Esmee Gummer: From almost being paralysed to taking on an ultramarathon
Liz Connor spoke to the super fit Instagram star Esmee Gummer who's about to take on a 250km feat in Jordan's Wadi Rum wilderness
Most of us need a little extra encouragement to roll off the sofa and get outside on a morning run when the weather is wet and miserable. And if Instagram is a good motivator for you, we suggest you start following Esmee Gummer (@esmee_ldn) ASAP.
The pint-sized celebrity trainer to the likes of TOWIE's Jessica Wright is a instructor at cult gym chain 1Rebel, and is known for her superhuman strength and crazy endurance challenges.
The self-confessed adrenaline junkie's career in fitness was almost cut short at 18 years old though, when she was told she'd never walk again after a hernia operation.
After miraculously making a full recovery, Gummer has since dedicated her life to taking on extreme adventure feats - from climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania to being one of the first women to appear on the gruelling Channel 4 show SAS: Who Dares Wins.
This week, the personal trainer is taking on the Ultra X Jordan - the distance of more than five marathons taking place over five consecutive days in the treacherously hot climate of the Wadi Rum desert. We caught up with her to find out how she has be preparing for the run of a lifetime...
How are you feeling about covering 250km in the ultramarathon?
"I'm really trying to not overthink it right now. Naturally, I'm always a bit nervous, but I try to be very present. A little bit of nervousness is sometimes a good thing.
"I couldn't care less about time - my ego's not coming with me - so as long as I get through it safely, I'll be happy."
How have you been preparing for it?
"I've just been running and running. Another girl I'm training with has been doing strength and conditioning work, which I was going to do too, but I was a bit reluctant to start fiddling around with training methods, in case I tighten my muscles or got injured.
"I've been aiming to do around 100km of training per week, but it's been difficult to fit it in some weeks where I've had other trips booked, like hiking weekends. I run to my personal training clients in the week though - so I can up my mileage."
You're a big fan of pushing yourself to the fitness limits. Is this the hardest thing you'll ever do?
"It's hard to say really. I did SAS: Who Dares Wins last year and I thought it was the toughest thing I'd ever do, but then I went out to Australia in June and trail-raced up a mountain in a relay team with two of my friends, which was so hard.
"I also climbed Kilimanjaro in December and got altitude sickness, so that definitely felt like the hardest moment of my life. It's difficult to say, because there are so many different scales of difficulty - it might be endurance-wise, mental strength or the climate that gets you."
Is there anything that's worrying you?
"My biggest fear is fainting or passing out in the heat. When it comes to injuries and fatigue, you're in control, but anything like dehydration or heat stroke you start to feel that 'out of body' experience.
"When I did the London Marathon, I saw lots of people passing out in the 24 degree heat, and it really scared me. When you see that you start panicking, because you've got no control if your body gives out in the heat."
How has being paralysed in your youth affected your outlook towards fitness?
"It's strange looking back, as that was a decade ago this year. Back then, I was 18 and I wanted to go to dance college. I was so angry at the world and frustrated. I was jealous and resentful of my friends.
"When I look back at it now, I think just think, 'What a gift to be in a position where I couldn't do something and then I could.' I've been to a place that not many people are going to go to and I'm so grateful for so much in my life.
"I'm so grateful for movement, I'm so grateful for being able to climb a mountain, run a race or just jump out of bed. I'll never be able to describe to anyone how grateful I am to do what I can do."
Any other fitness challenges you have your eye on?
"I'd love to do an Ironman next year (a triathlon that involves a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride and a marathon).
"I don't swim and I don't cycle, but I'm going to do it because I can. There's no reason why I can't!"
Esmee Gummer has been working with Samsung KX; London's new destination to experience the latest in culture and innovation, powered by Samsung technology. Visit samsung.com/uk/kx. Main image photographed by Pete Crossland