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Member Spotlight – July 2021

Each month we will be selecting a Community member to shine the spotlight on. This month we have selected Melanie Whitton.

Mel has been a member of our community since 2018. In that time she has provided humour, support, entertainment, memes and above all else, her sense of humour. She has been a very consistent member and always takes the time to comment on others posts. Mel being in the member spotlight was always a matter of when, not if. From all of us Mel, thank you for everything you do and keep being you! Also, good luck in your upcoming Ultra!

A Running Bible T-Shirt will be sent to you shortly.

Melanie Whitton Profile

Photo Credit – Fulham 10k

Why did you start running?

I started Karate in 2004 and realised I need to be fitter in order to do my training justice so I started running with my neighbour and her friend. I was reluctant at first because the last time I ran was at school and I hated it because running was so unpleasant for me. I was good at sprinting but struggled to breathe on runs above 200m on the track. I realised when I was an adult that this was asthma, but stuck with it and started to enjoy running. My proudest moment was running in the Race for Life 2005 and running 5K non-stop. I ran my first 10K race in 2009 and my first HM in 2012.

What/who motivates you to run?

I’m a very self-motivated person anyway but I think I’ve trained in a variety of sports for so long that going for a run or doing a training sesh is as part of my day as brushing my teeth – it feels weird if I don’t run. The motivation to keep up the intensity or distance normally comes from entering races so the pandemic year was a massive challenge. However, I successfully switch my focus and mindset from races to setting myself challenges and virtual medals – luckily it worked in keeping my motivation high!

What is a typical training week?

It can vary but a typical training week:

Monday: Cycle

Tuesday: Run | Abs Session

Wednesday: Trail run | Free weights

Thursday: Sprint or Hill Repeats (OR Run) | Strength Session

Friday: Rest Day

Saturday: Long Slow Run

Sunday: Morning – Karate | Afternoon – Cycling

Favourite session?

Long slow runs or Repeats – simply because both sessions are an opportunity to push you out of the comfort zone – they are hard and you feel really achieved when you complete them.

Least favourite session?

I try not to look at any of my training sessions in a negative way because I believe it affects the mindset – the moment you attach a negative feeling to a session your motivation suffers and your head doesn’t fully engage. As those famous world renowned philosophers Wham once said “Do you enjoy what you do? If not just stop? Don’t stay there and rot”.

Road or trail?

Road because the surface is more predictable and I can establish a consistent running pace which is important for maintaining my breathing pattern and managing my asthma.

And trail because of the unpredictability, the challenge, the beauty of your surroundings and it’s more relaxed.

Top 5 songs on your running playlist

Lose Yourself – Eminem

Salva Mea – Faithless

Run Boy Rub – Woodkid

Showdown – Pendulum

Right Here Right Now – Fat Boy Slim

Do you run alone or with a group?

I run alone. I feel guilty and pressured running in a group – when I need to manage my asthma, I have to disconnect so I can zone out and focus on my breathing pattern which is anti-social in a group setting. Also, I am very slow and, despite what people say, I don’t like trying to keep up with someone or worse hold them back.

What other training do you do?

Cycling, Karate Training, Free Weights, Abdominals, Kettlebells  

What is your greatest running achievement so far?

Greatest achievement emotionally: Running my first half marathon – I did it for my brother because we nearly lost him after his accident. I promised to run a half marathon if he promised to not give up and learn how to walk again – we both kept our promises.

Greatest achievement physically: My 10K PB in the Adidas City Run Fulham 10K 2019 – I had to accept three years ago that I couldn’t run continuously anymore when I badly injured my knee and my asthma was deteriorating. I then read about Jeff Galloway and started to run / walk. I discovered I was starting to run faster than when I ran continuously and hence a 10K PB happened. 2019 was an exceptional year.

Photo Credit – The Great Birmingham Run

What was your last race?

 Milton Keynes Festival of Running 10K – March 2020. I remember us all kind of unofficially socially distancing at the start line – it wasn’t a great race because I couldn’t breathe very well but, little did I know, it would be the first and last race I would run in 2020.

What are your future running goals?

I would like to run a marathon one day (despite jumping straight into ultra) and I would like to combine running and cycling by doing a duathlon.  

What’s on your bucket list?

New York Marathon and Virgin London Marathon 

Maybe Race to the Stones (Maybe)

What advice would you give someone who is just starting to run?

Starting to Run: Always remember the phase “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!” Running is exactly this philosophy – it’s about breaking distance down into stages and attacking it gradually – this is why C25K is a fantastic approach. It introduces your body to running by gently loading the running duration over a period of time and before you know it, you’re running 5K straight.

Never ever compare – you do yourself discredit. It’s the same mile no matter how fast or slow you run it… and let’s face it, if you feel like comparing, we are all slower than Eliud Kipchoge!

Never care what people think or say – It’s irrelevant. Just do you.

Yes you are a runner – no validation needed – the moment you put on your trainers and start to run you are a runner and don’t let anyone tell you any different.

Don’t neglect cross training, strength training and stretching – it’s so important for injury prevention as it strengthens the muscles that support the repetitive movement of the network of limbs, muscles, tendons and ligaments involved in running.

Listen to your body whisper so it doesn’t have to scream. Most injuries will warn you with a niggle before it goes pop. Deal with the niggle rather than continuing to run on it and it becomes a bigger problem.   

What do you like to do when you’re not running?

Spending time with the boys, travelling abroad – such an explorer, live music and going to gigs, amateur photography (wildlife, abstract and street), watercolours and watching football!

What would you name the autobiography of your running life?

Never Give Up

OR The words everyone keeps telling me (Hence my nickname)

Mel, you’re Mad