Q & A: Susan Partridge

Q. Why did you get into running?

A. My dad was a marathon runner. He didn’t try to push me into running but when he noticed I had started jogging to keep fit he suggested I try some races. My first proper race was the Scottish National U15 cross-country. I remember thinking during the race that I would never run again but I finished in the top 20 and was very pleased. My dad told me then that it was OK, it was supposed to hurt and that the people in front were probably hurting more. That’s when I started to understand what endurance running was all about.

Q. When did you know that you wanted to compete?

A. After that first race. I was determined to push even harder and do even better in the next race. 

Q. What is your favourite distance? 

A. Half-marathon. It’s definitely my best distance, which is a good reason to like it but I also like that you can do more of them than you could marathons in a year. You have more of a chance to experiment with tactics, prep, etc. The big half-marathons often have the same celebratory atmosphere as marathons so they’re fun events to be part of. There’s not so much riding on just one or two races a year. I love the marathon and I’m determined to improve my current PB but it’s such an unpredictable event. You have to put everything into one or two races a year and sometimes the most trivial things can derail you. I guess that’s part of the reason a good marathon is such an amazing achievement.   

Q. What does your weekly training schedule consist of?

A. During a marathon build-up I would run 80-100 miles per week. This would include a session of reps on Tuesday (eg 5 x 5mins), a hard tempo run on Thursday (20-30mins), and short reps or hills on Saturday (eg 10 x 90sec hills). Wednesday would be a medium long run (1hr30 to 1hr45) and Sunday is long run day (2hrs to 2hr20). The rest of the week is up made of morning and afternoon steady runs. I tend to run how I feel. If I feel good, I push the pace and if I don’t I ease back a little.  

Q. What are your top tips for marathon running?

A. Don’t get caught up in the excitement at the start and go off too quickly but don’t be frightened of the distance either. You’ve trained for it, so if you feel good, take a risk and push on. Sometimes the feeling of not having tried is worse than the feeling of having tried and failed. You learn something in every marathon. Most importantly, enjoy it and remember you are part of something special.    

Q. How do you prepare yourself on race day and do you have a routine you always stick to? 

A. I don’t have a strict routine as every race is different and it’s important to be able to adapt. Usually, I’ll get up about 3.5hrs before the start and go down for breakfast around three hours before. Breakfast is usually cereal and toast. Sometimes, I find it hard to chew because of the nerves so I might pick things that are a little easier to eat, like a banana. Once we’re at the start. I’ll do a short warm-up: some jogging and some strides. I usually take my MP3 player to the start of the race so that I can relax and stay calm during any waiting time. I have a playlist that I’ve gradually been adding to over the last few years.

Q. Do you follow a strict nutrition regime?

A. Absolutely not! I try to eat healthily but I would do this even if I wasn’t a runner. I eat sensibly given the training I am doing but I allow myself some treats and don’t get obsessed. I want to enjoy running and I think if I was too strict on myself it wouldn’t be fun anymore.   

Q. What are your favourite treats or rewards after a hard session or a race?

A. I love going to the Cheesecake Factory when I’m over training in Boulder, Colorado and I like to make French toast with bacon and maple syrup after my long Sunday run.

Q. How much strength and conditioning do you incorporate into your training? 

A. Strength and conditioning isn’t really part of my training. Unless I’m specifically working on an area of weakness to prevent injury.

Q. How do you stay motivated when it gets tough in the race?

A. I like to picture scenarios in my head. I’ll imagine running down the finishing straight and just snatching a win in an exciting sprint finish or picture my family cheering me on from the sides as I break the course record. I don’t think the scenarios have to be realistic. It’s just a way of distracting yourself when it’s getting hard, thinking positively and keeping the adrenaline pumping.    

Q. What have been your career highs and lows so far? 

A. The last World Championships in Korea was a highlight for me. I was 24th and I was really pleased with my run. Conditions were tough so times were slow but I worked through the race and finished strongly. It’s nice to know I can deliver on the international stage.

My career low was London last year. I was in great shape but a bit of indecision at the start of the race meant I got isolated early on. I ran most of the race alone and gradually got slower. I think it’s important to stick with the competition even if it means taking a risk – at least you know you tried.     

Q. What is one piece of kit/equipment you will be using for the marathon?

A. My new Puma racing apparel and Faas 300v2. It’s very bright and last month at the New York Half Marathon someone in the crowd shouted “I like your outfit!”, so at least I know my kit looks good even if I look a little worse for wear!

Susan Partridge will be wearing the PUMA Faas 300v2 in the 2013 Virgin London Marathon available available at prodirectrunning.com.  Head to www.facebook.com/PUMArunning to find out more about PUMA's Nature of Performance and to win great prizes.