Jess: So you’ve just finished Ironman Wales how are you feeling now? Are you still buzzing and how is recovery going?
Kate: Recovery is going well but surprisingly this one took it out of me more than normal. After Ironman Bolton in July I was straight back to training a couple days later. Wales I really needed time out after. I did Chester marathon a couple of weeks later as a recovery run and even when I did my final 100 mile this weekend I could tell my legs were still not 100%.
Jess: As a vegan what are your nutritional choices to promote recovery?
Kate: I really keep it simple. Loads of veggies and simple proteins. I actually love Tofu, but straight after a race I usually down a hell of a lot of chocolate soya milk! My next meal usually involves mostly protein such as tofu or beans and carbs. I usually have what I fancy after a big race.
Jess: On average how much sleep do you get and do you think this helps or do you have any other speedy recovery tips for us.
Kate: I always make sure I get my 8 hrs. I've never had an injury and I put it largely down to this as well as efficient running form and good food.
Jess: What would you say was a key session that prepared you for Ironman Wales physically / mentally that made you feel like "you got this"?
Kate: It helped having done Ironman UK two months before, but being petrified of the sea, the key for me was getting in the sea with my friend several times and my final sea swim a few weeks before really helped mentally. I also cycled London to Paris over 3 days for my birthday 5 weeks before and then again sub 24hrs 3 weeks before Ironman Wales. It really helped me realise distance was no issue. I wouldn't recommend so many events and neither would my Coach, Neil but I came to Ironman having already planned some events this year and I'm very much used to crazy levels of endurance events now and seem to thrive on it.
Jess: If you feel comfortable can you recap on your decision to raise funds for the mental health charity, Mind and your history of anxiety attacks?
Kate: I decided to fund raise for a mental health charity called Mind this year. This was because originally I was supposed to be going for a great PB at Bolton in July but I really struggled with panic attacks which became quite debilitating at times, looking like seizures and fits at their worst. Suddenly my goals of a PB looked bleak and I was just seeing my fitness and improvements I'd start making falling away. I had to take medication to help keep these under control. Beta-blockers cap the heart rate though which raises when adrenaline is released. A side effect of this was that in my fast runs I struggled, as I couldn’t reach my normally higher heart rates, instead it stayed lower than normal. I decided to be open about the depression and anxiety and the panic attacks I faced. I decided that there was only one way to tackle Ironman and it was to simply turn it into a positive. I decided that maybe it would help others to see that I wasn’t just some invincible warrior and that I was facing a very real struggle but still getting on with it and hopefully with a positive attitude. I decided to raise some funds to help others facing similar scenarios by raising charity funds. www.justgiving.com/ironjayden
Jess: Over the past few years you have completed a huge number of events. How do you pick your next challenge and how do you fit in your training and racing schedule around work?
Kate: Two weeks after Ironman Wales I ran the Chester marathon just as a slow recovery run and to socialise with friends. I then had autumn 100 mile run with Centurion Events on 16th October. It was the finale of the grand slam, which are 4x100 mile non-stop run events in 5.5 months. I finished and got my belt buckle for finishing the race as well as the series! I started with a marathon 5 years ago pretty much to the date and that was Chester marathon. I just loved it and saw it as quite social. I found I loved the way it changed my outlook on things and helped keep me focused on the positive recovery I'd made from an Eating Disorder. I never looked back after that. In 2012 I ran 14 marathons, 2013 I ended up doing 69 and broke the British record at the time for marathons ran in a year by a female. The following year I broke the same record again with 79 marathons and my first 70-mile ultra. I then ended up doing a 24hr run in the September 2014 and accidentally won. I never thought it possible but when I realised I was winning I ran my heart out and carried on to run 100 miles. That was the start of the ultra running that I now love.
Now I have a good few weeks off to spend time with loved ones, friends, family and a few trips here and there too. On my longer weeks I trained 10 x per week including shorter sessions of 40 - 60 mins right up to a long 3hr run, 4hr ride or long swim potentially and on some weekends Coach Neil sets me all three. It's nice to have a few weeks down time now and with a full time job it becomes hard to balance everything. I sometimes work away form home and when I was at the start of this season I was living a few hours away from home in the week so training was actually easier to fit in as there was so little else to do after work being away from home. Now I work closer to home on a new project and I commute by train an hour each way to work in addition to the walk either side. I'm trying to use the time constructively to start writing a book! So far I managed to write the first chapter and accidentally delete it. Yes I'm that quality at IT!
Jess: Wow that is a lot of events. Were you sporty as a child?
Kate: I fell into it all really by doing a bike ride to Paris August 2011 on a vintage 5 speed bike complete with wicker basket. It was so heavy I couldn't lift the thing! That was for charity. I then agreed last minute to do Chester marathon in the October, with 3 weeks to go and I'd never run in my life. I was terrible! The most sport I ever did was tag rugby at age 14. However I should have realised I'd be a triathlete when on a caravan holiday and had a bike accident whilst cycling to the pool in my swimming costume! Perhaps I should have realised I'd be an ultra runner when one time in primary school age around 9 or 10 they set up a route for us to run in PE and I was the last kid to want to come in. I wasn't naturally sporty but had always been very mentally strong. That had been built into me at a young age through various life events. It would be that element that would push me into endurance events really in the long run. I've never really stopped in the last 5 years. I've always set myself a new challenge each year, largely something that seems ridiculous or impossible. I try and push myself and always seek out my boundaries. I'm a big believer that you don't know how far too far is until you go there. This is my life. It's my social life and where I get my enjoyment and see friends. It does take up almost all of my spare money and I don’t get paid holiday days in work due to being essentially self employed. I honestly don't feel I miss out on anything, in fact I feel like others are missing out on so much! I always make sure I eat well, sleep well and make time for other things too, especially important people in my life so I keep a balance to my life.
Jess: How do you go about picking the event you do and what are you looking for in an event? Does the being signed up for an event motivate you to get out there and train when you are tired and the weather is grim?
Kate: It's simple for me. I set myself a challenge so big I'm not sure I can achieve it, and that is so big that I have no choice but to train for it. There's only so far mental strength will get you - even if that is most of the way! “Most of the way” is a DNF; “all of the way” is a finish! So when it rains or snows I just see it as winter miles make summer smiles! I knew I'd stand on the start line knowing I'd done my training well and deserved my place there. In an event I always look for a new challenge and to find my boundaries. I do a lot of events as often I see some of them as just part of training. Let's be honest if you're running 100 miles the marathon suddenly seems like a training run! I take holidays that often revolve around cycling, running or triathlon, but I did just do a beach holiday for 8 days. I failed miserably and managed a day at the beach, two days snorkeling, a day on a boat, a day out quad biking and a day in Cairo and Luxor, so ended up quite active still but I didn't pack my running shoes! Break through!
Jess: Do you have any tips to get out there when you really don't feel like it i.e. do you knock back a coffee and get some pumped up music in your ear phones? What is it that makes you keep going when you really don't feel like it and as you write in your Ironman Wales Race Report "your mates are down the pub"?
Kate: My tip is always to have a goal so big that you have to grow into it. A goal so big it scares you off the sofa and out the door. I actually gave away my TV recently as I wasn’t using it enough and it's too much of a waste of time and distraction. I'm less inclined to melt into the sofa then although I don't suggest you give way your TV of course haha! Always have a goal and focus though, a reason to want to get out there. I have a favourite playlist and will try new routes to keep me entertained.
Jess: Do you have a magic snack or meal before key sessions and races?
Kate: Ironically I often have no breakfast at all before events and simply go straight into nutrition in race. Sometimes I will have vegan yoghurt and breakfast bar or something like that. Usually an espresso works well for me too and I do use caffeine in races at key distances or timings too. I have many various weird and wonderful favourite snacks for running in ultras or Ironman, including vegan salami, vegan sausages, vegan cheese, cereal bars, nuts, dark chocolate and dried fruit. I tend to fuel early on with carbs (alternating between complex and simple carbs having high and low GI) and later on switch to more fat based fuels in ultras. When it all goes wrong though sometimes you have to eat what you can.
Jess: What has been your favourite event?
Kate: I love 24hr runs specifically as I find I complete in those instead of simply completing. I love the buzz of competition with other runners, trying for a place on the podium, but equally I love the events where I’m simple grateful to finish such as Ironman Wales, so I'd say Equinox 24hr run and Ironman Wales as well as Thames Path 100 as it was my first point to point 100 miler.
Jess: Have you had a race when everything went wrong and it was miserable? Ever thought hmm I need a bit of a break from this and some time to do something else, as it's a huge time commitment to put in all these hours?
Kate: Oh indeed I did Thunder Run 2014 as my first attempt at a 24hr event and ended up with severe heatstroke, and lost all liquids and solids through sickness and the other end too! I had to sleep for a good two or three hours, which meant I lost my plan and eventually did get up and carried on but did 80 miles in the event which was a struggle. I do find time for other things though such as music, photography, painting and the odd pint!
Jess: What made you sign up for coaching with Performance Edge and in what way has it helped you on your incredible journey?
Kate: I decided to ask Neil to become my coach when I needed some focus. My problem is I'll try anything and am a little fearless at times in terms of challenges. I wanted to really improve my Ironman time and Neil managed to help me do that despite us facing hurdles that my anxiety kept throwing at me as well as some life challenges. We decided Ironman UK was my A race. The grand slam of 100 milers was not my A race and he agreed to me doing them simply because I couldn't realistically cancel them and I couldn’t commit to doing them again the following year as it was such a big commitment. I didn’t have the long runs to train up to these but had a background of running these kind of events the year before so we knew I could just go and complete them rather than competing for good times. A lot of the events we treated as long training days. For 2016 we targeted a spring marathon during my Ironman training leading up to Ironman UK as my A race with Ironman Wales as my B race. I do feel I have compromised my Ironman potential by doing the ultras this year but I knew I had to do that this year, so Ironman was the priority and Neil trained me for that over and above all else. I don't train with a Tri club as I have specific sets for swims, runs and cycling that Neil sets me, but sometimes I have company on runs or rides if they are similar speed. I have a friend who often shares long rides with me which helped.
Jess: So what’s left on the bucket list?
Kate: I have a few events I’d like to do but I tend not to have a bucket list as such but just do things as I feel and when I get chance. Some dream events are Everest marathon, Great Wall of China marathon, Ironman Kona (but I'd want to qualify instead of just going), Boston marathon (because I’d love to qualify for it), the Inca Trail ultra marathon and a whole heap of others mostly revolving around travel since that’s the only limiting factor. I have a Florida road trip planned in January which will take in a few marathons including Miami marathon, the Bahamas marathon and a skydive marathon starting with a 12,500 ft. sky dive! I tend to just decide I’m going to do something and find a way!
Jess: What would you say is the greatest thing you have learnt and got from this journey?
Kate: Friendships and self-confidence as well as the ability to show others that the impossible really isn’t all that impossible. I've done a lot of things that most people scratch their heads at and say but how? When they see I'm a typical ordinary Northern lass who works full time and has a beer and eats cake, they realise maybe the things I do aren't so crazy.
Jess: Do you think the journey has changed you as a person?
Kate: Yes it's changed me for sure. I've learnt so much about myself. I've learnt I'm so much stronger than I ever knew and I'd always said I was a very strong determined person. It's also taught me I'm committed and focused as well as fun loving and happy!
Jess: Any funny or otherwise interesting story to tell us?
Kate: I ran my first marathon after agreeing to it after a few cocktails with a mate at the time. I'd never run in my life!
Jess: You clearly never sit still so what is next for you?
Kate: I've just ran my final 100 mile of the year which completed the grand slam (4x100 milers in 5.5 months May to October) which is the end of the season for me. Rest next and do the housework I neglected for 10 months and then back to training. Next year is mostly about ultra running for me. My main race will be TR250 a 250 mile non stop run, or more likely a long walk between buffet stations haha! I have a few other plans for ultras and a DIY challenge, which is 1000km London/Paris/London by bike and running. I'll probably do another Ironman but treat it as a holiday rather than competing or going for a massive PB.
Jess: Lastly what is one thing about you almost none knows?
Kate: I actually love to sing, but funnily enough people are really surprised when they hear me singing full pelt at about 3am on the trails in 100 mile events, especially if it's a song I can hold a tune to whilst running too! Other runners sometimes remember me as that one who was singing and smiling