Martin - x
A Life in the Day of Paula Radcliffe ... 11/25/2005 7:52AM Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
I just found this while searching for something else ... thought it might be interesting. "A Life In The Day" is a regular feature in the Sunday Times.


A Life in the Day;Interview;Paula Radcliffe

Alice Douglas
1,100 words
10 April 2005
The Sunday Times
Sunday Times Magazine 66
(c) 2005 Times Newspapers Limited. All rights reserved

Britain's most successful female runner, Paula Radcliffe, 31, collapsed during the Olympic marathon in Athens last summer. She fought back to win the New York marathon in November. Next Sunday she will run in the Flora London Marathon. She lives with her husband and manager, Gary, in Loughborough and the Pyrenees.

I usually get up around 8-ish and, after an energy bar and a drink, head out to start training. If it's a hard session I'll be on the track or doing road repetition work, which keeps me used to the conditions I'll have to face during a marathon. I may do a tempo run - that's marathon pace for over an hour. I run about 160 miles per week; sometimes I take it a little slower, but usually only towards the end of the season.

On my return I will have run about 12 to 15 miles. After an ice bath, I have a big mid-morning breakfast of bio yoghurt, Special K with linseeds - a good source of omega-3 - bananas, hard-boiled egg whites for protein (the yolk has less protein and all the fat and cholesterol), and then I fill up on toast with jam. I get incredibly hungry. On a race day my breakfast is always the same: porridge, banana and honey.

Training is such an integral part of my life that it rarely seems like a chore, and Gary generally runs or cycles alongside, encouraging me. As a child I was inspired by my father, who used to run marathons. I pestered him until he let me train with him. I'm currently the only professional athlete in the family, but we are all active, and my parents and younger brother, Martin, are always cheering me on at the finish line of any important race.

I was brought up to believe that you get out of life what you put in. I wanted to do my best both in sport and academically, but I found running more fun. It has always been what I wanted to do, and at nine I joined the local athletics club. Alex Stanton, my coach, was careful: he didn't want me to be a great kid athlete and not make it as an adult competitor, as often happens. It amuses Alex now that his wife, Rosemary, thought I had real potential, while he had his eye on others who seemed more promising.

I studied languages, economics and modern European studies at university in Loughborough. I thought I might go into something like international marketing. It was when I won the world junior cross-country that I realised I had the potential to succeed at what I loved most.

When my breakfast has gone down, I go to the gym and do two hours of free weights, a stomach workout and various exercises to develop strength. I constantly set myself new goals. In my first year as a junior competitor, I was really pleased to be 299th in the national cross-country championships.

That was a turning point. I decided I wanted to do better and increased my training to two nights a week. The next year I was fourth, but knew I could win. I am fiercely competitive - it would be impossible to do what I do without that edge.

There is something to be learnt from every race - Athens was a good example. Despite all my experience, I failed to listen to my body. A course of antibiotics had depleted my glycogen, the fuel most essential for long-distance endurance, and, with three miles left, I couldn't go a step further. I was desperate to finish, but once I stopped I couldn't move. It was devastating, but New York proved I could bounce back. I did a lot of soul-searching after Athens and it really hurt when people said I'd given up because I knew I couldn't win. Emotionally I was in a mess. But being with Gary and my friends and family, out of the spotlight, helped put things in perspective.

I met Gary at university, but we didn't get together for ages. He was a world-class 1500-metre runner, but his career was cut short due to an injury. He never gets frustrated or jealous by my success - I don't think I could be like him if our roles were reversed! An athlete has to make sacrifices, and you need support from a partner who understands the life.

He gets slagged off in the media, but he only wants to protect me, and sometimes he finds the stress of a race overwhelming. Gary thinks I over-commit, and has cut interviews short if he knows I'm tired. We're never apart and Gary has to juggle the three roles of husband, manager and training partner, which must be a strain at times. But our lives aren't entirely focused on running. We love travelling, reading (usually easy stuff like murder mysteries), eating out, escapism at the cinema; the usual things.

After the morning gym session, I have a meal. It might be ostrich or venison with wheatgrass and steamed vegetables, all washed down with four litres of water. Sometimes I can't believe how much I eat, but I need lots of rich food to help with my congenital anaemia, which has reared up as a problem over the years. I sleep between 2 and 4 and wake to milk chocolate and a hot drink. The final run of the day is an easy local one of an hour.

The total workout comes to about five hours a day.

As soon as I finish the day's training, I need to refuel, and often Gary cooks the supper while I stretch or have a shower. Our routine never varies, whether we're in Leicestershire or the Pyrenees, and whenever we stay in hotels, we need a microwave provided so we can prepare our own food. I love France, and I often train in the mountains near Andorra.

I never eat after 8 and I'm usually in bed by 10 or half past. I have a rest every eighth day and Itake three weeks off at the end of the summer and winter seasons. At first it feels fantastic to be able to go out late and lie in the next morning, but within a few weeks I'm itching to get out and run.
RE: A Life in the Day of Paula Radcliffe ... 11/25/2005 8:54AM - in reply to Martin - x Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
does anyone have experience with antibiotics and depletion of glycogen. is it bad to take antibiotics in the couple of weeks leading up to a major competition?
one lap of the track
RE: A Life in the Day of Paula Radcliffe ... 11/25/2005 10:36AM - in reply to runnerx Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
I would imagine it is. Aside from anything else, antibiotics usually make you tired. I think what happened in Paula's case was they aggravated her stomach, which meant hardly any of her food was absorbed, leading to the glycogen depletion. Of course, you'll know if this is happening by the frequency of visits to the loo.