Today, the 7th of April, is exactly three months until my next big running challenge and my toughest marathon to date. The new Trail Verbier St Bernard  marathon race takes place on Saturday 7th July between Liddes and Verbier, high in the Swiss Alps.

With four ascents (the largest two of which are at the beginning and the end) and four descents, this marathon climbs 3,570m over the course of the 43.21km route.

Back in 2014, I took part in the baby race of this series, a 2,500m ascent over 30km. Even the baby was a challenging experience (read all about the “Trails and Tribulations” here!), with the obvious key take-out being the need to build more endurance in the legs to tackle those mountains.

I’m quite used to building up the mileage to tackle a distance race around London but how do you train for such a series of climbs in a relatively flat area?

Over the last two years I have found balancing my running with HIIT workouts to be a great way to not only improve my speed but also my strength and endurance – seemingly the perfect complement to an outdoor running programme – and hopefully the answer to this quandary (coupled with as much hill training as I can pack in around Richmond and the surrounding areas).

With 13 weeks to go, I’m now a couple of months into my training programme. But as regulars to running will I’m sure sympathise, getting hill ready is currently the least of my worries, as I’ve recently sustained an injury to my ankle! I started physio this week and the problem is actually with my hips and glutes which are not strong enough (particularly on my right side), so my lower leg and ankle are having to compensate. I’m now tasked with a number of exercises which coupled with regular foam-rollering should hopefully see me able to build up the mileage more significantly over the coming weeks.

While I work through my physio exercises to improve my hip strength and technique, I’ll continue to complement my running with a couple of HIIT workouts a week focused on building more endurance in my quads, glutes and arms, to hopefully help propel me up those mountains come July!

There are a few morals to this story but the main one for me is accepting that nothing ever goes quite to plan when training for a marathon – in fact – when aiming for any goal in life… What’s important is how you respond to inevitable challenges along the way. Keep the faith that every mountain top is within reach if you just keep on climbing.

Wishing all those taking part in the Paris Marathon (a favourite) and other Spring marathons this weekend, all the very best! Enjoy, and relish every mountainous moment.

Afternoon! Welcome to #TheFridayInterview & today’s #TheChainofInspiration at 4pm to accompany that last cup of tea before the weekend…

Natasha Lakic, an international make-up artist was my 9th Chain of Inspiration interviewee two weeks ago. I’m delighted today to introduce Natasha’s chosen interviewee – Dalva Serrano, in Puerto Rico. Over to you Natasha!

Dalva Serrano

Dalva is working for the US government in Puerto Rico, but is also studying to become a canine nutritionist. She’s incredibly devoted to her dogs & is always helping owners by giving advice on canine care all over the world.

  1. When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to be a home economics teacher or a chef.
  2. What are your 2013 hopes & dreams? I have so many dreams, including retirement, become physically fit & healthy & pursuing my studies in canine nutrition.
  3. What makes you get up in the morning/inspires you? My six beautiful dogs. They are my pride & joy.  Also achieving my dream of a big shore house.
  4. How did you come to work with dogs? I was so afraid of dogs. Lola, a miniature schnauzer was given to me to help cure my dog phobia. Because of her I got interested in dogs.
  5. What is it you love most about dogs? Dogs give unconditional love & I learned through them, to give & love without expectations.
  6. What advice do you have for anyone looking to get a dog? Do research the breed that suits your lifestyle & know that it is a full-time commitment.
  7. What other advice do you have for anyone who wants to become a canine nutritionist? Draft a plan with short & long term goals, do lots of research, identify people that can be mentors & use social media as a method of exposure.
  8. What other passions take up your time?  I love baking & reading.
  9. Who would be your fantasy 5 dinner party guests? Sean Penn, Anthony Bourdain, Anthony Hopkins, Anderson Cooper, Isabel Allende.
  10. If you were stranded on a desert island, what 5 items would you wish you had? Insect repellent, water, a blanket, my i-pad & a flashlight.

Thanks Natasha & Dalva! I’ve recently heard about other therapy with animals, such as horses, & I’m not surprised it’s so effective.

Dalva now takes over the baton & will interview someone who inspires her for the next #TheChainofInspiration on Friday 28 June.

Have a lovely weekend!

G x

By Sarah Mayo

Afternoon! Welcome to #TheFridayInterview & today’s #TheChainofInspiration at 4pm to accompany that last cup of tea before the weekend…

Miranda Wilkinson, a PR and business owner was my 8th Chain of Inspiration interviewee two weeks ago. I’m delighted today to introduce Miranda’s chosen interviewee – Natasha Lakic, an international make-up artist. Over to you Miranda!

Doing something you love...

Natasha has over a decade of experience working on some of the best faces in the industry such as Rosie Huntingdon-Whiteley, Sienna Miller & Kate Moss. She has created looks at shows for top fashion brands like Chanel Couture, YSL, Givenchy & Matthew Williamson.

  1. When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? So many things, it would change from archaeologist, sculptor, artist to fashion designer & singer. I still want to be all those things!
  2. What are your 2013 hopes & dreams? To be healthy & to travel more. And I really want to learn to play drums! 
  3. What makes you get up in the morning/inspires you? Music.
  4. How did you become a make-up artist? I always used to do my friends’ make-up but never considered it as a career. I have to say that one of my friends inspired me to go for it.
  5. What is it you love most about make-up? The power to transform the face & with it, the personality. It’s fun but at the same time can be life changing.
  6. What tips can you give to any wannabe make-up artists? Find a make-up artist that you admire & like the style of make-up  & try to assist them if you can. You’ll learn so much.
  7. What other advice do you have for anyone who wants to set up their own business? It’s tough to follow your dream so you have to love what you’re doing. At the same time, it’s a real privilege to make a living doing something you love.
  8. What other passions take up your time?  I like to drive to new places & take walks with my dogs. I like reading & learning new things. Gardening. Also I spend unhealthy amounts of time talking to friends who live all over the world.
  9. Who would be your fantasy 5 dinner party guests? Dave Grohl, George Carlin, Kate Moss, Sheldon Cooper & Richard Branson.
  10. If you were stranded on a desert island, what 5 items would you wish you had? Radio, sunblock, pack of cards, a hat & a knife.

Thanks Miranda & Natasha! You can follow Natasha on her blog here & if you’re getting married, why not hire her services?

Natasha now takes over the baton & will interview someone that inspires her for the next #TheChainofInspiration on Friday 14 June.

Have a lovely weekend!

G x

By Sarah Mayo

Afternoon! Welcome to #TheFridayInterview & today’s #TheChainofInspiration at 4pm to accompany that last cup of tea before the weekend…

Alicia Davies, a professional actress was my 7th Chain of Inspiration interviewee at the beginning of May. I’m delighted today to introduce Alicia’s chosen interviewee – Miranda Wilkinson, a PR and business owner. Over to you Alicia!

Be Healthy & Happy
Be Healthy & Happy

Miranda is from London where she runs her own PR firm called Brand PR, specialising in beauty, fashion & more. She’s brilliant & funny.

  1. When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to be lots of different things, it changed every month, but mainly a ballerina.
  2. What are your 2013 hopes & dreams? To be healthy & happy – if you have both those gifts you can do anything.
  3. What makes you get up in the morning/inspires you? My Mum – she brought me up single-handedly & gave me one of the most privileged, diverse childhoods anyone could wish for.
  4. How did you become a PR? I fell into it, I started helping out my neighbour when I stopped dancing and I thought I can do this!
  5. What is it you love most about being a PR? The variety. It covers so many areas, writing, strategy, planning, events & meeting many different people which is always fun!
  6. What tips can you give to any wannabe PRs? Be prepared to work hard!  PR isn’t all glamour, there is a lot of hard graft that goes on behind the scenes.  Prove you can handle it & you will do well. 
  7. What other advice do you have for anyone who wants to set up their own business?  Go for it! But make wise decisions, don’t try to run before you can walk & be objective.
  8. What other passions take up your time?  Reading, foreign cinema, fashion, art & my Dad!
  9. Who would be your fantasy 5 dinner party guests? Margot Fonteyn, Cary Grant, Julia Margaret Cameron, Joaquin Pheonix & Joni Mitchell.
  10. If you were stranded on a desert island, what 5 items would you wish you had? Sunblock, notebook, pencil, wind-up radio & a pillow.

Thanks Alicia & Miranda! It’s a delight to showcase another brilliantly inspiring female & fellow communications professional!

Miranda now takes over the baton & will interview someone that inspires her for the next #TheChainofInspiration on Friday 31 May.

Have a lovely weekend!

G x

By Sarah Mayo

Afternoon! Welcome to #TheFridayInterview & today’s #TheChainofInspiration at 4pm to accompany that last cup of tea before the weekend…

Karen Munnis, a UK fashion stylist & brand consultant was my last interviewee 3 weeks ago. I’m delighted today to introduce Karen’s chosen interviewee – Alicia Davies, a professional actress. Over to you Karen!

Love it with your Heart & Soul
Love it with your Heart & Soul

Alicia is from West London & has been a professional actress for nearly 25 years. She is currently on tour around Australia with The National Theatre, playing in ‘One Man, Two Guvnors’.

  1. When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? I always knew I wanted to be an actor. I started as a child actor aged 7, so I grew up with it in my blood really.
  2. What are your 2013 hopes & dreams? That Dominic Mohan of The Sun remove naked pictures of women from Page 3. I passionately support the @NoMorePage3 campaign.
  3. How did you become an actress? I started doing small parts in TV shows, commercials & movies, worked in theatre at 11 & later trained at LAMDA drama school.
  4. What is it you love most about being an actor? To change an audience in some way – to make people laugh, cry, remember an old love & forget the stresses of life for 2 hours.
  5. Which actors inspire you and why? Diane Keaton – a true comedian, Mark Rylance – a chameleon, Anne Hathaway – for making musical theatre work in Les Miserables & Amy Adams.
  6. What tips can you give to any wannabe actors? Only become an actor if there is nothing else that could make you happy. It’s a hard path to choose, so you need to love it with your heart & soul.
  7. What other advice would you give to someone who wants to be an actor? Educate your mind, travel, listen to people’s stories, become secure in who you are… THEN go to drama school. Life experience is the best tool at an actor’s disposal.
  8. What other passions take up your time?  My friends & my huge family first. Singing, walking, dancing, museums & I like a good biography.
  9. Who would be your fantasy 5 dinner party guests? Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Dawkins, The Pope, Germaine Greer & Amy Winehouse.
  10. If you were stranded on a desert island, what 5 items would you wish you had? A Swiss Army knife, Lucas Paw Paw ointment, a fully loaded iPod, a pencil & a note book.

Thanks Karen & Alicia! One Man, Two Guvnors is one of my fave shows, so it’s an absolute honour to feature Alicia today.

Alicia now takes over the baton & will interview someone that inspires her for the next #TheChainofInspiration on Friday 17 May.

Enjoy the Bank Holiday weekend… the weather’s looking promising!

G x

By Sarah Mayo

Welcome back to #GTime. Today’s #SundayTimes has been inspired by my recent trip to Lyon for a race in the beautiful Beaujolais hills. It is dedicated to the Boston Marathon, today’s London Marathon & my great school friend Tori & new friends Ronnie & Gary.

Lyon

We spent last weekend together in Lyon, all with a common passion for running. While I was there to run a mere 30km, Tori & Gary opted for the 65km. Ronnie would have joined them had she not been pregnant, so took on the role of fabulous supporter & coach on the side-lines. Running brings people together from all over the world – communities, friends & lovers. So, while we were enjoying a delicious meal on Sunday evening to celebrate Tori’s birthday, we were terribly shaken when news reached us about the Boston Marathon.

It was incredible this morning to see London’s response to last week’s attacks, with crowds deeper than ever before. This more than anything sums up what running is about. Whether taking part as a runner, supporter or volunteer, everyone shares that common bond of respect & community.

The timing of my trip to France could not have been more perfect. As I embark on a new career path, it was a time to reflect on what’s important in life & what makes us truly happy… Today’s #5aday focuses on 5 things which I believe are the ingredients to happiness: Life, Love, Laughter, Loyalty & Lyon.

  1. Life – When tragedy strikes, it’s a reminder how we must live life to the full, thankful for the freedom & opportunities we have.
  2. Love – Whether it’s the love of family & friends, a special someone or running, this vital ingredient keeps us passionate & driven.
  3. Laughter – We certainly laughed lots last weekend. It was a special time with old friends & new & I will cherish the memories forever.
  4. Loyalty – Whatever happens, loyalty is an important value giving us purpose & fulfilment. Always remain loyal & true to yourself.
  5. Lyon – A beautiful place to spend 4 days with inspirational friends, challenging running & inspiring conversation. Serendipity…

Lyon in this case is a metaphor for a moment in time, & one I will remember forever, thanks to fabulous friends & a new tattoo… 🙂

So, here’s to life, love, laughter, loyalty & Lyon… My thoughts remain with those affected by the Boston tragedy & to all those inspirational people with incredible stories, involved in today’s London Marathon.

G x

By Sarah Mayo

Hello & welcome to the new look Monday #GTime – #TheMondayInterview. 6 months ago I interviewed Fit Chick Tori, an ultra-runner, adidas athlete, writer & blogger based in Dubai.

FitChickToriII

Tori is a true inspiration to us all – she’s so positive, energetic, motivated and she’s great fun. In her latest challenge – the Action Asia 100km in Manaslu, Nepal, she came 4th female. Read all about her experience here.

This evening I’m pleased to welcome back Fit Chick Tori to give us an injection of inspiration and motivation at the start of a brand new year. You can read Part 1 (Chick Fit) of the interview here.

  1. Tell us about your 2013 New Year’s Resolutions? Where do I start? To run more, to sleep earlier, rise sooner, waste less, work more, drink less… all the usual, year in year out!
  2. What advice do you have for anyone who wants to take up running in 2013 for the first time? To remember that we all started with a slow, lung-bursting, heart pumping plod around the block. But commit and it only gets easier…
  3. What advice do you have for any aspiring ultra-runners? How do you move from a marathon distance to an ultra-marathon distance? It’s primarily down to time on your feet, being self-aware, the art of pacing and mental toughness. Conquer those and any ultra is yours!
  4. Who and what inspires you to take part in the challenges you do? Everyone from the world’s best long distance runners to those at the back of the pack. They show the greatest spirit and inspire me no end.
  5. Other than running and generally keeping fit, how do you spend your time? Writing. Words are my greatest passion and I’ve carved my career out of them. I even have ‘wordsmith’ tattooed on my body!

Thanks Fit Chick Tori. If you want regular doses of inspiration and to follow her wonderful adventures around the world, then be sure to follow her blog ‘Fit Chicks and Fast Women’. I’ve just agreed to a small challenge in the form of the Beaujolais Villages Trail (28km) with Tori in April – she’ll of course do the longer distance, but we’ll still have plenty of time for fun either side of our respective challenges!

Good luck in your next challenge Tori, we’ll be following!

G x

p.s As part of the new look Monday #GTime, Fit Chick Tori will take over the baton and will interview someone that inspires her, on behalf of Ginger and Spice… so make sure you clock-in on Monday 21 January for the next #TheMondayInterview.