Friday, 3 March 2017

Preparations going well for Cambridge Half Marathon - 5th March

What a difference a competition makes

Preparations going well for Cambridge Half Marathon - 5th March


Lauren Thomas from Ely will be running the Cambridge Half Marathon this year. She was a Spire Cambridge Lea Hospital and Progress competition winner back in October, beating over 2500 other athletes to £1000 of physio and training support and shoes from the running shoe sponsor Saucony.

We caught up with Lauren in the final days of preparation.

Why enter a competition?

“I’ve been running for seven years and entered the competition because I’m known for signing up to events but then letting my anxiety get the better of me. I’m not good in crowds and find the final hour leading up to a start, surrounded by all the participants absolutely agonising. I thought some support might help.

I did my first half marathon in 2011 and did the Cambridge half marathon in 2014 and 2015, but not in 2016 due to injury. I did enter the race last year, but dropped out because I hurt my back three days beforehand. My anxiety had also gotten really bad. It was such a blow to my confidence.”

How do you engage with Progress?

“I started seeing Lauren Bradshaw, a sports physio at Progress, last November, initially for an assessment and review of previous injuries and my running technique. She gave me a programme of exercises and then I saw Matt Matcham, the strength and conditioning coach at Progress, who gave me a strength programme to follow.

The team at Progress talk through with me what I’m trying to achieve and tailor programmes to suit me, which you don’t get from a website or app. Even though you can get some great advice online, I wouldn’t recommend trying to understand an injury without seeing a professional in person. Just because you have a pain somewhere doesn’t mean that’s where the problem is – I’ve learnt that the hard way!

One of the most important things to get assessed when considering long distance running is your running technique - without that, the potential for injury is massive.  You can either be heel striking or flat footed. Lauren found that I was too high up on my toes which was making me a bit ‘trotty’ - I needed to bring my foot down a little bit more, which we have been working on.”

Has it helped to work with Progress?

“The best thing about the advice and support I’ve been given has to be the bespoke, tailored programme that is developed. If you are going to commit to doing it properly, you are going to push yourself a bit harder and you need that support around you. Thanks to the programmes they’ve given me my core is noticeably stronger and I feel like my legs aren’t tiring as much on the longer runs.

I’ve also been working on the anxiety a lot with the help of Lauren and Hannah Crighton a sports massage therapist. They help with the mental as well as the physical preparation for the big events – we chat a lot and they really understand as they both compete themselves at a very high standard.”

How are things going now?

“The running has been going well. I’ve been doing my strength work (a programme drawn up by Matt) alongside weekly interval training and mid-length runs (around 10k) and weekend long steady runs. I run with the Ely Runners which provides great support in training, and I also have a running coach who likes to put me through my paces! I did 11 miles on Saturday which I plan on being my last long run before the half marathon itself.

Training has generally been good - thanks to Hannah and Lauren my foot has been niggle free since the start of training back in November/December. My lower back has been complaining a bit about the increased distance so I saw Hannah yesterday and she gave me some active stretches, and I'm seeing her again first thing on Thursday.

In addition to Lauren and Hannah giving me advice on the physical side of running, they've both been so brilliant at talking through the mental side of running - I feel like I've reached an epiphany in the last couple of months, whereby I've decided I don't care about my times. 2017 is the year where I fall in love with running again (cheesy I know, but totally true)”.

What are your future aspirations?

“I am only 34 and in distance running terms that’s quite young. I just want to enjoy running again after the injuries and anxieties of the past. I want to move past comparing myself to other runners and just see what I’m capable of when I take the pressure off. I’ve already signed up to some more unusual races in 2017, including joining a team for the “Spitfire scramble”, a 24hr race in London in the summer – that should be a real challenge”.

Lauren Bradshaw, specialist physiotherapist, who has been working with Lauren, mentioned “We have really enjoyed having Lauren as our sponsored athlete. She has been extremely committed and dedicated to everything we have thrown at her and I believe she has come a long way both mentally and physically on our journey together. We would like to wish her the best of luck for the Cambridge Half Marathon and hope that she can enjoy being a part of the atmosphere knowing her body is probably in the best shape it has been in. See you on the start line Lauren!”


Spire Cambridge Lea and Progress have given Lauren the option to receive up to £1000 worth of free kit, treatments and use of the Anti-gravity treadmill. She is on twitter as @girlrunninglate and is an active blogger.

Here is an introductory YouTube video about Lauren and how she got into running.