Meet this week’s Teacher Feature…
Name: Henry Aylett
Year group you teach/role in school: Year 6 Teacher, Maths and KS2 Leader
Years teaching: 11
How long have you been running: Around 10 years
What’s your favourite distance to run: Half marathon
“I realised I love the solitude of solo runs and the headspace it gives me to think…”
Here’s my story, plus a few tips that have helped me (skip to the end if you just want those!).
I ran shorter distances at school when I was younger and always played in multiple sports but most fell by the wayside straight out of university as other commitments came in. With PGCE behind me and NQT firmly under way, I resolved to enter a race with a friend and we plumped for the Run to the Beat Half in Greenwich (no longer running). Without too much idea of how to approach such a task, I picked a random training plan and then did a bad job of sticking to it.
I enjoyed the event but was under prepared and literally wobbled across the line, vowing never to complete one again. Needless to say, that sentiment didn’t last long (does it ever?) and I soon booked another half for the following year, the Royal Parks Half, which I trained better for and enjoyed more: the bug was starting to bite. I realised I love the solitude of solo runs and the headspace it gives me to think (plus the benefit of improved fitness).
In 2016, thing took off in more ways than one. I set myself a challenge to run 2016 km across the year to raise money for charity and signed up for two marathons (my first ever ones). Running then became part of my routine and more of a habit: I liked seeing the miles add up and often ran to or from work; the motivation for this made easier by some of the route going through beautiful Richmond Park. In May of that year, I hit the Richmond Park marathon, unsure of what to expect and was delighted to get sub 4 hour time when I again wobbled across the finish line, reminiscent of my very first race.
Later that year, I ticked off another bucket list by going sub 90 mins in the half and then chipped off some time from my PB in the second marathon along the Thames. I hit my target of 2016 km within the second marathon and couldn’t, at that point, ever picture managing much further.
My first child arrived in December of that year and life inevitably got in the way for a little while, though I still managed to get out from time to time over the next couple of years. In 2019, having not really raced for a while and having ushered in a second child to the family, I decided an ultra marathon was a good idea! Training went well for a while but I hit injury over that summer which set me back until 2020. Just as fitness was returning and ultras were on the horizon, COVID came along with other ideas. However, I stuck with consistent training, running a couple of training marathons and my first ever 50km distance solo.
I jumped in a few of the returning organised events at the end of 2020 and managed new PBs across 10km and half marathon. I also managed over 2000 miles in a year for the first time.
Now 2021 has rolled around and I have finally achieved my longest held running ambitions: ultra marathons of 50km (Lee Valley) and 100km (Race to the Stones) and, most recently, a sub 3 hour marathon at the Richmond Runfest. Who knows what lies in store next – I’m open to suggestions! I have trawled the internet ceaselessly for tips of how to improve over the last few years so I’ll share the things I do consistently which I think have helped me:
“In 2019, having not really raced for a while and having ushered in a second child to the family, I decided an ultra marathon was a good idea! ”
1. Run lots (average 50 mpw, peaking at 70) and relatively consistently, with easy runs consciously slow. To a point, the more the run, the quicker you’ll be.
2. Warm up before each run, stretch after each run and foam roll frequently.
3. Go to bed early!
4. Do a small amount of bodyweight strength work, focused on the legs (and a slightly dodgy achilles)
5. Run quicker than marathon pace for long blocks (haven’t yet got in to shorter interval work) and have big chunks of some long runs at marathon pace on tired legs.
6. Have a mental strategy for race days (visualising difficulty, focusing on each mile in the latter stages and not the end)
7. Have a nutrition strategy (sis beta fuel gels) work wonders for me) that has been practised. Beetroot juice on race day!
8. Smile and remembering to be happy mid run!
9. Think about nutrition but not being a slave to it. Plenty of carbs, post effort protein, fruit and veg and don’t overthink it. I take cod liver oil and ashwaganda supplements.
10. Giving yourself a break when you need to
Click the link bellow to follow Henry’s running journey on Twitter!!!
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