Q&A: Emily Ackner

There's nothing like a challenge, and 29-year-old blogger and personal trainer Emily Ackner is taking on a huge one: she's running 300 miles in 10 days this October! Emily is raising money for running charity A Mile in Her Shoes. Runner's World spoke to her about how she's been preparing to run a ultra a day, what she'll be eating and how she's helping the environment along the way...

300 miles in 10 days is an incredible task. Have you taken on any ultra challenges before?

I’m jumping in feet first with this one. I’ve raced several marathons but am admittedly scaling up quite a bit. I’m ready for slow but long days. It’s been a big year of change and challenges, so off the back of that my mindset is pretty solid. I love the mental game of the endurance journey, you really dig stuff up and play with it in your head. The end result can be quite life-affirming.

You're fundraising for A Mile in Her Shoes, a London-based charity which uses running to help re-socialise women who've been homeless. What made you choose to run for them?

I first heard of them last year and have been looking for an opportunity to help ever since. I’m lucky enough to have an amazing support network around me, family and friends, but without this, I can see how easily people slip through the net and find themselves without a home when things get tough. Their work strikes a chord as I understand how powerful running is, helping people to grow and develop a strong sense of identity.

Where will your route take you?

Around the periphery of Cornwall, along the South West Coast Path. I’m travelling anticlockwise north-south, the sea as my right-hand man. There’ll be no coastal stone left unturned as I’ll pass through every Cornish sea-village and town along the way. Mousehole, Porthtowan and Falmouth, my hometown, are a few faves.

Which part of the route are you most looking forward to?

The stretch from St Ives around to Lands End, finishing at the Minack Theatre will be epic. It’s such a beautifully wild part of Cornwall with some savage hills and rock formations. Reaching the furthest tip of the UK on foot should be a great moment, there’s a treasure trove of Cornish history in that area. I’m also going to be doing a daily two minute beach clean (#2minutebeachclean) along the way, so who knows what I’ll find!

Which part do you think will be the biggest challenge?

Is ‘the hills’ too much of an obvious answer? The total elevation of 55,508ft over the 300 miles is equivalent to almost twice summiting Everest.

How have you been preparing?

Most of this summer has been spent in the gym having just qualified as a personal trainer; I’ve been playing with improving my functional strength and bodily awareness/mobility. As a firm believer in the benefits of strength work for runners, this has largely informed my approach to training. Loads of squatting teamed with regular yoga practice. Although I live in Hackney, one of the flattest boroughs in London, I’m always on the hunt for hills when I run. The mileage has been steadily creeping up, as have the trips to Hampstead Heath.

Are people coming out to run with you and support you along the way?

Cornwall is home, so I’ve got a few keen runner beans who want to dip in and help haul me up some hills. Although it’s a solo journey, I’m really looking forward to the little interactions (friends and strangers) along the way. People walking the South West Coast Path are always so friendly and happy to be there. I also have the most incredibly patient parents who are superstars and have offered to help with the bulk of ferrying me around.

How are you fuelling your runs? 10 days of gels and energy blocks doesn't sound too appetising!

Pasties. Only joking, probably just one a day. In all seriousness, I’m not going to be taking any gels with me, proper food will be essential to get enough calories in and keep fuelled. Tupperwares of pasta salad most likely with more of a protein/fat-centric breakie. Probably a cheeky peanut butter Clif bar and some fruit/nuts as well to liven things up! Not forgetting H2O... being surrounded by water should remind me to drink.

You can donate to Emily's A Mile in Her Shoes fundraiser here.