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Taking Marathon Training to the Next Level…

Apr 15, 2018 | Marathon Majors, Nutrition, Pre Run Training Nutrition, Running, Running Advice | 11 comments

This post is in collaboration with CurraNZ. 

How to enhance your performance

As I’ve made very clear, I’m not going for a BQ in London next weekend, rather I’m pacing the 4.45 group and hoping to help some others run a PB. A BQ, for those that haven’t heard of it, is a Boston Qualifying time, which at my age, is a sub 3.35.

Part of me wonders what it will/would take for me to run a 3.30/3.35 in September (yes, I’ve signed up for my next goal race!)

I ran a big PB in Tokyo in February, knocking 5 mins off my previous best marathon time, and then I sort of crashed and burned in training. I found it really difficult to balance full time hospital placement, nannying, commuting, blogging and doing anything more than running. The strength and stretch sessions took more of a backseat, squeezing them in when I could. (Thank goodness for Tashi’s 30 min workouts that actually felt manageable).

However, with my final summer holidays looming, I though this might be my final chance to give a BQ my all without a full time 9-5 job. (walking around the wards I’m clocking up to 30,000 steps a day, not conducive to good recovery and tapering!)

What does it take to run a BQ

I’ve chosen a course that has an average finishing time of 4.o3 and 20% of runner’s BQ! Seems fairly good odds.

Oh and it’s net downhill.

Not to say it’s not going to be tough, and that downhill races don’t bring their own issues, but I’m hoping that it might help. Oh and it’s in a beautiful canyon, which might take my mind off things for a bit!

On September 8th, I’m running the Big Cottonwood Marathon in Utah!

How to enhance your performance


I’m working with coach Tom Craggs, and I think his training style seems to really work (well the 5 min PB in Tokyo showed that!), so am hoping to continue with him writing my plans. However, I plan to cut my runs down to 4 per week maximum, and focus heavily on strength workouts to supplement my fitness.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll take a bit of a step back from running, and kick start the strength workouts. I’m even trying my first F45 class this week. And my plan is to continue with Tashi’s awesome running specific 30 min strength workouts 2-3 times a week, that way even when I’m travelling, I can get my strength work in. I’m also hoping to create a mini gym in our new house when we move!


So studying to be a dietitian, you’d think that I’d have the nutrition nailed. But the truth is, I turn to easy calories and have a bit of a sweet tooth, meaning that I have too many baked goodies. I’m booking an apt with the Sports Dietitian after placement to chat through areas that I can work on this training cycle…

And I’m also looking at the supplements I currently take. Alongside my Vitamin D and Magnesium that I currently take, I’ve been trying a couple of other additions;


I was recently sent a pack of CurraNZ to try in the lead up to the London Marathon. You might have read about the performance enhancing power of Beetroot. Well, research from the University of Chichester has shown that blackcurrant may be the next big supplement for endurance athletes…and lets just say, I’m willing to give it a go if it means being one step closer to a BQ.

A series of studies on endurance athletes who took New Zealand Blackcurrant saw significant effects on cardiovascular and metabolic responses both at rest and during exercise:

  • Trained endurance athletes saw an increase in cardiac output by 26%, increased stroke volume by 25% and a decrease in peripheral resistance by 16%
  • A 20%-35% increase in main arterial blood flow, resulting in enhanced muscle performance
  • Lactate was reduced by 14% at maximum oxygen uptake, and by up to 27% at lower exercise intensities
  • Fat oxidation was increased over 2 hours of endurance exercise

How to enhance your performance

According to scientists, you can start to feel the effects of CurraNZ within 7 days (i’ve been taking it for just over a week), and haven’t felt any change so far…however that could have something to do with the post-Paris marathon recovery 🙂 I’m going to continue to take the recommended 2 per day over the next 4+ months to see if they’ll make a difference on race day! My race starts at altitude, so I could definitely do with some extra blood flow! Not to mention, that they are supposed to help reduce DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), helping you train harder.

Elite ultra runner Jo Zakrzewski said that she felt that CurraNZ helped improve her recovery and allowed her to race more often thanks to the ‘magic berries’. Pretty sure my post-run squash doesn’t do the same job!

The best bit though, if you’re feeling sceptical (OK I’m always sceptical about performance enhancers) is that the manufacturers of CurraNZ are so confident in its ability to significantly reduce muscle soreness post exercise, they offer a 100% money back guarantee! Why not give it a go…you can order them here. 

How to enhance your performance


Branch-chain Amino Acids, leucine, isoleucine and valine, are essential in our body but not produced internally. We have to eat them as part of our diet in proteins such as chicken, red meat, lentils, beans, eggs and dairy. They help with muscle and energy production during exercise, help with tissue recovery, and can help improve your immune system. Importantly for us runners, there have also been studies showing that BCAA’s can help with mental fatigue as well as improving physical performance.

When you’re building up big training blocks, your muscles become fatigued and your body becomes catabolic. Your body breaks down fat, muscle and tissue when you work hard, and so needs to be replaced to maintain your muscles strength.

I must add, that there has also been a study that showed that marathon runners had no change in performance or perceived muscle pain after taking BCAA’s for 7 days. However, I think that 7 days isn’t really enough time to make a performance difference!

Collagen Protein 

I do actually have a whole post in drafts about the diff between Collagen Protein and Whey proteins, but in summary, collagen protein helps protect your bones, joints and skin. Studies have shown that it helps with the repair of connective tissue, as well as joint pain.

I’m sure I’m not the only runner who has been told that they’re damaging their knees…well here’s your comeback! Our body naturally slows down it’s collagen production as we grow older, and yet it isn’t something that many of us supplement. I like Vital Proteins if you’re looking to try Collagen proteins (look out for a full blog next week on this).

What does it take to BQ

Regular Sports Massages 

I do think that my regular sessions at Function 360 Physiotherapy made a huge difference to my Tokyo success. I was having twice monthly rehab sessions, physio appts when I felt any niggle and weekly/fortnightly massages. It meant that I didn’t let anything fester or get too painful before seeing someone, and the continuity of care was amazing. There is awesome communication between the staff at the practice so that you get supported through all areas, and your care plan can be specifically tailored. (using the code F360CW gives you 15% off treatments).


I hate it, but I saw on instagram the other day that stuck…’if you’re making the time to run, you need to be making the time to recover’. For me, that is prioritising stretching, foam rolling and yoga/pilates/barre. I don’t love yoga, but I do love Yin classes. I want to try to find a great Yin class nearby as well as some online videos to follow when I’m away.

Anyone got any tips on how to make sure this happens? I’m most likely to give excuses to avoid the stretch/yoga when it comes to training… 

I’d also love your feedback on if and how you want me to share my BQ training over the next few months? Weekly blogs, daily instagrams, vlogs…. let me know! 


  1. Nicole

    i feel you re: stretching. i know i need to do it and yet….

    looking forward to hearing how the blackcurrant works out xo

    • charlotte

      And yet… I am the same!

  2. Anouk

    I just found your blog and instagram as i was looking for some running tips and inspiration because I will be running my first half marathon this year and I’ve got to say you are a true inspiration! You are so fast!
    As for your question about the updates about your BQ training, I would love some weekly blog updates about your training and thoughts on what works and what not. And I also want to wish you the best of luck with your training!

    I do have one question for you. You write something about Tashi’s 30 min workouts, could you maybe share some more info about those workouts? Or any other tips for strength training workouts? Because I really need to fit some strength training into my fitness scheduele if I want to run a reasonable time on the half marathon.

    And sorry if my English is not the best, it’s not my first language!

    • charlotte

      Thanks, will do 🙂

      Happy to share some workouts in the weekly blogs including strength sessions that you can do. Your english is great! x

  3. Liv

    Hi Charlie – Not usually a commenter on your blogs but just to say that I love reading about your training plans and goals, and find it really refreshing to hear how hard you graft.

    With so much on social being about the outcomes of goal races which seem to come so easily for some people, I really take heart in reading your blogs as well as about the different training approaches and tweaks you’ve made over the years!

    • charlotte

      Thank you so much! Ah I so know how you feel when I see people running their first ever marathon and running a BQ, it can make me feel like my efforts are pointless. But I feel so strongly that I can and will achieve this eventually, that I’m determined to keep working for it! Even if it takes me years! xx

  4. Laura Fulks

    Charlie, I am so excited you’ll be coming to Utah in September! We chatted on instagram a few weeks ago about that race when you were still thinking about it. I live in Utah and am doing the Big Cottonwood half. Looking forward to hearing about your training and hopefully meeting you when you are here in our beautiful area!

    • charlotte

      Yay that’s awesome! definitely, would love to meet up!

  5. maureengetsreal

    I’d love to see your BQ training! I think a mix of blogs posts and vlogs will be of most interest to me.

  6. reservedforrunning

    I recently found you through Instagram and I’m so glad I did. Love reading your updates. I’m not a yoga person either and I’m improving at stretching, but I struggle with it too. One thing I have done is to stop making myself feel like I should do yoga. I actually started doing Zumba to help with my hip and back stiffness. I truly feel the tension release during the class and it is a fun, low impact cross training day. It works for me, but I am a low mileage runner. I figure something is better than nothing! 🙂

  7. Lindsay

    So exciting … Utah is a beautiful state. I hope that you come to the US for at least a week for that trip so that you can possibly hit up some of the surrounding mountain states while you’re there! Considering making the trip out west for that race for the half because of the net downhill! 🙂


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