Jo Pavey

Anna Kosciuk – Sport Scientist at NURVV

Anna Kosciuk

How did you get into running/sport?
I have always been quite sporty but got into running relatively late, not until my early 20s. At the time, I was working on a study investigating ultramarathon runners and shortly after became a running gait analyst for recreational runners. I soon realised that the only way for me to ‘fix’ runners and help them improve their performance and manage injuries is by getting a first-hand understanding of what they are going through and are exposing themselves to. So I grabbed my shoes and started putting some miles in!
I was very lucky as at the time one of my best friends was really into it, so we soon signed up for a few running events together. Over the years, I can honestly say that I got addicted to it and now can’t image my life without running. The fact that I can engage with it on a daily basis and as a part of my career is a dream come true!

Who is your main female sporting inspiration?
The main one for me would be Justyna Kowalczyk, a Polish Cross-Country skier who is just a great example of how stubbornness (in Sochi 2014, she won an Olympic Gold medal competing with a broken foot), insane drive and hard work gets you places.
Running wise – and because I am all about female empowerment – it would be Kathrine Switzer for her impact on ‘social revolution’ and dedication in fighting for female opportunities not only in running but sport in general.

What one tip would you give to other runners looking to get into the sport?
Invest in a good pair of running shoes and make use of wearable running products. I strongly believe that a pair of trainers can ‘make you or break you’! Similarly, tech products are no more just ‘cool gadgets’ to have and show off with but with the advances in technology lately, they can really provide runners with enormous amount of unique data and personalised insights on form and general wellbeing. Knowing how your body moves every step of the way and being able to track this data over time is not only beneficial in monitoring progress but is also crucial for managing load and avoiding silly mistakes that might otherwise have a long – term consequences on one’s health and wellbeing.

Kerry MacPhee – Freewheel ambassador, Scottish mountain biker and 2019 3-peaks cyclocross winner

Kerry MacPhee

Who is your main female sporting inspiration?
Ultimately, the females I love are the females I see most of myself in and those that are late starters to the sport and underdogs and just keep chip chip chipping their way closer to the top. Right now I love following a Belgian rider called Githa Michels who has just modestly plugged away and keeps getting better and better. I remember seeing her at Lenzerheide World Cup once looking terrified at the side of the blind drop just watching everyone roll off and thinking wow, even the fast females have limitations. Of course, she’s super smooth on the drops now. Globally, I’m a huge fan of Lolo Jones who is just relentless in her pursuit of greatness and also really humorous. I love her spirit and never say die attitude. She’s super cool. Growing up, my inspirations were every single one of the female gladiators… coolest show ever!

How did you get into cycling/sport?
I was very sporty when I was young, possibly because as a twin, you have to compete for everything anyway! But I grew up in the Outer hebrides where sporting role models weren’t a thing and though watching Kelly Holmes win double gold at the Olympics made me want to be an athlete, ‘becoming an athlete’ was just not a thing, I couldn’t see it and knew nobody who had done it so off to uni I went. Basketball and running were my sports when I was young and it wasn’t until after uni that I took up cycling. I entered a novice triathlon event with a friend, somehow won, got that taste for success I’d had as a child again and the rest is history. I’m not sure how things would have been if I’d known other athletes from the outer Hebrides so I take being a role model to other islanders quite seriously now!

What one tip would you give to other fitness enthusiasts looking to get into the sport?
I started off cycling with a bike I bought from recyke-a-bike. I think it cost around £40, was way too big, so heavy, had gears on the down tube… never in a million years did I think then I’d be racing carbon dreams now. BUT… we all have to start somewhere and it’s a case of doing just that. Do what you can with the tools that you have and try everything! The beauty of cycling is you never stop learning about bikes or about yourself and that’s addictive and motivating!

Jo Pavey, Saucony athlete, five-time Olympian and mum of two, who is aspiring to make a sixth Olympics this year

Jo Pavey

Who is your main female sporting inspiration?
I’ve been inspired by Dame Mary Peters and really enjoy watching the footage of when she won her Olympic gold. I’m inspired by her great achievements and determination and I also very much admire the way she embraced the true spirit of sport. She was always smiling and her support of her fellow competitors during the events is lovely to see. She is a fantastic role model.

How did you get into running?
I always enjoyed being active as a child, but it wasn’t until I went to secondary that I got the opportunity to try distance running. My PE teacher asked us to run two laps of the sloping grass track at the school. She was pleased with how I did and suggested that I join an athletics club. At the club I really developed my passion for running. I relished the challenge of racing and enjoyed the camaraderie of going to meetings with my team mates.

Ragna Debats – Merrell ambassador, 2018 double World champion in Skyrunning and Ultra-Trail and female champion of the 34th edition of the Marathon Des Sables 2019

Ragna Debats

Who is your main female sporting inspiration?
My grandmother. She loved sports and was an active tennis player up into late age. Also, she spent a lot of time hiking in the Eifel, Germany together with her husband.

How did you get into running?
I started about ten years ago when I started living in Catalonia, Spain. Before that time I was a professional horse trainer and I didn’t have the time or the energy for other sports activities. In Catalonia I started a new life and practicing sports was what made me happy the most. I really opened up and it was easy to make friends with people who had similar interests. I didn’t have any expectations, but I became better every year. After my pregnancy I took it to another level and trained professionally. In a few years this lead me to the top of trail and skyrunning.

What one tip would you give to other runners looking to get into the sport?
Make a plan, enjoy training and be satisfied with all the little improvements you will make. The rest will come on its own.

Sarah Hoefflin, Swiss freestyle skier and Columbia ambassador

Sarah Hoefflin

Who is your main female sporting inspiration?

My female inspiration is Kelly Sildaru, because she’s the first female freeskier who inspired me to push myself in the park. She has a really hard-working attitude and has always stayed at the top of her game. She’s a real inspiration to a lot of girls to start the sport.

How did you get into freestyle skiing?
I discovered freestyle skiing whilst I was on a university ski trip in 2010. I was instantly hooked and started watching all the freestyle skiing videos on youtube and competitions like X games. I wanted to be as good as the other girls competing. When I finished university in 2013, I decided to go to Tignes and do a ski season. At that point, I was spending a lot of time in the park and saw that I was progressing really fast, so I kept pushing myself.

What one tip would you give to other skiers looking to get into the sport?
I would tell them to join a club or attend a freestyle ski camp, so that they can learn to push themselves in the park safely. Their coaches will teach them how the sport works and how they can progress within their limits. That’s how I got into freestyle skiing more seriously and therefore I would recommend it to everyone who wants to start freeskiing.

Anna Boniface, Saucony athlete, 2.37 marathoner and first place finisher in the 2017 London Marathon mass race

Anna Boniface

Who is your main female sporting inspiration?
I really look up to Alexi Pappas as she encourages young female athletes to chase after their dreams but also to respect their bodies at the same time. I love how she promotes female resilience in her own quirky way, often in poems.

How did you get into running?
When I was 10 years old, my mum ran the London Marathon, raising thousands of pounds for charity. I remember seeing how hard she trained for it. She got chased by dogs out running on holiday and I remember her coming home crying after an 18 mile run in the pouring rain. Watching her complete the marathon, I was so proud of her and how hard she worked towards it. It really inspired me to get into running and eventually achieve a lifelong dream of running a marathon myself.

I started in the traditional way of school cross country and eventually joined Reading Athletics Club doing club cross country and track running.

What one tip would you give to other runners looking to get into the sport?
If you’re totally new to running, it’s really important to build your training up gradually to reduce the risk of injury. Don’t run every day to begin with and perhaps start by mixing running with walking until you build up your confidence. Try to run on soft surfaces like trails when you can to lessen the impact through joints and muscles. Listen to your body and if you’ve got a injury niggle don’t be afraid to take extra rest days to help prevent a more serious injury. Most of all enjoy your running, the running community is so fantastic to be part, and good luck!

I would recommended starting out by getting into parkrun. It’s a free 5k, with events all over the world every Saturday morning. parkrun has an incredible sense of community and everyone encourages each other, no matter if you run or walk it. It’s a great place to start your running journey.

Iona Lake, Saucony athlete, steeplechaser and Commonwealth Games representative

Iona Lake

Who is your main female sporting inspiration?
I’ve never had just one woman that has inspired me. There are so many both in sport and out. I always find it mad that women are still treated and looked upon differently. Although there is a long way to go, I am glad things are changing. The women’s steeplechase only became an Olympic event in 2008. It’s mind-blowing that it took that long for misconceptions about women’s strength to be realised.

How did you get into running?
I started running because my sister did and when you are young you want to do everything your big sister does! I was not the most talented at a young age. In most of the big events I rarely came in the top 100. I made English Schools once on the track and it wasn’t until my 6th form years that things started to click. With endurance running, persistence and patience is definitely key!

What one tip would you give to other runners looking to get into the sport?
Mix your runs up! Endurance running isn’t always ‘fun’ and it can be hard to get out of the door. For me, meeting a friend for some runs or harder sessions not only holds me accountable but makes the runs more social and something to look forward to. However, some runs I crave nothing more than a bit of solitude and escaping into nature. For some sessions you just have to embrace the toughness ahead. The joy in these sessions comes from the ability to overcome. It comes from knowing that you got out of your comfort zone, pushed through the pain and came out the other side. The realisation that you can overcome adversity and pain builds confidence in yourself and your abilities that will carry into everyday life. You can use every run for a different purpose, it is so simple. You just need yourself, some good trainers and off you go; and that is why I love it!