Q&A with: Natalie Dormer - Women's Running

Q&A with: Natalie Dormer

Author: Women's Running Magazine

Read Time:   |  March 21, 2016

Natalie Dormer

Best known for her roles as the sensational Margaery Tyrell in Game of Thrones and the feisty shaven-headed filmmaker Cressida in The Hunger Games franchise, Natalie Dormer’s fit and fearless on-screen demeanor is by no means a façade. Clocking 3:50:57 at the 2014 Virgin Money London Marathon – and shooting an even quicker time this year – Natalie is one fit and fierce lady. Getting up at 5am and working 10-hour days filming on set, Natalie has learned to juggle her demanding training plan with a hectic – and physical – job. However, she tell us that its the thoughts of the vulnerable children, picking up the phone to NSPCC’s ChildLine – the charity she will be running for this year – that gets her out the door after a busy day at work. And when it’s comes to her long run at the weekend, she doesn’t need much convincing to get out there. We catch up with Natalie about her running and her aspirations for London this year.

What do you love about running?

I love so many things about running. I love that it can be as personal and intimate or as communal as you choose it to be. I love that there’s an innate support structure among the running community, and you can think you have nothing in common with another human being at all in personality, job or lifestyle choices, and then you find out that you’re both runners and suddenly you click. I think it’s a bridge in communication in that way. At the London Marathon, 36,000 people every year go out en masse, and it was such an intoxicating and wonderful experience that first marathon that I did. I was so impressed with the enthusiasm, the passion, the energy and the mental positivity of those runners en masse, it’s the best side of the human spirit.

Do you have an aim this year to get through that 3:50 barrier?

I ran 3:50:57, that 57 is very important, all runners will know, that 57 is the bane of my life. Having popped my cherry, I know not to beat myself up, to be compassionate with my body, and how I feel on the day is how I’m going to feel on the day. So I’m not setting any specific. I would like to beat that time, but whether it’s by 30 seconds or 10 minutes is irrelevant.

The last time you were training you were filming some quite physical roles at the same time. Have you made it any easier on yourself this time in terms of what you’re working on?

 It has a pro and a con, I suppose, because what I’m working on right now is not as physical. Obviously that means I’m not putting my body under so much stress, but it means I’m also not effectively doing the same amount of interval training as I was doing in my day job. My training programme has had to reflect the fact that I’m not as physical in my job at the moment.

How do you talk yourself into training after a long day filming?

You talk yourself into the training by the cause that you’re running for. I’m very proud to be running for NSPCC’s ChildLine this year, and in celebration of ChildLine’s 30th birthday. Esther Rantzen began the service in ’86, so the NSPCC is doing this wonderful thing where all their runners’ donations are going specifically to ChildLine. I was lucky enough to visit ChildLine earlier this year at their London base and look at the amazing work that they do with vulnerable or isolated children, who feel they have no one else to turn to. So when it’s grey, when it’s raining outside and when I’d rather not run, I just think about those children picking up the phone or getting on their laptops to reach out for help and it helps me get my perspective.

What’s your favourite training session?

I like the weekly long run where you’re building up your miles. Hopefully you’ve done most of your hard work earlier in the week – your interval training, your core training or whatever you’ve done – and it’s just about getting the miles under your belt when you’re doing that run on the Saturday or the Sunday. You can put yourself under a little less pressure, and it’s just about enjoying the blue skies and people walking their dogs or families out.

How does your running help you with your job?

Oh it definitely helps. It’s meditative, we all know this, it takes you out of yourself and allows you to clear your mind in a way that few other things do, so that’s what I love about it, it basically helps you switch off.

You must need a certain level of body confidence; does running help you with that?

Body confidence but also fitness. People underestimate how physically grueling my job can be. If you’re getting up at 5am and you’re shooting until 7 o’ clock at night, that’s quite a cardiovascular thing to do. Or, if you’re on stage for instance, that is a workout every night when the adrenaline alone goes through your body when you walk on stage every evening. So, as an actor, maybe you’re doing something different or strange with your body, be it to do with your costume or the way your character walks, so my job is quite physically demanding naturally. So running and yoga are my two crutches to keep my body fit and in equilibrium and healthy.

Emil Zatopek said, “If you want to win something, run 100 metres. If you want to find out something about yourself, run a marathon.” What have you found out about yourself through marathon running?

That you’re capable, mentally and physically, of so much more than you realise. I didn’t know that the first time. I sit in an advantageous position talking to you, now that I have done my first marathon so I know it’s possible. When I was training for the first one I didn’t know that I could do it. So to know that you can do it is a massive breakthrough. I’ve never judged my body the same way since any more. It’s something similar to what my friends have said who’ve given birth: how amazing is my body that I can give birth to another human being, so does it really matter that I don’t fit that skirt?

And I felt the same way about the marathon. I was like, I may not be a size four, but I can run 26.2 miles so my body’s alright. And I’m healthy and I think especially for young women, young girls, they need to know that it’s more important how fit your body is than how skinny, or what shape your body is. It’s not about the aesthetic of the body, it’s what the body can achieve. In my industry that was a very liberating lesson to learn.

If you’d like to donate to Natalie, you can find her fundraising page here.

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