Athletics News

How they train: Natasha Cockram

Relay action hots up and fast times in Swansea and Battersea

Welsh marathon record-holder explains how she has rocketed up the rankings and fought back from illnesses to clock the World Championships standard 

While some may prefer to stay indoors during the cold months of winter, Natasha Cockram is out on the roads and the track, clocking up the miles in pursuit of further success. She will also be hoping to ensure that 2023 proves to be less of a rollercoaster than last year proved to be. 

While 2022 finished with the high of a Welsh record-breaking marathon run of 2:26:14 in Valencia, there were a number of lows to overcome, too.

“Back in January 2022 I joined my new coach Robert Hawkins and planned to race Seville in February but got bronchitis so I couldn’t,” says the 30-year-old.

“I then turned all focus to the Commonwealth Games. I’d say that is the most I’ve ever focused on a race and it was the best shape I have ever been in, but race day didn’t go to plan. I was testing negative for Covid, but something wasn’t right and a few days after the race I tested positive.”

Coming 12th in 2:40:18 did not represent the height of Cockram’s ambition. 

Natasha Cockram (Mark Shearman)

“We suspect I was ill on race day but we will never have the answers as to whether it was Covid or something else,” she adds. “Following the positive test, it took me quite a few months to really get back into proper training.”

Marathon training is hard enough when firing on all cylinders, but Cockram had to dig deep mentally and physically to fight back to fitness.

“I found it tough missing races, particularly The Big Half and Great North Run,” she continues. “But I was struggling to even run five steady miles, so I had bigger things to worry about. At times I wondered if I’d ever even get back to where I was – especially seeing long Covid stories in the media. After weeks of struggling, I realised I’d have to be patient and listen to my body. 

“Even when preparing for Valencia, I approached it with the mindset ‘if I am ready great, but if I’m not, it’s not the end of the world’. This was quite different to how I approached the Commonwealths, where I paused everything and used annual leave [from her day job as an HR researcher] to focus on training and recovery.”

This meant preparations were different, yet effective. “I took a more relaxed approach for Valencia,” she adds. “I always got the training done that coach set but I continued to enjoy other things that some might…

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