Running with Anna Frost – or should I say behind?
Ski+board Deputy Editor Rosie Barcroft joins ultra-runner Anna Frost to find out more about the growing sport of trail running.
A few hours earlier, I turned up wearing – I’m embarrassed to say – a dress. Luckily, Profeet had some trial kit on hand and minutes later I exited the changing room feeling a lot more confident…
That was until I talked with Salomon representative, Tord Nilson. “Are you looking forward to the eight kilometres then?” he asked. I laughed, thinking he was joking. I looked around at the toned; Lycra clad guests trying out the latest gear, and realised he wasn’t.
Moments later I was out of the door, my borrowed S-Lab Sense Ultra trainers from Salomon pounding the streets of London, before scrunching across gravel alongside the Thames.
I wasn’t going to catch up with Anna (who was leading the group), or indeed be able to talk to her if I did (my lungs more intent on drawing in oxygen, not expelling it). But it didn’t matter. I had forgotten just how sociable running in a group is. Conversations flowed about the latest marathons people had signed up to (mainly Marathon du Mont-Blanc, Chamonix), what they did for a living (accountants, teachers, lawyers) and what had pushed them to start building up the miles (losing weight, change in lifestyle, curiosity).
By the end, we all felt much more comfortable with each other. Not caring about our sweaty clothes, red faces and laboured breathing (especially on my part). In fact, the only two people who looked like they hadn’t been affected at all from the excursion were Anna (unsurprisingly) and Libby, an 11 year old girl who had come all the way from Maidstone, Kent that evening to meet Anna, her idol.
Keen to find out Anna’s secrets for success, we settled down with some well-deserved drinks and nibbles to listen to her speech.
Anna, although sporty, hadn’t always been interested in running. “My main sport was field hockey”, she said. “Then at university I became more involved in triathlons – before turning to half marathons, cross country and off-road running. I fell in love with the sport, the travel, the environment and the people.”
She signed up with the UK team INOV-8 where she raced (and won) some international events such as the Salomon MXR (an adventure running event). After four years she was then snapped up by Salomon and focused on mountain and trail marathons – one of the first she took part in was in Nepal, near Mt Everest.
There were plenty of questions from the crowd too.
Did she watch what she ate?
“I’m like a camel. I store food and water. Probably in excess,” she said with a broad smile. “Your body will always be built in a certain way. Work with it, don’t go against it”.
What is an important tip to remember?
“Core strength is essential. Even when your legs go floppy, make sure you hold yourself up, and keep breathing.“
“You’ve got to write your own book”, she said. “Everyone’s different. Yes I can give you tips, but ultimately it’s up to you”.