Updated: Apr 13
Laura Weightman is one Britain's greatest ever female distance runners. Having made two Olympic finals, won two Commonwealth and European championship medals and ranking in the top 5 All-Time in British history at 5 different distances. Laura has been ever-present on the world stage for the last 8 years and well known for her gutsy racing style. I've had the pleasure of training with Laura (and being dropped by her too) in my time in Leeds. Laura has been kind enough to answer a few questions which I hope you enjoy below!
JS - How did you get into athletics?
LW - I began running around the age of 12. It was my teachers at school who encouraged me to join my local club after seeing I was doing well in school races, I was quite a lively child so think they thought a cross country race may tire me out! Cross country was where I initially started and I loved it but I slowly got better and better on the track. I think what I remember from when I was little was just how much I loved running, I enjoyed an afternoon away from school with my friends!
JS - Do you employ any mental strategies during racing?
LW - I try to not over think things therefore I don’t really employ specific strategies. I focus on just enjoying it! Following my usual warm up and routines to not be overwhelmed by the occasion.
JS - What is one piece of advice you would give your younger self?
LW - To always have fun and enjoy it! Don’t take it too seriously adding pressure to yourself.
JS - What do you enjoy most about athletics?
LW - Travelling, seeing the world and the people I have meet along the way. I am so lucky with the places running has taken me. I have learned over the years to not take it for granted, enjoy the moment I am in and take it all in!
JS - Have you had to overcome any challenges to get where you are today, if so what and how?
LW - My journey like many other athletes has had many obstacles in the way but this is what makes all those special moments worth the upset, defeat and lows. As a young athlete growing up I had a tough battle with asthma and hayfever related allergies, this is something that took years to get under control and something still today I have to monitor. I have of course, like all athletes, had injuries. When things are not going how I want them and I am faced with challenges I just keep my mind focused on my goals of getting back on the track racing. As that’s what I work for day in and day out. I love racing!
JS - What would you say your strengths as both an athlete and a person are?
LW - I am very determined and strong minded. I never believe I can’t do something. No matter how hard things get I always give it 100%. This doesn’t mean that I always get the outcome I want but I believe that as long as I have given it my all I can walk away proud.
JS - If you could be any animal what would you be and why?
LW - Giraffe!! I love them and I have long limbs!
JS - If you could have any superpower, what would you have?
LW - To fly! This is the feeling I use to describe running on the track when I am getting ready to race, when I have this feeling I know I am ready to race FAST!!
JS - If you were stranded on a deserted island and had the choice of one person to join you, who would you choose and why?
LW - My boyfriend, Mr Peppermint/Dan – there would never be a dull day!
JS - How are you staying motivated during COVID-19 lockdown?
LW - It is a really tough time for all athletes, there is months of uncertainty ahead with no idea right now of if and when I will race in 2020. I did a time trial over 5km a week ago, this helped stimulate racing and give a good indication of fitness. I can now go into the next block of training confident in my fitness and just simply enjoy running. Having time trials and small training targets really helps maintain focus.
JS - How do you stay injury free/what do you think are the most important things athletes should do to stay injury free?
LW - I believe doing the little things well helps keep on top of the body. I have regular physio and massage therapy for maintenance work. Regular stretching, pre run activation, drill work, sleep/recovery, good nutrition and gym work!
JS - In your training you have a big emphasis on strength work; why is this? What advice would you give to runners about strength work?
LW - S&C is a key part of my weekly training, I think it is vital for all runners of all abilities to do some form of this. I am in the gym three times a week with my coach Dane. It isn’t just about throwing big weights around the gym, there is a lot of basic work that can be done at home! S&C helps to build muscle strength, build a strong platform for the running training and help you stay injury free!
JS - Before a big race, such as a 10km, what do you do to prepare your nutrition in order to be fuelled for the race?
LW - Prerace nutrition is vital! I generally eat pretty simply leading into a race. I generally am able to run pretty well off food, I can’t jump out of bed and run. Not only do I think the body needs to wake up, do some activation/stretching work but it also needs fuel. I can generally eat toast or porridge and run within an hour.
Here are two different race examples:
Track 9pm race:
10am: Wake eat porridge with berries/banana
2pm: Pasta with sauce no veg or salad
4.30pm: Porridge pot
6.15pm: Coffee and banana
- When international racing we have a call room so food is planned for this. Warm up would be 7.45pm for 8.30pm call. Therefore, coffee and banana 90min before warm up.
Road 10am race:
6.30am Wake porridge with berries, banana, 1-2 slices of toast
- Most road races don’t have a call room therefore I would warm up at 9.15am. Coffee always at least 90min before warm up!
If you would like to see more from Laura her instagram handle is: @lauraweightman. Laura is also a Sport and Exercise Science Graduate from Leeds Beckett University and a qualified UKA Coach.