Q&A: Ultra running 101 with Kelly Pepper

Kelly Pepper, known as ‘She Runs Trails‘, is an ultra trail runner and Race Director for the Suffolk Trail Festival and Raw Trails Events. We chat with Kelly about her running journey, her advice for wannabe Ultra runners, the importance of mindset in endurance running and more. Read the interview below.

The interview

Welcome, Kelly! Please introduce yourself.

I’m a born and raised Suffolk mum of 4, who loves the countryside and happens to enjoy running long distances for fun! I’m also Race Director of Raw Trails Events & The Suffolk Trail Running Festival.

When and how did your running journey start?

My journey into longer distances started when I signed up for my first marathon in 2009. Before that, I’d only ever ran around five miles. 

What is it about running you love so much? 

I love that it gives me an opportunity to step away from my busy life, zone out and just enjoy the simplicity of life. I enjoy running trails, seeing wildlife, chasing sunsets and watching the landscape change with the seasons.

You’ve completed some pretty remarkable challenges and races. What have been your best experiences?

It’s difficult to choose – they’ve all given me great memories (and lessons). 

I think finishing my debut 100-mile race (tp100) sub 20, when I was aiming for a sub 24 is probably my proudest moment. It made me realise how I unintentionally limit my ability and how much strength and determination I really have.

What would you say to anyone thinking about doing an ultra?

You can read my top tips for getting started here, and a summary below:

  • Be bold but realistic
  • Choose a training plan that works for you
  • Fall in love with the process
  • Run to feel
  • Take pictures, get creative
  • Stop comparing yourself to others
  • Praise yourself

What keeps you motivated when the going gets tough?

Knowing that others are rooting for me is a massive motivator. I want to make them proud, especially my children.

What are your top tips on managing pain?

I try to stay positive, smile and remind myself that pain is only temporary.

How important do you think mindset is when taking on endurance challenges?

Mindset is everything. You need to be on that start line with 100% confidence you’re going to finish. 

Quite often, when it comes to endurance challenges, the hardest part is getting to the start line fit and healthy. What is your top training tip?

Be sensible. Take your time building up the distance, listen to your body and drop back if needed. Be kind to yourself.

What’s next for you?

I’m going to attempt to set a ladies FKT on the Norfolk Coastal Path soon. I’m also training towards my first 100m mountain race (Val D’Aron in July). Can’t wait! 

Thanks for sharing your story, Kelly! You can follow her adventures on Instagram here: @she_runs_trails. You can find our other ‘Vivi Stories’ here.