Issy Stemp - Athlete Ambassador
Have you always been into sport?
I have always been an active person and throughout my time at school/college I loved team sports, playing county-level rugby. However, until the age of 18 I hadn't given running much thought. Unless it was explosive as part of a game, I would actively hide from anything long distance, thinking that running was exclusive to only the fittest people.
How did you first get into running?
The day of moving up to university my siblings burst into my room at 8:15am in the morning and told me I had 10 minutes to get ready if I wanted to join them on a Parkrun. I had never heard of it before and usually I would have reacted negatively to my space having been encroached on, but I couldn't deny the unfamiliar level of certainty that it was something I didn't want to miss. After running the 5km I felt a shift in my attitude towards the sport which I investigated further by sneaking out in the early morning at my university halls and running in the woodland behind my flat. I gradually got the confidence to run anywhere and at any time.
What is your proudest achievement?
A year into my running journey the longest I had ever run was 5km. I knew that I desperately wanted to run further but I lacked the confidence to believe I could go any further. I lived in Sweden at the time, and it was in the middle of a cold and dark Scandinavian winter. 10pm one night I was sat in my bedroom, and I decided enough was enough, I threw my shoes on and told myself that I wouldn't come back until I had run the 10km. Just like that, despite the icy terrain and blistering cold I followed the streetlights in a repetitive loop until I had achieved my goal. Whilst I went on to run much further, this moment proved to myself the commitment I had to the sport.
What are your goals?
I am currently training for my first Ultra Marathon in May 2022 which will be my biggest achievement to date, but also the start of a long list of goals. I want to run in different extreme environments, particularly snow and sand desserts across the world. I would love to complete an Iron man! In general, however, it is to work hard, establish myself within the sport community and to motivate the people around me to pursue the things they enjoy the most.
Who inspires you?
The first time I heard of ultra-running was from my running club coach, Jënni. She is remarkable within and outside of her sport. Her openness and desire to share her passion with people of all abilities was extremely inspiring. She once said to me that she had never run a marathon only ultra-marathons and I thought it was the coolest thing in the world. Ever since I have aspired for my first race to be an ultra-marathon.
Have you ever had any racing disasters?
I once ran for an extended period in the cold which resulted in a momentary period of confusion that led to me walking into some else’s flat. I only realised once I had warmed up in the kitchen…once I had realised, I ran home and made sure to wrap up a lot warmer for any future runs…
How do you overcome setbacks?
I think the most common cause of setbacks is forgetting the main goal of running/ keeping active. As I progress in the sport, I am always looking to the future for ways I can improve and progress. This sometimes can result in me losing sight of the importance of sport for good mental and physical well-being; which is far better than any running time or distance. Occasionally the pressure of goals can result in me beating myself up or even sustaining from exercise for short periods. However, reminding yourself of the privilege and benefit of being able to get active regardless of how much or how little is, in my opinion, very important.
What advice do you wish you'd been given when you first started out?
Do more run streaks! This is a really good way to quickly build fitness, motivation, and confidence. I find that if I am struggling to get active, committing myself to a run streak trains my body and mind to accept regular exercise as a normal and learned behaviour.
Why work with Sundried?
More than ever sport companies need to hold themselves accountable for their role in sustainable development and their ability to promote an inclusive environment for people of all different walks of life to enjoy sport. I feel that the ethos and actions of Sundried strives to meet both goals which is something I feel honoured to be part of.
To hear more from our ambassadors and get free tips on workout plans and more, connect with the Sundried Personal Trainers on our app.