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Meet the runner - Nicci Bolinger

Nicci is someone who consistently amazes me. She has a heart of gold, is incredibly organised and has time for everyone. She runs, swims, does weights and BodyBalance, works as a dental hygienist, has a busy social life and runs a chocolate business with her husband. That's in addition to her role as a team manager for Southampton AC. I don't know when she manages to sleep! It's been great finding out a bit more out about the enigma that she is....




So, what I can I say about myself?! I am a dental hygienist and work full time. I keep saying I will go part time but that has never happened. I guess it’s because I just like “doing”, I’m not one for relaxing much. I feel guilty. No idea why! I am always on the go! I love socialising and I am missing it so much at the moment. I love going out dancing, seeing live music. I try and see a live gig every month. Meeting friends for coffee or a vino or three. Then spending time with my amazing grannies. I have two; one is 96 and the other 94. They are still so active and socialise more than me.

I started running at school. I enjoyed 800m, 1500m and more than anything cross-country. The twists and turns, the up and down hills and of course mud. Unfortunately, I gave everything up when I was 14 due to battling both school bullying and an eating disorder. It wasn’t until I moved from Lymington to Southampton when I was 25 that I returned to running. I found it was great for my mental well-being and soon found myself out jogging a few times a week. I was convinced to join Southampton Running Club and there it all began.

My first race was the Lymington 10k and I ran it in 41 minutes 20 seconds and was the 2nd lady. I’ll never forget my mum and dad’s big smiles when I finished. That ignited my passion for racing, and I started training three times a week with the club. I mainly raced the road until I was convinced to run the cross-country County Championships one January. I remember chatting all the way round until one lady told me off. After this Tony Fern took me under his wing and I have never looked back.



Since joining Southampton RC (Now Southampton AC) I have been heavily involved in the club. Twenty years ago, I became Team Captain for the road relays and cross-country events for senior and veteran women. I love the team aspect of the sport and feel very honored to captain such talented ladies. I love travelling up together to races (what gets said in the car, stays in the car!). I have also been an active member of our committee for pretty much 15 years. The best thing about it though is the amazing people I have met and trained with. Wow, where did that time go?!

I can’t really single out one race that was my ‘best’ because so many brought fantastic memories and achievements. Although I love cross country my favorite competition is the road relays. I just get a real buzz from it, be it racing or spectating. Personally, I think I trained better than I raced back then. Not sure if I underachieved due to nerves, poor diet, not resting enough or too much wine!! The proudest moment was being selected as part of the England XC squad when I was 36. Probably most of my races last year were the worst; I was injured, not training and then racing never really ends up being best practice.

I would love to say I am still training but I have been battling back, hip and hamstrings problems for nearly 3 years. Top Tip: listen to your body, don’t ignore it like I did. Some say a classic problem with us runners! I have just come back from 3 months out and am gradually rebuilding some fitness. The great thing about taking 3 months is allowing my body to heal and best of all, I learnt to swim. I had a fear of putting my head in the water and could mange a bit of doggy paddle. Just before lockdown I was swimming three times a week and knocking out about 50 lengths in one go. I never thought I’d hear myself say this but I am totally missing swimming.




My favorite running sessions were 900m and mile reps on the fields in the sport center. Then I loved a good 800m session on the track. I am not keen on anything under 800m. Those who know me know I am not a speed demon. I very much miss training with the amazing bunch I have grown to know and love.

My current training schedule:

Running: Tuesday, Thursday and Sundays.

Body balance: Monday, Wednesday and Fridays at the moment online with my buddy Sue True.

Then I fit in a few HIIT classes and weight sessions- mainly working on my ‘weak glutes’. I am hoping that I can be ready for the Cross Country in September, that’s if it goes ahead. I have everything crossed. Positive thoughts, positive thoughts.

Lockdown has made me really focus on recovery post runs (I have time as currently not working). Eating more protein-based foods and actually stretching. It has also allowed me to focus on my yoga practice which I do daily, 10-minute flow and meditation really helps me physically and mentally. The only negative is not seeing friends and family.

I guess I am not the best to give advice on nutrition. However, I do try and eat very healthily. My hubby Lee calls me a very flexible vegan. I try and stick to a vegan diet but my love for cheese stops me and the occasional fresh tuna steak. We try and source locally produced food, organic food and try reducing our carbon footprint. We both love cooking and baking, so I have lots of cookery books, I love Ottolenghi Simple, Raw by Solla Eiriksdottir and Happy Vegan by Fearne Cotton. The bonus of lockdown is more time to cook. I take Vitamin D, primrose oil, zinc and iron to supplement my diet. The joys of peri-menopause, now that’s a blog in itself!



Believe it or not, my favourite bit of kit is my gloves. I cannot stand cold hands. I have even been seen running with my ski mittens on in the summer.

Running books, hands up I can’t remember the last one I read. Is that bad? I have a slight obsession with World War II, Zombies and disease outbreaks (like Covid-19). Yes, I know, slightly bizarre. I am currently reading Crisis in the Red Zone by Richard Preston. It is about Ebola. Training music would be a good DJ set- Alan Fitzpatrick, Seb Fontaine or good old Carl Cox.

I love watching athletics – Lee is not allowed to speak to be whilst it's on. Then I love darts, footie, skiing, cycling and swimming.

I run because makes you feel great, physically, mentally and emotionally. Run because you want to not because you feel you should. As a baseline it should be enjoyable. Happy training, happy running = a happy you.

You can find Nicci on Instagram @missbollybird. She and her husband, Lee, have a chocolate business on the side – I can highly recommend her truffles.

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