Q&A with Paul Navesey

The up-and-coming ultrarunner talks with Majell Backhausen about minimalism, nutrition and why he loves hills

CR - SDW50 - Race Report-23

Paul Navesey is one of the UK’s most promising up-and-coming ultrarunners. He holds course records for the South Down Way 50-mile race, Sussex Marathon and Downs Links Ultra. Already in 2014, Paul has already competed in a number of events such as the Wings For Life World Run, Trail Marathon Wales and Celestrail, where he has posted some more impressive results. Paul runs for the Centurion Running Ultramarathon Team and can be found muttering away on his blog at www.ultrapaulo.wordpress.com. Last month he took part in the CCC 100K race, part of the UTMB festival of events.

Why were you keen to take part in the CCC and where did your main motivation come from?
I was very keen to take on the CCC as I love running in the hills and really enjoy competition. The races available over the UTMB weekend offer both of these elements in abundance.

Do you find running a 100K race mainly a physical or mental challenge?
I like the distances up to 100K because I feel I am able to race them, so I find them more of a physical challenge. The longer races become more mentally challenging either dealing with low points, managing your body or something as simple as trying to follow course markings in the night.

What tips would you give to anyone planning on running an ultramarathon such as CCC?
Love hills! You can never have too many hills in training. Work on getting the best kit you can and be minimal. I consider minimalism to be doing the most you can with the least you can. So don’t go carrying a napkin instead of a foil blanket but do think through your choice of kit. Train with your race kit and fuel with your planned race fuel. The aid stations are very European with cheese, meat, chocolate and fruit so give them a go beforehand too.

While living in southern England, what sort of training are you putting in to make sure you’re ready for a mountainous race like this?
I am lucky enough to live near the South Downs and have run a lot of hill sessions. I picked the hilliest routes available to me on long runs and the most important session, I think, are long threshold intervals. The climbs at CCC are long, so when you can run you need to get moving. Having the ability to switch into a fast, efficient run will get you back to Chamonix much sooner

What do you fear most in a mountain race – the uphill or the downhill?
I tend to fair reasonably well when it comes to going uphill, mainly because I really enjoy it! I like getting stuck into a steep hill. The downhill running seems to take a lot more out of me. I have used hill sessions in training to condition the legs for downhill running but it is a more technical skill and this seems to hurt me the most out of the two.

What is your mantra when times get tough in an ultra-distance race?
I don’t really have a mantra but I think of races in terms of time. For example, if it’s hurting 40 miles in to a 50-mile race, I just think of the rough time left – maybe 75 minutes. How often have I been out and run for longer than 75 minutes? Several times a week. So it’s no problem, I do it all the time. I just need to run for 75 minutes.

What do you most look forward to encountering during a race like this?
I really enjoy the European approach to racing. Everyone is there to support. I experienced my first mountain race in Andorr taking part in the Celestrail 83K race in 2014. There were constant cowbells ringing and lots of “Venga! Venga!” This never failed to raise a smile. It was fantastic.

Rick Pearson

Written by Rick Pearson | 239 articles | View profile

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