Let me go back in time:
A shitty year, really. In January my boyfriend suffered a terrible road crash. At that time I already participated in several obstacle runs, the Antwerp 10miles and the 20km of Brussels. Just for fun, because we spent most of our time on the racecourses with our horses. That’s where my father’s passion lay, that’s where I grew up and that’s where I also got to know my boyfriend. But the situation was what it was, and I was already less in touch with trot racing before that tragic accident. I wanted a sport where I wasn’t dependent on anything or anyone else.
Admittedly, it initially became a way of escaping reality. I felt at my best when I could put on my running shoes. That year I took part in the ‘Dodentocht’ (‘death march’, a famous 100k event in Belgium) for the first time & finished the Ultra-Viking race (60km – 100 obstacles). I “worked out” without a plan, was going to the Gym 3-4 times to socialize and enjoy the crossfit workouts. In addition, I occasionally ran around the church tower & went from event to event.
My first marathon in Valencia. When it comes to running longer distances, I already had some experience. But that year I used a training plan for the first time. I had my heart rate zones determined and dutifully followed what was presented to me for 12 weeks. Partly ‘thanks to’ an injury, I went looking for a ‘real’ personal coach to bring Valencia to a successful conclusion. Mission Accomplished, 3h53min later I stumbled across the finish line. Yet I and my trainer were not on the same height, something was missing. Workouts were a bit ‘boring’ and I didn’t get any satisfaction from my runs.
At the beginning of 2020, I first heard about ‘Trenara’ through a podcast. The idea appealed to me. The free version was also ideal for testing the app. I was immediately sold. No more pointless miles, for the first time I really felt like my runs became structrured workouts! The podcast of The Running Crew (Dutch only) also gave me the feeling of getting to know the people behind my plan a little better. It made those runs less lonely. Because of corona there were not exactly goals to set… but it wasn’t a bad thing. I had such fun!
And perhaps the best part of it all was that I was in control. The plan is interactive, I can move training sessions and if I do something too much or too little, the plan will be adapted. Months passed without competitions, but I noticed that I was getting faster. The mileage, the variety and the consistency: that combination worked, that much was true. It was only during a local race that I was confronted with the facts. I ran a race like never before. And I wasn’t even ’empty’ after the finish. WOW! THANK YOU TRENARA!
Little changed for me. I surfed from plan to plan and at the weekends I went trail running, because those were the only races that were still going on and I also needed a different environment. The Walloon woods provided slow kilometers, but the altimeters and uneven terrain made me stronger. So instead of that extra endurance run on Sunday, I went to enjoy running in the woods. Due to budget constraints, the application was further developed step by step. Sometimes it made me a bit impatient, especially waiting for a + 42 km plan took (too) long.
Most of the time I have followed the marathon plan. In my experience this is really very complete. An intermediate goal (shorter than the marathon distance) can easily be included in the planning. And during the training sessions I have already broken several PB’s. So you really don’t have to wait 12 weeks to notice your progress. I find the load a bit on the low side at times, but that’s more personal and probably has to do with the journey I’ve travelled in recent years.
From July 2021, I was 100% focused on the London Marathon. No more excesses on trails but pure focus to beat that 3h30 mark. According to Trenara, 3h22 was possible… I thought it was daring, but the paces showed that they might be right. I pulled out all the stops and finally reached my goal in 3h10min40.
I also have to admit that everything was right: training, nutrition, the weather. Only the last 10km were a bit too hard, luckily most of the effort was already done! 😀
I took way too much risk in the first half of the game. I’ll try to tackle the race differently in the future.
So yes, to sum up a long story:
In 2 years I ran 2 marathons, I went from 3h53 to 3h10’40.
During that period I had 1 coach, Trenara. An algorithm that, based on my results, prescribes a plan and imposes tempos on me. And even more than the races, I enjoyed the process. In the end, that 3h10 marathon means very little, and it is only a snapshot. On D-day you are still highly dependent on other variables… Stress, weather, food, … whether or not controllable. But the process, the road to the start, was blissful. The plan was varied. I also had the feeling that there weren’t any pointless runs and workouts. When a recovery workout was planned, my legs wouldn’t have been able to squeeze out an interval either. So, trainer, coach -> all credits to 2! 😉