How does it feel to have been chosen as a #GetOutside Champion?
To be really honest I was quite emotional and very overwhelmed by the nominations. I have come a long way from someone who was very inactive, spending my student years living hand to mouth, partying too hard and in escalating debt. Getting outside transformed my life, and the mental focus and discipline which running taught me was transferable to other areas of my life. This opportunity to share my story with other people and hopefully inspire them to make a positive change is very exciting.
What does being a #GetOutside Champion mean to you?
The discipline I developed from running influenced so much of my life, and this transformational nature of regular exercise is a message I’m immensely passionate about.
For me cycling John O’ Groats to Land’s End and running the 192 miles Coast to Coast was something I never thought I would be capable of when I started. I’m not super human; I don’t have a strict diet; I don’t live in the gym; I eat crisps and chocolate – and have many bad habits. But the outdoors and the benefits of getting outside are so great that this inspires me to continue to push my mind & body and I get excited for the next big adventure.
I don’t want people to read about me and think what I’ve done is something extraordinary. I just want them to be able to relate to me, and realise that if I can do it - anyone can!
I support children and young adults with autism and other learning difficulties, and all my sessions are centred on getting outside. It’s so important to inspire everyone to get out regardless of their size or abilities.
What do you most enjoy about being outside?
I don’t watch TV and I don’t have a smart phone so for me the outside is my entertainment. It’s real and makes me very happy!
What’s your favourite terrain to get out in? (Mountain / coast / woodland etc)
They’re all so very different, all equally amazing. Depending on the mood they can represent each part of my personality. But if I had to choose it has to be mountains just because you can appreciate the views, and there’s a real sense of accomplishment when you get to the top!
What’s your worst?
It must be having diarrhoea during the Blackpool Marathon. I was on for sub 3hrs but had to make a stop on the beach, no toilet paper but nearby was plenty of pools of water…. I’ll leave the rest to the imagination. That pit stop cost me a sub-3 hr time but left me with funny story!
What’s the most unusual thing to have happened to you outside?
During a morning run around Salford Quays a huge white swan accidentally smacked me on the head!
We were both a bit dazed – he was a big bird. He recovered quicker than me and flew off while I was still staggering forward to find my stride again so no harm done…
Where is your favourite place in Great Britain to be outside?
That’s such a hard question. I love running early mornings in Manchester because there’s so much beauty in the city. My route takes me along the incredible canal paths. I suppose it makes you realise that special moments and beauty are everywhere.
But if I had to choose a special place it would definitely be the area around Ulverston in Cumbria. I love the fact that you can stand up on the hills and see the whole of Morecombe Bay and out to sea then turn around and see the dramatic panoramic landscape of the Lake District. There’s something energising about being around the sea and mountains and in the South Lakes you have the best of both worlds!
What are your favourite outdoor pursuits?
For me it’s always running. I couldn’t live without it.
Walking with the children I support with autism and seeing their reactions to being outside is also very special.
When you’re outside – how do you change as a person?
I become relaxed, happy and totally alive – and probably too hyper if you ask my friends!
Why should people #GetOutside more often?
It’s free. And it’s not just about fitness - it has more to do with your mind. You can explore places you never knew existed. It’s the best form of stress therapy!
You can share special moments with your friends and family, capture unique moments and create cherished memoires
What would you say to someone who never goes outsideto get them outside?
I think the most important thing is that everyone needs to feel like they can relate to someone, and I was that person who spent most evenings lying on the sofa eating chocolate.
Getting outside changed my whole life. The running and walking has introduced me to places I never knew existed not just in the national parks and countryside but the cities as well.
Start with a simple short walk, discover new places on your doorstep, look at the world with a fresh mind. Beauty is all around.
Everyone is different. Not everyone wants to go up mountains: You have to find what’s right for you, and you never know where it may lead…
What tips or pieces of advice would give to someone who wants to get more out of being outside?
Explore local areas; ask about local clubs or groups. Depending what and where you want to go make sure you have the right kit. Having good water proofs and being warm can make a big difference to how much you enjoy it.
Before you became a #GetOutside Champion, describe your relationship with Ordnance Survey.
Ordnance Survey is an incredible authentic British brand. I remember my grandad using the maps when I was small when we went walking in Somerset. I used the OS maps to help plan both my John O’Groats to Land’ End (2011) cycle and my Coast to Coast (2015) run.
OS apps are so user friendly and easy to use.
What music do you listen to when you get outside / does music inspire you?
Music is a huge inspiration to me. I love to dance, and I listen to lots different types. At the moment I’m listening to First Aid Kit, Into the Wild and Danish Girl Soundtracks, Madonna and lots of dance music. I always listen to music if I’m alone walking or running.
I spent most of my 20s dancing all weekend in nightclubs. I’m sure that energy is now used running outside!
What are your backpack essentials?
- Running long distance: Vaseline, plasters, GoPro video, camera, water and some glucose gels.
- Walking: OS Maps, compass, salt and vinegar peanuts and a camera.
- Chewing gum - always!