I met Lucja on my first desert ultra-marathon in the Kalahari in October 2013 and we have stayed in contact since as coach and trainee but as also as great friends.
Lucja started training me the following summer in preparation for KAEM 2014. The aim was to improve my performance and compete closer to the front of the pack than in 2013. I spent a long weekend up in Edinburgh discussing my plan, aims and goals and seeing Edinburgh for the first time. That summer I stuck the best I could to a rigorous plan, increasing my training to more than I had ever committed to before. Since then, Lucja has made sure I have always had a plan to follow whether for a big race like Transvulcania in May 2015 (see race review here) or no race at all.
Having Lucja for a coach keeps me on the ball throughout the year but she also understands and appreciates when i have a good reason for not sticking to my plan religiously. I remember one week I had to play around with the schedule, she said to me “even the best plans need tweaking”. It’s so hard to predict exactly what you’re going to be doing months in advance and something always seems to creep up when you least expect it to so flexibility is important and Lucja completely agrees with that. She understands and respects the balance between having a life and having to make sacrifices for wanting to be a contender in the races I do. What’s great is if something does need swapping round, Lucja will always advise on what might be best to change.
How it works being in different cities…
As much as I’d love to live closer to Lucja so we could train more together, living in different cities doesn’t stop us from keeping each other going when training for a race.
We keep in constant contact on WhatsApp, have phone calls when we need to discuss a training plan or anything else at length and use an online training plan so we can both update it live. I enter all of my commitments whether they are or aren’t running related and Lucja schedules the plan around this.
The content of the plan varies each week but generally consists of one tempo run, a hills or stairs run, occasionally a steady run or another speed session, a strength class and a long run and recovery run on the weekend. I generally have one day off a week which is on Friday to let my body rest before the long weekend runs.
Lucja has encouraged me to include various types of training to benefit my running. The biggest mistake I made when training for my first marathon was wasting so much time on junk miles. I never really understood until learning from Lucja that every run needs to have a purpose. Whether this be time on your feet, pace, reps, pack weight, testing kit or just distance. Since putting this into practice I have improved as a runner and put more thought into my end aims and goals.
Lucja is so generous with sharing advice and the best way to approach my training. I can always rely on her level headed, positive, rational opinions and suggestions which always have my best interest at heart.
It doesn’t stop there either! Not only does Lucja have loads of tips, but you get 2 for 1 as her hubby Dion who is a great multistage runner (32nd in MDS!) also chips in with valuable advice. When planning my nutrition for KAEM 2014 they saved me from taking far too little. If it wasn’t for them, I would have turned up with the bare minimum and not enough fuel to get me through the week! They sent me their spreadsheet to compare and get a better idea of the number of calories I should be consuming. They also considerably helped me get my pack weight down. They wouldn’t even let me take a razor head!!! I mean no one wants jumanji sleeping next to them do they?!
Needless to say, I clearly needed a ruthless eye to go through my pack contents!
When writing my plan she also picks out the weekends where I could fit in shorter races for speed practice and will then research what’s going on around my area to encourage me to book the races I should be fitting into my training plan, sending me links to those which would be suitable.
With Lucja’s help and coaching I have improved significantly. I am more knowledgable, stronger, faster and more competitive. The most obvious example of my improvement was between KAEM 2013 and 2014 where I decreased my time by over 10 hours from 42:59 to 32:08 and my position from 9th to 5th female. I now feel comfortable setting myself competitive and challenging goals rather than just wanting to finish.
I genuinely can’t emphasise enough how valuable all of the knowledge I have gained about running through Lucja is. I will forever be in debt and certainly wouldn’t be where I am today without her.
A coach and friend for life.