February 21

Recover & Rebuild


Haga clic aquí para la versión en Español

This is an unusual post for me perhaps but I wanted to share with you what I’m up to.

Normally I spend more time away from home than home, either racing, training or organising my own adventure. Last year I spent extensive periods abroad in places including the Canary Islands, Costa Rica, Morocco, France, Colorado, Sweden, and Nepal. I did four challenging multi-stage races, trained a lot at altitude, and I did two fast packing adventures. On top of this I ran my own business and had a few things to deal with on the personal side. I was over the moon to win Marathon Des Sables for a second time. However, after the race I felt the effect of the focus and effort that this had demanded.


In November I caught the flu quite badly but I always get ill that time of year so I was just waiting for it to pass. It did, but it was rapidly followed by two colds. One in December and one in January. As soon as I could take a step forward, I was quickly knocked back a few. I had no choice but to stop. Stop and reflect. For a 100-mile-an-hour, type A high achiever, the realisation that you need a break is painful at first. And worrying: “What is wrong? Am I ill?” You have lots of plans and you work on a million things simultaneously. You’re invincible and you go to bed and wake up in your Superwoman costume. However, the reflection led to the only possible solution: rest, rebuild the body, and make some changes to life for sustainable long-term health.


Therefore I cancelled my participation in the Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica (just finished) and I will not attend Marathon des Sables this year. I realise that this will disappoint a few but I simply do not have enough time to recover and train for a win this time (which really is the only goal I can have). Don’t get me wrong, I am a great believer in the power of the mind and positive thinking, but I am also equipped with a dose of realism. 😉

I wanted to share what is happening and why I am not racing for a while, because I think it is important that people understand that I, and others like me, are in fact not superhuman (though we may sometimes give that impression to the world). I often share glamorous photos and stories of races in exotic locations. Inspirational stories of success and adventure. Whilst that is a big part of my life and I love it, life is not an endless string of successful moments. I am sure this break will do me very good and I should have scheduled it in earlier so I wasn’t forced to take it now. Unfortunately I am very good at telling my coaching clients these things, but less good at living what I preach, oops!

I’ll keep you posted on how the recovery goes. I hope to write more about the tweaks I have made to my diet (they have had a big impact in a short space of time) as well as the mental and physical aspects of the break and the return to training and racing.

I am very grateful to my main sponsors Raidlight and HOKA ONE ONE who have been very understanding and supportive. I am also eternally thankful to my friends and loved ones who have kept me honest and just been there. You know who you are. I know that I have occasionally been a very difficult person to support, so thank you for understanding. Also, without my wonderful team at myRaceKit I don’t know how I would manage!

I am now looking forward to spending March in the sun and by the sea, where I will nurture my body, mind and soul. Then I will take it from there.

Sunset Palma

I will finish with one of my favourite quotes as I truly believe that the challenges we face will ultimately result in a positive outcome for our life as a whole:

“Love the moment. Flowers grow out of dark moments. Therefore, each moment is vital. It affects the whole. Life is a succession of such moments and to live each, is to succeed.” (Corita Kent)

And just to reassure you, I am now past the dark moments I first had. Although I am still tired, and the road ahead is potentially not straight, I am feeling very positive about the future and what this year will bring to my life. See you on the trails soon enough!


break, detraining, motivation, recovery, rest

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  1. Thank you for sharing! It gives us another dimension to your persona that exposes your depth and solid thinking, no weakness here! The beauty of being human and real !!

  2. Sometimes we need to just stop….It takes courage to admit that you need to stop. It is always easiest to just continue….Be patient, take your time and find yourself again 🙂

    1. An Olympian shared this thought over 20 years ago on a course; recovery is the most important part of fitness and rest is the most important part of health

  3. Great to hear that you are finally taking your own advice 🙂 which I have to say I benefitted from……. Stay strong and enjoy the rest…. remember that you are an inspiration to many of us mere mortals….:)

  4. In a lot of ways, there are still very few viable models for pro ultra careerism. Unlike tracks and field or even iron man, there is still a lot of undiscovered methodology in ultrarunning. You are a pioneer in this respect.

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