Monika Crouse - marathon runner and ultra runner

Right from the start I was very impressed with how committed and passionate Neil is when it comes to coaching. It is quite clear that he loves what he’s doing and that he is genuinely interested in helping others with their progress. I didn’t want to commit to anything or change anything in the last few weeks before the VLM which he completely agreed with, but it didn’t stop him from giving me his time and advice on my upcoming race and anything else running related. We had a long chat on the phone about my training up to date and expectations as well as my future plans and it quickly became clear that Neil was the right person for me to work with.

 Neil’s conclusion was that after a few years of running two marathons a year, in order to keep on improving I needed to shake things up a bit and concentrate on shorter stuff. I always enjoyed running long and treated 5-10k distances as a necessary evil but I knew he was right so decided to give autumn marathon a miss and instead concentrate on some shorter distances over the summer with a longer term target of the Seville marathon in February.

 Neil set me a schedule which was a lot different from what I was used to and it did take some time to adjust to the new regime. He forced me out of my comfort zone of running most of my runs easy and introduced a lot more quality/ speed sessions- some of them rather painful! He made me work hard but I never expected anything less and soon started in a strange way to enjoy those hard days. Neil was always listening to my feedback and adjusting or reshuffling things as and when needed. I never had to wait long for him to get back to me with any issues or even just in response to my general moaning when things got tough. I can honestly say that he is one of the most professional and dependable people I’ve ever worked with.

 It wasn’t by all means all plain sailing. In the run up to Seville we had some good races and some disappointments. I had to get my head around the fact that I couldn’t expect to nail it every time especially with the high mileage I was doing. Neil was always there to give me his support and put me at ease or deliver some constructive criticism when needed and help me move on. He was also always honest about how he thought things were going which I very much appreciated.

 Things started falling nicely into place just at the right time and I went into Seville knowing that I was in PB shape and that with a bit of luck I had a good chance of getting the result I wanted which I very much did. I smashed my previous PB running a strong and consistent race. I couldn’t have asked for more and I couldn’t have done it without Neil.

 The thing about coaching is that it can be a bit scary to put your full trust in someone you don’t really know (at least at the start of the process), especially when you work so hard for and care so much about the outcome. That’s why it’s so important to find the right person for the job. I think of it as something long term and a work in progress. I hope that with every campaign Neil will know better how to get the best out of me and help me smash many more PBs in the future.