You might recognise Sophie from the news, but off screen, our May cover star is an avid runner. Between her presenting duties and raising three children, Sophie has completed four marathons, and will be running the London Marathon for a third time later this month. Her previous experiences at London haven’t been plain sailing – she collapsed the first time, then at the 2014 event, a race official tried to remove her from the course near the finish, mistakenly thinking she was wearing a false number. But this hasn’t stopped her. In fact, this year, she’s training harder than ever as she shoots for a new PB at London. We caught up with Sophie to discuss her running life.
“I ran at school and, looking back, I was quite fast, but I never really realised that. When I left school I just stopped doing that much sport. When I met my husband he was running, so when I was in my early 30s I used to trail round after him for a couple of miles in our local park, gasping for air. I had to take a bottle of water with me for a three-mile run and he’d look at me and say, ‘It’s only three miles!’ I hated it.
“I didn’t really run again until after we’d had our second child. I think it was part of just losing weight, getting fit again. I did my first half-marathon in 2006 and I got hooked after that. I did it in 2hrs 5mins, and at the time I thought that was amazing. I’ve just done the Bath Half in 1:39 [a PB] so I’ve shaved almost half an hour off in that time.
“I always do my long run at the weekend. I get up early on a Sunday morning – it slightly dents your Saturday evenings – and do a long run. My shifts change all the time and I’m off filming or doing all kinds of things, but I always take my trainers with me. I will run to work if I have to; I will leave early if I have to, to make it a longer run in; I run home; I do the speed training straight after work in Regent’s Park. I always fit it in. And I can somehow fit more into life when I’m marathon training – you just make time. I sit at the beginning of the week and I plan it out. I think I’ve missed one run since December.
“My first marathon was a disaster! I’d trained really hard and somebody said to me, ‘You’ll be able to do it in under four hours.’ I was really pleased.
“It was a really warm day, and I took gels, but I thought that meant I didn’t need extra water. I got to 24 miles and I remember nothing after that. I think I was unconscious for about 15 or 20 minutes, and I woke up having my temperature taken ‘internally’, which is never nice. I had a temperature of 106ºF, I was on an oxygen mask and they were putting ice down me. My temperature came down quickly enough so that they didn’t send me to hospital, and I spent two hours [with the medics].
“I’d written my own phone number on the back of my race number, because I’d confused it with my husband’s, so they were ringing me, telling me that I had collapsed but I was alright. My family had no idea what had happened to me, they’d waited for two hours.
“In the end, I was sitting up, chatting and drinking tea and I felt alright. They said to me, ‘We’ll put you on the bus back to the finish,’ and I thought, ‘No! I’ve raised £12,000, you can’t do that!’ They agreed to let me walk to the finish. But I walked for about 500 metres and everyone was shouting, ‘You can do it!’ So I started running for the last mile-and-a-half and finished in 6hrs 22mins. But that did mean the next year Steve Cram and Brendan Foster said on the commentary, ‘Here’s Sophie Raworth, who has the most improved time of any athlete!’
“I’m running four days a week [at the moment]. I’ll do a long run; I do a sort of steady eight, nine, 10 miles; and I do two speed sessions. I’ve been quite religious about doing sets of sprints and intervals just to push myself a bit harder.
“Running, without sounding melodramatic, has changed my life. It’s amazing. It’s really boosted my confidence. It gives me time and space away from mobile phones and chat – we’re all so hooked to technology nowadays. I spend my life working in a busy newsroom and I’ve got three kids and I’m on the tube, always surrounded by people. Running is a time when I’m often just on my own, or with a couple of people but I don’t even have to talk. It gives me real relaxation.
“I love the people I’ve met through running. A lot of my closest friends now are people I’ve met through running. And I never thought that just going out and putting one foot in front of the other quite fast would ever give me any of that.”