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May 15, 2014

Please can you tell us a little about yourself

I qualified as a registered dietitian 15 years ago and spent the first few years of my working life as a clinical dietitian working within the NHS, mainly in the area of paediatrics and eating disorders. I have always been athletic and interested in sport. After my second daughter in 2004, I started running and a few years later I was asked to join my local running club in Bath. It was at that point, I was being asked continually about sports related nutrition and so I decided to go back to University and do a postgraduate qualification in Sports Nutrition.

It was a tough year as I was juggling a day job, studying and a had young family but I knew it would be worth it in the end! I was employed at Bath University in the run up to The Olympics and I was fortunate enough to work within a number of sports including Rhythmic Gymnastics, Beach Volleyball and Swimming.

In my spare time I still run both marathons and ultra-marathon distance events. I am currently chasing a pb in my marathon which stands at 3 hours 17 minutes!

Can you tell us about your role as a nutritionist?

I love my job as a Sports Nutritionist – it has taken me 6 years to be completely qualified to work in this field. Something a lot of people don’t appreciate. Unfortunately the term “nutritionist” is not protected so anyone from a personal trainer to a nutritional therapist who has only trained for 6 weeks can call themselves a nutritionist. I make this point here as in order to be an expert in this field you do need to have understanding of the human body biochemical and physiological perspective. In addition my clinical background has also been of great advantage as I can also help athletes that have a medical condition whether that is diabetes, celiac or an eating disorder.

My main role is to ensure that an athlete, recreational or elite gets the most from their training plan. I help them to understand that fueling for their training before and after will ensure that their bodies adapt accordingly but also that hey get the most out of that training session. I will look at both macro and micro nutrients; provide advice on supplements, competition nutrition and also if athletes are travelling abroad.

How is it working with elite athletes, who are you currently working with at the moment?

It is very rewarding working with elite athletes, especially when you see them achieve their goals; it can also be quite challenging! Presently I am working with Holly Rush, GB Marathon and ultra-runner; Nick Blackwell, Pro-Boxer; The GB Luge team; some of the Gb Swim Team that will be going to the Commonwealth Games and a number of athletes from the MCTA Tennis academy.

You're an ultra runner - whats a typical training/exercise session like for you?

I like to mix things up! Last year I also decided to get a coach and who better to ask than one of my athletes! Holly has been great – she has made me more disciplined about my training so that I am not just going out running non-quality miles. With a busy work load and a family to juggle, I need to make sure that I put the quality sessions in. Holly ensures that I do one speed session, I longer race pace session and then a Long run at the weekend as a minimum. I also do some Strength and conditioning in the gym and some spinning classes!

You recently took part in the Manaslu Mountain Trail in Nepal, how do you prepare for such big events?

I am definitely an endurance athlete and I don’t find being on my feet for hours a problem.

Before Manaslu I made sure that I did a lot of back to back long days whether that was running or hiking. I entered some ultras so that I could practice carrying a pack while running as well as fueling strategies, which is where I found Chia Charge flapjacks really came into their own! I preferred them to other brands because they were not sickly sweet and the added salt really helped with palatability. In addition they are packed full of ingredients with a high nutritional value.

As most of Manaslu trail race is at high altitude, I was also fortunate to be able to use the altitude chamber at work. For 8 weeks leading up to the race, I would spent 2-4 hours a week training in the chamber.

Can you tell us a about your book that is out this year?

This is a very exciting project. I was approached by a publisher a while back. I can’t tell you much at the moment but it will be a book about training and nutrition with lots of practical recipe suggestions to help you feed yourself and potentially your family while training and working. I will keep you posted!