Your Name: Sonny Burrows
Occupation: Captain – British Army
Home Town: Barnsley
What is your running background?
I starting running in my school days, mainly at cross country and fell events. After finishing school I ran socially, never racing until about two years ago.
When did you first start running Ultra marathons and why?
I signed up for my first ultra, Rowbothams Round Rotherham 50 (RRR50) in 2013 as a bit of a personal challenge. I had originally intended to train for one of the more popular city marathons however once I got back into training I realised I was more interested in trail running and running long distances on local trails (such as the Pennine Way).
When or where (at which events) are we most likely to see you?
Due to a busy job and growing family I generally run 3 – 4 events a year. This year I will be at the Grand Union Canal Race in May, The Lakeland 100 in July, The Spartathlon in September and Rowbothams Round Rotherham (my annual challenge) in Oct.
What are your personal key running achievements to date?
Completing the Grand Union Canal race was a huge personal achievement. I had only run a 50 miler and 45 miler before so it was a huge step up in distance. Recently I ran the RRR50 for the second time managing to shave 1hr 32min from my time at the previous year’s event allowing me to place well; this was great as I had really trained hard in the intervening 12 months.
What was your hardest race experience?
My hardest race experience to date was DNFing at the Lakeland 100 in 2014. I had trained hard for the event and was following a sensible pacing plan with no desire other than finishing. On at descent about 30 miles in I fell badly damaging my knee. Deciding to quit 10 miles later rather than carry on was a difficult decision to make and one that I wrestled with for a few months after.
Looking back it was the sensible decision as I was running a 100K event in Belgium three weeks later organised by work and I really wanted to run there. Ill be back in Cumbria to put that to bed this year.
What events do you have planned for 2015 up to Spartathlon?
GUCR – May
Lakeland 100 – July
What is your typical race strategy for an ultra?
I always have an A to C plan during an ultra.
Plan A – If everything feels right on the day, the weathers good and I know the course I could achieve this plan if I massively overachieve.
Plan B – The sensible plan, run to how I feel and whatever the time is at the finish, is what the time is at the finish.
Plan C – Man up, stop moaning and get to the finish before the sweeper picks me up.
Generally I stick to Plan B, it’s just nice to have options.
What does a typical training week look like?
Training weeks can look very different depending on outside commitments however I try to stick to something that looks like;
Mon – 15 miles (steady)
Tue – 15 miles (steady)
Wed – 10 miles (tempo)
Thu – 15 miles (5 miles steady, 5 miles intervals, 5 miles steady)
Sat – 10 – 15 miles (hill running)
During leave periods this can be more and during busy work periods it can be less. I try to do most of my running on trails with as much vertical as possible.
What one tip would you pass onto people running an Ultra marathon for the first time?
Learn to eat while training, I think that if anyone has a strong enough will to finish fitness is not all that important if you are not going for a fast time. However if you cant eat you will run out of energy, feel miserable and have less chance of finishing.
Can you tell us one interesting fact about yourself?
Many years ago when I was at secondary school my band appeared on the Big Breakfast morning TV show. During the 5 second clip of the band playing the country was treated to me pulling the largest green bogey you have ever seen out of my nose, my Mum was really pleased!!
Have you taken part in the Spartathlon before?
How will you prepare specifically for the Spartathlon race?
More of the same really. Ill be able to test where I am at physically at GUCR and hopefully this will just highlight areas of weakness to work on before Greece.
Will you be bringing any support crew to the race?