Lucy Colquhoun is the West Highland Way record holder and a former GB Internationalist for trail running. Originally hailing from Aberdeen, she found her calling for ultra distance running while in Edinburgh. James Dunn from our Run4It Maybury team caught up with Lucy on all things running…
How did you get into running?
I moved down to London in my mid-twenties for work and ended up getting depressed by the grey landscape around me. So, I moved to a flat beside a park in Dulwich and started running around it after work. I then moved back up to Edinburgh, where some friends who knew that I ran, put me in contact with a very good marathon runner, and that is where I started taking running a little bit more seriously. Initially I started with triathlon, but soon noticed that I was much better at the running bit than the swimming or cycling. Quite often I would be 100th on the swim, but 2nd on the run!
I have since been a member of a number of clubs, including Portobello RC, Edinburgh City Athletics club, Carnethy HRC and Moorfoot Runners!
“Running has always been a factor that determines what I have chosen to do, and I’d say 90-95% for the better!”
And how did you get into ultra-distance races?
I fell into ultra distance races almost by mistake. I was rigged into running around all the RBS sites in Edinburgh by a HBT member in celebration of World Bike Day (any excuse to go for a run!). The distance of this was predicted to be about 22 miles, which I knew I could manage as I was in good shape at the time, having ran a 2:51 marathon a few months beforehand. We got to the final branch in Musselburgh after 26 miles of running, with the final leg back to Gogarburn still to go, meaning the whole thing was about 32miles in total – my first ultra-distance run! Soon afterwards I did the Highland Fling Race and won it! In the same year, I then did the full West Highland Way Race and won that too!
Since then, I have raced a number of ultra’s and trail races across Scotland and Europe, and competed for GB on a few occasions. A career highlight was a bronze medal at the IAU World Trail Championships in 2011.
How would you say running has shaped your life?
Running has shaped all aspects of my life. From friendship groups, to house choices and even what jobs you choose! Running has always been a factor that determines what I have chosen to do, and I’d say 90-95% for the better!
What is your favourite type of training session?
It’s got to be the Sunday long run. I always hated speedwork, although it is necessary to get faster! But those long runs allowed me to get up in the hills and see some beautiful places! I particularly like running in pine forests, that has got to be one of the best types of running terrain!
“Running is all about having fun and you need to change something up when it stops being fun. I also always tell myself that 20 minutes is better than no minutes.”
And what would you say is your favourite race?
That is a difficult one! It really depends on how I have felt on the day. I’d say the Lairig Ghru, which is a race that starts in Braemar and runs over the Cairngorms to Aviemore has got to be up there. I’ve done so many amazing races though it is hard to pick one!
What is your shoe of choice to get you through all those miles?
I’ve always used the Brooks Adrenaline GTS as my road shoe. For the trails, I’m currently using a pair of Salomon Speedcross which are really good but have liked La Sportiva trail shoes in the past too!
What is your best advice for someone who is just starting out?
Have fun! Running is all about having fun and you need to change something up when it stops being fun. I also always tell myself that 20 minutes is better than no minutes. Running always brightens even the worst of days!
You have recently set up your own sports nutrition company; Gutzi. Tell us a little bit about Gutzi?
I used to get sick and nausea a lot after races, sometimes really sick to the point I’d need to have medical attention, particularly after the longer and harder races. I was really curious as to why that was and discovered it was largely due to salt intake, or lack of, during these races. I also noticed that I wasn’t the only one struggling with this and thought about how to make taking in salt on the go a little easier.
I also saw there was very little choice in terms of savoury energy options out there for those taking part in endurance events, everything seems to be a sweet option. We always have the option for tea or coffee, but why not sweet and savoury? Gutzi was born to try and answer that question!