What purchase under £100 has most impacted your running life?
I literally don’t leave home or go on holiday without my trail running shoes. They are very different to road shoes and have super knobbly rubber soles which mean I have max confidence to run fast up and down hill, through mud, snow and even swim in them (more of that later : ) ) For me they are a passport to adventure. If you are going to run off-road, invest in trainers which work for you.
What new habit have you adopted in the last 3 years has most improved your running?
Sleep. You can spend a fortune on kit, the right nutrition, massage etc. but the biggest thing that makes a positive difference to my mindset and my ability to get up every day and run, inspire others and take on some crazy adventures is a good old fashioned 8 hours. About 3 years ago, I had an enormous wake up call as I suffered a huge bout of depression and as a family we decided life had to change. Add in the fact that it is the most important factor for recovery after a hard run and for me it’s a no brainer.
When you are at your absolute lowest point in a race, what do you do or say to yourself to convince yourself to keep going?
When I was competing in sailing I used to totally psyche myself out by thinking too far ahead and doubt would set in, ‘What if they came past me, what if I can’t hold onto the lead?’ As soon as doubt set in, fear followed and it paralysed me and inevitably I would do badly. I have learnt over the years to focus on the right here right now (something I learnt from birthing to 3 children) and that is what I often say to myself when the dark clouds are descending. Running big events is all about sticking it out mentally and I also visualise myself running well, with a smile on my face or I go through all the great things I have done in my life.
Tell me about an unusual thing that you do before, during or after a run?
Put on a wetsuit! I absolutely love the sport of swimrun in which, usually with a partner, you swim and run multiples times across beautiful vast landscapes. There are no transitions and so you run in your wetsuit and swim in your shoes for anything up to 10 hours. It is very funny seeing people’s faces wonder what on earth we are doing as they are out for a quiet sunday stroll. Someone asked me once, if I knew I was wearing it!!
What is your most memorable running failure and what did you learn from it?
My husband would say when I ate 2 tubes of smooth peanut butter back to back during an ultra which basically acted as super glue to my mouth and made breathing while running tricky. He found it hilariously funny! I have had plenty of times when I have totally lost the plot and started gibbering or cried and I have come pretty much last a few times but I don’t think of these as failures. These are all part of the what makes it an adventure for me. I like seeing how far I can push myself and I like being uncomfortable and so when something doesn’t go to plan, that’s when I learn the most about what I can achieve.