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



  • Was it windy as well as cold yesterday?  I was nearly blown off the millennium bridge when I did my run yesterday evening!

    I have to rant!! image The cheek.... just had an email from the New Forest 10, you know that race I entered last year, that didn't happen, didn't get my money back, didn't get the medal anyway, and had zero response when I wrote to the organiser about it... Just wrote to me asking if I'll enter this year!!  NO WAY!!!...

    ok, Rant over image 

  • Hi RRR. Great to hear that you'll be swapping things around. I found, like you, that I had more time on Thursdays than Tuesdays, so I started to prioritise the intervals by moving them to a Thursday - but I wish I'd done it sooner, as it definitely affected my speed and endurance.

    After I finished my marathon last year I decided to join my local club and now do my intervals again on a Tuesday. My kids are a year older and can just about juggle everything a bit better. I now do my tempo sessions on a Thursday lunchtime (just done it) and my week is a bit more balanced again.

    Hopefully you'll find the interval sessions a bit easier if you go to a track - especially as they'll have lights and flat surfaces...

    Well done again on all your hard work so far. You're in a great hands, so enjoy every moment of it.

  • Another good run for you RRR - Good pace and you are definitely well ahead of schedule if you can stay healthy - a bit too quick maybe and not a problem going slightly too slowly than the suggested pace on the longer runs! 

    Yes would be better if you could get the 'Tuesday' session done during a lunchtime

  • Good question !! I try and stick to the plan ( vlm training plan ) however  when i,m on my own i run as i feel, for instance today I should have done 7 mile at half marathon pace ( 7.41 ) but i did 8 mile ( 7.25 ) and felt good , then on other days I run to what it should be and feel good and sometimes tired.

    If I was running with my mate we would have stuck to the plan.


  • Hi sarah

    When you do that pub crawl-run can I provide you with some company?

    Ive decided your mad.....or just a fabulous and dedicated runner. At the end of my 20 miles I was ready to stop and did a walk around the block to cool down. Ive no idea how you managed another 2 miles!

    I have a quiet week planned next week as I can only run mon and tue and then its my half marathon on Sunday. The week afterwards again I will only be running tue and wed before my 15 mile race on saturday so I have two quieter milage weeks due to races, work, holidays, netball and nexplanon training. I just wasnt sure whether I should be reducing my milage this week after doing two 18 and a 20 miler in a row, but then I guess I dont want three reduced milage weeks in a row. Its so hard. Ive just had a two day rest so I am itching to run again now, so maybe another 20 will be fine. What do you think?

    Steve Marathon Coach, what would you recommend?
  • Sarah O

    In view of the lower  weeks ahead, I think a 20 would be ok, but it would be best to run it slower than normal, or at least the first half slow and the second half slightly faster but still controlled. That way you should get the distance in and build endurance but the pace shouldn't leave you too tired.for the week ahead, or build up tiredness from your previous two weeks long runs.

  • thankyou ever so much steve for your advice and reassurance about trying to do another 20 miler today. Im feeling alot more happier and confident about doing it now (once this local anaesthetic wears off - I hate going to the dentist)
  • RRR

    You are sooooooooooo dedicated!

    Just something to consider for your "dress rehearsal" next weekend is timing of breakfast. I spoke with runner’s world to get an idea of when you are likely to be leaving hotel on 7th April (morning of Paris marathon just in case you forgot!). This is probably going to be around 7am for your 8.45am start so perhaps you will need to be at breakfast for 6am so that this can be relaxed meal. So for your  half next weekend which starts at 10am perhaps you want to consider also sitting down to having breakfast at 2hr 45 mins but this allows a much more civilised time of  7.15pm! All snacks after this should be same as for Paris.

    Remember the carb load is only a run through next weekend so if feel it is not for you/run not as your expect then we can discuss this after but really try and follow plan and see how you go next weekend as this is not your main aim.

    One other point, I think it is probably best for you to have no more than 4 cans of tuna per week. It is really just a caution and it is the advice for most women of child bearing age. Canned tune (sometimes called light tuna) has got a low level of mercury in it so is not thought to be a major concern (unlike fish like swordfish, marlin, shark – those fish’s where to be avoided in pregnancy you may remember as they are high in mercury) but 4 cans or less is the advise and I know you do not have tuna everyday but it is in your diet a lot so felt I should mention it. Mercury can stay in body and build up and cause problems for a foetus however this is only if planning another pregnancy but felt I should mention it.   

    Have a good weekend

  • Afternoon RRR

    Apologies for delay in responding - work has gone a bit manic this week!  Best of luck with Poole parkrun PB attempt - from my vague knowledge of the Poole area I'd assume that will be flat and therefore potentially fast?

    Still undecided about tactics for parkrun tomorrow.  Mike Sheridan's idea (thanks Mike) of starting at the back is a good one but I fear competitive instinct will take over!

    Great idea for all of us to meet up post race at Silverstone for a coffee!  First one to finish gets them in? That way you buy the coffees and my challenge will be to finish in close enough proximity to your time to make sure my coffee hasn't gone cold image 

  • Good luck in the parkrun RRR - I don't suggest starting at the very back but also not going off too fast. I suggest  first 1km in around 4:10-4:15 to see how you feel and then push on a liitle faster if you feel comfortable, hold the pace if you feel you are near your limits, or ease back slightly if you feel awful!

  • Thanks Steve Marathon Coach,

    I'll nip on properly to say hi to everyone tomorrow. But I'm still ok to go for a PB tomorrow though?
  • Well done on the PB! Excellent improvement.

  • How did you do???
  • Week 8, Day 4


    Goal: 5 x 1 mile repeats at 7 – 7.30 min/mile (8 mile total)

    Actual: 3 x 1 mile repeats at 6:45 min/mile (7 mile total)


    I was looking forward to this session. I’d had a busy day but this was a session I was confident about. I’d hit well within this pace running 5 miles in a Santa outfit on Christmas day … 3 hours after Christmas dinner so I was pretty sure that I could fly around the track and enjoy this one.

    The plan was a 2 mile warm up around the town and then back to the track to start the session. The warm up was fine and although the night was chilly, it wasn’t any colder than it had been for the last few days.

    I started the session and struggled to keep my pace steady. I’d taken my jacket off for the first set as I tend to get very warm when I’m running – I prefer to run in a vest and capris if possible … even in February! – but I was getting very cold and feeling unusually fatigued. The first 4 laps were completed in just under a 7 min/mile but this wasn’t particularly comfortable.

    I spent the 2 minute break between repeats putting my jacket back on as I was struggling to keep warm and my fingers felt swollen. I completed the second set and again struggled to keep the pace and I couldn’t clench my fists as I was getting too cold.

    There was something wrong here. I decided that I would try to complete the third mile repeat and call it a day. I’m all for pushing through, but it felt like there was nothing in the tank and the only thing that I would manage if I did the full 5 sets would be an injury and increasingly inconsistent laps. I don’t tend to give up but I felt there would be nothing to be gained here. There’s a difference between normal running pain and what I was feeling here. My body was saying “this is enough”.


    Possible reasons for the struggle:

    • I’d been in a sauna at lunchtime trialling a new gym and it could have been dehydration … although I’d had 2 glasses of apple juice and 2 enormous mugs of tea.
    • We’d been training at work and I hadn’t had time to eat before the session and it had been over 6 hours since lunchtime … although it had been an enormous lunch.
    • I wasn’t dressed properly for the cold weather … although I wasn’t dressed differently than usual.
    • I was coming down with a cold – my 3 year old has a hacking cough and a high temperature at the moment … although no symptoms have since materialised. 
    • I’m putting it down to a combination of the factors above. Also I have to have a difficult session every now and then … if every session went completely to plan what would be the point of hard work and practise?



    2 mile warm up

    3 x 1 miles on the track at 6:45 min/miles

    2 mile cool down


  • Evening Angela!

    Eek!! Don’t get blown over the bridge … it’s not a triathlon – you get any points for swimming the Thames!image

  • Evening Rob Cope!

    Yes … definitely going to swap those sessions then. I want to make the most of this training while I have it – don’t want to waste a single session!

    How are you finding fitting the intervals into a lunctime? I’m struggling with the full distance … I could probably manage the interval parts but wouldn’t have enough time for a proper warm up / cool down.

  • Evening Steve Marathon Coach,

    Just a quick question – I’ll struggling to fit the full distance into my lunchtime as I’ve only got an hour for lunch. Would I be able to shorten the warm up / cool down times and just do the intervals and maybe have a trot around after work to complete the mileage?

  • Evening Derrick!

    Sounds as though you’re doing really well – especially if you’re comfortably going a bit quicker. Are you changing your target time to reflect these times?

  • Evening Sarah!

    You are most definitely welcome to the 20 mile pub run / crawl! We’ll leave the lads in a pub of their choosing and we’ll go for our pub run! Sounds a good plan! image

    Hee hee ... sounds like you've already spotted my new parkrun time ...!

  • re your session - never ever go in a sauna before anything other than a light jog. Apart from dehydrating you, it also probably messed up your temperature and you felt the cold more than normal.

    the mile reps said 7:00-7:30 so it would be 10 times better to do 5 in 7:00 to 7:30 than three in 6:45. Any session like this start easy and don't put yourself under pressure at the start - next time start with 7:15 and then go 7:00.and only think about sub 7s on the second half of the session. Had you started more slowly, you might have been able to complete the session even with the problems.

    Even if you don't feel great in doing a session like this, next time just lower expectations and aim to complete the session in slower times - even 7:30s would have been fine.

    obviously can't have been too much wrong with you though judging by the 5K PB and maybe not doing the five helped you run faster in the parkrun?

    also try and have a small snack before a session like this rather than go six hours without eating.

  • Evening Ruth!

    Fab idea about testing the timings for breakfast. I tend to have breakfast about 3 horus before so I’ll make sure I bring this forward a little next weekend.

    I like the sound of the carb loading test for next weekend … I’m especially looking forward to the Pick n Mix trial!

    I’ll make sure I cut down on the tuna. I haven’t eaten much of it this week as work have been feeding me … chicken mainly! But I’ll limit myself to 4 cans.

  • Evening Andy!

    Yep! Poole was flat and fast today! Lovely route too! How did yours go? Did the competitive instinct take over or did you manage to start further back?

    Good luck for your race tomorrow!

    P.s. I reckon coffee should DEFINIETLY be on you! Last one back buys!

  • re the warm up - you could cut to a mile jog and a few strides and the warm down to a mile which would leave over 40 minutes for the main part of the session which suffices for the  sessions we do at track - we did 10 x 800 starting every 4 minutes this week but I may need to make slight adjustments to some of your sessions.

    If you have time, you could do a three mile easy jog in the evening as a extra warm down and recovery jog

  • Week 8, Day 6


    Goal: Parkrun + 1 mile warmup and 1 mile cooldown

    Actual: Parkrun + 1 mile warmup and 1 mile cooldown


    Today was the day to be a parkrun tourist! But this tourism stuff isn’t easy … I was up at 6am and had to leave the house at 7am as the nearest parkrun was almost 40 miles away. 40 miles doesn’t sound too far until you consider it was Dorset … so no motorways in the entire county and most of the journey through lanes and on single track roads. And stuck behind a Nissan Micra for 15 miles. Doing 35mph. Sigh.

    My car was in for MOT so I’d borrowed an ageing Honda. The first step was to get used to driving with a steering wheel the size of a cart wheel, the second was to realise I was now driving a petrol car, not a diesel … so it shouldn’t really sound as though I was driving a tractor. The economy light kept flashing at me as I kept letting the revs drop below 2,000 rpm. Good for fuel economy, but not great for getting anywhere very fast. Well … at least I sounded as though I was fitting into the county.  Just needed a bedraggled collie and a straw to chew and I’d be sorted.


     (Pic: Also spotted this signpost on the way. So which way to Stourton Caundle?)

    I got to Poole and managed to find the start. The weather wasn’t particularly inviting and the drizzle made everything slightly misty and damp. However, the volunteers and other parkrunners were very, very friendly and welcoming. I was soon spotted as a newbie and introduced to a few others. I was given an overview of the parkrun route and told to stay away from the swans as apparently they were ‘very bitey today’.


    It was a very friendly atmosphere and to make it even better, there were pacers with bib numbers showing from 18 to 40 minutes to help everyone get the times they were aiming for. I wasn’t sure how far I’d be able to improve my 5km time although ultimately my aim was to finally break into the 20 minutes … so not get overtaken by the 21 minute pacer! I had a quick check of the boating lake. 2nd aim – not get caught by any bitey swans. The ducks looked a bit hungry too.

    As usual the start was chaos as 436 people tried to get as quick a start as possible without tripping over their own feet, the feet of their neighbours or any of the small children who had positioned themselves at the front. I tried to bear Steve Marathon Coach’s advice in mind and tried to keep my pace as steady as possible while it seemed like the whole world and their children streamed past my elbows.

    In short races, I’ve very often gone off far too fast and tired out quickly and spent the rest of the race feeling like hell and panting like a dirty caller, whereas in races with congested starts such as half marathons where I’ve been forced to keep a steady pace I’ve often had better results.

    There was a layout change in the route today as part of the footpath was flooded so the start was moved to the War Memorial. This parkrun took us twice around the boating lake and then back to the café. It was a gorgeous route and flat as a pancake. The only gripe was that the paths were quite narrow so if you had runners running 2 abreast on the narrow path in front of you, you were

  • The only gripe was that the paths were quite narrow so if you had runners running 2 abreast on the narrow path in front of you, you were stuck. Also on the second loop you caught up with people running their first lap which caused a few bottlenecks, but it was all amicable with everyone aiming for the same goal … a new PB.


     (Pic: AMAZING how much a new PB cheers me up! p.s. Hide your eyes!! I now have matching T-shirt AND socks!)


    Previous PB (05/01/2013): 21:06

    New PB (today!!): 20:39



    6th woman / 164 women

    54 / 436 people

    Age Grading: 71.99 %

    Garmin Info Here







  • Evening Steve Marathon Coach,

    Thanks for the feedback. Yes – definitely no sauna before another session – it was a horrible feeling! Lesson most definitely learned.

    I’ll start by upping the times next time rather than trying to start too fast. Because I’d done the 5miler at Christmas within the paces, I’d assumed (stupidly) that I’d be able to manage a few slightly quicker mile repeats easily … but without taking into account anything else. I’ll build up next time. Better to end strongly …

    It would be great to be able to do the sessions at lunchtime. I’m struggling a bit with time at the moment while the evenings are still so dark so being able to get a session in at lunchtime during the week would be hugely helpful. A 3 miler or so after work wouldn’t cause any problems as this could be done in under 30 mins.

    Quick question - how did you know about the parkrun time?

  • most parkrun results are there Saturday afternoon

    You probably would have done faster than the 5 mile times but for the sauna and the lack of food. I tried clicking on your garmin times and it didn't seem to work and don't know if I have to do something about signing in etc


  • Good luck with tomorrow's run

  • Evening Steve Marathon Coach,

    Thanks for the heads up about the Garmin info - it looked as though it hadn't unlocked properly - should be fine now. I've taken a couple of valuable lessions away from last Thursdays session so hopefully not mistakes I'll be making a 2nd time!

    Quick update ... I've had an email about the Inca Trail tomorrow - the course is mostly underwater so they've cancelled it with no plans to reschedule it. I was looking to go back to the 13 miles at 8 - 8:30 min/mile.

    It might not be a terribly comfortable run though as a previously ordinary blister has gone nasty from last Sunday's 20 miler and the parkrun seems to have made it a bit infected. The glamourous side of running ... Don't know if you or anyone else have any tips on how to sort these sort of things out?

  • Ruth ... please don't look too closely at these entries - they don't make good reading! Work have provided lunch this week and I'm at my parents this weekend so healthy living has gone out of the window!

    Food Diary 7th February

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

    Lunch: (Put on by work) 2 x chicken satay sticks, 8 – 10 grapes, chicken leg without skin, 2 chicken tikka bites, 1 small chicken thigh without skin, chicken tikka on a stick.

    Tea: 1 x salmon fillet, peas, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, spinach, 4 mushrooms, 1 fresh beetroot, 5 x asparagus, stalks of tenderstem broccoli, 1/4  leek  – all steamed. Cottage cheese.

    Snacks: 1 x crème egg, 1 x packet ready salted crisps,

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

    Exercise: 7 miles run (plus sauna)


    Food Diary 8th February

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

    Lunch: bowl of spicy parsnip soup

    Tea: Doner kebab with mint yoghurt and 1/3 portion of chips

    Snacks: 1 x crème egg, 6 jelly sweets

    Drinks: 7 x coffee with small amount of semi-skimmed milk, 2 pints of orange squash.

    Exercise: None


    Food Diary 9th February

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

    Lunch: tin of tuna and tbsp mayonnaise.

    Tea: Small mackerel fillet, lettuce, pepper and carrots with tbsp dressing, 1 x boiled egg, 1 x large beetroot, 1 x tbsp mayonnaise.

    Snacks: Caramel McFlurry, 1 x large orange, 1 x pear, 1 x banana.

    Drinks: 4 x coffee, 3 x pint squash

    Exercise: 5 miles run, 2 hours walking


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