Welcome to my guide to running. Whether you want to learn how to get started or – like me – you’re always looking for tips on how to get faster, I hope my book helps you achieve your goals.
Running is my passion, it’s more than just a hobby. As a busy mum of two, it’s my stress relief and my favourite way to unwind. I’ve always loved the feeling exercise gives me. It makes me feel alive, energised and more confident. It also means I enjoy my food more and I don’t feel guilty about having treats like chocolate!
Exercise has become a way of life for me and I couldn’t live without it. Growing up in Leeds, Yorkshire, I was always sporty. At school I was on the netball team and tried karate for a while. I loved being active and trying new things but I was never particularly good at, or interested in, running at this time. Like many people, i think not being great at running whilst at school made me reluctant to try it when I was older. So instead throughout my twenties when I was working as a model, I kept fit at the gym and did workouts like those seen on my Peak Energy fitness DVDs. I would run on the treadmill or go for the odd run around the park, but it wasn’t until I signed up for the London Marathon in 2004 that I started to take running more seriously – and I haven’t looked back. It turns out I was much better at it than I thought! I was 30 then and ran my personal best (PB) time of 2 hours 54 minutes when I was 38. I achieved all my other PBs that year too (18 minutes 43 seconds for 5k, 29 minutes and 21 seconds for 5 miles, 36 minutes and 54 seconds for 10k and 1 hour and 21 minutes for the half marathon). So it just goes to show, it’s never too late to start or to improve. I’m now in my forties and I still believe I can run faster. I love the challenge of pushing myself to see what I can do.
Anyone who already has the running bug will know how fun and addictive it can be but it’s not always easy to get started, or to stay motivated. So I hope by sharing my passion for the sport, and what I’ve learnt along the way, can give you some support, encouragement and inspiration.
Since June 2012, I have enjoyed writing a monthly column for Women’s Running magazine outlining how I combine motherhood and training. I’ve always wanted to write a book and I’m delighted to finally put ‘pen to paper’ after joining forces with journalist Lucy Waterlow, a fellow running devotee. Lucy has interviewed me a number of times over the years and we bonded over our love of running and racing. This illustrates something else I love about the sport – no matter what your background or ability, you can always make friends through running. I love hearing about other people’s running experiences which is why I’ve included stories from Lucy and a number of runners in the book, alongside my own experiences and tips. I have been privileged to meet some of the best athletes, coaches, personal trainers and physiotherapists through keeping fit over the years and I have included some of their expertise here too.
So what else can you expect from my guide to running? Well, in the first chapter, you’ll find advice on how you can get started and a 5k training plan for beginners. You don’t have to jump in the deep end and run a marathon straight away. There are plenty of 5k and 10k races on offer around the country every weekend so why not target one of those to get you going. The second chapter is all about how to add variety to your training to keep you interested, and how to get fitter and faster. There’s information on the variety of races you can do, and how to prepare for your perfect race and run a PB.
Dealing with an injury can sometimes be part of running so I’ve included a chapter with advice on how to avoid injury and how to deal with it should something happen. I love my food and aim to eat healthily as I’m aware how important nutrition is to running well. So information on the best foods to complement your training, along with an insight into my daily diet, is provided in the Food For Fuel chapter. Then there’s a whole section Just For Women, covering topics such as dealing with your time of the month, how to keep running while pregnant (should you want to) and how to ease back into exercise safely after having a baby. Men are of course still welcome to read this section – it might help you understand what we’re going through!
Finally, if it’s the marathon you’re targeting, then chapter six is for you. There’s information on taking on the challenge of 26.2 miles, with race day tips and how I managed to achieve my aim of running a sub-three hour time. There’s also a number of inspirational stories from a variety of runners who explain what tackling the long distance meant for them. At the end of the book, you’ll find a pace chart and various training schedules for beginners to more experienced runners.
The running community is growing rapidly and I hope this book will encourage even more people to become part of it by running regularly. No matter what your age, background, gender or ability, running can be enjoyed by all.