The life of a runner, mother, scientist and podcaster

A look back in time – Katie Holmes

This week’s interview follows on nicely from my interview with my mum, Liz Joyce, last week. 

Katie Holmes is author of the fantastic blog, . Having taken up running fairly late in life, she became interested in women’s running, particularly road running and fell running, so started to delve into the history of women’s running a little bit more. She’s even writing a book about women’s distance running in the UK from the 50’s through to the 80’s.

Her blog is a mixture of her personal experience of running and a look back at the history of women’s running.  She also shares stories of women running later in life, focusing on women runners who are 50+, hence the blog name, RunYoung50.

Katie Holmes
Charnwood AC Opens – Athletic Photography

There are inspirational interviews with women running in this older age category including, Christine Heaton, Nikki Love, Maddy Collinge, Sandy Poole and Madeline Wells. Their stories help you understand what it’s like running when you get older, many of these women having taken up running relatively late in life.

It’s really interesting for me because I’ve been running since I was a child so their stories are often coming from a different standpoint than mine and I’m intrigued as to how people start running and the things that we might be able to do to encourage people to start running. 

We discussed some of the ways that things have changed, particularly the difference between running in the 50’s and 60’s compared to in the 70’s and 80’s when the marathon boom opened up opportunities for women to be able to run.

Women weren’t allowed to run in races such as the Finchley 20
This is me competing in the 2011 race.

Women weren’t allowed to run in mixed races such as the London-Brighton (a race that my dad was very successful in), the Finchley 20 (which I, myself, have run in) and the Polytechnic Marathon. Mostly women were limited to road relays and races up to a maximum distance of 6km.

The concern was really related to women’s health, particularly their reproductive health. Interestingly, distances are still restricted for certain age groups on similar grounds, for example, in 1984, I ran in WAAA championships as an under 17 girl in the 10,000m and actually hold the best recorded time in the UK for that age group over 10,000m on the track but nowadays neither U17 boys nor girls are allowed to run that distance because it isn’t considered safe for them to train at the intensity to perform well over that distance. 

So, although it might seem to be sexist not to have allowed women to run further, part of this thinking was at least, in part trying to protect women not because they didn’t think they were strong enough or were lesser in some way.

Katie’s insight and knowledge of the subject bring that period of running to light and show how a few women paved the way for the rest of us to enjoy running as we do today. Thanks Katie for a fun, educational and enlightening interview.

The E=MCof running is a podcast which brings energy back into running with comment and opinion on running related stories and a look at the science behind running. It includes engaging interviews with some really remarkable runners and brings insight and experience from Maggie Cooper’s 40+ years of running and a lifetime in science.

Listen to the The E=MCof running on your normal podcast app, on Apple Podcasts or on Spreaker.

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This entry was posted on February 8, 2021 by .
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