Meet the runner - Helen Hall
I see usually see Helen at a distance, powering round her sessions at an impossibly fast pace. She had a great win at the Hampshire Cross-country Championships earlier this year and continues to move from strength to strength. Helen has a great approach to training and racing as you'll read below.
I took the plunge two and a half years ago to start my own company offering consulting services to small companies looking to make changes to their organisation. I currently have one contract which enables me to work the hours I want to and fit in my training. I currently run for Winchester and I’m coached by Nick Anderson. Previously I have run for AFD (Aldershot, Farnham and District) AC, Bracknell AC and Fleet & Crookham AC. I first got into running at school - we used to have ‘Keep Fit’ on Friday mornings where we would run up and down the playground. It didn’t matter which distance, I found I won. My teacher at the time ran with AFD AC and suggested to my parents that they took me down - I haven’t looked back since! My parents encouraged me to try lots of different sports when I was growing up; swimming, trampolining, gymnastics, tennis - nothing grabbed my attention the way athletics did. After a focused cross-country season, I ran back on the roads competing in the British Half Marathon Championships at the London Big Half. I was due to race at Reading Half Marathon, which was going to be my A Race - lockdown certainly put a stop to that. My normal training week is usually 50-60 miles a week. Mon: Easy Run Tues: AM Easy Run and PM Track Session Wed: Easy Run and Strength Session Thurs: AM Easy Run and PM Threshold Session Fri: Rest Day Sat: AM Hill Session and PM Easy Run Sun: Long Run My favourite session is always a track session! I love the speed 😁
Nothing has changed too much for me during lockdown, I work from home anyway and I’m used to having to split my days. The main change is not seeing family and friends and the worry around this. I have given myself a project to start growing vegetables and this now takes up a lot of my day!! With training I found going out only once a day frustrating - I had been on top form working towards Reading, so looking at my lower weekly mileage was hard to start with. It has given me time to focus more on strength and conditioning and the other elements of training which usually get put to one side. I have two best performances which stand out for me;First being at the Hampshire County Championships this year; I knew I was on good form and put a lot of expectation on myself to come top 3. As the race started, I went out as planned and was surprised to find I was on my own, nervous that runners might appear behind me, so I dug in. It wasn’t until I finished that I realised just how much I had been pulling away from the rest of the field to win. The other was the London Big Half of this year. It wasn’t my main focus although I desperately wanted to get under 80mins. I’ve worked hard over the past year to work on my own race and to not worry about other runners around me, to know my own body and not go off too fast. I was careful off the start line and felt comfortable the whole way around - over taking runners at mile 4 who had gone off too fast was very motivating - I managed a surprising 2min PB to get 78:09. I’ve had many bad performances! Having run from a young age I have had DNFs (Did Not Finish) which has made me more determined for that not to happen again. Cross-country is my weakest discipline, although I thoroughly enjoy it - it’s all about finding the extra strength to keep going, even at the National cross-country wading through mud (not my favourite course, I was so happy to get over that finish line!). I love data so would have to say my favourite piece of kit is my running watch - currently the Polar Vantage M (although it has questionable GPS!). I also love new shoes day! My top running book is from the woman who was my inspiration growing up: Paula Radcliffe’s My story so far.
Absolutely, I’ve lost my running mojo. I have completely given up running. Both times was due to reoccurring injuries, I was struggling to get back injury free and my training group were running away from me. The last time this happened I gave up for over a year and got back into it simply because I missed it. I decided to join a smaller running club, where there was no pressure to be the best. I joined Fleet & Crookham AC and owe a lot to them for where I am now. I built up the training slowly and enjoyed the social side of running - until I decided I wanted more!!!
I eat as much as I like and whatever I like! I do eat a balanced and varied diet but I do not cut out any foods and always make sure I have snacks in my bag - especially after training and for the 45min drive home! I take a multi-vitamin and vitamin D in the winter but I try to everything I need from food. Running is my expression of me. If you’ve had a hard or stressful day, nothing beats getting out into the countryside and losing yourself in a run. Those sessions where you push yourself and achieve can give you such a high - just don’t overdo it, some days are just not your day and shouldn’t be pushed. I am not very good with social media, I am @helen.runs on Instagram, but it hasn’t been updated in over a year!