Sophie Grant, 30, started running eight years ago and could only run for 15 minutes at a time. Since then she has run 15 marathons and 20 ultra marathons. Last year she came 4th in Marathon de Sables and 3rd in the Transgrancaria Advanced in the women’s category. Sophie has had a remarkable journey and one that has covered many miles. We asked her a few questions to find out more.
When did you first get into running?
Although I played a lot of sport at school in New Zealand, running was never really my thing but after enjoying the English pub culture a little too much I had a lot of extra weight to shift. This is why I started running. At the beginning I could only manage 15 mins at a time and just gradually built it up from there.
So you went from jogging for 15 minutes to running an Ultra Marathon?
Yes, that was about eight years ago and I have never looked back. I spent a long time chasing a three hour marathon until I got given a place on the Marathon de Sables race, which is the equivalent of running five and a half marathons in five days across the Sahara Desert! The opportunity was given to me as a birthday present and I ended up placing fourth out of the women which was pretty amazing! This has led me to continue to try my hand at the longer distance (which I love) but I’m still chasing.
How do you find juggling your training with your career?
Being a hairdresser means a lot of hours on my feet but I am incredibly lucky to have such great bosses who let me be very flexible. I also think doing longs days on my feet helps my body prepare for the ultra events the I do. I am lucky that I am definitely a morning person so I try to do a lot of my training before work. Last year my husband and I quit our gym and put our membership fees towards home equipment so I have a treadmill in the garage which means there is no excuse.
Are you part of a running club or self-trained?
I am part of a running club but stupidly I never train with them. I tend to do most of my training by myself but my husband is never far away telling me to go faster. We train together on the bike and in the weights room at home.
What two things have helped you to shave so much time off your PB’s?
Adding two speed workouts a week has helped enormously. For example one session of sprints and one session of one mile repeats. I’m also getting good at fuelling and I try to eat 50-60 gms of carbohydrate (200-240cals) per hour right from the start. This has definitely helped me get quicker.
What has been your running career highlight?
Coming fourth female in the Marathon De Sables last year was a real highlight as it’s such an incredible environment to be in and you are surrounded by 1000 equally crazy runners. It was a great challenge, not only the distance but being half way to boiling and with temperatures reaching 54˚c. I can now definitely tick that one off the list. Placing third at Transgrancanaria Advanced last year and getting on the podium with some very inspiring ultra runners was a big highlight too. They are both awesome races which are very well organised and supported. I would recommend them to anyone.
What tip would give for recovery after a long-distance run
I try to have protein shake within 15mins of finishing and then get some food in. One of the things I find most helpful is to have a recovery run/shuffle the next day even if it is only a mile or two I find that it helps to keep my body moving.
What is the next event you are training for?
The big event I am training for this year is the Ultra Trail Du Mont Blanc which is a 100mile race up in the French Alps so in the lead up to that I am running in Transvulcania, Lavaredo Ultra Trail and the Lakeland 50.
What piece of running kit will see you through all these challenges?
My husband! He is amazingly supportive and does the crewing, research and logistics so all I have to do is run. But as far as actual equipment I can’t choose between my X-Bionic gear, amazingly comfortable clothing which keeps me cool in summer and chafe free, and my Suunto Ambit2 Gps watch which keeps track of me and has an amazing battery life for 20+ hour runs.
We want to wish Sophie every success in her upcoming runs. If you want to know more about running ultra marathons then get in touch!