Menna Evans is a marathon runner extraordinaire having run the length of the UK from Lands End to John o 'Groats. She then went on to run the length of New Zealand in January 2020 and became the fastest lady to traverse the length of the country on foot, ever! Congratulations on your Guinnes World Record Menna! Find out more from the lady herself below.
When did you begin your running career?
I ran my first marathon 10 years ago and then stopped running shortly after as other life commitments took over. Then in 2017, following the death of my father, I announced shortly after that I was going to run the full length of Britain from John O’Groats to Lands End (JOGLE) in his memory. So I started running again and entered a couple of Ultra Marathon races in preparation and actually found that I loved the challenge of endurance and found that my body coped really well too. Then a year later during the summer 2018, I ran JOGLE covering distances of 26 to 34 miles, typically 6 days per week. Resulting in 37 ultra marathons in 41 days, and a total distance of 1,050 miles. I incorporated trails such as the West Highland Way, Offa’s Dyke and the Cornish Coastal paths. It was an incredible experience and I loved every minute of it. During the last week of that challenge, I wanted to do something even bigger and more challenging. That’s when I thought to run the full length of New Zealand. Following my research of the then current Guinness World Record of 52 days and 15hrs, I thought “I can beat that!”. So on the 1st January 2020, I did just that. I ran the full length of the country running 1,280 miles in 36 days. Now I have been an ultra runner for a total of 3 years and I can’t wait to see what other challenges and adventures await!
What or who inspired you?
My Dad inspired me. He walked around Wales many times and loved the Welsh coastal paths in particular.
What is your favourite part about running?
Being outdoors, feeling free and enjoying nature. It also keeps me balanced as a busy, self-employed Mum.
Do you have a favourite type of race? Where is it? Or where is your favourite place to train?
I love to run in the mountains and woodlands. So a race that combines the two is a winner for me. Nant yr Arian Silver Trail near Aberystwyth has all that and is one of my favourite races of the year.
What does your training schedule look like? Do you have any days where you don’t run?
My training schedule on the lead up to NZ was quite full on. Especially as I had to juggle work and looking after my son as a priority! I trained 6/7 days a week. It involved 1x speed session (running club), 1x trail run, 1x long run or 2x back to back long runs (alternating each week), 1x hill repeats, 1x recovery and visits to the gym 2/3 a week for core and strength training. It was difficult to run for long periods of time to simulate a typical week (approx 250 miles per week) in New Zealand so increased the intensity and quality of each training session. Plus being busy and spending lots of time on my feet with my job and running after my son also helped a great deal too!
How do you recover from any injuries?
I use the RICE - Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevate. I’m just not very patient with the rest element! I find yoga really helps with any stiffness as well as regular sports massages.
Do you do any other type of exercise to help with your running, e.g yoga?
I do yoga, HIIT AND Circuit Training once a week. It’s good to add a little variety and it compliments the strength that is needed for running.
Can you give us your top 5 items you could not live without to help with your training or races?
- My Garmin Fenix 6S has to be my favourite item even if I still don’t know how to use it to its full potential!
- I always run with a cap. If it’s wet, it keeps the rain off your face and if it’s sunny it gives you protection. Plus it stops my hair flapping around my face which I find annoying!
- Runderwear sports underwear is very comfortable and I stay chafe free.
- My OMM Kamleike Jacket which fits like a glove. It’s a great windproof and waterproof jacket. I even wear it out and about too.
- I love the Ultra WAA skorts, even if they are expensive! It’s just a feminine alternative to wearing shorts, plus they have convenient pockets to carry my bits and pieces.
What trainers do you wear and why?
I wear Altra’s. I have the Escalante for road and the Superior for the trails. It has a wide toe box which suits my wide feet and a Zero drop which I prefer as it’s as close as you can get to barefoot running, wearing a shoe.
What is your advice for someone looking to take up running or long distance training?
Variety and consistency is key. Try to mix up your training schedule to keep you motivated. Quality is better than quantity, for example - a 10 mile trail race is a higher intensity run than a 10 mile road run. When running long distances, relax and take in the scenery -enjoy the moment. Recovery is also just as important as training, ensure you take time to rest.
Is there any foods or drinks you consume to increase your performance?
I like the For Goodness Shakes protein drinks. I use these during Ultra races as a way of fuelling and keeping rehydrated. I also use Tailwind during long runs and races. Tailwind combines complete fuel, hydration, and electrolytes in a tasty drink that’s kind to your stomach. I don’t use any other gels as they tend to disagree with me.
Follow Menna’s marathons at this link: www.facebook.com/marathonmenna