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April 10, 2014

Please introduce yourself, your background what sport you do.

My name is Holly Rush and I am a GB marathon runner and ultra runner from Wiltshire. I work full time for England Athletics and also as a Sports Massage Therapist. I have represented GB at the European Championships in Barcelona where I came 18th and won Team Bronze medal. I have represented England at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi (8th) and at the World Mountain Trail championships in Poland where I also won team Bronze (individual 12th).

Last year I ran my first ultra at the Comrades marathon and came 7th. Since then I have been bitten by the ultra bug!!

How did you get into running and competing?

I didn't get into running until I was at University in London when I went to watch a friend run the London marathon and decided I fancied a go. So the next year I ran for a charity and got around in one piece. After that I carried on running and joined a gym but only dabbled in it. It wasn't until I moved back home to start a new job near the University that I joined a club and took it more seriously, that was 10 years ago! I signed up to do the Berlin marathon and managed to run 2.59 off little training so it was then that I took the plunge and found a coach to give me more guidance. Just 6 months later I ran 2.48 at London Marathon, a time I never thought achievable.

What races have you been in this year and how did they go?

This year started pretty badly, I had been preparing solely to run the Two Oceans Ultra in South Africa and training had been going really well, I had even clocked a 2.39 marathon in training, but not long after that I picked up a horrible injury. I managed to tear my Sartorius muscle which meant I could hardly walk let a long run. I was devastated to have to pull out of the race.

After 6 weeks off running and gradually building up the miles I changed my focus to my next big race in Sweden. This Wednesday the 20th August I fly out to Stockholm to race the UltraVasan 90k trail race which is being held for the first time on Saturday 23rd August 2014. I am really excited about this race as its my first trail ultra overseas and there will be some great competitors there.

What is a training session like for you? Where do you train?

My training varies throughout the year depending on my focus but I tend to average around 160k per week year round apart from recovery weeks after my key races when I like to chill out and catch up with all the things I miss out on when I am preparing for a big event. Within each week I will normally include one long run, one med long run, one speed session and one tempo/threshold session.

The rest of the week includes easy miles and a gym S & C session. I take a rest day when I feel I need it, that might be once every 2 weeks or once every 2 months, it really depends on how my body is coping with the training load.

When it comes to nutrition do you decide yourself or do you get advice from a coach or nutritionist?

When it comes to nutrition, I like to eat as naturally as possible, so I avoid processed foods and never drink fizzy drinks or sports drinks. I work closely with friend and clinical dietitian Renee McGregor to plan for specific races e.g race day nutrition and the weeks leading up to the event. My diet leans more towards the high fat low carb way of eating mainly because I feel better training and racing this way but I do like to periodise my carbs. Therefore if I have a high intensity session or short race then I will fuel predominantly on carbs whereas before long runs I eat mainly fat/protein e.g eggs. During ultras I fuel on a mixture of gels and real food, for example at Ultravasen I will be using gels, pork pies and Chia Charge Flapjacks to get me through the 90k. Post race I have a chocolate milk and a Chia Charge Flapjack within 30 mins of finishing and will have a proper meal later when my stomach has settled.

My all time favourite breakfast before events is 2 slices of toast, almond butter a banana and a black coffee, I like to eat this around 2 hours before the race starts. Post race, I like to reward myself with a pie and a pint of real ale at my local pub!

What are your goals this season?

After Ultravasen I don't have any races set in stone but I am going back out to Nepal to race the Manaslu Trail Race again. I did this race 2 years ago and fell in love with the mountains which spurred me on to exploring the world of ultras. I am really excited about going back to where it all started. Next year I would love to go back to Comrades and run the uphill again and maybe try and bash out another fast marathon.

As always, a huge thanks to Holly for speaking to us about her year so far. Keep up to date with Holly Rush on Twitter @rushbynature and find out more on her blog.