19 Nov

Roux on Running

Michel Roux JrMichelin starred chef and TV personality Michel Roux Junior has another string to his bow. Having taken part in some 20 marathons, including 13 at London, he tells us about his running life ...
 

THE EARLY DAYS ...
I WAS one of those rare kids at school who actually enjoyed cross country. Then the teenage years kicked in; I started smoking and drinking and funnily enough running fell by the wayside.

GIVING UP SMOKING ...
CHANGED EVERYTHING. Free of nicotine, I found that when I went out for a run I could go round the block twice, rather than just once!  It was moments like this that inspired me to keep away from the fags and keep up the training.

WHAT WAS THE GOAL?
LONDON MARATHON had always been a goal. So when I started running again, I decided to enter. I have now taken part in 13 London Marathons and 20 marathons in total, including Paris, New York, Monaco and Medoc!

HOW DO YOU FIND TIME TO TRAIN?
IT CAN be difficult. As a chef I work really long hours and I am rubbish in the mornings which rules out a run first thing! I tend to do my training in the afternoons between services and I always have time to fit in a long run at the weekend.

WHERE DO YOU TRAIN?
LIVING IN south London there are plenty of parks and nice routes for me to explore. Some of them are pretty undulating, giving me the chance to push myself. I'm a sucker for a hill!

DOES BEING A CHEF HELP?
YOU HAVE to be fit to be a chef. It is a tough job and one that demands physicality and stamina. Both qualities that stand me in great stead for being a marathon runner.

WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT RUNNING?
RUNNING IS my therapy. It's my time. Time to think, reflect and clear my head. Time away from a busy, noisy kitchen. I enjoy being on the road and find it incredibly therapeutic - it is not a chore or a bind for me. I'm a bit of a grump if I don't get out for a run. Or so my wife tells me!

WHAT DO YOU HATE ABOUT RUNNING?
I HATE running in the rain. So when it's wet I head to the gym for some cross-training. I enjoy cycling and using the cross-trainer while watching TV, it makes a change from being out on the road. It also gives my calves and knees a bit of a break from the relentless pounding.

YOUR FAVOURITE EVENT?
LONDON MARATHON means a lot to me and is without doubt my favourite event. It is my hometown and having taken part on so many occasions I know what to expect; where the music will be blaring from pubs, where the support will be strongest and importantly, where I am likely to hit the wall.

YOUR MARATHON PB?
FUNNILY ENOUGH, this was at London. I clocked up 3:13 a few years ago. I think it would be beatable if I were to decrease my hours at work and increase the hours of sleep I get, but realistically that ain't happening any time soon!

RUNNING FOR CHARITY?
I ALWAYS run for VICTA (Visually Impaired Children Taking Action). I had issues with my eyes when I was younger and so it is a charity I can relate to. It is a small charity and I know that whatever is raised goes straight to the cause - a cause that above all I believe in it.

RACE DAY BREAKFAST?
I AM a creature of habit. Breakfast for me, does not vary - race day included. I enjoy brown toast with butter and homemade marmalade washed down with a cup of black coffee. My advice is to stick to what you know - don't go changing your habits or routine just because you read an article telling you to!

POST RACE TREAT?
THERE IS nothing better than walking in the front door to the smell of a chicken roasting. Cooked by my wife of course. And later washed down with a glass of champagne, a bottle of Burgundy to follow and if I'm lucky a massage - for me, that is post-race perfection!

YOUR FAVOURITE DISTANCE?
A MARATHON is THE iconic distance. I have always been drawn to it. It is a true test of endurance. I have taken part in half marathons and 10ks and they are just not the same. The marathon may offer more pain - but I think much more pleasure as well.   

AND STILL FURTHER?
I WANTED to go further. So I entered the Belvès 100K Ultra six years ago, completing it in 11 hours.

WHEN IN FRANCE ...
MEDOC MARATHON is an interesting event. With wine and food stations dotted throughout the course, it appealed to the chef in me! The first time I took part I wanted a good time and did it in about 4 hours, the second time I knew what to expect and decided to enjoy myself. At that time I took about 5 hours and fully appreciated the gourmet delights on offer.

TOP TIP?
COMMON SENSE is more important than faddy books/theories about nutrition. Nutrition is important for runners, especially if you are going for a PB. But I do think that a lot of it is just common sense; reduce your alcohol intake, eat plenty carbs and remember that when you are training your body is burning loads of calories - they need to be replenished. That's what I love about running: the more I run, the more I get to eat!