What made you get into running?
Like a lot of people my running was born from wanting to raise money for a charity.
Since my Aunt died of cancer I had always thought I wanted to do something that was a huge challenge to raise money for MacMillan, for many years that’s all it was, just a thought and then in June 2013 I started going to the gym again, one of those irregular ‘I better do some exercise for a few months then stop’ phases. It was just doing some weights, rowing machine and bike then a few weeks later I went on the treadmill, ran for 5 minutes, panted and sweated but overall didn’t think it was too bad. (Until the day after, oh the DOMS)
From there the time on the treadmill increased, then the pace until a few weeks later I ran 5k in 30 minutes. Then I found out about Parkrun, and there was one less than 20 minutes from my house, there began my regular running, getting quicker and starting to meet other runners.
I continued on the treadmill, as well as outside and built up to 10k when one day on one of those ‘suggested posts’ you get on Facebook, but usually ignore, I saw something advertising running London to Brighton for MacMillan. In a typical still new to running thought process I was like ‘100k, that’s 10x10k, and there’s stops/check points on the way, with a bit of training that might be doable’, so signed up there and then.
From there came the panic that realistically this was a huge challenge and that maybe I was a bit of an idiot, training for a 100k challenge in nine months. What had I done?!
There followed me asking lots of questions on Twitter that you tend to get from new runners such as ‘what trainers are the best, what’s the best running kit?’ and maybe not the one you get everyday ‘How do I train for an Ultramarathon, I’ve never run a race before?’
Twitter proved to be a great place for genuine advice and had people willing to help, unlike some running forums I had tried first, and from there I discovered the UKrunchat community.
Through training for the Ultra I discovered I did actually enjoy running, I wasn’t going to be the quickest or run the furthest but I found it helped me mentally as well as physically.
So basically that’s a long winded answer that could have just said ‘A combination of wanting to get fit and run for charity’
What has been your proudest/best running moment?
I don’t really do ‘proud’ but I was quite happy with how Colchester half marathon went, I raced a half every weekend in March this year. I’d been getting quicker every weekend and this was the last one, before Brighton marathon taper started.
The weather was horrendous but I just went for it from the start, I started quick (for me) and managed to keep it going, even managing to kick with 10k to go and kick again at the last 5k. Despite having to chase my race number across the road as it had fallen apart due to the rain and wind then stopping to reattach, I was 7 minutes quicker than the previous weeks half marathon, and in the space of a month had taken 14 minutes off my previous best half marathon time. I also broke PBs for 5k, 5 mile, 10k & 15k in that race, so overall everything went well on the day.
Also that day I felt as if I had totally recovered from my injury.
What has been the biggest challenge you have faced?
Trying to remain positive while being injured for 6 months was tough, especially when you think no progress is being made, but you just have to be sensible, something I know runners find hard to do most of the time.
Listen to professionals, don’t rush back too early. Missing 5 races including the Great North run was tough but you just realize resting and recovery are so much more important, plus there’s always someone else in a worse position than yourself.
Actually scrap that, not having biscuits for 5 months was pretty tough.
Who is your inspiration, and why?
It’s hard to not be inspired by the likes of Emelie Forsberg, Scott Jurek and Kilian Jornet, legends in the ultra running world, they continue to test themselves and what the human body can do on an almost daily basis. Steve Way and Susie Chan, who have got into running ‘later’ (in other words similar age to me), run incredible distances and challenges all over the world.
There are a core of people on Twitter who inspire me in different ways, their abilities range from beginner to people logging hundreds of km each month, and also inspire me in ways outside of running.
And the reason I respect all of the people named (and not named) is that they are humble in their achievements and their progress, I can’t be doing with that Alpha male/female stuff, which you sometimes encounter.
What are your future goals?
At the beginning of the year I just wanted to have a year injury free.
Recently I’ve thought about trying another Ultra, which one I haven’t yet decided, and I’d want to do it justice. I’d also like to do another marathon, as I think I could get a better time than Brighton and hopefully not have the wheels fall off.
Also I set myself some targets for this year, a combination of time targets and distance, looking back they were quite ambitious but I’ve hit a few of them and realistically could hit another 2 of them.
And I want to run up a mountain, then down it.
What would be your one piece of essential advice to someone looking to start up running?
Don’t do a 100k Ultra as your 2nd ever race.
What is your favourite piece of running kit?
Er, this year I would say my most useful piece of kit has been my Aircast A60 ankle brace/support as that has allowed me to get out running again. Overall my Garmin Forerunner 610 is a fantastic bit of kit, and despite me running more by ‘feel’ than clock watching this year, it’s very useful for logging runs and monitoring my heart rate and seeing the progress in my ability.
And finally, what’s your favourite thing about running?
You can just go and do it, good day, bad day, wind, rain or sunshine you can just go out and run as far and for as long as you want.
It’s also a great way to empty your head of everything.