Hannah Rose Irwin
My third guest Q&A is with the phenomenally talented, Hoka One One athlete, Louise Small. Louise has competed for both England and Great Britain from a young age, and has slowly worked her way up the ranks. In 2009 she was a bronze medallist at the European Junior Championships in the 3,000m and 5th at the World Youth Championships. More recently, Louise took home silver in the England 5,000m championships, proving her strong form is ever continuing and is currently working towards the Toronto marathon where she will represent England... another fantastic achievement! I spoke to Louise and asked her a bit about her life and journey as a runner. Thank you Louise for chatting!!
As someone who teaches alongside running, how do you get the work/training/recovering balance right?
This can be a difficult juggling act for many athletes that combine work with training and competing. As we all know recovery is as important as the training itself but it has definitely taken me several years to find a good balance between teaching and training. I think the most important thing is not to compare yourself to other athletes (whether they are professionals or combining work and training). You need to find what works best for you and a balance that is achievable. Unfortunately, we all need money to survive so for most of us work is a necessity, so it is important to be organised and prioritise time to relax and switch off (whether that is reading a book, having a bath or watching TV). This is not my strong point as I love to be on the go and anyone that knows me well, knows that I tend to make myself very busy! I have learned over the years that I personally like to develop myself as a person in other areas of my life and not just have running as my soul focus. This makes me a happier faster runner. Currently, I am juggling a Masters in physical Education, supply teaching and running.
When do you think is the right time for individuals to step up to the marathon?
That’s a hard question to answer as I would say it depends on the individual’s motivation, previous training and their injury history. It is important that you have a healthy body and you are fuelling adequately for the extra mileage required before tackling the marathon distance. The marathon appears to becoming a younger person’s game with the likes of Callum Hawkins and Charlotte Purdue now being seasoned pros at the event being only 27 and 28.
Now you’re stepping up to the marathon, how do you ensure you eat enough to support the mileage?
I am not solely focussing on the marathon (I like track racing too much)! I am having a go at marathons and hoping the training will also support my 10,000m running on the track.
Fuelling correctly for a marathon can be a challenge especially as I am not an advocate for calorie counting because as athletes we tend to have an obsessive personality. I believe eating is very much an intuitive thing and your body will tell you if you are not fuelling correctly (growling stomach). I would suggest it is more important to monitor your weight if you are not confident you are eating enough for your requirements and possibly seek a professional in the form of a nutritionist. For me I like to eat little and often so tend to have 3 main meals, plus mid-morning/afternoon snacks and normally something sweet for pudding (I have a major sweet tooth).
Do you ever struggle to remain positive, and how do you deal with the mentally tough side of running?
I would be lying if I said I am always a positive happy person. I try my best not to lose sight of what is important in life. I absolutely love running and it has enriched my life in so many ways but I also believe that if I couldn’t run tomorrow I would be able to deal with that and channel my ambitious, bordering on obsessive, personality into another passion that I could be successful at. You never know what is around the corner so it is important to live in the moment and lean on the ones you love to overcome any challenges that you are facing. For me, my support network is so important, my family, boyfriend and friends keep me mentally strong when I might be feeling down. They are a constant reminder that they will always love me no matter what.
If you could do anything in a day, what would be your dream day?
Great question! This is going to sound really sad but probably a long run with all my running friends followed by a BBQ or brunch with all my family and friends together!