In this week’s blog, Lucy Hilton from Enertor chats with Esther Newman, Editor of Women’s Running, to find out a little about why she runs, her achievements, goals, what life is like as an Editor and product tester and her favourite pre-race breakfast.
Esther - it's great to speak with you today, thank you for your time. Perhaps you could start by giving a bit of background to how you entered the world of running?
I’ve been running since I was about 10 or 11. My parents were both runners in the 80s, and both ran marathons, so it was in the blood. I wasn’t fast, however, so just ran on my own, around the block. I started doing a bit more at university and, with a few pauses for party years and kids (not together), have largely remained on the road since. I hate to say it in a denigrating way, but I am resolutely a plodder – my absolute favourite thing is plugging myself into an audiobook and churning through familiar miles.
What is your greatest achievement in running?
The virtual London Marathon in 2020 was a massive highlight for me: I’d never made that distance, even though (like many people) I’d trained for it twice that year. I did it close to home, running past so many other London Marathoners, all of us waving at each other, and was cheered on by my husband and kids who, up to that point, had never been interested in all my running. Subsequently, both kids have shown an interest in park run (but also wonder why it is that I’ve not come first in any races). The Bath Half at the start of 2020 was also pretty amazing, despite being on the edge of lockdown, if only because I knocked 2 minutes off the PB I’d made 15 years earlier.
You are Editor of Women's Running Magazine - what was your journey to get to this point?
Long and winding! I joined a publishing company straight out of uni, and hopped about from magazine to magazine working in editorial across a number of topics I had little to no interest in for many, many years. Running was separate, and not something I ever saw as joining up with my career. After a couple of years freelancing, writing several unfinished novels, and editing various bits and pieces, I was hired for eight weeks to help relaunch Women’s Running from an office about 10 minutes away from my front door. That was over three years ago now.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I’m up every weekday at 6.30am to either run or go to bootcamp, usually multitasking by testing a bit of kit that’s been sent to me. Then it’s time to get the kids up and off to school (they’re 7 and 9). I’m back at “the office” (the kitchen table) with a huge cup of black tea at 9am. Throughout the morning, this transforms into a ludicrous amount of black coffee as I spin plates between emails, writing, commissioning and page proofing. I record a podcast at least once or twice a week, either with our digital editor Holly or a famous runner (yesterday I was fangirling over Paula Radcliffe). I duck between meetings with the team, contributors and brands while deciding on and booking the next few cover stars. It’s sometimes very hard to switch off, but the kids clamouring for supper tends to be the cut-off point!
You mentioned that you test kit that is sent to you. What sort of thing are you looking at when you test a product?
We test lots of products at Women’s Running, and loads of really diverse ones. Yes, a lot of shoes and clothing, but also accessories, tech and nutrition. With all of them we make sure we test over at least a month - with kit, we need a good few runs to make sure we’re giving it a fair trial. And with clothing, we like to wash things a couple of times to check for shape and colour fastness. I mark down if anything has to be hand-washed! We make sure that kit is tested by the most appropriate tester - so trail runners test trail shoes, and people that like shorts test the shorts (I rarely test the shorts).
How do you balance work with your running? Are you an early bird runner or do you prefer later in the day?
Early bird! At the other end of the day, I’m fading fast by 9.30pm. At the weekends, I have a slightly later bootcamp on the Saturday, and will do my long run on Sunday before the kids have to be whisked off for gymnastics. I try not to let my running encroach on either work or home, but if I’m in training for a race, it can sometimes creep in a bit!
You mentioned that you had a few running injuries and that Enertor insoles helped you return to running pain free.
Ever since I’ve run regularly I’ve always had injuries. Mostly down one side, and the usual suspects: shin splints, stress fractures, general knee pain, hip things, and I’ve also battled sciatica from a complaining disc at the base of my spine. I first got introduced to Enertor at the 2020 National Running Show, and now rarely run without my insoles as a result of realising that my niggles, especially in my knee, were hugely diminished as a result.
Could you tell me why you chose Enertor and a little more about how the insoles have helped you.
I’d never considered insoles before, or even wondered if they would help these recurring niggles, but I’m now a total convert! Repetitive exercise like running is never going to be an injury-free experience, but those sorts of irritating niggles needn’t be something we have to bear with all the time. The reduced impact on my joints, particularly now I’m staring 50 in the face, is something I feel hugely grateful for.
What training are you doing at the moment and what are your goals for 2022.
I’m training for a couple of half marathons in the spring, including one in Berlin, which I’m really looking forward to. Then there’s a few 10Ks on the list before the actual, real-life London Marathon in October. I can’t wait!
To finish, I have 6 quick fire questions for you:
- Hot or cold for running? Hot! I have Raynaud’s... brrrr
- Hills or intervals? Intervals
- Trails or roads? Roads
- Favourite pre race breakfast Toast and crunchy, salty peanut butter, spread very, very thickly. The toast is just a vessel, if I’m honest.
- One thing you can't do without? Hydration pack.
Best running tip you've had. Run slower!
- Go further...
- Follow Esther @esther_newman_ and Women's Running @womensrunninguk on Instagram
- Visit www.womensrunning.co.uk for more running insights
- Listen to the Women's Running Podcast