Your personal running coach

Spotlight on Katie

This week’s blog is brought to us by Katie.  Katie signed up with I Run Success Coaching back in October, and her primary goal wasn’t a specific race, but rather getting back here love of running and making sure she was strong enough to do it.  I’ve done a few spotlights before, and plan to do more as the year goes on.  Here’s Katie’s story:

Running History

I was on sports teams growing up, but I was never ‘a runner’ at school. I just didn’t see the point of running around a field or track again and again. If you told me to do it, I would generally do a pretty half-hearted job. I think this stays with you and it took me until I was 26 to give this running lark another go.

I lived in Bath and spent a couple of years enjoying the half marathon as a spectator. I loved the buzz of the city full of supporters and watching the elite runners belting towards the finish line. I felt like I had to give it a go and so duly signed up. It didn’t go well. I went for a few runs by myself but seemed to get exhausted quickly. Coupled with a very busy Master’s degree and a part time job, I let the half date pass by without running it, all the while feeling disappointed with myself. I never say I will do something and not do it.

One year later, I made sure I was on that start line. Bath council ran a fantastic ladies only half marathon training programme. I joined this and realised that I had just been going out way too fast on my own. The group held me back and I could run a lot further than I thought. On Sunday mornings, we headed out around the villages and hills (and oh boy, were they hills!) and I saw my distance growing – 8, 9, 10, 11 miles. I ran the half in 2 hours 8 minutes. I was so happy. And I was hooked.  

Over the next few years I tended to yoyo a bit, as I moved around a lot for work and found it hard to get into a running habit. I ran some other half marathons that would get me training again but I also had periods of not really running at all.

Joining Goodgym

That all changed in January 2014 when I joined GoodGym. Every Tuesday I headed out with a group of people and ran to community projects around Lambeth to help them out. I got a ‘coach’ – an isolated older person that I ran to on a weekly basis. They keep me running and we both benefit from friendship. All of a sudden I was regularly running three times a week and as a group, we started to enter races.

Nine months after starting GoodGym I ran the Berlin Marathon. This was a massive challenge for me, and again, my lack of experience showed. I didn’t train right – mainly by neglecting the strength aspect – and got a back injury. I ended up running the marathon having only covered 14 miles in training. Yikes. Despite being massively hard, I loved the actual day. I was so proud of myself for completing a bloody marathon in 4 hours 50 minutes. I think that’s pretty good given my limited training.

I did find the whole thing quite emotionally difficult, though. Going out on my own for hours at a time, being hungry and tired, and generally missing out on social things all took their toll and I decided that I should focus on shorter distances that I enjoyed more and, frankly, was better at.

After the marathon

Since then I have been running regular 10km and half marathons with GoodGym. In February 2016, I took my half time down to 1 hour 47 minutes, 11 minutes off my previous PB! For the rest of the year, however, I felt like I was losing my mojo. In my head I was going to get faster and faster but in reality, I ran the Cardiff Half in October in 1 hour 59 and thought I might die after. I had taken over as the GoodGym trainer for Lambeth in May and felt that I needed to continue to improve my running so that I could do what I was asking of others. As it was, I felt really despondent and with each run I was more and more exhausted. What was going on?

I Run Success

This was when I got in touch with Angela – a fellow GoodGym trainer. I was really attracted to her emphasis on strength training and also her clear personal success as a runner. We had a phone chat and I decided to take her on as my coach. Angela immediately got to work with an online training plan and I started following it. I was excited about the variety – including a strength and core session each week rather than just running all the time.

My first strength session was hilarious. Angela had outlined a number of exercises to do with weights, as well as the suggested KGs to use. I literally couldn’t even lift the weights up, let alone do anything with them. And there it was. Whilst I was physically fit, I was a total weakling. In order for my running to get back on track and to make sure I didn’t get injured, this had to change.

Continued progress

Since November I have been slowly building up my weights and putting in a lot more miles. At first I continued to feel slow, sluggish and exhausted but this has gradually started to change. After having a week off due to illness, I ran 10km on Christmas Day that was one of the best runs I had done all year. My 2017 speed sessions so far have seen me hitting – and exceeding – my target paces, and enjoying it to boot. I am falling back in love with running again.

We’ve put in place some ‘A’ races for the first half of the year and I am looking forward to them. I feel like I can now realistically aim for my moonshot of a 1 hour 40 half marathon, whereas last year that seemed to be creeping further away. My body is getting stronger and that makes me feel more confident. Angela and I catch up on the phone every couple of weeks and we alter the plan based on any life changes I have or training challenges / successes.

Being accountable to someone really helps me stick to my plan. I would definitely recommend Angela to anyone looking to up their running game. I felt like I was in a rut and needed some fresh thinking and expertise to help draw me out of it. This is exactly what I am getting and what you would get to. Do it!

The End

Thanks for writing that Katie.  She’s made some really good progress. What she hasn’t mentioned (because she wrote it a few weeks ago) is that she has taken 2 minutes off her 10km time.  At the end of November she was at 52 minutes, and last week she ran one in just over 50 minutes.  That is despite having the disruption of having a nasty cold over Christmas which meant she had to miss some of the training.

We hadn’t met in person until the Goodgym Trainers’ Christmas party in December, but the interactive training plan and regular coaching calls mean that we stay in touch well to develop the best plan for her.  If you’re interested in signing up, learn more here.

And make sure you sign up for the video series below to learn the steps to having an amazing year of running.

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Angela Isherwood

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.

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