee! You'll be as bad as Bacon Steve!!image

    Also you’ll be glad to hear that everyone in my train carriage was completely safe …!! image

    See you at Dorney Lakes!! Not long now!

  • Evening Sarah!

    I couldn’t believe the amount of snow there was your way! Wow! Lucky that all of the snow disappeared after your rest day though. It was great to run in it a few times here but it was difficult to get any speed up as it was just so slippery!

    How’s the training going? Which races have you got lined up?

    My copy of RW hasn’t landed on my doormat yet … can’t wait! image

  • Evening Ady!

    Fab to hear from you! Re the winder run – I had it easier starting near the back … I always find it easier to chase someone than to maintain speed!! image

    Sundays run was … eventful. It wasn’t quite how I’d hoped it would go!!

    Be fab to see you at Dorney Lakes! It was so nice catching up with everyone on Saturday and knowing that everyone else is doing the same as me … worrying, enjoying it, running out of time for things, having fun! I think I’ll be pacing Dorney Lakes somewhere around my previous half time … Steve Marathon Coach will let me know a bit closer to the time! Nothing like a bit of suspense!

  • Evening Ruth!

    Hmmm …. You DID forget me, didn’t you?image Just joking! Nothing dramatic has happened here although my stomach seems to be getting more and more sensitive. Thinking it might be because I’m eating cookies which I don’t normally eat but we had a couple of boxes given to us for Christmas. Might have to send those on to work with the partner tomorrow …!

  • Food Diary 26th January

    Breakfast: ½ cup porridge oats made with water with dash of milk, 2 teaspoons sugar.

    Lunch: 1 x chicken and salad (gluten free!) bread roll, 3 x slices of melon, handful of grapes, slice of kiwi.

    Tea: A chicken buffet including southern fried, chicken with cheese and bacon on it and barbeque chicken (Huge amounts!). 1 x chocolate ice cream sundae. (Enormous!)

    Snacks: 1 x After Eight,

    Drinks: 2 x coffee with small amount of semi-skimmed milk, 1 pints of orange squash, 2 x glasses of diet coke

    Exercise: 5.5 miles run at Runners World and Asics Bootcamp! 1 hour walking.


    Food Diary 27th January

    Breakfast: ½ cup porridge oats made with water with dash of milk, 2 teaspoons sugar.

    Lunch: Cup of natural yoghurt with dreid fruit and sunflower seeds and cinnamon. Cup of Proetein drink mixed with milk (As recommended by Steve Marathon Coach)

    Tea: 1 x salmon fillet, peas, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, spinach, 6 mushrooms, 1 fresh beetroot, 5 x asparagus, stalks of tenderstem broccoli, ½ leek  – all steamed. Cottage cheese.

    Snacks: 1 x chocolate finger, 1 x cookie, 1 x large orange, 2 x high 5 gels,  packet of chocolate buttons.

    Drinks: 3 x coffee with small amount of semi-skimmed milk, 2 pints of orange squash.

    Exercise: 18 mile run.


    Food Diary 28th January

    Breakfast: ½ cup porridge oats made with water with dash of milk, 2 teaspoons sugar.

    Lunch: Tin of tuna, 1 x tbsp mayonnaise.

    Tea: salmon fillet, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, spinach, 6 mushrooms, 1 fresh beetroot – all steamed. Cottage cheese. 1 x sweet potato.

    Snacks: 1 x Cadbury crème eggs, 1 x tbsp sunflower seeds, 1 x tbsp dried fruit. 1 x cup of yoghurt with cinnamon, dried fruit and sunflower seeds.

    Drinks: 2 x coffee with small amount of semi-skimmed milk, 3 pints of orange squash, 1 x cherry flavoured hot chocolate.

    Exercise: 1 hour walk, grocery shopping with a  3 year old.


  • Week 6, Day 7 ... full update!!

    Goal: 18 miles at 9 min/mile

    Actual: 18 miles at 8:46 min/mile

    I’d been looking forward to this long run. I’d spent some time researching a good route and had decided on a part of Cycle Route 50 going from Walcote, heading towards Daventry and cutting onto the Grand Union Canal Path at about mile 16 … and conveniently finishing near a pub. Just by chance of course.

    It had rained heavily the night before and washed away all traces of the snow but the morning was bright and cool. The path was slightly wet underfoot but the sun was shining and I was looking forward to the chance of a nice, rural long run on a new route through the lanes with no distractions.

    I always pop to the loo before I head out for a long run so I wasn’t impressed when I needed a loo stop before I’d completed the first 2 miles. Typically, it was the usual English lane in Winter. Sparse hedges, flat fields and no convenient toilets. For miles.

    I ran on for another mile or so but unfortunately no pubs, public loos or moments of epiphany occurred so I carried on until I found a bushy hedge. Sigh. I don’t care what anyone says about blisters, black toenails, or chafing. The need to carry loo roll on long runs is the REAL curse of the long distance runner.  

    Frequent loo breaks was unfortunately a recurring theme on this run.

    However, the countryside was gorgeous (if you were in front of me) and it was nice being out and about. The sun was shining and it was – apart from the frequent loo breaks – nice to be running in the lanes and paths.


    I went through a few small pretty villages and past Stanford Hall. It looked stately and very beautiful set in a lovely estate … although I soon realised that the pool of water in front of it was actually flooding, rather than a picturesque lake, when I came around the next corner and found this.


    I stopped and just considered what to do. The water appeared to be about 4 – 5 inches deep and unfortunately was lapping at the wall at the left side so I couldn’t even cheat and run along the bank. As I stood there deciding what to do, it started washing towards me and the water speed increased and it started getting deeper. A river must have just burst its banks … Right. No time to stop and think about it. There were 2 choices. Forwards or back.

    Forwards. The water was deeper than I’d expected and while it only made it up to my knees, the running caused extra splashing which meant I was damp to the buff. In theory I could have waded through it I suppose, but if I was going to be up to my knees in dirty river water, I may as well enjoy the experience.

    Well, at least if it was REALLY rainy in Paris I’d be prepared …

    2 bemused cyclists had stopped to watch my progress and I think I disappointed them slightly as I’d made it through without any further mishap. The damper of the 2 cyclists admitted that he’d just hit a pothole further back and had been catapulted into the flood water and I think they were hoping for something amusing and running-related from me that they could watch safely from a patch of dry land. 

  • They offered to take a photo of me in the slightly shallower section. As I was already about as wet as it was possible to get without being fully submerged, I thought why not:


    The rest of the village was pretty much underwater too, although in the hope of drying out a bit, I managed to clamber onto the banks to avoid a lot of the water.

    The bank hopping meant the speed suffered a bit, but I wasn’t really too concerned about the timing at this point as I’d already had to stop the Garmin for the loo stops so the time wouldn’t be a true reflection of a continuous run anyway. Saw a couple of different cyclists coming the opposite direction and one of them called to me: “It’s really deep in the next part! The water was up over my bike chain!” Poor lamb. I hope he didn’t get his toes wet …


    The majority of the next village was flooded too and as I passed the local church, it was a stone island in a lake of water, with the tops of gravestones sticking above the water like teeth. I hope the local gravedigger isn’t relying on his wage …


    I carried on out of the village and onto a more rural section, rarely passing any houses or farms. It was very peaceful and isolated. There was a lot of water running along the sides of the roads and you could see the road shining and bright in the distance, snaking up the side of the hill.


    Running up the hill - which had looked a lot worse from a distance than it actually was - I spotted a horseshoe in the newly ploughed earth of the field on my right. I took it to mean that the rest of the run would be good. I could use some luck after the tummy issues and the floods.

    I reached the top of the hill and the road narrowed until it was almost just a track with fields stretching out on the right. The sunshine meant that I could see for miles and I could see the water shining in the fields. The road carried on down the other side of the hill and opened out for a nice long downhill lined by trees. The road turned around a corner into a dip … which was completely flooded.


    However, there was a bank on the right of the road and it was a good 6 inches to a foot above the water. It was squishy and slippery but I could climb up it and use it to get past the water. All I needed to do was run along it and jump the drainage ditches. Simple, right?

  • This plan worked surprisingly well until I got to the last ditch, which was a good 2 metres away. There are a lot of good points to being an eternal optimist. However, thinking I can jump 2 metres from a standing start isn’t one of them. I missed the bank by at least 4 inches with my leading leg and splashed straight into the water which was surprisingly deep.

    My face must have had a comical expression of surprise as my momentum kept me going and I smacked into the ditch on the other side landing on my shoulder. Ouch.

    Great. I now had an upset tummy, a sore shoulder and hip and I was covered in mud. Plus my shoes which had dried out over the last 6 miles were now squelching again.

    Picked myself up and set off again. At least it wasn’t raining.

    Followed the lane for another few miles and the route was quite scenic. I passed over a few bridges and over the canal twice and the bright sunshine on the fields made everything very pretty. I could almost forget I was covered in mud with wet feet and had run out of loo roll.


    I finally got to the end of the lane and it finished at a busy main road. Odd. Also, there was a definite absence of the cycle route signs I’d been following.

    Had a quick check on the GPS … I had somehow wandered about 3 miles off route. There must have been a sign I’d missed. (Sigh) I didn’t fancy retracing my steps back 3 miles, so I set off along the main road towards the next village and I could pick up the cycle route from there.

    Ran up the main route hopping onto the bank whenever a car came. After what felt like a never ending hill – but with no floods! - I finally came into sight of the village. There were absolutely no Cycle Route signs to be seen, so using the GPS to stay on track I picked it up again and made it back onto the right path.

    Thankfully, the last few miles passed without any further loo stops, falls, mud, floods or getting lost. I had been wondering when the wild dogs would attack or a tree would fall into the road blocking my path but luckily it looked as though I’d used up my bad luck for this run. Lucky really. I’d also used up my water, gels and loo roll.

    Garmin Info Here

  • sounds like you had an extremely entertaining run yesterday, although rather you than me. I would have been tempted to have turned around when i saw all that flooding. Looks like it would be a gorgeous run in the summer months. That church is so pretty.

    Its so nice been able to get an 18 miler in isnt it? How were your legs afterwards and today?

    My next race is Barcelona half marathon two weeks on Sunday, I cant wait. How about yours?
  • Brilliant desciption and photos. Hopefully all your long runs won't be as eventful.

  • Hi RRR,

    Wow what a run. I've experienced similar problems training for my first marathon- luckily there was a nice deep ditch for me to jump in to go to the loo, and I finished about 3 seconds before a dog walker went by! How many more 18 miles+ have u got before Paris?
  • Youtube ( My Asics core strength exercises and stretches ) I usually go on youtube and do a workout from they just for something different from time to time.

    You seem to be flying at the minute with the stats, well done and keep doing what your'e doing,  its working a treat for you.


  • Afternoon RRR Great description & photos of your long run.  Who says going for a run is easy image Loo stops, floods, falls - this one had the lot!  Did it eventually finish at a pub for a well deserved recovery drink?

  • Where do you get your material from regards core exercises and stretches ?
  • Evening Sarah!

    I couldn’t turn around at the floods … I had been dropped at my starting point so had no idea how to get home! … I thought it would be a good way to explore new routes – I just hadn’t realised half of the new route would be underwater! image

    My legs were ok afterwards, but my back is aching today where I had the fall.

    Barcelona is going to AMAZING!! image Don’t forget to post loads of pics on your thread!! What horrifyingly quick time are you going for? Will be cheering for you – on here!! image

  • Evening Marathon Coach Steve!

    I’m hoping that most of my long runs won’t turn out to be obstacle runs!! I don’t mind one or two ‘challenges’ but Sunday’s run was getting to the point where I was wondering what was going to happen next! image

  • Evening Angela!

    Yes … was definitely eventful! Ha ha! Glad you avoided flashing the dog walker! Why is there ALWAYS someone walking a Labrador …??!!

    I’ve got 20 miles this Sunday and I think at least another 2 over 18+ miles … but I can’t remember exactly. Can I blame the time of night for my poor memory, please?image

  • Evening Derrick!

    Oh I like the idea of getting a workout from YouTube … what a good idea!! Have you got any specific ones you’d recommend?

    I tend to get most of my stretches from things I’ve been shown after exercise classes and I’ve got a couple of good ones from Sarah Connors that she showed us at the bootcamp: (Scroll down until the ‘Physiotherapy – Sarah Connors header’)

    Bootcamp Post Link

    Hope you don’t mind me dropping the link there – pure laziness to save dramatic amounts of copying and pasting!

    I’m really enjoying the training – there’s no chance to get bored as the sessions are mixed up really well and the challenging ones are alternated with easier ones so there is always something to look forward to! It’s great seeing my times improve too – really, really motivating!

  • Evening Andy!

    Glad you enjoyed the description … it was probably better reading about it than living it! image I did enjoy most of the run though and the route was really pretty … well the bits that weren’t submerged and didn’t have a river running through. I’m definitely going to run the route again when it’s a bit drier!

    The most gutting part however wasn’t getting drenched… or falling into a ditch … or even running out of loo roll. It was the fact that because I got lost by 3 or 4 miles I didn’t even end up at the pub!!!! Argh!!!

  • Week 7, Day 2

    Goal: 4 x 2km in approx 8:30 – 9 minutes starting every 11 mins

    Actual: Postponed


    She's chickened out ...!!

    Because of my fall – gracefully into the ditch full of water – on my long run on Sunday I’ve got a sore back today. I’m 99% positive I’ve only jarred it so I’ve got a trip to visit the doctor tomorrow but I don’t want to run while I’ve got shooting pains down my legs!

    I’m pretty positive a day flat on my back tomorrow will bring me back to 100% but I don’t want to run while it’s achy and cause something worse due to me overcorrecting somewhere else or jarring it even more so I’m going to postpone tonight’s run and start again later in the week.

    Besides … I’m sure a days rest will make me legs realise what they’re missing and I’ll be raring to go by Thursday! image

  • RRR

    Amazing pictures and description of run! Back not so good, here's hoping nothing to serious. Can you speak to Physio Sarah just for osme advice?

    I would think very likely cookies had gluten in them so be very wary before races that you avoid all things with gluten and wheat - all package foods by law should tell you if gluten free etc so look at labels.

    I will also sum up what we discussed at weekend below. Remember these are my suggestions based on what you currently do etc  but this is your plan so comments please - good or bad!


  •  Hi RRR

    Sorry for delay in posting weekend summary.

    As we discussed at weekend your half marathon will be your dress rehearsal for Paris in terms of what you eat in the lead up to the race, on race morning and during race itself. It is also a useful time to practice how you will carry your gels, what kit you will wear and so forth.

     You are happy to increase you carbs in the days leading up to Paris (2-3 days) however I suggested we do this for only one day before the half marathon to see how you find the volume of food and if you think the carb content is going to work for you and how stomach is etc   

    Here is an example of how I see this looking:

    Day before half marathon, especially careful to ensure no gluten or wheat in diet so check all labels etc. If feel really full at end of day suggest you go through with the below as best you can. Remember this is only a trial for one day (you can try before next long run if wish to do this before half). You may feel a little bloated in the evening but that should have vanished by morning.

    • Breakfast: Large bowl of porridge with 3 sugars & large glass of fruit juice (up to a pint) and usual coffee.
    • Mid-morning- 500ml of fruit smoothie or low fat milkshake (sip over the whole morning if wish) and nibble on some jelly sweets should you fancy.
    • Lunch: 50g (dried weight) portion of rice salad with ½ tin of tuna & regular glass of full sugar squash, soft drink or fruit juice.
    • Mid-afternoon: 4 large rice cakes with banana and honey topping or 250g fruit salad with 200g of low fat plain yoghurt or large handful of jelly babies and glass of fruit juice.
    • Dinner: Large sweet potato and usual foods.  Sorbot as dessert. But protein can be reduced to a small amount.
    • Before bed: bowl of porridge and sugar

     Morning of race:

    • Porridge with usual sugar with 2 cups of coffee.
    • Between breakfast & race start: pint of water.

    During race:

    Every 3 miles: one high five energy gel. Each high five gel has 23g of carbohydrates (so if on average 2 per  50minutes  this equals over 50g per hour of carbs so I think this will work). Water little and often, more often if hot!

    What are your thoughts?


  • Hi RRR, yes usually a lab as well- they must like being walked in fields more than other dogs I suppose... Curious about the 18+ as my plan has long runs increasing weekly like this: 15, 17, 18, 19 then when it gets to 20, the nxt week steps down to 12, then back upto 20 for a second time before the taper. I think those successive weeks at 17 -19 will. Be pretty hard, as 19 miles isn't really that much less than 20, but we'll see- doing a much better job of sticking to the plan than I had in the past- have run 95 miles so far this year image today's 6 will make it 101, that being said I've got an awful headache, so hope I'm better this evening for the run- though sure running will probably make it go.

    Ruth, I like the look of the pre half marathon carb loading day- usually I just go for pasta and porridge and bananas so the foods are distinctly one colour. Would you change much for those who aren't wheat intolerant?
  • yes best to rest when things are going so well than risk causing other problems. You are well ahead of where you need to be at this stage and a few days off will not be a problem as long as you are fit and healthy

  • Hi RRR

    Hope the back is improving.

    Did I read earlier that you're doing a half marathon before Silverstone?  Have you used energy gels before in either training or races? I've always relied on water & Lucozade Sport (other energy drinks are available) but am wondering if I'm missing a trick.

  • Hi Sarah how's the back feeling this morning? hopefully better after a day's rest but you will start to feel very stiff from the fall so gentle painfree stretching is a good start and let me know what the physio has to say.

  • Afternoon Ruth!

    Glad you enjoyed the run description ... here’s hoping that Sunday’s long run will be a bit less challenging! I’m tempted to do the same route again to see what it’s like without the drama! (Although have just noticed they've forecast SNOW again!)

    Like the idea of using the half as a testing ground for Paris. I’ll be really careful with checking labels before the run and will ensure there are no cookies in the house so I won’t be tempted! image

    It seems a huge amount of food in the diary, but I’ll stick to this as closely as possible. You realise I’m still going to have to try and squeeze into my lycra after eating all of that, right?

    Just confirming – fruit juice with breakfast such as pure orange rather than the orange squash I usually have?

    I trialled the rice cakes yesterday with Nutella and honey – yum! Could definitely add those in! image

    It all sounds good. Just checking - I can have more water, coffee etc than specified on the plan?

  • Afternoon Angela!

    I’ve got a medium length mid-week run which has also been increasing: 7, 8, 8, 9, 10 and the Sunday long runs have been progressing like this: 12, 14, 16, 18, 20 then next week I’m back down to 13 for the long run although I’ve got a 7 mile trail race on the Saturday. Do you listen to music or audiobooks on your long runs?Sounds like you’re doing really well sticking to your plan and 100 miles before the end of the month is exciting!

    Hopefully the running has chased the headache away and you’re feeling better.

  • Afternoon Marathon Coach Steve,

    Thank you – I haven’t been great at sticking to rest days in the past. But I’d rather take the rest now and get to the finish line in Paris with ... well, not ease exactly ...  than injure myself running when I shouldn’t! image

Sign In or Register to comment.