I have always dreamt of running the London Marathon, even before I really started running (and realised how far a marathon was!) It was one of those bucket list dreams.
After trying and been unsuccessful in the ballot three times (now four), I decided the only way to get in was try and run faster. It was never going to be easy. I ran my first marathon in May 2017 in 3.55.43, which at the time I was pretty happy with. Then in 2018 I signed up to an ultra, lots of training miles including two more marathons and I had lost speed.
I contacted Katie earlier in the year when she was running a Stronger, Fitter, Faster program. As I was still training for the ultra Katie advised that it probably wasn’t the right time to for a speed program.
After the ultra was over I decided it was time for a new challenge and that was to try and get faster with the long term goal of trying to achieve a good for age time for London.
I contacted Katie and signed up for Bournemouth Marathon. After establishing my goals which being realistic was back to a sub 4 hour marathon (not good enough for London but my first goal), Katie wrote me a personalised 12 week training plan. I think the first message I sent Katie after receiving the plan and seeing the paces was that I didn’t think I could run that fast and that was only the half marathon pace! The plan also had rest days!! I didn’t know what these were. I had run every day for 564 days.
So Day 1 came and went with an easy 5km, even that felt like a rest day with the kilometres I had been putting in. Day 2 was intervals! So I might have run for 564 days but I had never aimed for a pace or run any sort of interval training! But it went well, inconsistent but I managed the target. Day 3 – Rest Day! Eek, this was hard! But I didn’t run (even if I was asked if I had and just didn’t record it on Strava!)
Five days into the plan I decided I wanted to run a 10 mile race the following week, Katie made it work for me. Added a warm up and cool down either side to cover that days long run and still get to race. So end of week two I ran my first 10 mile race in 1.19.34, I had never run a race at that speed. The next few weeks passed by in a flash I was enjoying the different types of sessions and finding a bit of speed, and was sticking to the rest days. An unplanned weekend away came up and Katie changed my plan to suit my weekend.
With my plan I had a monthly PT session and I also started going to Katie’s Wednesday core class. Core class was great, always fun whilst a great workout with a group of people all with the same interest. I defiantly found muscles I didn’t know I had, how did I know, well the first few times they hurt. I will still continue with core even though Bournemouth is over.
I had never had a PT session before so didn’t know what to expect. I was nervous, but Katie was great, we worked on more core and strength work on a 1 to 1 basis and I really enjoyed it. It also gave me chance to talk about how the plan was going and reflect on where I was.
Week 5 and the plans says “tempo run”, I don’t know what this is! But a quick chat to Katie at core class and I knew what I was doing the next day. Up early for my tempo run and a message from Katie saying she had gone home and reviewed my Strava and then she gave me a pace to aim for. Even better, defiantly knew what I was doing and off I went. End of week 5 and we reviewed the plan and decided to try and push the pace. Katie re wrote my plan ready for the Monday. Again I saw the times and had a little panic about how fast, but Katie reassured me they were target paces and we would see how things went.
Things continued well, nearly always hitting the new paces. I was getting a it worried about not covering many miles but Katie reassured me to trust the plan.
Then week 8 came and my foot started to hurt. I didn’t know what it was and hadn’t really been injured before. I missed and run but cross trained my 5km instead. I message Katie about my Sunday run, it should have been 32km, we decided I would go out easy and if it hurt stop. Sunday came and I decided not to run, it hurt to walk.
It was a hard decision and not one I made easily . I missed a really long run and it played on my mind for a long time. 3 days no running, it was hard but looking back it was for the best. I went to the treatment lab to get an idea of what was going on. Advice sought and back to Katie for a change of plan, again! No consecutive days running. Saw Katie at PT and she gave me some more stretches to do with my foot. I stuck to it. There were some tough runs and some tough rest days.
The problem with my foot continued but I took the advice, maybe not well at the time! Katie was great, not just with changing the plan but with the mental and emotional all support. I and some other races including Run to the Magic at Disneyland Paris, in fancy dress. I ran, not fast but with my friends and family and loved every minute. Covering some distance reassured me but the speed wasn’t there.
It was then time to taper! What is this, hardly any kilometres, more rest days. But just what I needed especially with my foot! I was a nightmare this week. Katie reminded me of the original aim and reassured me of how far I had come in a relatively small space of time.
Race day came and I was nervous but feeling ok and my foot was better than it had been. I ran, I ran with everything I had. I used all those training runs, the things I had hurt over the last 12 weeks and just kept going. I tried to keep pace, I was a bit quick at the beginning but it gave me a bit for when I hit the hills. I put my foot down at 20 miles and it hurt, a couple of easier steps and I knew it was ok to carry on, I’m sure it was in my head! The last 6 miles were tough, my pace slowed maybe 5 to 10 seconds a kilometre but I kept going. That pier never seems to get closer! And then I crossed the line. It was emotional and hard, I gave everything I had and when I got my time 3.43.50 I was overwhelmed.
So there is still no guarantee that it will be get me into London 2020, the rules could change, but I know I did my best and I have something more to work with now.
So Katie, I had never followed a plan before, I just ran. I didn’t know the different types of training runs and I never did any core or strength work. I have changed as a runner and hopefully for the better (I still struggle with the rest days and sometimes the low mileage). This wouldn’t have been the case without Katie.
It wasn’t just the plan and her knowledge but the emotional support, the messages when she knew I was struggling, the reassurance to trust the plan, trying to reduce the pressure I was putting on myself.
Also the rest of team CCK, I know more runners than I ever have and they all support each other, you can’t ask for more.
I cannot recommend Katie enough, not only has she got me where I am but she is inspiring too, she makes you want to do better, to push yourself and achieve better things. She understands the pain of injury and how it feels to miss a run but she supports you through it. I will be using Katie again to hopefully improve on my time.
Thank you xx