Sometimes the most inspirational people are right in front of you

Like many people, I’m hugely inspired by those who achieve outstanding things, the likes of Paula Radcliffe, Jessica Ennis, Victoria Pendleton, Kelly Holmes (the list goes on) are phenomenal athletes.  But they are professional athletes, and, for clarity, I am not one!

I often think real inspiration comes from much closer to home.  I only started running because my Mum and Dad were runners and, without that, I probably wouldn’t have much interest in the achievements of our nations elite to start with.

Mum & Dad coming to watch me run round the Olympic track


David was always the sporty one when we were younger, I was quite the opposite.  Over the years, I was dragged out to all sorts of local races on a Sunday morning, rain or shine, and watched from the sidelines as he would take the outright win and come home with excessively large trophies.  I had no trophies.


I was always encouraged to take part as well, it would take me 15 minutes to run a mile and I would absolutely hate it (in fact, the only thing I hated more than running was shepherds pie, I still hate shepherds pie, there’s nothing to like there) but I enjoyed the sense of achievement afterwards and David would sometimes let me hold his trophies…

Actually, I have my own trophy now…that time when I came 2nd!


Anyway, without that early support and encouragement I never would have taken up running more obsessively seriously when I was older and would never have even met the people who inspire me to push myself further and take on new challenges today.  In turn, I’m proud to have inspired several friends to take up running who have watched me progress from plodding round a 5k to breaking myself in marathon training (I mean, who isn’t inspired by a friend who refuses to wear anything but compression tights and Ugg boots to the supermarket after a long run?!)

The Clapham Chasers have introduced me to people who have inspired me and given me the confidence to tackle things I wouldn’t have even considered before, from Tuesday night track to trail running in North Wales to an ultramarathon in a few weeks (errr, maybe..)

A couple of months ago when Cat organised an evening of training advice for the girls, 3 of our very own Chasers bravely got up in front of the group and shared their experiences and words of wisdom.


Gemma is one of my favourite people and when I met her I didn’t realise how relatively new she was to running because she was always so excited about it!  Within 3 years she went from a life of heavy drinking & smoking with just a pair of Converse for trainers to 3 x marathon runner.

Inspired by her boyfriends keen interest in running, Gemma invested in a real pair of trainers and went for a run. Red faced and out of breath she realised it was tougher that it looked and only made it up the road. Not one to give up, she persevered until she eventually fell in love with running.

Gemma stays motivated by picking out other runners in a race and trying and stick with them as long as possible to get to the finish line quicker.  She says you need to think about how you’ll feel when you’ve finished, when you’ve achieved it, and that’s what keeps her going.

And then Gemma said something that captures her spirit perfectly:

What’s the worst that will happen? If I don’t finish I’ll just get up and try again

Always smiling, always positive and rarely letting anything get to her, there aren’t enough Gemma’s in this world.



Next up was one of our successful GB Triathlon Age-Groupers, who started by saying, ‘when you’ve got your name across your boobs (of your trisuit) it’s a really cool feeling!’

Naomi believes women can achieve anything they set their minds to. She recognises that women can be defeatist, a trait not so common in men, and offered us her top tips for staying strong.

  • Surround yourself by ladies who inspire you, not only will you find it motivating but you’ll find you really want to please them with your own achievements
  • Get used to the pain in training so you know what to expect on race day
  • Have a carrot in front of you, whether it’s finishing your fist 10k or a new PB, dangle the carrot and go get it.
  • Make public declarations so you can’t back out if you get scared!
  • You’ll be surprised what you achieve when you don’t think you can so don’t say you can’t, just do it anyway.


Finally we had super-speedy marathon runner Mel.  Mel has run 4 really bloody fast marathons with her last one coming in under 3 hours, a phenomenal achievement she worked really hard for.  This is her advice:

  • Be brave enough to set goals that are challenging
  • Pressure in training, and on race day, can make you do crazy things like run through illness & injury…think about what you’re doing
  • Marathon training leaves you fatigued, try to benchmark progress against how you feel during a session rather than the numbers on your watch
  • Give your target finish time a range so you have a contingency to fall back on, flexible goals allow you to manage negative thoughts
  • When your legs hurt shift your focus to your breathing, remember you are actually OK and you can keep going!
  • Try to get excited about your race! Be nervous but use that nervous energy, don’t be fearful of racing
  • Be prepared to make decisions during the race, plan ahead and imagine what you would do if…
  • Finally, importantly, imagine yourself being successful!

I think it’s really important to surround yourself with people who inspire you, whether it’s Olympic champions, your best mate or your Dad.  Hearing such motivational speeches from my friends made something I’ve known for some time crystal clear: The fabulous people who surround me inspire me every single day.

Chasers at the post London Marathon party. Photo: Shamir Patel


Naomi finished with a quote she keeps with her and reads on race day, I think it sums up everything perfectly:

20 years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
Mark Twain

Prosecco, Cupcakes & Chrissie Wellington

“I approached the race in good spirits…that said, I shat myself at the start.  Literally.  This is going to be a long day, I thought to myself.  The race hasn’t even started and I’m shitting myself already…It’s all very well crapping into your swimskin when you’re in the water, but doing it on a bike is horrible.  And trying to run a marathon with poo dribbling down your leg is not much more fun.” 

Chrissie Wellington: A Life Without Limits

After I had such a good time last year, I was excited when Runners Need announced they would be running their exclusive Women’s Running Events again this summer.  It’s an evening dedicated to offering expert advice specifically for female runners from training to physio to  nutrition.  They even give you a goody bag & a glass (or, ahem, 3) of bubbly.  Perfect!

Cupcakes and prosecco on rest days…


Having signed up to the Covent Garden event with some running club buddies I was buzzing when I received an email saying Chrissie Wellington would be making an appearance!

Chrissie Wellington is a British 4 time Ironman World Champion and she is my sporting hero.  She competed in 13 Ironman distance triathlons.  She won them all.


However, none of this came easy, she suffered from an eating disorder in her early days, was bullied by her teammates who were jealous of her performance, had to sleep in a brothel the night before a big international competition, and regularly suffered falls off the bike which left her with fractures, bruising, and even 3rd degree burns in the form of road rash (which you can partly see in the picture above, ouch).  

Her journey to the top was an eventful one – it was sheer commitment and determination that allowed her to overcome the odds more than once.

Inspirational speaker


I was looking forward to hearing her speak again, what better person to give us advice than someone who has conquered what is arguably the toughest sport on the planet?

Chrissies’ top tips and advice:

  • Find your passion
  • Set a goal that scares you
  • Remember your motives and why you want it – this is what keeps you going
  • You need a plan – there are 4 key sessions you should incorporate in the plan
  1. Steady sessions
  2. Strength work – eg Hills
  3. Race pace sessions
  4. Intervals – and they should ‘hurt like hell’
  • Rest & recovery is vital
  • You need to train the mind and brain as well as the body so you can teach it to shut up in races
  • Learn to hurt in training
  • Break the race into smaller segments – a marathon is never 26.2 miles, it’s 4 x 10km with a little bit on the end
  • Remember racing is supposed to be uncomfortable – if it’s not you aren’t going hard enough
  • The measure of success isn’t always the time on the clock – it’s the feeling of giving it everything you’ve got
  • Finally, and one I live by myself, Never Give Up

Chrissie signing my book at an event last year and telling me not to be so hard on myself!



Thanks Runners Need – a fab event and an awesome swag bag once again! Not quite sure about the ‘drinking oats’ though?!  Already looking forward to next year.