peter heywood - 70 years old marathon runner & orienteer
When I retired 10 years ago I moved to Cornwall and became a reluctant road runner – reluctant because I was only doing it to maintain my fitness for orienteering and I wanted to avoid repeats of running injuries I’d suffered in the past.
For a long time, I resisted running further than 6 miles, the maximum distance I would run in an orienteering event. But then I was given an opportunity to run in the 2015 London Marathon and, at the age of 69, decided it was now or never.
I took the plunge thinking that I had 6 months to build up my endurance. I started running more frequently and for longer distances but began to realise that I needed some advice. The off-the-peg marathon training programmes didn’t fit my circumstances, someone recommended Performance Edge and I “found” Neil.
Under Neil’s guidance, I ran the 2015 London Marathon in 4:06 having spent the whole race weaving past tens of thousands of slower runners. I thought I could break the 4 hour barrier, Neil suggested Amsterdam, which I completed in 3:50.
I’ve now found another reason to carry on - at 70 I’m in a new age group! I ran the 2016 London Marathon in 3:52 and I’ve been competing in several other races, coming in the top 3 of my age group.
I haven’t had any injuries throughout this period and I think Neil deserves a lot of credit for this. His programme sets the right balance – it’s challenging but it’s not over-the-top. A lot of runners seem to go through cycles of getting injured, restarting too soon, trying to catch up, re-emergence of the injury. Neil has helped me avoid this.
Neil also deserves credit for my big improvements in speed. Previously my runs were always at the same speed. With Neil, I do regular interval training and do certain parts of longer runs at a prescribed faster pace. Typically, I go into them doubting whether I will be able to achieve what he’s set but discover that I can. Neil seems to know how far to push things.
Once in a blue moon I haven’t been able to do what’s prescribed – I’ve started a run and just felt totally exhausted. It knocks my self-confidence but Neil’s good at helping me put it all in perspective.
Finally, paying for a tailored training programme and reporting back on every run to Neil means that there’s a lot of pressure on me to follow it religiously, which I do.