|At a Glance Profile
Running: A year
Half- Marathon experience: None
Determined, self-motivated and focused
Most looking forward to: Exploring my potential by venturing into the unknown and perhaps inspiring others to do the same.
Most dreading: Failure - but the bigger the mistake the more you learn!
Favourite quotes: "When you come to a fork in the road - take it." "If it doesn't challenge you, it won't change you."
• My RW profile
View Tracy's Training Schedule
Bupa Great North Run: Race Day
Tracy says: The race went so much quicker than I thought it would! Psychologically, I’d prepared myself to be running for two and a quarter hours and had thought quite a lot about the hills, but when it came to it, I just went with the crowds and barely noticed the climbs.
Steve had given me split times, and I’d written these on my arm so I could check my progress at certain intervals (miles 5, 8 and 10) but I was never planning to run as fast as he’d suggested. That said, I wasn’t that far behind!
There were many times during my training when I questioned what I was doing – especially just before I went on holiday and my hip started playing up. But everything’s come together over the last three weeks, and at no point in the race did I think I wasn’t going to be able to do it – apart from the first half-mile, perhaps! In fact, I thoroughly enjoyed every moment today!
For me, one of the highlights of the whole experience was meeting and working with coach Steve at the training day. We were doing a track session, and he was running back and forth across the middle of the track telling us whether we were running too fast or too slow. It was amazing – there were six of us running around the track but he knew exactly how fast each of us was going. To have someone tell you exactly what you’re doing, and what you should be doing, was a real confidence boost.
Keeping a training diary in the forums has been great too. Sometimes it did feel quite time consuming, but what’s the point in doing something unless you’re going to do it properly? Plus, if it’s made just one other person think they can do it too, then it’s all been worthwhile.
The last three months have seemed quite intense, so I’ve not really thought about what I want to do next. Apart from maybe take up the piano and forget running! No, seriously, I will carry on running, but I plan to just run for fun for a while, then see what happens.
Weeks 9 and 10
Tracy says: My most recent objective has been to discover what race pace "feels" like over a longer distance, and to do this, I 've started to run without music. I’m a little despondent that the experience of "feeling good and the wind in your hair" seems to be so elusive - I've tried to stay focused and determined but it all feels such hard work at the moment!
The last couple of weeks have been tough for all of us, either due to injury, frustration from not achieving what we think we should or simply pure tiredness, but we're all getting there.
I've had a look at my schedule for the final week and was surprised to see how much less training there is. Hopefully, as Steve says, will start to feel stronger next week so I am pumped and primed for the big day. There’s not long to go now! What am I going to do when it's all over?
A lesson learned for next week – run your own race, whatever is going on around you. Even so, I am not sure about going for 2:05 – it seems a little optimistic!
Steve says: Tracy achieved a good 12 x 300m session on some grassland followed by an easy recovery run and a very good tempo run.
Her best run though was at the weekend, when she covered 12.65 miles along the canal in 2:15.
The Tuesday speed session was a tough 3 x 2K, but Tracy managed 9:00-miling almost exactly. Her final long run was supposed to be a contrast in paces but Tracy basically ran quickly all the way. Despite not carrying out what was required, it was still an excellent run - 10 miles in 95 minutes is well inside her target pace for the race.
As long as the pacing is right and Tracy gets a clear run, I can see her finishing many minutes within her target time, possibly coming closer to 2:00 than 2:15.
Tess (LSPT) says: Nutritionally, the most important thing Tracy has learnt from this experience is to not be afraid of trying new things while training as she works on finding what suits her best. But now, with less than a week to go, sticking to that practiced structure is more important than changing what she is used to.
The knowledge she has gained from being part of the team has enabled her to make informed decisions about her nutrition during training days, running and rest days. She now regularly uses gels and has a strategy for race day with which she is happy. I am confident that she has done everything nutritionally to help her achieve her target.
Tracy's Video Diary
Catch an action-packed glimpse of what Tracy's been up to over the last eleven weeks...
Weeks 7 and 8
Tracy says: Initially, I was disappointed not to have got inside the hour at the Great Yorkshire Run but on further reflection, this is the first time I have run with more than 500 other people so that will be a factor.
Starting the race tired was also not ideal though despite this, my pacing was consistent to within a few seconds of each other for the first half, and miles 5 and 6 were significantly faster (including the hill) so I think I should forget what the clock says and be happy with the result.
The countdown to the Great North Run is on now. There's just three weeks to go, but I feel relaxed and confident as I can be that I have done and am doing everything in my control to make it happen.
Liz and Martin Yelling are not only inspirational professionals, but also really friendly - receiving coaching advice and encouragement from them at the training day was fantastic but surreal! Coach Steve was also there to give us face-to-face feedback and an insight into his approach to our training.
I've come away inspired, motivated an having learnt loads. I feel confident that if I had to run this race tomorrow, I could do it. I know I can achieve this massive goal I have set myself.
Steve says: Tracy began the fortnight with a speed session which, because of work commitments, had to be the day after a long run. Sensibly, she started gently but banged out the last few 1000m reps in close to 5:30 to show a good combination of speed and stamina over the two days.
She took the rest of the week off to rest her hip/ITB and then smashed her 10K PB at the Great Yorkshire Run 10K. Though slightly disappointed not to break the hour, Tracy finished very strongly, even with a tough hill at the end and ran a faster second half.
Her Tuesday speed session of 8 x 600m was strong, though possibly not quite at her pre holiday levels. However, it was more than sufficient speed for the half-marathon and Tracy finished strongly and ran a solid hour the next day.
A tempo out-and-back run on Thursday saw her confidence begin to return and she ran really well at the Lucozade training day on the Saturday. She also followed this with a strong brisk, long run of around 90 minutes,
Overall, while initially the time off for her holiday had meant a slight reduction in fitness, she had a better second week and is now back on course to be well ahead of schedule for a sub-2:15.
Tess (LSPT) says: Tracy has continued to do an excellent job nutritionally as she moves into the final weeks of her race day preparation. She has acquired good fuelling habits before and during her runs - as well as after - which then allows her to get the most out of each session.
Tracy has always had a really good grasp of nutrition but now she even teaches others about it and how important it is during exercise. This Sunday she will do her longest run (two hours and 15 minutes) and will be sure to take on a gel and sufficient fluids. She has done really well to go back to her excellent habits after coming back from holiday.
Keeping the routine she has in place now right up to race day will really help her performance. What's more, race day is sure to seem even easier as she won't have to carry drinks with her! With the effort she has put in and her nutrition strategy in place she should be confident to get her predicted 2:15 finish.
Weeks 5 and 6
Tracy says: Week Five looked like an easier week so I decided to try and stick to it on holiday although I would probably have to change the days around a little. I got back from holiday feeling refreshed, and relaxed. So relaxed in fact, that I needed to find some motivation to get my trainers on again.
Everyone seemed to be flying and I was feeling a bit nervous about getting back into the swing of the discipline. But, I did manage to get back on track with my schedule in Week Six – 100 minutes at 9:15 -10:15 pace was required. I decided to do my favourite long run route.
Last time I did this route it took me 106 minutes and clocked up at 9.35 miles. This time I did the same route but didn't cut any of the corners so it was a bit further at 9.74 miles and I did it in 98:55, cutting my time by just over seven minutes for a slightly longer distance!
Steve says: Tracy began with her hardest session yet – 3x2K, where she was asked to attempt close to 9-minute miles when all her speedwork over the first month had been nearer 10-minute miles. However problems with calculating pace and adapting it to metres meant she ran the first rep far too quickly and then to compensate did the second rep too slowly. The third one was very nearly at the required pace though, which gives her the confidence to know that she can manage a quicker pace, if she paces it correctly.
Tracy then went on holiday, and while some runners use their holiday to do much more training than usual, Tracy preferred to recharge her batteries and in the time away only did one 30-minute and one hour run, neither of which she particularly enjoyed.
While not greatly prepared she ended the fortnight on a high with a very good long run on the Sunday. She didn’t feel good, but covered close on 10 miles, and ran seven minutes quicker than when she ran a similar route (and went slightly longer this time) - showing how much she has improved.
Overall it wasn’t her best fortnight’s training, but it is clear she is well ahead of target. The only cautionary note is she is having a problem with her ITB band, which needs to be resolved as she embarks on the most crucial few weeks of the schedule.
Tess (LSPT) says: Tracy continues to be inspirational, not only with her massive effort every training session, but in really taking on board my comments and advice. Now Tracy has a really nice variety to her diet including a good proportion of carbohydrate, protein and essential fat.
More recently we have been looking at methods of increasing her carbohydrate intake during her runs and making sure she compensates for the sweat loss with fluid and electrolyte intake. She is doing well with this so far on the longer duration runs where it is essential, but just has to be careful with eating a lot and not giving it time to digest before going out at speed!
She has done extremely well again in the last two weeks, continuing to work very hard with her training and look after her nutrition. Now and again Tracy can reward herself for her hard work with some post-exercise treats!
Weeks 3 and 4
Tracy says: My next run is on Sunday when I need to tackle two hours. I did 1:45 last Sunday so I think it will be more of a mental challenge that physical. In the meantime, I will enjoy my two day’s rest from running.
It’s amazing what a couple of days rest can do. I feel as though I’ve had a bit of ‘normal life’ so I’m not going to talk about running at all because I haven’t done any!
I’ve passed the 10 mile mark so now I know I can run 13 miles and have seven weeks left to improve wherever I need to. In the last three weeks, I have doubled my mileage both on my long run and my overall mileage during the week. I don’t want to become complacent though, avoiding injury is essential.
When Steve used eight minute miles as an illustration of what I would need to do to cover 200 metres, I never dreamed it would be possible, never mind sustainable. I had absolutely no idea I could run that fast!
Steve says: Tracy showed remarkable speed on her 400m reps, which illustrated her improvement and her control as she became quicker throughout the session. The Thursday tempo session was a tough one, more in terms of the mechanics than the effort, as it involved running at various paces, yet again she produced good speed and stamina.
Her longest run to date, 11 miles in 2:03, also went very well and such was her increase in fitness that she found going as slow as she was instructed very difficult.
Tracy had previously done all her speedwork on her treadmill but week four’s session was her first in the real world, and she surpassed all expectations on her run.
The recovery run and the one with a faster middle tempo went well and the two week period ended with a faster, longer run, which again was at a pace that wouldn’t have been possible a month ago.
Tracy certainly has had a great fortnight again and continues to become faster and stronger. It would be a surprise if she can’t finish within 2:15 for her first half-marathon.
Tess (LSPT) says: When I first met Tracy we talked about general nutrition but now that she is building her weekly mileage and going for longer runs, her priority is to eat enough calories that she recovers effectively before her next run. This is especially important with her midweek sessions on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday to ensure she can manage a quality session on the third day.
Tracy has been working hard as her running schedule has become more demanding and as a result her appetite has also increased significantly. She is dealing with this by eating more slow-release-energy foods. She needs to ensure that she drinks enough on days when she isn’t training and should check her sweat rate with the scales in the gym. Tracy’s enthusiasm to learn and ability to absorb advice, mean she is continuing to improve quickly. Hard work, determination and good nutrition are also helping her to progress.
Weeks 1 and 2
Tracy says: My first challenge has been to increase my training from two runs a week to four. And my first training session was speedwork – oh well, start with the hard stuff and it should only get easier!
One lesson I’ve learnt from the speedwork is how essential 10-minute warm-up/cool-down sessions are. I've never done that before and it made a big difference to how my legs coped with the speed and in particular how they recovered afterwards. I could feel my leg muscles stretching in different directions during the last 10 minutes and the aches melting away!
I had to make a choice for my tempo run - take what appears to be the "easier" option with some speed intervals or just go for it. Which one do you think I picked? Well, I’m never one to wimp out! I have to confess though that by end of the 20 minutes, my ankles were starting to complain but now I’m sitting with my feet in iced water, I feel fine again.
I've enjoyed this week and can't believe that we are already nearly at the end of Week Two. I have two whole days of rest now until my long run on Sunday – but in the meantime, I'm off to get my glad rags on now and see if anyone recognises me in the pub now my picture is in the national press!
Steve says: Tracy preceded her schedule with her first sub-60:00 10K and seemed to begin on a high with a fine first speed session, completed on the treadmill. Not having done a half-marathon before, she is new to long runs but managed a good long weekend run of over seven miles, finishing strongly.
The good work continued the following week through more speedwork, an encouraging tempo run and then, most importantly, the long run. Her longest run yet (8.9 miles) went very well and she actually got faster rather than slower - she seems a natural distance runner!
As devotees of her thread will know, Tracy is following a tough additional exercise programme with her personal trainer. Overall the first two weeks could not have gone any better and everything’s on course.
Tess (LSPT) says: In the last two weeks Tracy has really stepped up her training and her knowledge on exercise nutrition. She likes to do well at everything she attempts, so pieces of advice from me have really been taken on board and integrated into her lifestyle. She has also shared a lot of this advice to help others.
Her energy intake is sufficient to fuel to the tough training sessions done in the gym and out running. Protein no longer seems an issue at all, and a portion of this is being well-timed after the majority of her training sessions.
In her last long run Tracy took a carbo gel after 6-7 miles. This is a good idea to get the body used to eating glucose while exercising. Tracy is taking this as well as drinking Body Fuel, so is getting the maximum amount of glucose (60g) per hour to digest.
Tracy says: I took up running a year ago to lose weight, and have lost nearly two stone since last August. Watching the weight drop off (without consciously dieting) really changed my perspective on things - I'm now fitter and healthier than I've ever been, and that's what keeps me motivated to carry on running.
I’ve been working especially hard for the last six months and did my first 10K in June. I was so nervous, I hid in the toilets. My friends and I started right at the back, like a couple of women going shopping!
Since then I’ve gone on to do another 10K (setting a new PB of 59:43 in the process) and definitely believe I have the potential to run further.
The thought of running 13.1 miles scares me to death, but on the other hand, imagine doing something you know is making you stronger in ways you never dreamed it would. If it doesn't challenge you, it doesn't change you - that's my motto for this year!
My half-marathon goal? Simple - to be the best I can be.
Tracy is relatively new to running and has recently been suffering from a few niggles. Based on her 10K time (62:48), Tracy looks capable of a time around 2:15, provided she can stay healthy and up her mileage.
As with all the runners though, it will be dependant on how the first five weeks go. Together, we'll then re-assess her plan and decide whether to ease back, maintain or even up the training.
Tess (LSPT) says:
Tracy's current nutritional strategy is to put half as much back as she is taking out. For example, her energy output is 3,000 kcal per week so she allows herself 1,500 kcal on top of her normal diet.
Going forward we are going to look at matching her input and output to allow sufficient carbohydrate for each training session and effective recovery.
Tracy also needs to add more protein to her diet but is doing well in managing the amount of carbohydrate she requires. Small steps - such as having cereal before her evening run - help ensure her energy levels are high enough for her training.