Specialist or generalist: which is better?

In the 15 years since I qualified as a teacher, people have often asked me what I teach. My stock response has been, “children.”

Anyone who works in primary education knows that you have to be proficient in pretty much all areas of the curriculum insofar as an 11-year-old would notice (trust me; they see through bluffing VERY quickly). From art and drama, to biology and PE, we teach it all in primary classrooms!

I’ve tried school leadership and it’s not for me. I’m doing some consultancy at the moment and, while I find it really interesting, it’s not the same as being at the chalk-face. I adore the nonsense of primary classrooms, which can have you explaining long division in one breath and why chopping an earthworm in half doesn’t give you two earthworms in the next…

In my fitness life though, I am definitely a specialist. Running is My Thing. I’ve general qualifications (and hope to gain another soon), but running is where I’m most comfortable. That’s not to say I’m an amazing runner, but I love the nerdy mechanics, the self-talk and psychology, and the glorious sense of achievement we get when crossing our own finishing lines.

Which is better? I’m not so sure; I just feel lucky to have them both!

Where are you going?

What do you want to get from running? Do you want to be faster? To lose weight? To run further? Perhaps you just want to stay fit and well or don’t have any targets at all.

For many of you, there was a time when you didn’t run – can you imagine?!

Just because you’ve created a good habit, doesn’t mean it’s still the right habit to get you what you want in the future.

Fitness professionals often like to talk about pushing their athletes to ‘overload’ or the ‘point of failure’. Those naming conventions don’t suit me; I prefer to remind athletes that if they always put the same thing in, they’ll always get the same thing out.

You have a choice!

The future of Tilehurst Runs Together

2020 started off so well! We had around 40 athletes training with us regularly, from Run Strong to Run Well to our Sunday outruns. We were thriving!

What happened next was (mostly) unpredictable and I am so grateful for the ongoing support of such a wonderful group of people. Creating online ‘content’ was never part of my business plan and the Tilehurst Runs Together VIP group was a huge leap of faith. Thank you all so much for sticking with me, my dining room and my legendary IT skills (who knew a Computer Science degree could get so out of date?!).

We’ve been back training in person for a while now and it’s been great to be together. Watching you in three-dimensions, refining your technique and helping you to become better runners is what I set up TRT to do and it’s WONDERFUL!

Having said that, what comes next is an even bigger challenge than the instant shut-down in March: I want to keep everything that’s great about TRT (you and the friendships you have forged!), but I have to limit numbers for everyone’s safety.

I am a specialist running coach with some generic fitness qualifications. What I offer is running coaching, tailored to those who attend and adjusted depending on who’s there, what their running/movement form looks like and what they need to do next.

The VIP group will move to a monthly membership model: a simple roll-on/roll-off, month-by-month affair. I am suspending most of the block-booking options and the very popular ‘pick and mix’ cannot be restarted (yet). I know that this will disappoint many of you, but it’s just not viable when I can only host 5 runners at a time on Thursday evenings. That said, it does mean that you’ll get an even more personalised service, as you’ll be training in much smaller groups!

If that’s not what you want, that’s ok! There are plenty of other local general fitness providers and I will be very happy to advise/point you in the right direction.

If you’re ready to be a more confident, efficient and capable runner, I’ll see you in your running gear very soon!

Thank you,
Coach Katie

“I’m sure I work far harder being part of this group than if I was working alone.”

TRT Athlete

Do you ‘just run’?

Someone once told me, “Just go out and run.”

If your main aim is to enjoy running, that’s a perfectly sensible strategy to take. If your main aim is to stay fit for life, you may want to include some other types of training.

Stretching, strength and mobility all play a part in our overall health and, “muscle and bone strengthening and balance activities [can] delay the natural decline in muscle mass and bone density that occurs from around 50 years of age, maintaining function in later life.”

So yes, if you want to run, just run, but perhaps think about the long-game, too.

Eating for running

Lots of people ask me about nutrition and what they should or shouldn’t eat for running. I leave specific advice to the professionals, but I do have a few running-related tips.

1.       Running long distances requires good quality energy to be available to your body. This can be acquired by eating a balanced diet which has fresh fruit and vegetables as its basis. Did you know that some experts advise aiming for ten portions of fruit and veg a day?

2.      Once you’ve finished a run or a hard training session, your body needs protein to rebuild the broken muscle fibres and carbohydrate to restock your energy reserves.  You should aim to eat/drink something within 30 minutes of completing your session. Experts tell me that a chocolate milk-shake is the best recovery food; I usually opt for scrambled eggs.

3.      Food is fuel! If you’re aiming to lose weight and run long distances, think about the types of food you’re eating as well as the quantity. A half marathon can burn between 1000 and 2000 calories; you will need to eat the correct types of foods so that your body has the energy it needs train and repair well.

If you’d like some advice about making some swaps in your diet, please get in touch (I always recommend you talk with your GP before you do anything drastic).