Health and Fitness Q&A: Race is on for Kathryn to get us to marathon starting line

Gail Bell asks experts and people in the public eye what keeps them going. This week: Kathryn Holland, challenge events manager for Cancer Focus which is official partner for this year's Belfast City Marathon

This year's Belfast City Marathon takes place on Sunday May 5

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

I wake up between 6.30am and 7am, depending on how early I have to be in work – in my job the hours are flexible. I'm definitely a morning person and like to jump out of bed right away. The first thing I do is brush my teeth to get that fresh feeling. I shower, pick an outfit and get dressed. I'll have breakfast with my housemates at the weekend but it's usually on my own during the week, as we're all on different schedules.

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

Breakfast? A poached egg with wholemeal bread is one of my favourite starts to the day.

Lunch? In winter, I often have home-made soup – lentil or vegetable broth.

Evening meal? I'm a big fan of pasta, so in the evening I might have some Italian original-style carbonara (no cream) or a pasta-based dish like chicken arabiatta (it's less fattening). I eat a lot of fish or chicken with brown rice or sweet potato with vegetables. Stir-fries are another common evening meal which is not only healthy, but quick and easy to throw together.

3 Is nutrition important to you?

Yes, if I don't eat well, I really notice it; if not I feel lacklustre and can't concentrate as well. I enjoy eating and cooking healthy food, so it's not too difficult to stick to a healthier diet.

4 Best meal ever?

Fillet steak with chips and peppercorn sauce from James Street Bar and Grill in Belfast.

5. Do you have a guilty pleasure?

One of my favourite guilty pleasures is sticky toffee pudding with vanilla ice-cream.

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

Who hasn't? I'd say, I try to keep more to a healthy eating plan than go on diets these days. To me, a diet means restricting yourself or stopping eating something you enjoy, which I feel just makes me want to eat it more. I never get on the scales –I don't even know what weight I am. It's all about how I'm feeling in myself.

7 Do you take health supplements?

I take vitamin D, zinc and vitamin C as I find they help ward off colds. Sometimes, I'll have a berroca instead of coffee, if I need an energy boost.

8 How do you relax?

I'm a pretty lively person and enjoy being active – I feel it is very important for your mental health. One of my favourite ways to relax is to go for an early morning hack on my horse, Dancer, and I also like walking my dog, Gunner, along the beach or through some of the forest parks. About five years ago, I took up dancing and this year won a charity Strictly Come Dancing competition. I enjoy going out for a glass of wine or having all my nearest and dearest around for a night in. I absolutely love hostessing – I love looking after people and making sure they are having a good time. While most people find that stressful, I find it strangely rewarding.

9 Teetotal or tipple?

Tipple – a wee glass of bubbles always goes down a treat.

10 Stairs or lift?

Stairs. We're only on the second floor at work, so I've no excuse!

11 Do you have a daily exercise regime?

I don't particularly stick to a regime but I horse ride most days and get to the gym when I can. I also enjoy walking, whether it's half an hour, or a couple of hours hiking up somewhere like Cave Hill in Belfast. With Cancer Focus, there's always lots of different fundraising activities I have the option of taking part in, whether a New Year's Day dip at Crawfordsburn beach or a moonlit walk at Cave Hill. Also, Cancer Focus is the official partner for this year's Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon, so I am currently enlisting marathon runners – and to mark the charity's 50th birthday, 50 relay runners.

12 Best tip for everyday fitness?

Park a little further from work, go for a walk during your lunch break, or take the stairs instead of the lift.

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

I think I'm not too bad, maybe about an eight, but there's always room for improvement.

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

No, I don't feel I need to; I feel pretty healthy with my own routine.

15 Were school sports happy times or do you have a memory you would rather forget? Happy times. I was involved with most sports at school and played hockey, right up to university. I dabbled in tennis and badminton when I was younger.

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

No, I've always been active from a young age and quite health aware. I suppose I owe that to my parents who set that example.

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

Don't be too hard on yourself, life is for having fun and not for strict diets. As they say, everything in moderation...

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

We live in a society where we are very quick to compare ourselves to the perfect person, which isn't good for morale and can lead to insecurities. Everyone should have their own goals.

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

I always get eight hours, apart from the odd Saturday night, as I'm useless when I'm tired.

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

Yes, I hope so... there's no point worrying about the inevitable. Enjoy each day.

:: This year's Belfast City Marathon takes place on Sunday May 5. See for more.

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