What made you get into running?
I got into running through my dad , he ran half marathons and marathons and we would meet him to give him a drink when he ran long. I would join in for tiny bits and then when I was old enough I went along to the local club where I grew up. I also went to judo but when I was 11 we moved to Oakley, just outside Bedford, and after a little while I chose to go more often to athletics club and stop the judo.
What has been your proudest/best running moment?
I am extremely lucky to have many happy moments to look back on. Sometimes it is only now at the end of my career that I really look back and appreciate how special they were. Of course the world record runs, but also certainly my first World Cross Country title in 2001 as a senior, and also my recent chance to run in the London marathon and finish there was extremely special.
What has been the biggest challenge you have faced?
Probably recovering from major foot surgery in 2012. For a long time it was painful and difficult even to walk and I didn’t know if I would get back to running. I had to be more patient than ever and take baby steps of progress. The support of so many people was vital in getting back to any sort of running and the joy of being able to run again cancelled out any negative thoughts about not being able to get back to competitive running.
Who is your inspiration, and why?
In life it was my grandmother. An amazing lady who lived life to the full and had fun, taught us to go after our goals, have good morals and lots of fun. In athletics it was Ingrid Kristiansen and Grete Waitz and Joan Benoit Samuelson. The 3 First Ladies of women’s marathoning, Ingrid, Grete and Joan were fearless and not afraid to commit, for the way they raced and won they are/were so inspiring and also for the women they are/were and the way they live their lives.
What are your future goals?
To be the best mum I can be, to develop and learn better as a sports commentator pundit. Support Seb Coe in his campaign for the next IAAF presidency. Support youngsters coming through and do something to support and advance the anti doping agency in our sport.
What would be your one piece of essential advice to someone looking to start up running?
Join a club or group of friends. Set a goal to work towards. Get checked for the right running shoes to suit your style of running.
What is your favourite piece of running kit?
Maybe my coordinated Nike Tempo running shorts and tops. Also my Nike Pegasus 32 and Zoom Elite 7 shoes.
What’s your favourite thing about running?
The way it makes me feel alive. It makes me feel free, gives me thinking time, alone time or can be social time. After running I feel better about the day ahead and feel stronger. It’s also a brilliant way to explore new areas.
As it’s Women In Sport Week: What do you think is the biggest challenge for women runners, & how do you overcome them?
Often for women it is finding the time to take that first step, sometimes also fear of running alone or being self conscious about what they wear/look like. A big thing is not feeling guilty about taking time out from family, house, work, chores, to do something for themselves.
Paula with some #ukrunchatters: