Athlete Profile: Stephen Menz
Updated: Jun 12, 2019
Stephen was one of the first athletes Run2PB started working with back in 2018. Since joining the Run2PB family Stephen has smashed his 5km and 10km PBS and been a lot more consistent with his training. We caught up with Stephen to hear all about his Run2PB experience.
Run2PB: You recently ran the 14km at the Great Ocean Road Running Festival, tell us about your race, is it true you smashed your 10km PB on route?
SM: Yes that’s true, the race was really enjoyable, the weather was perfect and it was a very well organised event. We arrived at Apollo Bay about an hour an half before the race though, to be honest, this was only just enough time to run through the pre-race routine - collect the bib, go to the toilet, complete a slow warm up, get changed into race gear and complete a few strides.
Interestingly, I went passed the toilets about 40 minutes before the race started and the line for the toilets was about 30 minutes long, there is a definite take home message in that, it’s important people get there early enough to ensure they have time to go through their pre-race routine at their pace, without stressing about missing a good spot in the starting chute.
I managed to get a good spot in the starting chute and got away without any issues. About 800m into the race there is a reasonably large downhill so you really get rolling early. It was while I was running down this hill I decided to change my pacing strategy from pace to HR (I was wearing a chest strap). I found that was a really good way of controlling the pace as it was a hilly course. After the downhill, the course flattened out for about the next 3km along a winding road. I felt pretty good along there and managed to get in a good rhythm.
At the end of that section the hills started so it was just a matter of grinding them out until the turn around point. This was tough but I still felt pretty strong at this stage. Mentally it was a real boost to run around the turn around point. Not only did it signify we were on the way home it was the start of a nice downhill. This ticked over really quickly before being back on the flat 3km part of the course.
This 3km was much tougher this time around. I was running right on my limit and I knew that I had the hill to come before I finished. As the hill came close I decided that I was going to put in a big effort to try and hold my pace the best I could. I did manage to put in a little surge to do this but it really took it out of me. I tried the best I could to recover and get some air in the lungs before entering the finishing chute but I was in a world of hurt.
As I entered the finishing chute I heard my two young girls yell out ‘Go Daddy’ which gave me a great lift. I tried to pick up the pace and nearing the finish started to sprint. This was short lived as the legs gave out and I nearly face planted. Luckily the finishing line was only 20m or so away and I staggered over the line. After laying on the ground for a minute or two and trying not to spew I remembered to look at my watch and realised that I’d run well under my goal time. The goal was to run 4:40/km but I managed to run 4:17/km!
I was really happy with the race and to take 2 minutes off my 10km PB throughout the race was a fantastic surprise.
Run2PB: You're one of the original Run2PB athletes, how has having an individual online training program changed your running?
SM: It has been a real game changer. I have been running on and off since I was in primary school but now at 37 I have never been fitter. It just makes it so much easier to not have to worry about your training. To know that a program has been professionally put together to match the level I am at by an expert, gives me great confidence.
Instead of just wanting to run faster there is now an actual plan on how to achieve my goals.
Run2PB: Looking at your Final Surge Profile and Strava, it shows a really consistent last 20 weeks which slowly builds in overall mileage, have you got any pieces of advice for other runners out there trying to be more consistent?
SM: Yes, obviously Run2PB provides the biggest input, but it is important that you have a strong team behind you. For me, this means having a program that allows me to still have time for the most important people in my life, my family, partner and two young girls (3 and 1), if I didn’t have their ‘buy-in/support’ it simply wouldn’t work.
I have also had great support from my GP, Physio and a local ‘go-to’ running company. You really do need a full team behind you. The other important piece of advice I would offer is to ensure you are only progressing one of the following three, total mileage, elevation and intensity at a time. If you try and progress two or three of these at once it is more than likely you will end up injured. This is where the expertise of the coaches at Run2PB can really help guide you to best negate becoming injured. Sometimes the best thing they can do for you is to hold you back from progressing too quickly.
Run2PB: What are some of your favourite workouts you do with your Run2PB Program?
SM: Being Ballarat born and bred there is a certain nostalgia I feel when running the Mona Fartlek, so that would definitely be my favourite. I also like anything short that I can do on the running track. It takes me back to when I was a kid running around for the pure joy. Even though I have been running for close to 30 years the variety of the sessions from Run2PB has me completing brand new sessions. I’ve really enjoyed this variety instead of just banging out 1km reps twice a week like I have in the past.
Run2PB: You started your Run2PB Program with a 21:56 5km PB, just 2 months ago you dropped a 19:24 to absolutely destroy 20 minutes for the first time. How'd you feel going into that? And then crossing the line in that time?
To be completely honest I felt a little nervous going into the sub 20 attempt, even though I knew my training suggested it was possible. Crossing the finish line felt fantastic, it was a great affirmation that all of the training had paid off. It also made me excited to see what we (Run2PB and I) can achieve in the future. I am really looking forward to the next 12 months to see what can happen if we can build some real continuity in my training.