I ran 1.35 when last year I couldn’t walk

Last year, mum of two, Louise Read, 37, a lawyer from Notts couldn’t walk. This month she ran 1.35 for a half marathon as she details her return to health – and juggling duty exclusively for GRTW

Lou Read swaps her running shoes for ice skating at Somerset House with husband, Chris

I write this at work during my lunch break, whilst trying to scoff a vegan Christmas sandwich having returned from a rushed trip into town to get the kids Christmas jumpers for school.

ON top of the fact, I was up at 5.50am to squeeze in a 30 minute run for my marathon training before leaving for work at 7.30am. And because today is double run Tuesday, (I can shorten a longer run into two so I get the benefit and can fit it in) I will be back out after work to run in the 40 mph winds which arriving in Nottingham this afternoon!

Lou Read recovers after a full day and double run day
Lou recovers in bed after a double run day – plus a full day at work!

Then it’s back home to supervise the kids homework, do laundry, cook tea and finally flop on the sofa where I fall asleep everyday at approx. 9.20pm! No rest for the wicked, well, not until May anyway…

Actually, last week, I took a few days out because I’d caught flu and it floored me. I was put on antibiotics as a precautionary measure because of my stroke history and my coach knocked my running back to easy sessions this week.

I still have to be mindful of what I’ve been through, and if I get too tired, I can often choke, a reaction of the stroke when my brain just can’t get all the signals through to my body when I’m tired. On the whole though, things are going so well.

A few weekends ago, I did the Clowne half marathon, which went much better than expected. My coach thought I was in 1.32 shape on the flat (1.29 is my pre stroke personal best) and 1.35 on that course.

I laughed and told him it was crazy, although I was so excited to be in a race environment again, I burst into tears when I arrived. I really thought I’d never run again, let alone be able to race.

Tactically, my coach broke the race into three parts: my plan was to keep the first half hour steady, spend the next thirty minutes concentrating on holding the pace and the last thirty, gritting my teeth to get to the end!

Lou Read's Strava heart rate data during the Clowne Half Marathon, hits 180bpm
Lou trains using heart rate, rather than pace. This way, she knows when she’s hitting the right intensity even when it’s windy. And how much to knock it back on recovery runs

I ran exactly to the plan and loved it so much, even though it was a challenging, undulating course. You can imagine my delight to roll in on 1.35. I rang my husband, Chris who was so delighted. Nothing beats that runner’s high which I carried around all day afterwards.

In other news, my London Marathon Championship place has been confirmed. To get a championship place, I ran a sub 3.15 marathon before I had my stroke, which got me the entry which I deferred last year.

Before I had my stroke, I would have put myself under a lot of pressure, but now I feel nothing but joy for how lucky I am to have this body which allows me to do so much. I’m going to cry the whole way round I know it!!!

What I’m not excited about is all the juggling I’m going to have to do to fit in my marathon training, working and being a mother. Knowing that I need to put the miles in to reap the rewards and so I can’t afford to skip sessions.

Thankfully my employers are really supportive so I can take a longer lunch break to fit in training, and I have the support of my husband, Chris – infact, he’s even doing a Christmas race with me when we got to Devon next week. Plus my angel mum and step-dad help look after the kids if I need it. It all just comes down to sensible planning, early mornings …and no social life!!!!!!!!!!!

Happy running and hope you all have a very healthy Christmas.

lou read is looking forward to Christmas
Lou’s son, Caleb, daughter, Calista… and just the fluffy head of their one year old, pooch Alfie