home      my running story      races from the beginning      talk to me       product reviews      

Thursday 28 February 2013

Asics Target 26.2: Runners World Bootcamp 2

First of all ... an apology.

This is the blog post of the Runners World Bootcamp 2 of the Asics Target 26.2 which happened on the 26th January!! I'm so sorry. I thought I'd already posted this ....!!


26th January...

The snow was still hanging around so I decided it was probably safer to book a train. Safer than driving anyway. Not necessarily for me getting there on time.

Trains should be simple right? You buy a ticket for where you want to go ... and then get on. Apparently not. The time on my ticket said train departs 6:58am. Turned up – the train was in the station so I asked the Virgin train man. Nope, apparently the train I want is 7:17am.

A dark, confusing station
I'm confused. Again. Sigh. Decided he knew what he was talking about so got onto the next train.

I hadn’t had time to finish my usual coffee that morning and hadn’t had a chance to grab one at the station, but decided that getting one from the Uni coffee shop would be the best option. I listened to an audiobook on the train on the way down and enjoyed the novelty of being able to sit and do nothing. With an energetic 3 year old it’s a treat to be able to sit down.

I got to Birmingham New Street station needing a wee. But apparently you needed to pay 30p. THIRTY PEE? What happened to spending a penny? I only had notes on me. I looked despairingly at the attendant. She either decided that I wasn’t a budding graffiti artist, either that or I was about to wet myself and she let me through for free. Phew.

Had a wander aimlessly around the station and then gave in and asked a train man. Managed to get on the right train for the Birmingham University. The route was surprisingly scenic and we passed the canal, frozen solid and with the paths packed with snow and ice. A runner in a hi-viz running top was stopped and was stretching out his legs. I watched him until he was lost to the distance.  A good sign of the day to come.

Arrived early and met Tom who was doing the photography. We decided that the first and best idea would be to source a good strong cup of coffee. Coffee shop was shut ... until 10am. An hour and a half to wait.

We went and posted some money into the instant coffee machine in the lobby. Nope. It decided that under no circumstances was it going to dispense any coffee today. Argh! We texted the others asking them to bring caffeine. Urgently. I was dispatched to the Starbucks on the other side of the campus to try and track down 2 Americanos. Starubucks was also shut. Anyone would have thought students didn’t get up early on Saturdays. Oh.

Everyone else arrived, having had their caffeine hit at the station. Grrr!

However, it was lovely to catch up with everyone. Shady Ady looking very swelte – obviously a combination of tracking his food and hard marathon training was paying off! Mel looked fab and smiley and again ... we were wearing the same kit. Down to the trainers. Sigh. It looked as though this was going to be a theme of our training days.

Alex had decided that although he may be miles quicker than the rest of us, we wouldn’t lose sight of him by wearing a pair of beautiful but eye-burningly orange trainers. Today it really DID look as though he was leaving a burning trail like the De Lorian in Back to the Future.

Bacon Steve was glowing from a combination of being deprived of his takeaways and fever, having been forced from his sick bed by the thought of a nice run in the snow with the rest of the Target 262 group. However, he rose to the challenge and knocked out a set of perfect laps of the campus.

The icy, slippy, snowy canal path
Our training session today was supposed to be mile repeats on the scenic canal paths, but due to the amount of packed snow and ice and the fact they hadn’t brought grappling hooks to fish us out of the canal after we undoubtedly fell in through sliding on the aforementioned, the Asics and Runner’s World team decided we would do the laps on the track ....

Which wasn’t to be. The track was under a couple of inches of snow and also had a couple of snowmen sitting proudly on the inner lanes. Hmmm.  

The track ... somewhere under the snow
Sam Murphy spotted a runner and smoothly accosted him. Apparently there was an almost perfect loop of the campus which worked out at about .8 of a mile. All on tarmac and practically snow free. Just the odd car and running group to dodge. Perfect.

The snowmen ...
The first lap was at marathon pace which worked out for me neatly at an 8 min/mile, the next was marathon pace -15 seconds a mile at 7:45 min/mile, then 7:30 min/mile, 7:15 min/mile and the last lap was to be as fast as I liked. Steve Smythe and Sam Murphy had all of our times worked out perfectly so we’d all start at different times and then finish by crossing the line all together. Nice.

It was fun although difficult not to try and catch up the person in front. This was supposed to be a pacing exercise, but trying to maintain pace rather than catching up Ady who started each lap just 10 seconds in front of me was difficult. Had to get brain to outshout legs ... is NOT a race!

I managed to maintain the correct paces for my laps and managed to resist the urge to chase the others (must have been a Labrador or a Springer Spaniel or some other equally loopy dog in a previous life) and was rewarded by being allowed to do the final lap as fast as I liked. So ran it at a 5:55 min/mile.

Marathon Coach Steve had been watching how we were running and gave me some valuable tips. Apparently I keep my arms and shoulders quite hunched and he suggested relaxing these which made the arm action more comfortable and was a lot smoother. He also suggested trying Power Bars or Protein Shakes as I don’t eat a lot of carbs so these may act as an additional insurance.  

The Sports Centre
Sam Murphy ran with us on our cool down lap and helped us find a more efficient style of running as we all had a tendency to overstretch our legs. She got Alex – our super-speedy chap - to run at a comfortable speed – for him!! - then to run faster and made us watch the difference. It sounds so basic but it really did illustrate the point. His arms came higher in front and his feet kicked up higher at the back. She gave us all a quick exercise which was to pick our knees up further and kick our legs back further while keeping our hips under the body. The aim was to make your legs move in a more circular motion – think Road Runner, rather than over-stride.

Got back to the room with all of our kit in it and arranged to have a shower. Best of all the coffee shop was now open and Elaine had brought us all coffee!! Amazing!!! I put the coffee down in a safe place on one of the benches and went off to have my shower, safe in the knowledge that it would be the perfect temperature when I got back. 

Got to the showers and realised I’d forgotten my towel. Face/palm. However, I HAD brought a very large and drapey scarf ... now just to explain the black bobbly bits of wool stuck all over me...  

Got back to lecture theatre ... my coffee had disappeared! Argh! No time to get another so postponed that until after I’d spoken to Ruth McKean.

Ruth is lovely! She is also tiny – which was unexpected as judging by her photo was expecting someone tall and intimidating! We had a good chat and she suggested carb loading before races and the types of foods to try. She also said that if there were gels or sports drinks I hadn’t tried at a race that I could always wash my mouth out with these if I wasn’t going to drink them. There had been a recent study showing that athletes (not sure if I class myself as one of these, mind) who washed their mouths out with sugary drinks or gel got a burst of energy even if none of the substance was absorbed. Apparently the body was expecting the extra energy so had a bit more of a push! A really, really useful tip! Especially if you’re accident prone like me and may end up dropping your final gel or squirting it all over the floor. We had a chat about my ‘delicate stomach’ and we decided to go pretty much gluten and wheat free. Especially on the days leading up to a race. It was really nice to chat and to get an idea of sensible fuelling.

Finished up and went to get a coffee ... Coffee shop shut. Head-bang-wall. Repeat.

Had a sit down and a chat with Marathon Coach Steve and he outlined the training plan for the next few weeks, including when the long runs were likely to be and fitting these in around races scheduled such as Dorney lakes Half (Race your Pace) and the Silverstone Half Marathon. It was really nice to sit down and chat to Steve. He REALLY knows his stuff.

Had an MOT with Sarah Connors and she put me through my paces. She could tell I’d been foam rollering my ITB ... but also she could tell that I hadn’t been doing the bridges as diligently as I should have! No secrets from a good physio! She loosened off my knee and showed me how tight my hip flexors were ... With her elbow. I could feel the pain right down in my foot. She looks so sweet too! But it’s definitely a lesson to make sure I foam roller my hip flexors properly and do the ITB stretch using a partner.

We all got called outside separately to shiver in the snow and to have an interview in front of the camera! Wow! Felt like a celebrity ... although came across as a gibbering idiot. Oh well. At least I came across as myself.

Time to head home and back to the station. Next time we’d all be together would be the March Bootcamp! And that sounds SUCH a long way away ... but I know the time will fly by. Fingers crossed for some good long runs, no injuries and lots of smiles!

P.s. I finally got a cup of coffee at the train station. I went to pour some milk in and the lid fell in. As did all the milk.

Coffee. Pre-milk. Milk jug looking innocent in the background.


  1. Replies
    1. It was so much fun!! Only thing that could possibly have improved it would have been more coffee!! :)

  2. Hey great post Sarah, I've been given bridging and single leg bridging along woth foam roller too :)

    1. Evening Paul! The bridging is a good one isn't it! I've been practising like mad as I know Sarah will check me next time!! :)