Interview with Ricky Lightfoot, Fell Runner

Chantelle Kelly speaks to fell running champion Ricky Lightfoot to find out how he felt when he completed the Bob Graham Round earlier this year and the struggles he faced along the way.  This article was first published on 3rd October 2016 and is a feature piece from Totally Active.

In January you completed the Bob Graham Round in just over 21 hours, how did it feel to complete it?
It was an amazing experience and one I’ll never forget. I felt as though I pushed my limits and tested my body perhaps more than I have done before. The conditions made it tough but enjoyable… in the end.

Why did you decide to take on this challenge?
Being a fell runner and living in the Lakes one of the most common questions I get asked is “Have you done a Bob Graham Round?” I guess it’s part of my heritage, I’m a fell runner, the Bob Graham Round is on my door step, I guess you could say it was inevitable.

What difficulties did you have to face along the way?
Navigation was difficult, driving rain, sleet, gale force winds, minus temperatures, ice and snow.

Credit: Salomon & Jordi Saragossa
Credit: Salomon & Jordi Saragossa

Last year you successfully came first in a string of challenging races, do you see your performance improving year on year?
Obviously there will come a point when I stop improving but at the minute my times are getting quicker and quicker, so as long as I keep training hard and barring any injuries, hopefully I’ll keep improving.

After completing the Xtreme Dodo Trail you said “I don’t think I’ve run such a tough technical trail”- was this the most challenging race you’ve took part in yet?
The Dodo trail was tough for a number of reasons; firstly, the trail is very technical not only underfoot but also at head height, which for someone who is 6ft 3in it can be difficult to keep your eyes on the trail as well as at head height. It wasn’t unusual to get branches in the face and finish with cuts and bruises on the shoulders. Adding to this is the heat and humidity, although we start the race early (5am local time Mauritius) it’s already very humid and it only gets hotter as the sun begins to rise.

Credit: Salomon & Jordi Saragossa
Credit: Salomon & Jordi Saragossa

Out of the races you took part in last year, which one stands out as the most memorable for you?
That’s got to be Zegama, although I decided late to race there and in the end I didn’t have a very good run, the atmosphere there is just amazing. The people of Zegama and the Basque country make that race and come out in their thousands to support, even in the worst weather. Zegama is Zegama.

Can you talk us through an average week of training?
My training can vary from week to week and I tend to run on how I feel rather than what I should be doing. I’m self coached and always have been. My week loosely consists of intervals, hills or a tempo run on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays and a long run on Sunday. I also use the gym and believe in keeping a strong core as this is where most of your power comes from.

Do you have a favourite location for training, or any regular routes you do?
Most of my training routes are in the western Lake District. If I was to pick one it would be a run up to Styhead Tarn then following the Climbers Traverse on Great Gable to Sphinx Ridge which leads a scramble up to Gable summit. It’s not for the faint hearted so I’d only recommend it for experienced runners.

What has been the highlight of your fell running career so far?
I’d have to say the highlight of my career has been winning the World Trail Championships in Wales in 2013.

What are your plans for 2016 – which races have you got lined up?
As we speak I’m still finalising my 2016 plans, but hopefully I will return to the Yorkshire 3 Peaks race in April to attempt a hat trick of wins.

Have you got any advice for aspiring fell runners?
Enjoy what you do, if you don’t enjoy it you need to ask yourself why you are doing it.

Have you set yourself any personal goals or aspirations for the future?
To continue loving what I do and trying to inspire the next generation.

Credit: Salomon & Jordi Saragossa
Credit: Salomon & Jordi Saragossa

Food Diary

Find out what Ricky eats during a typical week…

Monday
Breakfast: Overnight soaked porridge oats with honey, goji berries and coconut milk, orange juice and a banana.
Morning snack: Large apple.
Lunch: Porridge oats with honey and coconut milk.
Dinner: Chicken and mixed vegetables.

Tuesday
Breakfast: Overnight porridge oats with honey, goji berries and coconut milk, orange juice and a banana.
Morning snack: Two bananas.
Lunch: Porridge oats with honey and coconut milk.
Afternoon snack: Energy bar (High 5).
Dinner: Fajitas with sweet potato fries (homemade).

Wednesday
Breakfast: Overnight porridge oats with honey and coconut milk, orange juice and a large orange.
Morning snack: Banana, walnut and coconut milk smoothie.
Lunch: Chicken breast with small mixed vegetables.
Dinner: Tuna sandwich in brown bread with a banana and a large orange.

Thursday
Breakfast: Overnight porridge oats with honey, goji berries and coconut milk, orange juice and a banana.
Morning snack: Orange polenta cake (homemade).
Lunch: Sweet potato fries with sweet chilli chicken breast.
Afternoon snack: Energy bar (High 5) and a large apple.
Dinner: Tuna and mozzarella Panini.

Friday
Breakfast: Four slices of cheese bread with butter, a banana and orange juice.
Morning snack: Orange polenta cake (homemade).
Lunch: Chicken breast with small mixed vegetables.
Dinner: Prawn egg fried rice with spring onion (homemade).

Saturday
Breakfast: Two slices of wholemeal toast and overnight oats with honey and coconut milk.
Morning snack: Orange polenta cake (homemade).
Afternoon snack: Energy Bar(High 5).
Dinner: Chicken, broccoli and mushroom pasta bake (homemade).

Sunday
Breakfast: Scrambled eggs on two slices of toast, a glass of water and a banana.
Lunch: Sunday dinner, chicken, mixed vegetables.
Dinner: Soaked porridge oats with banana and honey.

Throughout the week
Pre-workout: Either an Energy bar, Red Bull, banana and/or electrolyte.
Post-workout: Usually fruit and a High 5 protein shake.
Other snacks: Homemade cake, nuts and hot chocolate.

Credit: Salomon & Jordi Saragossa
Credit: Salomon & Jordi Saragossa

Featured image credit: Salomon & Jordi Saragossa

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This article is a feature piece from Totally Active, a completely interactive online magazine written by active people for active people. Totally Active are on a mission to push endurance to its limits, to help readers achieve their potential, whatever the sport or activity. Totally Active have brought some of the world’s foremost endurance, performance, nutrition and fitness experts together in a publication which informs and inspires readers to go to the edge, to break boundaries, and to succeed. Read more articles like this at Totally Active today.

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