Becs Gentry’s marathon training philosophy

Peloton Instructor makes her mark as a long distance runner and here she explains some of the secrets of her success

Recognized worldwide as the face of Peloton and with associated celebrity status, Becs Gentry is now, in equal measure, one of Britain’s leading marathoners.

Instructor Tread, 35, lives and trains in Brooklyn, New York, and from relative obscurity – at least within elite athletics – clocked 2:32:01 “to finish at an impressive fourth place at the British Olympic Marathon Trials at Kew Gardens in late March.

“I ran with my heart and soul,” she wrote on Instagram after her personal best of five minutes. “I smiled, I wanted to cry and everything in between… Never stop chasing your dreams. They are yours for the taking.

Gentry, from Worcester, trains alone with the guidance of her trainer Stephen Kersh and divides her training between outdoor races and speed work on the Tread + Peloton at home.

Before London, she ran 2:37:01 to finish first female (non-elite) in the 2019 New York City Marathon.

Typical training week

Gentry teaches Tuesday through Saturday and has his Peloton days off Sundays and Mondays. His week is split between two speed training sessions, a long run and medium to easy paced runs combined with strength training.

“My week of training is unorthodox for a lot of people, but we (my coach and I) believe that the most important part of being successful is getting the job done,” she says.

Monday: long duration
Tuesday: easy running + weight training
Wednesday: speed work
Thursday: middle distance race
Friday: speed work
Saturday: easy run
Sunday: disabled

“My long runs change throughout my training cycle, but progressing towards running [London] I passed 24 miles and my mid-distance runs were around 8-14 miles, ”says Gentry, whose average weekly mileage before London including teaching was around 85.

“The biggest change in my training [once committed to the marathon trial] worked closely with Stephen and focused on training to achieve a specific pace – it wasn’t something I had done in marathon training before.

“There were a few key speed work sessions that Stephen highlighted ahead of time as important and excellent indicators of strength and speed. They were long and difficult but got dotted along the way, these are fabulous accomplishments and boosted my confidence while I was training.

“I thrive on these tough, long-speed sessions,” she says. “The kind of workouts that you dread when you see them in your schedule, but when they’re over you feel so proud.”

In addition to running, Gentry, who considers a routine dedicated to rest and recovery essential to his progress, strengthens – focusing on one-leg balance and core work – and walks his dog several times a day. She recovers with the help of NormaTec boots and Hyperice tools and relaxes.

Gentry’s performance in London is a testament to her commitment and confidence in herself and her training.

“Treadmill running is a great way to train your mind for the monotony of a long distance run,” she says. “It’s also a wonderful way to focus on your speed, as you literally grab it and sit there, familiarizing yourself with the discomfort but getting stronger as you go.”

The New York Marathon – her third marathon in 2019 (she ran 2:53:39 in Hong Kong and 2:49:39 in Boston) and a major PB at the time – had boosted her confidence in her ability to run faster over long distances, but reduced mileage and a changed routine in the aftermath of the pandemic made her question whether that pace was still possible.

“In my heart I knew my determination and dedication to training would get me there and as always I’m so happy to be my own experience,” she says.

An inspiring figure on social networks, Gentry is also empowering. “I will thrive in tough times,” she wrote on Instagram. “Internalization is the key to endurance racing. Be okay with the wild conversations, thoughts and emotions that cross your mind as you silently continue your monotonous journey.

“The training takes you to where you can manage this dialogue. Training doesn’t mean you’ll always be successful. Running, like life, is Russian roulette, it’s a box of chocolates… you never know what you’re going to have. So go out with your heart. Find positivity in the dark and remind yourself that you will be fine in the end. “

This article first appeared in the May issue of AW magazine and you can purchase a copy here

For the latest athletics news, event coverage and updates, check out the AW Home Page and our social networks on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

About Leslie Schwartz

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