This week we meet with Lucy Colquhoun, former GB Internationalist Trail Runner and West Highland Way Race record holder (amongst others). Lucy now lives in the Tweed Valley with 2 rescue hounds and FINDRA team member Russ.
Hi Lucy, and to start, can you introduce yourself and tell us where you live and what you do?
I’m lucky enough to live in Peebles, right in the heart of the Tweed Valley and its hills. We moved here four years ago and I’m still exploring new routes and making new friends.
What I do has always been a tricky question. There’s the usual quick answer of the job (working for a start-up food brand) and the much longer one of what I hope to do one day – which I’ve been trying to figure out all my adult life. And then there’s what I actually do, which tends to be bake, eat, run, drink wine, repeat.
How long has the great outdoors been a part of your life?
I’d love to say all my life, and conjure up images of family mountaineering holidays or all paddling down the rapids in South America, but that’s not really true. My parents weren’t particularly outdoors-y, though we did have a little holiday cottage in a remote part of the Scottish Highlands so I have fond memories of mucking around in streams, building tree houses and going on long walks.
I do have a really strong affinity with nature and being outside though, and feel most at home in the outdoors. I get huge satisfaction from being surrounded by trees, hills, water, animals, skies etc. I love the freedom and non-judgemental nature of having space around me and the sense that everything is just quietly doing its thing and I’m lucky enough to be passing through.
What has been your favourite trip or adventure?
I can’t narrow it down to one – they’re all different – however, a memorable adventure was a lightweight running trip in the Alps, carrying only a toothbrush and change of underwear (we treated ourselves by staying in guest houses). I loved the sense of achievement and liberation of being self-propelled, and the reactions of the receptionists when they asked us what luggage we had to check in. I also love long days out in the hills getting weather beaten then warming up in the pub afterwards.
How do you make find a balance between being active and life’s other responsibilities i.e. work and family?
I feel a bit guilty answering this one, as I’m lucky to have a very flexible job and no family responsibilities so I pretty much always have time to be active. Sometimes it’s easier when you’re busy, as it forces you to be efficient and to squeeze in a run because that’s the only slot you have. Having a whole day stretching ahead can be a recipe for procrastination . . .
Is there anyone who inspired your love of the outdoors?
No. I know friends who have been inspired by their teacher, coach or whatever but I think I was responding to a subconscious need to be outside. When I lived in London the park near my flat was my only sanity, and that’s where I first started running.
Do you find that being outside has a positive impact on your wellbeing and mental health?
Trick question, right? Of course! It’s the ultimate wonder drug. A twenty minute run or a five minute dip, even in the rain and wind, resets you and invigorates you. Not only that, it gives you a sense of achievement and strength that a) you’ve made it out of the door in the first place and b) you’ve done some exercise. I really love the combination of self-belief and humility which the outdoors teaches you. It reminds me of my place in the world, makes me both invisible and accepted, and gives me a quiet sense of strength when I’ve pushed myself physically. It’s no surprise that the NHS is now prescribing outdoor exercise.
I would find it really challenging not to have access to the natural world, to space and the freedom that brings. Throughout lockdown I’ve been so grateful to live where I do, surrounded by hills and able to access green space every day. I would have gone mad if I’d been cooped up in a flat in a city somewhere. I remember living in London and being surrounded by concrete, neon and noise – I felt I was slowly shrivelling up, and the very first thing I did when I drove back up north to Edinburgh was to walk up Arthur’s Seat.
What is it about running specifically that you love?
The thing I most love about running is space. It gives me solitude and freedom, something private which no-one can take away from me and an antidote to the day to day routine of life. I love that, however bad a day I might have, I’m only ever a pair of trainers away from escape.
I love running on pine-needle trails through trees, I love encountering wildlife along the way, I love exchanging breathy hellos with fellow runners, I love being covered in mud and the satisfaction of a hot shower, I love the places it takes you to – shall I stop?
When did you discover FINDRA?
About five years ago. Our paths crossed through work and socially. Favourite piece of kit? A pair of denim shorts for slouching around in and pretending I’m a mountain biker.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
I’m not very good at taking advice (as my husband can confirm) though I do really like the saying “Be yourself – everyone else is already taken”.
I tend to worry too much about what other people think, what I ‘should’ do with my life and whether I’m a failure compared with others. I should try to care less, but in a positive way.
In this post, what do you feel is the key motivational or inspirational message you would like to highlight to our followers that would inspire them to get outdoors more?
I would say find your own space. Do what you enjoy, start small and don’t worry about the ‘noise’. It can be intimidating to see what other people do, especially on social media, but just set out on your own adventure and see what unfolds. Oh, and take cake.
Thanks Lucy and good to chat!
RECIPE OF THE WEEK
The Classic Scone
I grew up with a mum who made cake every day, so it’s a hard habit to break. I’m going for a scone recipe simply because scones are super quick and easy, and you can put pretty much anything in them. I’ll often make some to take on a long run or for a post-swim coffee. I love sharing food as a reward after exercise.
- 350g self raising flour
- 85g caster sugar
- 85g butter
- Zest of 1 orange
- 30g dried cranberries
- Some chopped walnuts or even pumpkin seeds
- 175ml natural yoghurt, whatever you have
- Egg or milk to brush top of scones with
- 1-2 tbsp of Demerara sugar
- Heat oven 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Grease a large baking sheet.
- Mix the sugar with the flour, then rub in the butter till mix resembles fine breadcrumbs.
- Toss the cranberries and zest together with a small amount of flour and stir into the mix.
- Make a well in the centre and tip in the yoghurt. Mix to form a soft dough then knead on floured surface briefly.
- Press or roll out the dough to a thickness of 2cm then cut into scones using a cutter. Dip the cutter briefly into flour to stop the dough sticking, then place on the baking sheet.
- Mix one beaten egg with a splash of water to make an egg wash or just use milk alone, then brush the tops of the scones. Be careful not to let run over sides as this affects the scones rising. Sprinkle over the Demerara sugar.
- Bake in the centre of the over for about 15mins until golden brown and well risen. Leave to cool then serve spread with butter.
- TIP – you can change the flavour to any you prefer, if you want plain for serving with jam and cream, leave out fruit and add 1 tsp vanilla extract. Lemon zest and raisins are also very good, or chopped apple and cinnamon.
MUSIC OF THE WEEK
Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It by Will Smith
Current fave on my ‘wakey wakey’ playlist is Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It by Will Smith. Pull on your shoes, turn up the volume and go go go.
Will Smith – Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It