Claire

Getting to know… Claire

Welcome to ‘Getting to know…’ number 15. This week we are finding more out about Claire. Like me, she is chasing the six-star finisher dream and has already run five marathons.

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.


Name

Claire Tewkesbury

Age

34

Occupation

Digital Assistant

Claire at London Marathon

How long have you been running?

Nearly 10 years! I started running towards the end of 2010 and I ran my first race in April 2011.

What made you start running?

I was living in Ireland at the time and watching the Great South Run on TV. I went to University in Portsmouth and lived there for a while after graduating so I recognised the streets they were running along and the landmarks in the background. In a moment of awe for all those people running such a long way I told my mum that, ‘I would love to do something like that’, and in saying those words my life changed forever! She was very serious when she told me that now I’d said it I needed to do it. She sat me down in front of a computer to look for a local race to train for and I never looked back! 

Why do you run now?

I find that running helps to release any anxiety I might be feeling. I have a very busy and sometimes stressful job and running helps me to relax and distress – I can work through all my problems on a long run. Before lockdown, I was running during my lunchtime at work and it really helped me to take a break and walk away from the desk for an hour. The mental health benefits of exercise are vast and I’m really interested in what running, in particular, can do for you. I do also run for achievement. I work hard in my training and I always hope for a PB on race day. I’m quite competitive with myself so I like the feeling of working towards an improvement in my running. I also love a good medal! 

What was your last event?

My last event came in the form of a relay. I took part in the Official Big Half Relay with some of my teammates from my running club. I ran leg three which was four miles and included the section that runs across Tower Bridge which I love! This was my first race after an injury which made it even better! The whole weekend was amazing. We travelled up to London early the day before the race so I could squeeze in a bit of parkrun tourism and we stayed in a hotel right beside Tower Bridge. Then after the race, we all went for a massive roast dinner! 

What is your next event?

At this point, who knows?! I’m booked in for the rescheduled Brighton 10k in September which they’re now offering in a revised format and another, local 10k in October but I’m not sure if they will go ahead. I’m hoping the Great South Run will take place but if it doesn’t I will still run it anyway as I live on the course! I’m also entered into a 7k trail race in November and a local 10k on the 20th of December so they might be my last chances at a race this year.

Favourite thing about running?

Aside from the mental health benefits that I mentioned above, I really love the travels that running has taken me on. When I started running I never dreamed that I would run in places like New York and Chicago, let alone be doing the marathons there. Running in new places is great – everyone should take their trainers on holiday or visit a parkrun or two that isn’t their local.  

Worst thing about running?

Apart from the obvious one (getting caught short mid-run!), I think it’s the post-run hunger. Those days when you’ve run a long way and you immediately want to stuff your face when you walk through the door! I also hate running in the heat. Summer running is the worst especially when it comes to things like my local parkrun as it’s on the seafront with no shade or shelter. Training through the summer for an Autumn marathon is definitely harder for me than training through the Winter/Spring for a Spring marathon!

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

Don’t worry about what other people think. Sometimes it’s easier said than done but having spent my early running years hiding behind baggy cotton t-shirts and long leggings even when it was sweltering, I wish I had cared less, worn what I felt comfortable in and just got on with it without worrying about who was looking at me. Now it’s shorts all the way – even through the winter! 

Best piece of advice given to you?

Take the good with the bad and learn something from the days where your run doesn’t go to plan. I still have those days where I have to walk or stop and take a break when my run isn’t going to plan. I used to get frustrated when I had a bad run but now I try and learn something from it and accept that I’m going to have days like that. In the same way, I would also say don’t let one bad run make you think that you’re not going to do very well on race day if you’re training for something!

Favourite race distance?

This is a hard one. I love the 10k – I’ve been trying to run sub-60 minutes for some time and I finally managed to so it recently in training but I’d love to repeat it in an official race. I’ve loved the challenge it has presented although the disappointment has been hard every time I was close but not quite under the hour (my PB is actually 1:00:00!). When I do make it I’m not sure what I’ll do with myself! I also love the marathon distance. The excitement and trepidation as a 16-week plan starts, the ups and downs of the long runs, race day itself – all part of the joys of running and training for something big. I’ve run five marathons now and the feeling of elation at crossing the finish line never changes!

Funniest thing that has ever happened to you whilst running?

Someone proposed to me while I was running the London Marathon! Well, they proposed to Wonder Woman as I was wearing the costume. Sadly, I had to tell them I was taken. The costume was great during that race for crowd interaction which really got me through the tough, hot miles. 

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

 I think it’s safe to say that most of us have experienced ‘runner’s belly’ while training. I was doing a long run and I decided the earlier the better but of course, there are no local toilets open at the crack of dawn! I ended up wandering about town until I spotted a 24-hour gym. Luckily someone was just leaving (someone else happy to work out early!) and I managed to convince them to let me in to use the gym toilet! Never been more embarrassed in my life!  

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

At the moment I’m averaging around 70-80 (although it was 40 in June because of illness). During the tail end of a marathon training cycle I could run anything upwards of 100 miles in a month. I was just starting to come back from injury at the start of 2020 so I’m happy just building back up at the moment. 

Claire action photo

Do you belong to a running club?

Yes! I’m a member of Team Project Run. TPR is a fantastic online running club and community. I joined after I ran the London Marathon in 2018 – To say it didn’t go to plan would be an understatement and I wasn’t sure I ever wanted to return to running after that day. Then I found Team Project Run and I found my love of running again through the support and backing of the whole group along with my coach Lloyd.  

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

 I do strength work during the week with body weight, a couple of kettlebells and some resistance bands. I really wanted to try better this year with keeping up with my strength work as these workouts are just as important as the running itself. I also cycle as well once or twice a week. Just before lockdown, I was worried that we would get to the point of having a ban on outdoor exercise so I upgraded my turbo trainer to make sure I had something to replace running if I needed to. Now, cycling (virtually on Zwift) on a Thursday with a great group of people, has become a part of my routine.  

Favourite pre-race/pre-long run meal?

Pasta the night before is always a winner – I was so nervous before my first marathon in Brighton that I ate dry pasta the night before for dinner! (Dry as in cooked but no sauce, not uncooked pasta – that could have been a bit crunchy!). On the morning of a long run or race, it’s got to be a bagel with a generous helping of raspberry jam. If I have time I’ll also make porridge. 

Favourite post-run meal?

Pizza or a burger every time (most likely from Domino’s or McDonald’s!). After every race one of the two has been a feature. The Domino’s we had after I ran my first marathon in Brighton was the best pizza ever! After I ran Berlin, I sat on the floor in the train station and ate McDonald’s because I was so hungry. After we finished we got so lost in there because the train station is huge so I’m glad I got that food before making our way back to the hotel!

Do you have any superstition?

 I won’t wear a race t-shirt until after I have actually completed the race. In Berlin and New York, you pick up your ‘marathoner’ or finisher t-shirt before you’ve even run anywhere. I saw loads of people wearing it around in the days leading up to the race and for me, that’s just a massive jinx! Some people were wearing them while running the race which means they were also wearing something completely new for race day which is another no go for me. 

What is your biggest achievement sport wise?

Completing the hottest London Marathon on record in 2018. I trained through the Beast from the East only to be confronted with 24-degree heat on the day of the race. I ran in a polyester Wonder Woman Costume on that day too which made it worse! I hate the heat so it took me over 6 hours to complete it – my best marathon time at that point was 5:37 in Berlin. I was hoping to come in under 5:30 in London so it was a huge disappointment at the time. Looking back on it, I’m just proud that I kept going and crossed that finish line.

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

 Entries into the Boston and Tokyo marathons. I’ve already run Berlin, London, Chicago and New York so I’m two-thirds of the way to completing the World Marathon Majors. This year has thrown my plans off a little as I was hoping to run Tokyo 2021 and I’m not sure that will happen now. 


Links

Instagram: @clairesmarathonmusings

Blog: clairesmarathonmusings.wordpress.com.

Twitter: @clairetewkes



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 -I’m used to silence as I run on my own so if I was going to run with someone it would be nice to have something different. 

Run with no sock or run with no underwear I really don’t think I could go without socks! 

Run a hilly 5k or flat 10k I live in Portsmouth which is really flat so it might be nice to mix it up and do a short, challenging run.

Run a hilly 10K or flat half marathon If you stick as closely to the shoreline in Portsmouth as possible, you can run an entire half marathon and end up what you started.  

Run a hilly Half Marathon or Flat Marathon The Chicago Marathon was one of my best experiences and that’s entirely flat. 

Run a hilly Marathon or Flat Ultra Marathon Marathon distance again – The New York Marathon is quite hilly especially with all the bridges and I would love to do that again! 

Run as much as you want on the treadmill or only run once a week outside.   This is a hard one! I think I’m going to go with running outside once a week. I don’t dislike the treadmill but I would only use it if I had to as running outside is much more scenic. I would just have to make sure that the one session is good quality! 

Getting to know… Emma

Welcome to ‘Getting to know…’ number 14 . This week we have another Emma, it seems to be a popular name in the running world (ok maybe in my small circle of people that I follow on Instagram!)

Enjoy reading all about Emma and remember to get in contact if you fancy taking part. Also, if you have missed any of the previous interviews, you can find them here.


Name

Emma Neachell

Age

41

Occupation

Hydrology Technical Specialist

Action photo of Emma

How long have you been running?

Since primary school so for over 30 years! I’ve always been a keen runner; PE lessons were the highlight of my school week. While my friends dreaded double-games on a Thursday, I looked forward to the 800m and 1500m in the summer and cross country in the winter.

What made you start running?

 I can’t remember a time when I haven’t been a runner. I stopped running for the 12 months I was a Masters student at Leeds University but started again when I realised I was getting a little cuddly. 

Why do you run now?

Running gives me a sense of freedom and also a huge sense of satisfaction. Running has also introduced me to some amazing people and I’ve made some lifelong friends through running. 

What was your last event?

I was one of the tail walkers at the last Sutton Park parkrun to take place before Covid-19 resulted in the cancellation of parkrun globally. My last organised event was the Shenstone Fun Run in July 2019. 

What is your next event?

  All of the races I’d entered have been either cancelled or postponed; I don’t have anything left in my 2020 race calendar. As I’m currently dealing with a knee injury I’m treating this as a positive rather than a negative. I don’t have any dates for 2021 events yet.

Favourite thing about running?

Getting to explore new places and to meet new people. I’ll never forget the National Lottery Anniversary Run in 2013 and running in the Olympic Stadium, it was a truly amazing experience, one I doubt I’ll be able to replicate. 

Worst thing about running?

Running injuries, I’d describe myself as a rather injury-prone runner and have lost count of the number of times I’ve been injured. 

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

I’m going to be quite boring and say invest in a decent pair of running shoes and a sports bra (obviously only if you are a female!), the more expensive running gear and accessories can wait until you’ve decided that running is for you. Have fun and follow the Couch to 5k, it works (sorry that’s more than one piece of advice) 

Best piece of advice given to you?

You don’t have to run a marathon but if you do want to run a marathon, make sure you respect the distance and train accordingly. 

Favourite race distance?

I’m going to go with the half marathon distance. 

Funniest thing that has ever happened to you whilst running?

 I’m 6ft tall, don’t always pay attention when I’m running so I’ve run into a few tree branches. It’s always a little embarrassing when someone witnesses this happening.

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

 I very nearly did a ‘Paula’ during one of my long training runs, I was five miles from home in a residential area and started to panic as I knew I wouldn’t make it home. Let’s just say it’s a good job my teacher hadn’t moved house and was happy to let me use her facilities. I hadn’t seen this teacher in years so it’s also a good job she recognized me. 

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

It varies massively between zero and 60 miles.

Getting to know Emma Action photo

Do you belong to a running club?

Yes, I recently rejoined my local running club; Royal Sutton Coldfield AC. I’m also hoping to take part in some runs with GoodGym in Birmingham when life returns to some sort of normality. 

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

  I treated myself to an exercise bike last year and was spending 30 minutes a day pretending to cycle around Lake Garda until I injured my knee.  

Favourite pre-race/pre-long run meal?

I’m not good at eating early in the morning so I tend to make sure I eat a large portion of Spaghetti Bolognese the evening before a race/long run.

Favourite post-run meal?

I think it depends on the distance but I do enjoy a post-parkrun bacon sandwich. 

Do you have any superstition?

 I always make sure I put on my right trainer first. I also have a favourite pair of shorts I save for races.

What is your biggest achievement sport wise?

The 2018 Royal Parks Half Marathon. Although the weather was terrible and I completely misjudged my pacing, I loved every minute of the race. More importantly, I raised over £1000 for the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity.

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

 That I could continue to run into middle and old age without picking up any more running injuries.


Links

Instagram: @thephdrunner

Blog: The PHD Runner

Twitter: The PHD Runner



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

Run with no sock or run with no underwear

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.  (if I had space (and money!) I’d buy a treadmill

Emma Pond

Getting to know…Emma

Welcome to ‘Getting to know…’ number 13. This week we are lucky enough to be getting to know more about Emma. She has had to work really hard to even be able to run, what an inspiration.

Remember, if you have missed any of the previous interviews, check them out here. If you would like to be featured in one of these interviews, please get in touch. It doesn’t matter how far or fast you are, these interviews are to celebrate ALL runners.


Name

Emma Pond

Age

32

Occupation

Senior Clinical Trial Coordinator

Emma with her finishers medal after the Big Half

How long have you been running?

I had been on and off running from 2011, but only really got into running (more frequently than a few times a year) in late 2017. 

What made you start running?

I don’t really enjoy gyms and I’m an absolutely terrible swimmer. Running seemed like my only option for exercise when I first started back in 2011!

Why do you run now?

Because I really enjoy it. It’s brought me friends, parkrun tourism, trails and adventures in cities I’ve not been too before (I usually travel a lot for work). Actual running is a small part of running really!

What was your last event?

The Official Big Half Relay – I ran 5k from Tower of London to Canary Wharf, it was a great event. I only signed up last minute, but it’s ended up being my only event of 2020 and I’m glad because the atmosphere was amazing. I have some really fond memories of that day! 

What is your next event?

Who knows?! Potentially Manchester Marathon next April, but obviously depends on the whole situation. Next year I also have plans for Race to the Tower Ultra and Snowdonia Marathon Eyri. Out of all of them, I actually want the ultra to happen more, I’ve really gotten into trail adventures in the last year or so!

Favourite thing about running?

Adventures! I’m a huge fan of trail running, and I love a run that takes me to new places. When you’re exploring, the miles tick off without you really noticing.

Worst thing about running?

Awkward weather days, especially in spring – it’s always such a pain finding kit to wear. You end up being too warm or cold, not ideal!

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

Your journey is yours. Everyone’s path to becoming a runner is different, so try not to compare yourself to where someone else is on their journey to where you are on yours.

Best piece of advice given to you?

Set an intention for your runs. Even if it is ‘just to get around’ and if you’re struggling, turn your focus to your intention to take your mind off things. 

Favourite race distance?

10 miles.

The funniest thing that has ever happened to you whilst running?

It wasn’t really funny at the time, but in hindsight, we do have a giggle about this now. My partner and I were on a trail run and he was following me. For reference, I am 5ft 2 and he is 6ft 2. I was happily running along and all of a sudden, I heard a loud crash and a groan. Turns out he was too focused on me and ran headfirst into a branch because he hadn’t clocked it. The smallest cuts often give rise to the most blood!! We weren’t far from the car at the time, so it wasn’t too bad. But now he usually runs upfront…

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

There’s nothing quite like having an awkward sports bra moment in a place you think is pretty quiet…

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

Between 60 and 90.

Emma exploring more trails.

Do you belong to a running club?

Sadly not. I have run with a running ‘crew’ in Birmingham (I work there, live further away) but it’s impossible for me now to run with them even with restrictions lifting. It seems a bit absurd to catch a train to go run with people. The club I’d love to join where I live is too far from my house for me to get too (we only have one car and my partner uses it for commuting).

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

 I do yoga and recently took up power walking when I had a (thankfully brief) injury. I’ve also taken up a lot more strength work now I have no commute and a bit more time! Hopefully, I’ll keep it up after this… I’m also a keen hiker and winter mountaineer, spending at least 2 of my holidays of the year on mountains.

Favourite pre-race/pre-long run meal?

Bowl of cereal, a slice of toast and a cup of tea.

Favourite post-run meal?

Burgers with masses of chips and ALL the beer.

Do you have any superstition?

Not when it comes to running.

What is your biggest achievement sport wise?

It’s cheesy but running! I was diagnosed at 18 with rheumatoid arthritis and almost overnight lost the ability to walk. It took a lot of work to get where I am, so I genuinely am proud to even just be able to run. Although this year I did have marathon plans and reached 17 miles before they cancelled my marathon. I genuinely never thought a marathon was doable, so I’m really proud of myself for that. It’s reassuring for moving to ultras next year!

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

 That I had a hot tub for recovery.


Links

Instagram: @misspondruns

Twitter: @misspond

Blog: misspond.com


This or That

Early Morning Run or Evening Run

Tea or Coffee

Winter Running or Summer Running AUTUMN

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

Run with no sock or run with no underwear

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. (Treadmills are evil!)

Alexandra

Getting to know… Alexandra

Welcome to ‘Getting to know…’ number 12. I am excited to be sharing this post, as I got to know Alexandra through Instagram and she is amazing. I originally started following her as her Instagram is Lexielovestorun and my daughter is called Lexie, so why wouldn’t I? haha Then I realised what an amazing runner she is, and so inspiring.

We have been chatting via DM’s for a while now and we thought that we were finally going to meet at Endure 24 this year, but then COVID happened! Hopefully, meeting IRL will happen soon!

If you have missed any of the previous interviews, you can find them here.


Name

Alexandra

Age

38

Occupation

Teacher

Alexandra at Boston Marathon

How long have you been running?

Since January 2013 so just over 7 years.

What made you start running?

I left my job as a Chemistry Teacher to follow my serving military husband to a posting in the USA.  I’d just turned 31 and having largely coasted through my 20’s doing not a whole lot and being warned that “when you move to America you should be careful you don’t get fat” [insert retrospective eyeroll] I decided I needed to get a little fitter. So when I saw literally LOADS of people running past the window of my new home, I wondered what all the fuss was about. I suppose I was influenced by that without even realising it, but at the time I felt like I literally rolled out of bed one day and decided I’d go for a run.

So I looked up a loop route from my front door. I did a mini google search for how to start running. I decided to follow a beginner to 30-minute plan I found from, I think, Runners World that I hand-copied out (and still have) It started with 1 minute run 1-minute walk. I had no idea how far or how fast I could go so just decided to do that on this 3.5-mile loop.

Why do you run now?

I fell in love with running pretty quickly and though it has definitely broken my heart a few times (and I’m sure may do again) I can’t go a day without thinking about it. It is now a HUGE part of who I am. I hope I can run until the day I die!

My why changes. It can range from wanting to challenge myself, to seek out a new PR or push my limits, to needing therapeutic time to clear my mind, to give me peace and time to think alone to or enjoy time with friends who love it too. I LOVE the running community and have even found some of my closest friends through it. I have extended my family with people that I would have never met had I not found running. That’s pretty special if you ask me.

What was your last event?

Snowdonia Marathon

What is your next event?

 Who knows!! But next thing on the schedule until it’s cancelled is Loch Ness Marathon on October 4th.

Favourite thing about running?

Running has been the vehicle through which I found myself. I grew into my own skin and fell in love with that same skin and just being me. It taught me I am stronger and more capable than I ever realised, or would give myself credit for. Also that I have only scratched the surface of what I can do. It continually reminds me to be brave, to take chances and love life. Whether or not my children appreciate it now, I love that it reignited a zest for the outdoors and taking every opportunity to share that with them.

Oh and I also just LOVE the process of training… love love love it!

Worst thing about running?

Is there such a thing? Except maybe pooping yourself! 

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

You vs You!  Ultimately, you must ALWAYS follow your own path, and I REALLY mean that. Don’t pay lip service to it, REALLY seek what sets YOUR soul on fire and celebrate all the milestones along the way. Nobody else REALLY cares, so YOU need to.

Best piece of advice given to you?

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.

Favourite race distance?

The marathon has my heart

Funniest thing that has ever happened to you whilst running?

I once ran a marathon in Pennsylvania in 97% humidity and 28/29C at the finish line. Oh MY GOD, that was a rough one! I was wearing a pad in my shorts. It was SO hot that I was throwing water over my head to keep me cool at each of the aid stations. I was also wearing a new belt to hold my phone and wasn’t 100% sure if it was waterproof so when throwing the water and running I was aiming the water down my back and ultimately into my shorts.

The pad got so full of water I hadn’t realised until it got so full of water it was basically a nappy (this is so embarrassing but too funny not to share)… at about 20 miles I realised it had got so heavy it had started to move and shake until it was threatening to fall out of my shorts altogether!!  Just as it was about to fall out, I managed to grab it and fling it in a nearby and oh my thank god luckily timed bin on the side of the street. (thankfully it was a quiet part of the course with not many spectators around) – I’m not sure if anyone saw me combat grab it and fling.

I was pretty proud of my quick thinking as I was dying in the heat. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud! Nobody ever said this marathon running lark was pretty right!

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

I think the above counts for this one too!

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

When I’m training 220 – 300 miles depending on the season and but when I’m not training I hover around 160-180 miles mark.

Alexandra running

Do you belong to a running club?

Yes – Windle Valley Runners.

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

 Yes, I strength train 2 or 3 times per week. Cycle (I try for once a week but that’s the discipline I struggle to get in around the family at the moment) and I swim regularly. At the moment 2/3 x per week open water in the nearby lakes.

Favourite pre-race/pre-long run meal?

Rice and salmon evening before a long run/ race and I like oatmeal made with hot water the morning of.

Favourite post-run meal?

Banana, a latte and then often have something like a juicy burger!

Do you have any superstition?

Nope, but I do like routine.

What is your biggest achievement sport wise?

I’m really proud that I coached myself from a 4.05 marathon to a 3:14 marathon and that it came from my own sheer hard work, drive, research, dedication and commitment. But during the process, I also lost myself a little for a while and began to rate my success and how I felt about myself to the time on the clock.

There’s a fine line between passion and poison but through a lot effort, soul searching, reading and listening to some wise people, I think I’m proudest of overcoming that and being happy to do what I can, with what I have, where I am. That’s all we CAN do and it should ALWAYS be enough.

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

 To be able to run forever.


Links

Instagram: @lexielovestorun


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

Run with no sock or run with no underwear

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. You KNOW my answer is going to be run ALL the miles on the treadmill! I can’t wait to get back to training on one at least sometimes!

Brooklyn Bridge

Getting to know… Neil

Welcome to ‘Getting to know…’ number 11. Apologises for the break last week, but we are back!

I had noticed that these runners interviews were very female led, so there is no-one better to kick off the male interview than with Neil.

Myself and Neil started following each other on social media in the lead up to the New York Marathon 2017 as we were both training for that event. We managed to meet prior to the race. I now love telling everyone that my friend Neil is in the movie Brittany Runs a Marathon, as they filmed the race day during the 2017 race and Neil made it into one of the scenes! How cool is that!

If you have missed any of the previous interviews, you can find them here.


Name

Neil Howell

Age

50

Occupation

Staying Alive


Finisher photo NYC Marathon

How long have you been running?

I started running in 2003. My first running event was the Run Liverpool L1310K in October of that year. I completed my first ever half marathon.

What made you start running?

I hope the truly inspirational and legendary former British boxer Michael Watson accountable for why I started running. Mr Watson almost died after a fight with Chris Eubank in 1991. He spent 40 days in a coma and had six operations to remove a near-fatal blood clot. He spent six years in a wheelchair. Against all the odds, on 19th April 2003, Mr Watson completed the London Marathon by walking two hours each morning and afternoon for six days. It was after watching this man perform the most incredible miracle, I realised that anything can be achieved if you put your mind to it.

Why do you run now?

I run now to keep my mental health stable. I have had a few battles with MH issues over the last few years and it has stopped me from doing a lot of things that I once enjoyed. Running means that I go out in the fresh air, clear my head and enjoy the tranquillity of listening to nature rather than the thoughts that used to rent space in my head.

What was your last event?

My last event was the Pontefract 10k in March this year. Whilst I completed the race, it didn’t leave me any fond memories.

What is your next event?

  Due to current climate and events being postponed or cancelled, I’m taking part in a few virtual events and I’m planning to take part in a marathon in November, God willing that it still goes ahead.

Favourite thing about running?

It allows me the freedom to be outside and away from regular everyday life for a few miles or a couple of hours. Oh, and cake. Preferably chocolate cake if you don’t mind.

Worst thing about running?

When I think that I’m having a bad run and the motivation to keep going devalues and a sudden loss of interest takes over. That can be hard to deal with.

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

Don’t compare yourself to the man or woman who comes flying past and leaves you choking on their dust. For sure you want to be good and you will be, in your own time as you progress.

Best piece of advice given to you?

Unless you are under the instruction of a coach, don’t let anyone ever tell you that you are not good enough. Do it in a way that suits you best.

Favourite race distance?

For me personally, it has to be 13.1. It is no lesser of an achievement, for me, it is much more manageable now than the full marathon distance.

Funniest thing that has ever happened to you whilst running?

The 2004 Walt Disney World Marathon, Florida springs to mind. Anyone who has done it knows that all the Disney characters come out to play. At mile 21 my head was fuzzy and spinning faster than a funfair waltzer, I ran straight into Minnie Mouse, floored her and ended up on top of her in a rather uncompromising position.

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

Central Park, Manhattan and 800 metres away from the finish line of the 2017 TCS New York City Marathon. I had nothing left to give, I was almost on my knees and feeling sick as a dog. I pulled up and grabbed hold of some railings and was violently sick on the ground…or so I thought. It turned out that I was on a pair of shoes being worn by a female officer from the NYPD. Luckily she let me off with that.

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

I always aim for 35/40 miles per month.

Neil

Do you belong to a running club?

No, I never have done.

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

 I do enjoy a nice long walk. I recently joined a fitness centre but it was temporarily closed down 5 days later due to the pandemic.

Favourite pre-race/pre-long run meal?

Two slices of toast, a bowl of cornflakes and a banana.

Favourite post-run meal?

Fish and chips or chicken and bacon pasta.

Do you have any superstition?

I can’t start a run until I have listened to a song called ‘Things Will Go My Way’ by The Calling.

What is your biggest achievement sport wise?

Without a doubt, my biggest achievement would be taking part in the 2017 TCS New York City Marathon. Earlier in the year, I had spent a few weeks in a mental health clinic and the thought of going to New York let alone run a marathon was never meant to happen.

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

 If I could complete a marathon and not feel like my legs have been detached from my body afterwards, that would be most appreciated.


Links

Instagram: @neil2411howell

Twitter:@NeilHowell20


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

Run with no sock or run with no underwear

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. Actually the response was hell no to a treadmill

Lana at London Expo

Getting to know… Lana

Welcome to ‘Getting to know…’ number 10. This week you can find out all about Lana. Lana is one of the super positive runners that I follow on Instagram. She works hard to achieve speedy times and manages to still look glamorous in race photos!

If you have missed any of the previous interviews, you can find them here.


Name

Lana Milne

Age

37

Occupation

Full-time Mummy

Lana

How long have you been running?

7 years with a three-year gap in the middle to have babies.

What made you start running?

I entered VLM 2014 on a whim – I wanted to raise money for Cure Parkinsons Trust (my uncle has Parkinson’s Disease), and as a non-runner knew lots of people would donate if I said I was going to attempt a marathon. Never in a million years did I think I would get in with my first attempt.

Why do you run now?

I fell in love with running whilst training for the marathon. I really didn’t enjoy the first few months, but over time something changed and now it is my release. My alone time and my true passion. I am no good at ‘stopping’ or having time out for me, running has allowed me that. I love the freedom of it, and I love exploring new places. The buzz after a great run is addictive.

What was your last event?

Cambridge half marathon on March 3rd. I got a PB of 1hr 42.04 and was over the moon – I was training for a Marathon and genuinely never believed I could do that kind of time. It’s definitely boosted my confidence to try and push beyond my comfort zone (I have always had the fear of running faster!)

What is your next event?

 It was meant to be VLM2020 – yes I managed to get in on the ballot again haha!

Favourite thing about running?

I can do it practically anywhere, anytime, as long as I have my trainers.

Worst thing about running?

Getting injured. I have only been injured once before, but currently nursing a poorly knee and although I am meant to run on it to help it heal, it’s not fun at the moment!

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

Don’t worry about your pace. Focus on slowing down because I guarantee, however “slow” you think you are going, you would be able to run for a bit longer if you slowed down more.

Best piece of advice given to you?

Focus on the mile you’re in (I used this in Cambridge half when I questioned finishing at all at mile 7!)

Favourite race distance?

Marathon or ultra. I am definitely mentally more suited to running longer (and slower). I have recently done better across the shorter distances but definitely find the mental battle and the pushing hard from the start difficult.

Funniest thing that has ever happened to you whilst running?

I have seen more than I wished for when passing a man running in just a mankini and flipflops

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

I was running 45 miles on the North Chiltern Trail with some friends as one of my first Ultra distances, in preparation for London to Brighton (furthest I had covered before then was 30 miles). Halfway we stopped at the car to grab some food and water – and I munched on a whole bag of Hula hoops. As soon as we started again I felt so ill, a lump in my throat, I couldn’t run a step without feeling awful. I felt so bad I made my friends go ahead and told them I’d catch them up. I proceeded to vomit into the bush, then made my way off again! Thankfully, I was fine after that but it certainly taught me a lesson on fuelling for long runs.

I also got caught giving an 8(ish) year old lad the dirtiest look mid-way through my second marathon. He had the audacity to shout “keep going your lost there” (I was not). Little did I know there was a photographer snapping away!

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

Before my injury I was averaging about 150 a month – it was increasing with the build and dropped to about 120/130 in lockdown!

Lana London Marathon

Do you belong to a running club?

 I am a member of Running Colchester, though I have never actually met with them for a run! I love being on their Facebook page and they are currently doing lots of challenges to keep everyone focused. I am a bit of a lone runner really and like to train by myself most of the time.

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

I do one or two strength and conditioning sessions a week (and had a regular PT prior to lockdown). I have also just started using the turbo trainer and am using these bike sessions to compliment my training whilst my knee starts to improve.

Favourite pre-race/pre-long run meal?

Pre long runs, I don’t tend to think about it really, but pre-race I have started to eat Pizza. I am not a massive Pizza fan but I did it once, it worked, and I have kind of stuck with it!

Favourite post-run meal?

Curry and a large glass of red!

Do you have any superstition?

I guess the pizza-eating could be classed as one?!!. Honestly, I don’t really have superstitions, but I am very much someone who likes to have everything prepared the day before the race. It’s all in the preparation

What is your biggest achievement sport wise?

Winning an out and back 6 hr timed event last year. I had aimed to just do about 20 miles and run for a few hours as part of my training – I ended up doing almost 33 miles in 5hr 21 and was the person to run the furthest. I think its the first and only times I will win anything running and it took me a while to really appreciate that I should be proud of myself.

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

 To never be injured again!



Links

Instagram: @scrimpledore


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

Run with no sock or run with no underwear

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.