Elise Downing is a writer, avid speaker and adventure athlete who is famed for running 5000 miles self-supported around the British coast. 301 days on the trail and 200 marathons later she is not only the youngest person, but also the only female to have completed the challenge. The result was a great British adventure, featuring her unquenchable penchant for cake! Since crossing the finish line in August 2016, Elise now speaks and writes about her experiences, encouraging others to get involved.
how has #run1000miles been so far?
I'm just about on track so far, although I have to admit it's been more challenging than I thought it would be to carve out the time to get it done. I've also been a bit under the weather with a cold, so it's been a slow start. I'm enjoying it though! My mum and dad have both signed up too and they're both steaming along. They have put me to shame!
what does an average training week look like for you?
I'm in the early stages of Spring marathon training at the moment. I've missed a few runs here and there because of the annoying cold, but I'm aiming for 5 sessions a week, with two easy runs, a long run, a speed session and a marathon pace tempo run. Last week was a bit different though as I headed off to Wales to go and explore some new trails, so that was less structured but still so much fun.
DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR RUNNERS STRUGGLING TO FIT IN THE MILES?
I recommend running to places! It really cuts down the time you need to allocate. That might mean running to the station, getting off the bus a bit earlier, running to the supermarket, running to the pub, running to work - I always try and run my errands. If I need to be semi-presentable when I arrive somewhere, I take a little rucksack with some wet wipes and deodorant, a hair brush and at least a clean t-shirt and jumper. There's nothing worse in the winter than being all cold and sweaty. If I'm running to work, I take a bigger bag with all my stuff for the day.
ANY EVENTS PLANNED FOR 2017?
At the moment I'm mostly training for the London marathon in April, and in doing so building up more of a base of running again, as last year was rather erratic for me. In June I'm tackling Endure 24 solo, where you have to run as many 5-mile trail loops as you can. I'm then hoping to get out and do some running in the mountains over the summer somewhere - open to any suggestions!
WHAT WORDS OF WISDOM YOU HAVE FOR PEOPLE SIGNING UP?
That it can only get better! Winter can be a bit grim but it's starting to get lighter now, and all those dark mornings and nights will be worth it when you're galloping along in the summer.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE BEST ABOUT #RUN1000MILES?
I think it's awesome that #Run1000Miles is encouraging a balanced, consistent approach to running, rather than focussing on a short, intense challenge that leaves you completely wiped out. Running 1000 miles is a really attainable goal and we're going to achieve it by weaving a solid running habit into our lives over the course of the year.
HOW FAR DO YOU USUALLY RUN EACH WEEK?
Since finishing my run around the coast, my running has been super erratic so I really can't pinpoint an average. I've been trying to rest and recover from my 5000 mile journey but equally there's just so much fun to be had. Running is a really social thing for me so it's hard to say no sometimes! Some weeks I'm running 50 or 60 miles, others barely 10, hence why I'm looking forward to getting a bit of stability back into my running routine during #Run1000Miles.
WHAT ARE YOU MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO ABOUT RUNNING 1000 MILES YOURSELF IN 2017?
I'm really looking forward to tracking my progress as I run through the changing seasons, from those first few chilly January runs, through to some sweltering summer miles and then back into autumn and winter again on the other side. For me running is about exploring and being outdoors much more than it is about just keeping fit, so I think that's going to be really special.
HOW EASY/HARD DO YOU THINK THIS CHALLENGE WILL BE FOR YOU?
I feel reasonably confident about achieving it physically but I do often struggle to prioritise running in everyday life. When you're on a big adventure, it's kind of easy to fit it in because that's your sole focus and you're exploring somewhere amazing and beautiful. I find it hard to motivate myself to get up early before work and run the same old loop around the park, but it’s that dedication that makes all the difference.
WHAT/WHO IS GOING TO KEEP YOU MOTIVATED?
I find social media really motivating so I'm hoping that sharing my #Run1000Miles journey online will help to keep me accountable and on track. I also do love a challenge. I don't think I'll be able to look myself in the eye if it gets to NYE 2017 and I haven’t clocked my 1000 miles. I also like to spend the hard runs thinking about all the extra treats I can have when I get home. It's a well known fact that running = more cheese (right...?!).
IS THERE ANYTHING THAT MIGHT SCUPPER YOU?
I mentioned that building more of a consistent running habit is something that I'm looking forward to, but equally it's definitely something I'm going to struggle with! 1000 miles averages out to just under 3 miles a day which is super achievable, but I'm often guilty of putting off running until "tomorrow" then life gets in the way and a month later I haven't ran a step. I'm hoping to change my ways but it's going to be difficult to break the habit of a lifetime.
WHAT SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNEL(S) SHOULD PEOPLE FOLLOW YOU ON?
Facebook: Elise Downing (facebook.com/elisecdowning)
DO YOU HAVE A WEBSITE YOU WANT TO DIRECT PEOPLE TO?
ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D LIKE TO TELL TRAIL RUNNING READERS BEFORE YOU START THE #RUN1000MILES CHALLENGE WITH THEM?
Enjoy it! That's definitely the most important thing for me.