running runner Sundried ambassador

George is a runner who enjoys spending his days on the trails and has done some amazing events. He talks to Sundried about racing highs and lows.

Have you always been into sport?

I have played sport since a young age. I played rugby from the age of 6 to 18 as well as a little bit of football at school. I wouldn't say I was particularly good at either, but I enjoyed being part of a team and getting stuck in! When I was 14/15, we got a new coach at rugby who was big on fitness and wanted to make us the fittest team in the league. I really enjoyed that aspect of training, but I don't think that I realised at the time that endurance sport was a 'thing'. I assumed that people would run or cycle to get fit for other sports!

How did you get into running?

I ran my first half marathon event when I was in my final year of uni in Bournemouth in 2013. A friend had signed up and suggested I did too. Once I crossed that finish line, I was hooked and my love for running has grown from strength to strength since! Having done various road races since then, I started running trails about 3 or 4 years ago. I definitely prefer trails to road. Being out in the countryside for hours gives you a real sense of freedom!

What's been your favourite race to date and why?

In 2015, I ran a 10k around the Olympic park in London which ended with running a lap around the track in the Olympic stadium. The excitement of running on the same track that Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis and Usain Bolt had done three years previous was an awesome feeling. My family were in the crowd, I saw myself and my name appear on the big screen and it was a really surreal feeling!

What's been your proudest achievement?

My proudest achievement was finishing a 6 day, 250km ultra running event around Sao Miguel in the Azores. It was a charity event run by TRIBE with the goal of raising £200,000 to help fight modern day slavery. I didn't know anybody very well before but left after the week with so many good friends and an experience that will stick with me forever! We achieved our fundraising target and any pain we felt throughout the week was incomparable to the suffering that victims of human trafficking deal with every day. It was a real privilege to be a part of that event.

Have you ever had any racing disasters?

I have never had any serious racing disasters (yet), although I've got lost on multiple occasions during different races! I once tripped down a gravel trail 4 miles into a trail marathon and had to run the rest of the event with a dead leg and covered in blood which was an experience!

How do you deal with setbacks?

Setbacks are always tough to deal with, whether it is an injury or just that you're not hitting goals that you set for yourself during training. I find the best thing to do is allow myself to express any frustrations I have for a short period of time to get it out of my system. Once I have done that, I find it easier to reflect and either locate the problem and work on it or just be grateful that I am lucky enough to be able to go out and enjoy my freedom and the countryside!

What advice do you wish you'd been given when you first started out?

It would've been great if someone had told me to build up slowly. I think the excitement of signing up to a race got the best of me and when I went out for my first training run, I went too far and pushed myself too much. I ended up hurting my knee and wasn't able to run for a month or so afterwards!

Building a community is also something I would strongly recommend. There are so many great social running clubs and events around, like Run Talk Run and Parkrun which are great for meeting people and help you to stay motivated as well as being FREE! You go out as a group, can be chatting away and before you know it you have ticked off 5k without even noticing! Check out your local sport and running shops and have a scout through social media as there are loads out there. There's a great one that I started going to in my hometown of Brighton called Positive Movement.

What are your goals?

I want to get some coaching qualifications and set up a social running club for people interested in trail running. I hope to inspire people to feel the same love for the outdoors as I do - as I believe everyone has this passion in them just waiting to be unlocked. I also want to continue running for longer and longer distances. I think that the people you meet at races get more and more interesting and inspiring the longer the distance! The running community is awesome!

Who inspires you?

Scott Jurek has always been an inspiration! I think his outlook on the world and his connection with running and nature is something that I share with him. My ability is far from his though (at the moment at least haha).

Eliud Kipchoge is another one. His mental game is so inspiring! When I start to hit a wall in a race, I always think of him and do the 'Kipchoge smile'. A simple smile releases enough positivity within your body to pick your head up and crack on with the adventure you are on!

Why work with Sundried?

I wanted to work with Sundried because I like some of the company's values. Moving running, and sport in general, away from 'fast fashion' would be really positive towards the fight against climate change. Having clothes, be it sport or normal, that are made to last means that less will be heading into landfill and you will be benefitting from years and years of wear. I have t-shirts and shirts that I wear regularly which I got over 10 years ago!