Last year one of my running goals was to run a sub-50 10k. I kept it as a secret goal not telling anyone until I was chosen to be on Team Write This Run for the Women’s Running 10k and had to write a blog on Women’s Running about my goals. With the secret out and everyone asking me about it I knew I had to push on in training.
As 2014 rolled around I found myself with a great opportunity to train with a real running coach for 8 weeks. In our first meeting Coach Laura (makes it easier if you have the same name as your coach trust me) asked me what goal I wanted to work towards in the training cycle. Looking ahead 8 weeks in my calendar there was the Hampton Court Half Marathon on a nice flat course, “hmmmm how about a new half marathon PB?”
I approach setting goals a bit like the scene in Knocked Up when Kristen Wig says, “Just like pick a number and be that number.” I usually pick a finish time I’d like and then work backwards to train at that pace. This time, through conversation with my coach about realistic abilities and balancing enjoyment and achievement, we agreed on a goal of sub-1:50 for the Hampton Court Half. It’s over 4 minutes faster than my current half PB (set in Reykjavik) but I’ve always run half marathons at an enjoyable pace and think if I kick in a bit more I’ll be able to achieve this goal.
So what does training for a sub-1:50 half marathon with a real coach look like? Luckily not that different than normal. Coach Laura is great in that she’s worked out a training plan that incorporates the things I normally like to do, NTC classes, #RUNch and cycling to work. A sub 1:50 half marathon will involve running at around an 8:00 min/mile pace so my tempo runs are at that pace and attending the Serpie track session on Tuesdays sees me pushing my pace while trying to keep up with the speedy club runners during 800 repeats. All in all it’s a step back in the amount of training I usually do, but is smarter in the time I am on my feet and running. So far it’s not been easy and there have been some tough runs (and the realisation that hangovers and fast running cannot co-exist) but I’m really enjoying the challenge and being accountable to my coach and myself.