What made you get into running?
In the months before I turned 30 I felt like I hadn’t really done much up to that point, so I started writing a bucket list of things I wanted to one day do. One of the crazier things I put down was to run a marathon. It seemed like a good idea at the time but I hadn’t done any running at this point since my school days. Without knowing of this list, one of my best friends, who is a great runner and has been inspirational to so many, suggested that I join in on a “Zombie Run”. Not wanting to be unprepared despite it not being a serious run I decided to start Couch to 5K. The event eventually got cancelled and so to avoid what felt like wasting the training I entered the 2014 Sport Relief Miles run (6 miles which was many many laps of a local sports field). Before I’d even done that though I thought I’d enter a “proper” 10K race and from there it just snowballed until I found myself running and enjoying it. So to cut a long story short – I guess it was part accident, part friendly encouragement.
What has been your proudest/best running moment?
Most people would probably recall a time when they’ve helped someone, and whilst I enjoy helping whenever I can my proudest running moment would be a more selfish one – it would be finishing either the Leicester or London Marathons. In the first instance I couldn’t believe I’d done it – I had been told that my knees would prevent me from ever running a marathon and I should stick to far shorter distances. In the case of the London Marathon it felt so great to be running through the streets of our nations capital and getting to sprint along The Mall to the finish is something I will never forget.
What has been the biggest challenge you have faced?
My knees. Definitely my knees. It was an unfortunate 6 or 7 months which started with me injuring my ankles after starting back too quickly after having a month off for travelling. These took about a month to heal by which time I’d had about another month or two of more or less injury-free running until at the start of a 10 mile run I got a sudden pain in my knee. Being new to running I thought “oh, that’s different” and carried on and finished the 10 miles. When I stopped though I realised how bad it was and found I couldn’t really walk upstairs. For the next few months I struggled with my knees and barely ran at all, and one of two physios I saw insisted that I “wasn’t designed” for running long distances (despite the fact I was only running up to 10 miles by now) and I’d never be able to run the marathon I’d booked. Maybe it’s wrong, but I didn’t like being told I couldn’t do something and I tried my hardest to prove him wrong. As a result of this challenge though I learnt a lot about how to keep my knees more or less injury free.
Who is your inspiration, and why?
It’s difficult to pick any one person – seeing what the #ukrunchat community is up to is a massive encouragement and inspiration. I find individual members inspiring for their achievements in how much work they do for charity, their continued determination to go out and run no matter how they feel or whatever the weather, and it’s great to see when someone sets a new distance or time PB. The biggest inspiration I’ve had though is the friend who got me started in running – she has been a great encouragement and seeing first hand how hard she works and the sheer determination there has been a constant source of inspiration.
What are your future goals?
I want to really push myself to be better at running, and I’d love to get faster. At the minute my goals are to manage a sub-20 minute 5K, a sub-40 minute 10K, and a 3:15 marathon. I’m a long way off these but it means I can set mini-goals along the way so I don’t lose hope in ever achieving them. I’d also like to one day complete Ultra marathons and have an attempt at the Marathon des Sables.
What would be your one piece of essential advice to someone looking to start up running?
I was going to say “always wear sunscreen” as the long-term benefits of this have been proven by scientists. However, I’d rather say: Don’t compare yourself to others. If you have to compare yourself, compare yourself to you. Find what makes you happy when you’re running and cling to that tightly – it’s something you can remind yourself of after a bad run, or when you find yourself losing your “running mojo”.
What is your favourite piece of running kit?
My trainers… at the minute specifically my Omni 13s. They’re comfortable and they’re the most essential part of my running kit. I could replace anything else and still happily go for a run, but not my trainers – they have to feel right and remain comfortable mile after mile.
And finally, what’s your favourite thing about running?
What I like most about running is how it gets you away from everything. Whilst you’re running there’s nothing you have to worry about – it’s just you, your thoughts and the open road (or trails if you prefer them).