Thursday, 22 March 2018

A Trainer's Tale - Episode 3 - Falling with Style

Every little helps...
The Marathon is an exceptional event for many reasons, not least because behind that one day of eventing there lies many months of hard training.

This morning, with just over 4 weeks to go, and almost 7 months of training behind us, Brian suddenly piped up, “I think I’m being a bit cavalier about this”. Hmmm. Maybe that’s one of the reasons we get on so well. I used to share that same cavalier attitude about learning to drive, or giving birth. Millions of people do it every single day, how hard can it be? Quite hard as it turns out.

Running is a great leveller, and despite our very different lives and backgrounds, throughout those months of hard training we’ve had enormous fun.

There’s the time we were sprinting – 25 seconds hard running, followed by 3 minutes recovery, times 6 – and Brian tripped over a tussock (his word not mine). I tried to catch him (honestly) as we both fell in slow motion, Brian face-planting in the mud and me falling on top of him. After I’d checked Brian was still intact, I lay on my back in the mud laughing my head off. I love my job.

Then there’s the time I got sick myself. We’d completed a tempo run round a field with a club house and had just started post-run cool-down and stretching. All of a sudden, I couldn't hold myself together any longer and sprinted round the back of the club house to throw up. “You ok to carry on stretching Brian?”, I managed to yell, in between loud barfing and laughing. “Righty ho!” came the cheery reply.

We had great fun running through the woods not so long ago. Despite the recent snowfall and lots of rain, it never really occurred to me that the path might be a little muddy. I kept saying “it’ll be drier in a minute; there’ll be less mud, honestly”. Brian started calling me Theresa (May) for my groundless positivity. Theresa, please note, it never did get any dryer. On the upside, walking and running through deep mud trying to stay upright brought out Brian’s inner 5 year old and we laughed our way through that session.

I enjoy 1 to 1 coaching immensely, it’s so much fun spending time with and getting to know all kinds of people. On a serious note, Brian’s main reason for taking on The Marathon at 75 yrs old is to raise money for prostate cancer research which he believes is tragically underfunded. Please click here to donate to The Gerry Jogger. Last September we could measure Brian's run in inches. Now he's up to 16 miles. What he's achieved already is remarkable. 

If you’re inspired and want to learn to run, please contact me at It’s fun.

And it might just change your life.

Saturday, 3 March 2018

A Trainer's Tale - Episode 2 - First Steps

On an early morning in September we set out for our first coaching session. It was 6am, it was very dark and very cold, and Brian lives on a main road with no pavement. The idea was that at 6am there wouldn’t be much in the way of traffic, so we donned our reflective vests, luminous gloves, a light-up flashing water bottle, light-up flashing heel lights, and fully charged head torches.

Dressed up like fireflies, we set out.

Warm up
The best place to start is walking. I reckon that walking is underrated in the running world. Walking at the start of a session is a brilliantly simple way of getting the blood circulating to all those muscles it needs to get to, it raises your heart rate gradually, and your brain switches on too. Even on a cold morning, see how quickly you get warm and energised!

We followed the walk with some dynamic stretches in a wooded lay-by where we could catch up on any niggles and chat through the session, whilst watching the dawn break and listening to the countryside wake up. We never missed this. It turned out to be a successful little routine that really got everything feeling flexible, alive and good to go.  

Main session
Our first session was really to see what where our starting point was. Brian mentioned that he was already up to running 2 minutes, so that’s exactly where we started. “When you’re ready Brian, off you go!”

After 90 seconds he puffed out “Are we nearly there yet?”. (I’m not mocking, I think the same thing at some point in almost every run I do). We did of course get to the 2 minutes.

Here’s the thing. The real trick with endurance running and running for life is (mostly) to learn how to run more slowly. And the way to do THAT is to shorten your stride.

Try this at home…
Just try jogging gently up and down on the spot for a minute or two. When you’re ready, start to move forward, but keep that same gentle jogging motion. Easy.

And there you have it. My top tip for running a really long way. It’s tempting to break into a faster run, a different stride, and a pace which you can’t sustain for very long (just like being back on the school sports field). But if the aim is to keep going, this is a great tool you can use to reel yourself back in to that easy comfortable pace you can sustain and enjoy.

Don’t get me wrong, 20% of training will be quicker, harder effort, longer strides etc. But for building up those long miles, go easy.

Rubbish Cool-Down
Brian has many passions, and one of them is rubbish. Specifically rubbish where there should be no rubbish. So our cool down walk included bagging every piece of trash from the hedgerows that we could find.

As I write this post, I can tell you that Brian has just completed his first TWELVE mile run. From a humble 2 minutes, at the age of 74, please feel free to be as impressed as I am.

He’s running the London Marathon to raise money for prostate cancer research which he believes is tragically underfunded.Please help in any way you can.

Come and run with us, it might just change your life.