Verona Ní Drisceoil, Mentoring Brighton Marathon 2018

Signing up for marathon coaching and mentorship with Rachael for my first marathon was the best decision I made in January 2018. Whilst I knew, at the outset, that I had a relatively solid fitness level and that I was not afraid of training hard given my background in team sports, the marathon, and training, was completely new territory for me. Under the mentorship programme Rachael helped me to gradually build my mileage and adapt to a new mindset and approach to training. She also helped me to stay focused at a number of low points when an old hip injury reared its ugly head and prevented me from doing speed work for a number of weeks – that period was difficult!

On reflection, I don’t think I would have made the start line if I had not had Rachael’s support and guidance during that period. What made the mentorship programme particularly powerful – and in particular Rachael’s approach – was her ability to know intuitively when to push and when to ease off and offer more encouragement and praise. The marathon (I know now!) is certainly not only about the physical training but is very much – and even more so – about the mental.

Rachael’s knowledge, guidance, meticulous plans, and words of encouragement at key milestone runs was invaluable in that respect. Furthermore, for someone with a busy work schedule the mentorship programme meant that all of the planning was taken care of. The fact that you know someone will be checking up on your runs also helped greatly – to get you out the door when it is the last thing you feel like doing!!

I would wholeheartedly recommend Rachael as a mentor to any runner whether a new runner, or more advanced and experienced. She is most experienced, professional in her approach but adds the human touch and is always at hand if you have any questions – whether about strength training, nutrition or mental strategies. Rachael has such a wealth of information about all things running; to be able to tap into this was such a fantastic experience.

As a result of the mentoring, I have learnt a great deal both about running but also about myself. I feel more confident and resilient as a runner now and looking forward to my next challenge.’

Verona finished the marathon in 3.53.

Naomi Trickey, Mentoring New York Marathon, 2017

Running a marathon is tough, mentally as well as physically. Everyone knows that. I had long said that the only marathon I was really interested in (and terrified of!) was New York. I have entered the lottery many times. This year I got in. Time to meet my own challenge.
It met my criteria in that it scared me. And it would require a lot of training. Like everybody running their first marathon, my main aim was just to finish it. But I very much wanted to come in under 5 hours. And I wanted, most importantly, to enjoy it.
Mentoring helped me get there. Rachael and I talked about my goals. It helps that she knows me well enough to know what my strengths and weaknesses are, both physically and mentally, and has seen me race enough to know what I needed to do to get to the start and finish line of New York.
She put together a custom plan for me, which we tweaked continually as the weeks went by, according to how well my training was going and the million other things I fit into my life. It effectively covered every aspect of training, with detailed sessions and guidance on sessions for: pace, strength, endurance, strength work, stretching/yoga and even reminders of when to get a massage (every 3 weeks – sounds delightful but sports massages are generally anything but!) Rachael gave me specific paces and times I needed to hit for all of the running sessions, worked out according to analysis of previous times. IN a nutshell, this is what the mentoring service gave me:
  • Pace training. I rediscovered how much I love running on the track and the psychological strength I gained from 7am track workouts, by myself and with friends, is not to be underestimated when it comes to the longer runs and the marathon itself.
  • Park runs. No PB yet but am now working towards one off the back of the marathon training – I DO NOT want to lose the fitness I’ve gained!
  • Tuning races. Including tuning races in my plan was totally invaluable. I did a half marathon, which I did not enjoy but learnt from (hydration is important, who knew?) And a ten-mile race off the back of a ten mile run which trained me to deal with race anxiety whilst running. And gained me a lot of kudos on social media!
  • A steeper ramp to the long runs than most plans I’ve seen. I added 2 miles per week. I could do this because I was already running. It meant that I managed two 20+ mile runs before the marathon. This is the thing I credit for avoiding maranoia: I knew I could cover another 6 miles, even if I had to walk it and had the endurance to finish strong.
  • Strength training. DO NOT miss this bit out. It’s the difference between injury and running free. The reality is that running for 3-5 hours hurts, but it would have hurt a lot more not being able to do it for the sake of some single leg conditioning.
Naomi finished the New York Marathon in 4.45.25