Author: edwina-sutton

The Deserving Game

Day 1 had gone like a dream. I felt super fresh, super easy, didn’t break a sweat and was so happy to finish in one piece and set myself up for Day 2. I knew the strength I was going to need on Day 3 was going to be huge so my plan was to keep a lid on every bit of effort on Day 1 and Day 2 to fully utilise my hill strength on Day 3. Well that was the plan.

The first part of the day was 4-5 miles on forest track road before we headed off into what was described as ‘true wilderness,’ as I warmed up along the track, passing other runners, chatting, feeling great, I felt a pressure in my lower back, not something I had ever felt before, like someone had kicked me in the lower back. I was frightened. This was not good. This was not a hamstring niggle, a calf pull, this was something that felt really wrong. But what could I do. Ignore it. It’s just a stiff glute, it will wear off. We turned off the track and onto the hill. The terrain was now (and for the rest of the day), stones, bog, marsh, up and down and up and down. I normally LOVE this sort of terrain, I am a strong runner, the muddier, the more up up up the better, the harder the better, I love to suffer when running and to have to truly focus on just one thing, to me it really feels as close to nature as you can get and what I was most looking forward to about this race. Allowing to unleash that mental focus I so craved. But as we climbed up the first steep climb of the day, I was chatting to a fellow Centurion fan and everytime I asked the right leg to push off I couldn’t get any power. At the time I was convinced it was still a tight glute and it would loosen. After the first climb we had a very technical descent down a waterfall which required lots of stone jumping (well bum sliding). Once I had reached the bottom of this I tried to switch into a jog but I couldn’t. The pain was so intense that running required me to grit my teeth and to count to 10 over and over again. It’s just a tight muscle, it’s just a tight muscle, breath, breath, breath. In the back of my mind, the part we ultra runners don’t allow access to when pushing ourselves to the limit I knew something was really wrong. But there was no way I was pressing that SOS button. It’s not that bad. Keep moving.

There was only one check point for this day and then the only way out of that check point was by ferry. I reached that. And yes I can hear you shouting Mum, why didn’t you stop there. I couldn’t. I just couldn’t. Months and months of effort, sweat, blood, commitment and sacrifice had gone into this race. The organisation of leaving the kids was a mammoth effort in itself and mentally preparing to leave for them for 10 days had been so hard for me. So I gritted my teeth and jogged through the checkpoint. I knew people at home would be tracking me and seeing me going back through the field and would know something had happened. Had I known what lay ahead, I would have stopped.

The rain came in now and we headed for back into the hills for the rest of the day. Visibility was non-existent, the bogs were waist deep, the rocks treacherous and with over 100 or so river crossings it was a proper test of physical endurance. As the cold set in so did the pain. It was all I could think of. It totally encompassed me. I couldn’t descend without tears rolling down my face as I damaged the nerves further and further and the spasms up my right leg became so intense that every so often I would howl in pain. But still I carried on, convincing myself that at the finish I would see the medic who would be able to solve everything. I lost the ability to bend; I couldn’t fill up my water bottles, I became colder and colder as I was moving so slow and I guess now the body was going into shock as I pushed and pushed. The last 10km around the loch was the most technical of the day. Up and down pathless rocks. It took me 2hrs30 and on the final climb I had to ask someone to push me up the rocks as I had no power left in my leg. Finally we dropped off the rocks and I saw the finish. But still I couldn’t get there, and could do nothing more than a slow hobble. Still I carried on. This wasn’t over yet. I tried to sneak to my tent, but they are very clever these Ourea events lot and someone walks you to your tent whilst carrying your bag. The kindly lady realised I couldn’t walk without silently screaming and was pretty hyperthermic by now and before I knew it the medic was in the tent and had taken over the situation. In someways it was just such a relief to collapse and succumb to the pain. Still I thought I could go on. I had lost all sensation in my right leg, foot and lower back, I couldn’t stand up or even sit. So that was it. I was immediately pulled from the race and an ambulance called. Still in my head I was in it. Please let me carry on I wept. Please. The medics were so kind, stroking my hands, being firm but loving, Eddie you have seriously injured yourself, we have to get you to help, you have been so brave today, but let us take over now. I tried to sit up, to show that I could do this, but the pain was unbelievable. After that, I was so exhausted, so numb, heart broken and broken, I just let them take over.

The next few days are a bit of a blur as I had mainly a diet of painkillers. I was severely dehydrated both from the race and then having nil by mouth for 24hrs as they thought they might have to operate on the disc. Jo accompanied me so kindly to the hospital and called my husband saving me a phone call I knew I would have struggled to make. He was by my bed within 12hrs. My hero. Boy did I test our wedding vows that week as he had to sort the kids, his work then travel to rescue his completely broken wife who demanded to be taken home every waking minute though she hadn’t been able to pee or walk for 4 days! We did get home though! It was a humongous effort and very painful, but all I wanted was to be home, out of the hospital and back with my family. I just wanted to pull the duvet over my head, make all the pain go away and not face the consequences of failing so spectacularly at a goal I had put literally my heart and soul into. But after arriving home, the crash down was even harder. Just like focusing on getting to the finish on day 2, I had thought if I could just get home I would be feeling better. Both emotionally and physically I was spent. I have never lived in constant pain before, never really had a ‘proper’ injury, never been so physically impaired that even sleeping is impossible. Add this to this mental assault and the huge disappointment of spending the week crippled in an NHS hospital bed instead of having a wonderful week in the Highlands doing what I love most in the world. And now instead of coming home broken but happy, I was coming home totally broken, but with no race beneath my wings, with a body that could never work in the same way again. I was very very low. The lowest I have ever been. I never wanted to run again, I never wanted to check my clients plans again. I could never face commiting to anything ever again with the fear that this crushing wave of disappointment and failure would swamp me again.

Slowly the fog of pain has cleared; I was able to move a little, I took a shower. I ate a little. I sat. I read messages from friends. I spoke to Mum. My heart lifted a little. I was here, I was going to be ok. I was surrounded by love. Whatever had happened I was still me. I wasn’t loved any less. In fact I felt loved even more, as friends and family visited, helped, made tea, brought flowers, gave hugs, cleared their schedules to look after me and my little people. And this week, especially the past few days, I have found I can start to move a little more. Minutes go past when I don’t notice my back. Every time the sun rises, so does my spirit a little. I have realised how much I truly value my health and strength. It would be so easy to slip into a destructive cycle of blaming my body for letting me down and allowing my mind to follow. People do expect more from me though. I expect more from myself. I didn’t deserve to finish that race, just because I had trained and invested in that goal it didn’t necessarily follow it would be handed to me. Just because you invest so heavily in a dream doesn’t mean you will grasp it. Life isn’t like that. We know that. We have all learnt that as children. But its still a really tough lesson to swallow as an adult. I have given so much for this, surely now its my time? Surely I deserve to fly? But that’s the risk we take. That’s why we are addicts. It didn’t work out this time, maybe it never will. But we will keep trying, keep taking those risks, plotting that map, following our path. Up and Down. And as we know so well it’s not how we fall, but how we get ourselves back up, dust ourselves off, take a breath, a moment and take a new path that counts.

I’m not sure what my new path is yet. Im taking little steps in recovery, both physically and mentally. Most of all I’m learning to be kind to myself. I have spent the last 6 months battling my body into becoming the strongest/fittest/toughest it could be and now instead of spending every day fighting fatigue, doing one more rep, one more mile, one more effort, I’m taking the time to listen to it. To rest. To breathe. To mentally allow myself to relax. To feed myself well. As I let go of the disappointment and shame I can feel my back begin to recover. As I start to look up again, I can feel my smile return. I feel so grateful to my body for beginning to recover after what I put it through. I will never again do that to myself. Im not sure that I ever want to return to competitive running, but I know I want to be back in the mountains, moving freely, just me, the dog, the air, the eagles, the clouds. I want to get back to that, not because I deserve it or because it’s my right, but because I love it, because its part of me.

Thank you to everyone who believes in me, now to learn to believe in myself again.

The Lighthouse

At the finish of the Cape Wrath Ultra is this iconic lighthouse.

It marks not only the end of the 8 day 400km adventure, the most north westerly point of the United Kingdom, but is also a symbol. A symbol of safety, but also warning, a symbol of hope, but also of danger and risk ahead. I have thought of this lighthouse many times in training. How I will feel when I reach it. Seeing myself there, no doubt feeling the enormous satisfaction of finishing such a route, but also huge relieve that Im there, I made it, that all the work, sacrifices, time and money were worth the investment. But the lighthouse to me also symbolises many other things. I often call my husband my lighthouse (he loves that!!). He is the one person who gets it. Who understands this life we lead with three feral kids, in the mountains. Facing the weather, the challenges, the obstacles together. But its really him who we turn to when we question our path, are scared or not sure what or how to do something next. My kids are part of that lighthouse too. Drawing me back home, to sanity and rest when it all gets too much. Making me laugh, making me cry, showing such tenacity and gumption themselves. Its no doubt without my family I just dont think I would be as motivated to get up and get out every day. In someways it seems crazy that the busier life has got the more training, the longer races I have undertaken, but in other ways it all makes perfect sense. This sort of running requires total focus and planning, you just cant wing it, you have to follow the light and trust in the path. Sometimes that line is a bit wonky or requires re-navigation but thats all part of the journey, part of the process that makes life challenging and motivating.

I’ve just finished my last big block of training for this crazy race. Its been totally different to how I have trained before due to a number of factors. The main ones being I have trained throughout winter both on skis and running, meaning Ive done slightly less running than normal and nearly all of it  up to the beginning of April was on snow, sometimes deep, sometimes pisted, always cold!

I have limited and differing every week child care, no week is ever the same, but my week is always broken up with the fact the kids dont have school on a Wednesday, but instead a host of activities which means essentially I get two days training, then an easier day, then two days training and so the cycle is repeated. Taking into account within this cycle the fact recovery is limited sessions have to be spot on. Quality it key. I dont have time for waste of time sessions or not to do sessions. When Im out training, I’m out training and the minute I’m home I’m Mum. Its a difficult balance and one I’m still working on.

Throughout the winter I managed about 8-10 hrs skiing a week, sometimes more sometimes less, some uphill, some downhill. I did quite a lot of runs then straight onto skis for a few hours which was good cross training practice. By March I was feeling the fatigue really set in and was enjoying the skiing less and less as I was running more and more and finding they were’nt complimenting themselves anymore.  I definitely wiped myself out a few times trying to do both too much, but I have come out of the winter with really strong legs (and butt!) which was the aim, injury free and gunning to be out on the trails.


With the putting away of the skis I have ramped up the training for the last 4-6 weeks. The aim being to get my legs as tired as possible and then carry on running day after day, to learn and train both the body and brain that when it thinks its done, its not. I cant tell you how many times I woke up and thought, no I cant do it today or as I hobbled off up the road thought there is no way I’m running for 20 miles today. But the amazing thing is I did. I did every session. I always want to post a realistic picture of what it is like balancing the juggling act of life. It is bloody tough. It requires a super human effort to stay committed, to stay focused. It requires a husband who is totally understanding and backs you more than you do yourself. It takes all your extra energy, life has to be narrowed down to a very dull and repetitive existence. Groundhog day everyday; doing nothing but train, eat, look after the kids and repeat. Within these weeks I lost the ability to hold a conversation or stand for periods of time, open my eyes past 7pm, I was as selfish as you can be when you are looking after three kids by yourself most of the time. Though I loved following my training programme and seeing my fitness and most of all strength come through, I cant say I enjoyed that total feeling of being blasted most days. It made parenting really tough and I know I snapped a few times when I normally wouldn’t because I was so tired. Would I want to do this all the time? No way, physically and mentally I dont think its sustainable, but for a short period of time I think it has taught me a lot about myself and mental strength and my families ability to have the same meal five times a week!

The lighthouse is there now waiting for me. Another 10 days or so of training, but really the hard work is all in the bank now. Ive paid my dues to that match box and have a whole stack of matches ready to light when needed. Now I need to just follow that light, stay on the path and trust in the process.

Are you in the middle of hard training block? Or juggling life, work and kids? Who or what is your lighthouse? Who keeps you on the path to your dreams? Hold on tight to them, anyone who doesnt shine the light towards you isnt worth following, staying positive and moving forward is key to all adventures till you get to your lighthouse whoever or whatever it may be.



The Inner Voice

My skis are balancing over the edge. I just need to push over the ridge and make the first turn. But, Im frozen with fear. Make the push, Make the push. I push over and slide onto the hill. I freeze again. ‘Make the first turn’ ‘Just make the first turn’ my amazing ski instructor is shouting below me. ‘Come on Eddie’ I urge myself. ‘You can do this.’ This hill is the steepest, roughest, off piste I have ever skied. But I KNOW I can do it, I just need to make the turn. Im still frozen.  Im frustrated with myself. Why cant I move. My mind is racing. My heart is pounding. Stop. Wait. You just need to believe…..

Being challenged as an adult is way harder than when you are a child. Fear as an adult can take over your whole body. Your brain telling your body you cant do something is a hugely powerful emotion. So, how do we turn this off? Do we need to turn this off? Is this emotion not what saves us as adults from doing crazy stuff and dying?! As ultra or endurance athletes we need to push through this emotion all the time. For me, everyday I wake up feeling exhausted. Same for every parent in the world Im sure. Always awoken by a kid, always too early. I drag myself up and downstairs to the kettle. Stumbling down the stairs with creaky knees and sore legs. I cant run today I nearly always tell myself. Im too tired. Skip today says my body, yeah skip today says my brain. But that little voice says ‘Just wait and see.’ ‘Just have a cup of tea.’ That little voice is quiet, but its powerful. I listen to it everyday, some days louder than others, some days I have to search for its words. I think its my belief. My confidence. My strength. My family. It gets stronger, louder the more I allow it to speak. The more I train, the more I trust my body, the more I push  beyond barriers I think are possible.

I think the inner voice is what separates us from many those who shake their head at our sport, who cant fathom why you would want to do that to yourself (fair enough!!) . But its not just sport that I believe this emotion, this trust is so powerful. I see it everywhere. Something is too hard, so we stop. We arent very good at something, so we stop. Everyone else can do it, we cant, so we stop. Working for something is not cool. Talent is cool, but hard graft, nah not for me. Too many people dont know how to work hard, are scared of failing or simply dont want to try. Blinded by screens, by social media, by likes and celebrities. The little voice lies silent, not used, not challenged. We dont believe we can so we dont, we dont even try.

As many of us start tapering towards your first race of the season the questions of ‘Can I’ spring into our brains more and more. Or as we start to ramp up the training into peak weeks we say ‘Can I really do this? ‘Its too hard’ ‘Its too long’ ‘Im not fast enough’ ‘Im not strong enough.’ You see many people defeated before they have started. Thats why I think its so important to build this inner voice in training, in life, in running day in day out. Build your mentally strategies when things get tough, when you are tired, when your form has gone, when you dont want to get out of the door. When you are running, when you think you cant, listen to that inner voice. Not the one saying I cant. Not the one saying you are not good enough. Listen to the one saying.

“You can do this. Ive got your back, I believe in you. I am stronger than anything you throw at me. Yes Im tired, Im scared, but Im living and Im feeling and that feeling is to be embraced. This is LIFE.  And that finish line, the one you think about every day for months, for years, that finish line is going to be mine. Believe. Believe in what you are doing, Believe in the plan, in the pain, in your body, in you heart. Believe in your goals, in the  process, believe in yourself”

In life today it is so easy to lose sight of who you are, to drown out that inner voice, to believe in what others are saying. I have to work on mine everyday. I call it The Battle….going along the lines of – ‘It would be much easier to stay at home. This is  just TOO damn hard.’ But I feed the inner voice with these doubts and I let it speak. Am I strong enough? You have no idea how strong you are until you let yourself go.

…..I take a breath, Ill never forget that breath I took. It seemed a little like life paused. I breathed in. I had to do this. I mark the spot Im going to turn, I push, and I ski. I properly ski. And I loved every single moment. The fear, the doubts, the questions, gone. And in that moment, I know I can do so much more than I thought I could. I know if I believe above all else I will achieve. 

So as we approach race season, take some time to take that breath. To stop and listen to your inner voice. What does it say? Do you trust it? Allow it to speak. Listen. Its not easy, but remember only you and you alone can achieve your dreams. It has to come from within, it has to come from suffering, from making mistakes, from tiredness , from questioning. It has to come from working day in day out, from thinking of others, from thinking of yourself. You have to want that finish line more than anything else in that moment and your inner voice has to believe that too. Work together. Trust yourself. Trust your body.

Out there on the trail, in life you have to be your biggest cheerleader no one else. Run strong, proud and tall. In everything you do. And when in doubt, when it just seems too hard. Just take a moment, take a breath, listen to that voice. You have got this. Make that first turn. Make them proud.










Pilgrims Challenge 2018

My whole focus of 2018 is The Cape Wrath Ultra in May. A mere 8 day 450km race over rough and unmarked trails. The fear of it eats into me everyday. I think of the mental fortitude its going to take to wake up on day 3, day 4 with a sore body, a tired mind and have to go out again, all day. I know its going to be both the best of times and the worst of times.

This weekend I made a whistle stop tour over to England to run in the Pilgrims Challenge a 33 mile trail run on the North Downs Way, a restful night on a sports hall floor and then get up and run back again.

Ive been working hard all winter on my running strength  I have also been working hard on my skiing. We have been enjoying the most amazing winter here in the Alps. I am so lucky to have found  a fab instructor who just gets me, pushes me hard and has taught me how to ski like an athlete. Though skiing 8-12 hrs a week has definitely helped my running it has left me more fatigued than I realised and I definitely will not be trying to race again in February again! But I felt I wanted another crack at a multi day to go through kit/food again and most of just practise that getting up and getting going again feeling.

So in short the first day was muddy and slow and the second day was even muddier and even slower. My quads hurt from 10 miles in so I took the first day relatively easy thinking that on previous experience I am stronger on the second day. However after an hour of the second days ‘warm up’ I just had nothing in my legs. They just really hurt. My quads felt like someone had stuck hot pokes into them and every hill which is normally my strength I was literally dragging myself up. There was nothing there.

For the first time in my life I just hated every step. I have never wanted to finish a run more. I have never wanted to crawl away from a finish line and just lie on the ground more. I have never hated wearing a number and shoving gels down my neck more. I was scared to dig too deep and wipe out weeks of future training, but I had to mentally really hurt myself to get to that finish. This was not what I had planned. I had thought I was going to have two nice days out on the downs seeing friends and having a little kids free break. Instead I was in near constant pain, wanted to cry, and just didnt want to be there. I was so disappointed. But I did it. I battled down the ‘escape’ routes (there werent any!) and got the job done. I know that a LOT of Cape Wrath is going to feel like this. So I asked myself the question. What can you do to get yourself out of this pit? (aswell as why the hell do I do this? Why am I not at home? Why dont I just take up knitting? Or crochet? Or tap? ) The pain wasnt going anywhere. What am I going to do?

I ate as much food as I could stomach, normally Im through check points like a rat down a drainpipe. This time I stopped at every checkpoint, I ate and ate and drank and drank. I tried everything they had- this was in part to delay the moment I had to start running again. I counted steps, I walked a few steps to relieve my sore legs (stuffing more food in my face)and I slowly just zoned in on the one thing I knew would get me to the finish. My kids. My kids in their pjs. Going to bed, knowing Mum was coming home and would be there in the morning. I could not bear to have to explain that I didnt finish or that I gave up. My kids have been SO resilient this winter. They work so hard at school, all in French, they never complain (well) they do their best. They have skied themselves into ski groups with their peers after just a year on skis. They take everything in their stride and I so want them to be proud of me. I want them to see their Mum carrying the values we hold dear as a family; commitment, perseverance and passion. Do what you love to do even when you hate it because life cant always be mountains and blue skies. You have to earn those views. When you are in that deep hole, when you question your ability, when you want to give up, when it all just seems too much. Its that moment that makes us who we are.

You make the choice.

You give up or you carry on. (Im not advocating carrying on when injured ever, but a little bit of pain, hey you keep moving!)

So I finished. It wasnt pretty, it was plain ugly. I am not proud of how I ran, but I am proud of how I coped it with the weekend. On reflection and after a solid 5-6 hrs sleep since Saturday (I’m looking and feeling great!) Im so glad that I did have such a crap race. This winter all the training, all the skiing has been going so well, I havent missed any sessions, I have been so motivated and feeling so great, but I havent done any ‘suffer fest’ sessions (which I did for a month before Druids last year).  But I am actually in a great place, Im strong, fit and injury free and  this has just shown me how much I want the Cape Wrath finish this year. But this has also given me a huge wake up call on how much I have to be prepared to suffer.

And I can suffer.

I can suffer for my kids, for my friends, for my family, for my bank of wonderful clients who inspire me everyday, for those who offer to have the kids, who offer coffee, cake, ski lessons, who what’s app, who kudos, who nod knowingly over a tantruming toddler in the playground. I can show them. I can show them that life isnt all about that home run, those powder turns, gliding up the hill and that glorious descent. Life is hard. This job is hard.Whatever you choose to do in life.You have to really want it. And you have to know why you want it.  Keep that focus. Take the bumps, the chatter, the knock backs, the slips, the falls with courage and absolute determination. Question yourself yes, but only to find the answers you know are there. We are always stronger than we think we are and when you think you cant go on, you always can, you just have to find that reason to continue and hold it as close to your heart as you can.

Thank you To Centurion Ultra Team and Family, La Sportiva and Lyon Outdoor for the support and to my husband who is just a hero and never suggests I just stay at home and clean the fridge!

(And to the passenger who had to sit next to me on the flight to Geneva after running almost 70 miles with 8,000ft of climbing and no shower I deeply apologise.)


The Druids Challenge

This year my husband competed the Dragons Back Challenge. A 5 day race over 315 kilometres and most importantly 15500 metres of ascent over some of the most challenging terrain Wales can offer! I stuck a training on the plan on the fridge each week and watched him stick to it religiously. As the race approached various parcels starting being delivered of ‘essential’ kit, he quietly went about gathering everything he needed and off he went to Wales, nervous, but ready. Roll on a week later and I picked up a completely broken, shell of a man, who couldnt string a sentence together, was 10kg lighter and couldnt sleep for a week  as he kept waking up thinking he needed to keep running! Most normal people would be really concerned with the terrible state of their husband, but not me! I was jealous! I wanted some of that action! He had pushed himself to the absolute limit, beaten a lot more accomplished runners, handled the stresses and strains with such mental fortitude and was such a credit to the Sutton Clan! I know the race has changed him forever.

So I decided I wanted a piece of the multi day experience and have entered Cape Wrath in May 2018. 

A mere ‘8-day ultra-running expedition race weaving 400km through the Highlands of Scotland.’ Or just a long running holiday without the kids!

So I entered the 3 day Druids Challenge, an 84 mile, 3 day stage race over the ridgeway to see how I handled this multi day experience, what worked, what didnt, what I needed to do and most importantly to experience that getting up day after day after poor sleep, feeling tired and getting moving again.

After Lakeland 50 the foot which I smashed over the course took a long time to settle down and required me taking 3 weeks completely off and then a very slow build back up to ‘proper’ training so my preparation wasnt ideal, but by the time the race came round I was fit again. I had done about 4 weeks of really good hard hilly runs, enjoying the Indian summer we had in the Alps. And Im learning from experience now that if you can run well around here for a couple of hours you are in great shape!

I left the family and flew over to England and on Thursday, the day before the race. Now, again from experience, I always feel terrible running the day after travelling, whether its coming down from altitude, the flight or tiredness, Im not sure, but I didnt want to leave the kids any longer, so decided if I felt rough on Friday I would just have to suck it up! James Elson, had offered to come and run with me and we set off from the start near Tring. I was nervous about going too fast and the first couple of girls hared off. This was a point I knew would be my downfall over multi days. I am so competitive. I find it very hard not to run in the lead or very near the lead. But I held my nerve and eventually after 15 miles we drifted pass the girls into the lead. We were running super easy and  I felt good, should I push harder? I had made my tailwind up in my bottles in the morning and as I was sipping it I felt my stomach turn over. OH no. I know that feeling. Run on, keep talking, get James to keep talking.. but it was no use. Everything that went in didnt want to stay in. I couldnt drink or eat and the running became a bit of a shuffle. MY fault. I had made up my tailwind too strong in the morning, what was I thinking? What an idiot! So I retched, shuffled, bent over and grumbled my way to the finish. James was a real buddy and very patient, I was just really disappointed not to be able to run well with him. At the finish I had managed to hold onto my lead, but what was about 10 mins leading into the final check point was now only a couple of minutes. I wasnt concerned though about that, it was more I had just run 30 miles on fumes and had to do the same tomorrow. I felt like absolute death and had to force down a twix, cups of milk, coke, cake anything and everything. Knowing that unless I really hit the recovery hard tomorrow was go to be a disaster. Within an hour or so the stomach had settled and I felt fine again. Lesson learnt and I had to just forget about what had happened and get on with the next day.

Running the trails with my hero – Thanks Drew and Claire for the cheers and the photo!

Day 2 dawned and after a sleepless night on a sports hall we set off again being warned of the rain and wind which would follow us throughout the day. I set off with the mantra that the first 5 miles were a warm up and to just let the body settle into running.

Again the girls set off faster than me, but I didnt allow myself to put in any effort till after the first 5 miles. I also started eating right from the off, knowing I was going to need to pile in the calories today. I was so happy to feel good and the food and drink to be going down I cruised into the lead and ran strong all day. I felt super strong and enjoyed running with the guys at the back end of the mens elite field and being the only one running up the hills at the end of the day. I held back slightly knowing I had another day of running to go, but was really pleasantly surprised to feel so good after feeling so truely terrible the day before! Im not saying it was easy, I still had to concentrate to stay positive, but I was back in my happy place, on the trails, in the fresh air and working to the best of my ability. At the finish we were bussed down to the school we were staying in. Unfortunately we had a bit of a wait to fill the bus and I got absooutely freezing, by the time we reached the school I was shaking uncontrollably and was so happy to bump into my England ACP team mate Nathan who carried my bag to the showers and got me a cup of tea. After a chilly shower (character building) I put on all my kit I owned, ate a tonne of soup and bread and went to sleep for an hour. I knew the importance of getting changed quickly, getting set up for the next day, eating and then resting as much as I could for the next day.

Day 3 dawned clear, but very windy. The guys sleeping near me laughed as I hauled myself off my sleeping mat and shuffled around like an OAP. My body felt tired, but most importantly my feet were in great shape, no blisters, no sore points and I knew that I could ease the quads into a bit more work! We were bussed back up to the start. The first 10 miles were over the muddiest section of the Ridgeway with the wind blowing constantly in our faces. Again I set off super conservatively. I found this mentally so hard, but kept reminding myself this was another long day. The quads felt pretty battered. I went on time today rather than miles and gave myself an hour to think of nothing but just to ease into the run. Mel and Rebecca the girls in 2nd and 3rd started stronger, but I concentrated on just doing my own thing. At checkpoint one I still felt pretty stiff, but just kept trying to dial in a comfy and relaxed pace. Focusing on the fact I had a lead and just needed to keep mind and body together for the day to win. I broke the next section down into 30 mins sections, eating and drinking and working to each checkpoint. There were some more flat sections than previous days and had I recced the course I would probably have run a bit quicker on these sections, but I was nervous that I was heading into unknown territory and the last thing I wanted was to blow my quads and have to shuffle the last 5 miles. I hit the last checkpoint with Rebecca, who had run a great third day and followed my heels all day. It was quite emotional! She had become a good friend and we only had 6 miles left. We may have walked a tiny bit up the last few climbs as we both started to feel a bit low on energy, this was the only time I really struggled and think I paid a bit for the first day disaster as I was running low on reserves. We headed up the last 3 mile climb before we dropped the final 2 miles to the finish. The wind was so strong we were literally blown off our feet. I could see a long string of runners , bent low over the wind, all in their own private world of pain. There was no way I was walking this last stage. I opened up my metaphorical matchbox  and lit everything I had left. I worked as hard as hard as my poor, tired, battered legs and heart would let me. I thought of my kids, all the sacrifices I make and the family make for me to do this sport. I thought of all the sessions I had done, how hard I had worked all year and I flew. It was the only time I really pushed for the three days and it felt so good. I felt strong, I was so happy that after three kids I could still compete in this sport and that I could still run so well after 84 miles and most importantly of all I still loved that blissful feeling of pushing your body to limits that many people never experience.

So- what have I learnt? What will I be taking into next year and Cape Wrath training?

Well, firstly I loved the multi day format. I wasnt entirely sure it was for me, wouldnt I prefer to just run 84 miles in one go? But I actually enjoyed the running, the stopping, the mental strength of getting up again and getting moving again. As parents know, it was such a treat to stop a run, have time to sit around, to rest, to talk to fellow runners, make new friends and to selfishly think of noone but myself. I was proud of how mentally I handled the three days-both the running, being away form my beloved family and the recovery. And most importantly I just loved the commaderie between us runners. Both Mel and Rebecca who finished 2nd and 3rd I actually got to know we encouraged and supported each other and are now friends.

I know what I need to do now heading into 2018, but firstly I’m taking a little break, dusting off the skis and going back to my roots of pilates and strength to start bulding Cape Wrath Eddie ready for May.

Thank you to Extreme Energy for hosting such a great event. Thank you to La Sportiva at Lyon Outdoor for supplying me with the best shoes both for the mountains and the mud and gnarliness of the Ridgeway ( I wore the La sportiva Ultra Raptor, which were perfect and will definitely be my shoe of choice for both the winter and Cape Wrath). To Centurion Running for all the cheers and love. To Coach Jayson for being patient, rewriting my plan a million times and pushing me so hard on those Monday and Tuesdays! To my little family who just mean the world to me. And finally to all you guys who read this, who send me messages, and the clients who I coach. You are all an inspiration to me. Life with kids, living abroad, often on my own, is hard, but its all worth it. To the friend who sent me a message saying- ‘Take the time to breathe in the freedom and just enjoy the trails’ I tried to do just that. At the finish I took a moment to appreciate my health, my family and the absolute joy of getting to do what I love day after day. I will never take it for granted. Thank you life for every muddy and windy step of this journey.





Finding The Rainbow

‘It happens to everyone.’ ‘Its how you handle it that makes the difference.’ Yeah yeah, I know all this I spout this all the time (well not all the time, but we have to face the fact that injury is the major downside to being an athlete, especially a long distance runner.) But I want to run, I NEED to run, I can hear myself whining, I can see my sulky face, my grumpiness and I cant stop myself.

So after my last race in July I had a bit of a sore foot, after I  fell during the race I did something funny to my foot, but carried on running. After the race and feeling brutally disappointed in my performance I wanted to get back to training straight away and enter every race I could find (classic behaviour). I did build back slowly into running, but the foot niggle was there, it was getting bad, but I carried on running. But it got to the point where I couldnt walk on it in the morning and after my last long mountain run it was so sore I couldnt walk barefoot. That is very sensible behaviour Eddie. But, you see, if you read this, you are proabably one too or understand these behaviours. I am a total addict. I live to run. I live to be outside. Just me. I need this in my life or I actually cant cope. Life is too tough, too consuming, too loud for me to be in it all day. I need time.

So I was warned in no polite words to stop running or I risked this becoming a long term injury. I was gutted. I was actually feeling really good in training and excited to be having a crack at 100 miles in October. But that wasnt to be.  Thats ok I told myself, few days off and Ill be back. For the first few days I actually loved not running, I was able to savour mornings in my pjs, drinking tea. But, of courses, after a few days I got grumpy, real grumpy.

The problem with being a running addict is when its taken away from you there is a huge hole in your life. My whole life revolves around running, my work, my friends, my family, even the dog is so used to running hours and hours every day she has gone spare pacing around the house after me with that – why aren’t we going outside face?!

Ive been here before. I know what to do, I need to hit the strength, to sit on the bike, to go swimming, but this time I feel truely bereft at the loss of my running time. I have had some serious chats to myself, I feel myself slipping into a depression which is so unlike me. I can nearly always find the sunshine in everyday. But this time its been tough. I took my running for granted, I was too greedy and now Im paying for it.

With Coach Jayson I have written and rewritten strength work and swam like I have not done in 6 years. I have not felt that motivated to train, so I have just ridden with that. Trying to listen to my body rather than fight it back into fitness. So many people I see cross train like mad things when injured and I do think you need to give your body some down time to let the inflammation die down and energy to heal without trying to desperately hold onto fitness.


I’ve tried to flow through the last few weeks. In weepy moments I’ve tried to maintain perspective, but also to let myself feel low. I think its important to allow yourself to feel a bit blue and not fight an injury, but allow a bit of wallowing, then when its time take a deep breath and dive back into life. Putting on a brave face outside the house is important to me and the kids. Their life goes on, as does my clients, so though inside a little bit of me is really sad, I must carry on. This is all good training I tell myself, when the going gets tough, cope with the adversity and keep moving on. Time is a great healer.

Finding the motivation to go the gym or pool has been tough at times, but Ive persisted as I know I would only regret that hugely once I can run again. I am a big believer in ‘movement’ helping the healing process as well of course as the release of those essential endorphins which I know will lift my mood.

The rainbow over the mountain has been missing for a few weeks for me. But I can feel the happiness creeping back in. An easy jog this morning with a great friend, relatively pain free, an offer of a mountain bike from other friends, a great performance by a client who himself has fought back from injury, little pockets of sunshine, light on the horizon. The whisper of winter over the mountains. The excitement of snow. Life holds so much joy here. The path I have followed this year, hasnt been the one I planned. But then when is it? Its still my path and Im proud of it.

I wanted to write this as I know so many fellow friends who suffer with injuries and how tough it is when you lose your everyday purpose. Try and cut yourself some slack, dont be afraid to wallow, but also find some perspective. Running is our gift, its not our right. Look after your bodies and mind. Talk to loved ones. Get a strength plan. Ride a bike. Take a swim. Take time to drink your tea. You’ll be back on the trails, stronger, wiser and a little more appreciative in no time. Patience is your best friend. Dont fight her, she will always win!

Heres to finding my patience, being brave and not being afraid to admit I’m finding life hard. Heres to the rainbow at the end of the storm, its there, its just up to me to look up and find it.


Recovery Rules!

I rather foolishly thought that I would be able to race again this weekend and won’t lie actually felt guilty at deciding to pull out. I was really keen to do it as its my local race, I know all the trails like the back of my hand and thought it would be great for ‘business’ if I could come out with a good result.

Running for my family – Lakeland 50 report

I definitely find the easiest part of ultra running is the actual training rather than the racing!  Though a lot of it is in my household is like Groundhog Day. Get up, feed kids, run, feed kids, run, strength work, feed kids, clean up after kids, run, laundry, be a taxi for the kids, – you get the gist.

Making The Excuses

In my ‘spare’ time I write coaching plans for athletes wishing to normally accomplish something that scares them. They all come to me for different reasons, but underneath the different backgrounds, running experience and life commitments is one shared goal. They want to achieve the best they can do on that day or over that series of races.

A New Life

We sleep with the window open, we can hear the river running, the cow bells, the occasional dog barking, a bat rustling in the eaves and that’s it. Silence. Silence for some can be frightening. Time to be with your thoughts, to face your fears. I love it. Days in our house our loud, voices shout over each other to be heard, the mountains take no notice, at night we are shrouded in peace.