Verge Meets: GB Olympian Lynsey Sharp

How do you motivate yourself to train on days where it feels a bit tougher/during the winter months?
On the days I wake up and I’m not feeling motivated, or it’s super cold outside and I just want to stay in bed, I find by picking out a new outfit, or a favourite running outfit can really help motivate me. Having the right outfit makes me feel great, making me want to go out and train on days when I can’t be bothered.

And when it’s colder do you do anything indoors before going straight outdoors?
I certainly need my coffee before going to train outdoors in the cold and then normally some indoor dynamic stretches to warm up as well. I also always go outside with too much clothing on and then end up throwing clothes off as I go. I’d rather be warm from the start!

What’re your tips for improving speed?
If you’re looking to improve speed I’d incorporate drills such as shuttle runs which involve short bursts of speed helping to develop acceleration, speed and anaerobic fitness. Hill sprints are also a good option to add into your training. I’d definitely incorporate gym work alongside your running as well. I tend to do two main gym sessions a week but will also do some sort of core work most other days.
In the gym I would recommend explosive exercises to improve speed, so steps ups and lots of jumping exercises. I don’t do that much Olympic lifting as I need to protect my back, so instead I just find alternative exercises that work the same muscles, but Olympic lifting also develops explosive power. Just make sure you get the technique right and pair up with someone to spot you.

What are the benefits of 10k running?
The 10k running distance is great for runners of all abilities, whether you’re new to running and looking for your first challenge, or for experienced runners who want to improve their time.
As my running event is 800metres, I personally tend to do a lot more speed based running, however during the winter months I have to build up an aerobic base, so I’ll do longer steady running in the first few months. My longest run is probably 8-9 miles so a 10k is the perfect distance for me when building this aerobic base.

What top tips would you give to someone starting out in running?
If you’re looking to start running, I’d recommend building up gradually and maybe doing some spin sessions at the beginning. If you do 0-100 from the off you may end up getting injured, so it’s essential you gradually build and improve. I’d recommend doing a minute on/minute off exercises and then perhaps run alternate days, ensuring you keep your runs varied to keep it interesting. Short hill sprints for example are a good option for building both strength and stamina.
I’d also suggest signing up to an event with friends, such as the adidas City Runs Series: Fulham 10k. Having a goal to work towards will keep you motivated and accountable when training and if you sign up with a friend you’ll be able to motivate each other as well.

What are the benefits of flat road running?
The first benefit of flat road running is it’s easier than running up hills and therefore a nice option for those looking to take on their first run. However, flat road running also gives you the opportunity to run fast and steady, consequently improving speed. In Edinburgh where I train there are a lot of hills, so I actually enjoy going somewhere flat where you don’t have to think about the next hill climb and instead can get into a nice rhythm.

What’re your tips for improving cardio?
If you’re looking to improve cardio, I’d firstly start by having some sort of goal you can work towards, so a 10k such as the City Series events or a half marathon. Cardio is something that a lot of people don’t enjoy but if you keep it varied, try different surfaces, paces and exercises then you can keep it interesting and will reap the benefits. You could even sign up to one of the free weekly run clubs in London, such as adidas Runners.

How do you recover after a tough training session/race?
I rely massively on food to recover after a session, making sure I eat the right foods to help my body recover. I’ll either make sure I have a good lunch or find somewhere really good to eat. At the moment I’m big into my salads and always try to make them interesting and creative. I’ll try and introduce a new vegetable each week to keep it varied and will also try to keep it seasonal, so at the moment I’m incorporating sprouts into my meals and during summer I’ll include more fruit. I also sometimes have an Epson salt bath to help relax my muscles and loosen stiff joints.

Are there any stretches that you’d recommend to other runners?
Before I start running I always ensure I do a lot of dynamic stretching, for examples leg swings and lunges, to loosen up the muscles before I head off. I stay away with static stretches until after I’ve finished running.
As someone who runs a lot, I do tend to get tight around my hips. I therefore ensure I foam roll as much as possible as well as using a cricket ball on my hip and calves to keep flexible and mobile.

Do you listen to any music when you train?
I listen to music on two occasions when training. Firstly, if I have to do a steady recovery run, I’ll listen to music to make it more interesting. I also listen to music when I’m in the gym, and tend to listen to music from the noughties.

Do you incorporate any other sports as part of your training? Yoga for example?
At the moment I only incorporate gym work into my training, however I do want to bring in Pilates as I have issues with my back and I’m trying to keep on top of that.

What’s your pre-race routine, any rituals or lucky charms?
I’m very forgetful so when it comes to race day I ensure that I’ve written down a full timetable of everything I need to do. I thought it was normal but I’ve been told its quite weird! I’ll write down everything from what time I need to get up, what time I need to shower and eat breakfast etc. I’ll even set alarms on my phone to ensure I’m doing everything on time.
I guess for me it’s about sticking to a routine, so I will never lie in on race day and I always ensure I’m up no later than 8.30am, no matter what time the race is. I’ll also stop eating three hours before my race.

What do you eat in the morning before training?
In the morning before training or race day I always have porridge. Even if I’m travelling I’ll make sure I take pots of porridge with me in case they don’t have anywhere I’m staying.

How do you keep running fun?
I think to keep running fun, having company helps a lot. Meeting people to train with or race with makes it more of a social thing. Even entering a race with friends gives you that added incentive to train and take part. I’d also say mixing things up during your training helps, whether that’s the route, distance or terrain.

For a lot of people, the City Runs 10k will be their first ever race. What advice would you give them to keep calm before the start?’
If you’re preparing for your first ever race, such as the adidas Fulham 10k, I’d suggest making a plan and sticking to it. Make sure you don’t get carried away in the moment and go to fast at the start. Stick to what you’ve prepared and most of all enjoy it!

Tickets for the adidas City Runs Series: Fulham 10k are now on sale at www.adidascityruns.com.