Hello! Today’s blog comes from one of my customers, Meera. She’s been running for several years, and like many of us, the reason she runs changes as she continues her journey. I gave her some guidance for a structure for this article, but the rest is completely her own words, un-edited. And I have to say, its a really inspiring story. Working with Meera is a dream. She shows such dedication and is completely willing to learn, as well as do all the sessions that will help her reach her goals.
I have always struggled with my weight and having left university to work in the City of London, I began to lose this struggle big time. Sitting on a train, then at a desk, then sitting to study for exams at the weekends; I was piling on the pounds.
Having a size 16 suit become too tight to wear comfortably was the wake up call I needed to do something: I joined a gym. Now it was not all bad; my now husband is from Newcastle and one year watching the Great North Run I remarked “I bet I could do that, it can’t be that hard”, and I did! In 2008, 2009 and 2010 I ran the GNR with a goal time of 2 hours 30, on the third attempt I stopped the clock at 2:23 and couldn’t have been more proud of myself.
After my running experience was over I focused at the gym, doing basic weights and going to spin class to drop myself back down to a size 12 and a BMI of just inside 25. I was fairly happy with this and maintained this routine for a couple of years…
In November 2013 I was walking in our local park and had what I now realise was a life-changing moment, although I did not have any notion that it was at all important at the time. I saw a little notice for ‘parkrun’: a friendly, timed 5k run in the park, 9 am, Saturday. I then went online to learn a little more and started to convince myself to give it a go; I had earlier that year completed a 5k obstacle course race and a 5k fun run so I thought I would be OK; I also did some running on the treadmill at the gym.
On December 14th I ran my first parkrun – and I did manage to run it all – in 27:35. I was over the moon to have finished in less than 30 minutes! I then went the week after and took 70 seconds off that time; and discovered a good feeling… I was hooked.
I started to run more and more. The team I was working in at the time had two other ladies in it who were runners so we developed a routine of going out for a run at lunch and I was getting faster, and losing weight and I liked it! I also decided to enter the Colchester half marathon 2015. I had not run anything of this distance since 2010’s Great North Run so I was excited!
I moved jobs in 2014 and made sure to agree hours that would accommodate running: this was now something that the other parts of my life should fit around. It was important to me. I was also a little jealous of a work mate who was running the London Marathon so thought I would get in on the marathon action and enter one of my own. I chose the Stour Valley Marathon – an off road race in June and started to train for that.
I did well at these, I met my goal at Colchester Half of sub 1:45 and then went on to complete the Stour Valley Marathon in 4 hours 55, which although a good result was disappointing as a few things went wrong on the day. Preparing for Stour I met Angela Isherwood, a local personal trainer and run coach who was also training for Stour. In a conversation one day she said she thought that I could get into London on a good for age place: I just needed to run a marathon in less than 3:45; so then I entered Chelmsford marathon which would take place in October 2015.
In September 2015; my new husband and I went on honeymoon however; and whilst I would never change this for the world (except maybe to make it longer!) it did affect my preparation for Chelmsford and my time of 3:44:23 reflected that. I really felt that I could have achieved more. I also started to wonder if my preparation had been ‘right’ or what I could have done differently; I’d spent ages making training plans, but what if they had all been a waste of time? I had also struggled with nutrition and at Chelmsford I know I got my fuelling wrong.
I had started to consider using I Run Success before Chelmsford Marathon and after that day I really started to doubt my ability to craft a training plan. I had entered Stour Valley Marathon again with the view if righting all of the wrongs of the previous year and getting an improvement, I also had my eye on an improvement at Colchester half and as a third challenge in 2016 I had entered a 100 kilometer ultramarathon to see how far I could go.
Speaking with Angela I realised that I could take the doubt away and save myself heaps of time. Signing up with I Run Success meant that I didn’t have to spent hours researching and crafting a training plan that I didn’t have any real reason to believe would work. Instead I could just be given a plan each month, that if followed was pretty much guaranteed to improve my running. The intermediate level of coaching seemed right for me and my goals, so I signed up to that starting in November 2015.
My training plan with I Run Success is not just about running; it includes strength sessions at the gym as well. These are actually something that, perhaps both consciously and subconsciously, I was cutting down on in favour of getting out for more miles. Angela has invigorated my enjoyment of gym work and I am now lifting heavier than ever before, I have a stronger core than ever before, and I have learned a whole host of new movements to focus on getting my legs strong for running. I no longer look at gym work as something that takes me away from running, but as something that will make my next run better.
I have also attended the I Run Success Running Techniques Workshop, which highlighted some risks in my running form and this has influenced the type of strength work that Angela is putting in my plans. I am still working on improving my running form, this will be a long process for me, but knowing what, why and how to improve is the first step.
When I first received my training plan from Angela I thought it was a bit ‘light’. I was worried it would not work me hard enough. I have now learnt to trust in the plan. Sometimes it is light, it is meant to be. Sometimes it looks light on paper, but before you know it the cumulative effect of training is taking hold and boy is it hard work! This type of longer term thinking when crafting the plan is one of the real benefits of I Run Success.
The first test for my I Run Success training plan was four weeks in. I was running Norwich Half Marathon and not feeling confident at all, particularly after my Chelmsford performance. I received my pacing plan from Angela and I followed it (sort of) and the result was a personal best! Yes I was only 12 seconds faster than at Colchester Half, but it was an improvement and given that this race was supposed to be an exercise in pacing getting a pb was a bit of a surprise that hinted at good things to come.
I also had success in the Benfleet 15 mile race. Again, not an ‘A’ race, but I came away 4 minutes faster than my goal time. This was also the first time I had practiced carb-loading on Angela’s recommendation.
Over the winter my cross country improved as well. I was placing 25th or so in races before Christmas. In January I achieved a 15th position, followed by a 17th the next time I ran.
In March 2016 I ran Colchester Half Marathon again. I had a goal time of 1:38:00. I did not achieve this; however I did achieve a 1:38:16, over two minutes faster than the previous year and I firmly believe sub 1:38 is within my reach.
Yes! Using I Run Success has taken the uncertainty away form training. Angela has been there and done it, and she knows what works and what doesn’t and if you can learn to trust the training plan you can achieve huge levels of improvement. There is so much information out there, and so many people willing to give advice, whether asked for or not. Being a member of a running club has meant that I hear all sorts of conflicting opinions and see lots of different approaches to training and racing. Working with Angela provides one clear path to follow, it takes the confusion away. It also prevents plateau… something that can occur if you always attend the same club sessions with the same people, or always run the same routes around the local area.
The confidence I now have in my ability to achieve a massive improvement at Stour Valley Marathon is sky high, and I owe that to I Run Success. I have no doubt that I am doing the right work to prepare myself.
A big thanks to Meera for writing this week’s blog! 🙂 What she didn’t mention is that despite missing her goal time for a half marathon at Colchester by 16 seconds (which isn’t really that much, is it?), her goal was to achieve that time in 2016 because of a club standard. I’m sure you have as much confidence as I do that Meera will achieve this goal, and I continue to look forward to seeing her ongoing success.
And why not congratulate Meera on her success by leaving a comment below.
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Angela Isherwood is the founder of I Run Success
She is a REPs Level 3 Personal Trainer, a Run England Running coach, and a multiple marathon runner. She is a London Marathon Good for Age runner, a Boston Marathon Qualifier, a parkrun Run Director and Trainer for Goodgym Colchester.