Chrissie Wellington's running secrets

Ironman world champion Chrissie Wellington reveals her running secrets, including the songs that never fail to get her fired up.

When did you first start running?

I got into running regularly while doing my Master’s degree to lose a bit of weight and get fit after spending the past two years travelling. I started with 20-minute runs and gradually increased my running times to 90 minutes. I decided to give the London Marathon a go in 2002, and ran it in 3 hours 8 minutes. After that I joined a running club in London and began to train more seriously. I also started swimming again.

Did you do any kind of exercise before taking it up seriously?

I was always a sporty kid. I swam, and played hockey and netball, but my studies and my career always came first. I got into amateur triathlons in 2006 after returning from a stint living and working in Nepal. I was 29 and I didn’t really have any sporting ambitions, but after winning the world amateur triathlon title in 2006, I decided to make the sport my profession and to focus on the longer ironman triathlon events. I won my first ironman race in 2007 and six weeks after that I was crowned World Ironman Champion, in my very first year as a pro!

What role has music played in your training?

I have always used music from many genres to motivate and inspire me, especially while running either outside or on the treadmill, cross training in the gym, or cycling indoors on the indoor bike trainer.

Chrissie’s warm-up music

  • Everlong by the Foo Fighters
  • We Are the Champions by Queen
  • Where the Streets Have No Name by U2
  • Angels by Robbie Williams
  • Tonight, Tonight by The Smashing Pumpkins
  • Lose Yourself by Eminem
  • Comedown by Bush
  • Circle of Life on the Lion King soundtrack

What tracks get you in the mood for running?

I have a playlist with all my favourite songs, which I listen to in the days before a race. It never fails to give me a huge mental boost. Pre-race I would probably go for those that bring back amazing memories and hence are motivational and uplifting.

I love Everlong by the Foo Fighters; We Are the Champions by Queen; Where the Streets Have No Name by U2; Angels by Robbie Williams; Tonight, Tonight by The Smashing Pumpkins; Lose Yourself by Eminem; Comedown by Bush; and of course Circle of Life from the Lion King soundtrack. Always a winner!

What do you see as the main differences between exercising with your own music and run to the beat music?

My music library is very eclectic, and a lot more geared towards alternative rock. I tend to use AudioFuel for very hard workouts when I really use the synchronised beat and motivational coaching to help push me to go harder and faster, as well as calm the body and mind at certain times, which is an important part of training.

What’s your advice on staying motivated to run?

Always write your goal on a piece of paper, whether it’s to lose weight or complete your first 5km, and post it somewhere visible. It must be something you personally want to achieve, not a goal set by others.

Plan how you want to achieve that goal. The plan should be realistic and tailored to your ability and your life. This will give you direction, structure and help you stay on track.

Have smaller goals that you can achieve on your way towards your overall goal. This will help you enjoy the journey with successes along the way. For example, if you’re finding a run difficult, break it down and set small goals, like getting to the next lamppost – promise yourself that at that point you can either stop or keep going.

Keep a log of your workouts. Highlight any accomplishments and successes, note how you felt and then celebrate getting up and over these little milestones. When you need some inspiration, open your log book to remind yourself how far you’ve gone.

Find a running mate. Running with others is great motivation. You can also get encouragement from sharing your goals with friends online. Share your exercise goal with your social network. Sharing will give you the extra push to keep going and achieve your goals.

Train your brain to recognise negative thoughts and try to replace those thoughts with positive affirmations. 'This is too hard or I am too tired' is replaced by 'I am as strong as an ox. I CAN run a 5km!' Have a mantra to repeat ad infinitum. Mine is ‘Never Ever Give Up’. Spend time on visualisation. Imagine yourself as being strong, confident and successful. Imagine how it will feel to cross the line, hear the roar of the crowds, or fall into the arms of your loved one.

Page last reviewed: 31/05/2014

Next review due: 31/05/2016

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