Ashley Fraser (@my_london_marathon) is a marathon runner, member of the Brooks Run Happy Team, fitness enthusiast and is currently training for her first 100k ultramarathon. In our latest Q&A, we are delighted she has shared her running story with us. Check it out!
Hey Ashley, tell us how it all began. How long have you been a runner for and when did you get started?
I started running in 2017 when I received the news that I had secured a place in the 2018 London Marathon. I remember sitting at work reading the email and not realising how life-changing the journey I was about to embark on would become!
I couldn’t even run 3km when I started! How was I going to run 26.2 miles?! The journey was incredible. After I crossed the finish line in London, I knew I was going to be a runner for the rest of my life! The feeling of pride, accomplishment and achieving what I had thought was impossible was amazing! I feel so lucky to have been given the opportunity to run London. It really did change my life.
In your words, what is the best thing about running?
For me, running is so much more than putting one foot in front of the other. Running is a mindset, an escape, a challenge, a way to push boundaries, a way to achieve the impossible. When I run, I zone out into my own little world and feel completely at one with myself in those moments. I escape the pressures of modern-day life and it’s just me and the road/trail ahead of me. The other amazing thing about running is the community! There is a huge community out there who are so supportive and ready to encourage others to go for their goals!
From 5ks to marathons, what has been your best running experience to date?
Without a doubt, the London Marathon 2018. Not only the day itself but the 8 months of training leading up to it. My training had good days and disastrous days! I started off by running 4 times a week, experimenting with different paces and distances. I joined various running clubs across London and started to learn more from other runners. As the training miles added up, I knew I was in with a chance of doing this! My favourite running route was an early morning jog along the River Thames from Battersea Park to Tower Bridge and back. I would admire the London landmarks as I ran in my own little world.
The day itself was a hot and sunny 24 degrees! From the moment I crossed the start line until the moment I finished, the atmosphere was electric! People were dancing on the streets with music blasting out of local houses and pubs! Kids were handing out jelly babies to the runners and the fire service were out with hoses keeping us runners cool! It was honestly one of the best days of my life! I cried in the last mile as I was so overcome with emotion and pride! I remember turning the corner at Big Ben and seeing Buckingham Palace in the distance and the tears started streaming down my face. Crossing the finish line was one of the proudest moments of my life.
How did you become involved in the Brooks Run Happy team?
I have always followed members of the Brooks Run Happy Team on Instagram and loved their ‘Run Happy’ message. The applications for the 2020 team opened last October so I applied online and spoke about my running journey and how running has been life-changing for me. I feel incredibly lucky to have been selected for the 2020 team! We have our first team meet up in March and I am excited to meet everyone! Our team WhatsApp group has been really active so it already feels like a big family!
What do you think are the top benefits of regular exercise?
There are so many! Where so I start?! I am a completely different person when I run regularly. I always feel more positive and in control of life! I eat better, I feel lighter and I am generally happier within myself. There is also an amazing social side to being active and meeting people with similar interests! I enjoy hearing other people’s journey’s and goals.
What motivates you and who is your inspiration?
I just genuinely love running and the feeling of accomplishment when I finish a run. I love the feeling of pushing myself further and taking part in different races, meeting new people and sharing experiences with my fellow runners! I am motivated by how healthy I feel when I run, my body confidence and general wellbeing improve and I feel part of an amazing global community where everyone encourages and supports one another. Every runner I see out there on the road or trail inspires me. Everyone has their own story and reason for running and each and every one is an inspiration.
You’re currently in training for an ultra, why did you decide to scale up to that distance and how are you preparing for something like that?
12 months ago I made the move from the centre of London to the surrounding countryside. This is when I discovered trail running. To me, trail running is a completely different experience to road running, it is more of an adventure! There is less focus on pace and more focus on distance and having fun. Not to mention the beautiful surroundings.
I decided that I needed a new goal that involved my new love of trail running and that’s when I signed up to Race to the Stones this July. I am running the 100km route over two days (50km each day) and the training is going great! I am training with Purdue Performance coaching; Adam & Charlotte are amazing!! I have a plan to follow that gets updated every two weeks and I have a lot of trail races booked over the next six months, including a half marathon up Mount Snowdon! Bring it on!
What would be your best running tip for beginners?
Don’t give up and stay consistent! This is something I learned the hard way! Don’t be scared to get out there and give it a try. Just lace up your trainers, throw on a t-shirt and go for a jog around the local park. Don’t worry about pace or running fast. Focus each run on going a little further than your last. Sign up for a local Parkrun, you will meet amazing people and 5K is a great goal to aim for. But mostly, don’t give up. Keep lacing up those trainers and get out there!
Finally, what can’t you live without when out running? (i.e. a certain piece of kit, running tech, nutritional item, friend, etc).
My Garmin! I feel naked running without it! It’s almost like ‘if the run isn’t tracked on my Garmin, then it didn’t happen’! I’m not sure if this is a positive thing or not but I wouldn’t leave the house without it. I enjoy comparing my runs and seeing small improvements in my fitness.
Thanks Ashley! Best of luck with your 2020 challenges.
Don’t forget to follow Ashley’s journey on her Instagram account.