Interview with Julia Bleasdale

23. April 2019

After her successful career as a track and cross-country runner, Briton Julia Bleasdale moved her place of residence to the Engadine and switched to trail running. She came eighth in both the 5000 m and 10,000 m distances in the 2012 Olympic Games and won the Swissalpine Irontrail T88 in style.

During your active career you competed in major stadiums worldwide in front of many spectators. As a trail runner, however, you usually compete in deserted landscapes. What do you find appealing about trail running?

I am often asked this question. Although I grew up in London, a city of millions, thanks to my parents and their great passion for mountains, I discovered exercising outdoors in nature at a very early age, which I learned to love. To me, trail running means freedom and always discovering something new. I love it each time I hear, see, and feel something new. Each run is different and in some way an adventure of discovery. This gives me pleasure, because I feel completely in harmony.

You not only climb mountains or look for the most beautiful trails, but last year, for instance, competed in the Swissalpine Irontrail for the first time and won it outright. What do you generally believe are the three keys that lead to athletic success?

  • A relaxed attitude and fun. This helps to prevent the body from getting blocked and enables you to achieve your maximum performance.
  • Good training preparation. It provides the foundation for feeling good in a race.
  • Proper nutrition. The longer the race, the more crucial the energy supply.




At the Olympic Games in your own country, you made it into the finals twice and received a certificate each time. What would you have done differently in your track and cross-country career with the knowledge you have today?

After the success of the Olympic Games I was overly motivated and wanted too much. Instead of respecting my limits, I intensified my training and eventually got injured, which meant I ended up missing the European Championships in Zurich. In retrospect, I would take a much more relaxed approach to everything and respect my limits more.

Many amateur runners are planning to do the Swissalpine and other trail runs this year. What are your three most important tips for the preparation and for the race?

Tips for the preparation:

  1. Use training cycles in your race preparation - the body responds well to periods of intensive training followed by a periods of recovery.
  2. Listen to the body - don’t be afraid to adapt your training according to how you feel, it is important to be responsive and sensible to avoid illness and injury.
  3. Remember to taper - especially for a longer distance a taper of 10-14 days is usually recommended to prepare the body for race day!

Tips for the race:

  1. Don’t get carried away at the start with all the adrenaline, but pace yourself wisely and build into the race.
  2. Remember your nutritional strategy. Especially with longer distances it is better to be cautious, like the saying: ‘eat before you are hungry and drink before you are thirsty’.
  3. Don’t forget to look up and enjoy the view - take inspiration from your surroundings and from the journey to fuel your performance.




Do you have a secret tip you would be willing to share with us?

Focus inwards and listen to your body! Many athletes are extremely fixated on the technical aids and numbers. This normally gives rise to negative feelings. The more I stopped looking at my watch and only focused on my feeling, the more fun I had and the greater the harmony I felt in my body. This ultimately led to furthering my training progress.

Foto: ZVG