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Sue Jeff

Interview with Sally Fawcett

by editor
Monday 8th May 2017
Tags  Sally Fawcett   |   Montane   |   Montane Via   |   Montane Minimus
Sally Fawcett is having a great year, with podiums at everything from the Haworth Hobble to fell races to road races. We caught up with her to find out the secret of her success! 

Run247: Sally, you’re having an amazing year with a great performance last weekend at the 3 Peaks and podiums in the Haworth Hobble, lots of fell races, and even a road race (the Yorkshire Half)! Why do you think it’s all coming together for you so well this year? 
Sally Fawcett: Experience plays a big part, once you have done a few longer races you learn to not get carried away at the start and start to pace and fuel races better, I'm still perfecting this art though! I have also been fortunate to have a solid period of training and racing without needing to take injury time off. I had 2 weeks off all exercise after the TWC in Portugal after badly cutting and bruising my knees falling at mile 17 - the injury wasn't helped by running the subsequent 36 miles of the 53 mile race on those knees! The rest did me good. I had a very easy 2 weeks after 2 weeks off and then felt completely refreshed, finding I hadn't actually lost much speed. The break allowed me to get the consistent training in and I intend to incorporate a complete break into all future seasons. 
Variety also plays a big part in keeping running without overloading the same muscle groups, vary the terrain, distances and speeds of races, not just training runs. That's why I'll do some trail, some road and some fells runs. 
You have to do the runs you enjoy.  I enjoy racing so do a few fell races, but it's important to approach them with a relaxed attitude, just doing some for the social side rather than flat out races. The Edale Skyline was one of these races for me.

Sally summer
Photos by Sally Fawcett

Run247: You’ve also been selected to represent GB again in the World Trail Championships in Tuscany in June. Congratulations! Can you tell us a little about how preparations are going for that?
SF: This year’s TWC is slightly different at 50km rather than 50miles, this will make it a faster race, hence including the Sheffield Half in my training plans. I wanted to maintain some speed work but hate speed sessions on my own, so the shorter, faster races serve as speed work. Sheffield half was to work on pace and fast cadence and it turned into a really good hard run. Being 2 minutes off my half PB on a hilly course shows the training is coming together for me. I have also combined the faster sessions with long hilly days out, mainly on the Bob Graham route. Quad strength to cope with the 2700m ascent in Tuscany is important. The hills in the Peaks aren't really long enough, so that's why I have enjoyed a few Lake District trips.
Run247: I know that you’ve also been doing some recces in preparation for a Bob Graham attempt at some point this year. What do you think the keys to success are in a BG attempt? 
SF: It helps to really know the challenge ahead, and one of the best ways to do this is supporting other rounds. I supported my partner on his successful round on legs 1,4 and 5 last summer, and I have now supported on all the legs over the last 3 years. That comes in useful to call upon friends you have supported when you attempt your round! I also think you need to train on the terrain; there's no other way to replicate scree running. You also need to strengthen the quad muscles, not for the climbs, but for the descents.  This is where by far the most strain on the muscles occurs. This is where strength and conditioning exercises such as squats and lunges are useful. It isn't the furthest I have run but will be by far the longest time on feet, and for this reason I need to practice my fueling as I will need much more than a normal ultra. You need to try different foods, and have plenty of variety for on the day, it's amazing how the taste buds change over the course of a long run!
Run247: What are the key bits of Montane kit that you swear by when you’re training and racing?
SF: I love my Via Trail packs. Depending on how long I'm out for and conditions, on my long runs I will always have one of the packs. I am also never without my Minimus 777, Allez Micro Hoodie, hat and gloves - the Prism Mitts are excellent when you need to get the hands warm quickly and pack down so small. The weather can change very quickly on the exposed trails and fells, so it's always worth carrying the extra layers.

Sally winter
Photos by Simon Mills and Shaun Priestley

Run247: What other plans do you have for races/adventures later this year or into the future? Is there a particular race you'd love to do? 
SF: I’m looking forward to my first experience of the UTMB weekend, I have a place in the OCC but can't wait to watch and support friends in all the other races.
Run247: As a physio do you follow your own advice? What are the key things you try to do in your own training to remain injury free?
SF: I’m really enjoying and finding my weekly yoga class very beneficial. So much so, we're going on holiday to fellow GB Trail Team athlete, Tom Payn and his partner, Rachel's trail running and yoga retreat in Morocco at the end of June. Weekly strength and conditioning classes are also key. I lead the classes for fellow runners. It's not a military boot camp style class as there's no point suffering the rest of the week with DOMS. The point of the class is to strengthen the running-specific muscles, tendons and ligaments so we do a lot of balance work, plyometrics and pilates based core work. The foam roller is also useful, just 5 minutes or so a day, but I try to do this most days.
Thanks Sally and good luck with your forthcoming races! We’ll be following with interest.

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