Nagano Marathon – 6 weeks to go!

With a little over 6 weeks to go I have just…sprained my ankle. Whilst skiing in some slightly bumpy off piste terrain, I hit a ledge that I couldn’t see, my ski released and I went flying into the powder. I’ve had issues with my ski boots supporting me around my skinny, hyper-mobile ankles and I twisted it in the ski boot. Yes, in the ski boot. Never fear – the ice pack was one of the first things I packed, the ibuprofen is circulating my system and my feet are elevated. At least it is the other ankle to the one I sprained in the summer – I do say I am all about balance after all… Hopefully it’ll only take a few days to heal, but I am postponing my long run from this weekend to next week. It is frustrating, what with doing various exercises to strengthen my ankles, test my balance and keep me strong, that I can still so easily sprain my ankle – but, that’s my body and I am getting used to it and remind myself of everything it can do.

Here is an update on my training so far.

Knowledge Is Power

I have been reading and researching online, looking at Instagram, running blogs and listening to podcasts to gain as much information as possible about training. I’ve read reviews of the Nagano Marathon, looked at the course map online, watched the video, and I am trying hard to prepare myself as best as I can for the 17th April.

Along with my own knowledge, especially of my body, I think I am fairly on track with my programme, despite this injury setback. What with the inconsistent weather conditions, I am being very flexible with this ‘programme’ – I appear to have become a fair weather runner and a bad weather skier to avoid snowy face shots whilst running and save them for skiing – and, through a combination of guidance from a selection of online marathon training templates and looking at my previous weeks’ training, I decide on a weekly basis what would be most beneficial training to do the following week. I make a judgement based on how I feel whilst having a general long term plan of what distance I need to have covered by when. My two week taper has been put in to the plan to ensure I am fresh on race day.

My Programme

My programme at the moment includes one to two REST days a week – that means no skiing, no swimming, no running, and a core session at best. Otherwise, my are feet up and I am foam rolling, icing and stretching.

Skiing – everyday except a rest day. This may be all day, a morning or a few runs. This isn’t just cruising the pistes, but involves big powder days, tree skiing and dealing with the cold – there have been days when I have felt truly zonked!

Swimming – once/twice a week. I swim a minimum of 1.5k (60 lengths) up to a 2.5 k (100 lengths) and depending on how I feel, this will be a continuous slow and steady pace, or I’ll do some 100m intervals at a higher tempo. I find swimming really helps with breathing and I transfer this across when I run.

Gym session – every Thursday evening. Normally I do a tempo run (gradually increasing speed), or intervals on the treadmill. I can only bear 30-45 minutes on the treadmill. I think and hope it measures in miles per hour but to be honest, I just look at the numbers and increase when and how I think is best and this keeps me focused and interested. Last week’s session looked like this:

5mins gradually increasing to 8mph (4:40mins/km)

Main workout
5mins@8.5mph (4:23mins/km)
5mins of running for 1min @ 9mph (4:09mins/km) with a 45s rest
5mins of running for 45s @ 9.5mph (3:55mins/km) with a 30s rest
10mins of running 30s @ 10mph (3:44mins/km) with a 30s rest
5mins of running 30s @ 10.5mph (3:33 mins/km) with 30s rest
5mins @ 8.5mph (4:23mins/km)

Cool down
3mins walk

I then did some squats, lunges and deadlifts with a light weight and high repetitions to work on my endurance strength, and some glute specific exercises.

Thankfully I went to the gym on Tuesday this week and did a tempo run, maintaining my speed at 8mph for 30 minutes with a warm up and cool down. Therefore resting my ankle and body for a few days doesn’t make me feel as bad as maybe I would have felt if I hadn’t completed this session.

Running – the most important! One long run a week and if the weather is good, maybe an extra shorter run. Last week I focused on pace and did a 10k and 20k at roughly 5:28mins/km. This was a big improvement on my running pace outside. The roads are not clear of snow and ice, but compact most of the way. A little slick and icy in places, deeper snow in others; the roads definitely make me watch my step. I’m hoping that running in these conditions will just make the tarmac much easier, and therefore I will run faster…!

Sadly my long run (30k) won’t be possible this weekend – I hope to get it in next week. There is still time and I am trying not to panic. I will focus on distance, but at a slow, steady and easy pace.

Trainers & Niggles

I am running in my Nike Zoom Pegasus trainers… I know, I know, definitely NOT the best for these conditions, or my leg, but new trainers are on their way. They’ve been great trainers over the summer and particularly good on the treadmill, but I have decided I definitely need more support. I do pronate on my left foot and I really think this has been the source of all my problems. There is definitely something funky going on in my left hip, but firing the glutes with numerous exercises seems to have helped, and trying to run with slightly better form. This has become easier the fitter I have become. Ice, rest, ibuprofen/voltaren gel and massaging with various torture tools all seem to be helping – definitely bringing out the bruising, anyway! It’s a shame it’s my left ankle I’ve hurt too, but I should be alright.



Surprisingly, I can run on fresh air. My 20k runs I have done with no water or food intake, and I have felt absolutely fine. I don’t think this is particularly recommended and I am aware that I will need to refuel during the marathon. I have invested in some energy gels and will test them out on my next long run. Anything more than 20-25k and I can start to feel my body wilt.

Otherwise, I am eating as balanced a diet as possible, ensuring I don’t let myself get too hungry by eating little and often to keep my energy levels stable. Lots of rice, fish and meat, fruit and vegetables, and a fair few treats – naturally!


I am still working – teaching the odd lessons, driving the van around for pick-ups, doing lesson splits and ‘running shop’ whilst my bosses visit some agents, but it is quieter and I am using my time as efficiently as possible to get in quality skiing and still explore the area as well as train.

If you’d like to support me, I would love it for you to donate whatever you can to the Kees Brenninkmeyer Foundation. They provide financial support to injured alpine professionals (guides, patrollers, ski instructors) who do not have the funds for surgery and rehabilitation to get back working in the career they love. Thank you to all those who have already donated – it honestly makes me smile and reminds me that I am running and training for this marathon for not only myself, but for people who are trying to pursue a career like the one I am lucky enough to be living.

Any words of encouragement are appreciated and you can follow more regular updates on Instagram @treadmillsandchocolate or on my Facebook page.