Getting to know… Rav

Welcome to ‘Getting to know…’ number 18. Rav is one of the nicest people you will EVER meet. When I struggled with my mental health last year, she reached out to me to help. Just sending that message meant the world to me. She is also on day 914 of a run streak!! So all in all, a totally awesome person! Read on to see what I mean!

Remember, if you would like to take part, please get in contact. Also, if you have missed any of the previous interviews, you can find them here.

Having never stuck to a fitness regime before for any length of time, having run streak day 950 soon is actually quite exciting! @ravbillan Click To Tweet

Name

Rav Billan

Age

40

Occupation

Management Consultant – Business Growth, Development and Branding.

Rav Billan

How long have you been running?

3 years and 3 months 

What made you start running?

A strange situation and a short story on turning a negative into a positive. A not so nice family member had just started a diet plan and was losing a lot of weight very quickly. He started to poke fun at my daily gym sessions saying that a year at the gym had been a waste of time as it hadn’t made any difference. It really upset me. Possibly because it was partly true. I was going to the gym but was I really pushing myself to make a difference? An uncomfortable truth looked at me straight in the eye. 

So I decided to do something different. For different results, I had to be radical (and prove to that rude relative that I can get trimmer using exercise). So I plucked up the courage to run outside in May 2017. Cap on. Baggy t-shirt. Gym leggings. Wrong kind of trainers. I ran when it was quiet so no one would see me. I remember that moment just before I left the house. Full of anxiety. But once I got going I loved it. The post-run feels were so good. And I soon started to see how much my body changed shape too! They soon stopped saying anything when they saw that I was getting firmer and fitter. Now 3 years on and I’m the fittest I’ve ever been and they’ve unfortunately piled all the weight back on. Consistency is the key to success. 

Why do you run now?

So many reasons. For my general fitness and also because I’ve never stuck to a fitness regime of any kind until I started running. It feels good to finally commit some time to my own fitness. I love the clarity of thought I get when I run and I’m often surrounded by people all day, this is a lovely way to discover new places whilst having some valuable me time. The post-run feeling is also so good, especially after a long run. A real sense of achievement.

What was your last event?

In the real world, it was Royal Parks Half in October 2019. This year I was meant to be running London Landmarks in March and then London Marathon in April – both got postponed due to lockdown. I have been doing lots of virtual events to help keep me motivated to run further and push myself. I have run lots of Half Marathon distance virtual events RunThrough and a few with Real Buzz. The last one I did that is one of my favourites, was Virtual Race to The Stones and covered a 100k in a week which was both challenging but so much fun too. 

What is your next event?

We found out recently that London is not happening as we know it this year, however, it is happening as a virtual event as it’s the 40th year race. As I’ve turned 40 this year, this was one of the reasons I wanted to run this. So, my first ever marathon will still be the London Marathon, albeit virtually and at home! So here goes training cycle number 2 for the same event!  

Favourite thing about running?

I love that I am challenging my body and it somehow responds to it. The feeling of freedom especially when I’m running along the trails being out in the countryside, it can feel like a mini-adventure. The clarity of thought I get when I’m out running too. I’ve learnt a lot about myself whilst I’ve been out for a run. 

Worst thing about running?

That first mile! It always makes me feel like I’ve never put on a pair of trainers in my life. My breathing is strained, my legs heavy and I have the pace of a sloth on sleeping tablets. Genuinely is that hardest thing. 

What one piece of advice would you give to a beginner?

Do not, under any circumstances start comparing your running journey or progress to anyone else. Ever. Even if you are training for the same races, don’t do it. We are all so different and our abilities are too. When I stopped getting a PB on almost every run after I first started, it felt a little disheartening. But the real winning isn’t in a game of numbers and PB’s. It’s creating a healthier version of you and sticking to the running and not let it be a fad. To me, it’s a lifestyle choice.

Best piece of advice given to you?

A friend once said to me, that to handle a longer run, try and break it down into segments. Mentally create little milestones for the run. I use this technique on a half and break it down into a series of 10k runs. Strangely it helps me to feel like it’s not a long run but “just a 10k”. 2 x 10k feels quite doable in my head but I feel surprised that there is still a bit extra I still have to run as it’s not the total distance! 😊

I’ve also found that an out and back route for a long run really helps me mentally too. Running 7 miles out doesn’t feel too bad and then every step you run after that is one step closer to home. The quicker you run, the quicker you’re home to a nice hot cup of coffee! 

Favourite race distance?

I would have to say it’s a half marathon. Actually, I love 10 miles the most if I’m really honest. There is something magical about hitting double digits. But I’ve found that there is a real sense of achievement after running a half. It’s so tough. But it’s exhausting enough to feel like you’ve really been for a good run. The post-run buzz is enough to make you want to finish it when you start to get tired.

Funniest thing that has ever happened to you whilst running?

I’ve been chased by cows and horses when I’ve ended up in the wrong field at the wrong time. I’ve fallen over more times than I can remember, the funniest being when I decided to run after having a few drinks. The run was enjoyable if not a little slower than my usual pace…. but then I found a tree mid-run that I thought I should do a handstand up against. Don’t ask….it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Well, I totally misjudged the tree and landed on my head! Not so sure if my head hurt in the morning because of the alcohol or the fall! I have video footage as I was recording it, that will remain in my vault but occasionally I watch it just for a good laugh! For those friends who follow me on Instagram or Twitter will remember this as Rav’s Ham-Stand 😊

Most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you whilst running?

 I often need to stop for a loo break when I’m out on a long run and luckily running on trails that’s never a problem as there’s always a bush to hide in! However, once I was on a new trail, it was still a little dark and I thought where I had stopped to pee was quite shielded….. well it was …. except in my haste, I didn’t notice the dog walker who had been bent over picking up dog poo when I sat down. Poor thing, she saw a full moon that morning! Embarrassment overload! 

On average, how many miles do you run per month?

120 – 150 ish a month on average. 

Rav Yoga Pose

Do you belong to a running club?

No. Other than an online one on Twitter called Tonadoes. 

Do you do any other forms of exercise in addition to running?

I’ve been yoga since lockdown started and that’s really helped both body and mind. Recently, I’ve started a cross-fit program that consists of kettlebells, battle ropes and various lunges, squats and star jumps etc

Favourite pre-race/pre-long run meal?

99% of my runs are fasted even my long runs but recently I have been having a tablespoon of peanut butter and that seems to be ok. 

Favourite post-run meal?

When I was training for the London Marathon earlier and the longer runs were really starting to kick in, I would get to mile 13/14 and start dreaming about cheeseburgers! So it’s started to become my go-to after a 14/15 mile run. I had even asked for a few friends to bring them to the London Marathon after mile 15 so I could eat them cold whilst running! 

Do you have any superstition?

I don’t really have any superstitions, but I am heavily led by my instinct. I run on my own almost all of the time, often in remote locations or the dark. So I tend to not run on a route if something is making me feel like I shouldn’t. So far it’s worked quite well until my most recent fall when I had ignored the feeling that something was not quite right and that I should turn back. I didn’t turn back. I fell over quite badly and hurt my shoulder, hands and knees. That’s the last time I don’t listen to my inner voice!  

What is your biggest achievement sport wise?

Running wise? I’m not so sure I have achieved anything “big” as yet as my marathon is still outstanding! However, I am really surprised that I am still running every day as there have been so many close calls where I have thought that I’d have to call it a day. Having never stuck to a fitness regime before for any length of time, having run streak day 950 soon is actually quite exciting! My only other notable achievement was taking part in Virtual Race to The Stone a few weeks ago and covering 100k (63 miles) in one week! The dream would be to do this one for real over one weekend 😊

If you were granted one wish related to running, what would it be?

 Honestly, despite not being the worlds fastest runner, don’t worry Eluid Kipchoge your sub 2 attempt is safe as I’m still aiming for my half to go sub 2! I haven’t got a wish per se to be faster or better than I am. Those are earned over time but most of the places I run, I want to savour and take in so speed has less importance for me.

But if there was anything, I guess I wish I’d taken up running sooner. It’s brought so many benefits to my life but I was 37 when I first laced up.

A total make-believe one would be to have Mo Farah as my running buddy. Not because of his insane speed, he can do those runs with people who are fast runners, I just want to have a good natter. If you know me well, there were only 3 selfies I took at Madame Tussauds: Mo Farah, Usain Bolt and my one true love: Lewis Hamilton 😊

Rav

Links

Instagram: @ravbillan

Twitter: @ravbillan


This or That

Early Morning Run or Evening Run

Tea or Coffee

Winter Running or Summer Running

Solo running or Running with Friends

Road Running or Trail Running

Dog or Cat

Miles or Kilometres

Run with someone chatty or run with someone silent – Definitely chatty as I can run in silence on my own (unless I’m talking to a mate on the phone whilst I run)  

Run with no sock or run with no underwear – Running with no sports bra on is not happening so no socks! I can cope with smelly feet! 

Run a hilly 5k or flat 10k

Run a hilly 10K or flat half marathon

Run a hilly Half Marathon or Flat Marathon

Run a hilly Marathon or Flat Ultra Marathon

Run as much as you want on the treadmill or only run once a week outside. I’m a run streaker so there’s not an option to only run once a week. If we had gone into total lockdown I was fully prepped to do every run on the treadmill (just in case) ; ) However, so far, all of my run streak runs have been outside and I’m quite proud of that. I’ve battled every kind of weather system from snow and ice, to crazy wind and sideways rain and intense heat, late at night, early mornings and even the odd lunchtime run too. Each run is different and I hope I can continue to run outside for as long as I can. Treadmill runs are still great, its just a personal preference to be outside for me.     

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