10 Runner's Secrets Revealed

I write a lot about training, running, racing etc, but thought it would be a laugh to also tell you a bit about some of the things that make me 'me'. I think friends would say I was a bit quirky, I love to laugh as well as run (often while I run!). So here are 10 runner's secrets revealed...

Things you might not know about me.

  • 1. I'm not keen on spiders. Interval hill training occurs by just bolting up the stairs, leaping over the the creepy crawly.
  • 2. Once in a while, I will be overcome with an urge for a greasy burger. #noshame
  • 3. I have a Masters in Philosophy.


  • 4. Despite skiing at significant height, and running in mountains, I can get quite daunted by climbing high / multi pitch climbing. I'm working on it.
Photo: John Roberts

Photo: John Roberts


  • 5. I talk to myself on runs. I sing
  • 6. I am the worst company on a long car journey. Mainly because this happens:
Photo: John Roberts

Photo: John Roberts

  • 7. I have developed a moving technique going up hill and also prevalent while ski touring known to others as the ‘Noel’ - #oasis
  • 8. Despite running like a fiend these days, I was never known for this at school. I really enjoyed drama.
Photo by @johndmason

Photo by @johndmason

  • 9. I love pugs. I really love pugs. Unfortunately they are not the ‘runners dog of choice’ (for reasons too obvious to explain) but I’ve considered the possibility of fitting one in my running pack.
  • 10. I never ever dreamt I would be competing in ultra-marathons.
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    Via Ferrata in Arco

    The bad news - unfortunately I was ill on holiday with a flu bug which meant some serious rest and having to be wise with pushing too much exercise. But I am getting better at learning to just 'go with it'  - listening to the body and not fighting when it needs to rest. The good news - the sun shone, a lot. When I did feel a little better, I did a via ferrata.

    This means 'iron road' and is a method of travel by the mountains. You travel up the rock by an iron cable. There are different types of via ferrata, from those that are fairly technical, requiring a great deal of climbing, to via ferrata that is more of a walk/scramble. My first via ferrata was basically a gentle walk, and my second via ferrata involved more climbing. For via ferrata you need sturdy trainers underfoot with good grip (recommended) to place your feet on the rock, or the iron rungs/ ladders. You wear a rock climbing harness with a via ferrata safety kit attached, and clip the two karabiners to the wire as you ascend.

    When we reached the top, we were able to just walk our way down the beautiful trail on the other side.

    Although it was disappointing to be unwell on holiday, I was glad to have the chance to try a new sport!

    Travel: Arco Italy

    I write this currently poorly - oh no! Since I am resting up I thought I would take the time to blog the first few days of my trip to Italy! I love to travel, and I am currently spending some time in Arco, which is a really stunning part of Italy set by the panoramic backdrop of the Italian lakes. I find the place a wonderful oxymoron - snow topped mountains accompanied by leafy palm trees - everything I love!  The views are really stunning (I shall put more photos on during the trip!) and there is SO much to do here. From coffee and gelato moments to rock climbing, trails  - hard to get bored. It is a nice time of year to travel here actually, as the weather is fairly crisp yet it is pretty warm in the sun.

    I have had a chance to do some route climbing, which is a nice change from my usual bouldering preference - climbing with friends who are also really skilled climbers means I am picking up good ideas when it comes to climbing, as well as having a really good laugh!

    Been a little under the weather with a cold/fluey symptoms, but never mind  - hardly a bad place to recuperate!

    I hope everyone has had a Happy Easter! More updates of the trip to follow!

    A (vaguely) healthy chocolate cake

    Hi everyone I decided to do some baking (everyone holds their breath..I’m not the world’s most natural cook, however I do enjoy taking on new projects, so, bring it on I say!). Here is a chocolate cake. It's meant to be sugar free.

    I wanted to make an easy, healthy (ish) cake. This is what happened. I was following a recipe from allrecipes website  adapting the recipe by doubling the quantities to make an entire loaf cake, rather than the cupcakes their recipe caters for . I also used actual drinking chocolate cocoa (seemed fine, tasted good, although in hindsight I realise my version was not completely free of sugar! Ah well, runners enjoy their food, no matter :) )

    It could not be simpler- dollop all ingredients in a bowl, mix, bake (double baking time prescribed in original recipe)

    I used:

    200g self raising flour

    4 tablespoons of Cadburys drinking chocolate powder

    200g salted butter

    4 eggs

    splash of semi-simmed milk

    100g Splenda powder

    This creates a decent sized cake. Friends have scoffed several portions already, me included, and there is lots left!

    Substituting the sugar for Splenda did make the cake seem lighter.  I’m keen to try this recipe again, and try and substitute more ingredients to make it healthier (maybe add dried fruit too? Hmm…) .

    Would really love to hear your healthy treats recipes! Do comment below.

    Sheffield Adventure Film Festival 2015

    Hi everyone! I hope everyone has had a good week. It's been nearly a week since I travelled to Sheffield for SHAFF - which is the Sheffield Adventure Film Festival. Like Kendal Mountain Film Festival, this is a chance to meet some very wonderful, incredible explorers, adventurers and sports people, and see some fantastic films!


    This was the first time I had actually managed to see 'Running Wild' on the big screen, as I unfortunately could not make the screening of the Kendal showing. Seeing the beautiful scenery of Chamonix again, some dear people on the screen - it left me very nostalgic, and keen to go back out to Chamonix again. Not long now !

    I also saw some other really amazing films. 'Finding Traction' about the incredible feat of Nikki Kimball's 273 mile ultra challenge was uplifting, motivating and quite frankly, nothing short of running mastery. It was then an honour to hear her talk at the Women in Adventure forum later in the evening. Her, along with other very talented women in sport, including climber Mina Leslie- Wujastyk, and adventurer Squash Falconer reaffirmed for everyone in the room, and everyone who has heard about it since - that women are taking the sporting world by storm, as we absolutely should be acknowledged for doing.

    Whether male or female, a runner, climber, skier etc, novice or expert - keep doing what you are doing, and enjoy every moment. Everyone is a sporting champion in their own right, no matter who you are.

    A really wonderful event, bring on SHAFF 2016 already!

    Skiing December 2014

    Day 1 We arrive to beautiful green mountain terrain, stunning scenery…. wait, GREEN? Where’s the snow? Lifts look shut, place is very quiet. Uh oh….Would this be the closest we would get to skiing?

     No fear – by the end of the day the snow is fallin’. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and day of skiing planned ahead. Not enough here for skiing – but tomorrow we aim for Verbier.

    Day 2

    Today we are up relatively early for Verbier. Bit of a drive to get there but good to be out on the snow! Conditions were not great though – visibility at an all time low + rain! Spent more time with goggles off than on while skiing! At least we are getting to ski though, which somehow didn't quite seem possible yesterday.

    Day 3

    Today we went to Cervinia, Italy. The relatively sudden high altitude provided a bit of a challenge, however the weather was fantastic, as were the views! Some good piste runs and some great banter with the guys skiing until the setting sun. A brilliant day! Pretty psyched to catch up with Nikki Barnard tomorrow for a winter trail run.

    Day 4

    The boys set off for Verbier again, but I stayed put. Caught up with running soul mate Nikki Barnard (barnardsadventures) and went for a potter. Quick bowl of pasta and headed out again on the trail for some ‘me time’. I can’t explain how these trails make me feel, but they give me a peace there I cannot replicate so far anywhere else. The light was perfect through the trees, weather calm. You just cannot find trails like this in many other places.

    Day 5

    Today was a big adventure, and a bit of a test for me. This was my first ski tour, onto the Argentiere Glacier. I am so grateful to the boys who took me, helping and guiding me the whole way. This was out of my comfort zone – I love the mountains, but feel most at ease in a pair of trainers on the mountain trail, never mind dealing with crevassed, glacial landscape. I have loved skiing since I was a child, but normally play it safe, enjoying the comfort of the pistes. I am now beginning to venture a bit off piste, to see the real beauty of the mountains, and today was the biggest off piste adventure. The nerves were not helped by the fact I had a binding problem with my skis, popping off at random on turns in a russian roulette fashion: not something you want to have to contend with in the heart of the mountains. The team were awesome though, and I felt in safe hands even in a cold and somewhat unnerving environment. This was real ‘type 2’ fun : scary, required strategy, felt difficult and overwhelming. But who could regret scenes like this?

    Day 6

    Today is the last day, and a chilled one. The snow isn’t amazing so we felt like having a reflective day in Chamonix. What a trip! Thoroughly enjoyable and a beautiful way to spend those days before Christmas. I will always feel most myself amongst the mountains.

    December Update

    It can be pretty hard to stay motivated during December when it comes to a fitness regime and exercising. The nights are drawing in, it is colder, there is more opportunity for indulgent snacking (Mr.Kipling starts to feel like a chum). However, I actually find that it can be a great opportunity for maintaining fitness and building core strength, while at the same time be a period of reenergizing. Pilates : An all round the year essential for me, but something that I rely on more in the winter months. I find pilates really helpful for me in terms of helping strengthen and stretch tired muscles. It’s something that doesn’t require a lot of time put aside either which is great in a busy festive period. If you are on a budget or don’t have time to make a class, there are some great pilates videos (even youtube!) out there.

    Skiing: I am about to go skiing and I am really excited about this! Skiing is great for maintaining fitness and strengthening core muscles. It’s also a good sport to do aside running for a bit of a change of scene. It also gets me back to the mountains around Chamonix, which feels like my second home.

    Climbing: I am by no means a good climber, but I really enjoy hitting the wall. It helps stretch muscles that are tired from running, and it’s a good challenge setter! It’s also something you can enjoy all year around with indoor climbing walls.

    Running: There is productivity in rest. I enjoy running for the scenery this time of year, and for the real joy in just running. This was taken last weekend at Burbage in the Peak. While I am training currently, this doesn’t need to detract from the wonder of running this time of year. If anything, a positive running attitude is a positive training one.

    Health tips: Remember this time of year – drink lots of water. Try and keep a healthy balanced diet and get plenty of sleep. It’s possible to stress out your body in a time when you should be relaxing, by not properly taking care of it. Having said that, it is a time to enjoy spending time with close friends and family and for recuperation. One thing I am a big fan of this time of year (well, anytime of the year!) is big breakfasts with good friends! I recently caught up with some of my best mates over a massive brunch!

    How are you spending December?

    Kendal Mountain Film Festival

    It’s a funny feeling when you think back to the summer. On the one hand it feels like so long ago, and yet on the other time seems to have gone by so quickly. I often think back to the race morning of the OCC. Getting up ridiculously early awaiting my journey from Chamonix to Orsieres (only to then run it back again ;) ). Anything from the down jacket I wore to travel, to the song they played at the starting line, now takes me back to my 53km mountain challenge.

    However I got to relive the experience in an even more real way two weeks ago, when I went to the Kendal Mountain Film Festival in the Lakes. I had been to the festival the year before, and had no idea, then, that I would be featuring in it the following year after completing my first ultra-marathon. At that point I hadn’t even run a half marathon! Bonkers.

    It was an amazing festival. To give you an idea of just some of the truly incredible work displayed, do watch (or indeed, re-watch) the trailer. I think it is marvellous to come to an event where people are honestly living out a dream, that however distant or unreachable it may seem, they find a determination, and therefore a way, to achieve it. This is pretty inspirational for the rest of us, and I left feeling really uplifted and thinking ahead to my own next goals for 2015.

    Kendal Mountain Festival 2014 Trailer from Kendal Mountain Festival on Vimeo.

    It was also wonderful to catch up with a very inspiring man and true friend. John Ellison, founder of Climbers Against Cancer, is one of the most positive, determined people I know. Despite his own battle with cancer, John has raised hope and awareness to thousands of other people with cancer. A real fighter and a true hero. Here we are re-enacting the same photo taken a year before – may there be many more annual pictures John.