Written by Jenny Bede


Marathon Woman: Weeks 5 & 6

Jenny Bede is running the London Marathon – again – and she’s sharing the joys and the pain of the whole experience with Standard Issue. This week she’s been going round in circles.

Jenny by Jenny. “That’s not me pouting, just struggling to breathe.”

I’ve reached a slightly dull point in training – the novelty has worn off, but the really hard work hasn’t started yet, so this hasn’t been the most eventful of fortnights. There have been some nice milestones (first half marathon of the year) but the tedium of having to plan my life around training has started and I forgot that I don’t like it. And we’re not even half way there.

It could be worse, I suppose. I mentioned last week that I’m keeping mileage to a minimum to avoid injury. (NB – No one should follow my training plan, I’m doing the exact opposite of what I should be doing – when marathon training you should run a lot.)

However, I’m pleased to say, it’s working. My knee is OK. I’m feeling pretty ‘together’ still. No huge blisters, nothing falling off, nothing coming out. (Speaking of which, sports bras that zip up at the front have changed my life. I got mine from M&S and it’s great). I’ve started to get myself into a bit of a routine, which is roughly as follows:

Monday: REST
Tuesday: Reformer Pilates
Wednesday: 30-40 minutes of interval training
Thursday: 30mins of resistance work – Lunges/squats and other boring things that hurt.
Friday: Short easy run and Reformer Pilates
Saturday: REST
Sunday: Long slow distance run and cry

This changes, depending on things like deadlines, meetings and generally being arsed, but it’s nice to have a semblance of order.

Another thing I’m doing to keep injury at bay is to avoid running on pavements as much as possible; the impact of hitting concrete step after step isn’t good. In an ideal world, I’d run on my back in my bed while asleep, but I’ve tried and it’s not possible, so instead I head to the running machines at the gym for the shorter runs; anything more than 45 minutes on a treadmill is purgatory (and apparently bad gym etiquette).

This is why I ended up doing week five’s long run on my local running track. It seemed like a good idea at first – not only is the terrain much gentler, but I was filming that afternoon and didn’t want to be that far from home in case I didn’t make it back in time for my pick-up. It was mid-morning on a weekday and I had the whole thing to myself. I pretended to be an American high school student doing ‘track’, which was fun for the first couple of kilometres, then it hit me. To do my required 11 miles, it entailed running around the same 400m of track 44 times. So that’s what I did. Like a three-legged dog, I ran round and round, slowly shedding layers of clothing and motivation as I went. I did things like ‘swap directions’ or ‘have a bit of water’ to keep myself amused because I know how to have fun.

“I raced him for a bit. He won.”

Week 6’s 13-miler in St James Park

But no two runs are the same and week six’s long run (the aforementioned 13.1 miles, was a glorious romp taking in London’s holy trinity of parks: Hyde, Green, and St James. I also adore Regent’s Park, but I’ll save that as a treat for next week. It was everything I wanted in a long run on a Sunday afternoon: sunny but not so much that I couldn’t see; crisp but not too cold, and the sun had the decency to set about 40 minutes before the end of it so my sweaty, shaky, stinky shape could finish under the cover darkness.

And – bonus – I stopped for a snack, which is one of the best things about marathon training. During no other exercise is it acceptable to stop and buy some sweets before you carry on. (“I’ll pot the blue in a minute, I’m having a Yorkie.”) I opted for some dried mango, which I’ve since been told isn’t ideal for runners. Again, I urge you, do not take any of my advice.

The Stats
Recommended weekly mileage: 30ish
Actual weekly mileage: 22ish
Minutes added to half marathon time: 25 ( I DONT WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT)
Items of exercise clothing bought this week: Five (if we’re counting socks as two separate items, which I am).
Number of times I’ve Googled ‘can you die from shin splints’: 1

See you next time for my favourite aspect of the training process – FOOD!

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Written by Jenny Bede

Jenny Bede is an actor, writer and comedian living in London. @jennybede