Have you ever wondered what it would be like to work with a running coach? I certainly have from time to time. I’ve thought it might be good for me to get a training plan tailored to my own requirements – especially as I’ve got older, as most plans don’t take account of age – but then I realised I’d actually have to be accountable to someone who might judge my cake and alcohol intake, so I didn’t take things any further. When I used to train for road marathons I’d follow my trusty Asics Sub 4 plan. Now that I’ve moved on to longer, off-road events I generally use the plan I took from the Race to the Stones website when I ran that in 2017. Both seem to work pretty well. But lately, at times such as when I’ve started to fade towards the end of an ultra, I’ve wondered “Is there a way I could do this better and finish stronger? And if so, what would I need to do?”.
A couple of times I’ve toyed with the idea of going to see Kim Cavill of Cavill Coaching, which she runs alongside her husband Jayson. Both are awesome local athletes, and a couple of my friends have worked with them and found it really helped their running. But I’d never quite picked up the courage to do it, thinking I was probably too old and/or slow for the Cavills to be interested in me. Then for my birthday in September the OH surprised me with the gift of a training session with Kim plus an eight week plan devised by her especially for me! I was delighted but at the same time a bit apprehensive.
Due to the nature of these unprecedented times, my two sessions with Kim were carried out via Zoom rather than in person. During the first one we mostly talked about what I’d done so far running-wise and what I wanted to achieve. Kim reassured me that age or pace were no barrier to coaching and that she is happy to work with anyone who wants to improve and is willing to try new ways to do so. I explained that I’m not really competitive or into ‘racing’ as such, but wanted to improve my performance to the best of my ability and become a stronger ultrarunner. Armed with lots of knowledge about me, Kim then devised a training plan for me leading up to the Hardmoors 30 on New Year’s Day.
The main difference between this plan and others I’ve followed before are the bits that aren’t actual running. For the first time ever I’ve been doing two sessions a week of specific strength and conditioning work. I won’t lie, it isn’t always easy (hello, jumping split squats!) but six weeks in I really feel it’s already making a difference. Every morning I do a short session of mobility exercises just to get things moving properly. This is so easy, I just do it in my pyjamas before breakfast. There’s also a yoga session every week, which has made me realise how much I miss it since I stopped going to a class when we moved house last year. I definitely need to do more yoga in the new year!
Unfortunately the Hardmoors 30 has just been cancelled this week, but I’ve still gained a lot from following Kim’s plan. I definitely feel stronger and fitter. I may even go and run the course anyway if I can find a way of getting some water en route. So if (like me) you’ve ever wondered about working with a coach I’d say give it a go – you’ve got nothing to lose! I wish I’d done it sooner now, but better late than never. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?!
Normally in December I’d be writing a review of my running year, but obviously there hasn’t been much occurring in the annus horribilis that is 2020. I’ve done precisely four events since the pandemic struck: the Golden Fleece (literally the week before the first lockdown), the Daffodil Dash, Endurancelife North York Moors (nasty weather!) and the Hardmoors 55 – more nasty weather, but I still feel very lucky to have been able to do it.
So there we are! Surely next year must be a better one in all ways, especially with a vaccine on the cards? I certainly hope so – I’ve got so many events deferred from this year, plus a few other things I’d like to do if possible. I hope you all have a very merry little Christmas and a happy and healthy new year. Eat, drink and run, and I’ll see you in 2021!