Queen of the Mile had the pleasure of talking to Hannah Ball from Brighton who took up running 18 months ago and who has already completed two marathons amongst many other events. She tells us why running has now become an essential part of her life.
When did you first get into running?
I first got into running around about 18 months ago, preparing for the Brighton marathon, 2013. Signing up for the marathon was a conscious decision after becoming fairly inactive after university. I had put on more weight than I wanted to after moving in with my boyfriend and I was feeling like a bit of a couch potato!
Do you have many other female friends who enjoy running?
Of my pre-marathon girlfriends I didn’t really have any who lived nearby who were as interested in running as me. I found that a real challenge for my first marathon. Fortunately I had a friend who would cycle alongside me sometimes to keep me company. This year a friend told me about a club called The Run Squad and that was a real turning point in seeing running as a sociable sport. I’ve made a fantastic group of both male and female friends through the club.
How do you find juggling your training with your career?
It can be really tricky, I think having a plan is key but I don’t think it’s productive to over stretch yourself if you are having a chaotic week. Sunday has always traditionally been my long run day so I start the week with Monday as a rest day. Tuesday I’ll have a gentle run because Wednesday is club night and I know I am going to push myself. I’ll squeeze in one more (maybe two, if it’s a good week) before the Sunday run again. I try not to get too hung up over it, I was given some advice once which has stuck; if you’ve only got time for a quick run then go hell for leather, when you then have time for a more relaxed one take it nice and slow.
How did you work at shaving so much time off your marathon PB?
I never really gave much thought to the time I would like to run my second marathon in until the last minute, I was really happy with my first attempt which was 4.29 and then managed to get that down to 3:46 the second time around.
The difference this year was joining a running club. Within a short space of time I was pushing myself much harder than I had been when I was training alone, exercises like interval and hill training I hadn’t really done properly by myself.
Very soon after joining the club I made a fantastic group of friends who I could run with throughout the week, running with other stronger runners taking yourself out of your comfort zone really made a huge difference. I started joining in on cross country runs over the South Downs on Sunday mornings which were frankly hellish to start.
I soon came to love them (not the 7.30am starts), we maintained 10min/m mostly up and down hill, enjoying a good gossip each week soaking up the scenery. I found if I could do 10m/m off road on hills then 8m/m on flats became a breeze.
What is your motivation to keep running?
Well I keep booking marathons so I have to keep going!
I suppose honestly like most women I want to feel good about myself so this is probably up there as one of the top reasons, along with feeling healthier and generally having more energy. Running on Sunday mornings over the Downs has become like going to church. Long distance running allows me to compartmentalise the week and put the world to rights.
What piece of running kit could you not live without?
My Nike Free’s and Strava, I love to see where we have gone on our weekly runs.
What tip would give for recovery after a long-distance run
When I get back from my long runs the first thing I do as soon as I get in is to have an ice bath for exactly 11minutes with a Mars bar! My boyfriend is usually quite good at following up with a fry up.
What is the next event you are training for?
At the moment my next event is the Amsterdam marathon, it’s not till the autumn so who knows I might be able to squeeze another one in before then!