Paula Radcliffe’s routine has changed a lot since she retired from competition, but the world marathon record-holder still makes sure she fits in a daily run
It is the weekend of the Morrisons Great Newham London Run and Paula Radcliffe is sprinting up and down the home straight of the Olympic Stadium encouraging runners as they finish the 10km distance on the famous track. With thousands of people streaming through the finish line, it is a typically hectic scene for a mass-participation event and one that sums up the current lifestyle of the world marathon record-holder. After hanging up her racing shoes earlier this year, you would have thought Radcliffe’s routine might have calmed down but she is busier than ever, constantly on the move, and always determined to squeeze in her daily run.
A few days earlier before this event in the Olympic Park she was in Font Romeu in the French Pyrenees, helping British athletes like Charlie Grice and Tom Farrell prepare for the IAAF World Championships, and then paid a visit to her home town of Monaco to watch the Diamond League before travelling to London to inspire runners at the Great Newham London Run. Then, on the same day, she flew to Barcelona and drove back up to Font Romeu for three or four days before coming back to the Olympic Stadium for the London Anniversary Games followed by a trip to the United States.
So much for life quietening down. “It’s worse than when I was an athlete,” she smiles. “I do more travelling now. As a runner I would stay in training camps for a long time, but now I’m always catching different flights to various places.”
As Radcliffe whizzed around Europe on this warm weekend in mid-July, her husband Gary was in Sweden as part of the British Athletics team management for the European Junior Championships. The 3:34 1500m man did a similar role at the IAAF World Junior Championships last year. “He really likes and enjoys doing it,” says Radcliffe, “and the kids seem to like him.”
The couple’s daughter, Isla, has also been bitten by the athletics bug. The eight-year-old has taken part in events like the Worcester 10km and Morrisons Great Manchester Run and has even had a taste of the big time at the Monaco Diamond League where she carried the kit bags for elite athletes.
“We’re in the club in Monaco,” says Radcliffe, “and all of the club runners get to run a kilometre on the day of the Diamond League and so Isla ran that in the afternoon and then we went back to the stadium and she was carrying all the boxes. She had boxes for Mo Farah, Laura Weightman and Bershawn Jackson – he was brilliant with her.”
Isla also joins her mum at the Stade Louis II arena on athletics club nights. “It’s quite similar to British clubs but smaller,” Radcliffe says.
The track is not only the Radcliffe family’s home track but holds fond memories for the runner as she set her 3000m personal best of 8:22.20 there in 2002. “People ask if the track is short, but it’s not,” she says. “It just has ideal conditions with great weather.”
She continues: “People wonder where I go for runs when I’m in Monaco but there are some really nice parks in the surrounding areas and I’ve taken athletes like Laura Weightman out there on some of my routes.”
With her racing days behind her, Radcliffe is more likely to be seen running to catch a flight these days than churning out miles on a track or the trails. But she always has her Nike shoes in her luggage and like all lifelong runners it is a daily priority to fit in a few miles.
She is also passionate about others running and she spends part of her life today as an ambassador for the Great Run Series where, among other things, she is charged with inspiring a group of women called Radcliffe’s Great Runners to get stuck into their training and events.
“I want to encourage more women to take up running,” she says. “Everyone can have their personal goal and reason for taking part. It is often to lead a healthier lifestyle. You don’t need to be the fastest or the fittest, you just need to give it a go.”
» This article was first published in the September edition of Running Monthly magazine. See the October edition, included with the October 1 Athletics Weekly, for further running news, interviews and more