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Member Spotlight – October 2021

Andrea Mitchell Profile

Why did you start running?

I started running at school at around age 12 because basically I was rubbish at any contact sports or anything that required hand/eye coordination which tends to rule out most things! I discovered I was good at endurance and joined the cross-country club. At lunchtimes we would run onto Dartmoor, up rocky paths onto our ‘beacon’ and back downhill to school leaving about 5 minutes for a rushed packed lunch.

What/who motivates you to run?

I fell out of love with running when I left school and had no one to motivate me or run with. I was too shy to join our running club. Instead, I went to fitness classes, swimming and did a lot of cycling.

Then in 2011 my Auntie said she was looking for a trail running partner and I suddenly remembered how much I’d enjoyed running and started going regularly. From there I was hooked right back in. I’m motivated purely by my love of running but also my love of the countryside. There’s nothing better to me or way to feel alive than being out in green spaces. Living at the foot of Dartmoor must have influenced this. If I run somewhere I get to go further afield in less time than it takes to walk of course, so I fit more in. We also got a family dog 5 years ago and she motivates me to get out. She loves running and is a high energy dog so I have to go out. Keeping fit is an added bonus.

What is a typical training week?

A typical training week is now 3-4 sessions. Last year was 5-6 but my sports therapist had serious words about needing more rest days. I mostly run slowly just because of the terrain, the hills, managing Lily and just enjoying being out. This is Devon so every day is hill work day. Get me on the flat and it’s like a rest day! I do at least one faster session a week if I can. Typically, I now run 16-20 mile weeks, whereas I had been doing 25-30.

Favourite session?

A slow trail run.

Least favourite session?

Hill intervals.

Road or trail?

I think we know the answer!

Top 5 songs on your running playlist

Lose Yourself – Eminem

Breathe – Blu Cantrell

Paranoid – Black Sabbath

Freestyler – Boomfunk MC’s

Flames – David Guetta & Sia

Do you run alone or with a group?

I usually run alone or with Lily dog or sometimes with my hubby (currently out injured) or my youngest son. I’ve tried running groups, however, I like to be flexible with when/where I go. Also, running can be my headspace that I’m not always willing to share.

What other training do you do?

I do a lot of walking in addition to running. I cycle at least weekly but try to get 2 sessions in. I do strength and conditioning 3x a week along with daily yoga sessions. I injured my back in 2017 and damaged a disc which put me out of running and has caused problems off and on with back pain and sciatica since. The strength and yoga sessions help me to look after my back.

What is your greatest running achievement so far?

My greatest running achievement to date was getting my much longed for sub 50 10k at the age of 51, with a chip time of 48:27 at the Exeter City 10k in February 2020.

What was your last race?

Exeter City 10k in February 2020. My last planned race last month coincided with a calf strain.

What are your future running goals?

Achieve a sub 2 half marathon in a race which I’m hoping will happen in Cardiff in March 2022.

What’s on your bucket list?

The Great North Run and Brighton Marathon.

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

The advice I’d give to someone just starting running is to build up an aerobic base slowly and not overdo things. Increase mileage and training load gently.

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

I have a social work career which takes up way too much running time! When I’m not working and running, l enjoy walking, reading, politics and spending time with my husband Andrew, my three children and 2 grandchildren. I also love cooking and experimenting with food.

What would you name the autobiography of your running life?

“It’s better to have 2 wet feet than 1” because I say this a lot! If one foot gets wet in a bog or stream, I have to do the same to the other side!