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Running the Athens Marathon for Plan UK: Update after Months 1 and 2 of Training

The last few months since my trip to Antigua in May have been spent entirely in the UK! I haven’t stayed put in London though, as the rest of the UK is stunning in summer! I’ve been up to the Peak District with my father, to Oxfordshire for the Henley Regatta and down to Hampshire three times in total: one weekend sailing across to the Isle of Wight, one weekend on a rib for the Isle of Wight Festival, and one weekend in the New Forest and Surrey to celebrate my birthday. In fact I’ve been spending a lot of time on boats, as you can see in these three photos! But even though my passport hasn’t seen too much action recently, I’ve certainly been keeping myself busy. With what, you might ask? Training for a marathon, that’s what! Exactly two months ago I announced here on my blog that I’ll be running the Athens Marathon in November to fundraise for the global children’s charity Plan UK.

         I posted a 1-month update on The Well-Travelled Postcard’s Facebook Page, but this month I thought I’d post it here on my blog as well, in case any of you lovely readers missed it on Facebook! So here are my two updates, the first after 1 month on the 25th June, and the second one from today, exactly 2 months into my marathon training!

Month 1 of marathon training complete! – 25th June 2015

       Hello! Today marks 1 month since I began my training for the Athens Marathon! I’ve been pacing up and down the Thames Path in London roughly 5 days each week and I’m following a 24-week Nike Running training plan, which in total requires me to run 1,100km in preparation for the marathon! In the last month I’ve run 136km, just 12% of the total, but obviously the longer runs will happen nearer the end of the training. My longest run so far has been 9.7km which I managed in 56 mins. Luckily the balmy summer evenings and sunny weather are significantly nicer than when I was training in January and February for the Hampton Court Half Marathon, which makes the whole thing much less of an ordeal!

        I’m forcing myself to run before work and early on the weekends if I can, and I’ve been engrossed in various audiobooks and podcasts (Serial!) to keep me entertained on my runs. Suggestions for other good podcasts and books to listen to would be much appreciated! My friend Imy has also joined me on a run and I’ve discovered that it passes infinitely quicker when you have someone to talk to!

        My ever caring parents are insisting I buy some decent shoes, and I’ve been taking tips from a marathon-running cousin who by complete chance will also be running the Athens Marathon! I’m lucky that my sister and both parents are now all flying out to support me run the marathon, and I’ve been excitedly booking flights and an Airbnb apartment in Plaka, the historic neighbourhood, so they can do some sightseeing while I’m torturing myself on the marathon’s notoriously hilly route. That is one thing I must try to do more of next month – hill training! If only London weren’t quite so flat. (NB. If you’d like £16 off your first Airbnb booking, then do feel free to follow this link: www.airbnb.co.uk/c/virginias?s=8).

        That’s all for now, but I’ve plenty of running to keep me busy! Sponsorship has had a slow start and I really would appreciate anything you can spare to support Plan UK and the invaluable work they do. Please do share this JustGiving page with friends and on social media – it would mean a lot!

Many thanks for all your support! Virginia x

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

Month 2 of marathon training complete! – 25th July 2015

         I’m now 2 months into my 5-month training for the Athens Marathon, and today I completed week 9! In the last month I’ve run 166km, bringing me up to a total of 302km, which is 27% of the total. I’m not running dramatically longer distances yet, and my longest run so far is still only 11.3km, but I definitely notice myself speeding up: at the beginning in May I was managing more like 5:50 mins per km, but the other day I somehow managed an 8km run at 4:45 mins per km! Top tip: if I plan a run immediately before going out to dinner or drinks, then the prospect of not having enough time to shower and get dressed really speeds me up!

        Imy and I are now in a morning run routine every Friday which is fantastic, as I run much faster with other people and I also get to see one of my best friends at the same time – win win! I’ve slogged up a couple of hills in the past month, at home in Hampshire and Richmond Hill in London. I celebrated my 26th birthday this month and, as one of my many celebrations, some uni friends and I had a fantastic massage as part of an idyllic spa day in the New Forest, where I promptly learned from my masseuse that my back is riddled with knots from all this running! A few more sports massages are in order I feel! I can recommend Urban Massage for delivered-to-your-door massages available at short notice (in London & Bristol) – very handy.

        I’ve been recording my runs using the Nike+ app, because it has such a good training plan, although I much prefer Strava. The two apps don’t work simultaneously, but I’ve finally found a way to use both: record the runs in Nike+, then download the Nike+ Data Downloader app from the App Store and it will import your Nike+ runs into Strava. The data varies a little (not sure why) but it looks exactly the same as if I’d used Strava on the actual run. If you’re on Strava then you can follow me by searching for ‘Virginia Stuart-Taylor’ or clicking here: http://www.strava.com/athletes/vstuarttaylor

         I still haven’t got myself a new pair of running shoes but I keep meaning to! For my birthday my school friends gave me some new running gear from Sweaty Betty, so bit by bit I’m getting kitted out. I’m still using my Garmin vívofit fitness band too, which is very handy while running as the little screen shows me not only the number of steps, but distance too!

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PlanUK_Menstruation_2ndDraft_(1)_(1)        On the media front, I recently appeared in two hugely important and world-famous publications (the well-known Romsey Advertiser and the Southern Daily Echo, both staples of daily life down in rural Hampshire). All kidding aside, I am very grateful to anyone who can help promote Plan UK’s cause and raise awareness of my marathon efforts!

        On the sponsorship side, a couple of very generous donations on my JustGiving page have brought me up to 22% of my £1,000 goal, so there’s still a long way to go, but I do have 3.5 months to bring in the remaining 78%… I’m hoping more sponsors will donate nearer the time, but if you’d like to get in there early then please do! Every small donation will help me get to the finish line, and help hundred’s of children living in poverty to move into a better future through the work Plan UK does in the field of education, health care and protection of children’s human rights.

       Plan UK are providing a lot of relief following the Nepal Earthquake and their most recent campaign focuses on breaking the myths and taboos in the developing world about menstruation, which can restrict girls from participating in society while on their period, which is frankly just ludicrous! To learn more about this campaign, see the infographic to the right or click here. Please do consider donating to a very worth cause, and thank you in advance for all your support!

       Whether it’s a donation, some running advice, some new kit, a running buddy or even just a ‘well done’ after a long run, I really am so grateful!

Thank you so much! Virginia x

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

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