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Coach Readers Run the Royal Parks Half Marathon

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A massive 16,000 people took on the Royal Parks Half Marathon on October 9, and in among the celebrities, club runners and people dressed as squirrels were Coach’s competition winners, who each received a Fitbit tracker to help them with their training. Here’s how they fared…

Robin Plowman, 34, from South london

Finished with a time of 1:50 

“I had to adjust my target time from 1:42 (PB) to 1:50 as I could only run at lunch. It made it more difficult to get the distances in. Despite only 3.5 hours’ sleep the night before (my eldest son woke up very early), I clocked 1:50:56. The main challenge in training was time. With a one- and a three-year-old, I keep it family time in the evening and weekends. The Fitbit was essential. It’s been brilliant for tracking my live progress, and having the (statistical) breakdown after kept me focused on getting the best out of the next run.”

Carolyn Shier, 52, from West Sussex

Finished with a time of 2:32 

“The race was worse than expected because I woke up with a heavy cold that morning. I was aiming for 2:30 but managed 2:32, which I was pleased with, considering how rough I felt – and I managed a sprint finish! I was really strict about not drinking during training – as I’ve got older it impacts me more so I just cut it out. I did have a drink the night after, which tasted lovely! The Fitbit definitely helped – it was great knowing accurately how far and fast I’d run.”

Matt Richardson, 26, from Hertfordshire

Unable to run due to injury 

“It was incredibly frustrating getting injured. I tore my calf muscle playing football simply by sprinting for the ball. I did nothing for six weeks and then realised I had a week to go before the Royal Parks Half. I decided to go for a six-mile run – I got halfway and had to stop. It was a long three-mile limp home. During training the Fitbit was so useful when going out for runs because the aspect I struggle most with is pacing myself. I’ll tend to run to the pace of the music I listen to. With the Fitbit you’re notified when you complete a mile, so you can adjust your pace for the next mile. I still really want to do a half marathon, and hopefully when the leg heals I will be out running again and looking for a race early in the New Year.”

RECOMMENDED: Half Marathon Training Plans

Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.