However you try and quantify the impact that a CCK training plan has had on me whether it’s running knowledge, personals bests, fitness, body confidence, enjoyment, muscle strength the only outcome can be an overwhelming success.
I was selected by Clean Coach Katie to receive a free marathon training plan and monthly PT sessions as part of a new sponsored athlete programme in conjunction with Rudi from The Treatment Lab. My marathon would be the London Marathon which would be my first one having gained entry through a charity place with Cats Protection. The marathon plan was to start in January 2018 but in reality it started much sooner that than, as soon as I received the plan it just instantly motivated me, seeing all these different types of runs that I hadn’t done before really energized me. Intervals for example is something I had done a few times throughout 2017 but never a weekly thing and tempo runs, what were they about?. So much to look forward to so it wasn’t any coincidence that I began running quite well toward the back of 2017 having found out I had been selected for the programme. I had just set my best 5k time of19:57 and best Half Marathon time of 1:36 so how much better could it get?
When people ask me how I’ve managed to improve so much one of biggest changes has been the addition of strength work at the gym. I hadn’t been to the gym for about 2 years prior to my first PT session with CCK and it was just so much better than when I used to be a member of a gym. Katie instantly makes you feel at ease in the gym environment and demonstrates how to do each exercise. Every PT session was so varied that even if I have a specific area to focus on the exercises are always different and it really keeps it fun. Doing squats and lunges though was a key theme and something I’d never have done left to my own devices.
One of the best parts of having a CCK training plan is that you have someone on the other side of it – being able to ask questions, worries, food tips and anything else and for me there were a lot. Having someone invested in your training plan, giving so much of their time really makes the difference. I have never tried an online training plan but on those cold wet nights with a tempo run to do knowing that you are accountable for doing the run really makes a difference. Katie doesn’t just look to see I did a run and whether the pace was on plan but what my heartrate was, did I start too quick etc and this is all to improve my knowledge as a runner. One thing that’s really clear to all her clients is that she really does care how we all get on and tries constantly tries to instil that self-belief in me, I’ve had many doubts along the way, always really nervous at the start line even just last Sunday at the Rocket 5k I didn’t think I’d be able to run my best but Katie is always picking up on this and at the start line got me to focus.
When looking at other people’s training plans from the club a lot of them have focussed very heavily on Long runs but with Katie’s it has enabled me to build in milestone’s along to the way and try for PBs at every distance which is something I have thoroughly enjoyed. As part of my individual training plan its included the Chiltern league XC events which were really tough and beneficial for me. The race environment and difficulty of running in muddy conditions really helped both my mental and leg strength and Il be signing up again straight away. In February at the MK Winter Half I improved my HM time from a 1:36to a 1:30 – 6 minutes quicker. I was shocked having thought a 1:32 would be a best case scenario, it was such clear progress from the 7 weeks training I couldn’t believe it. It was after this race that I finally believed I could run a Sub 90 minute HM so three weeks later at the Festival of Running I tried to do just that. I have to mention this because it really surmises how Katie cares so much about her clients – It was the perfect race, but I really started to suffer from mile 12 but then Coach came jogging back, looking fresh and happy to see how I was getting on, my face must have said it all. I was struggling big time, she started jogging next to me for the final mile, giving me encouragement and telling me I can do this. I was finding it really hard to talk at all but in my head I just wanted to stop but now I couldn’t. It felt like I was going so slow now and as I approached Beacon hill I just couldn’t see how I’d manage it but then Katie shouted ‘Think of all the Brickhills’ and that just really resonated with me, all the time I’ve recommended this run, told people how I enjoy hills well it was game time and I flew up it. I then I saw the sign 500metres to go and then another huge shout of encouragement and it was time to bring it home. I don’t really remember much from here, just bringing it home, giving everything I had, no sprint finish but as I ran across the line a Sub 90 Half. 1hour 29mins and 40seconds! I stopped pretty much straight away, hands on my knees and just took it all in, mission accomplished. The final milestone came a week before London and I was to go for a Parkrun PB, everyone knows I love the Willen Parkrun and id been chomping at the bit practically every week to push it and finally it was time. I managed to improve by a minute to a 18:56 – I was absolutely ecstatic with the time and achieved my goal for the of a sub 19 parkrun.
So the big race itself, the London Marathon was absolutely everything I wanted it to be and more. Katie’s advice came into play really early on during my marathon as I quickly realised Plan A was not going to be feasible in the heat. So I maintained my 7:40ish pace rather than trying to push on which in reflection was absolutely the right thing to do and around the halfway I was overtaking so many runners who had gone off too quickly. I settled into a really good rhythm and each 5k split all the way upto 30k was between 24 and 25minutes, the perfect race. The next 5k passed in 28 minutes after the first signs of my leg cramps appeared but nothing could stop me now and I battled to the finish having to run/walk with cramp in a time of 3hrs 40mins which was still 20minutes quicker than my original London Marathon target time and more importantly I enjoyed every second of the race, the cheers and club support. It wasn’t until I saw everyone else’s time I realised how much the heat had impacted everyone’s else time and the general theme was a increase of 20mins on everyone’s time so I was chuffed!
I don’t think it really does it justice to think about Clean Coach Katie’s training plan as an alternative to an online free training plan because they are just worlds apart. I am thoroughly looking forward to applying the knowledge gained into my running for 2018 and fully intend of maintaining most of my marathon plan through the intervals, tempo runs and strength work and can’t wait to see where it takes me.