Natasha Cockram broke the Welsh women’s marathon record with a time of 2:30:50 at the Dublin Marathon on Sunday, despite being involved in an accident just four days previously.
The international Welsh athlete was checking on a horse she’d rescued when she was kicked in the leg by another horse in the same field. We caught up with her to find out how she beat the odds to run a brilliant 26.2 miles and make history for her nation.
What was running through her head when she was waiting on the start line?
“I didn’t really know what to expect. The plan was always to go out at whatever pace the Ethiopians and Kenyans set. My coach and I agreed that if they took it out really fast then I would drop back after a mile.”
The pace was fast from the off, but Natasha felt comfortable with it, so she pushed on. “Within a few miles I settled into the leading pack and was committed to staying with them,” she says.
But things started to get tough as she came head-to-head with the strongest runners. “I could feel them working as a team to try and break me. We were consistently hitting 5:40ish, but then they dropped a 5:06 mile. They then slowed to a 6:10 mile before picking it up again,” she explains.
Despite this, she managed to stick with the pack, but could only pick up one of her five energy gels along the way, as she found herself blocked off from the tables. “After missing three in a row I started to panic, but once I realised there was nothing I could do I composed myself and pushed on.”
For the last few miles, the finishing time didn’t even register with Natasha until she had crossed the finish line.
How did she manage such an incredible run after being injured just days beforehand?
“When the injury happened it didn’t help my mental preparation as it was a worrying few days, but I think I dealt with it in the best way possible with the help of a good support team.”
Natasha is one tough cookie and doesn’t feel as though the injury particularly affected her race physically. “Apart from my leg going numb around mile 18, it didn’t actually hurt during the race,” she says. “Maybe without the kick I could have gone slightly faster, but it’s a good feeling to know I ran a 2:30 with a numb leg after getting kicked!”
Natasha is a full-time civil servant as well as an International Welsh athlete, managing her training around her job as well as looking after her horse and dog. “Most days I am out of the door by 4:30am and don’t return home until 8:30/9pm. I’ll run 5-10 miles before commuting to work and will then run again after work, typically running 80-100 miles a week.”
She tells us that this is made up of one interval session, one tempo session, a long weekend run of around 20 miles, a midweek run of around 15 miles and several recovery runs. She also cross trains and does two strength sessions a week. Phew!
Natasha now has her sights set on the Tokyo 2020 Olympics – we’re rooting for her!
You can follow her on Instagram here.