At TrainAsONE we have a great relationship with some of the athletes who use our program and there really is a great bunch of people improving their running with us. We thought that an insight into a few of these lovely people would be great on the website so here’s a Q & A with the first, Grant Vernon.
Name: Grant Vernon
Age: 39 (40 in December – entered Rome marathon for April 2017 as my birthday treat)
Location: Wimborne, Dorset, UK
Time using TAO: Since April 2016
When did you start running?
I’d always enjoyed being active but had never been particularly competitive. If I had to choose one event that was the start of my, now passion, for running it would be Tough Guy obstacle race back in January 2008. It was such a ridiculous event, before obstacle racing became as popular as it today. I was instantly hooked on challenging events. After that, I dabbled a bit with triathlons of various distances up to half-ironman but found the time commitment of training for three events difficult to squeeze into my schedule. I naturally gravitated to running because the ease of just grabbing your shoes and heading out the door. To date I have done around 25 half marathons and about 25 marathon & ultra distance events.
My first running ‘race’ was the Jurassic Coast Challenge (JCC) in 2011. I managed to convince a couple of other friends to join me in the three marathons over three consecutive days along the South West Coast path in Dorset. This was the first time any of us had run a marathon and was part of my stag party ahead of my wedding in June.
Tricky question since I have completed so many varied events with no real continuity between them. The JCC stands out because it was my first foray into trail marathons and set me on the path that I find myself on now. In June 2012 I ran Centurion Runner’s South Downs Way 100, that would represent my most epic achievement. But one race that always comes to mind, just for the quirkiness, is Man V Horse in Wales. A truly surreal experience racing head to head against horses and riders over some gnarly Welsh terrain.
I can’t pin-point a particular race that I’d label as my worst. However there are a number of events in 2013/2014 that I quit mid-race for no good reason other than my head wasn’t in it. After a few DNF’s I started to question my motivation and considered quitting running altogether.
Comrades, South Africa, is a race that regularly pops into my mind.
Favourite bit of running kit?
A bit of a dull answer, but my Injinji toe socks are my go-to kit. No more toe blisters!
Perfect running weather?
A crisp sunny winter’s day. Cool but clear. lovely.
Top running location?
The Purbecks and Jurassic Coast in Dorset have to be up there as one of my favourite UK locations. I feel fortunate that this is right on my doorstep. I never get bored of the stunning coastline.
Best/Hardest TAO Session?
The best & hardest TAO sessions are one and the same. The threshold or assessment sessions hurt. However its satisfying seeing the improvements in performance off the back of these which spurs me on to keep improving.
Worst running mishap?
It’s gross, but we are all friends here, right? The infamous runners trots has to be one of the worst thing that can happen out on a run. Luckily I’ve never experienced this in races and have always been on a trail allowing for a quick dive off the path into the cover of trees. (Happens to the best of us Grant. Robbie has twice finished a race with one sock – Ed.)
In a non-running context it has to be, hands down, a roast dinner with all the trimmings!
Favourite Race snack?
Sausage rolls always get the thumbs up! The longer the race the more satisfying they become.
A number of people spring to mind who have influenced and inspired my running. Chrissie Wellington, Ironman World Champion for her dominance in triathlon! Dean Karnazes, I remember sitting there reading his book, Ultramarathon Man, and thinking this must be some sort of joke, what he was doing seemed impossible to me. Christopher McDougall author of ‘that’ book Born To Run for offering another way. And finally, Prof Tim Noakes whose book Waterlogged turned everything I had learnt about hydration on its head. I’d ruined so many races blindly following the sales hype of sports drinks / gel manufacturers but had never questioned the claims on the packets. This book taught me to me begin to questioning and dabbling a bit more, with great success.
Best running tune?
I don’t listen to music when running. I have listened to pod-casts in the past but I’m not keen on ear phones and running. I feel closed off from the world around me. I like to run for the sake of running.
Favourite thing about TAO?
The adaptability. In the past I have followed stock training plans but was never that successful at following them consistently. When real life got in the way and disrupted my sessions I found it difficult to get back on plan and would find myself trying to play catch up. I tried an online coach and although they were great at offering motivation, re-working my plan I missed sessions etc it became quickly apparent that it was not the best use of the coaches or my time. I have been much more consistent at sticking with the TAO sessions and love how it re-adjusts itself should I miss a session. I enjoy the mix of sessions and I am finding myself more motivated and, for the first time ever, competitive! My race times are improving and I have improved from mid-pack average runner to consistently finishing in the top 10% of the field. This year has seen one podium place and multiple PB’s across various distances.