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.
“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 (www.runnersworld.co.uk).
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.
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 www.parkrun.org.uk. 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.