Mo Farah beat me – what the Great North Run taught me

Great North Run 2013
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Last week I ran my first ever Great North Run – that might come as a bit of a surprise to you to hear that. After all I’m a fitness trainer and live in the North East. But the thing is, running just ain’t “my thing”, give me some heavy weights any day and I’d far rather chuck those around than run! Unlike my uncle however who was (and probably still is) a very good runner – I think his best GNR time was like 72 minutes ….running just doesn’t ‘run’ in the family! hahaha!

Some people would probably even have a dig at me for going out there and doing the run – after all I’m not an advocate of running when it comes to weight loss – lifting heavy weights is hugely better for weight loss, but that’s not what I’m talking about today either!

What I did when I agreed to run, was to set myself a challenge, a goal, something that would push me out of my comfort zone. And that goal was simply to complete the GNR – I wasn’t interested in a time (again you’ll probably be surprised to hear that too), all I wanted to do was to run Newcastle to South Shields without stopping! Like I said, running ain’t me thing so to me, this was a pretty scary goal! I know I’m pretty fit, but the longest I train for is 45 to 60 minutes, so the thought of running for over 2 hours was scary!

So training wise – I wrote myself a training plan, a progressive periodised plan that would take me right up to the event – I even shared this with a friend who followed it (and got a great time on his first run!). Thing is, I just didn’t follow my own advice and I didn’t follow my plan! In reality I only completed 5 training runs before the event – apart from a couple of short runs I did last year this was the first time I’d run since leaving school!

danny GNR

So moving on to Race day and the lessons I learned over those 13.1 miles.

  • Well first of all Mo Farah beat me – in fact he finished 19057 places in front of me!
  • Secondly, if I actually followed my training plan I’d have done even better!
  • Thirdly, the atmosphere is amazing – like nothing I’ve experienced before, in fact before I even made it to Gateshead Stadium I’d decided I want to run it again next year!
  • 13.1 miles is a loooooong way!
  • When the rain hit after I finished I’d probably have been dryer if I’d swam across the Tyne rather than wait in the ferry queue!

But finally and most importantly and I guess the real reason I’m writing this is the biggest thing I learned, or rather re-learned, was that exercising or training in a group is waaaaaay more productive then exercising or training on your own!

Let me explain what I mean…

On those 5 training runs, I used the MapMyRun app on my iPhone – if you follow me on Twitter you might have seen it auto-post. This measures amongst other things my average pace. Throughout my training runs, my average pace was hovered around  11 minutes a mile, I was pretty cool with this as it put me on target to completing the GNR in around 2.5hrs – the time I’d put on my application form.

The thing is, and this is what surprised me the most – on the actual run itself, my average pace was 9:32 minutes / mile. That’s an increase in pace of almost 1.5 minutes per mile – from training to run day! I didn’t actually believe I could have ran that quickly until I looked at it again.

You see the difference between when I was running on my own and when I was running in the GNR was I was surrounded by a group – a group of like minded people, all 58,000 of them ….including Mo Farah!

And the fact that I was surrounded by a group of people, all wanting the same result – to complete those 13.1 miles then the whole ting just got so much easier and in my case quicker to do!

I’m not going to lie, I loved the start, the atmosphere and the finish …I just hated the running thing I had to do in between!

If you’re interested in how I did, I completed the run in 2hrs, 6 mins – that’s around 20 minutes fasted than I’d expected – all down to the fact I was part of a group!

So what I’m trying to say here is – if you’re not exercising or training as part of a group, then you could be missing out on huge improvements in your results ….without (like me) even realising it!

See you on the start line next year!



PS – I’ve got a bunch of fantastic group training programmes,  if you want to see your results skyrocket then click here and let me know!






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Marti Whitaker, EzineArticles Basic Author