Your Name: James Ellis
Occupation: Journalist and personal trainer
Home Town: Leeds
Twitter Account: @worldofjames
What is your running background? I used to hate it when I was a kid, largely because I went to a small school and to get in the football team (which I wanted to) you HAD to run cross-country (which I didn’t want to). The only reason they did it was there would be no cross-country team otherwise. It made every race seem like a chore… I fell back into it in 2009 when I did a three-miles a day challenge for a whole year, no days off, from a standing start.
When did you first start running Ultra marathons and why? 2010… thanks to Jamie Holmes who I ran with last year and Darren Strachan, who Im running with this year. Along with our other running pal David Bone, we started running to raise money for Jamie’s lovely daughter Holly who suffers from a rare condition called hemiplegia.
When or where (at which events) are we most likely to see you? I don’t do a lot of races: Leeds half marathon and Brighton Marathon (Im ever present) are two annual staples… I usually do one other big race and a major event for the year.
What are your personal key running achievements to date? Nothing beats Spartathlon 2015
What was your hardest race experience? Did you hear what I just said?
What events do you have planned for 2016 up to Spartathlon? Potentially Leeds-Liverpool canal – it’s only a month before Sparta so I might not do the whole thing.
What is your typical race strategy for an ultra? Plod, plod, plod.
What does a typical training week look like? Three/four shorter runs in the week, couple of biggies at the weekends. Plus I instruct Insanity group exercise classes and do some gym work.
What one tip would you pass onto people running an Ultra marathon for the first time? Sit back and enjoy the ride. Ultras are amazingly friendly, if not slightly mad, events.
Can you tell us one interesting fact about yourself? I’ve shadow boxed with Mohammed Ali.
Have you taken part in the Spartathlon before? Yes – in 2015
How did you get on? Started like the clappers. Did the first two marathons in just a bit over eight hours but also knackered nutrition during that stage so was burnt out afterwards. Greek roads ripped by quads to shreds and the heat followed by rain saw me run with massive blisters. The last 50 miles I death marched to come in 20 minutes before the end. I feel unfulfilled!
What tip would you pass on to those taking part for the first time? Don’t start like the clappers, get your nutrition strategy right. We wanted crew to be involved as much as possible, so we (I ran with Jamie Holmes) only left drop bags at the points we would see them. The result was we ran the second marathon at the hottest point of the day with no Tailwind and no salt tablets. Thank god for the checkpoints and their bottles of table salt.
What are you looking forward to at the Spartathlon race? You’ll only get this when you finish – but NOTHING beats heading up the main road to Leonidas statue. It’s immense.
What are you not looking forward to during the Spartathlon race? That bloody mountain. Seriously… look at the elevation profile and train for it. I’d heard people describe the race as flat with a big mountain in the middle. Rubbish! From 80 miles on you’re going uphill. The mountain itself is a git (especially if it rains like last year) and you never seem to really hit a nice big downhill until you’ve 10 miles to go.
How will you prepare specifically for the Spartathlon race? 5 x 10 milers through the week, something longer at weekends is what I did last year. This year, I want to drop the mileage – I’m not sure what extra value I got once I hit 70-80 mile weeks and kept going on. So this year, I plan to hover at 70-80 for a good few months and also build some more speed sessions in.
Will you be bringing any support crew to the race? Two support between me and my running pal Darren Strachen (who crewed for me and Jamie last year). Hopefully Jamie will be one of them and I can convince my brother in law Andy to come again!