Category Archives: Running

Running Brighton Marathon 2013

Since mid December running has dominated my life. I’ve been compulsively following a training plan of 4 runs a week. I’ve planned work around it, skipped social events to make sure I was fresh enough to run, obsessed over my eating and sleeping patterns and talked about almost nothing else. On Sunday I ran Brighton Marathon and now it’s all over. I feel a bit lost if I’m honest.

On Saturday The Boy and I caught the train down to a Brighton gripped by a torrential downpour. We met my sister and her partner sheltering in a bar and they proceeded to drink large quantities of wine, while I comforted myself with several pots of tea. It turns out that laughing at your family getting drunk is an excellent way to distract yourself from pre-marathon nerves.


In the evening we headed out to our decidedly dodgy hotel in Lewes and the nerves really started to set in. I didn’t sleep. I got up at 5am to eat vast quantities of porridge, but only managed two thirds of what I was supposed to eat before feeling nauseous. I got back into bed and pretended to sleep until the alarm went off at 6.30am. We drove into a grey, drizzly Brighton to the start line at Preston Park. The park was horrendously muddy, but I can’t fault the organisation. Yes, the queues for the loos were insanely long, but they were clean and had loo roll, not an easy feat when faced with 9,000 nervous runners.

20 minutes before kick off it was still drizzling and cold and The Boy had to leave the park before the race started. Panic started to rise as I realised I was hungry, would my bumbag of jelly babies be enough to get me round? Anyway, the race didn’t pander to my anxieties and started on time, I crossed the start line at roughly 9:06am.

The first 14 miles were fantastic. Central Brighton was packed with people cheering, all the runners were in good spirits and I felt good. I felt strong and comfortable and there were signs to read and shouts of encouragement to laugh at, particularly as I was running near a man dressed as a banana.  Despite the thinning crowds and undulating ground as we headed out along the coast spirits were still high and when the crowds were thin on the ground, the runners cheered each other on instead. As we headed back into Brighton the sun came out and it started to warm up, and up, and up.


Seeing my family & friends at miles 12, 13 & 14 was incredible. It made me feel so proud I almost descended into tears as I ran, which was the first of many times I nearly cried over the next 10 miles as I started to hurt, and ran out of energy, and then ran out of faith. Somewhere between 15 and 16 miles was the first time I walked for about 30 seconds and I can’t explain how hard it was to start running once I’d done that. As soon as I started running I just wanted to walk again. It was agony, but the crowd was amazing. I didn’t know a single person around this stretch, but they shouted and cheered and dished out jelly babies and called people out by name when they were struggling, so I kept running. I stopped for another brief walk somewhere around miles 17/18 but other than that I kept moving. I think. To be honest, a lot of it is a bit blurry.

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It all went wrong after mile 19. The course loops out of town, through an industrial estate, to a power station before heading back to the finish. Everyone knows that miles 20+ are the hardest and on this course they are the loneliest. There were almost no crowds between miles 19 and 23 which had a huge effect on moral. Runners were dropping like flies, walking, cramping, fainting. Heading back towards Brighton centre in the blazing sun at about mile 22 I thought I was going to have to walk the rest of the way. I looked at my watch with despair knowing I was never going to break 4:30 if I kept walking, but I couldn’t imagine how I was going to be able to run it.

Eventually I managed to get running again by tagging along behind people and following their footsteps. The problem with this was if they gave up and started walking, I lost my rhythm and ended up walking again too. I felt like I walked more than I ran through these long, painful miles but looking at my time I can’t have done. It just felt like it went on forever. Luckily from about 23 miles the crowd built up again and I managed to run slightly further between each walking break.


At 24 miles the end was literally in sight and I knew that my family would be waiting somewhere along the road to cheer me on, but despite being able to see it the finish line felt further away than ever. A stranger’s poster from earlier in the race that read ‘don’t stop, people are watching’ had struck a chord and I didn’t want my family to see me walking. So I forced my legs to move and keep moving. Of the entire race I am most proud of the fact that I ran continuously for the last 2 miles because I don’t know how I did it.

My family were there at 25.5 and 26 miles cheering me on and the signs counted down the metres and I just kept swinging my legs in the least natural running style ever and then the finish line was there. I kept walking through the finishing area (rule #1 don’t stop moving when you cross the finish line), muttering to myself ‘oh my god I fucking did it’ like some crazy woman.

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Thinking back on it now it already feels like it never happened, but I know it did because just sitting here typing this my back is aching and when I have to stand up my thighs will scream at me. The later miles are all a bit of a blur as I got more and more tired, but I can vividly remember my emotions swinging between elation and desperation. It’s a miracle I got through the day without crying because even after I finished I was an emotional wreck.

I finished in 4:22:55, which with 2 toilet stops, heat I wasn’t ready for and far too much walking is a really good time. If I ever do it again then I want to do it with someone. I can’t explain how jealous I was of everyone running with a friend/partner/club as I felt so lonely when I was struggling. But somehow I did it.

Throughout my marathon training I’ve been raising money for Goodgym. So far I’ve raised £750 for this tiny East London charity and if my ramblings about my 26 miles of pain have inspired you to do so, please sponsor me just £5 here. Every pound makes every ache worth it and trust me there are plenty of aches to go round.


Brighton Marathon : The Training Peak

Yesterday I ran 20 miles. 20 whole miles.

It’s been a heavy few weeks. I had a cold 3 or 4 weeks ago that completely screwed up that week’s running & stressed me out as I knew I was getting to the critical training period. It was fine though, I took a few days off running to sleep off the virus and hit it hard again the following week.


9 miles from home, the halfway point on my 18 miler.

Then two weeks ago I ran 18 miles. I ran it in a good time, but it was the first long run where I really ached afterwards. It took a good couple of days to get back to walking normally! That week was probably the peak of my energy and enthusiasm. My body is so fatigued from the training build up that since then I’ve really struggled to find the motivation to run. Not ideal as there’s still weeks until the race!

Last week I had to spice things up a bit to boost my motivation, so even though I’m not supposed to be adding in any new training routines I ran mile intervals for one of my short 5 milers and it made the world of difference. I felt much more energised afterwards. I then ran last week’s 10 mile mid-week long run at an average of 8:50 minutes/mile which is faster than I planned to run the marathon and felt amazing. My other tactic has been running short runs with my friend Damien who is trying to get back into running. He helped me get through a very achey recovery run after that fast 10 miler!

20 Miler Map

20 miles along the Regents Canal.

Then we get back to the 20 miler. I spent this weekend in Paris (blog to follow), which involved walking for miles in wedged trainers, eating a huge quantity of ridiculously rich food and drinking rather large quantities of red wine. So I took on 20 miles with tired legs, achey feet, a belly full of food & drink my body wasn’t used to and without having had enough sleep. You won’t find this recommended in any marathon training books I can tell you.


10 miles from home, which means there’s 10 miles to go.

The main thing is that I finished the 20 miles, again in a decent time. Other than backache for the last 3 or 4 miles I wasn’t in any pain, I didn’t get any blisters and my leg muscles coped frighteningly well. The rich food from the weekend repeated on me leaving me feeling very sick and I had a terrible stomach ache by the time I reached home (I also had to make two toilet stops mid-run, but the less said about that the better). The overwhelming feeling though was of exhaustion. I’ve just never been so tired in my entire life. How I kept putting one foot in front of the other for the last 5 miles I have absolutely no idea, but I did.

Incredibly I don’t really ache today – I was expecting to be really sore! I can feel my knees twinge as I walk down stairs and my feet could do with a rub, but other than that I’m fine! It’s an enormous relief, and gives me hope that on the day, when I’ve had much better preparation I’ll be able to stumble through the full 26.2 miles.

That was the peak of my training so from now on it’s rest & refuel time. A few weeks of carbohydrates and gentle running & there is no reason I won’t finish Brighton Marathon in less than my goal of 4 hours 15 minutes. If you want to give me a final push, please sponsor me so I can think of Goodgym and have a reason to keep putting one foot in front of the other on the day.

Brighton Marathon : The Snowy Seven

Now I’m marathon training Sundays are long-run days. Today it snowed all day. I really didn’t want to leave the house. Really, really didn’t feel like it. But I had to, so I donned a ridiculous amount of clothes and headed out into the cold for a snowy 7 miles. As always, once I was out, I loved it. I’m not sure the spongy snow did my ankles any good, but the air was fresh and London is beautiful when it’s covered in a film of crisp, white powder.

This week was a rest-week so I ran a total of 18.5 miles. Next week it ramps up to 24 miles…it’s starting to get interesting! Don’t forget you can sponsor my efforts here!

Running Brighton Marathon for GoodGym

This April I’m running the 2013 Brighton Marathon. That’s right, a whole marathon. I’ve been into running for a few years now and have run a few short races and tackled Ealing Half Marathon back in September, but this will be my first marathon. Training is well underway, I even went for a gentle 3.5 mile run to my GoodGym coach in Stepney Green this morning through the snow.


A post shared by Lauren (@lgarland1) on

And I’ll be raising money for GoodGym by while running this marathon. GoodGym are a social enterprise based in East London who combine volunteering & running to give people meaningful reasons to exercise. I join them on their group runs to local community projects & charities every Monday evening, and I have also been paired up with a Goodgym coach to run to once a week. My coach, John, lives in a care home in Stepney Green.  He has dementia and no family so I run to visit him once a week to make sure that he gets a frequent visitor. Goodgym‘s work connecting runners with elderly, housebound people is amazing. It gives the runner a reason to get off the sofa and the coach knows that someone’s going to pop in, which hopefully alleviates some of the loneliness that is such a problem in our big cities. Read more about Goodgym on their website. It started in East London, but it’s spreading so why not see if one’s opening near you soon!

I’ll be baking throughout my training to raise money, but I’m also asking people to sponsor me and if you’re so inclined you can do so here.