Training through grief: my runner’s story

Training through grief: my runner’s story

Hi Lloyd! Can you tell us a bit about your sporting background?

At primary school I did some athletics, and I ran cross-country at high school in PE. I’ve always had the right pace, but not the focus. I didn’t start taking it seriously until about 18 months ago.

What made you change your approach to wellness?

In February 2014, I was caring for my wife, who was terminally ill, and holding down a day job. I started running as a way to get some headspace and be alone with my thoughts twice a week. It was my calm amongst the chaos.

My wife passed in November that year. I had a choice: take a break from everything, or throw myself into it and stay busy throughout the grieving process. I took a month’s compassionate leave, and in December I started a new job and stepped up my running efforts considerably.

I’ve found a sport I enjoy, that I can do 12 months a year, and that I can become decent at if I focus and apply myself. That’s what made it click for me.

What were you aiming for when you joined Dupl, and how has it changed?

I did my first race, a half-marathon, in October 2014, a month before my wife passed away. She was in a hospice and I spent a lot of time visiting her there – doctors said she only had a few weeks left. It was a very difficult time. I completed the race in 2hrs 40mins, which people told me was respectable, but I knew it wasn’t great.

My next race was in Paris in March 2015. All I wanted was to beat my time – and I did. I ran it in 1hr 52mins – an improvement of 48mins. I put it down to the fact that I’d been able to train properly this time, and I realised that I had potential. I just needed the right mind-set and training programme.

I set myself a target of 1hr 45mins for my next race, but things didn’t go my way and I managed 1hr 57mins. I was disappointed, but I’d recently joined Dupl and my performance nutritionist and running coach, Alex, said the best way to get over it was to run again – soon. I ran another half-marathon in Kent four weeks later and beat my previous personal best and my target, achieving a time of 1hr 44mins. I was thrilled – I’d given it everything on the day.

Now, Alex has thrown down the challenge of 1hr 35mins for a half-marathon, and I’ll be running my first full marathon next year.

How does Dupl help you to achieve your goals?

When I sign up for a race, I’ll talk to Alex using Dupl’s video link. We’ll discuss the route, my approach and my goals. We also both use the Dupl iPhone app to message each other and share pictures, articles and nutrition information. Alex has about 15 years of running experience at distances up to 30 miles, so being able to video call and message her regularly is very useful. We’ve started talking about the October 2016 marathon already – it’s my first time at that distance, so I have to start making changes to my training already, stepping up the intensity. This will help with speeding up my half-marathon time, too.

We talk a lot about nutrition, and sometimes I’ll keep a food diary for Alex to look at so she can see how I’m doing. We talk about my mind-set too. I’m pleased that Alex and I have been able to build a natural rapport using Dupl video and the app.

Most recently, Alex has been preparing me for the Great Ethiopia Run my first race at altitude. As well as completing the race, I achieved the runners’ dream of meeting the legendary Haile Gebrselassie in person!

What’s been the biggest surprise since joining Dupl?

I’ve learned so much about myself in this last year. I’ve pushed myself to achieve things I never would’ve imagined years ago and I’ve realised that with the right discipline and mind-set, anything is possible. That’s surprised me and filled me with hope.

How does Dupl fit in with your busy lifestyle?

Alex is always there – I never feel like I can’t reach out to her. I’m busy and so is she, but I know I can drop her a message at any time about whatever is on my mind.

One of the great things about Dupl is that it’s tailored to you. The experts build your training and nutrition advice to meet your individual health, fitness and sporting needs, but also to suit your lifestyle. For example, it’s hard for me to avoid eating out in my job, but Alex has helped me to work out what’s the best thing to order instead of insisting that I bring a packed lunch. The regular support I receive from Alex wouldn’t be possible without Dupl – it gives us so much flexibility. We’re doing the best for what I need and who I am as a person. – Your mobile and online personalised 1:1 nutrition, sports and fitness support. Combining world class sports science and nutrition experts with motivation and leading technology to help you eat right, be active and feel your best. Find out more about us and start your one-week free trial at