Sunday, 18 November 2018

Freebird - Lynyrd Skynyrd - Part One

Emma Bird - AKA 'Birdie' in Full Flight...
'Cause I'm as free as a bird now'...

'Project Birdie' has been my pet project for the past 12 weeks or so to see if I can transform Marathon and Ultra-Marathon Runner, Emma Bird ('Birdie') from being an 'Average' Runner into an 'Awesome' Race-Winning Athlete. Emma contacted me following a recommendation from a previous client, saying that although she'd completed the Autumn 100 in 22hrs 25mins, her marathon PB was only 4hrs 4mins and had hit a bit of a wall concerning speed.

She immediately grabbed my attention because having completed a hundred well under 24 hours - her marathon PB simply didn't match. On speaking to Birdie, I immediately liked her no nonsense, open speaking approach and after breaking down some of her initial barriers to training faster and harder, we quickly found a happy balance to an agreeable training schedule, designed specifically around her busy schedule and highlighted some races to work towards.

Luckily for me, she's already built a huge base of 'Long-Slow-Distance' running, so a lot of the foundation and hard work was already in place and any opposition to spending hours out putting in the miles didn't exist. My task I felt was to shorten the runs, speed her up and add in some weekly 'Coleman-Power-Hours' to test her commitment and build the speed endurance that she'd need in the last 10km's of any race to succeed.

ParkRun became the speedwork part of the programme, with her 5km times quickly tumbling, much to the amazement of her Running Clubmates that didn’t know she was being coached.

Our first hurdle? Improving her 4hrs 4mins Marathon PB set in March '18 in Cyprus with only five weeks of working together. I was confident she'd smash the 3hs 56mins I'd set as a goal. And although the 4hr mark is always seen as a bit of a barrier, all I needed to do I felt was to add a huge dose of confidence to her tapering and rely on the training upgrade we'd put in place. I needn't have worried as I received a very excited Birdie phone-call post Richmond Marathon, announcing a new 3hrs 48mins PB saying she could have gone even faster. And she will, as sub 3hrs 30mins is now more than achievable.

Forward a month and a hard day out at the Beachy Head Marathon was excellent preparation for her biggest challenge to date - The Druid Challenge, a three-stage, three-day 84-mile Ultra-Marathon where I knew she'd shine not only in her age category (FV40) but could also podium. With a good hundred mile and marathon PB in the bag a sub-15hr Druid was certainly there for the taking. To soften the nerves, I recommended a steady run on day one, with a 5hrs 11mins (comfortable) time achieved. Her amazement of being second overall female and first age category only fuelled her determination and maintaining those positions, she ran the last day in a time of 4hrs 38mins for the 28 miles – simply amazing.

Our post-race analysis concluded that she would have won overall female with a quicker day one but contented with her overall result of FV40 winner and 14th position in the field of over 100 runners, it provides a firm foundation as we head into 2019 for faster times and even better results ahead. I asked Birdie what difference my coaching has made to her running and she said, ‘You've given me structure, belief in my ability and made me step out of my comfort zone!' - and how right she is.

Make sure you are 'Birdie-Watching' in 2019 as there's a lot more to come - I'll keep you posted on her progress and if you are stuck with 'Average' PB's you might find that my coaching can help you achieve the times you are more than capable of, just like 'Birdie'. All you need to is contact me here.

1,028 Lifetime Marathons, 250 ULTRA-marathons
9 Guinness World Records & 15 MdS

1 comment:

  1. Ardderchog/Excellent blog, will be willing Emma on!