Meet the runner - Natasha Lewis
Natasha won Run to the Sea 50km last weekend, beating some serious talent (including a GB ultra-runner) to come 5th overall. Her ambition and drive is apparent throughout the interview below. I felt so fired up reading it!
I’m 28, from Bath and I’m a personal trainer, massage therapist and co-owner of ‘Get Fit In Bath Ltd’.
My coach is Tom Craggs. I’ve been with him for just over a year. Whilst most of the training is done remotely, we meet up when we can for sessions or at races. Otherwise, all of my training is done solo. I do compete for Team Bath AC but the training times unfortunately don’t align with my work.
I’ve been a runner for as long as I can remember. I started Athletics when I was 8 and competed in pretty much all the events within the sport. I was definitely an all-rounder with the main focus being 800m until I was around 13/14 and then I stepped down into some shorter events when a local coach noticed the speed and power I had. From there I concentrated on long jump where I competed to a relatively high level until 16/17 before falling out of love with it. I then ventured into Bobsleigh for Great Britain (I’m not sure how this happened!). I got quite badly injured, which meant I stepped away from sport competitively and turned my focus in setting up my personal training business and gym with my partner. After a year or so of just training for the sake of things and not really having a purpose or goal, I started running again. But this time I stepped up the distance and entered local half marathons. I then (again I don’t know why or how) I found myself trying triathlon. I did this for just over 2 years (2017-19). This was where I realised my talent for longer distance running and my ability to run well off the bike and ultimately where I realised running was the only real constant in my life. It’s the sport I love the most and I decided to fully commit to running and see where I could get with it.
I definitely seem to run better the longer I'm running. I had a really great start to 2020 when racing at the Big London Half at the beginning of March where I ran 80.15 and placed 33rd overall and knocked 4min 26 seconds off my previous half marathon time. This was whilst in the thick of training for my first ever marathon (London) but obviously that all went out the window when the pandemic hit, and all races lined up this year have been cancelled. So, I definitely don’t know which distance is my favourite as I still haven’t raced a marathon!
A typical week of training consists of around 80-85 miles. It depends on the time of year. At least 3 or 4 of the days are double days - I seem to work very well off high volume and I really enjoy high mileage weeks. Ironically due to the cancellations/postponements I’ve built up to several marathons and I’ve honestly loved every minute of it. I do two strength sessions a week. This has been a consistent in my training for as long as I can remember, regardless of what sport I am doing. I strongly believe all athletes should be incorporating strength sessions at least once a week. There is no way I could have made it through the past year of training and miles without getting injured if it wasn’t for the strength work. Luckily, having my own gym makes this pretty easy for me to fit in, but I can’t shout about this enough. Every athlete should be doing this and most definitely endurance athletes.
I supplement with vitamin D and glucosamine. Ill also take on a protein shake if I’m unable to access food straight away after a session.
My pre- race meal is usually pretty bland. The whole week leading up to a race will be pretty bland actually. I usually have either chicken or white fish with rice or potatoes and maybe a little veg. Throughout the race I fuel with Science in Sport Isotonic drink and nitrate gels plus beta fuel- obviously this all depends on the distance of the race but Science in Sport works really well for me. My post-race meal is anything and everything. After last weekend's race I had a massive burger and chips with a sticky toffee pudding.
I love running anywhere warm. I love the heat. I'd have to say that Mallorca is a firm favourite for me. We often head over to north Mallorca and send a couple of weeks running around in the sunshine. Fingers crossed that can happen again soon!
I’ve got a lot more to show; I'm certainly not finished yet. So far, I’m not sure I have had a running highlight as I feel I’ve only just begun.
I’m not sure you could call this a break-through year as not a lot has happened, but I definitely feel I’ve seen a glimmer of what’s to come from the races I’ve done. It’s made me realise my potential and to be honest, I’m just happy to have finally found my calling. From what I have done, a lot of it is thanks to the training and belief that Tom has put into me. And also, the strength work has certainly helped prevent any injuries occurring.
My best performance was probably last weekend to be honest. It's been a really long 7 months of training and not really knowing if I’d race or when I’d race next. But I managed to keep consistent and motivated throughout, knowing that when I did get a chance to race, I’d be ready.
I haven’t had a worst performance. I’ve learned a lot from each race, especially since working with Tom. I’ve only seen progression because I’m so new to the longer distances.
My philosophy is to just to be the best I can be. I know how hard I work, and I know one day that will show.
My motivation is the belief that I have in myself to be good. For whatever reason, I’ve never stopped thinking I can one day be up there amongst the best. I don’t know if that’s naive but I’m certainly not going to stop. You got to believe in yourself, right?
Like most, I love the Nike Next %. I’ve never worn a shoe like it.
I tore my groin really badly back when I was doing Bobsleigh. Jumping into the back of the sled, mis- judging the distance and overreaching. This required surgery and a good 6-month rehab. Not fun.
I’ve always loved Kelly Holmes; I remember watching her on the TV when she did the double and I was so inspired and that was before I read her story leading into that Olympics and the struggles she faced. I’m also so motivated by the young British marathon runners we have on the scene currently. I don't think we have ever had such a strong field.
I have big plans for the future. Firstly, running a marathon. I’m very excited to see what I can do over the next few years. The goal would be to qualify myself for the 2022 Commonwealth Games. It's a big ask, but I'm up for the challenge for sure!
You can find Natasha @natashalewis_22 on Instagram. Check out her fitness business and gym @getfitinbath on Insta or at www.getfitinbath.co.uk.