Our wonderful instructor Frances has always loved cycling - having taught Ride for many years. It was only during lockdown, 2020 that Frances started Running and well and truly caught the bug! Frances recently completed her first Marathon. So we caught up with her..

How are you feeling today, the day after completing the Brighton Marathon?

I’m feeling pretty battered today but trying to keep moving as much as possible! My quads definitely suffered the most and I’m feeling that now, but thankfully no injuries and I’m actually feeling less exhausted than I thought I would be which is nice!

We understand you started running during lockdown. What made you start?

I remember the day after the studios closed in March 2020 I went out and ran a 5k just for something to do, this was the furthest I had run at this point. Once lockdown properly started and we were only allowed to exercise once a day I decided to keep it up and ran my first 10k in April 2020. I think at this point I really started to enjoy it, the weather was great and running for me was the perfect way to get those endorphins during a really difficult time for so many. My runs through Bushy Park and along the river were one of the highlights of lockdown.

Yesterday was your first Marathon! Talk us through your experiences....

I was actually due to run Brighton in September last year however I got injured last March and then with studios reopening in the summer I just didn’t have the time to properly recover and train so I deferred to this year and started training in January once my body had got used to teaching so much on the bike again.

Training started really well but of course there were lots of missed runs and hurdles along the way including covid, shin splits and a nasty cold 5 days before. I had a target of 3.45 but having only run twice in the 3 weeks before the race due to shin splits I was just happy to have made it to the start line.

The atmosphere at the start was amazing, I was really nervous but started strong and got into a good rhythm. The hill up past the marina was tough but I was feeling good and then the crowds coming back along the sea front towards the pier were amazing, it was at this point that I understood why everyone had said I was going to love it and to just try and enjoy the experience! I started to struggle once the course came away from the sea again and through Hove, the road we were on felt never ending and at this point my legs were starting to cramp and it still felt like such a long way.

Were there any unexpected challenges along the way?

I had been warned about miles 19-22 which took us through an industrial estate, this was defiantly the hardest part of the race. Both my quads were cramping at this point and I was having to walk more than I was running, I knew I wasn’t going to make the 3.45 so just focused on keeping moving and trying to aim for the sub 4 hours. I think I massively underestimated the hills in the first half and probably didn’t hydrate as well as I should have. Once we came out of the industrial estate and into the final 3 miles the support was incredible and I somehow managed to run over the finish line - massive thanks to my sister and boyfriend for the support at mile 25!

You trained for the Marathon whilst teaching many cycle classes per week. How did you manage this?

I was teaching around 12 classes per week whilst training for the marathon, I remember Charlie (head of ride) telling me that teaching ride was perfect cross training and to put most of my focus into the long runs as I already had a good level of fitness. I was trying to run 3 x a week - one interval run, one easy and one long - but this didn’t always happen and I prioritised building up the distance on my long runs. Teaching Ride spin classes at Digme definitely helped me in that I had a good level of fitness and time on the bike prevented any major injuries. I even did a couple of 90 min Perform Plus classes while I was struggling with shin splints which I would highly recommend! Spin classes are a great way to maintain a solid cardio base while keeping the impact down on your body.

Do you have any advice for anyone who is perhaps looking to start on a running journey?

For anyone starting a running journey I would say try not to compare your distances and times with anyone else and build up the mileage slowly, don’t neglect strength training and cross train with cycling and swimming regularly. Everyone has to start somewhere and running is something that so many people do for years and years. You can run anywhere at any time, just enjoy the process of building the miles!

Your partner Finn is a Physio. How useful was Finn during training as you built the milage?

Finn is a physio specialising in MSK and sports injuries so sees loads of runners and tells me all about overtraining and neglecting recovery which I guess is a good thing! He always reiterates the importance of building the mileage up slowly and steadily and also knows that I don’t prioritise strength training highly enough, something which I’m really going to work on! He has put up with my tiredness, complaining and early morning runs over the last 4 months and was brilliant support on the day so I’m really grateful, always helpful to have a physio on hand when marathon training!

Will you be continuing with your running journey?

I’m definitely going to continue running, Brighton gave me that first feel for the marathon and I still have that goal in my head. I’m going to let my legs recover and then start focusing on my strength training and look to book my next race! We are also hoping to start a Digme Run Club in Richmond which I’m really excited about, hopefully loads of you will be able to get involved!

Ben Davie
Twitter Instagram