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Athlete insight – Lily Partridge

Athlete insight – Lily Partridge

A debut marathon performance of 2:32:09 in Seville in February means Lily Partridge now has her sights set on greater ambitions over 26.2 miles, writes Emily Moss

Training for Seville was really tough as most of the work was done in the depths of winter. Staying free of illness was a battle in itself so I had to be really on top of recovery and staying healthy.

My least favourite session I had during the build-up was a long run that changed pace every 20 minutes. It was done on the road at alternating intensities on a cold, dark and wet Thursday evening. Sessions like that really make you question what you are in it for.

My dad, Richard (a former 63:24 runner over the half-marathon) or my boyfriend Danny Davis accompanied me on the bike or in the car for most of my marathon training. I am hugely indebted to them and they are the reason it was a success. It was emotional to see them at the end of the race in Seville.

At home, I train locally around Frensham, Farnham and Aldershot. Before the marathon I was lucky enough to enjoy the benefit of finishing off my preparation at the Exclusive Quinta Do Lago Resort in Portugal. They are currently in the process of opening a performance sports complex. It is a beautiful place in a great location.

My favourite place to run is in the woods near my house. It’s my happy place. If I ever just need some peace and quiet to think or just switch off, I go there. I can do the loop in my sleep. I’ve been running round there with my friend and first ever training partner Oli (Aitchison, former GB 1500m runner) since we were 12 and 13. Our mums arranged it so we weren’t running alone after school when it was getting dark. We thought it was quite a big loop at the time, but it is only about 2.5 miles long.

I’ve dreamed of running a marathon since I was a young athlete. It was just a matter of waiting until I was physically strong enough and had the training behind me. Since I ran the Reading half-marathon in 2015, I knew I could run a marathon in the near future and Seville presented the perfect opportunity to have a go at it on my own terms and be competitive.

I loved running Seville, but it was hard and I was too excited early on. I went through half-way bang on pace but I was just clipping the heels of my pacemaker instead of relaxing and sitting in, so that’s a big learning curve because I paid for wasting that energy when the group kicked on at 30km. I think that is just experience, though, and next time hopefully I will learn to conserve the energy for later on in the race.

In the final 10km of the marathon I kept repeating to myself ‘just don’t look down’. I was alone and I just wanted to keep moving forward as fast as I could, as my legs were like concrete and I had the worst DOMs. I thought I had lost a toenail with 2km to go, so that took my mind off my legs for a bit but thankfully it had remained in place when I checked at the finish.

I’m not content with my 2:32:09 clocking. I feel I was in better shape than that, but there are so many variables with the marathon. I crossed the line and was like ‘when’s the next one?’ because I absolutely loved it. I could not have run another step at that moment, but I felt there were so many things I could improve upon.

The first time I represented Great Britain was in 2008 at the World Cross Country in Edinburgh when I was 16. Since then I have run at six European Cross Country Championships and the only reason I didn’t go for the 2016 European Cross is that it clashed with my marathon build-up. I love cross country but it is hard and risky to do during a marathon build-up. Also it is no longer my focus. If it fits I will do it because I enjoy it, but my focus is now on the roads.

I like to get my nails and my eyebrows done before a race. I also like to warm up alone. I generally enjoy running alone, though, so I think this is just an extension of that.

Baked beans on toast is my go-to pre-training or race meal, but it just depends on the time of the race. When I am abroad, I tend to stick to a slice of toasted fruit loaf, ham, cheese and a banana, as it is often easily available and a safe option. I carry microwaveable rice with me to races. I don’t typically have a big appetite before training so it will just be something light like fruit loaf with butter. Afterwards it’ll be something like an omelette with different toppings/fillings.

I work part-time and I fit it around my training. I am still studying to become a primary school teacher so at times it feels like I’m working full-time again, but my focus is very much on my running at the moment.

I listen to 90s pop when I’m training. I love the Spice Girls, S Club 7 and all the really tacky stuff, but it has got a good beat. I like Beyoncé and Rihanna so I’m not sure if that brings my street cred back up a bit or not? People always enjoy listening to my iPod anyway so maybe I just have everyone’s guilty pleasures on there.

I trained and raced for the Seville Marathon in the New Balance Vazee Pace and the New Balance 1400v4. Both are lightweight but supportive. For those looking at being on their feet for more than three hours, I would recommend the New Balance Vazee Range for the marathon itself, as they are so comfortable and cushioned, but do not have the heaviness of typical mileage shoes.

TYPICAL WEEK’S TRAINING

During the marathon build-up, Partridge had no ‘typical’ week. She aimed to run a session of varying intensity every 3-4 days, ideally with a mix of mid-long tempo, hard road reps, hills and some track work each week/10 days with a long run of 18-23 miles on a Sunday.

» The above sessions are specific to the individual athlete and may not be suitable for other athletes

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