Pippa Dowswell


How did your running journey start?

I decided that I would try to get fit when I went back to work after having my youngest child. I am a teacher and I decided that I had time to run around the school field after work before picking her up from nursery. The first time I did it I had to lie down afterwards with my lungs on fire. That’s what 16 years of smoking does for you! However, I persevered, intermittently at first, and was soon regularly running 3 miles. I kept doing this for some time, until I eventually joined a running club and was gob smacked to find out that I was not the slowest. I then started entering 10k races and went through the exciting period of every race being a pb.

What were/are your main/favourite distances?

To be honest I have favourite runs rather than favourite distances. I find 5k a bit painful but even then I always enjoy the 5k on the rides.

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

In recent years I have attained a pb I can be proud of at all distances- I struggled to get a decent marathon time for years and so I think my greatest achievement must be Beachy Head Marathon in 2016 which I completed in 4 hrs 14 and was 32nd woman. I had trained so well for it I was fit enough to bound up the steps and I even managed to run up some of the Seven Sisters. If you have ever run it you will know what I mean and if you haven’t I recommend it- it’s my favourite race.

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

When I first started I was just running to get fit. I didn’t even expect to enjoy it. As I got fitter I started to enjoy it more and more so then I was running for the love of it. I’m addicted I think- if I go for more than 2 days without running I start to get restless. Recently as my times have started to be good within my age group I have added a competitive approach to my running which has inspired me to work harder and include sprinting and hill sessions in my training rather than just going for a run. It works- between the ages of 52 and 54 I have run faster than I ever have before.

Favourite race you’ve seen and why

That would have to be Mo Farah winning gold in the 10000m in the 2012 Olympics.  I’m sure it must be a lot of other people’s favourite as well. Fantastically paced by Mo and it was so exciting to watch. I watched it at the clubhouse with other Orion members-can’t remember who brought the telly!

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

I have been very lucky and touch wood never had an injury that has taken me out of running for more than a couple of months. Even that was very frustrating. I have had some problems with my knees. I have been given exercises to do to strengthen the surrounding muscles which seems to work and I use kinaesthetic tape on long races and when they start playing up. My ankle is also starting to give me trouble and I am using the same approach.

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

Juggling training with being a single parent who has a demanding full time job. And my honest response to how I overcome this problem is that I never do housework. My children are now grown up so now I have no excuse but the freed up time has been channelled into diversifying myself in an attempt to remain injury free. So am now doing lots of cycling and swimming too.

What is your number one piece of advice?

Enjoy it. If it stops being fun take a break from serious training and run for fun for a while.