Susie Allison knows Scotland’s trails better than most: her book, Scottish Trail Running, has become the definitive guidebook and no. 1 starting point for any runner who wants to explore new parts of Scotland. A hill-walker and climber turned trail-runner, this mum of two has run trails in every corner of the country in her quest to find and share the country’s most ‘runnable and beautiful’ routes.
More interested in experiencing and exploring the great outdoors than in chasing PBs and medals, Susie has nonetheless brought home first female and even first in class prizes in mountain marathons and has run the 95-mile West Highland Way in a single day as a personal challenge – her longest single run to date.
TF: When did you start trailrunning?
SA: My interest in trail running started after I ran the West Highland Way. I come from a hill walking and climbing background so my running career started with running up and down hills. The WHW helped me realise that there were trails through beautiful places which were much more runnable than most of the Scottish hill routes. I set out to find a few more runnable and beautiful trails and before I knew it I was writing a book. I still love my hill running, as well as my trails!
TF: What do you run for?
SA: I always feel much happier after a run, so I guess you could say that I run for my mental and physical health.
TF: What’s your proudest running (or running-related) achievement/moment?
SA: Holding the first printed copy of my Scottish Trail Running guidebook was pretty cool! If I have to pick an actual running moment, it would be running up the pavement from Glen Nevis to see my mum waiting for me at the end of the West Highland Way.
TF: What’s been your darkest/bleakest moment/time running?
SA: Tricky. Running is how I escape those dark and bleak moments! I felt pretty despondent when I had to give up running at 5 months pregnant. I’d read about and spoken to quite a few women who had run all the way through their pregnancies and I was determined to do the same. Unfortunately my body thought differently.
TF: What did you learn from this?
SA: I’m much more sanguine these days. ‘This too shall pass’, is a phrase most new parents are quoted – and it is so true! Reassuringly, I did get back to reasonable running fitness after baby number 1. Now our second is 5 months old and the few runs I’ve attempted have all resulted in a day or two of pelvis pain. So I’m listening to my body, doing core exercises and trusting that one day I will be back running the hills and trails (with the help of babysitters!)
TF: What do you think of when the trails get tough?
SA: I go through a mental checklist of how the different parts of my body are feeling and whether any of them are really, truly, bad enough to justify stopping. The answer is usually, ‘No! Stop making excuses! Keep on going!’
TF: What is your next big project/goal/race/adventure?
SA: My husband is taking a month and a half of Shared Parental Leave following the birth of our second child and so we have the opportunity to spend some family time together. We are currently planning some family friendly adventures with the aim of getting us all outside and active.
TF: Who (or what) is your running inspiration?
SA: The hills – particularly in the Highlands and the Lake District.
TF: What three words would you use to describe your relationship to running?
SA: Fun, freedom, friends.
TF: What one piece of advice would you give to others?
SA: Learn to navigate. Competent navigation combined with running fitness is a passport to many incredible places and experiences.
Susie joins us at TrailFest2 to present Run Scotland: with Scottish Trail Running guidebook author Susie Allison