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Nik Ward

Nik mid-stage at the RNR

DM: How long have you been running and what made you join UKnetrunner?

I have been running for about a year now. I started running last October (2013), as my daughter wanted to do some training for her school cross-country. We went out for a training run, and I was disgusted at how unfit I was, I could barely run a mile! So I started regular training and a friend at work suggested I try the King's Lynn Parkrun.  I was soon hooked and started to think about entering races. I booked myself in for the Wymondham New Years Day 10k and set myself the target of finishing under the hour. I did it (just!) and was on a high for days afterwards! After that I booked in for as many races as I dare (!) throughout 2014.

I found out about UKnetrunner through a magazine article and it seemed like the perfect club for me. I was not able to commit to regular club training sessions, but I still wanted to represent a club wearing a club running vest and know there would be people I could contact for help or advice. I liked the fact I could access everything on-line so I took the plunge and signed up. I've become more involved on the chat forums and I really appreciate that the club members are so supportive no matter what level you compete at. Even plodders like me are made to feel very welcome

DM: What is your favourite distance and favourite event entered to date?

Hmmm, that's a tricky one, because there are lots of events I haven't tried yet. But I guess 10k is quite a good distance for me. As I am still quite new to running, it's an easy distance to train for and it doesn't take too much recovering from afterwards (or maybe it should, perhaps I'm not putting enough effort in!!!)

My favourite event?  Can I cheat and mention 2 events?!? I thoroughly enjoyed the May bank holiday weekend in London this year where I did the Westminster Mile on the Saturday and the BUPA 10k on Sunday. I loved the Westminster Mile because it was the first (and probably last!) time I got to start at the front of the pack, I ran against Roger Bannister's granddaughter (she beat me) and I got a club record! The BUPA 10k was the first really big event I competed in. I loved the atmosphere, the crowd support, the live bands, and running past Big Ben without having to run a marathon first!

DM: Have you any plans to step up to longer distances?

Definitely. I would love to complete a marathon. It is something I have always wanted to do, but thought it was way beyond my capabilities. However, now I have conquered the half marathon I feel much more confident and I am sure I will do the big one, maybe next year? I've put in for the VMLM ballot so you never know! I would also like to have a go at some trail races. Though training for that would be tricky living in flatter than flat Norfolk!

Relief at handing over to Tristan

DM: You are now logged in the UKnetrunner archives as the first lady member to have run the infamous 5th leg of the Round Norfolk Relay (there are always ways to find new club records smile ) as a RNR virgin! Did you know what you were letting yourself in for?

NO I DID NOT!!! I initially looked at the distance (just under 11 miles) and thought that would be fine as I was training for the GNR two weeks earlier. I hadn't looked at the route or the terrain, and it wasn't until other runners on the forum started talking about shingle, sand & hills, I started to wonder if I had perhaps taken on more that I had bargained for! About a month before RNR we had a ride out to Cley to take a look. Thank goodness we did! Don't get me wrong, it is a beautiful place for a walk or a gentle jog, but when you are against the clock and carrying a big yellow baton it's a tough stage. I was so relieved once the baton had been passed on, but also really chuffed to have conquered it. Next year I will probably get one of those awfully dull flat road stages... (yes please!!!)

DM: Did you enjoy the whole experience of the RNR and will you be doing it again next year?

It was fantastic!  I was incredibly nervous, as I had not met any of the runners before (except for Colin Hewes who I've got to know through Parkrun).  I was introduced to some of the team at the pre-race meal on Friday evening.  Everyone was so friendly and supportive throughout the whole weekend.  I was amazed at how much planning and effort goes into this event, not only by the event organisers, but also from each participating team.  As well as running stage 5, I was also able to do cycle support on the final stage which I really enjoyed.  I would definitely be up for it again next year, and I would encourage other members to join in with one of the team events, as it is a great way to get to know the other clubbies.

DM: What other events have you got planned?

I've only got one more race booked for this year, which is the Great Eastern Run (HM) at Peterborough mid-October. I did my first HM at the GNR this year, which was great fun but quite a slow time, so I am aiming to improve on that at GER. As I have mentioned, hopefully next year will be time for a marathon maybe in the UK or maybe abroad?!? My husband loves to travel and I love to run, so we have been looking at combining both with a big city event overseas.

I've also got a triathlon on my 'to do' list. The running and cycling part I can cope with, but I do need to learn how to swim properly!

DM: Tell us about a typical training week for you, how often do you run, do you cross train at all?

Oh dear. this is where I struggle a little. I don't really have a typical training week. Basically I do what I can when I can. With having a full time job and two children, I'm not always able to do as much as I would like to. But on the plus side, it means I haven't pushed myself too hard and picked up injuries! I try to run or do something at least 3 times a week. It is usually one or two early morning runs before work, Parkrun every Saturday, and I sometimes go out with our Parkrun endurance group on a Sunday morning for routes of 8 to 12 miles.

Cross-training? Well funny you should mention that.. I have recently been lucky enough to win a very nice shiny new road bike (including clothing & all the accessories!) from a Facebook competition! So I will definitely be doing more cycling.