Testimonial – Shel

I first started PT with Dave in September or October 2016 with a goal to run faster, more specifically I wanted to drop a few pounds and be able to run a really fast 5K with my dog. I wouldn’t say that I was a greatly experienced runner prior to this, I’d run a couple of half marathons and a few 10k runs and no spectacular times to shout about. In fact, I’d only really taken up running just over a year prior to this.

So, my journey began and little did Dave know what he’d agreed to take on (insert evil laugh) – the first couple of months were really focused on nutrition and hydration, improving my strength and working on my weak areas. I won’t lie it was hard, I complained a lot, I got told off a lot for not drinking enough water – but that’s what I needed and somehow Dave knew that, I guess he’d got to understand me and knew just when he had to play the parent/teacher role and when he needed to be the coach or counsellor.

We worked through food diaries quite regularly as that was something I really struggled to get right and wrap my head around when I first started and in stepped Dave as coach here. I can’t imagine it was easy for him as I’m vegetarian and was really funny about eating and drink certain types of food – but with a lot of patience and quite a few ideas from Dave, I got my head round it and I started to see the difference. I shifted a few pounds and the running started to improve a little – so the intensity of the training got harder, I complained some more, and Dave learned to listen and ignore me and kept telling me to follow the plan.

Had the plan worked? Well it all came down to race day in December 2016 – I stood on the start line with my boy and off we shot, I’d forgotten to start my watch (typical!!) so I had no idea how fast I was going – but we ran, and I gave it everything I had. I had to wait till the end of the day to find out how fast or slow we had been. We’d completed the race in under 25 mins, it had worked!! I’d never run that fast before and I was over the moon – was this going to be the start of some fantastic canicross times for the rest of the season? I think so…

Somehow my brain had worked out that I was now invincible, and I could do anything – so why not sign up to run up Mount Snowdon!! I can’t remember when I exactly told Dave that I’d signed up to Man v Mountain, but I do remember the conversation – I’d turned up for a PT session and at the start of it I stated – “I might have done something silly, I’ve signed up for Man v Mountain, it’s in September 2017 and I guess I’ll need to train for it”. Well his face was a picture – but ever the professional (I guess to some extent he probably didn’t want to tell me that he thought I was crazy as I’d never run more than 15 miles in my lifetime and now I was going to run 24 miles and up a massive hill!!) Dave simply agreed that we best get training for it then.

Dave worked up a new plan and training continued, the prowler became my frenemy in the gym, all my sessions were based on working to emulate going up a hill, because let’s face it Lincolnshire’s flat and the only hills I was going to get was when I was able to head to the Derbyshire Dales for a training run. Coaching didn’t just start and end in a PT session, it was almost a daily thing now – I had questions almost daily about food and training and Dave was on hand to answer them or tell me to stop being so stupid because I already knew the answer. I had training days that were a complete disaster and, in some cases, consecutive training days that were a disaster and I would go into mini-melt down mode and question my ability to do this race – that’s when I needed “counsellor” Dave and that’s exactly what I got. He was on hand to celebrate the successes as well and trust me there were a lot of those too. Like clock work I’d get a message every Sunday to ask how my long run went, what went well and what didn’t go so well – it was a Sunday for goodness sake – didn’t the man want a break from this madness!!

PT sessions weren’t always about high intensity work and working really hard, Dave was able to gauge the days I was tired or had injuries and my body just ached, and on those days, it was about remedial work and I’d quite often get to put the world to right. PT sessions were always fun and I have to say I looked forward to them, which is one of the reasons why I probably stuck to the plan so well. It wasn’t like you were about to walk into a military bootcamp and someone was going to spend an hour making you work so hard you were sick at the end of it. It was specifically tailored to my ability on that particular day.

Summer came and went pretty quickly and I was finally on my way to Wales – this was it, 24 miles up and down a mountain – there were points in the race where everything hurt and I didn’t want to ever see another hill ever again. There were points I absolutely loved (all the down hill running, the finish line and of course the food en-route) – my frenemy the prowler, who I complained about on a weekly basis, had just become my best friend as I hiked up the last few miles of Snowdon and made my way up the steps of the vertical kilometre – maybe, just maybe Dave knew what he was doing when he made me push the blasted thing up and down the gym floor every week, and it wasn’t just to shut me up for a while (it was the only time at the gym I didn’t have the energy to talk!!). I can proudly say I finished that race, it was at the time one of the hardest things I’d done and I enjoyed most moments of that race – I got back to our cottage we were renting that week and in true Dave style a message was waiting for me on my phone to see how I’d gotten on and celebrate my success – I wouldn’t have expected anything less by this point. Oh, and some advice of course on making sure I ate and drank enough food over the next couple of days and a reminder to stretch as well.

Back home to Lincoln after this epic race and what next? I thought I’d start focusing on canicross again as it was the start of the season and I’d said to Dave “no more long-distance races – they’re just not for me”. So, of we set to work on speed and unfortunately, I injured my self at the first race of the season, I wasn’t able to run let alone walk properly. Just my luck as well, a week after I’d injured myself I got a letter through the post from the organisers of the London Marathon to say I was successful in gaining my ballot entry to the London Marathon and I was racing in April. Hmmm…

I’m pretty sure the very first message I sent when I saw the letter was to Dave (not even my mum or dad) – and I’m quite sure it went something along the lines of – you know I said I didn’t want to run another long distance, well…”attached picture of my letter”…Oh and I might have forgotten to mention I entered the ballot for the Marathon earlier in the year – surprise!?!

If only I could have been a fly on the wall of that office that day when I sent that message through – I can only imagine the reaction – of course that was quickly followed by a message from me saying I can’t even walk how am I going to do this!!

Here we went again – new plan was set, and we worked on other aspects for 2 months till my foot was better and I was able to run again. It was back to following the plan, more of me complaining, more of Dave checking up on me and more of changing the plan to suit my needs, compensating for injuries (and I had a lot of those this time round), even more mini-melt downs, moments of lose in confidence of my ability and of course celebrating successes. Did I finish that marathon – absolutely, how? Well I can only put it down to following the plan – because it was the hottest London Marathon recorded and I struggled for a large part of it because I just don’t do heat – but somehow my brain and body just knew what to do.

Without fail there was a message waiting for me when I got home to say congratulations and reminding me to eat and drink properly.
I decided to take a short break and not focus on a specific training goal after the marathon – I knew I needed the break. So while I might not be going to PT sessions at the moment, the coaching still hasn’t stopped, Dave still takes an interest in what race I’ve signed up for next and what I’m doing to train for it, he doesn’t have to take an interest – but I think that’s what makes him a good coach, he’s happy to share his knowledge to make me a better, fitter version of myself. Oh, and he’ll still listen to me complain.

Looking back at my journey so far the words marathon and running up a mountain were never things I had dreamed of accomplishing in a million years, in fact they weren’t even on my radar – but somehow they became goals for me and I was lucky enough to have a coach who didn’t tell me I was crazy, but helped me achieve what seemed like the impossible. Reading back what I’ve written, I have to say I do feel sorry for Dave, because he really didn’t know what he’d signed up for with me and boy do I complain a lot (something I clearly need to work on) – but he got to know me and the way I work, he knew when to be coach, counsellor and parent and he made it fun along the way. I’d like to think I made a good friend along the way too.

This definitely isn’t the end of my training journey – I’m sure I’ll come up with another hair brain idea soon and Dave will be getting a message from me saying…so I’ve kind of signed up to something…

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