Recently we had the chance to sit down with elite trail runner, Sophie Brown – “The Running Dietitian”. Fresh off her 2nd place at The Ultra-Trail Australia 50km Sophie tells us about her training and personal approach to recovery.
So how did you get into trail and ultra running?
It was my brother actually. He signed up for a 5k mud race about 5 years ago and I couldn’t let him have all the fun! I tagged along for a few more events including the Manly Dam Sydney Trail Series and the Glow Worm Half Marathon. It only took one race and I was hooked. Each race fuels a desire for me to do better and I have been challenging myself ever since.
What do you do for a day job?
I’m an accredited Dietitian & Exercise Physiologist. I run a private practice as ‘The Running Dietitian’ where I consult with athletes about their health and sports nutrition. I also give outdoor strength and conditioning classes at North Head in Manly. Another part of my work is in the mental health space with One Door Mental Health (formerly The Schizophrenia Fellowship of NSW).
What does a usual training week look like for you?
I’m coached by Gary Howard from the RunCrew, so it’s a lot of hard work. Seriously though, it’s been a few years building up to where I am at today where I run six days a week an average of 80-100kms per week. Sessions will vary depending on what particular race I have coming up. As an example:
Mon – 60 min easy
Tues – Speed work or 90 mins
Wed – 75 mins
Thurs – Speed or 1h 45 mins
Fri – Rest
Sat – 75 mins
Sun – Long Run (2-6 hours)
How do you approach recovery? Considering many of our readers have just run at Ultra Trail Australia or SMH half marathon, do you have any top tips for race recovery?
For me, recovery is a daily consideration, not just something I focus on after a big race. I think a lot of athletes can lose sight of this sometimes. Being aware of your daily and weekly training load and taking in enough fuel at key times, particular on heavy training days, is going to benefit your recovery. But first of all your everyday diet has to tick the boxes for good nutrition. There’s no point having great recovery meals and supplements if you aren’t getting the basics right. As well as good nutrition, I’m also very keen on sleep, and always allow for 8 hours (more after a big race or hard training block). My top tips for race recovery are:
Eat straight away – 20 g protein with carbs is an ideal target.
Rehydrate and replace electrolytes.
Rest up – extra sleep, massage and compression all work a treat.
What are your thoughts on compression and how would you use it for racing or recovery?
Compression clothing does its job by improving blood circulation, reducing muscle oscillations (vibrations) and improving joint proprioception. Personally, I started wearing compression tights when my physiotherapist recommended them for a hamstring tendinopathy I had at the time. The purpose was to limit the stress on the tendon and support the correct biomechanics whilst running. Nowadays, I like to wear the tights when the weather is cool and it takes longer for the muscles to warm up – I feel that the tights help the warm up process and lessen my risk of injury during the session. Also, I love to wear them after a big race and will sleep in a pair of long compression socks for a couple of nights to help relieve muscle soreness and inflammation.