If someone had said to me two years ago I would be writing a blog about running I most certainly wouldn’t have believed them. Not because I didn’t have anything to say about it, I did, it has been a lifelong passion of mine, but because I wouldn’t have believed that my aspiration of coaching people to run had actually happened!
Fast forward a couple of years, and working alongside Lawson at Go Train East Rocks, we saw the opportunity to help people become a stronger, more efficient and faster runner by incorporating strength work (Lawson’s knowledge), and running technique training (my knowledge); and There Are No Weak Fast Runners was born.
But where did it all start?
My first memories of running are two fold, one was joining my Mum on her run around the local park. We were under the canopies of these magnificent conker trees, I was maybe 7 or 8 and I was cycling beside her. The second memory is joining my Dad on some of his runs after work. I must have been around 13 or 14 and I remember running past fields full of Cavalry Black horses and thinking that this was pretty perfect; I was with my Dad and we were running alongside some of the most beautiful animals.
So I guess you could say my love of running has stemmed from hugely positive early experiences. Sure I remember the school cross-country runs that were always round a field, but I also remember that if I was lucky, the horses would be out and we would have to run past them! I think I was also lucky in that running came naturally to me and it never really felt like a chore. I was good at it and that in turn gave me opportunities that I would never have even considered if I had not joined the cross-country team.
Since those runs around the school field, my feet and legs have taken me on a mountain marathon (the Buchaille Dash), to School, County and National cross-country competitions, Army Championships, half-marathons and racing horses across the Welsh countryside! I have learnt that my heart is on the trails…road running is a winter activity when I have to rely on street lights, track is useful for speed and ticking over in the summer months, but wet, muddy, hilly cross country courses are where I most want to be!
I don’t want to be running round and round a circle, I want to be running somewhere. I want to be able to look around me and have moments of joy as I see something interesting or exciting on my run. I want to run up a hill to the point where I can’t feel my legs and then free-wheel down the far side, feet, arms and legs flying as gravity takes me faster and faster. On these runs there is joy. There is excitement. I feel alive and love my body for being able to do what it can do.
As I type this I am imagining the 5km route I take people on when they come to a running clinic. Every part of the route is different. We start off running through woods that in the spring are carpeted in bluebells, we then run across a bridge where my girls play pooh-sticks, and into John Muir country park where the birdsong has been so loud and uplifting recently. We pass alpacas and huge trees felled by Storm Arwin, we pass hulking war relics and delicate flowers, before then running along the estuary navigating short hills and sandy tracks. Every part of the run is different. Every part of the run offers a challenge. And every part of the run offers an opportunity to look around and appreciate where you are.
Alison’s running advice for beginners
The beauty of running is its simplicity. It is just you, and your route. You don’t need fancy kit to start (although a well-fitting pair of trainers and a comfy pair of socks is relatively important!), you need yourself, and an idea of where to go.
What should I do?
You don’t need to start with a training programme, a few strides of running on a walk and you have already started your journey to becoming a runner. Once you have committed to running a set time and distance, start with a walk run training plan, gradually building up time or distance, and each week increasing by no more than 10% on the previous week.
How often should I run?
The number of days you run will be dictated by life, and even with the best of intentions you should be prepared to adapt what you are doing. If you can manage three quality running sessions a week I think that is a very strong base to start.
Any other tips?
I would also encourage everyone to keep a running log that covers how you feel. This can be so important when it comes to planning your runs, and seeing progress.
Hopefully this has inspired you to pull on those trainers and realise that running shouldn’t feel like an obligation, you should do it to find moments of joy and the feeling of freedom and accomplishment. And if you need some help to get started I would love to see you at our gym in the woods, Go Train East Rocks, or at one of our There Are No Weak Fast Runners running clinics.
A few of Alison's favourite things
Go Tell The Bees That I Am Gone by Diana Gabaldon
As an avid reader I am not sure I can pick a favourite, I dip in and out of every genre, and each book is as enriching as the next.
I have recently finished the ninth novel in the Outlander novel series by Diane Gabaldon. I first watched an episode of Outlander 8 years ago, then decided I couldn’t watch the series and not read the books!
Last year I even managed to see one of their sets when they came to John Muir Country Park to film. It was quite surreal seeing the famous standing stones on my running route.
Don't walk behind me, I may not lead
Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow
Just walk beside me and be my friend
Winnie the Pooh
Flowers by Miley Cyrus
Again, I have many songs that hold significance, but at the moment I am loving the number of empowered female singers out there. As a mother of two girls I think it is a really important message they receive about strong women, and how important it is to believe in themselves. Hearing them blasting out Flowers and singing along with their own version of the lyrics is wonderful!