New Balance ‘Real Runner’ - Zoe - Part 3

New Balance ambassador and personal trainer Richie Norton guides Zoe through some intervals

This is the third in a series of blogs, catch up on blog one and blog two.


It’s my third and final week of training to be a stronger and faster runner as part of New Balance’s Real Runner challenge. For the past two weeks I’ve thrown myself into things, with tough training sessions in the gym with Richie Norton, and speed training sessions at home. I paid off the second week with a fantastic run, smashing my 10k, 5k and mile PBs.

Alas, this week wasn’t to be so successful. 

I’d managed – enjoyed even – sliding out of bed before the house woke up, creeping downstairs and training first thing in the morning before getting changed and going to work for the day. Sometimes I’d do a routine of lunges, squats and planks to build up my legs, glutes and core, or sometimes I’d run intervals. 

But this week was harder. Staying away from home with work, I had to fit in training around busy 14 hour days and different surroundings. And without the ability to go for my usual training sessions, I was in the gym on my own for the first time. Woman and kettle bell, alone.

Richie had warned me to make sure I got enough rest, but as the week continued, I didn’t want to slow down. I haven’t felt this solid as a runner before, and I didn’t want to fall right before the metaphorical finish line. 

But I’d have been wiser to heed his advice. By midweek I was starting to feel sleep-deprived, and by Thursday I had a full-blown cold.

On direct orders, I took a couple of days off. The closest I got to exercise for the rest of the week was to slide on the floor with my foam roller and massage ball.

By the weekend, with the sun shining, I felt brighter again and ready to get back into my trainers. I’d come this far and still wanted to challenge myself. Last week I’d shown I could be a faster runner. This week I wanted to see if I could be stronger. So I piled up a couple of podcasts and set off on a distance run that would be my longest yet, at 15k.

I stuck to a comfortable pace and noticed my posture was even throughout the run. At 10k I still felt strong and started to pick up the pace.

But this just wasn’t going to be my victory week. I started to feel light-headed and stopped to check my blood sugar. It had slipped below the safe limit and with no more carbs supplies I had to jog home, making it to just over 14k in total. It was still a PB, but sadly it was not the one I had wanted. 

In terms of this programme, this may be the final week, but for me it really isn’t. After the time with Richie and New Balance, I’m more attached to running than ever. And stronger and faster than I was three weeks ago, I’ll continue chasing my goal.