The first time I trained properly for a marathon was for my second attempt at the distance in Berlin (If you’ve read my deep, dark running secret blog you’ll know I didn’t exactly train for my first marathon). I used a 16 week marathon training plan that I printed out from the London Marathon website. It worked. I followed it to the letter and came away with a PB.
Things went so well in Berlin that I decided to use the same plan when it came to the London Marathon. This time it didn’t work. I struggled to stick to it with the Beast From The East in full swing, attempting a 13 mile run on a treadmill because of ice on the pavements. I felt like a failure because I missed sessions and failed to complete some long runs. And of course, we all know the story about what happened on race day.
I kept questioning why the plan hadn’t worked the second time and, after the London Marathon, I felt lost. I knew that I needed help in the form of some structure to my post-marathon training and I craved the feeling of having a support network (I run on my own having never joined a running club and hardly anyone I know is a runner). I found out about Team Project Run (TPR) through Instagram. Looking back, I was a little bit too invested in Instagram after London, watching others celebrate the successes that I hadn’t been able to accomplish myself. However, it led me to the TPR page and they were out in force celebrating their team members.
Team Project Run provide online running coaching. Their aim is not only to help you reach your personal goals with bespoke training, but also to help you understand the mental, physical and social benefits that running can bring you. I signed up straight away and there’s a few things that I love about them.
Their support is just what I needed after London. It sounds odd because the coaching is all provided online but the amount of support that TPR members give each other is amazing! We have a group chat and, most days, it’s on fire with supportive messages flying back and forward. We do also talk a lot about cake and doughnuts, cats and dogs, and the fact that someone has great breakfast game but it’s mostly about the running! When someone is planning on running a PB, nervous about their intervals or planning their longest run ever, the support and motivation is great. Of course all this encouragement can lead to you signing up for a mad challenge but that’s a story for another time!
The combined knowledge that the coach and the members have is something to be reckoned with. In the same way that there is always support, there is always someone who is willing to impart their knowledge to you and give you advice. Advice comes from not only the coaches experience, but from the many years of running and racing that the members have behind them. Whether you want to know about nutrition, strength and conditioning or the latest massage torture device, there’s always someone to help. I’ve recently been told I have a weak glute on my left side which makes my knee wobbly when I get tired. The advice and knowledge I got on the subject when I told the group helped me to see that I can work on this and come out the other side.
Any fool can know. The point is to understand.Albert Einstein
Being reminded to run for the love of running is something that came with TPR. Running for the enjoyment and head space it gives me was almost lost during my London Marathon training because I was so focused on my time. The coach always says that the enjoyment running brings should always come first. A PB will always come later if you’re enjoying what you’re doing! This attitude towards running really helped me after the London Marathon left me feeling disappointed towards my race time. Getting the love back has helped me so much and of course I went on to enjoy my Chicago Marathon experience so much that I can’t wait for the next one!
TPR are great at giving reassurance that everything is going to be OK. Reassurance might look the same as support on paper but it’s not. Reassurance is about those everyday doubts that creep in about your training and having someone point out that you’re doing perfectly fine. It’s about reminding someone that not all training runs and races can be good ones. I hurt my back two weeks before the Chicago Marathon and then got a head cold a week before we flew out. Having the reassurance from the group that the last two weeks of marathon training wouldn’t affect a whole 16 week cycle of hard work was vital to me. It helped me relax about the race and ultimately get the time I wanted.
I’ve been with TPR for nearly a year now and I honestly don’t know how I did it without them. They not only helped with my marathon PB in Chicago but they’ve given me the support network I need to keep running.
Team Project Run meet up at various races across the country but I have yet to be able to make one. Hopefully one day in the near future I will get to meet them all but for now I’ll just keep sticking to my training and supporting my team mates in everything they do.