Not all of us have fond memories of school cross-country events, but for Carla Gibbons this is where her passion for running began. Now living in Sheffield, close to lots of fabulous trails in the Peak District, Carla’s enthusiasm for running is fuelled by all the paths and places to explore. “I love being able to go straight out of the door from home,” she explains. “Running helps me to relax, solve problems, and to feel good.”
And she’s obviously very good at it too! Carla has run five London Marathons: 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014, as well as completing the Snowdon Marathon and Northumberland Coastal Marathons. Other achievements include running the Cleveland Way (a 110-mile-long footpath from Helmsley to Filey) over six days, the Totley Exterminator (a 16-mile route with over 4000ft of ascent) and several long fell runs in the Peak District.
Given the often technically demanding fells, Carla is remarkably resilient, having been fortunate to avoid any bad injuries, with only the odd cold/virus to slow her down. “I think mixing terrain and also doing strengthening and core work has certainly helped avoid injury,” she muses. “I also like to swim and cycle which means I have alternatives if I can’t run.”
Running has multiple therapeutic benefits for Carla. “Sometimes I like to take in and enjoy my surroundings when I’m out and not really think about anything other the pure act of running. Sometimes I mull over problems. Sometimes it’s a chance to have a social run and chat to catch up with friends.
“I don’t listen to music when running. I like to take in the sounds around me and I especially love the sense of peace and calm if I run first thing in the morning when the only real sounds are of the dawn chorus.”
When she’s not out being active Carla is an enthusiastic reader of running books and this has inspired a desire to tackle the Western States 100 (the annual 100-mile ultramarathon around the Sierra Nevada mountain trails). “I don’t think I’d like to ever tackle the distance in one go,” she admits, “but it would be great to do the route over several days. I have visited Australia and New Zealand and would also like to go back and do more running in both of these countries.”
Setting up on her own with a new business and career as Train with Carla was initially daunting but it quickly proved a success. “The most enjoyable aspect now is helping clients achieve their goals and being able to do a job I love every day,” says a delighted Carla. “I have had clients who have achieved PBs in events, run their first 5k and also gained confidence from improving their fitness, health and losing weight.”
As for Carla’s own motivation, this comes from continually setting new goals and challenges, achieving PBs and completing new events and distances. “Friends are also important,” she notes, “and certainly help me turn out on the cold winter nights as it’s good to catch up. Most of my closest friends have been found through running so a really good tip is to join a club, where the people you meet will at times be your coaches, your support team, your friends, and your motivators.”