Profile – Helen Wood

Helen Wood

Helen Wood

VCAC: Your name?

HW: Helen Wood.

VCAC: Which sport(s) do you, or did you participate in?

HW: Road Running.

VCAC: Which year did you become a veggie and why?

HW: 1984. I was only an infant when I was force-fed fish whilst on school dinners. They literally held my nose to make me open my mouth and forced it in as soon as I tried to breathe… I never touched fish again, and to be honest I now can’t even look at seafood. When I was only young I thought we ate animals once they died. I was so upset when I found out that we killed them to eat them. I joined a few animal rights groups and stopped eating meat. I got my own pans, made my mum buy vegetable oil instead of lard and the rest is history. I have to say however I was ignorant of by products at this age. I did not understand gelatine etc.

VCAC: What’s your favourite veggie food?

HW: Roast dinner! I love roast potatoes and veg, I look forward to Sunday lunch! Other than that I like tomato based dishes, especially lentil Bolognese. I don’t like anything cheesy or creamy. I am not very open to trying new foods/recipes so my diet isn’t that varied.

VCAC: Could you recommend a good veggie café or restaurant?

HW: No, unfortunately I live in a small town in the north west of England and there are no veggie cafes/restaurants anywhere near me.

VCAC: Thinking about your sporting activities, what’s your favourite event to participate in?

HW: I don’t have an event that I have entered more than once. I am a bit of a medal collector so like to get unique medals! Saying that, the best event I have taken part in was the Brighton marathon in 2016. The atmosphere was unbelievable, I ran for a charity so the support on the route was amazing. The streets were lined with people supporting and this was something I had never experienced before, because I had only entered small, local races. It was also my favourite as this was my biggest running achievement. Oh! and Run or Dye: only 5k but getting covered in powder paint on the way round was just so much fun. I didn’t stop smiling the whole way round the course.

VCAC: What’s your favourite sports event to watch?

HW: I get a lot of stick for this but I love watching the PDC darts. I attend the Winter Gardens at Blackpool every year and watch some of the matches in the championship.

VCAC: Are there any other sports you’d like to try?

HW: I would like to get into cycling. I have so far bought two bikes on the cycle to work scheme that have been unsuitable and to be honest I just cannot get over the pain of the seat. I managed to cycle to work for three days running and then couldn’t even sit on my chair without pain, never mind going back on that bike seat. I need to research first I suppose but I have wasted a lot of money trying so far.

VCAC: What made you start participating?

HW: I was studying for an HNC in Electrical Engineering whilst working full time. I found it really hard and I realised that I wasn’t leaving the house other than to go to work. I saw a feature in the works magazine on a local running club, one of the founder members was a lady I knew relatively well, so I committed to joining them twice a week and I have never looked back.

VCAC: Do you, or did you, always train purposefully, or just for fun?

HW: It started out as a purely social thing and to get me off the sofa and away from the same four walls, but once I got my friend running too, we started participating in parkrun, then 5k runs, then 10k runs, and then we built up the courage to train for a 10m run. After that we both did a half marathon and this year our first marathons. I find it a great reliever of stress and I enjoy participating. If I have to travel with work, the first thing I do is look to see if there are any runs in the area. We train three times a week—Monday and Wednesday usually 3-6 miles and Friday is long run day which is anything from 10m upwards, depending on what we are training for and sometimes dictated by the weather.

VCAC: Do you, or did you, prefer to be on trails, off road, or on the road?

HW: I purely run on the road. I have never tried trail racing or off road races, I suppose I am happy with what I already do, but never say never. I am always up for a new challenge!

VCAC: What is your favourite distance to run/cycle?

HW: I like half marathons. It’s a great distance: more challenging than a 10k but not needing the huge training regime needed to compete in a marathon. I have the Great Scottish Run coming up soon.

VCAC: Which events are on your ‘must do’ or ‘would like to do’ list?

HW: As I said I like the medals. Have you seen the Cakeathon medal? It is amazing. I want this medal but the race is in Kent and I live a long way away. However they have also opened the event in Northampton and I have relatives nearby so I am plotting to enter… I would also like to participate in the tour of Merseyside, this is a tour of 52 miles in 6 days, partaking in a different event of a different distance each time. However I missed the registration this year as there are limited places available, but there is always next year.

VCAC: What are your plans, sporting wise, for the next few years?

HW: I have entered Liverpool Rock `n` Roll marathon in April next year and the 5k the day before. It’s a full weekend in Liverpool around this time and if you enter two races you get an extra medal! Also if you return the following year, you get another medal! Other than that I haven’t planned anything else, but I enter races on the spur of the moment and the more groups I join on Facebook, the more races I hear about and enter.

VCAC: What is your favourite post-event/post-training treat?

HW: I am terrible at nutrition. After a long run (16 miles plus) I sometimes have a recovery drink. I have SIS recovery powder and make my own drink up, or I sometimes use ‘for goodness shakes’. Other than that, I usually want a cup of coffee more than anything.

VCAC: Do you have any tips for those starting out in your sport?

HW: I tried to do the couch to 5k on my own, however I thought that running meant going really fast, and when I had to run for 5 minutes I found I couldn’t do it. When you are just starting out, running is faster than walking but it doesn’t mean going flat out. Get the distance and the pace will naturally follow. Take it easy and one step at a time. Also get your gait analysed properly and invest in a good pair of trainers. Having the wrong footwear can cause injuries and pain in the long run. Don’t feel under pressure to buy the first pair you see after your gait analysis. Do a bit of research first. Don’t buy cheap socks either, look after your feet!

VCAC: What is your favourite bit of kit?

HW: This has to be my trainers. I use Brooks Adrenaline GTS 14. I have 2 pairs on the go at the moment and a pair of GTS 16s in the cupboard that were on special offer and too good not to buy. If I see my trainers on offer I snap them up.

VCAC: What would you recommend as a good food for refuelling on those long runs/bike-rides?

HW: I take SIS gels and also SIS snack bars. On my marathon I took some Marks & Spencer veggie jelly snakes and I also like to have a bit of peanut brittle. I normally put some SIS electrolyte powder in the water I carry, and that is all I use for half marathons, I find I only need fuel if doing more miles than that.

VCAC: What’s your most embarrassing mishap at an event?

HW: I took part in the ‘Wagon and Horses’ 10m event a few years ago, I had about a mile left to go. I had gone much faster than I should have and the last mile was really hurting. We were on a canal path that ended and I ran towards the ‘Wagon and Horses’ pub where we had gathered for the race. Eventually I felt a hand on my shoulder (I had earphones in) and another runner had come to tell me I was going the wrong way, which was extremely kind of them. When I was walking back to the car there was a man putting a few more arrows out to make it clear that the other path should be taken, so I think maybe I wasn’t the only one that went a bit wrong.

VCAC: Tell us a surprising fact about yourself?

HW: I am part of the workforce that build Royal Navy submarines.

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