My daughter Cally is taking part in this year's London Marathon in aid of the World Wildlife Fund. This is a huge task for her as she is an inexperienced runner. The interview below in which she tells us about her preparation was originally posted on The Putney Clinic of Physical Therapy blog and I thought I would share it with you all. :-)
A beginner runner's account of Marathon training
One such runner is 23 year-old fashion graduate Cally-Siân Lathey from Putney, who is also a patient at the Clinic. She will be participating in this year's Marathon on behalf of the World Wildlife Fund and has kindly agreed to tell us about her preparation for the event.
When did you start training for the London Marathon?
I received an invitation to participate in late November and started my training in early December, but almost immediately got injured. I later discovered that this was due to a poor training plan and incorrect footwear.
Prior to starting your training, had you ever run regularly?
No, not really. I jog from time to time, but never what you would call regularly.
What other sports or exercise do you do?
I practice ashtanga yoga several times a week and, when time permits, I like to swim and play tennis.
Before you started training, did you have yourself checked for injuries?
No, but once I got injured, I had a biomechanical assessment with John Durkin at The Putney Clinic of Physical Therapy. John analysed my running gait to see what areas needed improving. He diagnosed me with having pronation of the foot (turning inwards) when I run.
What did he suggest?
He gave me some orthotics and recommended me a suitable pair of running shoes.
Were these of any help?
Yes, I noticed an improvement almost immediately. Up until that point, running long distances had been a very painful ordeal. Since using appropriate trainers, I have also noticed a reduction in the number of blisters on my feet.
Have you had any other injuries / treatments in this time?
I have not had any injuries as such, just minor complaints that you would associate with running long distances, such as stiffness. I have had treatment with Tom [Lowes] and Jamie [Isherwood] and they gave me a series of exercises to do in order to build up strength in my glutes and other areas of weakness. In other treatments, Leah [Hearle] used K-Tape and acupuncture and Hajni [Varadi] used massage on areas with a lot of stiffness. All of the advice and treatment given were of great benefit to my training programme, but the massages were particularly welcome.
Let's talk about your training programme... What have you been doing?
I am onto my third different training programme. The first one I got from an iPhone app and encouraged running 5 miles one day and then another 5 miles the next day. As a novice runner, this was completely unsuitable. The second programme I followed was the one used by my mum (who ran the Marathon in 1999) and entailed running six days a week. This was much better than the first programme, but was still too strenuous on my body. So after consultation with Leah, I switched to something more appropriate.
What programme are you following now?
I am now following the official Virgin Money London Marathon programme for novice runners.
What does this involve?
It encourages running 3 times a week and gradually increasing the distance covered. On Mondays, I work on interval training (sprinting and running at a higher pace). On Thursdays, I do my 'big run', increasing distance by 2 miles a week (I'm currently up to 19 miles). At the weekend I do another 5/6 miles of fast running, although with the weather that we have been having, that has not been an easy task.
Where have you been doing your training?
For ease of location and its relative quiet, I have done a lot my training along the Thames Tow Path and in Richmond Park. I am also incorporating road running into my training in preparation for the race itself.
Have you trained alone?
I've been running alone, but in recent weeks I have had help from family, in particular my uncle, who has accompanied me on my big runs by bike.
How has this been beneficial to you?
Moral support, mainly. There have been times that I have felt like stopping, but having someone there to encourage me to continue has been a huge help.
What about your diet?
I have not made great changes to this since training started, except that I have tried to incorporate more protein into my diet and have to eat more to compensate for calories burnt off when running.
What is a typical daily menu for you?
I am a vegetarian with an intolerance to gluten, so I have to be careful what I eat. For breakfast, I will normally have gluten-free porridge with walnuts, raisins, blueberries, pumpkin seeds and honey. For lunch, it would normally be something like a jacket potato with tuna, cheese or beans... And for dinner, I will usually have fish with spinach and roasted vegetables. I have tried to avoid produce with high levels of refined sugar, as well as processed foods. I have also reduced my alcohol intake.
What has been the single hardest thing about the training programme for you?
With regard to the programme itself, the hardest thing has to be uphill running and interval training; although, as time has progressed, it has got considerably easier. Physically speaking, the enormous blisters I had on my feet at the start of training were very hard to deal with. And the less said about the climatic conditions in London over the past few months the better.
Why are you competing?
I have watched the Marathon since I was a child and it is has been a good source of inspiration, seeing thousands of people (most of whom are complete novices) take to the streets of London in order to raise money for charities that mean a lot to them. I also feel very passionately about the charity I am running for.
Which charity is that?
I am running for the WWF... The World Wildlife Fund that is, and most definitely not the wrestling association. I have set myself a goal of raising at least £2,000 and, so far, I have managed to get about 18% of that total. The money raising, rather surprisingly, is harder than the actual training.
When you've done the Marathon, do you intend to continue running?
I think I will, but obviously not the same distances. It may be healthy living, but it's also very time-consuming. A balance would need to be found.
What advice would you give to anyone thinking about taking part in the Marathon for the first time?
I'm not sure I am the best person to ask. Before I started training, I never thought I would be able to run for so far. So, self-belief would probably be the most important thing. Be sensible and realistic about what you aim to achieve (keep setting yourself new and attainable goals every time you go out running) and also make sure that you find the programme to suit your needs. The Marathon is a huge test of endurance, but running with pain is never good. And one other piece of advice, if you use orthotics, do not dry them on a radiator when they get wet as they will inevitably melt. I discovered this the hard and expensive way.
Finally, have you set yourself any targets for the race?
I am not particularly worried about times, but I would be delighted with anything under 5 hours. It sounds clichéd, but it really is the taking part that counts.
Sponsoring / donations:
If you would like to sponsor Cally, you can do so on her Just Giving page. Alternatively, you can donate by SMS by texting CSCL90 + £1, £2, £3, £4, £10 (eg CSCL90 £10) to 70070.