Guest Blog – with thanks given to Malcolm Woolsey.
In February 2018 I signed up to the Abingdon Marathon and Ealing Half Marathon which marks 10 years since I had open heart surgery to put right a congenital heart valve issue. Before this operation I wasn't able to run easily but was always very active and competed on a bicycle fairly successfully. In 2016 I ran my first ever marathon (fulfilling a life-long ambition) but struggled with injuries in the build-up to it, and during the months following. Running, for me, highlighted every weakness my body had and lead from one injury to the next. Working closely with Mathieu at Bridge to Health throughout this time - to keep me on the straight and narrow and to put me back together when broken - was a massive help.
Earlier this year I was thrilled to be the lucky winner of the “Ealing Half Marathon Preparation Package”, and thought it was the best opportunity I'd ever have to keep on track with my training, diet and staying healthy (and uninjured) throughout the 16 week training phase that was ahead. As part of the winning package Mark Yabsley of Equinox Coaching gave me a workable training schedule which fitted in to my busy lifestyle and work commitments. He also made a few changes to my running gait after analysing it, which has made a huge difference. Emily Fawell, nutritional therapist at Bridge to Health, held a consultation with me about my diet and gave me some great pointers and suggested changes to focus me in the right direction. I feel much better and stronger (plus lost a little bit of weight for good measure)…
The prize package also extended to include several visits to see Holly Clarkson at Bridge to Health for both massages and osteopathy treatment. The whole Bridge to Health team, along with Mark, have in fact gone far beyond my expectations. Holly and Mark talk to each other regularly to discuss my progress and any issues they can see happening which is a valuable, personalised, element that I’m very grateful for. I feel like I have a team around me who are all working towards my goal with me- it’s like I’m an Olympic athlete!
So what does this mean in terms of my training? Well, with all the help and work from the team, I have never run further or easier as I have done for the last 3 months. Each week Mark has set me a schedule and I've been able to run that schedule. There's been a few minor hiccups along the way, of course, but ultimately I've been able to train stronger, harder and faster, when required than ever possible before. Knowing what you need to complete, why you’re doing it and when you're doing it has made the mental approach much easier too. With goals to be met, the focus is so much easier and the time just whizzes past, even on the longer 3 hour runs that I've done.
In the lead up to The Ealing Half Marathon, I feel I'm on track for a strong run. My goal for the race is to get to the finish feeling as fresh as possible, without any niggles or injuries and hopefully a course PB. My main goal is the Abingdon Marathon 3 weeks later, so I don't want to scupper my chances of that.
Good luck to everyone taking part in the Ealing Half, I know I for one am looking forward to getting out there and hope you are to.