Is it true you used to be overweight and unfit?
I started putting on weight in my late teens and 20s and it slowly built up into this gut without me realising. It wasn’t until I had to run the 100m at sports day that I realised I was really unfit. I was like, ‘That’s a really long way!’ Then in 2006 a friend ran the London Marathon and I went to watch. On the day it was like, ‘Wow, people are having a good time!’ It’s a festival vibe with people cheering for strangers, runners looking happy, some looking sad, and a huge outpouring of emotion. In front of all my friends, I said in a really blasé way, with no experience, ‘Yeah, I’ll do this next year’, and all of them laughed and said, ‘You eat kebabs and drink beer — so how are you planning on doing it?’ And that really spurred me on. It was a case of, ‘OK, you don’t think I can do this — so now I’m definitely going to do it!’
So how did you start?
My training started a few weeks after that and I had no idea what I was doing. I couldn’t even get to the bottom of the road — and that’s where my phrase, ‘Just get to the bottom of the road’ comes from, because that was my only goal, to make it there without stopping or falling over. I had no idea about running tech and gait and what I should be doing or wearing — I was running on grit and emotion. After I managed the end of the road, it was a case of ‘Let’s get round the block’ or ‘Get to the park’, basically the same advice I use now — think about getting to your goal.
Can anyone get fit?
I think anyone of any size can get fit — it’s just dependent on where you are when you get started. Somebody else’s ‘bottom of the road’ might literally be walking out of the front door. Just don’t compare yourself to other people — they’re doing something different and it creates unnecessary pressure. I’ve taken great pride in helping people who hate running or movement, or are suffering from depression or anxiety and don’t enjoy life. Some of these people find my voice and coaching style suits how they need to learn — and that’s beyond job satisfaction. Perhaps the people I’ve loved getting moving the most are my mum, Marilyn, and my little sister. Neither of them ran, but since I started on my fitness, my 60-something mum has run loads of 5k runs and half-marathons.