Summer training & races to come

Well hello there! It’s been a while since I properly posted a training update – or anything for that matter – so here goes!

I’ve had a little break but I’ve since been quietly working away, trying to improve my running and strength and slowly build back up towards marathon training.

long run

I’m running the York Marathon in October which will be my 5th marathon! York was actually my first marathon as well so I’m super excited to go back and run it again. Not only that, but it’s home turf so I’m hoping the family (including my 1-year-old niece!) can all come and cheer me on which would be amazing.

Aside from that, York is flat – yipeeee! My current marathon PB is at 3.25, which I achieved in London earlier this year. I’m not expecting to beat that at York but what I am aiming for is a strong finish. My goal is to be able to run that last 10k as strongly as I ran the first 10k. I realise I’m not going to be finishing the race as gazelle like as when I started it, but I want to be able to maintain a consistent speed, without seeing those mile splits climb.

So basically, that’s what I’m training towards. As always I’m doing my three gym sessions a week. This is made up of 2 strength sessions and a third focusing more on conditioning rather than lifting big numbers – I do love a bro sesh though as demonstrated below, ha!

strength 1

At the minute I’m running three times a week. Before anyone tells me that you need to be running every day to run a marathon, you definitely don’t need to. For me, it’s about getting in the quality sessions and finding out what works for me. I’ve tried running 6 days a week and for me, that just doesn’t work – particularly for my mental health! If you want me to do a post on training for a marathon on three runs a week – just let me know by commenting below or Tweeting me (@hannahbryan91).

speed session

This week I did a speed session on Tuesday, an easy run on Wednesday and a long run on Friday. I’ve got one more gym session to do (my conditioning one), which I’ll do tomorrow (Sunday). This might increase as the marathon nears but this depends on a number of factors i.e. time and my body! I’m currently getting some help with my nutrition which I’m hoping is going to benefit my performance and aid recovery so I might end up running more within the next few months, but I’m going to tell you more about the nutrition side of things in a different post!

easy run

Here’s a list of what I’ve got coming up:

August – Askern 10 miler
September – Great North Run
October – York Marathon, Sheffield 10k
November – exciting challenge to be announced soon!

I’ll try and get some other races in but at the minute that’s what I’ve got booked in.

The only other thing to mention is that I decided not to accept my Good For Age place for London next year. I hope I don’t regret it! My plan is to focus on Boston – providing I get a place! If I don’t get a place…then the Great Wall Marathon is on my list…!

That’s all for now training wise, I’ll keep you updated as the marathon nears. I’m ready to work hard for this one!


Marathon race week tips

Just five days to go until the Manchester marathon!

Taking a break & getting my pose on during my last hill training session before the marathon

Taking a break & getting my pose on during my last hill training session before the marathon

So the marathon has come around very quickly and it’s that time again when maramania has set in and all you want to do is run yet your taper plan says it’s time to take it easy.

Race week can make people crazy – please don’t tell me it’s just me!? – so I’ve put together a top 10 list of tips for marathon race week.

1) Taper
Cutting back on running is frustrating but trust your plan and trust the taper. Stick to short and easy runs with some strides in or swap a run for yoga or swimming.

2) Rest
Get plenty of sleep in the build up to the marathon, especially if you usually don’t sleep well the night before a race.

3) Hand sanitizer
Am I the only one who goes crazy with the hand san in the run up to a marathon!? Sometimes it’s when you stop that you start to get run down or pick up a cold so I’m religious with my hand sanitizer.

4) Don’t panic train
I am nowhere near where I’d like to be for this race in terms of training but now isn’t the time to panic train. If you’ve missed long runs due to injury or other commitments don’t try and play catch up. Trust in the training you’ve done and focus on the taper now and ensuring you’re healthy for the race.

5) Look back over your plan
Trust in your training and look back over your plan to remind yourself of just how much work and effort you’ve put in to training. It’s natural to start doubting yourself in race week, everyone does but take this time to reflect and think of the positive elements and successes of the last few months.

6) Don’t try anything new
Now isn’t the time to buy a new pair of trainers, start using different energy gels or decide you’re going to try new foods. Save that for after the marathon. Stick to what you know. If you’ve got a routine and you always eat pizza the night before a race, do that. If you know what works for you then stick to it and you’ll prevent any avoidable mishaps.

7) Plan
Have a race day plan. If, like me, you’re staying overnight somewhere before the race make a list of what you need and tick it off as you pack that way nothing vital gets left behind! Know how you’re getting to the race village as well and allow for traffic and other unpredictable circumstances when thinking about time. It’s nerve-wracking enough on race day let alone having to deal with being late or not knowing where you’re going.

8) Nutrition & hydration
Similar to number 6, don’t try anything new, stick to what you would usually eat or drink although it is wise to cut back on certain things. I don’t drink alcohol in the lead up to a marathon or eat lots of rubbish food. That said, I know people who drink several beers the night before a race and people who eat whatever they want and still put in a good performance! Just be mindful and do what works for you. Don’t use the excuse of carb-loading to eat everything in sight otherwise you could end up feeling sluggish and heavy on race day.

9) Don’t lift heavy 
If your usual training routine features heavy lifting then give those sessions a miss this week. I usually do CrossFit about 3 times a week but have a break from it during the final taper week – you don’t want to risk any injuries or have DOMS on the day of the marathon.

 10) Positive thinking
Finally, think positively! Visualise crossing that finishing line and how amazing you’re going to feel. I also like to devise a race strategy and think about how I’m going to tackle it and at what pace. Let’s also not forget that we’re doing this for fun so enjoy it – that feeling with last a lifetime!

Are you running a  marathon soon? Or have you recently completed one? Let me know what your race week tips/strategy is! 🙂

Tag me in your marathon pictures on Twitter & Instagram using #hannahshappypace


Finding my happy pace: Easter weekend 18 miler

I can’t quite believe that it’s just 12 days until the Manchester Marathon!

18 miler

I’m finally allowing myself to get excited about the thought of reaching the start line now! After a couple of months of “should I or shouldn’t I” run the marathon I’ve settled on “maybe I can after all.”

If you’re familiar with my blog you might have read my posts on my sub 3.45 marathon goal for Manchester and then how an injury  threw a spanner in the works.

However, despite ruling it out for a while I’ve persevered and tried to get the miles in without getting too stressed that I was about a month behind where I should be in my training plan.

Anyway, this weekend, spurred on by the good weather and the lure of Easter eggs, I hit the roads to see if I could manage 18 miles.

I set out at about 7.50min/mi pace for the first couple of miles, trying to slow down to an 8.35 pace which would be my ideal marathon pace for Manchester. I soon settled in to a steady rhythm and despite feeling a twinge in my knee at mile 5 it wasn’t enough to quit so I carried on and it soon went.

Mile 9 came and it was time to turn around and run back. I took a bottle of water with me which had an orange flavour High5 Zero Electrolyte tablet in and I also had one tube of tropical punch flavour Shot Bloks.

In case you’re interested in how I fuel my long runs, I normally don’t take a drink or any energy gels with me unless I’m running more than 10-12 miles.

I had my first drink and Shot Blok at 9 miles and then every three miles after that, so another drink and Shot Blok at 12 and then my final one at mile 15. I didn’t end up drinking the whole bottle of water and had three Shot Bloks in total.

I felt good throughout the run and it was so nice to be running in the sunshine and without a jacket on for once! Hello spring!! 🙂

I managed 18 miles in 2 hours and 28 minutes which I was thrilled with! Last year when I was training for the Yorkshire Marathon I ran 20 miles in 3 hours and 3 minutes so I definitely feel as though I’ve improved which is a major confidence boost ahead of the marathon.

I finished with a victory dance in the street and a bemused look from a couple of dog walkers but I was so happy! I refuelled with an egg scramble and then some chocolate – not the best refuel I know –  before heading out for some shopping and amazing Hotel Chocolat hot chocolate with my mum. Later that evening Dane and I celebrated at Ambiente Tapas (he’d spent a good three hours mountain biking!) and it was delicious. Ambiente Tapas is my favourite restaurant so if you’re in Leeds or York it’s definitely worth a visit!

Heading out for tapas to celebrate.

Heading out for tapas to celebrate.

I’m now feeling much more confident about the marathon but will see how the next two weeks go and if there’s any sign of my injury flaring up I’ll re-think my plans.

Happy running! 🙂

Lady Garmin Forerunner 220

Meet Lady Garmin, I rarely go anywhere without her. She’s the timekeeper of my happy pace, she pushes me when I’m not going fast enough and she sings happily to me when I get a new PB. I love her.


I was given this watch as a present as I embarked on a new marathon training plan and even though I’ve only ever had one Garmin before I have been super impressed with everything this watch can do.

To start with, the Garmin Forerunner 220 lets your friends/family/coach see where you are during a training run or a race, providing you’ve got your phone with you and are using the Garmin Connect app. I don’t run with my phone often as I like time out from it on my runs but I do take it with me on particularly long/rural runs and this feature is great if you’re racing or for worried parents/significant others!

Let’s start from the minute you put the watch on shall we. The lightweight design makes it feel as though you’re barely wearing a watch and the strap is comfortable and does not rub.


There’s absolutely no delay in connecting to GPS to get going – just press the run button and you’re off.

Once you’re running Lady Garmin automatically pauses when you stop and starts again when you continue on your run – this means there’s no need to keep clicking stop/start if you have to stop at traffic lights.

You can also set her up so that you get vibration alerts if you’re going too fast/too slow compared to your goal pace. Although if you don’t want that feature on make sure you turn it off as she will keep buzzing away at you if you’re too slow!

You can customise the display shown when you’re running and this can include distance, pace, time, average pace, heart race zones (comes with a very comfortable heart rate monitor), calories etc or you can set up two screens and switch between the two. You can switch between them manually or set it up so that the display switches between the two automatically. 

After your run you’ll be told your distance, average pace, cadence, calories burnt and can then see your mile/km split times.

11 miler

If you’ve managed a new personal best your Garmin will sing and beep happily at you to say congratulations on the new PB and this will be stored on there for you to have a look at and remind yourself of how fab you are at any time.

Lady Garmin also programmes interval workouts and there are free training plans and support on Garmin Connect which you can download and load on to your watch for coaching as you run!

If you’re looking for a new watch I’d highly recommend taking a look at the Garmin Forerunner 220 for not only a reliable and accurate watch but one that’s going to push you too!

Check them out here – Garmin Forerunner 220

When I start my 24 week Berlin marathon training plan (more on that to come soon!) in a few weeks I’m going to start wearing my heart rate monitor a lot more so that I can learn more about my body and how to perfect my pace.

Thursday night training run

11 miler

It will be six weeks on Sunday until the Manchester Marathon and I think it’s fair to say that my training has not gone to plan at all due a knee injury.

However Thursday nights training run was a success so I thought I’d share with you where I’m at right now.

This was my longest run since the Yorkshire Marathon back in October, yes, OCTOBER! I can’t quite believe it has taken me this long but like anything else where injury is involved these things take time and it’s best to do it right.

Anyway, I was going to try either 10k or 10 miles on Thursday night; there was literally no plan other than go out and run and see how I felt.

I mapped a route out in my head, strapped on lady Garmin and off I went in to the night! I got to 10k and felt good so thought I may as well carry on to 10.

However I’d misjudged the route and ended up doing 11 and even though I had done 10 miles on Sunday that extra 1 mile was HARD.

It felt great to get the miles in my legs and it’s also a confidence boost too knowing that I am still capable of running far and it’s just a case of building it back up.

I also managed to beat my 10 mile time from Sunday by a minute as well, happy days.

Here’s a breakdown of my timings & mile splits:

Total time: 1.30.11
Distance: 11.01 miles
Average pace: 8.11/mi
Calories: 1087

Mile splits:
1- 8.35
2 – 8.17
3 – 8.07
4 – 8.17
5 – 7.37
6 – 8.14
7 – 8.10
8 – 7.38
9 – 8.13
10 – 8.13
11 – 8.41

If I averaged 8.11/mi pace for a marathon I’d be finishing in 3.34.

Looking forward to pushing myself harder as I get back to track soon and start doing some shorter, faster runs at half-marathon pace/quicker than half-marathon pace with Dane. 

Hope you all go out and find your happy pace this weekend! Tag me in your pictures @hannahbryan91 or #hannahshappypace on Instagram. 🙂

Manchester Marathon: my sub 3.45 goal

manc mara 1

As of Monday I am officially back on a marathon training schedule as I start working towards the Asics Greater Manchester Marathon.

Beginning on the 15th will give me 18 weeks of training, including my three to four weeks of tapering, to prepare for the race on April 19th. If training through the winter wasn’t challenging enough, I’ve gone and set myself a goal of running a sub 3.45 marathon.

Celebrating after with Liana

Celebrating after the Yorkshire Marathon

Unlike my training for the Yorkshire Marathon earlier this year, which definitely didn’t go to plan, I’m going to try and not get hung up on a time. There were times in my training when I got pretty stressed out (apologies to my friends and family!) because I had to miss a session due to other commitments or most annoyingly because of a niggling injury. However I have since learnt that being forced to divert from your plan isn’t always a bad thing.

I’m hoping to do lots of swimming and cross training over the next 18 weeks as well to keep strong, build up endurance and remain injury free. I’m also going to make a conscious effort to work on my mobility and no doubt the foam roller will become my best friend once again.

The first few weeks of my plan will hopefully ease me in before I gradually start to build up the mileage. I am already excited for Sunday Funday’s to be all about long runs, chocolate milkshakes and recovery meals. Bring it on.

The first four weeks of my marathon training plan

The first four weeks of my marathon training plan

After hopefully putting in a good performance at Manchester I’ll have five months before the Berlin Marathon. Yes, I am one of the lucky ones who has managed to secure a place through the ballot and I couldn’t be happier. The Berlin marathon is an iconic race which draws in runners from all over the world and I can’t wait to meet other runners from across the globe and run a marathon in such a gorgeous city.

Berlin marathon


Officially a sub-4 marathon runner!

mara 5


I am officially a sub-4 marathon runner!

I can’t actually believe I’m writing that and I know it’s a good few days since I completed the second Plusnet Yorkshire Marathon but I feel as though it is just beginning to sink in. As I begin to lose some of the tenderness in my aching muscles and return to training tonight, what I achieved has finally hit me.

Actually, I think it hit me as I drove home from work yesterday and pressed play on my I-pod. Conor Maynard’s R U Crazy came blasting through my speakers and I began to cry. I realise how ridiculous this sounds, and how equally ridiculous it is for me to enjoy that song (it does have a good beat though), but during those 26.2 miles that song became somewhat of an anthem for me.

So I drove home teary eyed and got straight back into bed with my medal on to sleep it off. 12 hours later and I can safely say that I’ve passed the emotional stage and I’m ready for my next challenge!
But before that here’s a bit about the day.

I had three goals for the race:
1) The dream goal: to run the marathon in under four hours. (Incredibly ambitious and I started to think it was going to remain a dream for this race after a couple of weeks of difficult training due to a calf injury.)
2) The realistic goal: to run the marathon in about 4.30 (this was the most likely option given the calf setback.)
3) The ‘it has to happen’ goal: to finish in one piece (failing to finishing wasn’t an option.)

On the morning of the race I had my best friend Liana by my side and after a breakfast of toast and Meridian Foods smooth peanut butter and porridge with yet more peanut butter we headed to the event village along with my friend Dane. After I was taped up with my new pink Kinesio Tape and put on my CEP progressive compression socks (more about those babies later!) I was good to go.

The atmosphere was amazing and despite a foggy start the race got off on time and I was thrilled to see that the people of York were still out in force. After the first couple of miles I realised I had gone out a good 30-40 seconds quicker than my 9 minute 9 second mile pace to come in at four hours but I was still feeling good so I decided to just go with it.
After the first 10K I developed a strategy of drinking water at every station and having one of my strawberry flavoured Shot Bloks every 30 minutes.

The crowds at Stamford Bridge, which was just over the halfway mark, were incredible and I actually ran one of my fastest miles through there thanks to the support. Liana and Dane were also there which gave me a huge boost.

However when I reached mile 16 I felt like my legs were moving through treacle, something I didn’t expect at all as I was used to running up to 20 miles in my training. It wasn’t until mile 19 that I got back in to my stride and started to feel good again.
By this time I realised I was on track to run the marathon in less than four hours but for some reason didn’t let myself believe it just in case I jinxed it. Luckily, my legs powered me through – I’d like to thank Crossfit for that and those amazing CEP compression socks – my calf didn’t hurt once!

At about mile 25 and a half I was in for a real treat. My friend Jim, who I had run the Adidas Thunder Run 24 Hour with, had recorded our anthem from the race, an R Kelly song, on the megaphone he was carrying.
As I raced to complete my first ever marathon all I heard was “my minds telling me noooo...” Check out the video on my Instagram.

That final hill before the downward sprint to the finish was cruel but made that last leg of the race so much more rewarding.
I managed a sprint finish as I spotted Liana and Dane at the finish line and was amazed to see that I had come in at 3.53! I was beyond ecstatic and still felt as though I had fuel left in the tank.
The organisation of the race was spot on, as was the goody bag (those two Rocky bars went down a treat!) and the medal was also great.  I was particularly impressed with the engraving service which took 30 seconds to have your medal personalised – such a nice touch.

All in all, one of the best days of 2014 and I’ve already signed up to next year’s pre-sale!

Celebrating after with Liana

Celebrating after with Liana

At the start line ready to go

At the start line ready to go

Still smiling at mile 14

Still smiling at mile 14

Marathon mania

marathon outfit

Hoping I can keep this smile for the full 26.2 miles

So today it hit me that on Sunday I will be running a marathon.
A MARATHON. 26.2 miles.
I feel like it is finally starting to sink in. Well, either that or marathon mania has set in. There are so many thoughts whizzing around my head at the moment. Will my calf hold up, will the weather hold up and will I be able to spot my friends cheering me on when I’m struggling the most –  but I’m hoping I won’t be struggling that much!
I know that come Sunday when I line up at the start for the second Plusnet Yorkshire Marathon, these worries will evaporate and I’ll just try and do what I came to do; run.
But until then my race week has so far been filled with peanut butter, nerves, more peanut butter and more nerves.
Don’t get me wrong, I am seriously excited about the challenge ahead but as the day nears the enormity of it has dawned on me and I’m just hoping that more than anything, nothing will stop me from completing it.
This probably goes back to last year when I was lining up at the start line for the Robin Hood Marathon against advice from the physio and mainly my mother. I had been told, due to an injury to my knee, to either forget about the marathon or to power walk it.
I’m a bit of an all or nothing kind of girl so power walking 26.2 miles was never really an option for me, nor was bowing out completely. So off I went and for the first six miles I felt great. Mile 14 came and I was seriously struggling as the pain got worse. Mile 18 arrived and I knew my race was over as I was forced to pull out. Was it a stupid decision to run? Absolutely, and ever since then I have listened to the physio and to my body.
This time – touch wood – I have remained injury free apart from a slight niggling in my calf which I am 100% sure will hold up on Sunday – positive thinking works wonders you know!
So far this week I have done one short run which was slower than marathon pace and tonight I will hit the pool and do some stretching. Tomorrow I’ll jog to work and back.
Over the next few days I will no doubt drive my friends and family mildly crazy with my plan to make plans (I’m not ashamed to say that I have written a plan of what I need to plan before Sunday) and bore them with details of my outfit and my expected split times.
The marathon playlist is on its way to being finalised, I’ve planned how I’m getting there, now I just need to remember to enjoy it and give it my all.

Marathon prep: just get it done

“Grind it out, Hannah, just grind it out.” Those were the words I was repeating out loud to myself like a madwoman on my final long run before the Yorkshire Marathon.
With less than two weeks to go I took to the roads at the weekend to complete my final long run and it was definitely a tough one.
Knowing I was about two weeks behind where I should/wanted to be due to a bit of an iffy calf I was apprehensive about how far I’d make it on Saturday.
22 miles would’ve been the dream but I think deep down I knew that wasn’t going to happen having not ran more than eight miles in the past two weeks. So I settled on doing anything between 16-22 miles – I’m not one to give up easily!
Everything was fine to start with, I felt strong, my Shot Bloks were slipping down like I was eating fruit  pastilles in front of the X Factor on a Saturday night and I was running a good 30 seconds quicker on each mile than my estimated marathon pace. Until mile 18 that is.
I think my mind gave up before my legs did, which is usually the case, hence why I began chanting to myself whilst Eminem Till I Collapse was on repeat.
I reached 20 miles and decided that was enough, disappointed that I hadn’t managed to hit 22 but pleased that my calf looked like it was going to hold up for the race – and that’s the most important thing, I kept reminding myself.
So with the countdown officially ON (I say that, I’ve been counting down for the past 70 odd days!), it’s finally time to taper.
I’ve been reading up on how to taper and have found that most blogs are suggesting to reduce mileage by another 20-25 per cent during the final two weeks and to run everything easy. So that’s exactly what I’ll be doing.
I’ll be doing three/four runs this week and two/three CrossFit sessions to keep my strength up but if my calf starts playing up I’ll swim instead of run and will take it easy with CrossFit.
I’m in the process of planning my final week now (eek!) and have stocked up on different flavoured Shot Bloks for the race and have almost finalised my race outfit – priorities ey!
Yorkshire Marathon – Let’s do this!!