Ever wondered if virtual running coaching is right for you? We Run client Gary shares his experience.
So Gary, What’s Your Running Background?
I was a footballer originally, rather than a runner. I gave up football 6 years ago aged 46, and started to do more running. I found that I had a habit of entering marathons, not really training enough, and finding them a real struggle. Then I’d regret not training enough, enter another marathon and find it a real struggle again! There was a bit of a pattern there…
I’m a member of my local running club, Tadley Runners, a really decent bunch of people, and I was training with them. But for the last 18 months, I’ve been working abroad in Switzerland, so I’ve lost the connection to my running club and missed training with them every week. I wanted to keep fit, but also to finally do a marathon without stopping. That was the motivation behind getting in touch with We Run.
Also, because of my football history, I tend to run on my forefoot. So I wanted also to have a look at my style of running and vary it a bit. When I was running at the club, I had other people around who would naturally vary the speeds and distances I was running, so I wanted to get someone who could help me train, otherwise I knew I’d end up running the same route at the same pace.
“I wanted to get someone who could help me train, otherwise I knew I’d end up running the same route at the same pace. I also wanted to have a look at my style of running.”
Why Not Use Online Resources?
I wanted something that was personalised to me, rather than just a standard training plan, particularly on the basis that I wanted to be able to see how I was training and responding to the training, and adjust my training in response to that. The other thing is that although I really like running, if you give me a written training plan, I will find lots of reasons to convince myself that I can skip certain sessions (particularly in the Winter!) There’s a certain amount of having an obligation to someone who’s putting the training plan together, it kind of forces me to train. For example, I was in Germany this morning and Switzerland this afternoon, and I had two runs to do. There’s no way I’d have done that on a written training plan, but knowing that someone’s going to be looking at it has forced me to do both runs. It works as an accountability mechanism.
When you work with someone who is actually a Coach, they’ve personalised the plan to you, and that’s their job – it’s silly really but you feel if you haven’t put the effort in you’re somehow letting someone else down and not just yourself. You know you’ll feel better when you have done it too!
What Are Your Running Goals?
They’ve changed a bit! The first thing was to do a marathon without stopping, and the second thing was to improve my style of running. I’ve now signed up for 4 marathons over the next 7 months, and I did a 26k run in the Engadine in the mountains in Switzerland, so I’ve got a much more hectic schedule than I thought I was going to have when I started!
“When you work with someone who is actually a Coach, they’ve personalised the plan to you, and that’s their job. You feel if you haven’t put the effort in you’re somehow letting someone else down – it works as an accountability mechanism.”
How Was Your Event In The Engadine Last Month?
It was brilliant. The scenery in the mountain up there is absolutely incredible, I really enjoyed it. The route goes through the valley, which is fortunate; you get a bit of altitude but no real hills! There was about 3000 people, it was a tremendous day.
Tell Us About You Initial Experience With We Run
I got in touch via the website, and Coach Alexa responded very quickly. The process of working out whether she was able to help and how to meet up and have a first session was pretty easy. We met up in Palmer Park in Reading and she spent time filming me running, talking about what I was trying to achieve, going through stretches and running exercises – it was really good. She wrote up a report which she sent through 2 or 3 days later. I thought the whole process worked well – very efficient.
So That Was Your ‘Runner’s MOT’ – Has It Helped Improve Your Running?
It did – it helped to clarify things. Some things I already knew but it helped to confirm the things that were wrong. The only way you solve those things is to focus on it when you’re out running though! I’m pretty naff at stretching, for example, but I’ve done a lot more stretching over the last couple of months, and that’s made a big difference. The MOT has definitely had an impact on my running style and running speed. Having the variation in my training has made a big difference too. I’m quicker and able to run further than I could before.
“The Runner’s MOT has definitely had an impact on my running style and running speed. Having the variation in my training has made a big difference too. I’m quicker and able to run further than I could before.”
You Also Opted For Our Virtual Running Coaching Service – How Is That Working For You?
Coach Alexa puts the plan into Dropbox, normally a week to ten days in advance. I try to make sure I plan my week, and sometimes I’ll switch the sessions around as I travel a lot. Alexa adds regular comments, sometimes just a “Well Done” or sometimes it’s something I should think about, like picking up my feet or something similar. I also get email from Alexa making comments or adding a bit of perspective to the plan. It’s very easy to use, I input how the session went, the time and the distance, for Alexa to review.
What Do You Like Most About The Virtual Running Coaching?
The easiest thing is I don’t have to think about what I’m actually going to do! Alexa comes up with things that keep the variation and the interest going. I’ve always found it really difficult to vary my training and always end up doing the same thing again and again – having the plan written for me makes it a lot easier.
I recognised that as my training goes along, certain things are going to change, so I wanted someone to able to adjust the training to how things were going – that’s worked out well. For me, the commitment of knowing that someone’s keeping an eye on what I am and am not doing is good for discipline. If I was more disciplined it would be easier – but I’m not! It’s so easy to just go for an easy flat run, but having the plan forces me to do the right thing, which has made a big difference.
It’s worked really well, and I’ve enjoyed it and benefitted from it. I recently ran the Greifenseelauf Half Marathon in my fastest time for 4 and a half years and was pleased to get back under 2 hours. It’s a good example of how the training is helping me.
What’s Your Next Event?
I have a marathon in Ljubljana, Slovenia, in October. I feel fitter than I have been, but the next 5 to 6 weeks is going be absolutely crucial. Then I’m also running the London Marathon with my eldest son and wife in April. My son will be raising money for Parkinsons, and I’m raising money for Zurich Cares. That will be a special occasion!
“I’ve always found it really difficult to vary my training and always end up doing the same thing again and again – having the plan written for me makes it a lot easier. It’s worked really well, and I’ve enjoyed it and benefitted from it.”