I’ve sought improvement in my running, pretty much since I joined a running club. I’ve read books, followed running plans, written running plans, worked with personal trainers, taken supplements, changed shoes. You name it, if I thought it might take a minute off my marathon time, I tried it.
In 2020 I was struggling for motivation, the come down from doing a marathon each month in 2019 maybe. Then Covid and lockdown, and it really did fall apart.
After running a virtual marathon in June, badly, I decided it was time to venture into a field I had been fascinated by for some time, and that was the world of online coaching.
I made some enquiries and came up with two options. A very nice sounding lady who was put forward by one of the big online training companies, who confessed she wasn’t really a runner but was sure she could motivate me to get out there, or the choice of using JM Coaching, meaning my training would be dictated but Jonny Mellor, a marathon runner with a 2:10 marathon, an Olympic qualifying time. Decisions, decisions!
So my running was now appearing in an online diary for me, planned out by Jonny, and when you know your running data is being analysed by an elite runner that can run twice as fast as you, I found it really did motivate me to pull my finger out!
I had always prided myself on being able to build a decent training plan, but sticking exactly to the plan was another matter. This was different, with coach Jonny dishing out the plans, I was much more motivated to get out there, and soon found that I was clocking up 30 or 40 miles a week.
By the end of September I managed to get back under 4 hours with a 3:55 around the tarmac of Goodwood, and then a week later came maybe my best marathon run to date, not a PB, but 3:58 on the much more difficult Isle of Wight Marathon course in hideous wet and windy conditions.
Was really pleased with the progress, and with another marathon booked in December, it was time for another wave of training with JM Coaching.
December saw the cancellation of Portsmouth Coastal, but once again Goodwood on its motor circuit, closed to the public proved to be Covid proof.
Race day came, and it was cold, a good omen, like my previous PB, a cold day at a tarmac race circuit. Off we went from our socially distanced start, and like various marathons before, I set a consistent pace, and got to the halfway mark at pretty much exactly the same time as my previous PB.
Today’s run however would be different. Every marathon I run involves a slow down in the second half, but today I was able to maintain my form, and hold a very similar pace throughout. The result was getting home 6 minutes quicker than my PB, in 3:46. That’s 6 minutes all gained in the second half of the marathon.
So what’s the answer? Potions, lighter shoes, eating salt tablets, that last chocolate bar…. No. There’s only one answer to running better, and it’s the answer no runner wants to hear, it’s training harder. This year, through adversity, online coaching managed to motivate me to get out there more often and for longer. Thanks Jonny!