Clare Pearson

A professional endurance coach since 2018, Clare Pearson has worked with runners to help them achieve their goals.

Clare specialises in trail/mountain/fell running and in particular loves working with the psychological and emotional goals related to the sport. With its growing popularity off road running is becoming a sport for all people of various fitness levels. Clare loves to work with people to help them succeed at their own goals; whether that's a personal best, a completion, a podium or better emotional health. Clare will work with you to design a plan that fits in with your day to day life and helps you get the most out of each session.

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My Career

After completing a Masters Degree in Theology at the age of 22 I went immediately onto the Probation Trainee Programme and became a qualified probation officer 2 years later. I loved working with people and helping them change their lives around; in particular I loved studying and practising new psychological techniques and finding practical ways to help people. I worked in a variety of roles throughout my career with the service including doing accredited groupwork programmes, case management and court work. However, there was always a compromise between my preferred person-centred approach and the constraints and expectations of the service.

In January 2017 my mum died of cancer; watching the illness eat away at her for a period of nine months broke me emotionally. I went back to work in the February but something inside me had changed; I didn’t want to be part of a stressful job with stressful targets and ethical challenges that made me feel compromised any more. My life was precious; I was more keenly aware than at any time in my life that I had once chance at this. I also became more and more convinced that the early death of my mum (I consider 70 to be early) was not just bad luck, but also a lifetime of stress. What was I doing creating that same level of stress for myself other than guaranteeing a similar early and in all probability painful death? I decided I needed to make some radical changes in order to make the most out of the life I have, so I moved to France and began looking for ways to earn a living that fitted with both my lifestyle and my ethics.

I had always been a keen runner and enjoyed planning and thinking about training. Often the conversation in social runs would turn to training regimes, what worked, what didn’t. I also had some very positive experiences of being coached myself. So, with encouragement from my friends I began to think: why not turn my passion into my career and start coaching trail running? The psychological knowledge and understanding I had gained through 15 years working with people on Probation could only complement the new skills I could learn about training techniques as well as my own running experience. It meant that I could continue helping people achieve their goals in a different field and combine my two passions, people and running. I decided to end my 15 year career as a Probation Officer. I completed the UKA level 1 coaching course and went on to complete Levels one and two coaching courses with TrainingPeaks in July 2019.

My Running Story

I was never very good at sport; at school I came last in all my races, I was picked last in all the team games in PE. However, when it came to cross country I could keep going, not fast but I did not stop. When I left school and began working at a Disabled Unit I began to realise I needed to be fit to run up the stairs of the old Edwardian house to answer emergencies, so I began going for a run on my days off. I quickly realised that besides the fitness benefits, it helped me destress by giving me some headspace and some time away from the day to day humdrum of life. This was the start of my running career.

For a few years I ran three times a week for 30 minutes to an hour, until in my third year at university, inspired by a friend I entered and completed the Great North Run. How did I train? I just went out and ran more. When I left university I stopped running, I found the transition from education to work life difficult; I was lonely and I was depressed so I started drinking and smoking to escape.

Depression had always knocked on my door even as a child, usually I would deal with it by escaping into a good book but in my early twenties it hit me really hard; I couldn’t concentrate on reading any more and all I wanted to do was sleep. A chat with a friend encouraged me to get the medical help I needed but I needed to break out of the cycle of escapism through alcohol and smoking. I started running again as a way of doing something; this helped me with cravings to smoke (you really do feel like you are going to die when you run as a smoker). Running helped me escape, it helped me relax and it lifted my mood.

With some encouragement from another good friend, I eventually plucked up the courage to join a running club. Now I was running three times per week, making new friends and I had some structure to my week. The weekends, which I used to dread, often involved a social run too.

I started doing some low profile cross country races in the winter for 2005 and realised that I liked seeing how fast I could run; for the first time in my life I had a concept of myself being more than just the steady plodder at the back of the course…I began winning some prizes and it occurred to me that perhaps I was not so bad at sport afterall…well running.

A few disappointing marathons led me to start thinking a bit about training and at this point I began to realise that training was more than just going out for a run. Some more experienced athletes helped me out and I began doing my own research into training and running, building in speed sessions, hill work and racing for a season of races. I would build my own training plans based on my research and then share them with friends with similar goals and we would train together.

It was around this time that I first began working with a coach. Whilst I had been enjoying my running, it never occurred to me that I was worthy of a coach, however, I became convinced when I realised how difficult I was finding it to break the 40 minute barrier for 10km…and I really wanted to break that barrier! To my delight I did achieve a sub 40 minute 10km; to my surprise I also began winning races: Skiddaw, Bradley Fell Race, Gargrave Show Race. I even entered the European Mountain Race qualifying event at Sedbergh and the uphill only event Scarfell, something I would never have dreamed of doing before.

Clare’s qualifications and associations

  • Endurance coaching: TrainingPeaks Level 2 Accredited Coach; UK Athletics Level 1 Coach.

  • Sports psychology and personal wellbeing: Advanced Diploma in Clinical Hypnotherapy, NLP Coaching with CBT awarded January 2013, Attachment Based Practice with Adults awarded April 2014 from Changepoint Learning, Knowledge and Understanding Framework Awareness awarded in September 2013, Knowledge and Understanding Framework Train the Trainer awarded in September 2014 by the Department of Health, Mentalization-Based Treatment: Antisocial Personality Disorder delivered by the Anna Freud Centre in April 2014,

  • Other: Masters in Theology awarded 2002 from University of Durham, Diploma in Probationary Studies awarded 2004 by Sheffield Hallam University.

Edith training hard.

Edith training hard.

Edith - Trail Runner

Edith wanted to run her local race Le Championnat du Canigou in 2018. We agreed to work together to help her get some structure and consistency in her training. This enabled her to go on to complete the course in a personal best time of 5 hours 45.

“Clare did me a training plan for each session including speed work, tempo workouts and longer runs adapted around my work timetable. All this helped me not to stress and to be ready for race day.”

Louisa - Fell Runner

Looie was struggling to get back to running after a period of time due to injury and child birth. After working together for 5 months, she entered her first relay race; she hopes to continue to train her way back to running with a club and doing some more regular racing.

“I knew Clare had knowledge about how to train people for running so I asked her for help . I started a plan with her on 31st December 2018 … We are not currently working towards any races but my health, fittness and weight is improving all the time . Clare adapts the plan to the time I’ve got, I know tricky as my work pattern can change week to week but between us we manage it.”

Chris, staying focussed on his race.

Chris, staying focussed on his race.

Chris - Mountain Biker

Chris came to us on a training camp to do some focussed training and preparation for his next season of Cross Country Racing where he was hoping to improve on his placing from the year before. Chris and I worked together on managing his race strategy. Using NLP and hypnotherapy we worked on maintaining his confidence in races so that he could execute his own race plan rather than getting sucked into someone else’s race.

“I was struggling with anxiety at mtb xc race starts and was finding staying focused difficult. Once in the race being overtaken or not being able to hold the pace was having a huge impact on my confidence and I was backing off instead of keeping going.

Clare helped me to regain focus in these situations using NLP techniques I could use in the moment which helped massively particularly at the HSBC national round at Sherwood Pines where I placed 5th in a very strong field of riders.”