I grew up in the Peak District. I explored mountains from an early age and began serious running in 2008, after leaving university. Working in Glossop as a vet, a colleague said I should enter a fell race. I did, and I was hooked.
I’m working for a PhD, so I maintain the training/work balance in three ways: first, I don’t train as hard as many people think; second, I’m used to being flexible about what I do, which is partly why having a coach wouldn’t work; and third, we’ve no television.
I run in the early morning, and my husband, Konrad, tolerates being woken at 5am every day when I go training. This guarantees I’ll get a run in, whereas if I leave it until later, work often gets in the way, or I’m simply too tired when I get home to motivate myself to go running.
I don’t have a set training plan. Most days I set off from our cottage, run for 10 minutes to the hills and take it from there. On weekdays I tend to go out for 60-90 minutes each day; sometimes I cycle to work; and I swim a few times a week too. At weekends I typically do a couple of longer runs (three to four hours), or mountain days with Konrad, and I do a weekly hill-rep session.
In the winter of 2015-2016 I did a weekly fast run, racing Konrad around the reservoir beside our house. I’m not very good at pushing myself in training, so I acquire race fitness by racing.
I’m not very good about stretching, either, and could probably do more. I try to stretch my iliotibial band (ITB), as I’ve had ITB problems in the past, and stretching helps keep it at bay. I go for a monthly sports massage.
I haven’t adjusted my diet for running because it’s reasonably balanced. I’ve always liked fruit and veg; and we cook from scratch most evenings. I don’t avoid treats and neither do I avoid the occasional glass of wine. Eating and drinking on the move is easy if I’m not pushing myself. On an easy, long run I take packable food – e.g. dried fruit/nuts, cereal bars, flapjack, salted nuts, a sandwich and buttered hot cross buns. But if I’m working hard − on the Rounds [fell running challenges] for example − eating becomes a challenge. In short races I eat gels or sweets, but for longer runs I try to consume something more substantial – baked beans, rice puddings and pots of fruit salad work well.
My best tip for a runner wanting to start preparation for a hilly ultra is to hike in the mountains. My best performances have always followed trips to the mountains, when I’ve walked and wild-camped for a week or more. It’s training for long days on your feet.
Breaking Angela Mudge’s Isle of Jura Fell Race record in 2015 meant a lot. Jura is such a special place that I got married there. In terms of the Rounds, I’m proud of them all, but I’m proudest of the Ramsay because I set out aiming to break the men’s record and succeeded, and also because it’s my local Round, the wildest of the three and over the biggest mountains.
For new challenges, I’ve got my eye on the Kima and Els 2900 Skyraces in Italy and Andorra, respectively, and I might attempt the Lakeland 24-hour record, but that could be a longer-term project.
The landscape is a huge part of why I run. I think my surroundings make me happy and I run well if I’m enjoying myself.
Club: Carnethy Hill RC
Isle of Jura Fell Race, female record – 3:38
April: Bob Graham Round, England (66 miles, 42 summits), female record – 15:24
June: Ramsay Round, Scotland (58 miles, 24 summits), new record (beating male record by 46 mins) – 16:13
October: Paddy Buckley Round, Wales (61 miles, 47 summits), female record - 18:33