Interview with Devinder Bains

Last updated: 06-Nov-18

Background

Devinder is an active runner for charity who has been running ultras since 2012 and is also a journalist. Devinder shares how she got into ultras following a “bad marathon” in 2011 and her top tips and ultra running experiences.

Your experience of ultra running  

Q. How long have you been doing ultras?

A. I did my first ultra in Jan 2012 so over 2 years ago.

Q. How did you first get started doing ultras?

A.  I’d had a bad London marathon in 2011, started cramping at about mile 15 and had to hobble the rest of the way round. I ended up doing a 4.28 rather than my predicted 3.55. I got a bit sick of people asking what my marathon time was and decided to start running races where time didn’t matter as much!

Q. What motivated you to start running?

A. I started by just doing a 5k for charity and then decided to give a 10k for the same charity. I was a good fundraiser so the charity offered me a London marathon place -I thought I’d be mad to turn it down!

Q. When did you do your first ultra race?

A.  Jan 2012 I did the Tribesports 50k London Ultra

Q. Why do you keep running ultras?

A. I like running at my own pace and not worrying too much about getting a certain time, I find endurance events more fun than timed shorter races.

Top Tips for running

Q. What are the essential ingredients to being successful in ultras?

A. It helps if you love running! It might sound crazy but you meet people who are doing it for charity or to achieve a goal but they don’t actually like running – I take my hat off to them. Other than that make sure you plan, what fuel will you need? What kit will you wear? How will you carry your water? The more you plan the easier your race will be.

Q. What tips would you give to someone doing their first ultra?

A. Slowly build up to the distance and practice your fueling, what will you eat on the way round? Think about gels and energy bars and find out what the water stations will be like on race day. Also find out if the race is on road or trail and make sure you practice on the right surface. As well as training with long runs make sure you mix it up with weight training and core exercises.

Q. What type of kit do you feel is essential for an ultra?

A. The right trainers are key, I’ve never got on with trail shoes but they might be worth a try if your race is off-road. Also think about how you will carry your gels and energy bars on the day and do it in practice. You might want to think about compression socks and tights too. 

Q. What is the one thing you never travel without?

A. I take my running rucksack, water bottle and my trainers everywhere. 

The good times running

Q. What is your proudest running achievement to date?

A.  Completing the 2012 Marathon Des Sables.

Q. What has been your favourite ultra to date?

A.   The Marathon Des Sables.

Q. Which type of ultras do you like best?

A.  I like ones that are a mixture of things, some hills, some road and some trail.

The rough times running

Q. What has been the most challenging ultra to date for you?

A.  The Marathon des Sables was a great race but the long day (day 4 – 50-miler) was pretty tough. My feet were covered in blisters so it was pretty hard!

Q. What aspect of ultra running is the hardest for you?

A.  Training can sometimes get time consuming.

Salvation time

Q. Who or what has been your biggest help in doing ultras?

A.  I think having a supportive partner and friends and family help – they don’t give you a hard time for missing nights out because they know you have a race the next day.

Q. Have you made any significant sacrifices to complete ultras?

A.  Time with loved ones although I do try and get training out of the way in the mornings.

Learning

Q. What have you learned by doing ultras?

A. Mind over matter, you need to have a lot of drive and motivation to get out and do long runs every weekend and sometimes it’s your mind not your legs that will get you to the finish line…I’ve learned how to push myself when I’m beyond tired!

Q. How do you feel ultras have changed you and your life?

A. It’s improved my fitness and makes me feel strong.   

Q. How do you get motivated to do the training?

A.   If you have a race coming up you know the more you train, the easier it will be on the day – that gets you out of bed!

Training and Prep

Q. How do you train for an ultra?

A.  Lots of running but as a qualified personal trainer I know how important weight training is.

Q. How does your training differ for each type of ultra?

A. It depends what sort of race it is, if it’s a hilly run then there’s a lot more hill training but if it’s a pretty flat one then I will concentrate on speed training.

Future

Q. What race are you doing next?

A.  I am training for the Adidas Thunder Run, a 24-hour relay race.

Q. What do you hope to achieve with your ultra running in the future?

A. I don’t really expect to achieve much, I think I peaked by completing the Marathon des Sables and really, I just run for fun and fitness

Q. What would be your dream ultra event?

A.   I’ve got a bit of a yearning for The Badwater…but I’d need to train a lot more!

"Mind over matter, you need to have a lot of drive and motivation to get out and do long runs every weekend and sometimes it's your mind not your legs that will get you to the finish line...I've learned how to push myself when I'm beyond tired!"

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An ultra distance race including at least two of the following activities such as running, swimming, cycling, kayaking, skiing and climbing. It may also include different climatic conditions (eg ice, snow, humidity, cold water, mud or heat).

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