Meet the runner - Kate Green
I'm 27 and I run for Winchester and District Athletics Club, having just transferred from Bournville Harriers in the West Midlands. I'd had about 3 training weeks with WADAC before lockdown started so no coach at the moment. In my day job, I'm a planning consultant and work for a private consultancy in Southampton. I’ve always been a runner at school, but when I started playing hockey and netball for the first teams it took a back seat. When I went to university, I did the odd race, but again didn't really do much. Then in 2016 when the ballot for New York Marathon opened, my mum, who'd run it 4 times at this point, suggested putting my name in the hat as a bit of fun. It was so unlikely I'd get a place, I thought why not... famous last words! I've ran 6 marathons and covered most distances from 5k's to 75 miles since then.
I was in full London-marathon training-mode when lockdown came in, so I wasn't racing a huge amount... but my last race was The Grizzly run by Axe Valley Runners down in Seaton. Probably one of the hardest races I've ever done, but also one of the best. Twenty miles of hills, mud, water, hills, pebble beaches, coastal paths, mud and, did I mention, hills... I'm not one to shy away from any of the above (I love the cross-country season), but this race is definitely something else! When I say water as well, I mean like rivers... and two of them. The start is along the front at Seaton, on a pebble beach, for half a mile, before climbing up a huge hill out of the town! As well as being the hardest, it's genuinely one of the best races I think I've ever run. The community spirit was great, and most people are out just for a good run and a pint at the end. I usually use it as one of my long runs when marathon training (if I get into it) because the hills are so good, and it feels more like a 24-mile training run by the end of it. It holds some great memories for me as well as I watched my mum run it 3 times, it was one of the first races my partner George came and supported me on and it's where my mum met George for the first time!
This year's race prep wasn't exactly the best thing in the world... I had my old club awards night (and a few glasses of wine) on the Friday night, followed by a gig in Birmingham on Saturday night (no wine involved), before a 3-hour drive south after the gig and a night sleeping in the car... The things we do to make the start line on time! Note to self, check the diary before booking things next year.... I spend the majority of my running life on a marathon training block, so it usually looks a little bit like this:
Monday - my new rest day/old training night with my previous club. We used this as a group run to get the miles in. It would usually be anywhere between 6 – 13 miles, depending on what kind of week I was having i.e. high mileage or lower.
Tuesday - endurance training at WADAC: either hills, speed or strength.
Wednesday - my new Monday so easy miles.
Thursday - fast 6 - 8 mile run.
Friday - medium pace over 7 - 10 miles.
Saturday - long run, usually involving parkrun somewhere in the middle or towards the end (I'm a needy runner and like to be with people for some or all of a long run).
Sunday - easy miles; 5 – 7 total.
Saturday and Sunday inevitably swap around depending on where I am and what I'm doing! I usually run in 3-week cycles where I'll do 2 big weeks, getting up to 60 - 70 miles, then drop back down again to 40 - 45 miles.
My favourite session is mile repeats (I think...). Or 800s.
I'm struggling with motivation at the moment and really missing group sessions. I'm not used to sitting still so much and as a result I'm getting quite lethargic and I just don't want to do anything. That being said, I had a really full on year last year with 2 road marathons and 2 ultras so it's nice to take a step away from racing and full on focus all the time. I've not been too hard on myself and I’ve just taken each run as it comes rather than beating myself up over it.
WADAC have also been arranging a few virtual races which have been really great to get involved with in terms of a weekly focus and I've been helping George with organising the virtual Welsh Castles so that's been really fun as well! I had a pretty good season last year as a whole really. I ran a personal best in every distance during marathon training and was probably the fittest I've been in a long time. I'd probably put my best performance down as winning the Abersoch 10k. It's not the flattest course (420 ft of gain), but I somehow managed a win on basically home turf (I've spent a lot of time in Abersoch over the years). It came 4 weeks after winning a 50 mile ultra, so I was a little bit stoked after this! I also ran a PB in Brighton Marathon at the start of the year before running a second marathon PB in Berlin at the end of the year, but I wouldn't necessarily call them my best performances... I had a lot of fun on the Abersoch course, whereas I was very tired going into Berlin so just didn’t enjoy it as much as I wanted to!
I think my worst performance was the 75 mile ultra I ran last summer. Firstly, I went out with a road race mentality which just isn't helpful for that kind of distance. Sections of the course rather than individual miles are what count. Your whole perspective should shift from a very short-term perspective that usually accompanies road racing to a much bigger and longer perspective, but mine didn't for this one! It took me 20 hours to get round, which gives you an idea of how much bigger the focus is (my marathon times are around the 3.20 mark!) and I came third, which was fantastic, but it was hard work. I didn't eat or drink properly for the first 30 miles which led to a melt down at the 4th checkpoint and I spent a lot of the race on my own, something I hadn't really thought about beforehand. I struggled with this a lot. The darkness at the end of the day also made me realise how tired I was, which was another thing I hadn't really considered... headtorches are great, but a small beam of light in very rural North Wales is a tough one mentally. Needless to say, I had another melt down at about 60 miles! I can download routes onto my watch, but the miles tick down rather than just showing a map, which I don't think helped either and knowing I still had 15 miles to go was pretty devastating as I sat on a rock debating whether to pull out or not.
I learnt the importance of fuel and liquid on that run. They are probably one the main reasons you feel like rubbish 90% of the time and those two things plus a hug (needy runner...) will probably be the number one answer to most of your problems! I'm making it sound like I didn't enjoy it... I really did, it was just much harder than I gave it credit for and in that regard, I learnt to respect the distance and to trust my training, which is sometimes quite hard when you're not seeing week on week improvements. I also learnt that it didn't really matter where I placed and if I'd have relaxed a bit more, I think I might've taken an hour or so off my time. I do think it's amazing how much pressure having Strava and Facebook can put on you once you start doing well and sharing that!
My favourite bit of kit is the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus. I just love it. My best running books, in no particular order, are:
Deena Kastor - Let Your Mind Run
Scott Jurek - North
Bart Yasso - My Life on the Run
Bella Mackie - Jog On: How Running Saved My Life
Adharanand Finn - The Rise of the Ultra Runners: A Journey to the Edge of Human Endurance
Christie Aschwanden - Good to Go
Hal Higdon - 4.09.43: Boston 2013 Through the Eyes of the Runners
I really like running related books!
I lost my running mojo straight after Berlin. That race really was the end of my season last year and having been training for about 10 months of the year I was both thankful I could sit down and eat all of the ice cream, but also felt a weird grief that it was over. I had this massive void where I would otherwise be running and loads of free time to do things and not rush around! It takes time to get used to that, which I eventually did. I don't think I'd fully recovered when I started training again in January for London 2020. I was just finding it hard to go out. I found going to club really hard because I was just tired, and it meant I was quieter than normal and it's generally quite easy for people to pick up on that because I'm normally quite bubbly and my laugh is quite loud! Going out on my own was even worse and I bailed on a lot of long runs... George had to pick me up a couple of times and it really was just the pits.
I moved down to Hampshire mid-training block and pre-coronavirus and was getting to grips with being at a new club and swapping my days round, finding new long run pals. I was starting to perk up a bit, but to be honest, I was torn between deferring London and aiming for a new PB. George had promised to pace me having secured his PB in Chicago and it felt like a "once in a long time" chance to be able to have him there (he is far too fast for me) so I felt like I had to commit and try not to blow up too hard in the process! With races cancelled, I'm enjoying not feeling the pressure and I'm almost ready to get back into the training block again.
It's not exactly a special diet, but I went vegetarian halfway through training for Berlin last year. I woke up one Sunday and was like "I'm going to try vegetarian week" and then it just stuck. My main motivator's for not eating meat are mostly around recovery time (just to confirm, this was a pre-Game Changers thing!) and climate change. I feel much better and less sluggish since I’ve stopped eating meat, but that's just me and I wouldn't expect it to be the same for everyone. At the same time, I do have to make sure I'm still able to get all the nutrients I need from the food I'm eating, but it's quite fun learning new recipes and getting my head around this. I'm a big foodie and definitely believe that making stuff from scratch is the best thing for you and that processed food is rubbish (why buy pasta sauce when it's just as easy to make and takes a similar amount of time to cook?!).
I don't really believe in supplements, so I don't take them. The only exception being hydration tablets, if I really need them. A bit of salt in squash does the same though!
My running philosophy is that if you try your best you won't have any regrets.
You can find Kate @kgreenrun on Instagram.