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  • Stacey McGowan Holloway

3 months to go…

Firstly, that whole excel spreadsheet training plan thing I tried, well that did not last! But hey, I gave it a go and it was not for me. I even tried having Max prescribe my training from his very complex and clever spreadsheet (he cites three athletes in its creation, it is a pretty amazing spreadsheet if anyone is interested in a training plan from him!). That said, he is injured, and I am not (smug face).

The last 2 months or so of training has gone ok, I am not as tired as I expected I would be from training around 10hours a week. This is because I do 80% of the training at a really low intensity, in fact 50% of my training is simply brisk walking.

The benefits of the walking is paying off, my mindless amble on the flat is now at 6.1km per hour. I am aiming to get it to 6.5km per hour. Also my ‘slow’ running is now at a 6.10min/km pace, where it was at 6.30min/km.

I struggle a lot thinking I am not doing enough. This is because of a couple of things…

  1. My body looks the same as when I trained half as much as I do now. The scales are the same and my measurements are the same. Not sure why I thought I would change!

  2. I keep worrying that my weekly running milage is so low (20-25 miles a week), but I also walk 20miles a week on top of that.

  3. I have realised I have a false belief that if I trained enough, it would make the race easy and pain free. This I know is false and it will hurt no matter how many hours I run a week.

  4. A lot of online advice and discussion on podcasts are to do hill training. I cant, I live in the Fens. I did panic at first, but I have to to except my circumstances and do the best I can.

To be honest, I cannot fit too much more into my week without being exhausted and without losing my love for running. I have a full time job, a mega commute to London each week and will not sacrifice my 8 hours of sleep or give up TV.

One of my markers for success was to be able to run 10km the day after a marathon. Two years ago I ran the Boundary Marathon in the lead up to the Fling and was a state after. I ran the same marathon again this year (loved it again) and this year I also ran a sub 2 hour half marathon the week before and had no tapering. I ran 10 mins slower, but paced it perfectly. My goal was 5hours and I ran it within seconds of that time. However, this year I was fine the next day and ran 6km no problem (there was a reason I did not do 10km, but I cannot remember it now).

Max and I waiting to start!


I also tried Tailwind out on this race. I heard you did not need any other food or other electrolytes so I did not pack much other than a 9bar (love these). I had 4 sachets of the stuff as each sachet is 200calories and I wanted 200calories every hour. Five hours is 4 sachets assuming I eat the last 200 calories on the finish line as a shake. You mix the sachet with your water, I had two 500ml bottles in my vest. All packed and ready for the morning, but I barely slept as a sore throat that kept me up (excellent training for an 95miler though). I suddenly realise at 2am how the f**k do I consume the tailwind?! If I mix 1 sachet in 500ml water I have to drink a 2 litres to get all my calories!! I am running around central Cambridge, I cannot pee that often! The night before the marathon is not the time to realise you have no idea how you actually prepare and consume your nutrition. No panic, I thought, I will just check the sachet for instructions. Unhelpfully the sachet instructs ‘Mix in a large bottle and go have fun.’ 

Tailwind mixing instructions


So on their website I found some reviews and instruction suggesting to mix ALL the sachets I need in one bottle and the sip often. Wishing I had not bought multiple flavours to try now. In the morning I tip all the tailwind into mixing jug, suddenly I realise I have 216ml of powder to dissolve in 500ml of water, 200grams of which is pure sugar. Oh dear…

I arrive at the marathon and chat to the sales guy from Up and Running about my Tailwind dilemma/plan and he looked very dubious and tells me its a bad idea as that concentration is all wrong.

Needless to say, around 10miles I felt horrendously unwell and my face and hands had swollen up and I was getting very paranoid about suffocating. I ate my 9 bar and threw the tailwind away. At the next aid station I filled my face and pockets with midget gems (but only the white, purple and red ones) and hot cross buns. Within a few miles and having taken on a lot of sugar-free water I was feeling fine and happy again.

Crossing the finish line at the Cambridge Hare and Hounds Boundary Marathon


After the marathon Max took me to MacDonald’s where I ate not only a large Big Mac and chips but also 3 pieces of KFC chicken in the 10 minutes it took us to drive home. After I calculated the calories I had used in the race, the amount I took on while running and how much I ate in junk food after, and it came out surprisingly equal. I think this may have been key to my speedy recovery.

After experimenting with the nutrition I am going back to eating cheese and pickle sandwiches, salty cashews and pizza with the odd Macdonalds and chocolate milkshake thrown in for post race recovery. Stick to what works! I have to give it to Tailwind though, I did not have any gut issues which I do get with gels and the sports specific electrolyte powders so will use again. Especially near the end of the race when I struggle to eat, but only 1 sachet per 500ml.

So I have my nutrition plan down, my base training phase has just about come to an end and it is time to move into race specific training. I have a 33 miler on the course this weekend which is my next measure so we will see how it goes!

Incase you missed it, here is the link to my latest podcast with John Kynaston, I am interviewed near the end. The next one will be out in April. Let me know if you have questions!

#Tailwind #marathon #running #Racereview #ultra #racing #Cambridge #nutrition