Cardiff Character: Russell Schmidt

An avid runner explains how he went from running 10k to a 50 mile marathon

Running has become the national pastime; everywhere people are jogging for fun, fitness or for competitions. Training for events like a 10k race is taxing work, but for an experienced runner like Russell Schmidt, they can be your bread and butter. Training for a 50 mile ultra marathon, however, is a whole other story.

From 10k to 60 miles

From 10k to 50 miles

Russell, who’s now 31, started running from a very young age. He’s been running on and off since the age of nine, he said. At that age he was running regularly; once a week for a club in a place called Rushcliffe in Nottingham, but then he would run just for fun by himself or with friends outside of the club.

Run Russell, run!

Run Russell, run!

As tiresome as running is for most people, for Russell, it became something at which he could excel. He said it was never about trophies and medals, but he found that he could win competitions by just having fun.“It’s the one sport that I’m good at!” he laughs, “and I like doing a sport which I’m good at.”

Change of pace

As Russell grew into adulthood, his passion for running didn’t falter, but he learned that maintaining his passion would become difficult. “Other things got in the way,” he says, “university work, things like that. Running became very infrequent.”  

Trail running has its benefits - beautiful scenery!

Trail running has its benefits – beautiful scenery!

Even though running had taken a backseat in his life, he never lost his love for it. He started reading books on the subject, and one book in particular changed everything. “My wife is a big reader and she advised me to read a book called Born to Run,” he says. The book describes a tribe in the Copper Canyons of Mexico, who run ultra marathons of about 50 to 100 miles. “It captured my imagination,” says Russell, a huge grin spreading across his face, “I had never heard of an ultra marathon before and it just got me thinking about a whole new side to running that I had no idea about.”

“I’m in my 30’s now; I’m not young but I’m not old. I’m at that funny age, so I just want to see if I’ve still got it.”

A different approach

Most ultra marathon runners train for months before a race. Russell decided to take a different approach; he signed up for a 50 mile race set amidst the Brecon Beacons near to his home in South Wales, which takes place in December. He laughs to himself, exclaiming, “It was a very spur of the moment thing.” Clearly unperturbed by the mountain in front of him, he shrugs his shoulders, saying, “I’m in my 30’s now; I’m not young but I’m not old. I’m at that funny age, so I just want to see if I’ve still got it.”

It's hard to stay on top of training amidst life's challenges

It’s hard to stay on top of training amidst life’s challenges

Training hasn’t been easy for him: “My brother-in-law has gone into hospital, so I’ve had to rush to Oxford where he lives just to see how he’s getting on and to support him,” he explains. Concern for his brother-in-law’s well-being is written all over Russell’s face, but is quickly replaced with relief as he explains he is on the mend, allowing him to focus on the task at hand.

Running can be a painful experience, but if you love it as much as Russell does, it’s definitely worth it. The best advice Russell can give to any runner, “Just have a smile on your face and enjoy it!”