Meet Angela Tooley, 44 years old, From local jogger to Boston Marathon Qualifier… Looking back I have seem to have spent most of my adult life on a diet. Whilst I managed to keep off weight I lost (nearly 6 stone in total) it was the prospect of turning 40 that gave me the kick up the bum I needed to shed those last few pounds and get fit. I started to ‘jog’, found that I enjoyed it so set myself the goal of running the Robin Hood Half Marathon. The adrenaline rush of crossing that finishing line, I knew this wasn’t going to be my last race.
The next 2 years I entered a number of 10k and half marathons and was consistently getting under an 1 hour at 10k and 2 hour half marathons…..but I felt I needed a bigger challenge. Running a marathon just seemed too much of a challenge both physically and time wise but my ever supportive husband convinced me to have a go. I knew that to get round 26.2 miles I needed to do more than just run – I needed to do some strength training. Bootcamps seemed a popular approach and I found that sessions were run at a local park. I was instantly struck by the big friendly welcome and the train hard whilst having fun with your mates ethos that Jake had instilled with the team.
What surprised me most was that whilst these are group sessions it is not your typical anonymous exercise class, Jake takes the time to understand everyone’s motivations for coming along and helps them work towards those goals. Bootcamp quickly became a fixed part of my training schedule. Ten weeks after joining I ran Robin Hood Half Marathon again and finished in 1:51 knocking 5 minutes off my PB. With new found confidence I asked Jake for some PT sessions in the last 6 weeks before my 1st marathon, just to fine tune my training and give me some nutritional, training, recovery and stretching advice… maybe I could do more than just get round… unbelievably I finished in 3:58.
With Jakes encouragement I decided to take it up a gear and set myself the goal of doing my 2nd marathon which was London faster… 3:50 was the magic number set. This is the ‘Good for Age’ qualifying time for London. My training paid off and despite it being the hottest London marathon on record I finished in 3:47.
Marathon 2 training kicked off around the time that Jake opened ‘The Cave’ and started HIIT style group weights sessions so naturally my training stepped up another gear. This is the first gym I have felt comfortable in, the mix of people is what you find in any typical gym but the magic is the warm and friendly approach that Jake has instilled. Whatever your size, shape or goal you are welcome and instantly part of the gang, however this is definitely not a social club and Jake and the team make you sweat, encouraging everyone whatever their level to achieve their goals. Alongside Cave small group sessions I have PT where Jake works with me to really focus on specific strength and power training for endurance running. It is apparent he takes the time to plan these sessions and adapts them to my weekly training plans and any niggles or needs I have at the start of the session.
Over the last 12 months I have PB’s at every distance from 5km through to marathon and I’ve have even undertaken my first ultra-distance event. I finished Manchester marathon in 3 hours 32 mins in April this year which allows me to qualify for Boston and New York Marathons in 2020 and I regularly finish in the top 5-10% of runners in my age group.
Running and training for that first marathon was probably the hardest thing I have done, mentally and physically but with the support and advice from Jake and the many friends I have made through Jake’s group sessions, I did it and achieved so much more – I am fitter, leaner and stronger than I have ever been in my life, increased my body confidence and most importantly made a fantastic group of new friends – who even make training in the snow on a Monday night appealing!
I have a busy few weeks ahead of me with the Berlin and Chicago Marathons 2019 and I cannot wait to get to start line and enjoy every moment.