Tag Archives: Solent Athlete

Ready to Race?

25 Apr

It feels like I’ve been so busy training recently that I’ve not had as much time as usual to blog…

I mentioned back in January that I’ve signed up for Solent Athlete’s Ready to Race course, which includes two track sessions a week and a self-led long run at the weekend (and some strength and conditioning work at home).

Solent Athlete 20th January

Solent Athlete 24th January

I know that a lot of you won’t ever have seen me run. In my head I am a gazelle, but the reality is a little different.

A friend recorded a video back in 2012 when a group of us visited a friend in Coventry – I can briefly be seen running at 1:22 and it doesn’t look good:

However, the work that I’ve put in with Coach Olly from Solent Athlete means that I now have noticeably better posture and feel lighter on my feet 🙂

Solent Athlete 3rd February

Solent Athlete 5th February

Solent Athlete 5th February Tamsyn

I did a parkrun on 6th February and was feeling fitter than the one I did at the end of January, so I was feeling confident that I could get a faster time… but I hadn’t allowed for the strong winds. I usually love the downhill sections and have learnt to keep running hard rather than recovering, but it was so windy that I struggled to maintain forward momentum!

Southampton parkrun 6th February 2016

On 13th February, I ran with my friend Teri and her son William. It’s always more challenging running with small children as long runs are always fartlek sessions with them. I find this kind of running much harder than going at a steady pace. William really wanted to do well, but it was a cold day and his hands were very cold. Luckily, the effort paid off and he got a PB!

parkrun 13 Feb 2016

Afterwards, Stu and I joined the others from SUTRI in Trago Lounge for brunch, which was a nice reward.

Solent Athlete 18th February

On 5th March, Carmen from Solent Athlete’s Ready to Race course joined me to do her first parkrun.

parkrun 5th March

She’s got more natural talent than she realises. She only took up running in January and managed negative splits throughout the run of: 6:48; 6:19; 6:17; 5:55; 5:31.

parkrun with Carmen

parkrun with Carmen

The following day I helped with another Marafun Sunday Runday in preparation for Southampton Half Marathon.

Part way around the route for Southampton Half

Part way around the route for Southampton Half © Kate Budd

The 10 minute mile group

The 10 minute mile group

On 7th March, my climbing course started. I’m absolutely terrified of heights, so it was a kill or cure option.


The following two weeks, I was unable to check my progress as I was Run Directing at Southampton parkrun.

parkrun 12 March 2016

Solent Athlete 17th March

parkrun 19 March 2016

However, I was back to running on 26th March.

parkrun 26 March 2016

Solent Athlete 14th April

Solent Athlete 14th April 2

Solent Athlete 21st April

Solent Athlete 25th April

Overall, I loved the Ready to Race course. I made some great friends and was excited to learn about new running techniques. I can see a lot of advantages to what I’ve learnt and hope taht I’ll continue being able to put what I’ve learnt into practice.






9 benefits of working with a coach

24 Jan

Last week I posted that I had decided to work with Solent Athlete this year in the run up to ABP Southampton Half Marathon.  This raised a few questions about why I was working with a coach when I’m a member of a running club (and a couple of tri clubs), so I thought I’d deal with those questions here and share what I perceive to be the benefits of working with a coach

Why I work with a coach


First up is motivation. I’m pretty good at motivating myself, but it’s always good to have someone who is your cheerleader.

Group support

This links closely with my first point. I’m working with a group who have a common goal, so although we might be aiming for different times, we all have the same deadline. (To be fair, I can also train with a group with any of the clubs that I belong to, but we tend to be grouped by ability rather than by goal – this can have its benefits, but they could fill an entire post on their own!)

Solent Athlete 1.png

Dee and Carmen pacing each other at the track © Solent Athlete


Having to report back to someone on your progress can be a great extrinsic motivator. If I don’t turn up to a club session, none of the coaches there will ask where I’ve been, whereas if I don’t turn up for a workout with Coach Olly, he’ll want to know why and will expect a good reason, not an excuse!


“If you always do what you’ve always done, then you’ll always get what you’ve always got”. It’s very easy to get stuck in a rut when running. I know a few  drills (that I don’t do consistently), but I tend to do similar sessions. With Solent Athlete, I’m learning new drills to perfect my technique. It’s also a chance for me to challenge what I learnt on my UKA coaching course – in ‘running for speed’ we were taught about foot dorsiflexion, however pose running suggests that a relaxed foot is preferable as it discourages heel-striking.

Solent Athlete 2.jpg

We might look like extras from Dawn of the Dead, but we’re actually working our cores here to remain stable!

An objective viewpoint

Working with a coach gives me unbiased feedback on what I’m doing. I get feedback based on expert knowledge and experience rather than the opinions of my friends and family, which aren’t always based on evidence! (Lots of my lovely friends who aren’t particularly into any sports think that I train an excessive amount; in contrast, I think that they spend an excessive amount of time in the pub or on other activities – a coach knows what a healthy balance is!)


Working with a coach who knows me well means that every session has the right level of difficulty. If I train on my own, I sometimes slack off, but working with a coach means that each session has a specific goal.

Solent Athlete 3.png

Doing 200m reps on the coldest day of the year (-5C/25F) ©Solent Athlete

Defining realistic goals

Coach Olly ensures that I set realistic goals. Left to my own devices, I would be happy to race every other weekend. My coach ensures that I don’t compete too often and then even if I have entered events that I approach them with a sensible strategy, so that I clearly know which races are my A races and which ones are merely preparation points.

Reducing over-training and the risk of injury

Many clubs provide a multitude of sessions to meet the differing needs of their members, but it’s not the responsibility of the club to oversee how many sessions a member completes. As someone who is a member of Lordshill Road Runners, Southampton Tri Club, SUTRI and SURC, as well as being an ABP Southampton Half Marathon Sunday Runday Leader, there are many sessions that I can take part in each week.

Coach Olly oversees my training schedule and ensures that I am not over-training. I get bored very easily and when the choice is between an evening out training with friends (which is what counts as my social life) or an evening slumped in front of the TV with laundry and cooking for light relief, I know which I’d prefer. Olly makes sure that I have rest days and don’t have repeated tough training days… or at least, he tries, but this is an area where I’m a bit wayward! (I know this is detrimental to my improvement, but sometimes I need to prioritise my mental health!)

Proper warm up and cool down

Another advantage of working with a coach is that every session starts with a proper warm up and cool down that is based on our needs and the type of session we have done. (A good coach will also do this in a club session, but if the group is large then it can be hard for a single instructor to check on everyone’s technique). I know how to do a proper warm up and cool down, but will admit that if I need to do a long run, I quite often head out of the door and assume that if I keep a steady pace for the first five minutes then that’s enough… and if I get home cold and wet then the stretching is often neglected!

Do you work with a coach? Why/why not?


So, what have I been doing this week?

On Monday, I did a one hour swim session with Southampton Tri Club. As it’s the start of the year, quite a few new people are turning up to try sessions. This has pros and cons – it’s great that new people want to join the club, [and it may help me to move up if they’re slower than me], but it also means that the lanes are more congested as people try to figure out lane etiquette and where we should all position ourselves.

My first session with Solent Athlete was on Tuesday evening. (I’m currently signed up for the Ready to Race Running Course and as we’re only a week in, it’s still possible to sign up.) It was great to meet Dee and Carmen who had arrived there before me [I planned to run or cycle as the sports centre is near to my house, but as it was bitterly cold, I chose to drive]. We did quite a few drills, including one that made us look like zombies (see picture above). Some people argue that there’s a tendency to overthink running, but so many of us have learned bad habits that it’s good to get back to running in a more natural fashion that should help to keep me pain-free.

The planned set was 200m intervals with timed recoveries, but as it was the coldest day of the year, we replaced the recoveries with some walking/jogging between each set. I run in shorts and t-shirt in almost all weather conditions. I brought a bag to the track with a light running jacket, intending to replace my hoodie with the jacket after my warm u, but for the first time ever I did an entire training session with a hoodie on.

Wednesday was probably meant to be a rest day, but I usually run with my work colleague Sarah. We have been meeting up with others from Southampton Tri Club for an informal interval session on The Common, so that was what we did. Like two weeks ago, we did 300m reps; unlike two weeks ago, I felt fine and wasn’t worried about fainting. I really should have listened to my body, but I didn’t realise I was ill and just thought I was unfit through lack of training!

After we did 6x300m, Sarah and I went for a steady run around the top of The Common. On Tuesday evening, Stuart had lost a buff (neck gaiter) whilst out running, so I wanted to see whether it was there, but I didn’t hold out much hope. I was so pleased to spot it at the top of the hill. It was a little muddy, but otherwise unscathed 🙂

It was my second coaching session on Wednesday evening, so I wrapped up well with two pairs of running tights, a base layer, a long-sleeved top, a buff, two running jackets and two pairs of gloves. I looked like the Michelin man, but stayed warm for the duration of the session.

My second session with Solent Athlete was on Thursday evening. We were joined by four others for the warm up and drills, which made it a very sociable session. The main set was 800m reps, which I find really hard to pace – I can do 200m, 400m and 5k, but am not good at the bits in between!

Friday night was a recovery night as I’m still not fully fit and yesterday I did Netley Abbey parkrun. I then finished off the week with another fantastic Sunday Runday. It didn’t work out quite as planned as Laura and I stopped to help a runner who needed to finish early and then managed to lose our group, but it was a lovely run any way!

I’ve realised that I’ve failed to take many photos this week, so that’s something that I’ll work on next week!

On your marks… Training with Solent Athlete

17 Jan

Although I have been planning and training, I’ve really struggled to get my motivation back. I think I overdid it last year and have felt fatigued since October.

I realised that having a clear schedule and working out with a team of others with similar goals would help to get me back to where I wanted to be, so I’ve signed up to Solent Athlete‘s ‘Ready to Race Running Course‘.

Solent Athlete

The course is 13 weeks long and features:

Two coached running sessions a week, programmed to suit your goals and targets. These sessions are Tuesdays 18.30-19.30 and Thursdays 19.30-20.30. All sessions are at Southampton Outdoor Sports Centre.
Running technique analysis
One programmed strength and conditioning workout per week, and a weekly mobility plan.
One programmed longer duration run, usually based on either a tempo or time trial effort.
Monthly gym open clinic to work on any issues regarding the strength and conditioning or mobility programmes in person.
Access to the Solent Athlete Running Private Facebook Group
In person and email contact and accountability to your coach.

I’m really excited about getting started. I know that I’m a long way off peak fitness, but think that if I can do well at Southampton Half Marathon then it won’t be as difficult for me to be race ready for Long Course Weekend in July.

Do you prefer to train with others or do you workout alone?