Running more than the House of Sport…
This month we get chatting to House of Sport’s very own girl on the run, Ruth Martin. When Ruth is not running around House of Sport, she can be found training for marathons and repeatedly falling over on muddy trails. In this sixth instalment celebrating our residents escapades, we find out what running means to Ruth and why she does it.
Hello Ruth, tell us about what you do here at House of Sport?
I am the House of Sport Operations and Communications Officer and my role involves making sure that all of our residents here in House of Sport are happy. I am always aspiring to nurture a community, making sure that there are opportunities for engagement and collaboration amongst our different organisations and always seeking to make House of Sport an environment that fosters this.
We heard a rumour that you have recently returned from Chicago with another marathon under your belt?
Guilty I’m afraid, Chicago was amazing. The city is incredible and the Americans have a way of really embracing running races and getting behind those taking part. I think that marathon spectating is a real sport in itself in the States with elaborate signs (my favourite being ‘You better run better than our government!’), cow bells and supporters cheering along the entire route. Chicago is the second marathon that I have done in the US with my first being in Boston in 2017, another amazing experience with people coming out of bars to give me a congratulatory hug as I walked back to the hotel wearing my medal.
How many marathons have you completed in total?
To be honest I have lost count of how many official marathons I have run but I think Chicago was number 14. My first marathon was in the beautiful city of Edinburgh which I completed in the slightly ominous time of 04.04.04.
And what is your PB?
3 hours 34 minutes and 27 seconds which I managed to get in the London Marathon in 2016 leading me to apply for a place in the Boston marathon for the following year.
Favourite race to date and why?
This is such a hard question!
The first time that I did the New York Half in March 2014 was pretty special as it was my first race back from injury after breaking my foot a few months before (I’m not a nice person when injured!) and I was just happy to be out running again.
I also love running anywhere in North Norfolk along the coastal path. Norfolk is like my second home; beautiful, peaceful and poor phone reception makes it the ideal place to escape to! I ran my first ultra (47 miles) in Norfolk in January, starting at 8 am and finishing just as the light began to dip down into the sea. The feeling I got from finishing that run is something that has stayed with me and sustained me all year.
What motivates you?
I began my relationship with running about 12 years ago when I was walking home from my waitressing job, tired and covered in cake crumbs, I just wanted to be home quicker. I ran probably a distance of less than half a mile but the sense of euphoria I got was something I’d never experienced before. This was my epiphany moment and after that I started running a bit every week, gradually tacking a little more distance on, I was hooked.
When you start, you can easily be pulled into the allure of certain challenges and getting the best times but running for me is very much about the mental clarity and stability that it gives me.
I spent most of my teenage years unbelievably shy and anxious, unable to find my place in the world. I was constantly plagued with a sense of unbelonging, a feeling of inadequacy and worried about EVERYTHING. Although I am still shy, anxious and will always be a worrier, running has equipped me with the knowledge, and maybe just a feeling, that actually that is OK; a kind of acceptance. I’ve stopped trying to fight the feeling that I don’t belong anywhere because with other runners (and even running solo), I feel as if I have found some semblance of my place.
There is a feeling of invincibility that I get from running, like I can do anything. I wish it was something that I had stumbled across much earlier in my life and is probably why I am so passionate about telling other people about the benefits of running. My whole family runs now (from my 65 year old mum to my 5 year old niece) and this year I got to run the London Marathon with my younger sister, a completely new experience for me which you can read about here!
I can only speak form personal experience but I credit running with changing my life and without it I would be a different person. Running saved my life.
Favourite time to run?
Without doubt, early morning. I like the feeling of getting up and heading straight out the door. A morning run sets me up for the day and prepares me for anything; helping me to manage my anxiety about being late for work and brings a sense of calm to a somewhat racing mind!
When I run, especially when I’m not tied to train times and deadlines, I tell myself: ‘this is what I am doing right now, I have nowhere else to be , so enjoy the process, the steps, the freedom, the privilege. I can do this’.
What do you listen to when you run?
I like to listen to a variety of pop classics and chart hits; everything from Tom Odell to Miley Cyrus. Anything with a good beat and cringe-worthy lyrics but I have been known to play a bit of opera along the away, something about all those passionate crescendos…
What is your favourite post-race food of choice?
My choices are not very rock and roll! I have a fail-safe addiction to sweet potato fries with lots of salt after marathon running. But really my ultimate meal of choice would be Marmite on toast along with a cocoa Tribe Protein shake (like chocolate milk but better!). I also crave Diet Coke after the end of a long race, strange because I don’t drink it at any other time.
And what are you up to next?
Well, the next challenge is something that I am equally excited and terrified about. At the end of November I will be heading to the Azores in the mid-Atlantic to complete a six day, 280 km run with the Tribe Freedom Foundation. I have never done a multi-day race before and although I feel massively underprepared, I am looking forward to pushing myself way outside of my comfort zone as well as experiencing the joy of camping and eating nothing but dehydrated food and TRIBE bars for a week…Life is short and sometimes fear stops us doing things that could be incredible experiences. I suppose all the races I’ve completed so far this year have been leading up to this trip.
The Tribe Freedom Foundation is an anti-slavery charity and running community that works to increase awareness of modern-day slavery and to support survivors.
So, when you are not running marathons and running around House of Sport, what do you like to do to switch off and relax?
Relaxing is something that I find quite difficult but has vastly improved since my sister got a Whippet called Ernie.
I have always loved people watching (I wrote my whole dissertation in cafes whilst watching people), reading and writing stories.
Then there is coffee, the life-blood on which I run, quite literally.
What advice do you have for running newbies?
Try not to be put off in those initial first runs when it all seems inextricably hard. When I first started running, I could barely go around the block without being completely out of breath, take it gradually, slowly and remember that the first ten minutes of any run are always the hardest! I am a massive fan of Parkrun, amazing for all abilities. Everyone can get involved from the front running speedsters to those walking the route with dogs and children all along for the ride. It is 5 km every Saturday morning at 9 am in parks up and down the country (spreading globally too) and gives a great race-type feeling without all the pressure – a fantastic way to meet other runners too!
Most importantly, you have to find what works for you whether that is heading out alone, getting on a treadmill or enjoying the social aspect of running with friends.
Thanks to Ruth for sharing your story, You Rock!