How does one go about overcoming fear and beating self-doubt? Or fighting the fatigue that literally kills us these painfully cold mornings? We decided we weren’t qualified to ask such questions. Well, not when we have the phenomenal world record holder and one of the greatest female distance runners in history, Paula Radcliffe to advise us how to do so. Paula Radcliffe is extraordinary. She’s an extraordinary athlete, ambassador and commentator and it is she, with her grit, tenacity and remarkable steely determination, who has changed things for women in sport and overcome injury and various hurdles to get to the top of her game with charm, grace and integrity.
We couldn’t wait to ask the English athlete how she did it all; how she triumphed despite the challenges not only for women in sport but the industry itself – she has avidly campaigned against doping in sport – but the questions on fatigue were first on the list, and we were thrilled when she let us in on a little secret: Revive Active. Radcliffe is a spokesperson for this super-supplement, which combines a range of powerful amino acids, vitamins and minerals in a single convenient sachet, to boost energy and combat fatigue. And you can take both Radcliffe’s and our word for it: the stuff is brilliant; a miracle in a sachet – it’s been keeping the IMAGE office alive throughout the winter!
Radcliffe spoke to IMAGE.ie about its benefits, about how as a record-breaking athlete, she combats fear, self-doubt and offers advice for women trying to make exercise a priority.
As a professional female athlete, how do you overcome fear?
I think the best way to overcome fear is to be as prepared as possible and harness the energy of the fear. The better prepared that you know you are and the more variables that you know you have covered, the more relaxed and ready you will feel. However, if you liken fear to nerves a little bit, then some is not a bad thing as it heightens adrenaline and can make you perform better as well as keeping you more alert. So rather embrace and control your fear, use the energy and show it who is boss!
For you, what is important to remember when setting goals?
The most important thing to remember is to pick a goal that excites you, that you will be really motivated to go after and give your absolute best to try and achieve. It has to really matter to you. Then remember to set several goals, dream ones and realistic ones. Some you will tick off easily, others you might never achieve, but though trying to achieve them, you will achieve other great things along the way.
What advice would you give other women/aspiring athletes who find it difficult to exercise, or may be beginning their own running journey?
The biggest thing is to make time for yourself and your exercise within the day and not feel guilty about it. Make it your time and enjoy it. It’s also great to get together with a group of friends or a run club, this helps motivate you all, brings a social side to it and you can help, support and inspire each other and celebrate the journey together.
As a professional female athlete and mother, how do you overcome fatigue?
I don’t know about overcome; I think it is probably more about coping with fatigue and not letting it get too big and defeat you. Looking after your mind and body is the key part, keeping your sleep good, and your nutrition needs to be very strong and in balance (balanced diet with key nutrients) and Revive Active really helps here. Keeping your goal in mind and even written somewhere you see it daily helps to maintain motivation. Also important to reward yourself for stepping stone achievements.
Have there been points throughout your life where you doubted yourself? If so, how did you overcome that self-doubt?
Of course, everyone experiences self-doubt at some point. Going back over all the hard work and preparation and reminding yourself of how strong you can be and are is very important. When it is a goal that really matters to you, remind yourself that it is the trying as hard as you possibly can that matters and as long as you give it your best shot that is all you can do. If you give it your maximum effort and it isn’t good enough, you can still be proud of having tried your best, and you can do no more.
Who or what is your biggest motivation?
I would say, my children. I want them to see that it’s good to go after goals, be a strong person and give everything in life your maximum effort and to always treat others with respect. My grandma showed me that you give life your best shot, always respect others and above all enjoy all of it. I always wanted to reach the end of my career and know I got the best out of myself that I was capable of and also that I always stayed true to myself and my integrity.
What has been the highlight of your career? And the lowlight?
The highlight would probably be setting the world record in London in 2003. However, the world Cross Country victory in 2001 is also very important to me as were the titles on the track in the Commonwealth 5000m and European 10000m. The low point was Athens; it was at the peak of my career when my chances of getting my Olympic goal and dream were greatest and to get injured, and not be able to overcome it and even finish the race was definitely the lowest point. However, I did survive it and got through it. Having my integrity and everything that I have always stood for challenged as it was in 2015 was the biggest low point, though. It took all I had, and all the support of those closest to me, to cope with that and come through knowing that it was what I knew was the truth that mattered and that those who mattered to me knew and believed the truth.
How has your life changed since you retired from professional athletics?
I have many goals still, centring around being the best mum I can be, becoming a better sports commentator and giving back to my sport and helping strengthen the credibility and integrity of athletics to better support the clean athletes. I have more time now in my life for running socially with friends and also trying other sports; I love sea kayaking right now. I probably travel more often but for shorter trips, but still, ask quite a lot of my body so have to look after it well with good sleep and nutrition.
Aside from running, what is your favourite thing to do when you need a mood ‘pick-me-up.’
It would be to spend time with my family and kids, to curl up with a good book, to go out for a nice meal with friends and family or to go out on the ocean in a kayak if the weather is fine.