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We spoke to our club Ambassador, Annie Foulds, on how she has previously trained for her 27 marathons, and preparing herself for her third Ultra in South Africa.

How many marathons have you run so far to date?

I have run 27 full marathons and two official Ultra's (I say this because I have completed 2 100ks runs for training). I am currently preparing for my third Ultra in South Africa. The Comrades 86K uphill Ultra.

When did you first decide to get into running?

I have always been a runner from the age of 10 years old - representing my school and County (Suffolk) at 200 metres and relay. However, I discovered my love for Endurance Adventure running sixteen years ago, (2001) just after having my first son (Jack) as I was looking for a way to get fit. I started with 5ks, 10ks, half marathons to full marathons - then to Ultras.

How long have you been a Personal Trainer for?

I have been an Independent / Mobile Personal Trainer now for seven years and have trained over five hundred clients in that time in the Kensington & Chelsea area.

Do you have any mentors or athletes you admire?

When I was, younger I admired "Daley" Thompson, CBE, is an English former decathlete. He won the decathlon gold medal at the Olympic Games in 1980 and 1984 and broke the world record for the event four times.

I also admire Sir Mohamed Muktar Jama "Mo" Farah, CBE (Somali)

The most successful British track athlete in modern Olympic Games history, he is the 2012 and 2016 Olympic gold medallist in both the 5000 m and 10,000 m, and is the second athlete in modern Olympic Games history, to successfully defend the 5000 m and 10,000 m titles. Farah also completed the 'distance double' at the 2013 and 2015 World Championships in Athletics. He was the second man in history after Kenenisa Bekele, to win long-distance doubles at successive Olympics and World Championships, and the first in history to defend both distance titles in both major global competitions.

From mental perspective, how has running impacted your life?

Running has impacted my life in a major scale. I train hard and long and with that you must develop a mental toughness and focus. You must learn how to be patient and disciplined, also how to manage yourself under difficult circumstances. Regularly endure physical pain and get up and carry on. This has never been tested so much as in 2010 when my first son "Jack" had a very serious rare cancer that almost killed him. I would never wish this type of challenge on anyone. It was sincerely the hardest, toughest, darkest days of my life. But, I had to keep STRONG for BOTH my sons. We have a little joke at home - my boys call me "Super Mummy" I know! But, at that moment, I said to my son "Please use mummy's super powers and be strong and calm". He looked at me and said "I will mummy". Those were the longest and toughest days of my life and I have had some serious challenges to face. But, SPORT, has enabled me to meet this challenge with STRENGTH, FOCUS and COURAGE. I do not fear things, even failure is a learning tool.

What does your typical day look like?

I am an early riser, 6am for a quick breakfast (banana, black coffee, toast) by 6.30 am washed and dressed, woken my oldest son up for school. by 6.45 am - out and in the car for the first session of the day to start at 7am. I used to start at 5:15am (6am session) - but 7am is good these days. I generally have eight Personal Training sessions a day that I will drive to in different locations including ONE LDN. My life must be very organised, as I don't have time to waste. So, I generally shop for my food on Sundays (a lot of tin salmon, tuna, sardines, bananas, rice and jacket potatoes). I eat and drink in my car throughout the day. (nuts, water, fruit) I have a break between 4.30 - 6pm to collect my son (Harry) from School and do a quick catch up and food. I go back on to work at 7pm Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays evenings. I am also an Ambassador for Sweaty Betty (3 years) and Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital (5 years) so I like to help when I can by writing articles or doing speeches about running. I take what I do very passionately, so I am always reading and constantly educating myself. I will normally end my day around 10:30 pm.

How many times a week do you work out?

I work out six times a week, but I do vary my training. My running days are Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday (long runs) I do conditioning work about twice a week, concentrating on hips, legs, core and back, mostly. I also love to stretch. Sometimes, if I am very busy my schedule will have to change the days and I just have to train when I have the time, but, I will always do it. As I am a great believer in preparing "TRAIN HARD -

RACE EASY" No excuses - even with children and a busy work life.

What are the benefits of strength from running?

A lot of people do not realise that you should do strength training for running - I see many people who just like to run! However, the benefits of having a strong body for running is ideally to avoid muscle imbalances and maintaining good form.

Strength training in many different forms results in better running economy and an improvement in running time to exhaustion. Put simply, you’ll be able to run faster, longer and stronger.

What are your top 5 strength exercises?


Modifications: Plank variations include: side planks to target oblique's, single leg planks, spider planks, mountain climber planks, and supine planks.

Repetitions: 3 to 5

Muscles worked: core, lower back, shoulders

Lower-Body Russian Twist

Lie on your back with your upper legs perpendicular to the floor and your knees bent 90-degrees. Without changing the bend in your hips or knees, lower your legs to the left side of your body while keeping your shoulders in contact with the floor. Lift them back to the starting position, and repeat to the right side of your body. That’s one repetition.

Modification: To make it harder, keep your legs straight.

Repetitions: 10 to 12

Muscles worked: core

Kettlebell Squats with Overhead Press or basic Squats with Overhead Press

Hold the kettlebell with both hands in front of your chest. Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Push your hips back, and lower your body into a squat until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Press the kettlebell above your head, and as you stand back up, return the kettlebell to the original position.

Modifications: Do the squat without the overhead raise by just keeping the kettlebell in the centre chest position for the duration of the exercise.

Repetitions: 10 to 12

Muscles worked: glutes, quads, hamstrings, lower back, upper back, shoulders


Get into push up position but with your feet on a bench. Raise your right knee toward your left shoulder as you rotate your hips up and to the left as far as you can. Then reverse directions, rotating your hips up and to the right, and try to touch your right foot to the back of your left shoulder (you won’t be able to do it). That’s one repetition. Continue for 30 seconds with your right leg, then switch legs.

Modifications: To make it easier, do step one of the exercise, twisting in just one direction. To make it harder, instead of putting your feet on a bench, do the exercise with your shins on a stability ball.

Repetitions: As many as you can in 30 seconds

Muscles worked: shoulders, core

Back Extensions

Lie face down on a stability ball with your feet spread wide for balance. Your elbows should be bent with your hands lightly touching the ground for initial support.

Squeeze your glutes and lift your torso up until your body forms a straight line. As you lift your torso, allow your hands to come off the ground, keeping your elbows bent. Extend your arms overhead. Hold for one or two seconds. Release your arms and then your torso back down to the start position. That’s one rep. Aim for 10-12. No stability ball? You can do the movement on an exercise mat: Raise your thighs and arms off the ground while your torso stays in contact with the ground.

Resistant Exercise Ball

Modifications: To make it harder, hold light dumbbells.

Repetitions: 10 to 12

Muscles worked: lower back, glutes, middle back, shoulders

What has been you biggest challenge so far?

My biggest challenge so far has been running in the Sahara - 100k in 2012. I have also run from London to Brighton 100k in one day. I am currently training for the 86K uphill Comrade Ultra in South Africa in June 2017.

What types of strength training should someone consider doing, before running a marathon?

Core, hips, legs, back.

What advice would you give to a beginner?

I would definitely get a running coach, start running with a 5k - 10K distance in mind and incorporate strength work at least twice a week. Build up your running slowly - also vary your running training and incorporate the following - hills (incline on treadmill), speed, slow pace and longer distance running. Have a 12-week plan. Preparation is the key. I would also recommend Yoga or stretching - I have a dance background and I still love to stretch. It really does help my range of motion and particularly my hip flexors!

What are the top 3 classes at ONE LDN that you would suggest a beginner to take?

All the classes are fantastic and would benefit. However, I would recommend the three following Strength & Conditioning, Tread & Sweat, Yoga or PiYo classes. Why, to give a good balance to their training.

Thinking of running a marathon? Check out all our classes that may help you along the way here

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