Interview with Chris Toddington

Chris is a very keen plodder and ultrarunner. He has been running on and off for 16 years, only taking it seriously from 2014 when he took over a friends place for a local half marathon. He had no prior long distance in his legs. He is a National Running Show Ambassador and writes some blogs and social media messages hoping to inspire others. He believes nothing is impossible as he once suffered with mental health and attempted suicide.

What is your proudest running achievement?

This would be finishing my first ultramarathon; the 2018 Race to the Stones. It is a 100km, 2 day or non-stop event along Britain’s oldest path. It’s my proudest moment so far because a few years ago when I got into running distances longer than 6 miles I never thought I’d do a marathon let alone an ultra. But I ran and finished the Manchester Marathon and I got hooked on longer distances and wanted a bigger challenge.

What has running taught you about yourself?

That nothing is impossible and with training and persistence you can achieve any goal you set yourself. There were a few moments during my first ultra where my mind was in a bad place and I wanted to quit but I dug deep and pushed through the pain mentally and physically. Running has also helped my mental health. Just getting out and running in the countryside or just pounding the pavement helps “run off negativity”. 

What is the most ambitious running goal you’ve ever considered?

This would have to be Marathon Des Sables. I have many friends who have entered and finished this great event. One finished 3rd overall and it feels like it’s my turn to follow in so many great athletes’ footsteps and meet the legend Patrick Bauer.

How far in advance do you plan your running races?

Normally I look a year ahead but if I see a race on social media that’s coming up, looks fun and I can book time off work for it I will enter it .

What is the most miles you’ve ever run in a week?

Probably around the 70-80 mile mark when training for my first ultra .

What is the longest period you’ve ever trained for a race?

6 months for the Race to the Stones in 2018.

What has been your most serious running injury?

Suspected fractured 5th metatarsal in my foot but turned out to be soft tissue damage. I was out of action for about 5 weeks before I gradually began to run again. It happened during my first ultra where I nearly fell in the dark, injuring my foot. This also happened the following year doing the same event.

What cross-training exercises do you commit to?

I tend to just stick to road and trail running but I do occasionally complete core sessions at home like squats, lunges, calf raises. I sometimes foam roll by using a tennis ball and stretch.

What would persuade you to work with a running coach?

I don’t really know to be honest. I tend to fit my training in around work as I work shifts so it’s not something I’ve looked into or thought about .

In one sentence, what does running mean to you?

A great way to relax, get rid of stress after work and just be outside with my own thoughts.

Interview with Laura Cope

Laura Cope is 44 years old and started running around 12 years ago. After a few false starts and injuries she joined a running club 9 years ago and has been running consistently ever since. A physio once advised her not to run more than 10k. She has now completed nine marathons (including a multi-day ultra). She also writes a blog while training for longer races to reflect on lessons learnt.

What is your proudest running achievement, and why?

My proudest running achievement has to be completing the Pilgrim Challenge In February 2019. 66 miles in the snow is way beyond what I had ever thought I could achieve. Even now I can’t quite comprehend it. 

What has running taught you about yourself?

Running has taught me that I’m tougher than I think and that you can achieve anything with the right training. It’s also taught me that I do have a little competitive streak which is usually hidden. 

What is the most ambitious running goal you’ve ever considered?

The most ambitious goal I have considered so far is the Pilgrim Challenge. Since completing it I’ve been looking at more ultras for the future. At the moment I don’t know what the next one will be but there will be one!

How far in advance do you plan your running races?

I’m having to plan my races months in advance, mostly due to events selling out so early. I’ve got races booked up to four months in advance at the moment. Some events have become a tradition for me now, so I’ll do them every year. 

What is the most miles you’ve ever run in a week and why did you run that far?

The most miles in a week was the week of the Pilgrim Challenge. The event was 66 miles and with a couple of runs the week before I think I managed about 75 miles in a week. That’s the exception rather than the rule. 

What is the longest period you’ve ever trained for a race?

The longest period I’ve trained for a race was five months. I had to get from comfortable half marathon (my default state) to ultra in that time. I would probably have trained a bit longer had I known I was doing the event a bit sooner. 

What has been your most serious running injury and why did it happen?

My most serious injury was a tib post tendon injury on both legs. It took me a year to fully get over it. It happened because I had the wrong footwear and tried to do too much too soon. I also tried to jump back in where I’d left off. It was eventually fixed by going right back to the beginning. 

What cross-training exercises do you commit to?

I cross train twice a week. I go to bootcamp once a week, a mix of strength, cardio and HIIT. I also go to a small group PT session once a week. It’s pure strength training with big weights. The strength training is crucial to keep injuries at bay when you’re doing long distances.

What would persuade you to work with a (online) running coach?

I’d consider an online coach if I wasn’t able to access the knowledge and support I require elsewhere. 

In one sentence, what does running mean to you?

Running is an adventure and it’s taken me further than I ever imagined.