Monday, 28 April 2014

I've done it !!

Well, I've passed my final written exam and practical assessments to become a fully qualified UK Athletics running coach :)

I have to say that I spent more time revising for this than I have for any other exam in my life..... The exam has 10 sections and a complete fail in any one of them means that you would fail the written exam....

I don't think I appreciated when I started quite how big a step it was to go from being a running leader to a coach. Over the last 6 months I have been studying nutrition, running technique, coaching technique, creating training plans and planning sessions to cover energy systems, technique and not forgetting the health and safety ! I certainly underestimated the amount of paperwork involved....

After the first weekend away training (two very full days) we had a break of about a month to put what we had learnt in to practice. This was followed by another full day training to see how we had developed and how we had progressed our personal action plans as well as completing set tasks such as a very thorough athlete profile and training plan. It was then over to us to complete our individual coaching diaries.... this did take longer than I thought; with detailed feedback needed from each documented session. Only when my training diary was passed could I book my place on the final assessment day....

I have certainly learnt an awful lot along the way; it has helped me improve my own running as well as my coaching and I'm really looking forward to using the skills I have learnt. I am lucky enough to now be coaching at two local running clubs but if any local runners are looking for personal training plans and coaching then please contact me :)

Monday, 7 April 2014

Brighton Marathon 2014

Well,  I'm still aching as I type this. but that's hardly surprising since it is only 24hrs since the marathon.

This year it was quite a different experience for me because I set out with a goal time in mind. When I entered last year I had initially been planning on running it with my daughter again but after she had a few injuries, illness and holidays we decide to run it individually. This did mean that I was entered in the 4:30 to 5:00 time group, to be honest this didn't really prove much of an issue but it did mean the 4:15 and 4:30 pacers started in the group in front of me so I couldn't realistically plan on using them to get round the marathon !

My training didn't go according to plan either. I had an achilles injury late Oct/Nov last year so I needed to train enough but still give it a chance to heal and I will say that over the last few months it has been getting better so at least I got that bit right ! The thing I didn't do enough of was the mid-week mid-distance tempo runs but I did do quite a few longish runs...

The first 20 miles went according to plan; at the half way point I was on target for my "Gold Medal" goal on 4:15 (I normally have two goals, one I think I can stand a chance of achieving and one that if everything goes amazingly well I might just scrape in... for me my "might just" time was 4:15 and my more realistic goal was sub 4:30)

After 20 miles I started to feel incredibly sick. I found I could only just sip water without being ill and I couldn't face energy gels/shot bloks etc. The downside was I could feel I was low on energy and a bit dehydrated so I knew I really should be eating and drinking. In my training runs I had been fine on shot bloks and water so I don't know quite why this happened..... Part of me wanted "real" food rather than the mush that energy gels, drinks etc seem to be. Perhaps on my long training runs I'll start trying malt loaf or flapjacks rather than squidgy things in packets.

This did slow me down and my pace fell right off. I knew I wasn't going to make the 4:15 so rather than kill myself trying I took regular walk breaks (when the nausea became too bad to run) and tried to remember to smile and enjoy it but nothing can take away quite how hard the last 2 miles were and the main thought going through my head was that when I crossed the finish line I could stop running.

Oh, and by the way.... who hid the finish line ??? It seemed to be ages from the pier before I could see it and by that time I really did want it all to be over !

Don't get me wrong; I enjoyed it. It was just bloody hard work and knackering.

I have said that I'm not running a marathon next year. One of my goals is to run a sub 4 hr marathon and to do this I need to run faster than I do at the moment so next year will be all about getting my half marathon time down. My PB at the moment is 1:55 and for a sub 4 hr marathon it really needs to be closer to 1:45 (or, ideally, below). This will give me a realistic chance of achieving my goal.

So what did I learn this year ?

1. Water and energy gels won't necessarily work....
2. Met office weather forecasts are only accurate that morning (it was forecast heavy rain the day before, on the day it said dry and luckily it was !)
3. Possibly the most important....... Wearing your Lucky Knickers is no substitute for proper training :)

Anyway, for those of you who are interested, this is my Garmin data :)

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