From total beginner to ultra runner and coach
Life as a sponsored athlete can sometimes be quite stressful, with the pressure to perform. Charlie is his own man who has been running and coaching for 9 years, he runs for fun and uses races to explore the world.
Charlie from the UK is only 31 years old and already one of the top Ultra-runners in his country. He loves everything about Skyrunning and Ultras, and he is a true role model for the “new generation of Skyrunners”.
Charlie hasn’t always been in top shape, and he started to run in 2010 as a complete beginner.
Because he used to be a rock climber, running on the trails and in the mountains in the fantastic environment seemed to be so much more attractive. That is how he was introduced to Skyrunning.
He evolved quite quickly and now he has finished over 100 ultras and has run 100 miles in 13 hours and 58 minutes.
What could be his secret behind?
This is Charlies’ story…
Who is Charlie and your story behind?
I started running 9 years ago to get some fitness for rock climbing and kick boxing. Soon running took over and has led me on many adventures all over the world, meeting people, seeing new places, it has been amazing.
Your passion for Skyrunning, where is that coming from?
Having been a rock climber before I started running it seems like a good way to make running more exciting! I liked being outdoors in the mountains, the more technical ground and scrambling climbs don’t seem so difficult compared to actual rock climbing I just find it fun and you get to see some stunning scenery whilst you’re at it.
Can you describe your significant personal strengths that took you all the way to this level of running?
The three things that have allowed me to get to my current level of running would be consistency, commitment and knowledge. I have trained daily for over 10 years now, not necessarily running every day, some days might be conditioning or mobility and stretching or gym based, maybe even some cycling or climbing when I’m not running. I think anybody could make significant improvements to their performance in any sport if they do something so consistently for so long.
The final point I mentioned is knowledge, without knowing what to do and how to actually train it would be easy to get demotivated for example if someone is trying really hard but not seeing improvements because they’re focused on the wrong thing, that would be frustrating I guess. As I know how to actually train the different aspects of the body, I’ve been able to see consistent progress through the years.
Is Skyrunning a hobby or is it something you do for a living?
For me running is just for fun, whilst I have had various sponsors for the past 7 years and picked up many prizes I’m in a position where I don’t need to run to pay the bills so no pressure and I have the freedom that I can pick and choose the races I want to do in the places I want to go.
Have you always had this type of lifestyle or have you done any change direction in life that you like to mention?
Before I started running in 2010, I was aerobically very unfit and my first time running I lasted about 4 minutes before I had to lay on the floor gasping for breath. I just couldn’t comprehend running even for 1 hour never mind up a mountain but gradually over time my perception changed, and I began to progress.
Do you usually push yourself outside your comfort zone? How does it feel at the time? Can you see that the rewards coming out of this is worth this little extra effort?
For me every day I am looking at how I can move forwards and progress to various goals whether they are running based, business based or general goals I have in life. I just can’t imagine anything different.
How does your race plans and goals look like for 2020?
So, starting off my first ultra will be GB Ultras Manchester to Liverpool 50-mile race relatively close to my hometown. This is a flat and fast course where I hope to break my PB of 5 hours 58 mins
After that I go to Nepal for the Everest 135-mile single stage ultra. This will be an adventure I’m sure, my body doesn’t react very well to altitude, anything over 2000m affects me quite badly so I am just hoping to enjoy the journey and get through in one piece.
Over the summer I’ll be in the mountains around Europe with a couple of races and one in particular with Skyrunning Serbia which looks incredible, they know how to put on a good race!
Rounding off the year with Ultra X in Mexico which is a stage race again in a country I haven’t visited. I like the format of this kind where you only need to carry your backpack for the day not your entire kit and sleeping gear so you can just focus on the running. Definitely have a look at their other events too.
How does a normal week with training and all that look like for you right now?
Training varies on the time of year and towards the races I’ve got coming up. The last few months I’ve been hovering about 130km per week and up to 150km for a couple of months now mostly on the flat terrain.
If I’m heading into the mountains then I tend to focus more on the ascent, the biggest training months I tend to hit 180 to 200kms per week with 10000m of ascent or more.
Which are your best training tips to other Skyrunners all over the world?
Be consistent and do what you can with what you have available. Where I live is totally flat, so I have to travel to come close to anything resembling a mountain.
Are you involved in any other types of running-projects that you like to talk about?
I started coaching and training people in 2010 initially people who wanted to get fitter and more active, in 2011 as my own running performance exploded, I had runners coming to me for advice and training and it was natural to transition into working solely with runners. Nowadays I work with runners who have already started running and usually done a few races but want to push up into ultra-distances and build a consistent training plan that they can sustain and use to reach their goals and dreams.
Do you have any dreams and goals for the future that you like to share?
I’m happily working my way around the world enjoying the variety of races on offer I hope to continue this and help others do the same.
Name: Charlie Sharpe
Your team or sponsor now: GB Ultras
Occupation: Running Coach
Facebook page: charlie sharpe running riot coaching
Webpage / Blog: http://www.charliesharpe.co.uk
Thank you, Charlie, for taking your time sharing your amazing story! Very inspiring!
Wishing you all the best luck in the future with your running and everything that you want to do in life.