Marathon winner Fionnuala Ross: I've deleted the Zoom app and I hope I won't need it back

Gail Bell asks experts and people in the public eye what keeps them going. This week: Aghagallon athlete Fionnuala Ross, winner of the women's race in this year's Belfast City Marathon

Gail Bell

Up and at it – what is your new morning routine? How has it changed?

It hasn't really. I work as a clinical team manager for Bupa. I'm based in the Glasgow clinic and apart from a few weeks at the start of the pandemic, it's been business as usual. Typically, I'm up early to get a run in before work or, depending on my training schedule/start time, I run to work. Breakfast is a quick bowl of porridge and then the day begins.


What might you eat in a typical working day for...Breakfast?

Porridge with berries, nuts, and honey alongside a large coffee... or two.


I try to batch-cook something at the weekend and use it for lunches. At this time of year, it's usually a soup or stew of some sort. If I've had a busy weekend or am just being lazy, then I'll grab something from a local café.

Evening meal?

During the week, I don't usually feel like cooking. By the time training and work are finished, I find I'm too tired to be creative, so it's something quick and simple like fish or chicken with rice and veg. At the weekends, I try to be a bit more adventurous.


Have you been able to work from home – if so, how have you found it?

No, I work in healthcare and am face-to-face with customers, so apart from a very brief period right at the start of the pandemic, I've been in the clinic. We have a lot of Covid protocols in place, but other than that, the day-to-day role hasn't changed.


Best/easiest lockdown meal?

Does toast and peanut butter count as a meal? When I'm really busy at work, this is what gets me through the afternoon.


Weekend treat?

I don't limit treats to the weekend. They're more of a daily occurrence for me. Chocolate is my biggest weakness.


How have you kept physically and mentally fit during lockdown?

I've been lucky in the sense that I've been able to fully train the whole way through lockdown. So many other sports lost the use of their facilities and I can't imagine how difficult that must have been. Running has always been my go-to for physical and mental health. I think the fact that my routine didn't change much helped as well. I wasn't stuck at home watching the news.


What has been your daily outdoor exercise?

Running. I enjoy a nice weekend walk as well - so long as there is a coffee and cake stop involved.


How do you relax?

A bath and a book or some mindless TV series that I don't have to concentrate on too much.


Teetotal or tipple?

I do enjoy a gin and tonic (or two).


What book are you currently reading?

Sleep by Matthew Walker - it's fantastic but I'm finding it difficult to fit reading in at the minute, so it's taking me a while to get through it. It's a good one to dip in and out of, so that helps.


Best Netflix?

I've just finished Maid which was great - I highly recommend it.


Most surprising thing you've learned about yourself?

That I'm not IT-savvy and much prefer catching up in person than over Zoom. I've recently deleted the app and hope I won't need to get it back.


On a scale of one to 10, where have you been in relation to cabin fever and where are you now?

To be honest, my routine changed very little during the pandemic. The hardest bit was not being able to travel and not being able to get back home as regularly as I usually would. Normally, it's a quick flight from Glasgow to Belfast and then a short drive to Aghagallon. I did have to self-isolate back in June when I caught Covid, so that's probably the closest I came to cabin fever, but I didn't exactly feel like doing much, so even that wasn't too bad.


What are the three things you missed most during the beginning of lockdown?

Not spending time with family, not being able to travel, and not being able to eat out. I don't think this was exclusive to the start of lockdown; I missed them the whole way through.


Where will you go and what will you do when restrictions are fully lifted?

Font-Romeu in the French Pyrenees. We usually go over every year for some altitude training, but haven't been able to do that since the pandemic hit. I absolutely love it there and have really missed it. It'll probably be next summer or autumn before we can fit it in, so hopefully the restrictions will be gone by then.


Biggest gripe?

People huffing and puffing about the little sacrifices we've all had to make over the past year.


Have your priorities in life or perspectives changed?

I don't think so, but I definitely appreciate the ability to travel so much more. That's something I won't take for granted again.


Any new skills or hobbies?

Unfortunately not. I'd love to say, 'Yes', but I didn't really have time to start anything new.


What would you like to see change for good when this is all over?

For people to be nicer to each other and find a better work-life balance. Although my own routine hasn't changed much, I know lots of people who have found flexibility in working from home and have claimed some time back for themselves.


Has coronavirus changed your attitude towards your own mortality?

No, I tend not to think about that.

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