Running and Life – Lou Phillips

running and life

Huw chats with Lou about her journey into running and attempts to understand the appeal of ‘ultras’.

Name: Louise Phillips

Age: 53

How did you first get into running?

I started running in 2011. My husband and I were looking at some of our holiday photos and thought – oh we really need to lose some weight! We started paying squash and cycling but I didn’t really like the cycling much. My husband said why don’t you take up running because it’s free (he’s regretted saying that ever since!). I started by running around the high school playing fields in Presteigne because I didn’t want anyone to see me. The distance around one lap was 0.7km and my first ever attempt I wore my squash shoes. I finally got up to 3 laps and decided to enter my first race – the 2011 Race for Life in Hereford. I did a bit more running over the following winter and in the spring of 2012, I entered the Malvern Half Marathon. Once I did that I was pretty much hooked. My first full marathon was Manchester in April 2012.

What’s a typical running week for you?

I usually run between 40 and 80 miles depending on what I’ve got on the horizon. Double runs work well for me, at peak training that’s 6 – 7 miles in the morning and 8 – 9 in the afternoon. It seems to have worked well for endurance and keeping injuries at bay. Time on feet is more important than distance for the really long events.

Spine training was around 80 – 100 miles a week.

What’s your most memorable run?

Chicago Marathon – October 2019. My goal was sub 4 hours and I managed to get under that (03:59:53!) which was a massive achievement for me. I didn’t care that it was just a few seconds under, the first number just had to be a “3”. Training for it was tough, I didn’t really like the very structured plan – all too disciplined for me! Also, finding somewhere flat around here to train for a road marathon is really tough. I much prefer the training for ultras and taking part in those – the longer runs aren’t easier but I get into my comfort zone. I hate the first 7 or 8 miles of most runs and races.

100 miles is my favourite distance. I love thinking about it, the tactics, the mental challenge. I really look forward to it. Anything much shorter I’m going to do less well. I know how to pace for myself for longer runs. Once you get into the higher distances it’s a different mind set.

What’s in the diary?

Dragons Back Race – September – Main focus for the rest of summer

London Marathon – October – Charity Place – Shelter

I haven’t got anything firm in next year’s calendar yet. The Cruel Jewel I did this May is a Hardrock 100 and a Western States 100 qualifier and the lottery for those is in December. The chances of getting in are slim but if I get in to either (or both!) that’ll shape next year’s race plans.

What do you most love about running?

It’s the achievement – the fact that I can do it. There’s no timetable to it – I can do it when I want to. It’s my time – peace and quiet. Also meeting people from all over the world. People I would never have met.

What do you do for a living?

I’m an office manager at Radnor Range in Presteigne. It’s a shooting range for military and commercial testing.

I have very understanding bosses that let me take time off for big races. I work 9-5 Monday to Friday which gets in the way of my running but hey ho – it pays for kit and race entries!

Who do you live with?

With my husband Andy and Rudi the Hungarian Vizsla who is 1 and shaping up to be a really good running companion. He’s very energetic and is ready to go the second he sees my running shoes going on. I also have two cats – they don’t run!

What’s your favourite Cornetto flavour?

I’m Vegan – so not a Cornetto eater – there’s a Vegan Magnum which is exactly the same as the “normal” one – you wouldn’t know!

Comment on this article

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.