Q&A: From heart surgery to ultra training with Charlotte Clarke

Charlotte Clarke is a runner, a personal trainer, and a blogger. We speaker with her about her inspirational story following heart surgery, her running experiences, including training for her first ultramarathon, and her motivations. Check it out!

The interiew

Hi Charlotte, please introduce yourself! 

Hi Vivi, sure, I’m Charlotte. I’m 29 and live in Surrey with my pup. I am a Student Advisor and PT and am currently training for my first ultramarathon!

Your journey with the British Heart Foundation is really inspiring, can you tell us about your story?

So when I was 14 I started having heart palpitations that would last up to 3 hours at a time at 180bpm stationery, doing nothing. I sought medical help but they weren’t able to diagnose me for 7 years! At 21 I found out I had what’s called Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT).

When my heart would palpitate, I would sometime faint as it jumped back into its natural rhythm so I was told I wasn’t allowed baths or to ride a bike on the road, etc. I’ve since had two operations and declared a normal working heart that doesn’t affect me at all. So many people aren’t as fortunate as me so I’d like to raise some money for the British Heart Foundation. 

How long have you been a runner for? Why running? 

I used to run competitively when I was at school, I was quite good. I’d also run the local 10km every year until I went to uni too. I then fell out of love with running for about 6 years or so when I got into bodybuilding shows. Now I’m back running and I’m stronger and fitter than ever and the love is back. 

You’re currently in training for an ultra – pretty incredible! How have you found it and what are your top training tips for ramping up the distance?

I’m pretty scared if I’m honest! But I’ve committed to running the whole distance, mine is 50km/31miles and the furthest I’ve run so far in one go is 18km. I’m loving pushing myself and seeing what my body can do but also exploring the nuances of how every run can feel completely different. I guess my biggest tip would be to aim for one long run per week and only up the distance a little each time.

What would you say is the best thing about running? 

Getting out and exploring new routes. I can’t stand running on a treadmill so you won’t catch me on one!

What do you think are the main benefits of regular exercise?

My personal opinion on this would be lower stress levels, a level head and lower risk of disease. 

What motivates and inspires you to keep going?

Having picked a more extreme event to raise money for a good cause, I’m not just running this for me. It isn’t just about me any more. Also, pre-op, I probably wouldn’t have been able to do anything like this so that needs to be celebrated. 

And, finally, how would you define a ‘healthy lifestyle’? 

A lifestyle you can realistically maintain that makes you genuinely good mentally and physically. This means nourishing food, being active in a way you find enjoyable and checking in with yourself mentally.

Thanks Charlotte! You can follow her journey via her blog here and Insta channel here.

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