New Balance ‘Real Runner’ - Zoe - Part 2

This is the second in a series of blogs, click here if you want to catch up on blog one. 

Aided by Richie Norton - New Balance ambassador and my new personal trainer - I’m now into the second week of my training to be a stronger and faster runner. Week one was all about laying the foundation, getting used to cross training with daily dynamic stretches and exercises to power up my legs. There was also core work and while the plank was most definitely my nemesis in week one, in week two it’s become marginally less dreaded and I feel a strength through my midsection which was previously absent. 

Also I’m a type 1 runner, which means lots of insulin injections and blood glucose monitoring. When I started the programme last week, my levels were volatile leaving me feeling pretty exhausted, but after adjusting doses to account for the extra activity, they seem – touch wood - to have evened out.

Any ideal ‘triumph over adversity’ story, starts with an improbable challenge, follows an arc across several seemingly insurmountable hurdles, before finally grasping glory at the final second. So I feel I may have peaked too soon in reporting to you that this weekend I ran my fastest mile, 5k and 10k, after just one week of intensive training. 

All credit to Richie of course, who has already transformed how I think about running. The 5k PB was the biggest shock. My last PB was set in an over-competitive parkrun last year which I left feeling overwrought and slightly sick, and had never been able to get close to that time again. The 10k was less of a shock, as I’ve only run that distance a handful of times. That said, I did knock almost 5 minutes off my time and felt good through to the finish, so I need a bigger goal here. I wonder if I could do 15k? A half marathon?

As I already start to see the results of the hard work, I’m contemplating what it is that’s making the training successful, and I think it’s three things. 

The first thing is that I’m pushing the boundaries. Every time I see Richie, he presents me with a seemingly improbable task and I look at him like he’s crazy. Knee-high box jumps. I didn’t think I could do one. He made me do 50, building explosive power into my legs. Sled pulls and prowler sprints. Pushing barrels and enormous weights – heavier than me – around the gym floor. These are incredibly tough and I don’t look forward to them, but the resistance training really works. 

The second is consistency. Training five days a week is a big change for me, so I’ve needed to make my work outs between runs effective and efficient. It turns out that 20 or 30 minutes squeezed into a busy day really is enough to make progress and maintain strength from the tougher workouts.

And the third is rest. Sweet, sweet rest. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that training five days a week and changing meds hadn’t been hard. So purposeful rest days with foam rollering, food and sleep feel all the more rewarding. Those are the days when I recharge and power up, ready – hopefully – to set another PB.