Five Minutes with Paula Radcliffe

From running playlists to record-breaking

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With each speedy step, Olympic runner Paula Radcliffe has established herself as one of the most inspirational British female athletes ever. A three time winner of the London Marathon (2002, 2003, 2005), three time New York champion (2004, 2007, 2008), and winner of the 2002 Chicago marathon, Paula has set record times that have yet to be broken - she completed the London Marathon in 2:15:25 and ran the World’s Best 10km in 30:21.

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On Saturday the 10th May, Paula ran with ELLE and thousands of other runners (you, maybe) around Victoria Park for the annual Nike We Own The Night women’s 10km. Here’s what a (non-sweaty or breathless) Paula told us (puce and perspiring) at the finish line.

So, We Own the Night round two! How was your run this year?

Really good considering I literally came straight from the airport to the start line! My warm up was the first 5km. It was brilliant though, there was such a good atmosphere and it’s great to see even when the weather is awful everyone still gets involved. There are a lot of strong women here tonight.

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You’ve just got back from injury, how has it been getting back into running and training?

I had a massive operation so I’m still working my way back to full fitness. Last year, I didn’t think I was going to able to run the whole 10k but I did, and this year I was even faster. I’m gradually getting stronger; it’s so motivating to look back at how far you’ve come. I was running with a girl for part of the race who said she was near the back last year and this year she was keeping up with me. We’ve all come a long way together.

Why do you think events like this are important for first time runners and regular runners?

We Own the Night brings everyone together. While some people are trying to beat their times and set their own goals, it’s more about just getting out and celebrating running. It makes a sport that can seem quite solitary a really sociable event. Everybody’s cheering each other on and it’s a lot of fun. It’s great that Nike have teamed up with Us Girls Stars too so we can encourage girls at that vulnerable age who tend to drop out of sport and physical activity, that it’s a lot of fun. Obviously, ten year olds aren’t going to come and sip champagne afterwards but at least they can get into that lifestyle of running, feel more confident in their sports abilities and usually perform better at school, and just feeling better about themselves in general.

Is that why you got into it, because it makes you feel good?

Yes, and I incorporate that mentality into my children’s everyday lives. We run together not because we’re training, we do it because it’s a fun thing to do together.

What’s been your best ever run?

The London marathon is my favourite because of the atmosphere all along the course.

New York is very special too because you go through the five boroughs and it changes so much in each one.

What’s your favourite training route?

Up in the mountains in the Pyrenees. I love running along a high mountain trail and through the forest. Running by the sea is a close second.

How do you get yourself through a difficult run?

In training especially there are lots of runs when you’re tired and just don’t want to do it. I’ll pick a route that really inspires me, put on a new pair of trainers because that makes me feel a bit springier, then nine times out of ten once you’re out you enjoy it more than usual. There are times too when I’ll just give myself a rest day. Constantly forcing yourself is not the right attitude.

Do you run to music?

Only in the gym. Otherwise, I like to hear what’s going on around me. Robbie Williams Stronger used to be my go to song. I’ve Gotta Get Through This by Daniel Beddingfield was another favourite. I like listening to songs that I associate with a certain period of training or preparation, or ones that I can relate to lyrics of.

Along with motivational lyrics, have you got a particular running mantra?

I think about my children. If I’m at a really grueling point in the race I’ll just count. I get to 100 and start again; it’s a great way of clearing my head and just pacing myself calmly.

What are you doing next, will we see you completing at any big races again?

At the minute, I’m doing some 10kms to build up my fitness. My aim is to compete in the London Marathon 2015 or a race in New York. I want to do at least one more competitive marathon before I hang up my and then just carry on doing things like this just for fun.

Our next stop? Copenhagen

The ELLE Running Club goes to Geneva

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