Anna Watkins: 'I was never sporty' - Women's Running

Anna Watkins: I was never sporty

Author: Chris Macdonald

Read Time:   |  May 21, 2014

Anna Watkins: My lack of marathon belief

Anna Watkins: My lack of marathon belief

Has running always been part of your fitness training? No, not at all. I did a bit of cross-country at school, but didn’t excel, so I never really thought I was sporty. My sister was always faster than me! I took up rowing at university, but training for rowers is about building up your muscles rather than losing weight, so running wasn’t really part of it at all. That’s why I’ve embraced running now, as it has taken me completely out of my comfort zone.

What made you decide to train for the Virgin Money London Marathon? After I became a mum last September, I wanted to get fit again and the idea of running was a genuine challenge. I really wasn’t sure I could do it. I’m six feet tall, weigh 12-and-a-half stone and I’d just had a baby, so I’m not a ‘natural’ marathon runner! London always seemed like an exciting event, so I did sometimes think ‘One day…’ and when the chance came up, I grabbed it with both hands.

How do you fit in your training with the demands of being a new mum? It’s tricky! I’m still feeding William, so I can only do long runs at the weekends when his dad is home. He is also looked after a couple of mornings a week, which gives me the opportunity for interval sessions and tempo training. I also run around Windsor Great Park with William in the buggy, which is good for endurance training, if not speed. I cross train on the rowing machine I have in my house.

Are you enjoying the training? Yes, although April seems to be coming around really quickly! Running has balanced my life and gives me a bit of space to be myself, as well as helping me to ease myself into shape. I’m hoping that on the day William will be there at the finish line in his ‘Go Mummy!’ T-shirt.

Will you continue to run after the marathon? Oh yes, I’m sure I will. After the Olympics, I ran a little, just for fun. It’s so easy. All I have to do is put on my trainers and I’m out of the door. Compare that with rowing, where you have to drive to the river and get the boat out and you are working with a crew. The motivation is quite different. I ran for four or five months when I was pregnant, but then retired to the swimming pool, which was boring in comparison.

Tell us about the Women’s Sport Trust It’s something I’m passionate about. London 2012 made everyone take a fresh look at women’s sport, especially with Jessica Ennis being the poster girl for the Olympics. It has had a huge impact on women’s participation in all kinds of sports and it would be a shame to let that momentum fade. We already know that young women are very much influenced by media images, so the visibility of sportswomen is vitally important. Track and field inevitably takes centre stage, but there’s something in sport for everyone.

Anna is also patron of the Women’s Sport Trust, the only grant-giving body for sportswomen that campaigns for sport equality and encourages women and girls to get – and remain – active.

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Chris Macdonald

Editor-at-Large, Women's Running

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