Run3D's Q&A with Anna Boniface
We wanted to know some of the secrets behind the woman who ran the fastest non-elite female time at the London Marathon 2017. Anna Boniface, 26 years old, ran a 9 minute pb finishing in a time of 2:37.07. She tells us about some of her running rituals, what motivates her, and accounts times when she needed to pick herself back up again.
1. What is your "go to" meal before and after a race?
The night before I usually have tuna pasta bake. In the morning, I have overnight oats with berries and then a beetroot shot. 90 minutes before the race I always have a milky bar ( I don't know why! I always do) and 40 minutes before i'll have a caffeine gel.
Post race its always a cheeky Nandos - but after the [london] marathon I was so sick afterwards, I couldn't even stomach dry crackers.
2. Do you have a favourite running shoe?
I currently run in Nike Pegasus and race in Nike Flyknit racers
3. What kinds of things do you think about whilst your run? For example, during the most recent London Marathon, what was going through your head?
My marathon mantra is "Run Brave" - so during difficult periods within the race, I would tell myself that and try to smile (grimace!). At the London Marathon, I knew where my friends and family would be on the course, so I always looked forward to reaching those mile markers. However, as with all races my main focus is to be as competitive as I can. Therefore, focusing on overtaking other runners is a big driving force. During the first half of London, I was running with two other girls. I just focused on staying with them until I eventually managed to pull away, but I kept imagining they were still chasing me. All I wanted was to be the first female over the line and I didn't look at my splits at all after 10km.
4. Day of the big race, any superstitious rituals?
My number for the London Marathon was 666, so it's a god thing im not too superstitious! Generally, I always get my kit laid out the night before with my number pinned and ready. I like to be organised on the morning of the race with as little stress as possible. Most things including eating and warm ups is done on strict timing and I freak out if I'm not on schedule!
I always like to have race day hair with braids and ribbons that match my vest.
5. Do you prefer training in the morning or night, and why?
It varies. During the week, I really struggle with my morning run as I get straight out of bed and run still half asleep. On weekdays, I much prefer training in the evening, particularly doing track/interval sessions with my training group. On weekends, I prefer to get it out of the way in the morning - particularly with long Sunday runs, so you can enjoy the rest of the day!
6. Your best achievement and worst race... What did you learn from them?
My best achievement was this years London Marathon. However, I learnt more from my first marathon last year running 2:45, which showed my potential over 26.2 miles. With self belief, incredible planning, and specific training from my coach, we were able to improve on my time by nearly 9 minutes in a year.
I think you learn more from failures and disappointments. My first ever elite race was the Cardiff half marathon in September. I hadn't had the preparation I wanted and the fitness simply wasn't there. I was really disappointed with myself and how I ran, almost like I didn't justify wearing an elite bib. Cardiff gave me the determination to prove myself wrong. A month later, I ran in the elite race at the Great South Run, which went really well, and was the race that all my marathon preparations was based on - extending 6 min/mile from 10 miles to a marathon.
My most horrific race still haunts me to this day. I was falling over on the last water jump at the BUCS track and field championships in the steeplechase. I just remember hitting the water head first - Tom Daley style - with all these rowdy students laughing at me! I got up again but certainly finished in a definite last place.
7. If you could train with anyone in the world, who would it be?
As cliche as it is, Paula Radcliffe. I honestly believe her 2:15.25 marathon world record is one of the greatest sporting performances of all time, and Paula's ability to mentally push herself is incredible. I would love to learn from her.
Also, Alexi Pappas, the Greek 10,000m National record holder who's Run Brave mantra inspired me. She was an athlete during the Rio Olympics but at the same time she wrote, directed, and starred in her film 'Tracktown'. She proves to me that you can be a beast, run at the Olympics, but have other goals and ambitions.
8. Be honest, how often do you use a foam roller...?
Not as often as I should!...Maybe once a week? I have one of those spikey ones that look more like a torturing device, so just looking at it makes me find excuses not to do it! I prefer getting sports massages or doing self massage on my calves/ feet - which are usually problematic, and I can usually do some soft tissue work on it myself.
9. Running with or without music?
At the moment, without. I like to be in tune with my body and listen to my footsteps and breathing. However, Justin Bieber has kept me company on many long runs in the past!
10. If you could give one piece of advise to every runner out there, what would it be?
Set yourself a goal and establish a clear plan on how you're going to achieve it. Consider how much time you can realistically contribute to achieving it and make your training specific to that goal. Running success comes more from mental strength. Be positive, believe in yourself, and surround yourself by people that believe in you.
Anna is one of Run3D's sponsored elite athletes and has since been selected to run for England at the Toronto Waterfront Marathon in October this year. We wish her the best of luck with all her training.
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