I am a runner. I’m a fully qualified Personal Trainer with lots of fitness and nutritional knowledge and experience. But the truth is my route into Personal Training was through running. Because I’m a runner that doesn’t mean that all I do with my clients is run – I had a hell of a job convincing people of that when I first started in the gym, I guess it didn’t help that I wasn’t built like Mr. Muscles, unlike some of the other trainers – no I have all the capability of training clients, in any way, without them having to run a step, whatever their goals.
That’s not to say that I don’t get my clients to run, sometimes with me and sometimes without, but I don’t go into a new client/trainer relationship with the intention of including running, unless they specifically request it. For starters some clients aren’t able to run, others just don’t want to run (though I am able to talk most of them round, if I think it will be beneficial), but the real reason I limit the running is because my body just wouldn’t cope with running with all my clients plus doing my own training (which often includes running for more than an hour at a time and some of it is quite intense). So I may well run in short bursts with some clients, as part of an overall session but I restrict the number of clients that I do running only sessions with. So far it’s worked well, particularly with Ray who is now running at a level that I can call a good run for me, so I need to cut back on my own running on those days. I’m starting with a new running client soon, a Chef (no not Gordon Ramsay) so we’ll see how that goes. I’ve had to adjust my own regime to cater for him, as I have three clients I run with in succession on a day I would normally do my quality run, but don’t worry I’ll still aim to win races, and one of my strong points is to maximise impact on minimum effort, when required.
Before I started Personal Training I trained to be an athletics coach. In fact it was that experience that threw me into Personal Training, I realised how much fun helping people to achieve their goals was. I cut my teeth with the athletes at Edinburgh AC, being mentored by that Edinburgh stalwart, Alex McEwen. They were good days, I built up a rapport with the group and, I believe, they respected me for what I did. I didn’t run with them at the time as it was a large group of mixed ability and I wanted to maximise the coaching experience for me, in order to do well in my exams. Sometimes I came up with the sessions, which Alex approved, but my main role was keeping time, particularly on recoveries, and to learn from the expert, that was Alex by the way. And yes, I was stringent with those recoveries, if it was a minute, 60 seconds was all they got, and I know the group appreciated that, after all they were athletes and I, as an athlete, wouldn’t want 63 seconds when I was expecting 60. But guys and gals, you’ll be interested to note I’m not so stringent with some of my clients, they’re not trained athletes, like you, and sometimes need that extra time to recover. Oh I’m still no softie, I know when they’re ready but I’m a little more flexible, until they become more Ray like.
Before I qualified as a Personal Trainer I first qualified as a Run Leader, which meant I could coach groups of endurance athletes, or beginners wanting to learn to jog/run. So I organised running groups from Sandbach, Crewe, even a treadmill group in the gym, and Northwich. At most of these I didn’t participate but when the mix was right I was able to take part too, which was great fun for me, particularly when I had members of the paras and ex-marines. It was at these sessions that I met Lee Riley, who I later helped to achieve his marathon world record (but you can read about that in an earlier blog). They were fun sessions and it was nice to have a group to lead, but I decided to stop working weekends to spend more time with the family. Ok so the family is just Carole and myself, but we both work hard so deserve some time to ourselves.
When I’m running with clients I tend not to just run with them, I like to introduce intervals, I feel that it is the best way to get fitter and lose weight. Obviously, as I know from my own painful experience during my early running days, intervals need to be introduced gradually and with relevant recovery, but I do feel it is more beneficial than just steady running, though this has it’s place but the client doesn’t generally need me to be there in order to do that. I use this method with Ray and his fitness has improved no end over the past six months.
When she’s not working, and it fits in around my own training and that of my clients, I run with Carole. Now Carole’s training goes a little differently, we’re both keen to tell each other about how our day has been and I’ve found the perfect way to ensure Iget to tell my story first. I use the first 6 minutes to warm up gently, this allows her to tell me some stuff and gives her the feeling that I’m interested, I then make her hit the first rep hard and bingo, she’s out of breath for the rest of the session and up to 10 minutes after it’s over, by which time I’ve told her all about my day and moved onto making dinner. Harmony in action.
At this point I’d just like to post a picture of an old friend of mine, Paul Coughlan. Paul used to be a great athlete, or so he keeps telling us. Over the past few years he’s had injury issues, that have kept him from competing at the level to which he would like to. Two weekends ago he was in action in a race, back in his beloved New Zealand, and it was interesting to see which running singlet this former Belgrave Harrier was wearing. (For those not used to singlet spotting, it’s a Herne Hill Harriers singlet and it looks good on him, even if he doesn’t look good in it!).
A little update on what I’ve been up to. As you’ll know, if you’ve been reading these blogs regularly, I’d been upping my training intensity and mileage, laying down some foundations for the winter. Well a couple of weeks ago I started to get aggressive achilles pain and also a little niggle around the left knee again. I thought that if I were to carry on with the same training I’d end up with an injury, so I took a couple of days off, not just running but any activity on the legs, other than standing and walking, and it seems to have done the trick, I’m still a little niggly in the legs but I’m starting to run more freely and with less pain. I’ve also reduced all my quality sessions to 3/5 of the number of reps, which allows me to maintain intensity. It’s a ticking over exercise and hopefully, in a few weeks I’ll be able to pick it up again.
Yesterday I ran the Birchwood 10k, only the 3rd road race and 2nd 10k of the year for me. Last year I ran in pain, my left knee, and only managed 33:59 – though still first M45. This year I felt pretty good, I didn’t really know where I was with my fitness but I felt I was coming into form. I set off aiming for 33:20, thinking that if I struggled I should still get a faster time than last year. And I was going pretty well until the last 2k when I started to struggle a little, though I still managed to pull away from some runners who’d been with me for the past 5 miles. I finished, a little disappointed with my 34:14, 13th overall, 2nd M45, 1st M45 ran 34:01. But I’d had a great battle with Warrington’s Andy Green, many of you may recall he was a 2:12 marathon man in his day, we chatted afterwards and he’s aiming for the Chester Marathon, so a bit of a feather in the cap, he finished 1 place and 2 seconds behind me. I think times were a little slower than last year, all round, though my mate Louise Blizzard ran around 4 minutes quicker with 37:47. It was also good to catch up with so many friends from the past; as well as Louise I was chatting on the start line with other ex Belgrave colleagues Paul Freary and Mark Miles (Paul took the 1st M40 prize 23 seconds ahead of me, unfortunately Mark pulled out at around 8k, having been involved with the front runners). I also had a good chat with Herne Hiller John Kettle, who was always just a few paces ahead of me, apart from a stint when the group caught him, he finished in 10th place, 7 seconds ahead of me. Then there was my old British League rival from the 90’s Paul Simons (who holds the world record for completing a marathon wearing a Santa costume), he was in the same group as me for most of the way but I just managed to gain some ground on him towards the end, he finished 16th, 8 seconds behind me. I had a good chat with Bill Bradley, who organises the Pennington Flash Parkrun, he informed me that my prediction that Jeff Whittington would raise the bar had come true as he ran another pb to win Saturday’s Parkrun. After the event I had a good chat with a guy introducing Scott running shoes to the market. They looked vaguely similar to the MBT shoes and felt really nice to wear. They also retail at a reasonable rate for running shoes. I was interested and may well invest in some at a later time but if you’d like to find out more visit http://www.scott-sports.com/.
And finally, some news about a new development in my business. I’ve purchased some licences in a meal planning programme that will help my clients with their weight goals, whether that be to lose, gain or maintain weight. I believe it will allow me to offer more to my clients at a very reasonable price. I’ll focus on this more in a future blog, I’m planning to launch it in early September. Alongside this I’ve decide it’s time to get myself a logo and have employed the services of my Australian friends Zoe Gell, she of ‘the girl that runs’ blog. She’s come up with some really good designs and we’re just in the process of refining them before I announce it.
Over the next few weeks I need to select some more races to get some improvement to my times. I think my chances of the England vest, this year, are pretty slim. This will make Carole happy as I was aiming to run in Exmoor, in the BMAF 10k Champs but that falls on her birthday weekend, so now she can be pampered instead of standing around in the cold watching an old man attempt to run fast. But I’m not giving up just yet, until I’m announced as not being in the team I’ll keep training hard and looking for opportunities to race.