SC-2: Back in the Routine

Name: Simon Cook Age: 22 Height: 6’0 Weight: 14st 6lbs
Running Ability: Amateur. Run on a fairly regular basis but with no real structure.

Started from the bottom. Come September, the Tyne Bridge might not be so quiet

Started from the bottom. Come September, the Tyne Bridge might not be so quiet

“I had as many doubts as anyone else. Standing on the starting line, we’re all cowards.” – Alberto Salazar, three-time winner of the New York City marathon

As I sit here contemplating the progress I’ve made in such a short period of time, it’s difficult to comprehend how badly I had let myself go, and just how tough my first couple of weeks of training actually were. Whereas I had previously enjoyed the experience of running, it almost began to feel like torture – the constant feeling of being unable to catch my breath, paired with an inability to put one leg in front of the other. After only one week I did something I’d never done on a run before. I stopped.

It wasn’t that I wanted to give up or that I was physically unable to continue– I’ve always been driven to give as much as I have in a sporting context. Jogging up a particularly steep hill in the Ouseburn Valley, my legs seemed to just give up on me and it quickly became apparent I wasn’t getting to the top unless I walked. As I rested up for a few days afterwards, I began to have doubts about whether I was being too optimistic with my sub-ninety minute target for the Great North Run. To be honest, I was beginning to doubt my ability to actually do the run at all! However, I have wanted to do this all my life and when you’re running for a good cause it’s up to you to make sure you get it done.

I decided my best option would be to take it back to the drawing board and start off easily to build up some confidence. I immediately scrapped my initial training plan and began to read up on some tips for runners. A particularly good source of information is the Runners World website (

With tips for runners of all ages and standards, I found I was able to choose various styles of training that were well suited to me, providing variation not there before. More importantly it has made it fun again.

I now try to incorporate a mix of long runs, tempo runs, track work, hill running, core work and stretching. I’ve also started to take a lot more time planning my training each month, so I know what I am doing and when I am doing it. For anyone serious about running and training for long distances, I would advise you check out the site. It’s taught me that maximising your running potential takes a lot more than just running far!

One thing that has also helped is training alongside friends. I had never really considered having a running partner before as I often find when I run with others I lose my rhythm and find myself trying to match their standard (which is particularly difficult when they are considerably better than you!). However, with some of the new training methods, I discovered having a training partner is much easier and can provide added motivation. Michael and I recently met up at Byker Bank to do some hill training and I think we both left with a great sense of accomplishment. Not to mention the aches afterwards.

Simon's hill training can easily be incorporated into a session through the town centre.

Simon’s hill training can easily be incorporated into a session through the town centre.

I have also been attending the Newcastle Park Run event regularly with friends. Set up like an official race these events are run by volunteers each week and are a very friendly source of competition. The event is always a lot of fun and, over a 5k distance, another great source of training. Find your local run at I have bettered my Personal Best each of the last three weeks and while I’m aware there is still a long way to go, I’m really confident of a good run come September. I am currently running between 8-11 miles on my long runs and thinking in my head what that must be like with a Northern crowd cheering you on. Ha’way!


Simon is running in aid of The Children’s Foundation and is hoping to reach his target of £225. Click here to visit his sponsorship page.


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