Runner Profile:  Laura Graham

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In June this year (2015), I was at the Lisburn Half Marathon (and 10k).  After an enjoyable three years of performing NiRunning duties I would like to think that I can pretty much pick out podium finishers and recognise them immediately as they cross the line.  That sunny evening, given the competitive ladies field – to be honest – I was surprised to see an unfamiliar face secure third place.  So, I approached said athlete and asked, “could I get your name please?”… “Laura Graham” was the reply!

Usually in this situation, subsequent conversation would reveal that the unknown podium finisher would be an athlete home for the summer, or someone visiting – not this time.  It turned out that Laura is from Kilkeel in County Down and is new to the local running scene.  That evening, as I spoke with Laura, it was obvious that she did not comprehend how good her performance was, or what she had achieved – all she went out to do was ‘push herself’.  It was clear to me at that stage that we would hear a lot more about Laura Graham!

Since then, she (Laura) has achieved a lot, securing victories at several Born 2 Run and 26extreme events (amongst others), but most importantly, the down to earth, humble athlete secured an NI & Ulster silver medal at the recent Belfast City Half Marathon.  There is SO much more to come from this young lady, but for now… let’s see what Laura has to say!

Full Name:  Laura Graham

Current Category:  Female Open

Associated Club:  Unattached

Personal Bests:  5 miles – 31:39, 10k – 37:03, Half Marathon – 1:21:27 and Marathon – 3:19:00

What is your favourite running event in Northern Ireland?  I actually really enjoyed the Belfast City Marathon.  It was back when I started running in 2014 – I decided to do it for Chest, Heart & Stroke as it is a charity close to my heart.  My father had a heart attack and other close family members have suffered strokes.  I have to say though, I enjoy every event!

When did you start running?  I started running in 2014.  I only really started training for Belfast City Marathon last February or March, when I finally decided I would do it.  From there, the running bug just took over and I am really enjoying it.

Why do you run?  I run as I enjoy it and it makes me feel good, with being a busy mum of four young kids, a wife, and working part-time, it helps to clear my mind and silly as it sounds, it is a great workout which can be done in half the time other exercises take.  This suits me as I have so many other things on as well.

You have only recently ‘burst onto the scene’ with great performances at the Lisburn Half Marathon, the Born 2 Run Sea 2 Sky 10k and the 26 extreme Mini-Marathon?  These were impressive runs, what would you put these down too?  In all honesty, I can’t really put this down to anything other than determination to try my best and with great support from my family, husband and kids – they are the reason I keep going!

You have a young family, do you find it hard to find the time to train? Would you have any advice for other running mums looking to get back into to the sport/return to training?  Yes, at times I do find it hard to get the training fitted in, especially with working and school runs etc and now with the darker evenings setting in it will be increasingly difficult.  However, thanks to my understanding family network and having a treadmill at home, I can get running regularly.  It’s hard to give mums advice as every family has different circumstances, but I would recommend running to any mum who is looking to get back into training.  In my opinion, it takes less time than gym would and if out with buggy, you can jog and build it up to a run – it definitely is a great way to switch off or unwind

What does a typical week’s training involve for you?  I would try running twice during the week, roughly 10k at a time.  I also love walking with the kids also and I do like going on treadmill and bike a few times a week, although nothing is ever set in stone as every day is different.  Over the last couple of months I have been racing maybe once a week as well.  I’m going to have to up the mileage soon as I have entered Dublin Marathon.

What is your favourite training ‘session’?  I don’t really have a set, or infact favourite training session – I just fit in sessions whenever I can.

What is your next race and what do you want from it?  My next goal race will be Dublin Marathon in October.  I would like to beat 3:19:00, but I know I haven’t done the mileage and with the darker evenings setting in, it’s going to be tougher to run after work.

As an athlete who races and performs well over a variety of terrain, do you have a preference?  I actually don’t have a favourite, I like running on all terrain and like a change.  Different terrain offers different challenges, I like that!

You are not presently attached to an affiliated running club, do you see this changing any time soon?  I haven’t really given a lot of thought to this as yet, as it could be hard for me to commit to set training nights/session. Although, the more races I do the more I think I should join a club as I could do with advice from others.

What is your favourite pre-race and post-race meals?  My favourite pre-race meals would be pasta and vegetables, or rice and post-race would definitely be Chinese takeaway.  Sometimes, the night before races, my diet wouldn’t be my strong point!

What is your running ambition?  As a new runner, all I want to do is push myself as far as I can go to make my family proud.