Member Spotlight, September 2019 – Julie Bell

I’ve heard of lots of reasons for not doing a run, but missing parkrun because of a zombie! Julie Bell explains.

1. How did you get into running and why?
I still think I’m relatively new to running – I started 6 years ago. My partner (and fellow Quaker) Stuart started running and in preparation for the 2013 Darlington 10k he found out about the weekly parkrun. I went down to watch him a couple of times and thought that if I had to get out of bed on a Saturday morning I might as well join in. I haven’t stopped since – Darlington parkrun is now my staple and I have my 250 milestone t-shirt to prove it! I try to go every week although I have missed a few this year as we have been dog (or is that baby) sitting my daughter’s pug – Zombie.

2. What kept you going when you first started running?
I enjoyed the health benefits – running helps keep the weight down and you feel so much better in yourself after a run. When I first started the Darlington parkrun, the organisers operated a points system that didn’t necessarily reward you on your speed but if you were a regular attender you could accumulate points. Scores were recorded in a table so that you could see how you compared to other runners. This gave me the incentive to keep going as I am quite competitive. The first year I took part I was top female points scorer and received a lovely “star” trophy.

3. How much training do you typically do each week?
I try to join the Quakers on Tuesdays and Thursdays when I can. I usually do the steady runs but have done quite a few sessions as well, mainly to help with speed/hills. I might go for a run on my own or with Stuart now and again to get in some extra miles.

4. Be honest, do you enjoy training?
Honestly, no – it’s hard work. I haven’t yet mastered the art of holding a conversation whilst running and don’t know how you other Quakers do it. It definitely helps being a member of a running club though and I do like the feeling of achievement and well-being afterwards.

5. Do you do any other sports or fitness activities?
I play badminton and play for my local club usually once a week but sometimes more often when the season starts as I play for my club in the Darlington & District League matches.

6. Do you manage to fit in any other hobbies?
I enjoy attending music events, eating out and holidays. I also like walking and recently completed the 3 Yorkshire Peaks challenge with some friends from work.

7. Tell us about some of the races that you’ve done in the past
I haven’t done many races, certainly by Quakers standard. I have done the Darlington 10k each year since 2014 and in recent years the Durham City and Croft Pitstop 10ks. Once I’ve entered one race, I like to do it again each year to see if I can improve. I’m looking to add more to the list in the future.

8. What’s your current running goal?
For the moment I’m happy just maintaining my fitness and trying to maintain, if not improve, my 5k and 10k times.

9. What are your longer term running goals?
I haven’t done a half marathon distance yet so I feel I should give that a go sometime. Maybe one that has some nice scenery with no hills if anyone has a recommendation?

10. What is your favourite race/distance/terrain?
5k or 10k is what I’m used to although trail running does sound as though it would be worth a go.

11. What are your proudest running achievements?
Receiving the Darlington parkrun trophy and improving my 5k and 10k personal bests.

12. Anything in your running experience you regret?
Not running faster. After a race I usually want to do it again straight away (that is when I’ve got my breath back) to see if I can do better.

13. How many pairs of trainers/ running shoes do you have and do you have a favourite pair?
Shamefully only one – is that bad? I only get a new pair when they are run out.

14. What’s your idea of running heaven?
Is there one? Probably where there are not too many people so that I can run in my own space.

15. What’s your idea of running hell?
Hills!

16. What is the best piece of running advice you’ve ever been given?
Well apart from the regular support of my partner Stuart – he insisted I put that in – I would have to say all the Quaker’s coaches have been great in helping me get through each training session. Particularly would have to give a big shout out to Ian (Young) who I remember gave me a lot of encouragement when I first started at the Quakers – and still does today. Listening to the coaches can teach you a lot.

17. Any advice to newcomers to running?
It’s hard going but persevere and you’ll feel the benefits. Joining a running club gives you the incentive to keep up the routine.

18. What keeps you going when the going gets tough in a hard race?
Determination to succeed. I don’t like to fail so I always put the effort in – I tell myself to keep going and never give up.

19. How do you relax/reward yourself after a race?
I don’t really – probably have a cuppa and a chat with Stuart about how the event went. Although this year we stayed over in Durham after the Durham City 10k so had a quick freshen up before going to the pub for a “pint”. That was nice.

20. If you could run anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Hadn’t really thought about it but somewhere not too hot and not too hilly and maybe where you can enjoy a glass of wine afterwards.

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