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.
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.
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.
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!