No one is more qualified to impart knowledge on running than Lizzy Hawker…
Lizzy Hawker is an endurance athlete with a special talent for running in the mountains. She is a five-time winner of the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc, was the 2006, 100km women’s world champion, and is a former world record holder for running the longest distance in 24 hours. Lizzy also holds a PhD in oceanography.
1. Things probably all started out for me with my first visit to the mountains as a young child – the beginning of a love affair with the mountains. Running ultra distances happened more by chance than by design. It’s hard to remember when I wasn’t running; I always ran, but it was something that I did for myself. In 2005 I entered my first ultra and found it natural to run long distances. I think endurance was always a part of me. I just didn’t realise that it could have an expression through competitive running. For me the lesson was that sometimes opportunities arise – we don’t always know where they might lead, but if we have the courage to take them up a new world might open up.
2. During a long distance run, sometimes I am focussed directly on the task at hand – keeping warm, eating enough, drinking enough; sometimes I think about everything that is going on in my life and the lives of those around me; sometimes I make plans; and sometimes I think about nothing very much at all – the running just becomes a moving meditation, a being there in the moment.
3. The luxury I crave at the end of a race? – That depends on where I am and whom I am with and the nature of the race – it could be a hug from a friend, it could be sleep, it could be a warm shower!
4. Each race has its own unique challenge – be it 100 miles in the mountains or 10km on the road. For me, the special thing is to have found the world of endurance sport, and to have the opportunity to explore my limits. It’s not just about the race. For me the motivation is very much within myself – to try to do the best I can in each moment. It could be about the journey – physical, mental, and spiritual, the preparation, the in-between, the looking for the edge.
5. I don’t have any pre-race routines or preparation or superstitions. However, for sure it is important in the week before a big race to find somewhere quiet – to allow myself the time and space to prepare physically and mentally, to absorb some of that beautiful energy of the nature and environment around me, and to realise how lucky we are just to ‘be’.
Lizzy Hawker’s new book Runner explores the physical, mental and emotional challenges of runners at the edge of human endurance. Availble at amazon.co.uk