Milly Voice is pretty incredible. Not only is this long-distance runner really good at what she does, she absolutely loves it. You just have to go running with her and watch her skipping down the mountain like a ballerina to see how passionate she is. Last year, Milly, a brand ambassador for Salomon, placed third female in the Trail des Hauts Forts 23km, and this year, after some time off with an injury, she’s back and getting top-ten results in some of the Alps’ toughest trail races. And all on top of a full-time job! We caught up with her to find out how she does it.
Why / how did you get into running?
I always enjoyed running (around the block, up the road etc.!) but never as a proper hobby until I was in my early twenties. It was as simple as literally getting trainers on and running in the Burbage Valley in the Peak District. It was ‘freestyle’, there were no rules, just a sense of adventure and a chance to move differently. I was hooked.
How did you get from regular running to ultra-running?
I took a massive leap basically (both literally and figuratively). I was going to Chamonix for skiing and a good friend who was into long distance running suggested I sign up for a mountain race. Before I knew it, I had signed up in January for a 50km race in August with 3000m total ascents. At the point of racing, the longest I had ever raced before the event was a half marathon in the UK.
That’s pretty intense! What drew you to that specific race?
I wanted to have a project and train for something purposefully, and to be honest, I didn’t really know what I was letting myself in for (I didn’t know what ‘ultra’ meant when I signed up!). I was in love with the trails in Chamonix and the thought of racing out here seemed a really great, ambitious, crazy idea. I liked the idea of finding out something about myself I didn’t know, which was, how far can she go?
How do you balance training and racing with a full-time job?
I have a coach now which really helps me balance work with getting all the training in. Also the time of year really helps. When it is summer, the late evenings give a lot more opportunity to be outside on the trails for longer. It gets harder when it snows!
You were injured last year, how did you deal with it mentally and in terms of training?
Injury is really hard to handle, both mentally and physically. I made the decision not to take part in the TAR (a 50km race in Chamonix with 4000m total ascent) because of a foot injury, and that was hard when I had been revving myself up for it. But life happens, and I think you have to relax with it to a certain extent. Listening to your body too is vital. I need to do that more! I am taking part in this race this year, so you do bounce back.
You came third in the Trail des Hauts Forts last summer, how did you find the race?
The race was fun! It was really hot, but very beautiful, and the nicest people along the course. There was a rather beasty climb towards the end, but was all worthwhile for the long descent to Avoriaz where I had a massive croque monsieur.
What advice would you give someone thinking about doing their first trail race?
Just go for it. I threw myself into my first race, I took on the adventure because I never knew what I was capable of, and I wanted to see what might happen. You will be surprised at what your body can do and achieve. Trail racing comes in various distances too, so why not sign up for something local at a distance you feel comfortable to train for? You will be surprised at how addictive it becomes!
Tell us something we might not know about competitive running….
It’s a chance to seriously let go, and let rip. Ultra running isn’t about decorum. Expect mud, spit, farts – the lot! It’s rough and ready and that escapism is pretty freeing!