2017 was a significant year for me – I turned 40. I had some goals that we were important to me to achieve before I hit 40 and becoming a Veteran: getting GOLD on the Dartmoor classic, doing well on the MTB Marathon series, and running my first marathon. Along the way there were other sportives (Ride London) and events (Big Bike Bash) which I wanted to enjoy.
I’ve had similar goals in previous years but often failed to reach them. I decided I needed a coach to help me plan and keep me on track. While I was doing a course I met Martin, following a chat about my goals I felt Martin would be ideal and we started working together in February. Having already set out my goals our first meeting was able to focus in how those goals could be achieved and breaking the season down into chunks. Martin’s approach was to make best use of my time in busy weeks, rather than requiring changes in my work and family commitments.
I was using Martin’s gold plan so I was getting daily feedback. For me the regular communication (mostly through Training Peaks) was key, I had stop on reflect on each training session and think about how it went. Martin clearly made use of the data gathered via my Garmin device to see if I committed to the session and tailor future sessions. Martin’s encouragement and advice made it easier to prioritise the next session, focusing effort where it mattered.
I achieved my goal on the Dartmoor classic and the ride London I exceeded my own expectations. By the time the MTB marathon series finished in the Peak District I was super pleased with my performance, but I was tired and needed a change. There was still one goal for the season to be achieved a marathon. I has done some running early in the season, up to 10km, but that had been dropped to focus on the bike.
The Marathon I selected was the Sibelco Dartmoor Vale Marathon on the 29th Oct. A local race on a route I thought was flat. I also decided that 4 hours was a respectable target. Training started on the 5th September – 8 weeks to go. I had the fitness for a four hour endurance event, but not the running experience. Working again around my commitments Martin set out a plan which gradually ramped things up. I knew that missing a session was not an option if I wanted to hit this goal. I now had greater confidence and I knew what I had to do in Martin and was happy to work on his silver plan, so feedback was weekly. If this were a film there would now follow a montage of running in all weathers and different trails to some cool music. There was still some biking, including a weekend trip to Wales for some Downhilling; surely a big risk of injury, but considered in Martin’s plan. The longest run before the event was 30km. So the event its self was a big challenge. The first half was fast, maybe too fast and the second half a real mental challenge, but great support from the other runners. As I came in to the finish I was told by others this was one of the toughest Marathon courses due to the hills – so much for being flat. I just beat 4 hours!
8 weeks training for a first marathon is not normal, Martin and I did discuss the risks of doing this. Through out the whole time Martin was supportive and provided the focus I need to achieved my goal.
Please note: Training for a marathon, from occasional runner to marathon runner in just 8 weeks is NOT recommended. However this was the timescale that Ben chose after we discussed the fact that training on such a tight timescale would really increase the likelihood of overtraining or injury. We would usually recommend approximately 16 weeks of more progressive training for better results, depending on the athlete.
See Ben’s and other testimonials