Mind over matter!

Journalist and broadcaster Sophie Raworth tells us how the restorative power of running helped her complete the arduous Marathon des Sables.

Sophie Raworth is a BBC newsreader and presenter, and somehow manages to find time to be an epic-long-distance runner at the same time. She has completed numerous long-distance events, including all six World Marathon Majors and the Marathon des Sables, a 156-mile ultramarathon across the Sahara. 

People think I’ve run all my life, which isn’t true.

I did a year of track running when I was 16. I was quite fast at 400m but stopped and began training with the British diving team. I didn’t run again until I was in my 30s, but I hated it and quit. When I was presenting the 6 o’clock news, I trained for the Great North Run, which I took seriously and followed a plan. But it wasn’t until 2011 that I started running in earnest and began training for my first London Marathon.

Running has become a part of my life. 

If I can’t fit a run around my work hours, then I’ll just run the 10k to work instead of taking the tube. I run five days a week. I have an online coach: he tells me what to do and I just do it.

My most memorable run was the Marathon des Sables.

It was just the most extraordinary experience. It was difficult and it hurt but in terms of fulfilment, that was my best race. What I remember more than anything was camp life, the laughter, that feeling of being in the middle of nowhere and just having to get on with it. I didn’t tell anyone, other than my family and close friends, that I was doing it. I was genuinely very scared. I felt totally out of my comfort zone and didn’t know if I could do it.

To have completed it was incredibly empowering.

I realised that your body can do so much more than you ever thought it could. So much of running and life in general is about what’s in your head. It’s often your head that holds you back, rather than your body. This was a really important lesson for me in what you can do if you literally keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Running has given me confidence.

It has made me feel physically and mentally strong. I’ve just turned 50 and I’m fitter and faster than I’ve ever been. It’s become a really stabilising part of my life. If I’m feeling tired or stressed then I just go for a run. I work in a high-pressure environment, and I love the fact that I can get out in the countryside and run for hours on my own. I just listen to my thoughts, my feet and my breathing. It’s liberating and meditative.

Everyone asks me what my next goal is.

I have my eye on a big multi-stage race for 2019. I’d like to do more trail running and a stage of the Ultra Trail Mont Blanc. I also have my eye set on a marathon PB. My current PB is 3 hours, 29 minutes and 15 seconds. I want to train really hard and see if I can beat it.


Written by Women's Running Magazine | 1487 articles | View profile

Please comment on this article below