‘After too many years (10 or more, shamefully) of little to no regular exercise led me to become very unfit, whilst I also became very mindful that I was not getting any younger, I started doing parkrun in 2017. It was nice to have something in the diary that I felt I was committed to doing and soon enough, after a pretty painful few weeks to start, the running got easier, the achiness afterwards got less and my times steadily improved bit by bit.
Distance running was never my favourite thing growing up. I’d always prefer sprinting over school cross country, mainly because it was over so quickly, but nowadays I recognise and feel the physical and mental benefits it brings me. So as I carried on with parkrun, and feeling better for it, I wanted to keep pushing myself to improve my 5k PB and get the best finishing place I could. I also added other runs during the week and worked up to 10k and eventually onto a couple of half marathons. But I got to a point where progress wasn’t really happening anymore and I wasn’t even sure if I was training properly. It’s now obvious to me that I wasn’t (I was way off) and this also explains why I kept picking up injuries.
I had chatted a little with some other runner friends who had talked about their positive online coaching experiences and the more I thought about it the more of a no-brainer it became to take a coach on myself. Why wouldn’t I?
Taking the plunge was the biggest step. Whilst exciting it was also a little daunting, not knowing exactly what I was getting myself in to, but appreciating I would be taking the step up I needed to make the progress I was after.
I already knew of Nick, but only by name, through living in the same area as him. He would never say so himself but he is a bit of a local legend in running circles, often winning when parkrunning, and posting some mind-blowing times on Strava. He was the obvious choice for me but only time would tell if his methods worked.
Fast forward seven months and I am in the shape of my life. I am fitter, faster, healthier and leaner than I have ever been, I’ve been setting PBs left, right and centre and I’m feeling as confident and ambitious about running than I ever have.
It hasn’t been easy! A lot of kilometres, intervals, hills, blood, sweat and tears have been part of the journey, but it is immensely satisfying when all of that hard work starts paying off. However, what has been easy is doing the correct training. I don’t even need to think about how I am going to achieve my goals, worrying if I am doing things right or doing too much or too little. I just follow Nick’s monthly plan, trust in what he has set me and we just keep moving onwards and upwards.
Without knowing the ins and outs of getting a plan just right I know mine comes from the incredible knowledge and experience Nick has of running.
There is clearly a scientific approach required, demonstrated by the structure and gradual progression of my weekly workload with a balance between hard sessions and easy, but I think there is also an art to getting it right and Nick certainly has that magic touch.
Core work, stretching and strengthening exercises have also been a big part of my routine, which has been a revelation to how I feel when I run, and Nick has also been clear on the importance of rest and recovery.
He has always been very quick to respond to any questions or concerns, altering the plan quickly for niggles or fatigue, and he manages to say just the right things whether I’m feeling up or down about how things are going. The example he sets through his own training and performances is a big motivating factor to put in the effort into my own sessions and whilst he is in a totally different league to me in terms of times his commitment and dedication are real sources of inspiration and show what really makes the difference when trying to reach my own personal targets.
He can talk the talk and walk the walk. He'll push you and challenge you, but go easy on you too at the right times. He’s a gifted runner and a natural coach and if you are thinking of taking the plunge like I was doing all those months ago I can’t recommend him highly enough. My only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner.
I've achieved way beyond my initial goals and now we’re looking ahead with my first marathon being pencilled into the diary. With my hand on my heart, with Nick’s coaching, I can truly say I’m not worried about the prospect of that in the slightest. In fact, I can’t wait!’