Just do it!

Just do it!

Just do it!

When you stand at the start line of any long distance race there is a moment when the nerves subside, you stop laughing and joking with the people around you and your mind focusses for just a short time at the task which lies ahead.

You realise in a flash that this is all about you. It’s not the conscious you, or even the unconscious you talking…somehow its the higher level version of yourself…the place that as humans we so rarely go to…it’s reaching out and daring you to be the best version of yourself.

For some athletes this moment happens later on in the race, when they feel like they are flying, like its effortless, like they were born to do this. Some might call this being in the Zone, others might call it being in Flow…I simply call it being in the Know…

The knowing that is of your WHY!!!

My “Why” is very simple…I just don’t want to be rubbish at life. I don’t want to waste the opportunity I have been given to live a life full of adventure and possibility. I want to inspire my son to believe that perhaps he too could do something incredible, challenge the perception that only awesome people do awesome things…no quite often its the rather ordinary folk that do the most remarkable of things…and this is so evident in the case of ultra marathon running.

I don’t think you ever start a marathon completely and absolutely prepared, confident that you are going to smash it, there’s always something you could have done better, a session you could have pushed harder at, or a nutritional tweak you never quite got round to, but that is exactly how life is and if you wait for the perfect conditions to attempt the goals you set for yourself you would never get anywhere.

So many of us have big dreams that we put on hold while dealing with the crap that is life, oh we’ll wait until we are slimmer, richer, less busy, more confident…we will wait until the children have gone to school, or we have a more stable job…STOP… just do it.

Sign up and just get on with moving towards your big fat stupid goal each day, starting from today you fools.

I know its said often and by others far more qualified than me, but facing your fears and doing it as publicly as running a marathon is a sure fast way to grow in a way you never dreamed possible…the miles of training will do things to your mind that you never imagined, and your body might change a bit in the process too.

I am often asked, “How did you overcome your fears? How did you stop being afraid?” The simple answer is that I didn’t. I don’t think I have ever stopped being afraid of things – but what I did was stop letting my fear stop me. I decided it was okay for me to feel the fear, because frankly I couldn’t stop from feeling it, but I was going to do whatever needed to be done anyway. Once I decided to acknowledge I was going to press forward in spite of my fears, it was like a huge stumbling block was suddenly removed from my path.

Whenever things are tough for me I have stopped asking “What’s the worst that could happen” and instead ask “What’s the absolute best outcome, and how will that make me feel”…

Fear is the sensation that shows me I am heading in the right direction, it shows me that whatever it is I am heading for is worth the time and energy I am putting into it, even if it does feel challenging and uncomfortable.

Knowing that I have been able to cart a body that was not supposed to run following my accident with thousands of people watching me on the TV screens, on the trails and road, with the real possibility of public humiliation…kind of makes me feel like I can do anything…

Be brave and run well my friends…the finish line is closer than you might think.




‘Courage doesn’t always roar, courage is the quiet voice saying that I will try again tomorrow’

Runners are a dedicated bunch: they’ll run in the pouring rain, when it’s below freezing and when it’s blazing hot. They often feel that they need to run even when they’re injured or feeling under the weather. They don’t want to miss a single run and think that they need to be tough and “train through” the discomfort. More often than not, though, training when you’re not feeling well is counter-productive.

Leading up to the Llyn Ultra, training post the 3 Peaks Yacht Race had been frustrating. When I was out running I had been feeling as if I was wearing an invisible 15kg weight vest. i felt slow, I struggled to keep up with my running friends and I blamed it on not training enough, not being dedicated enough and as a result I had been unmotivated and disappointed about that, as if somebody had put the brakes on. Was I slipping slowly away from the world of ultra running? Was I falling out of love with this sport? Unfortunately, I had not the most ideal training preparation for this event. There were good training days and bad – more bad days if I’m completely honest. Trying to fit in training with a busy working life was quite difficult and was a challenge in itself – as I’m sure many would agree.

Was I ready for this challenge? I honestly did not know. I had 2 months left of training before tackling 150 miles 10,000 metres elevation in 3 days.

I needed to change my training or bring something fresh into it or do something because at that time, I felt I was going backwards.

When I feel unmotivated I make a point of running extra sessions with friends. Most weeks I go out and do my long runs on my own, give or take a few times when I arrange to meet a friend for a run. However over the summer of 2017, the thought of getting out there for long 3 hours + back-to-back runs was looming over me. Every session was a struggle I just wanted to be back in the comfort of my home with my baby. I have run thousands of miles on my own but recently I was dreading the physical challenge before me and honestly couldn’t wait until it was over.

So I decided to arrange to meet my running friends and we’d immediately disregarded all complaints and decided on what would be next on the agenda – which race we’d sign up for next. Because after any run — whether it’s 10 minutes or three hours — I felt incredibly energetic and optimistic having spent the last mins or hours in company of friends and strangers who happened to run. I started to enjoy my running again.

Running, more so than any other workout I do, makes me feel really accomplished, since it’s only you and your mind once you start.

But sometimes you need to make that initial meeting when you’re feeling the blues because having a running buddy there by your side is just the thing you need to keep you from stopping and giving up. By making arrangements it also forces me to get up at 5am to get those miles in as I prefer to get the long runs completed before my day starts.

Gone are the days where I just could head out to run with no idea of how long or far I’d be out. I’ve now, as a mother, been forced to get smarter with my running. I’m no longer able to waste my time running “empty” miles. Now, each mile has to have a purpose. And the drive sometimes? To get home asap so as to get a good warm ‘cwtsh’ / cuddle from my little boy on my return

I feel very lucky to have met the people I have through running, and truly have made some of the best friends through a love of this crazy sport. I am certain that this is true for many runners out there, I see it in photos, at races, through stories. This got me thinking as to why, what is it that allows us to have such great relationships?

For me one of the amazing things that happens when people meet for a run is everything gets left behind, your background, your job, your age, your gender. None of it is relevant. Running is an open sport for everyone, it doesn’t matter if you have a lot or a little bit of money, whether you have a university qualification or left school at 16, all you need is a pair of trainers & a passion for running. This alone encourages us to speak to people we might not normally, it breaks down any perceived social barriers. We are all the same at the start of a run.

Running is such a simple act, but it’s very dynamic and complex as well. One, I love the freedom of just getting away from things, putting on a pair of shoes and just busting it out. I love the physicality of it. Some of the challenges I take on, recently I ran a 50-mile foot race on trails, just the grittiness of it—it’s kind of a self-confrontation if you will, it’s pushing past your perceived limitations and persevering. And I like that in a challenge.

I have tough days as well. But those are the days that teach you to be brave.

What motivates you to run?

What motivates you to run?

What motivates you to run?

‘You’ll never be able to run properly again’ said the surgeon after I shattered my knee, broke my tibia, fibia, ligaments and cartilage after a sporting accident when I was 18 years old.

Consistently doing what you need to do to succeed, with total focus and resolve, is incredibly difficult. And that’s why the ability to work hard and respond positively to failure and adversity is so crucial.

I was a clumsy child, always falling with lifelong scars to remind myself of this trait. However, I’d never had a life changing injury before.

“Don’t expect be able to go back to doing what you used to do before” they reminded me.

Those words still resonate made me the runner I am today. It’s odd how sometimes, some of the most frustrating, scary and painful episodes during life end up being the moments that hold you into the person you are today

I was getting my plaster cast off for the first time in 3 months. I had a wheelchair waiting for me to carry me out of the hospital. I had shattered my knee and bones in a sporting accident.

Those words still resonate in my head. They still linger there, and when times are tough, I bring them out of that little Pandora’s box and use it to motivate me during the tough times. I believe if I hadn’t had that accident as a 18 year old, and if that surgeon had not told me this words, I would not have had the hunger to go out to prove to myself that what he said, would not come true.  Without his indirect, unintentional motivational speech, I would never have raced in some of the toughest, most gruelling and extreme endurance races in the world. So, thank you.

My parents say I was a determined one even on the day I was born. I think that stubborn, sometime dogged, determination made me into the person I am today.

I was always wandering off, on a sear for adventure even when a toddler. I fell out of trees, rocks, climbing frames – always looking to push my boundaries. If I saw a sand dune, I’d have this urge to conquer that massive mountain (ss it seemed to a tiny toddler). Often, my adventures would result in a fall, a cut or a bruise. I would swallow the tears before they’d arrive in my eye and tell myself that this was just the result of my epic adventure. I’d walk back home, usually fearing the row I’d be having from my parents when they’d see the sight of me. I’d ignore the blood on my knees or the throbbing pain on my arm and would just concentrate on putting on foot in front of another. Yes, I was that child and still have the scars to prove it. I was pushing personal boundaries even then – always looking for adventure around every corner. My parents even to this day, have somehow dealt well with my fearless attitude. Prior to mobile phones and emails, I remember once, phoning them fora phone box in New Zealand.

‘Hi there. How are you? Right, don’t be angry and you don’t need to worry because I’m ok. I’ve been learning how to jump out of a plane and I’m now a qualified sky-diver!’

I am now a mother to a busy toddler who never seems to stop running. Seeing the smile on his face as he tilts his head up and stretches his legs and arms as if he is in a 100 mile sprint reminds me of myself and of the reasons why I feel the need to run. As we get carried away with GPS, PB’s SB’s, WR etc, Sometime we forget the reasons why we run. 

With my son, we’re chasing dinosaurs. They have hiding spots and caves and they are really adept at sneaking past you and going the other way so you have to turn around and chase them all over again.

Whatever keeps you going. While my go to might be visualizing a race I’m training for, the toddler’s mental trick is to chase dinosaurs. Imagination is a beautiful thing when it comes to finding motivation on the run.

I have loads of different reasons why I do what I do.

But mainly because It’s my passion. That is, for me, the thing that keeps me going when Ive used all other motivation.

I just, quite simply, enjoy running. It what makes me feel like me. It’s integral, an innate feeling It is in my blood.

So when you’re struggling to find motivation, dig deep and remind yourself why YOU run?

Running post-pregnancy

Running post-pregnancy

Running Post-Pregnancy

In the Summer of 2014 I stopped running all together.

I was three months of pregnancy with my first child. I was 41 years old. I was told by the experts that I could run, but I was so full of fear that something would go wrong I decided against it. And once we passed 3 months, with the consultant’s permission and blessing, I put my trainers back on and took to the trails close to home. If the mother is happy, then the baby will be too he told me.

For the first time in years, I took my GPS watch off and went out running.

Back when I started running in the mid 1980’s, GPS watches weren’t around. My running equipment was a yellow walkman and these ridiculously videos and flimsy headphone that would keep slipping off my head while I played the latest Top 40 recorded off the Radio. During secondary school, we ran distance runs for time rather than distance and the effort was supposed to be easy.  After most of our runs we ran strides.

We relied on our internal data to tell us what an easy run should feel like.

There were no pace calculators. There were no GPS watches. Only when we ran workouts in the running club did we care about our specific pace per mile. The team got on the track and ran intervals at varying paces – and it’s here that I learned what different paces felt like.

Please don’t get me wrong, but I love my GPS watch. it’s a brilliant training aid and I wear it everyday and rely on it during my training runs and races.

But this time, I was running for a different reason. Everyone runs for different reasons. For some, it’s weight loss; for others, it’s competition. On some level, I think I run to get away from the man-made world. It’s why, given the choice, I’ll always run on trails rather than road. But there’s something undeniably liberating about running without one – forcing me to fully engage with your environment. Instead of fretfully glancing down at your wrist every couple of minutes, you can just tune into your body or – better still – immerse yourself fully in your surroundings.

So slowly but surely I would go out for my daily 5 mile slow paced runs, armed only with my phone in my pocket, as I was just so happy to be back on the trails enjoying the feeling and freedom that running gives me.

In March 2015, Gwilym was born and the experts were amazed that I was still running 35 miles a week.

I loved running when I was pregnant.I enjoyed being pregnant. I had the usual tiredness and nausea but I enjoyed listening to my body more carefully. I had listened to my body carefully on the trails but this was different.

I ran a little shower than normal, progressing to a lot slower as the months wore on. I ran for shorter distances, kept to the park next to our house and  took breaks. I loved “running for two.” It made me feel strong. It kept my weight in check. Kept my energy levels up. Just generally made me feel good and that is how I continued until week 39.

With Gwilym only 2 weeks old, I was again given permission to start running again. I felt ready. I was enjoying motherhood and had a strong family support system in place.

I was shocked when I first stepped out. I knew I’d be slow and it would be hard but fitness and endurance wise, I was back to square one. My expectations were too high I suspect and wen I didn’t meet those goal (of completing 2 miles without stopping), my heart sank.  I was so disappointed as I felt that I’d prepared myself well for these testing days back on the trails.

I was a fearful. How was I going to get back to where I used to be? Would I be able to get back to where I was physically? Would the motivation and drive not be as strong?

But one thing I had to remind myself that I had over the years come to have an acceptance of fear. It’s a normal thing to experience it, and it’s important to not run away from it! By persevering and getting through to the other end, you’ll always feel better from confronting whatever you’re afraid of.

Dealing with fear doesn’t mean taking the leap and hoping for the best. In ultra running the key is preparation – which comes from being practical, methodical, and carefully planning your journey to taking starting that race knowing exactly where all your systems are.

The more knowledge, training and planning you’ve done, the better the race, and this is something that can be related to the world we live in. The better prepared you are, the less nervous you’ll feel when it comes to the moment.

In business, you need to take risks – but these are calculated risks. It’s the exact same principles with adventure racing. We don’t just go into races, everything is calculated, prepared, trained for, so that we can do the best that we can. If you prepare well, no matter what the outcome is, whether you succeed or not, you can always walk away knowing that you gave it your best shot.

I searched for inspiration and remembered back to how I was after shattering my knee, ligaments and cartilage. I struggled to run a mile then but I had still fought hard to complete a 350 mile race. I reminded myself that with all the lessons I’d learnt through my past experiences over the years that I’d get back to where I was before.

Only if I had patience. I knew it would take a lot of hard work, frustration, dedication and sacrifice – there’d be tears of sadness and joy but I just knew I could do it. O could get out there again and complete the same as I had done in the past. The drive to get back out there racing and pushing boundaries was an emotion too strong to ignore.

Why do I run silly distances?

Why do I run silly distances?

What motivates you to run?

‘You’ll never be able to run properly again’ said the surgeon after I shattered my knee, broke my tibia, fibia, ligaments and cartilage after a sporting accident when I was 18 years old.

For most of us, our world today is so comfortable, so physically soft, and at the same time so terribly demanding and stressful that it can be hard to keep up with everything we feel we need to do in a day. For me, running helps regain a healthy balance between my mind, my body and my soul—that is why I do it.

It takes real discipline to train for an event, and then to give my absolute all in order to finish that race. With every race I enter, I know I am risking failure but I also have the confidence in myself to know that I will push myself to my very limits in the pursuit of success.

I love single-mindedly pursuing a goal. I find having a singular goal is quite purifying because there’s so much going on in my life in terms of commitments and expectations—the phone’s constantly ringing, emails are coming in, there are a hundred things that need doing—and I have to find a way to balance it all. But when I go to a race, I leave all that behind and I just focus on the trail.

When I go to a race, I don’t enjoy the pain of it—absolutely not—but I enjoy the focus that it gives me. While I’m racing, my mind is constantly preoccupied with taking the next step. I know I can’t let go for a minute, especially in desert races or when I’m running through the night. I’ve got to be watching where I’m going. I’ve got to be aware of how much fluid I’ve taken in. I need to know how many calories I’ve eaten. I’ve got to be listening to my body and where the pain is. I need to know how my mates I’m running with are doing. I need to worry about whether I need to be motivating them or if they are motivating me. My whole focus the around the clock is on getting to the finish line.

It can be extremely tiring because there’s no downtime. Even in the stage races, although there’s always the relief of getting to camp when I know I’ll be spending the night there. We sit around sharing war stories about what we’ve gone through that day. But the whole time we’re all still focused on that goal of making the finish line. The rewards for all that hard work are the sense of pride, of achievement, of tired satisfaction, and of confidence that come from crossing that finish line.

Another thing I love about ultra running is that when someone is challenged in such an extreme way, both mentally and physically, you get to see the true essence of that person. I think that’s something a lot of us want to do—to get to that point in a race, adventure or expedition where we’ve got nothing left,and we’ve given everything but we somehow manage to pull something out of ourselves to keep going. That’s what most of us want to find out. Have we got that in us? Can we push it that little bit harder? What mettle are we made of?

Through the sport, I have really learned to value people who push themselves beyond normal barriers and overcome obstacles. For me, it’s not about being the fastest on the course—that doesn’t impress me. It’s the guy who is last, it’s the girl I met during a race who had broken her back in a car accident and had fought back and was on her way to completing a 135 mile foot race or the kick boxer who was told he didn’t have the endurance in him to finish a 140 mile race through the Amazon, or the 75 year old ultra runner. They like me have had people say that they’d never be able to do it but regardless of age, standard, gender – we won’t let anyone tell us we can’t do it. Those are the stories that I really love and that’s what I love about the ultra marathon scene as opposed to the more competitive marathon and triathlon scenes. There it’s all about competing against each other. Our sport does have an element of that, but at the end of the day, most of us are in to compete against and test ourselves. It took me until the 350 mile Arctic race to realise that the competition wasn’t against the other runners, it was against the little voice in my head, telling me to quit.

It’s about facing your fears and conquering it. It doesn’t matter how many marathons you have run the fear still remains, it doesn’t matter how well your training has gone, how expensive your running tights are, or how many friends and family you have cheering you on along the route…we all of us that the single most terrifying prospect is…

…that we might not complete it.

I have raced in some of the world’s toughest races but I am not tough. The reason I have continued in jungles, deserts and the Arctic where I completed a 350 mile race with shattered feet is because my passion for pushing personal boundaries and finding new ones is an emotion too strong to ignore. It is in my blood; it is who I am. I do it for my family, my fellow competitors who help drive me on… but I also do it for me.

I learnt that the only hard thing I’ve ever done is having the guts to face my fear. And by facing my fears I have been on some of the most humbling and awe-inspiring experiences of my life.