I joined Full Potential in 2009, providing biomechanical advice and supporting running specialists all over the UK, in collaboration with adidas. What started off as maternity cover has taken me on a journey of becoming a running coach and business owner. If only I could have warned that young man what he was getting into!
As a school kid, I hated running, I just didn’t get it. I loved team sports and played to a high level, but me and running never got on. It hurt to run: my lungs strained, my shoulder would burn, my legs ached and I wanted nothing to do with the activity.
Once I joined the Full Potential team I actually learnt how to run and train efficiently. I could combine my love of technology, numbers and hard work to make training fun. I ran my first half marathon in just over 2 hours, crossing that line and getting that finishers medal, I was hooked. It was the furthest I had ever run (by a long way) and I wanted more. What followed a few months later was 3:58 marathon. Training for that had it’s ups and downs....mainly downs. I had a breakdown in the middle of a long run (I sat on a tree just sobbing, thinking there was no way this was humanly possible for me to run that first marathon), believing a game of football counted as a long run, and drinking way too much a week before the race. That humbling experience got me into training more seriously.
Running really allowed me to gain a growing sense of myself, I found all these amazing things about what made me tick. I realised that I can do things my way, just because something was written down on the internet, or in a book, it didn’t make it gospel. It’s this idea I want to pass onto my clients, we can train their way. We are all different and there’s no right way to do things. Just their way.
Running became a huge part of my life, I looked at new ways to improve performance: whether that be subjecting myself to lactate testing, living in an altitude tent, running in magical footwear (or not footwear) or wearing the latest in GPS watches. I made life long friends, trained hard and in the UK and abroad and loved it. I enjoyed the journey, winning races, running PB’s I’d never dreamed of running, but my obsession came at a cost and in the end I burnt myself out and couldn’t keep putting myself through it. The anxiety brought on by training (never mind racing) meant that everyday became ‘the most important day’. It came to a head in April 2018, I ran my fastest ever 10 mile race but felt empty afterwards. This coincided with an achilles injury and it meant I took a step back from training and racing. I released myself from the burden I was placing myself under.
I started coaching in 2011 and being able to direct my passion outwards to others has been both rewarding and challenging. It’s such a treat to see people develop as an athlete and as a person. You really don’t know what you are going to get each day. It’s special to build that athlete coach relationship up, and it’s a privilege to become part of someone’s life in this intimate way.
I am really interested in the mental side of training and performance. It made a huge difference to my training and racing, and something I want to share with runners. It’s amazing what we unlock with the right attitude.
I’d say my coaching style is aimed at drawing out the athlete within. I need my athletes to be invested in their training and themselves. They are in charge of their training and I need to know what they are interested in. Do that and you’ll get boundless energy, support and enthusiasm.
I’m also a yoga practitioner and love to bring some of that philosophy into my running coaching.
I now spend my time on my peloton bike, running for fun and some yoga thrown in too for good measure. Plus walking the dog each day keeps me active!
Steve Prefontaine summed up perfectly how I feel about running: “To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift". Those are wise words to not only train by, but also live by.