One of my first memories of running was with my dad around the age of 8. We were out running through some woods in Berlin where we lived at the time (my dad was in the army) and we passed another group of runners going the other way.
Once we had passed them my dad said to me “Did you hear what they said? They couldn’t believe how young you looked for running so fast!”
To this day I don’t know if he was just telling me that to puff me up (I didn’t hear a thing!) but I knew that I liked the feeling of being good at something.
I went to boarding school in Somerset when I was 10 and straight away got into cross country and athletics, making it to school captain of both sports by the end of my time there.
It was a bit of a big-fish-small-pond situation and when I went to Loughborough University things were very different! Instead of being top of the tree; the man to beat, I was suddenly competing against world class athletes. My “talent” was just about enough to allow me to not look too foolish in training sessions but I accepted that I was never going to be super-quick on the track.
I actually think it was the science behind the different training systems and simply how physically demaning the 400m is that appealed to me rather than any aspirations to be the best.
We also got to mix with the distance runners who trained under the guidance of legendary coach George Gandy and as soon as I graduated I hung up my spikes and concentrated on the longer stuff.
10k and half marathon seemed to resonate most with me and over the next few years I put in some respectable times over both distances (1:17 half and a 33:50 10k) though I never fully committed to training for any event.
I was always into my fitness training, weights, indoor rowing (I hit a 6:13 for 2000m at one point which nearly killed me!) too much to put everything into just one thing but I felt this gave me a kind of all round fitness that actually improved my running rather than detracted from it.
Whilst I was completing my degree (automotive engineering – work that one out!) I also indulged my new interest in the science of training and completed my gym and personal training qualifications, working with athletes and general clients in the local gym from 2000 whilst I completed my Masters.
I knew I was never going to be an engineer so when I left Loughborough I started my own personal training and run coaching business in Reading, Berkshire.
Since then I’ve carried out over 10,000 hours or personal training and run coaching sessions, helping people just like you discover the secrets of how to run faster with less effort and fewer injuries.
Although I’d trained many people for the marathon, I didn’t run my first one until 2006. I felt a bit like a mid-wife with no children of her own – it’s not a pre-requisite but surely it would help to understand?
I was in Dublin promoting one of my other business ventures, Run Republic (we used to sell running clothing to runners in Ireland at a time when it was very difficult to get hold of this stuff in the country) and I figured that whilst I was there at the expo I may as well run my first marathon.
Unfortunately I didn’t have the time back then to commit to a full training program in the months leading up to it do I figured I’d do a little experiment with myself. You see I’d been telling people for years that running a marathon was just impossible if you didn’t train for it as you’d hit the wall and would be in a lot of pain.
If you’ve done a marathon before you probably know what I’m talking about here!
I understood the science behind it but some sick and twisted part of me wanted to experience it first hand, so I took it upon myself to do the race with a minimal training approach (1 long run of 17 miles combined with a handful of shorter runs I was doing any way as part of my 10k training).
Well I certainly experienced it and had a hideous final 5 miles, but somehow still managed to limp across the line in 3:17.
I think I must have dropped about 3 minutes a mile for those last 5 miles but it taught me a valuable lesson about marathon preparation and also allowed me to experience first hand how the body reacts when it’s pushed to the limits.
In 2010 I committed to train “properly” for the Cork marathon but decided to do another little experiment and try a 2-run-a-week training schedule.
You can read all about how that experiement turned out elsewhere on this site, but the long and the short of it is that I focused on the quality of my training sessions rather than the quantity and managed to cross the line in 2:59.
I now travel all over Ireland and the UK teaching runners the principles of faster running, as well as still working with a small number of 1:1 clients.
Many of the major races in Ireland such as the Cork and Longford Marathons still link to my training programs and for the last 8 years I’ve been responsible for providing training support to runners training for the UK’s second largest half marathon, the Reading Half Marathon.
I’ve had the priveledge to present alongside world class runners such as Catherina McKiernan, John Treacy, Peter Maher and Keith Anderson and I’ve interviewed some of the world’s leading experts in fields such as sports psychology, running nutrition and strength conditioning.
I feel very lucky to be in a position where I can go out for a run and call it work, and get to meet so many cool people eager to learn better ways of running on my training workshops.
If you haven’t already signed up to recieve my regular training emails, stick your details in the box at the top right and I’ll send you some cool stuff, as well as let you know any time I add anything to my blog.
I really hope that my information will have a positive impact on your running, and if you ever have any comments about any of my posts please do add them; I promise I read them all!