Clare Thurgood



How did your running journey start?

I started running regularly at primary school when I was aged about 8 or 9. My school backed onto Epping Forest so our PE teacher would lead a weekly lunchtime running club for anyone who wanted to run and we would run a set loop through the forest several times. I competed for the school at indoor athletics, outdoor athletics and cross country. I ran several times at the primary schools race on Chingford Plains which still happens now and once came third. I had a friend who ran at Orion but didn’t join the club until I was 14.

What were your main/favourite distances?

I have done pretty much every distance over time from 800m up to the marathon! As a young senior I used to be a miles junkie and favoured longer races-anything from 10 miles upwards. I did a couple of marathons and lots of 10, 15 and 20 mile races. As I got into my late twenties I started training on the track to improve my speed and began to focus on competing in the Essex League which is where the best athletes in the county compete. These were shorter distance cross country races (typically 4-5 miles) and have become my favourite ever since!

What would you consider your greatest personal athletic achievement, and what did it mean to you?

I had my daughter in July 2015 and since then I’ve achieved PB’s at 5k (18.25), 5 miles (30.03) and 10k (37.41) which I would never have expected before. Because I have less time and less flexibility to train when I want to, my sessions are much more focused and specific. I’m also lucky that my husband, Ian, runs so he understands when I dash out of the house for a run when he gets in from work at night.

How did your approach to running change throughout your career?

When I was younger I was more focused on the bigger challenges such as the London Marathon and Great North Run as these were the ones I’d watched on TV growing up. But once I started training regularly on the track the focus shifted to running PB’s, getting selected for Essex and trying to win county medals. I have always taken my training seriously but as I have gotten more experienced I am better at certain things like knowing when to rest and not overtrain and knowing what sessions are required in the lead up to specific races in the diary.

Favourite race you’ve seen and why

I was lucky enough to be at the London Olympics in 2012 on Super Saturday to watch Mo Farah win the 10,000m. Having competed alongside him at Parliament Hill in the Nationals when we were both juniors, it was amazing to watch him at a home Olympics.

What injuries have you had, how did you treat them, and how did it affect you mentally?

I have always been into sport and think this has really helped my avoid bad injuries over time. I played netball from aged 10-18, rode horses from aged 5-13 and have been running since I was 9 so can’t really remember a time when I wasn’t doing something! The only serious injury I’ve ever had which stopped me training was sciatica which I developed whilst training for my first marathon. Luckily I had Physio and know how to keep on top of it now. After having my daughter I also developed tendinitis in my hip but again, with some physio and careful management I have been able to avoid any further flare-ups. I am so grateful I haven’t had more injuries and have so much sympathy for those who have-it’s such a frustrating time to go through.

What was/has been your number one challenge throughout your career, and how did you overcome it?

When I was younger I used to get really, really nervous before races, so much so that I would dread them! But now I’m much better and I look forward to racing. I still get butterflies but it’s more with anticipation of seeing if my training will pay off and seeing what I can achieve that day. My husband will say I lack confidence at times which brings out those old nerves, particularly in more competitive races but he is constantly reminding me that I can do it which is helpful.

What is your number one piece of advice?

Use the portaloos early when you get to a race!!!