PledgeSports have the pleasure of working with some phenomenal athletes and teams. Each week we choose one of them as the PledgeSports “Sports Crowdfunding Campaign of the Week”.
This week’s winner is the inspiring Nikki Love. On August 27th, Nikki will set off on a world record attempt, running 63 marathons in 63 consecutive days throughout the UK, and in the process become the first woman in history to run more than 60 consecutive marathons in as many days!
Nikki has joined forces with PledgeSports to raise money which will help her throughout the world record challenge. If you would like to support this historical attempt you can do so by visiting Nikki’s campaign page here.
Now, it’s not often we get to speak with a future world record holder, and to be honest when we heard Nikki’s incredible story we thought it only right to share it with everyone. This is a story that everyone should hear, so, we caught up with Nikki for a Q&A recently. Prepare to be inspired!
Q. What has made you want to run a world record 63 marathons in 63 days?
Last year I turned 49 and I said I wanted to do something extraordinary during my 50th year on this planet. This is certainly extraordinary. It actually started about 7 years ago when I came up with the idea of doing multiple marathons. I said I wanted to do 30 marathons in 30 days. I was talked out of it – which in hindsight was probably a good thing. I learned a lot in those 7 days and the months of recovery following. Mainly I learned that if I wanted to do something extraordinary, I had to stop listening to people who said ‘you can’t’ and listen to myself, believe in myself and push myself to do it.
I’ve changed the way I train and eat. I’ve worked on my physical and endurance strength over the past 7 years, but I’ve also worked on my mental strength. I’ve worked on my WHY’s – these are clear.
- To promote a healthy active lifestyle as you get older. Or in Nikki speak … be a runny, bouncy, jumpy thingy – it’s good for your body, for your health, and for your mind.
- To show that you can do anything you put your mind to. Or in Nikki speak … think BIG, then DO.
- To inspire and encourage people. Or in Nikki speak … I’ll pick you up when you think you can’t because I know you can.
- To raise money for charity. Running challenges have now become synonymous with charity work. This is a great opportunity for me to raise awareness of a lesser known charity who is helping a good friend of mine as he and his family deal with the neurodegenerative and non-curable disease Huntington’s Disease.
Q. What is your definition of extraordinary?
I use the term Chasing Extraordinary. Extraordinary is any goal that is beyond your current capabilities. When I first started running I ran around the block and my extraordinary was to run 5k. I trained by running around the block, then twice around it, then running more blocks in my neighborhood, continually working on my strength and stamina until I entered and ran my first 5k.
Chasing extraordinary is about taking the steps and the training to get you to that next level that is beyond you. When you do, that self-accomplishment leads to self-confidence and self-belief it’s a wonderfully positive upward spiral.
Q. What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced in getting to this point, and how have you overcome said challenges?
The first big challenge came last year after I said out loud that I was going to go for this record. Shortly after, I broke my leg out on a training run (July 2016). A pesky tree root jumped out at me and I fell to the ground like a sack of spuds – I worked out that if you yell in the woods, nobody hears you. I had to walk back to my car and then drive myself home. I had an inkling that I’d broken my foot, but I had to steel myself and get back home. It’s amazing what you can do when you need to.
3 weeks in a cast, lots of healthy eating and supplements and lots of mind work, and I was told I was good to go 3 weeks later. I started my training from scratch again. ‘Walking’ only for 4 weeks. Then my couch to 10k program which started as a jog for a couple of minutes, walk for a couple of minutes and then weekly progressions. I went through all the feelings that a newbie runner would go through. I wondered if I was going to get my running fitness back. My body hurt as I got used to the running again (not excessive hurt – I don’t train to punish, I train to gain). But I’ve worked at it and I’m back to being able to run a marathon distance, all be it slow, but it’s at the pace that I’m happy will see me achieve 63 marathons in 63 days.
Since committing to this challenge and dealing with the logistics, I’ve had quite a lot of challenges. Getting knock back after knock back from potential sponsors is a bit tough. Being told I don’t have a big enough social media following for them to justify supporting me (in any way) has been a little tough to take, but I learned this during my 7 marathons in 7 days – I don’t have to prove them wrong to prove me right. I’m going to do it anyway.
This PledgeSports campaign is truly helping. It’s quite a costly adventure and without any specific corporate backing, I’m doing what I can with the funds I’ve got. Another of my favourite sayings is, “If you risk nothing, you gain nothing”. It certainly feels like I’m risking everything I’ve got, but if I don’t I’ll always wish I had and I don’t want to live with regrets.
Q. What’s your biggest motivation?
Keeping fit, healthy and active is definitely my motivation – quite simply, I want to rock a bikini at age 70. I want to get to age 70 and say “WOW, look what I did!”. Not look back and wonder why I’d never taken the chance and given it a go.
Q. How do you deal with the mental challenges of long-distance running?
I use a couple of tricks to keep my head in the game:
1. I don’t usually listen to music when I run, but I have a few songs that I use in my head that make me feel good. I play them in my head, I sing them out loud, I remember the good times I’ve associated with them and it helps me carry on. My favourite songs include Katrina & the Waves – I’m Walking On Sunshine, Stereophonics – Dakota. I also use Tina Turner’s song – River Deep, Mountain High. This song is 180 beats per minute, which is the optimal running pace your feet should hit the ground. I love the song and it gets my feet moving at a good speed again.
2. Months before an event/adventure I picture and write what the finish line looks like to me – how I’ll feel, what I’ll see, hear, smell. I write all the emotions about what it means to me to get to the finish line so that when I’m in the middle of a long run and things are tough, I know that I can push more because that’s not the finish I’ve been working towards. It keeps me moving.
3. I remember that this is my choice, it’s always my choice – the alternative is to be living a life that I don’t want. And so I move.
4. And one of my best pieces of advice that I received, and I give to others… when it gets tough, look up and look around. Take in where you are. Love and appreciate everything. And move on.
Q. How will you manage your body and nutrition over the 63 days?
I’ve been practicing running the way I intend on running these 63 marathons. Every 5ks I’ll stop, do a few stretches to break up the body pattern of running, eat a little, drink a little, take a few selfies, then go again. I’ve learned what works best for my body.
Morning breakfast is rolled oats, protein powder, a mixture of seeds and water (it doesn’t sound that exciting but the mix of protein, fats, and carbs works well for me. I’ll also have some bacon and eggs if I’ve got time. During my runs, I’ve been practicing with sausages, burgers, cheese, soda bread, nuts, dried fruit – I crave more savoury than sweet when I’m out on long runs. I also use sports drink and water throughout the day. That sounds like a lot, but my snacks are broken into small portions (and I do carry extra in case I’m extra hungry). It’s this little and often that keeps me going.
I’ve learned that my body works better when I use protein and fats – not just carbs!
As I mentioned, I’ve got a stretch routine during my runs, straight after my runs, in the mornings and pretty much whenever else I can stretch. As a sports massage therapist, I’m pretty aware of my body, the muscles and how they all work, so I keep note of what’s tight and what hurts and I work on that area through self-massage, stretching or exercise. I also have a great team behind me at home Clare Riddell at Pressure Point Sports Massage and Yasin Tayebjee at TownOsteo.
When I’m on the road, I’m hoping to get some TLC from fellow therapists along the way. The word is out and hopefully, I’ll be inundated with volunteers to push and prod my body.
Q. We’re amazed that you’re 50 and taking on such an extraordinary challenge, do you think age is a barrier to doing extreme events like this?
I really do believe that age is only a number, but I’m also aware that I really do need my rest. That’s not always the way it happens though – I’m still working full time as well as running, as well as being a mum.
I guess what I’m doing may not be that normal for a 50-year-old, but I intend on being a runny, bouncy, jumpy, thingy – playing in mud, climbing trees, splashing through creeks, going on running adventures, being a big kid for as long as I possibly can.
Q. We’ve covered the differences between fitness and endurance, what’s your take on the differences?
I’ve been some form of a fitness instructor/coach/mentor since I was a teenager (a long time ago) and a sports massage therapist for nearly 10 years. Fitness & body strength and stamina & endurance both need to be worked. You can walk for miles and miles, but not necessarily have a strong body. You can have a strong body, but not necessarily be able to walk for miles. They enhance each other and for me, it’s all about having a balanced body – strong and durable.
Q. How will you overcome injuries, particularly things like shin splints, during the 63 days?
I’m hoping that injuries are non-existent or at least kept down to a bare minimum by following my pre, during and post routines. But as I’ve never run more than 7 multiple marathons I’ll be heading into unchartered territory. I’ll do what I know. I’ll have experts on call for extra advice. I’ve got a stash of pain killers for just in case. I’m hoping that I get through the 63 days without any accidents – I’ve asked all the pesky tree roots to stay out of my way
Q. Have you ever encountered “Hitting The Wall”? How do you beat it?
Oh yes indeed. I’ve got some unfinished business to take care of during these 63 marathons. The first marathon I attempted was the Nottingham Marathon in 2001. I failed. My son was 6 months old. I had done barely any training (bad Nikki) and I went and attempted the marathon. I got to 19 miles and I simply didn’t have anything left in the tank. I had a 6-month-old baby waiting for me to finish and so I threw the towel in.
It upset me, but in a good way. I got home and vowed to get past this. I entered the London Marathon for 2002 and I trained, and I’m happy to say I completed my first marathon on my second attempt.
I’ve never gone back to do the Nottingham Marathon… until now. Marathon number 29 is my COMEBACK and I am sooooooo looking forward to crossing that finish line and getting that monkey off my back.
If you would like to support this historical attempt you can do so by visiting Nikki’s campaign page here.
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