Lucy Smith

How did your running journey start?

When I was about 17 I ran a Race for Life with my godmother. I wouldn’t say I was hooked after that but I started to run relatively frequently from that point onwards.

What were/are your main/favourite distances?

I really love 10 milers – long enough to get into but not long enough to send you to the pain cave! There just aren’t enough 10 milers around. I also enjoy a 5km when I feel like I need to burn off some steam.

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

Probably running up Col D’Aspin in the Pyrenees last year. I hate hills so the fact that I managed to run up a 12km mountain that forms part of the Tour de France route was pretty exciting. I admit my eyes were watering (quite a lot) when I got to the top…must have been the altitude! I definitely never thought I’d do anything like that because I’m not the more adventurous of runners but it opened my eyes to what I am capable of and has made me a little more adventurous. Also, I was so happy to finish the Berlin Half Marathon this year on essentially no training whatsoever (I’d been injured and not run for 5 months). I proved to myself that times aren’t everything and I can enter races ‘just for fun’. It sounds stupid but that was a bit of a revelation for me!

How did/has your approach to running change(d) throughout your career?

I have spent the best part of the last 10 years suffering from various injuries. I have never been very good at the ‘easy’ running and all my runs, until more recently, have tended to be quite short and speedy. I’ve finally come to realise that I need to be a little kinder to myself and after my most recent hamstring injury I’ve spent a lot of time reassessing my approach and what I really want from my running…turns out its enjoyment and not necessarily fast times. Funny that. Although I’ll no doubt still bash out a 5km now and then.

Favourite race you’ve seen and why

Pretty much every race I watch, particularly the London Marathon. There are just so many inspiring people and stories.

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

I had a torn hip flexor about 10 years ago. I’d never been injured before. I didn’t do much about it and it eventually when into my glute and has been the bane of my running life ever since. Thankfully, also around 10 years ago, I discovered yoga and since then, even though I have still had injuries (most recently my hamstring tendon) I am able to manage them better and listen to my body more.

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

Probably running in discomfort and knowing when to stop. I don’t really recall a time, in recent years at least, where I have run pain-free. It can grind you down a bit and it’s mentally tough to keep going when you’re uncomfortable. Again, I revert back to yoga, which has really helped my mental strength and focus. I don’t run comfortably, but I am able to work through the discomfort now by breathing, thinking about all the things I’m grateful for and reminding myself I’m privileged to be able to run and get out in nature.

What is your number one piece of advice?

Listen to your body. If I’ve learnt one things it’s that. Our bodies are so amazing and capable of amazing things but boy do we put them through the ringer! Make sure you have rest days, don’t beat yourself up if you miss a training session – train happy! And, I would obviously say this, but compliment your running with yoga or some other form of stretching and mobility. Running is so repetitive and we are all pounding away on the same joints, using the same muscles, every time we go out the front door. Be kind to yourself!