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Coach Trip

by kirsty
Monday 28th April 2014
Tags  Kirsty Reade   |   Marvellous Mimi   |   Mimi Anderson   |   UTMB

Run247 columnist Kirsty Reade has enrolled the help of a coach as she prepares for the UTMB

Just like Gary Lineker I like a good goal, and this year I’ve got one very good goal - to finish the UTMB. It’s my ultimate race, I’ve worked up to it over 4 years, serving my apprenticeship running the CCC and TDS and doing increasingly hilly and long races and now I’m finally doing the big one.

When I got my place in the race I decided I was going to do everything I possibly could to give myself the best chance of completing it, short of chucking my job in and moving to the Alps, which was ruled out quite quickly on account of strangely not having amassed a huge personal fortune while working in publishing. I made a big decision to try something I’ve always wanted to try - I got a coach.

I’m lucky enough to have met a few fantastic coaches while doing things for Run247, but there was one person I had in mind, given the type of event I was training for. This person is the world record holder for John O’Groats to Lands End and crossing Ireland on foot, has completed some of the toughest races in the world and is synonymous with the word ‘marvellous’. I’m proud to say that my coach is Mimi Anderson (marvellousmimi.com). As well as her vast race experience and impressive achievements, what drew me to Mimi is her meticulous preparation for the challenges she takes on (this is the next one: www.freedomrunners.org), her infectious enthusiasm and positivity and her ability to learn from her experiences. Having Mimi as a running coach is the equivalent of getting Simon Cowell to coach you to be a pop star or getting Jensen Button to teach you to drive.

Run247 columnist Kirsty Reade has enrolled the help of a coach as she prepares for the UTMB

I’m an average runner so it might seem like I’m getting above my station to have a coach. However, I think there are loads of great reasons for us lesser mortals to have a bit of help with our running goals. Firstly, for me, it’s about saving me from myself. Despite doing some coaching myself I tend to make all the mistakes I tell other people not to make - doing a massive run the weekend before an ultra because I don’t think I’ve done enough miles, doing a circuits class with a million squats a few days before a marathon, not resting when I should, resting when I shouldn’t etc. It’s absolutely fantastic to have a coach draw up a plan for you and then just follow it, knowing that you’re doing all the right things. You know how far you’re running, how fast you’re doing it, how many reps you’re doing. All you have to do is go out there and do it and I’m loving it.

Another reason that it’s brilliant to have a coach is that there’s an awful lot of different advice out there about training for ultras. Some will have you running 100 miles per week, others much less, some won’t have any hills or much speedwork, others will have back-to-back long runs. I know from previous experience that some things work well for me, others don’t. And training for a flat 100 miler and training for a mountainous one require very different training plans. The beauty of having a coach is that they create a personalised plan for your goal, taking into account your strengths, weaknesses, planned races, holidays and life in general. And they’re there if you have questions, wobbles, injuries or crises of confidence days before you head off to a hot and hilly ultra in La Palma (that last one was a friend of mine, honestly).

Lastly, and probably the biggest plus of having a coach for me, is that they help you to introduce new things into your training. We all get used to doing what we’ve always done and then wondering why the results aren’t different. We love to stay in our comfort zone and do familiar sessions and sometimes we need a little push to take our training to the next level. I’m training for a race which will require me to climb up to 2500m several times, living in a place where you’re lucky to find a hill with an altitude of 100m. Previously I would do tons of hill reps, do far too few panic trips to the Lakes, a few nowhere near hilly enough races and then get to the start line feeling really underprepared. Mimi’s solution (in addition to me making a few trips to the Lakes) is that I drag a tyre a steadily increasing number of times up a hill near my house, which is incredibly hard work, massively effective and just hugely good fun. It mimics the feeling of a much bigger hill, it makes your legs stronger and it is the hardest workout I have ever done. I would never have thought to do that but simple suggestions like that could make all the difference to me.

So I’m five weeks into my coaching experience and I’m already feeling it’s having a big effect. It’s great to be able to ask ‘what run am I doing today?’ and answer (to myself, obviously nobody else is that interested) ‘whatever Mimi tells me to do!’. I’m pushing myself in different ways and I’m really enjoying it. So if you’ve been thinking about getting a coach I say JFDI (just flipping do it). Find somebody who inspires you and encourages you and see where it takes you.


About The Author

Kirsty Reade

I’d describe myself as borderline obsessed with running, racing, reading about running, and watching others run so hopefully I’m fairly typical of Run247’s visitors. I tend to do longer races, particularly off-road marathons and ultras, but am pretty much a fan of any distance. I'm passionate about helping runners of all levels to improve through running communities I'm involved in, such as Underground Ultra and Free Range Runners. 


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