The Countdown until London City Mile 2015

This time last year, I was counting down the weeks until London City Mile. It's strange to see how far I've come in terms of fitness and running since then. This year, I have run two half marathons, as part of aim to run at least ten races of different distances this year, and the lead up to marathon-distance running next year.

It's nice to see the number of medals hanging on my mannequin increasing over time. A great reminder of what I am achieving. One of my favourite medals has definitely got to be the medal from London City Mile 2014.

A photo posted by Mara V-H (@mara_clickthat) on

I'm running the London City Mile race again this year. I made the decision for a number of reasons. Firstly, (and what is probably a well known fact by now) I love the City; being able to run on the roads around some of the City's most iconic landmarks was a real winner for me. For anyone familiar with the City, the route will be recognisable for you.

Secondly, 1 milers are endurance events, and so this in itself creates a mixture to my race calendar, especially as I'm not running any other 5km distances this year (besides the Run Hackney 5km). If you've not participated in 1 mile races before, these are really worth a try. Unlike longer distance runs where you have the time to build up your pace over time, with 1 milers you don't, so it really does challenge you in ways that other distances don't. By the end of the 1 mile, you are huffing and puffing. Quite literally, it is all about how fast you can run 1 mile.

I consider myself to be a long-distance runner, and the 1 miler is a distance I'm not exactly perfect at, but I love it because of the different challenges it poses and the way in which the training differs. Plus, these 1 milers bring out my competitive streak, which doesn't appear so much in other races I've done.

But why should you run the London City Mile? Apart from what I said above, the race removes lots of barriers. Being such a short distance, anyone can participate. You can run, walk, skip or run backwards if you really wanted. This year there are more waves, and as well as being a general wave for both men and women, there are separate waves for women and men. Have I mentioned, it is free? A free race that comes with a medal and post-race goody bag -what's not to love about that?

It doesn't matter what your aim is, everyone is welcome. So if your aim is to be able to walk the 1 mile then that's fine. If you are in a wheelchair, that's fine. Like I said, everyone is welcome, regardless of fitness level or mobility ability.

A photo posted by Mara V-H (@mara_clickthat) on

The London City Mile is sponsored by Amba Hotels and Mizuno, and is run by The Running Works (or Run-Fast). If you remember my post last year, I mentioned how I really disliked the Run-Fast store because of its miniature size. But I have great news for you on that November last year, they moved to a much, much bigger location near 1Rebel on Houndsditch. The men and women's trainers and clothes selection is much bigger, with a range of different brands, like One More Mile to Saucony. Also, there's a cute, little café serving a wide range of healthy bites and drinks. Running + food = win win!

Last week, The Running Works held an evening about the City Mile, with tips on how to train, prepare and run on the day, from running coaches, the race directors, and elite athlete Sonia Samuels.

Here is the lowdown from the event:

 For those who are new to running, one of the first tips given was to set a time and divide that into chunks. For example, 30 seconds run, 30 seconds walk. As the weeks get nearer to the race, increase that time of running.

In terms of interval training for running newbies, set yourself a target, like being able to run to a lamp post, if your aim for race day is just to be able to run the mile.

For those more comfortable with running:

-long, tempo runs.

-Example training included doing 2 sets  of 4x400m with 30-60 second gap for rests. The aim is to build up a tolerance of high lactate levels on race day.

When it comes to the time you want to run the mile in on race day, don't pluck a figure out of thin air. By now (2 weeks until race day!) you should know roughly what that time is, and you should be incorporating threshold and tempo running in your training.

If you have a heart rate monitor, it was advised not to 'run to it', but rather to 'run to feel' on race day (and practicing this throughout training so that it's not new to you on race day).

With 1 milers, there is not much you need to do for tapering week. What you do the day before is up to you. You can rest, do a light run or a hard run if you want. This is a matter of preference.

We were also shown how to perfect our running, and how to run properly (forward the second video from 24 seconds to avoid repetition of the first video...and I'm sorry for poor camera quality. Phone has gone downhill since I dropped it):

Sonia Samuels, British Champion of London Marathon 2015, and who is hoping to qualify for the Rio Olympics 2016, provided us with some tips as well.

She suggested throwing in a variation to the times when you train. For example, if your race is at 9am, then train a few times at 9am so you know what it feels like to run at that time. Nothing should be new to you on race day.

Sonia spoke about core strength as well. She said that she does core strength work 15-20 minutes everyday. Even though she is an elite athlete, I think that's a manageable exercise that most people can do. She also lifts weights twice a week. You don't necessarily have to do that twice a week, but the point is that varying your training program, and not limiting it to solely running, will have a hugely positive impact to how you run on race day.

Oh, and  before I forget, I asked her what marathon she would recommend for my first and she said either Manchester or Brighton in UK, and for Europe, she said Berlin, Amsterdam or Rotterdam. Now I'm getting excited for making the decision on where to complete my first full marathon!

The London City Mile is on 14 June 2015 and is free entry. It is a family event, and with a variety of waves. Registration is open until this week.

Mara xxx

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