20 Questions on Health & Fitness: Belfast marathon winner Laura Graham

Gail Bell asks experts and people in the public eye what keeps them going. This week: Kilkeel runner and mother-of-four Laura Graham, the first Northern Ireland athlete to win the Belfast Marathon since 1999

Kilkeel athelete Laura Graham crosses the finish line

1) Up and at it – what is your morning routine?

I'm up at 7 o'clock most days, although I'll rise at 6am a couple of days each week so that I can go to a strength and conditioning class.

Then I get the housework started, the kids up and dressed and breakfast on the table before the school run. I'll have coffee if I'm starting work at 9am or I'll do a morning run, usually on the treadmill.

2) What might you eat in a typical working day for...


Breakfast is normally porridge.


I'll have something light like crackers with peanut butter and banana or maybe an egg sandwich.

Evening meal?

For my evening meal, I love to have a vegetable stir fry served with rice.

3) Is nutrition important to you?

Nutrition is important to me, but it is also my downfall sometimes as I quite regularly skip breakfast, then I would have crackers and peanut butter or some other snack later on in the day.

I am not good at eating straight after a run and fuelling before a long run isn't my strength either – this is definitely an area I need to focus on prior to other competitions.

4) Best meal ever?

It is always a good vegetable curry and rice.

Runner Laura Graham in action

5) Do you have a guilty pleasure?

Yes, my guilty pleasure is chocolate and sweets.

6) Have you ever been on a diet? If so, how did it go?

I haven't really been on a diet, but I think if you have the attitude 'everything in moderation', you can't go far wrong.

7) Do you take health supplements?

I take iron daily and also a multivitamin.

8) How do you relax?

I relax when I run or walk!

9) Teetotal or tipple?


Laura Graham

10) Stairs of lift?

Always the stairs.

11) Do you have a daily exercise regime?

I run five-to-six days each week; I'll do a speed run twice and then a long run. I do a strength and conditioning class once a week and I love to walk as well.

I'd really like to do more exercise, but I have four kids, a hubby, a house and a job, so it's not always easy to get out of the door and start running. Some days, I'll run for an hour; others it will be an hour and-a-half.

I'm now starting to run twice daily – an easier run in the morning and a more difficult one in the evening which will be timed and done at a quicker pace. You do have to be disciplined, especially if it's raining outside or if I need to be indoors with the children – then I'll get on the treadmill instead.

12) Best tip for everyday fitness?

My best tip is get up and just do it – the aftermath feeling is amazing,

13) On a scale of one to 10, how fit do you think you are and how fit would you like to be?

I would put myself at a six or seven, but I would like to feel a lot fitter.

14) Have you tried, or would you try, alternative therapy?

No, I haven't tried it, but I would definitely consider alternative therapy if the situation arose.

I could also do with a sports massage more often in order to give something back to my poor back and legs as a 'thank you' for all they have done for me.

Co Down runner and mother of four, Laura Graham. Picture: Mal McCann

15) Were school sports happy times or do you have a memory you would rather forget?

I loved PE in school and it was always my favourite part of the day or week. I played in the hockey team and I was also involved with the athletics club, so I think that is where my interest for running first developed.

I also loved cross country – when other people were trying to hide and get out of doing it, I couldn't wait to get started. I even loved splashing through all the muck and ditches; I don't know what was wrong with me. Sports day was really the only day I wanted to go to school.

16) Did you ever have a health epiphany which made you change your lifestyle?

No, but I feel now is the time I need to change my diet for the better so I can improve my health and fitness.

17) Best health/lifestyle advice you were ever given and would pass on to others?

I am not the best person to give advice, but I do know now that nutrition is vital – it's very important as you need it to fuel your body and help you succeed. I would say the time to change is now – you won't regret it.

18) Who inspires you or who would you try to emulate in terms of fitness / attitude to life?

Irish marathon runner Breege Connolly inspires me when I think how far she has come and the goals she has reached. She is also an absolutely fantastic person, very down-to-earth and very helpful when you need advice.

I also greatly admire Irish runners Lizzie Lee and Fionnuala McCormack – they are all living legends.

19) What time do you normally get to bed and do you get enough sleep?

I usually head to bed around 11.30pm but sometimes I only finish work at 10pm, so I find it hard to switch off.

20) Would you say you have a healthy attitude towards your own mortality?

I would say yes, I do have a healthy attitude towards my mortality and my faith helps. Life is a race, although, being a runner, you would think I would turn up to events on time, but I am always late.

I try for the best times when running, but I'm the worst time-keeper when I'm not. My motto, though, is never give up – you will get there in the end.

Kilkeel athelete Laura Graham crosses the finish line

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