Running interview - Nikki Barnard: sport, a yeti + life in the Alps

Oh hello Monday you old friend.

I have a real gem for you today my trustee runner (or not - but do give it a go!) friends out there. Now, if you read my posts, you will know how much I go on about Nikki Barnard. She is, quite, simply exceptional. An amazing runner, skiier, triathlete,  friend, mountain dweller and a real example of a very strong lady.

I'm always badgering here about one thing or another, and we do love a good chat, both in the good times of our adventures, and in the harder times. Recently I asked her if she wouldn't mind doing a little interview for me for the blog. Like a total WAD, she readily agreed.

I will see her soon. We shall do a VLOG version also. Banter flowin'.

Running interview: Nikki B

Photo: NIkki Barnard

Photo: NIkki Barnard

MV:Why Run?

NB:This is such a simple question that I struggle to condense and offer a short solid answer, as I could go on all day about the love I have for running. Out of the sports and activities I have had a go at throughout my years, there doesn't seem to be one that has given me the same joy and satisfaction that running presents each time I head out. For me, it's a time to switch off. To think, to align and relax, to push to exercise focus and achieve. It’s so many things to me, that I would certainly not wish to be without. I've seen a lot of beautiful places while being out running and continue to look around close to home or further afield to see what else there is.

Nikki posing for their calendar, raising money for charity with   The Neverest Girls   2015

Nikki posing for their calendar, raising money for charity with The Neverest Girls 2015

MV:Nikki, how did you start running?

NB:I ran when I was a kid and got involved in track and field but never had a go at anything further than the out schools obligatory annual cross country event. I tried my hand at Triathlon a few years back and liked it. Living in Chamonix has been very influential and inspiring, and I've just enjoyed exploring and pushing a touch more as the years go on and have had a great time in doing so.

Photo: Nikki Barnard

Photo: Nikki Barnard

MV:Where is your favourite place to run? 

NB:There is a place called La Flatiere close to where I live. It is a trail through the dense forest, which is beautiful and smells like heaven. This offers you the chance to take it easy or work hard with the bonus of it being very quiet and less populated.

MV:What usually motivates you to get your trainers on?

NB:I read it somewhere in a magazine once, GO! If you feel miserable and don't want to be out 10 minutes into your run, then stop, and head home. So, I try to abide by that and funnily enough after 10 minutes, I'm settled in and usually having a great time. This little rule seems to do the trick for me.

MV:What has been your most memorable running event so far?

NB:I enjoyed the TDS Sur les Traces des Ducs de Savoie 120km 7200M+ . The trail was beautiful, and I just really appreciated everything about the experience. This is hindsight speaking hey; I was on my feet for 27+ hours, and my feet were torn to shreds, but the people, the support, the perfect weather conditions all came together and I just had a blast.

MV:You are a part of the Neverest girls. Tell us more about that.

NB:The Neverest Girls is a group of passionate female runners based in Chamonix. We're not elite athletes, but we push ourselves to our own personal limits. We love nothing more than running in the mountains encouraging each other and enjoying the views. We got together to make things happen, to bring ideas to life and contribute to charitable causes that may need support. Over the few years the NRG have been around, we have travelled to Nepal to run the Everest Marathon, and also over to the USA to run the Trans Rockies 6 day stage race.  In 2016 we plan to run the Haute Route, from Chamonix to Zermatt in 6 days.  In total we have raised over 26000 Euros for charity and I am hopeful we will be able to raise more in the future.  For more information relating to our chosen charities, A Chacun Son Everest and Kennedys disease UK visit –

MV:What has been the hardest obstacle to face with running?

NB:I injured myself just before the summer hit it off and sadly it forced me to draw a line through some races I was down to run. Understanding the feelings associated with having an injury was a bit tricky, and it was a whole new side of endurance sports I had never encountered. It is just that, an obstacle that you can get around, it may just take some time and patience, but I am certain it will be worth it.

MV:What have you got coming up in 2016?

NB:Running, running and a bit more running.  Well, we're off to Morocco in March for the Right Altitudes inaugural high altitude training camp , that I am looking very much forward too. I have always fancied a trip to Morocco and being able to combine it with running and hanging out with some of my favourite people and meeting other likeminded runners will be great!

After withdrawing from the 2015 UTMB due to injury, I plan to be at the start line in 2016 with all cylinders firing and ready to go. There're a few other bits and bobs going on and in the works that I'm also really looking forward to as well. Right now I am still recovering from injury and I am working hard in an effort to come back strong, so who knows what the future will bring 

Thanks Nik, you've certainly motivated me :)

Find Nikki also at:

To see a film made for the British Mountaineering Council by SevenTwenty Productions following Nikki and I ultra-marathon training + racing ,click here 

Sports Injury: a warning sign about your sport?

Some of you may need some motivating this week, as you have been dealing with injury. Yup, I've been there too.

So, let's get some perspective with it. Is is the mark of a bad sportsman? Is the experience a sign that your sport might not be all it's cracked up to be?

I have had a few run ins (pardon the pun) with injury, and this isn’t the first time I have mentioned it on the blog.  I have had moments prior to races where I have experienced those intense concerns of whether that ‘small pain’ is just nerves, a fuss over nothing or a genuine issue that could affect me and my performance.I have also in the past, felt quite embarrassed about injury, as if its something I shouldn’t be experiencing. Surely it’ssign I’ve done something wrong - that I am not up to this kind of thing.

And yet I ran this morning, I ran the day before, and even though sometimes it can be mentally and physically challenging - I'm not about to give up. Am I obsessed with my sport? Do I hate my body to carry on despite what injury risks there might be?

Quite the opposite.

My body is fallible, full stop. So’s every 'body'.  Even the fastest, most athletic and talented sports people throughout history – no matter how efficient, how strong or how capable, are not superhuman. If we work on that premise, then it’s about making the most of who we are with the resources we individually have. If you enjoy running; then run. If skiing, then ski. Horseback riding? Reading? Singing? You have to follow what the things that enrich your life and interest you the most.

Which is where the phrase ‘ get back in the saddle’ comes from. Life can be hard, unpredictable and sometimes, painful.  Sometimes,  no matter how strong or methodical you have been in your training, your body signals a change of plan. But this situation, or even the possibility of it, shouldn’t dictate the passions that should interest you. You may need to take steps to recover, but it doesn't mean you have reached the end of the road with your running.

I take a lot of inspiration from the courage and honesty of others on this matter, who show their true strength in their humility. One is my dear friend Nikki Barnard, one of the toughest and most inspiring long distance runners I know.  Nikki has battled 2015 with a considerable sports injury, having to re think adventures, plans and goals. Both of us have had good chats together about injury.

Photo: Nikki Barnard

Photo: Nikki Barnard

It’s not stopped her though. Give up where her interests lie? Not likely matey - after all, have you seen her run?

All being well, she anticipates running the UTMB in 2016. We are both helping with the running of a training camp in the Atlas Mountains in 2016.

I was also encouraged recently listening to some of the GB Park and Pipe team at the Telegraph Ski and Snowboard Event in Manchester. Some of them discussed the time they have had to take out due to injury, humbly admitting the struggles this brings and I found their openness and honesty encouraging and motivating. They still love their sport, they deal with challenges as they approach, and they keep following their passions.

Sometimes I think there is a pressure, especially in sport, to be a shining example of health, fitness and vitality. We all aim for these things, of course. But we have got to be real. Guess what, sometimes I find running mentally challenging. Sometimes, it's the physical struggle.

That's ok. It's all ok.

If you are going through injury – get help. In the form of support from great running communities like #ukrunchat on twitter for example, where so many others can share their advice and expertise on what you might be experiencing. It’s also worth, when thinking carefully about future training, to speak to a physiotherapist who specialises in your sport.

Tim Budd, from Global Therapies is someone I really rely on not just for coaching, but also in times of injury/ trying to prevent injury. As a runner (and a very strong one at that to!) he ‘gets’ it both in terms of physiology, the discipline and the passion of the sport. Seeking professional advice is a must if you are experiencing any pain while running. On his personal blog, he has also written some really insightful things about his own experience with injury.

Sometimes excrement hits the fan- as they say. Sporting injury can get you down, but don’t let it affect your strength – by this I mean, the strength in yourself to be who you are, and to follow your passions and interests.

5 Myths about running

I am really excited to be heading this weekend to the Kendal Film Festival, to catch up with friends,be humbled and inspired at the feats of others, and to get totally fired up for future adventures. Bring it on!

For my post this week, I teamed up again with Trail Running Magazine to have a chat with you about some of the claims that surround taking up running.

Eg. Is it a sport not really meant for women? Surely it’s only for the super fit?

Hope it is useful and do post your comments on some impressions you have come across which surround trail running.  How have you dealt with them?

The latest Trail Running magazine is a good read – out now, next edition: 7th January

Running questions answered

Yo. So today, my video is a 'Q & A' on questions to do with running. On social media recently (do say hi by the way, I can be found on Instagram and Twitter) , I asked if there was anything you would like to know or if you had any running questions. I got asked some great questions which I hope to have answered in this latest video.

My running story is one that changed things for me - in that I discovered something about myself: I really really loved off road running, and I had not really known this before. This was in 2013, where I got more involved in trail and fell running, signing up for my first Ultra in January 2014. The longest I had raced when signing up for this mountain Ultra was ten miles.

I love adventures; excited for what 2016 will bring (including our Atlas trip!), and here I share some answers to your questions about progressing with running, injury etc.

Have a great weekend!

Is it that important to run?

Happy Friday! Here is my third vlog; for any of you new to this, I have started a new video series following my running jaunts, and offering advice on running. If there is anything YOU would like to know about running, or that you would like me to feature in a vlog (or even to collaborate with me!) then do get in touch. This week, I filmed being out and about, and thinking about why running is important. I wanted to think about it from both a mind and body perspective; as we know it can be so good for our general health, but what about for our psyche, and mindfulness too? Also, is running just important for those who run competitively, or can it be important for anyone? I give a personal account of just a few thoughts about why I think it is important to run.

Exciting news!

Exciting news : it's Friday!

The impending weekend is not the only reason I am so cheery. Friday is going to be my new vlog day! I really enjoyed my recent video in the Lakes (click here to watch), and have decided to share running and fitness info, adventures etc on video, aiming for once a week on a Friday.

Good times!

I have called the series 'For Fit' Friday. This is to motivate you with your weekend adventures and maybe think about going for a run, especially if this is something more new to you. For some, the prospect of that is still daunting and may take a while before it seems enjoyable, hence the slight play on roads. But hopefully I can help you see that exercise doesn't have to be seen as a 'forfeit', and that actually, you can have the greatest times, being outside and sharing brilliant running experiences.

Go watch ! :)


Filmed on a Sony Action Cam