Melanie Chisholm, once better known as Sporty Spice, needs no introduction. One-fifth of one of the most groundbreaking girl groups in pop, later a successful solo artist, actress and businesswoman, Mel says she has seen the world with her running shoes on! That ‘Sporty’ label wasn’t just a gimmick.
She has already taken part in the London Triathlon and the Great North Run, and this July is leading her own team in the women-only Human Race Triathlon.
How is the training going, Mel?
Last year I took part in two triathlons and a half-marathon and was the fittest I had ever been. I concentrated on cardio work and have noticed my hamstrings and glutes are weaker than they should be, so I’m doing a lot of strength training. I love to get outside when the weather allows.
Do you feel fitter now than you did when you were a Spice Girl?
I hit the big 4-0 this year and my body doesn’t bounce back the way it once did, but I eat healthily and don’t overtrain. Like most young pop stars the Spice Girls worked 12-hour days and travelled a lot. Adrenaline takes over and you’re in survival mode. I became obsessed with losing weight and didn’t eat properly until my body started to complain. Living with an eating disorder, as I did, is such a waste. Food and socialising are there to be enjoyed! I’ve been healthy for more than a decade now; I’m back on an even keel.
How did you start running?
I was one of those kids who just can’t sit still! I was dancing from the age of eight and my mum has photos of me at gym club. I also played rounders, netball and hockey. It was Geri Halliwell who introduced me to the gym and running. The buzz I got from the endorphins was new to me. When we were on the road we stayed in nice hotels so I would run on the treadmill, but I prefer the open air. In the late ‘90s I had a great trainer in LA who introduced me to martial arts, surfing, cycling and yoga as well. It’s good to mix things up.
What events do you take part in?
As many as I can fit in! The London Triathlon in 2011 was a huge event and I did the Great North Run last year. The Human Race Triathlon has such a supportive atmosphere and has something for every woman of any age, shape or size. I would recommend this event to everyone. Every entrant has a story to tell, and everyone can achieve, whether it’s a personal-best time or their first-ever race.
How would you encourage more women into running?
I get so much out of it, not just physically but mentally too. Running is good for my head, it keeps my mind straight and I’m sure I make better decisions. There are lots of local events women can join and you can start gently, walking and then running for ten or 15 minutes, then just keep challenging yourself. You can get together with friends, meet like-minded people – as well as enjoying a glass of wine or a dessert without feeling guilty! Girl Power hasn’t gone away. Getting out there and doing things like running is part of it. It’s accessible feminism!
What are your ambitions for the future?
I’d like to do an Olympic distance triathlon. And I also want my daughter to grow up with a positive attitude to food.
Mel C is encouraging ladies to sign up here for the Human Race Women Only Run in Richmond Park on 18 October. 5K, 10K and 15K distances are available.