Katherine Wood

Ambassador for Running Bear

 

My name is Katherine Wood and I am 24-year old endurance runner. I’m currently a PhD student at The University of Manchester, working in the field of genetic medicine researching a group of genetic craniofacial disorders. I moved to Manchester two years ago to start my PhD; prior to this I studied biochemistry at Pembroke College, The University of Oxford, and I grew up in rural Aberdeenshire in the North-East of Scotland.

 

Having been a competitive swimmer and runner throughout my childhood and early teens, including competing in the Scottish Nationals in 2008 and 2009, I took a long break away from sport to recover from an eating disorder and related mental health issues. However, in 2015, I got back into running and completed my first half marathon, and in 2016 I ran my first marathon with my Dad in Bournemouth. Since then, my running has gone from strength to strength, and I have rapidly taken over 35 minutes off my marathon PB and over 25 minutes off my half marathon PB. I won the English Half Marathon Championships in a time of 77:34 and the Yorkshire Marathon in 2:41:33 in 2018, and while I compete with Sale Harriers, I am now coached by ex-Olympian and Commonwealth Games medallist Liz Yelling.

 

At the end of 2018 and beginning of 2019, I was again forced to take a break from running as I struggled to manage the intense training load with calorific intake, and my old eating disorder resurfaced in the form of RED-S. During this time, I worked closely with the leading sport and eating disorder dietician Renee McGregor, along with endocrinologist Dr Nicky Keay.
I quickly recovered most of the weight I had lost, but more importantly I challenged and changed many of my behaviours and have learned how to manage energy in versus energy out, as well as achieving a better exercise/work/life balance.
Not only this, but I have been very active in speaking out about RED-S and worked hard to raise awareness of eating disorders in athletes, including writing an article and follow-up blog for Fast Running (see below links) and doing a live interview with my fiancée for the Stephen Nolan show on BBC Radio Rive Live.

https://www.fastrunning.com/training/health/seeking-help-after-ignoring-the-signs/23788

https://www.fastrunning.com/running-athletics-news/a-journey-beyond-the-numbers/25727

Over the last few months, Liz and I have been working to reintroduce training back to a full training programme, including tempo runs and track sessions. I have run three races since April, narrowly missing a PB to finish 2nd in the Shakespeare Half Marathon, winning and setting a new course record in the Hook 10-Mile Road Race, and running a 2:43:41 at the Stockholm Marathon to finish 8th and 1st British woman in June. My major target for this year now is the Berlin Marathon at the end of September. Having been under consideration to represent England at the half marathon distance last year, I am focussing on both the half marathon and marathon distance, particularly in running sub-76 minutes and sub-2:40:00 respectively to achieve the required qualifying times for the national teams next year, with the longer-term ambition to reaching the Commonwealth Games for the marathon distance.

My typical weekly training schedule includes marathon-specific tempo runs, a track session, steady/easy runs on other days, plus cross-training in the form of pilates, weights and cycling. I have been managing to balance this with my PhD work and my social life (plus organising my wedding for March 2020!), and feel happier, healthier and fitter than I have done for years. I am really excited to be working with the team from Running Bear to help me achieve my athletics goals, hopefully represent England at an international level in the future, and bring some Manchester spirit to British endurance running!

Further Reading