Clare Steel’s life is busy – very busy. Her day begins at 4:45am, when she gets up to prepare for a day in charge of a growing, ‘Outstanding’ OFSTED rated special school. After a long day at work, she heads home to the family farm in the beautiful Cotwolds, where she also helps run their holiday accommodation. She’s had a hectic 2016 so far, after her husband Sam suffered a serious stroke in February, which meant her eldest son James returning from Saudi Arabia to run the farm. It’s no surprise that Clare struggles to fit in her training, even though she knows it’s essential to keep her fit and help her unwind. Project Trail to the rescue!
What made you enter Project Trail?
I saw it in Women’s Running magazine and thought, ‘I quite fancy that.’ The following day at school, I’d organised for a motivational speaker called Jamie Macdonald to come in and talk to us all. He was just amazing – the challenges that he’s done – and I was chatting to him afterwards and I mentioned Project Trail and he said, ‘Go for it!’
I love my job with a passion, I have a fabulous family, but my husband’s not been well this year and my time has been completely squeezed. I love my running, and I needed something to help me focus on myself again, manage my time, manage my diet and my training – so I decided to go for it.
Life is very busy for you. How do you fit running in when you’re up at 4:45?
Yes, it’s a long day – I get up at quarter to five. I like to be in school not long after half past six, because that gives me an hour before most of the staff come in, so it’s lovely and quiet. Sometimes I’ll stay late in school, otherwise I’ll go home and do some work in the evening. So I try and do a parkrun each week, I do my best to do an hour or an hour and a half on a Sunday, which will be a trail run, and then I try and go out once in the week as well.
What will be your biggest challenge on Project Trail?
Sticking to a training plan. Usually, I’ll just go out and do my own thing so I’m quite proud of what I’ve achieved, that I don’t have a training plan I just go and run and do 5Ks and 10Ks, some weeks I’m so tired yet I still manage it. So I’m so excited that I’ve got somebody to help me and tell me what I should be doing.
Is there anything you want to learn from Anne-Marie’s coaching?
To manage myself better. I haven’t had a lot of injury and I think that’s because I’m very tentative about what I do, but I’m not very flexible so I’d like to make my body stronger because I think then I could run faster. I’m chuffed that at the moment my 5K PB on parkrun is just over 28 minutes, but I think I could do it faster.
What are you looking forward to most about this?
Achieving something for me. I think I’ve got the strength of character and the motivation and determination but it’s allowing myself to focus that entirely on me as opposed to school or family.