Donna Kerr-Foley took The Running Mat to The Dragons’ Den and returned with two keen investors. Here, she tells us about a running career that started at 9 and how boot camps could be the secret ingredient to hitting a PB…
I'm a mother to two young boys and run two businesses; No Lippy Boot Camp Ltd and The Running Mat Ltd. I’m 36 years old and currently live in the North East.
I TOOK UP RUNNING...
When I was 9 years old I joined Jarrow and Hebburn AC and didn’t leave until I was 23. I competed at a high level and managed a UK ranking of fifth throughout my teenage years. At the age of 23 I realised I couldn’t train twice every day and decided to be realistic and opt for a career instead; I still run most days for general fitness rather than racing and can’t think of my life without it.
My first race was when I was nine years old at a local festival. I ran against older boys and won by a long way - I think this was when a light bulb may have gone off in my dad’s head!
THE RUNNING MAT...
Is something that I came up with during a training session – I realised I needed to use something versatile while training clients. It is a portable outdoor exercise mat ideal for personal trainers, fitness camps, runners and hikers wanting to add more to their training or outdoor activities.
STEPPING INTO THE DEN...
Was an incredible experience and I loved it. I’ve watched the Dragons for 10 years so I knew what to expect. I went in knowing my figures and had researched my market. I had done my homework on the judges too!
Can make you crumble with their questioning and it’s important to know your product well and to be confident with your pitch. Deborah Meaden and Kelly Hoppen were both really keen to get involved and the investment has helped develop The Running Mat.
REGULAR TRAINING WEEK?
Monday, Wednesday and Friday it’s weight training. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday I focus on running and try to keep my weekly mileage up to roughly 20-25 miles.
It's got to be the Great North Run. The atmosphere is amazing and the crowds are awesome, it’s incredible how much the whole of the area is transformed by one race. Looking ahead to 2014 I'm aiming for 1 hour 30 minutes.
FAVOURITE TIME TO RUN?
I generally get out early morning, around 7.30am - it’s a nice and peaceful time. I think I’m stronger later on though and find that if I go out in the evening I can run for a little longer.
Is the name of my boot camp and I think it sums it up nicely; it’s about getting fit and enjoying spending time with each other rather than looking good!
HOW CAN BOOTCAMPS BENEFIT RUNNERS?
I incorporate a lot of running within the sessions and mix it with resistance training to increase strength. Being strong helps our body to run faster, recover better and improve technique, while also helping to prevent injury too. All runners should consider cross training of some sort and boot camps are a fun, challenging and effective way of doing so.
STEP ASIDE, GENTLEMEN...
My boot camps are for ladies only which is a way of providing a safe environment for women to train and run outdoors. I know hundreds of women who won’t go out running on their own, so the group setting it is a great way for us to train and a fantastic way of meeting new people.
WHAT’S NEXT ON THE HORIZON?
I’m looking to expand my two businesses and enjoy more quality time with my family. Since launching The Running Mat I’ve been working flat out and I’m only now finding the balance between business, family life and me time.