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Me and my health: endurance athelete Linda Blakely on her lifestyle

 

Life’s peaks: Linda Blakely is an avid mountain climber who has scaled Everest
Life’s peaks: Linda Blakely is an avid mountain climber who has scaled Everest

The 45-year-old, originally from Lurgan, was the first British woman to climb Everest and then scale the world's fourth highest peak, neighbouring Lhotse, 24 hours later. She lives in London and owns CARE Ltd, a children's care home company offering respite for children with learning disabilities and full-time care for children with emotional and behavioural difficulties.

Q: Do you take regular exercise and if so, what?

A: Yes, because I'm an endurance athlete I train every day for anywhere between three and five hours, depending on how close I am to my next race.

Q: What is the worst illness you've had?

A: I haven't ever been seriously ill but I've had some ongoing running injuries (shin splints and torn meniscus) which all resulted in not being able to do run training for a period of about two years. I did aqua jogging and cross trainer to try and replicate the running, but my Ironman marathon time slowly went from 3:36 to 4:10 over these two years.

Q: How healthy is your diet?

A: I try to eat clean which means avoiding processed food. I like to maintain a balanced diet including carbs and protein in my meals with fruit and veg. I'm not the biggest fan of green veg as I usually have capsicums, carrots and tomatoes as they look nice and colourful - so I 'Nutribullet' spinach and drink it with a 'super green' powder mix. However, life is too short for abstaining from life's little luxuries like chocolate cake and ice cream. I believe in little treats. Everything in moderation though.

Q: Any bad habits?

A: I can struggle to get out of bed. I love my bed and it can be hard to get up especially on gloomy days when it's grey and raining and you know you've got to go out and run. On those days I'm motivated by the outcomes I want and I think about my rivals all getting up and getting their sessions done. Also, sometimes when I'm tired and not feeling like going to the gym I think then how I'll feel when I've missed the session and not done it. But sometimes life gets in the way and it doesn't get done. At these times I 'put it to bed', move on and think tomorrow is a new day and I'll make it a good one.

Q: Do you drink and smoke - if so how much?

A: I honestly believe smoking is for idiots. There are so many items to help people give up now (and I'm not talking about e-cigs - they're just as bad). I enjoy a glass of prosecco or champagne. But again I believe you shouldn't drink too much in one go. I train so hard that I do like to unwind with a glass of prosecco in the evening. About three evenings a week. If I go out to a party I'll drink my three glasses in one go - but then leave it at that for the week. Alcohol and swimming don't mix too well.

Q: Do you take any supplements?

A: I take glucosamine for my bones because I'm an older female, and vitamin C and D.

Q: How do you take time out?

A: This is quite difficult because training every day always comes first so I have to schedule 'life stuff' around my sessions. I'm normally wearing swimwear or cycling and running Lycra and if not then it's pyjamas on the sofa, so for me it's quite nice to put on some nice clothes and go out to a nice restaurant or to see a play. It makes me feel more like a normal person then, instead of just being on a training treadmill.

Q: How well do you sleep?

A: Most of the time I sleep really well. My cat wakes me up sometimes in the middle of the night for some cat treats. I used to get up and put some on the floor for her but now it's descended into me keeping packets of cat treats under the pillow. There's usually the odd cat treat lurking in the bed. It just means I don't have to get up.

Three weeks before a race I'll sleep in my altitude tent which is over the bed. This produces more red blood cells in my blood naturally and mimics training at altitude.

Q: Do you worry about getting old?

A: I don't worry about it at all, as my life has got better as I've got older and I'm fitter now than when I was in my twenties. If you work at it you can achieve anything you want to as long as you put the hard work in. In fact, I think as we get older we get wiser and there are so many things that bother us when we are younger which we realise are irrelevant when we are older. Our priorities change and we get better at time management.

Q: What is your go-to product that keeps you feeling healthy?

A: I believe our diet is more important than supplements to stay healthy as long as we avoid processed food and greasy junk food.

And more importantly we need to keep our minds healthy, doing little things that make us happy on a daily basis - completing a session the best that I can and then having a little piece of chocolate cake. I make chocolate cake with avocado instead of butter so it's a healthier version.

Linda is hoping to win the 45-49 age group at Ironman South Africa on April 7, which would qualify her to race the World Championships again. She is also hoping to qualify for the half Ironman World Championships and will be representing Great Britain again at middle distance triathlon

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