How TONIQ helped Helen achieve 7th Place in the NYC Marathon
TONIQ member Helen has kindly shared, in her own words, how TOINQ helped her prepare and achieve amazing results in the 2019 New York Marathon in November.
I joined TONIQ as a member in January – taking part in the 8 week transformation course. I find it really helpful to have a goal to work towards and the body scans and diet information alongside getting into good exercise habits was what I needed to kick start a healthier approach to 2019 and to keep on track – all in a manageable time frame.
I injured my achilles in 2018 after over training for the Boston Marathon. I realised that running and general cardio alone was not going to give me enough strength to put in the hours needed on long runs to take part in another marathon without injury. I’m not a gym lover and find that I don’t have the motivation to do strength work or hit treadmills/bikes on my own! Joining TONIQ gave me the balance of a variety of cardio equipment during sweat sessions that I would normally shy away from (aka the assault bike) but with a room full of people to spur me on and so much variety in the circuit sessions – it somehow became much more manageable. Where before I had been too stiff from all the running to even touch my toes, let alone drop into a squat – by attending the Sweat sessions my body gradually became more flexible, agile and versatile.
By alternating the days with the stronger ’strength’ sessions – I found that I was never overly sore, over training, or sustaining any injuries along the way. The stronger sessions made me feel noticeably stronger and more stable in my hips, legs and core on my runs. Also my upper body and arms gained more muscle which is vital, particularly in hill running, as you power up with your arms almost as much as your legs. I began to be able to train again for longer runs again after the achilles injury with more confidence that it wasn’t going to happen again.
Another bonus of the training at TONIQ is that the team is very careful to never make any two sessions the same. This takes away any dread I may feel if I’m perhaps less in the mood for training as there is always an element of surprise and always a great mix of the exercises I find tough and the ones that I enjoy more. As the sessions are repeated at intervals throughout the day and evening I can usually fit this around work, family and running commitments at some point.
The other great thing about TONIQ is the people. There is always a good crowd and mix of ages and abilities who are all there to support you and get the best out of the sessions too. I’ve met some really lovely people and everyone encourages each other – with some healthy competition thrown in at times too.
The TONIQ team are all super helpful. If you don’t ‘get’ a movement or if you are perhaps putting your body at risk during one of the stronger moves, the team are watching to put you back on track, give you a demo or some helpful hints and advice to improve your performance. It helps that they are all really passionate people about health, exercise and wellbeing themselves – it’s always inspiring when you are taught by people who ‘walk the walk’. What is lovely is how genuine and encouraging they are to help you get the best out of yourself. They are really interested in your fitness goals and encouraging you to take part in events and activities beyond TONIQ and the gym.
I have also learnt new things about myself and my body in the workshops that TONIQ provides. TONIQ places equal value in relaxing and winding down the mind and body, recognising that all of its members have challenging and stressful lives. In particular the breathing workshop was a game changer in supporting my stress and cortisol levels – helping me to be more thoughtful about sleep too. Qui Gong opened my eyes to a truly mindful way of connecting the body and brain. I’ve always loved yoga and Jess’ classes were great – in particular a timely session for runner’s focusing on stretching out the ever tight hamstrings and opening the hips – usual running sore points.
In March, at the end of the ‘transformation period’ I took part in the Bath Half Marathon and was really happy with my time and very sure the training at TONIQ was a big bonus for my running pace. I then entered the Cotswold 10K and achieved my best 10Knpace ever – which was really encouraging as I rarely enter races at this distance. I then felt able and strong enough to up the game and increase the mileage slowly over the rest of the year to gear up to the New York Marathon at the beginning of November.
In August when i was on holiday and couldn’t make it to my TONIQ sessions – I did start getting knee pain from overdoing the hills in Dorset and not putting the strength hours in as much. I managed the injury with physio/massage and getting back on track with the mix of sweat and strength sessions that were key to maintaining my marathon fitness when I couldn’t put in the running hours on the ‘runner’s knee’. The TONIQ team were great at giving me alternative exercises when some of the days movements would put too much pressure on the knee.
I was able to run the New York Marathon and totally shocked at the end (I never look at my watch until it’s all over!) to see that I’d beaten a PB from 2012, when I was 7 years younger, by over 5 minutes (3:05:05). I’d also come 7th in my age group and managed to qualify for a championship spot in London 2020 – a really lovely surprise. What was also lovely was the TONIQ team being as delighted for me as I was. Really kind.
The knee will need some rehab but I trust that TONIQ can support me, my strength and my fitness levels while I ease back into the sport I love over time.