Ben Fogle Q&A

Presenter, writer and action hero Ben Fogle talks training tips and ultra running

Ben Fogle
Can you give us a sneak preview of your talk on Saturday? It’s going to be a romp through everything I have done in the last 10 years, starting with my trip to Taransay in the Outer Hebrides and going through all the other trips and journeys that I have been lucky enough to go on. How much running do you do to keep fit generally, when you aren’t preparing for one of your big challenges? I like to go running a couple of times a week to keep myself fit, preferably before work, but sometimes it is impossible with early starts. If I am training for something, I will go out of my way to run more regularly, but otherwise I usually run for about an hour at a time. I like to do a couple of half marathons each year as well. I’m not sure which ones this year. I’m also considering taking part in the London Marathon. I’ve done it once before and didn’t do as well as I would have hoped, so if I have the time this year I’d love to give it another go. I ran it in four hours last time, but I can run half marathons in 1hr 30mins now, so if I take part I aim to do a 3hrs 30min marathon this time. What sort of training did you put in last time and why do you think you didn’t do as well as you would have liked? Last time I think my problem was I just didn’t put in the road hours. I did a reasonable number of runs, but there were too many one-hour runs. And what sort of training do you put in when you are preparing for bigger events such as the Marathon des Sables? I tried to do two runs a day, one in the morning and another in the evening, with longer runs at the weekend. But when I’m training I’m not very scientific about my preparation. I’m sure a personal trainer would change my training habits completely, but for now work takes up too much time for that to be an option. At the moment I have to seize any opportunity I have to run, but I’d love to work with a personal trainer at some point. The one area where I am very lucky is that injuries affect me very rarely. I think it may be something to do with the fact I have massive hips and thighs. I shouldn’t really say this, but I very rarely warm up or cool down, so it must be because of my thighs. For example I can’t buy a normal pair of jeans because my size is a 33in leg and 38in waist! What are your future running ambitions beyond the London Marathon? I would love to do another ultra marathon or something more than 500 miles if I can find an interesting challenge, but I would need to put in a lot of training. Have you ever done an Ironman?I haven’t really thought about that too much because swimming is a bit of a weakness for me. But I’m not someone to shy away from my weaknesses, so I may give it a go at some point. Although getting access to water makes it even harder. It’s obviously easier to get on a bike or go for a run. You were planning to take part in the Tour Divide Race from Canada to Mexico with James Cracknell, which was been postponed after his accident. Do you plan to give it a go in the future? It depends on how James recovers, but he’s got a long way to go at the moment. It is something we trained for together but I wouldn’t rule out doing it by myself or with someone else because it’s something I trained hard for and really want to do. But of course I would prefer to do it with James. How competitive would you say James is as a person? He is very competitive, on a scale of one to 10 he would be pretty close to a 10. It’s what drives me harder when we are doing an event. And where would you lie on that scale? I used to lie nearer a one than a 10, but with all the challenges I’ve done I’ve become a little more competitive and I’d say I’m somewhere in the middle now. You have to be when you’re regularly running half marathons. Who would be your running hero? I have huge admiration for a number of runners, such as Paula Radcliffe, or Seb Coe. There are many people I really admire, but I wouldn’t say I have one hero. What is the best piece of advice you have been given and what would advice would you give to others? Perseverance is everything. It’s about putting in the training, that’s where you really get results. Getting out of bed on a cold, rainy day is tough, but it’s worth it. What do you usually eat in the build up for a big race or event? I’m not sure if it’s still recommended by nutritionists, but I stick to carbs the night before a race, I like to have pasta. My problem is I suffer from bad indigestion when I go running, so on race day I have to get up really early so that I can get all the food I need for the race. It’s something I have always struggled with, but I’ve learnt how to get around it. I never have any meat on the morning of a race, so no bacon for me. Instead I have lots of cereals. What was it like going back to Antarctica for the documentary on the 100th anniversary of Robert Scott’s expedition? It was amazing to be back. It was a much more enjoyable way of being there. Last time I didn’t really have any time to stop and take it in because we were just focused on the race. So is it turning into a home away from home for you then? In a way! I’ve only been there twice, but I feel really privileged as that is two more times than most people. It’s a continent that really captures you. What else do you have planned for this year? I have a few television projects which I’m working on, including some work with the One Show on the BBC, but my second child is also due later this year, so I am going to spend some time with my family.
Ben will be speaking in the Outdoor Heroes Theatre at the Outdoors Show this weekend, running from 13th-16th January at London’s ExCel exhibition centre. For tickets and information please visit


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