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Runs for fun and life in a slower lane for Radcliffe

By Features Reporter

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Radcliffe and her family, husband Gary Lough and children Isla and Raphael.Picture: David Davies/PA
Radcliffe and her family, husband Gary Lough and children Isla and Raphael.Picture: David Davies/PA

It's been five years since Paula Radcliffe retired from competitive long distance running, but that doesn’t mean she’s hung up her trainers for good.

The 46-year-old still runs for around an hour a day – for mental health, as much as physical.

Over her long career, Radcliffe was European and World Champion, and won the London Marathon three times. She held the world record for an incredible 16 years before it was broken last year.

Here, the mum-of-two chats health, wellness and how she spends her downtime.

Apart from running, how else do you keep fit?

I do some core stability work, some medicine ball work, and some weight training. I try to incorporate specific strength exercises for my foot, because I’ve had issues with that. And squats.

What motivates you to keep fit now you don’t compete?

It’s more about doing the things I enjoy now. So, I enjoy running, I feel better after I’ve been running, it helps me to think more clearly, it helps me feel a bit more awake, more alive – probably just being in a better temper!

The other things I do around that, are things I enjoy, but that also enable me to keep running. They help me stay healthier, so I’m able to get out and run.

What’s your favourite way to chill out?

Sitting down with a glass of wine and a nice book.

How many hours do you sleep?

When I was training and racing, I would generally sleep nine to 10 hours at night, and then another one or two hours in the afternoon. Now, I don’t have anywhere near that! But I still don’t function very well if I have less than eight hours’ sleep.

What’s your go-to way to cope with stress?

Go for a run.

Describe your ideal Saturday morning...

Get up, spend some time with the kids (Isla, 12, Raphael, nine), go out for a run, catch up with family and friends, and do something around the house and garden.

What’s your favourite healthy meal to make?

I like teriyaki salmon, I like stir-fries. If I’ve got time, I quite like making sushi.

Do you meditate?

I think I do, because I call it meditating while I’m running, if I’m just thinking. I think you get a bit more oxygen to your brain and you’re away from all distractions and can focus your thoughts a bit better.

Coffee or herbal tea?


Can you touch your toes?

Yes, I’m not super-flexible, but I can touch my toes.

Do you get enough ‘me time’?

I try hard to, yes.

Any health and fitness aims for 2020?

Just to keep on doing what I’m doing. Trying to use the opportunity I’ve got and the platform I have to help other people, so things like encouraging people to go out and get the flu vaccine to protect their health. I’m also working a lot with kids and families, to get them out and enjoying running.

Paula Radcliffe grew up in Bedford where she joined Bedford and County Athletics Club at 11 and competed at the World Cross Country Championships at 16. She graduated from Loughborough University with a first-class degree in modern languages in 1996, before devoting herself full-time to running.

She is backing a campaign by Asda Pharmacy to encourage asthma sufferers to get the flu jab (free of charge) as research found 1.2 million sufferers are putting their health at risk by missing it.

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