The path to happiness
My favourite place to run in Wales is along the Taff Trail. I’ll start at Castell Coch – a fairytale Victorian castle – and I’ll run all the way down to Cardiff Bay, if I have the time. To me, that’s an absolute treat. The Taff Trail changes with the seasons, from summer to autumn and spring: the colours in the trees, the shade of the water, the feel of the ground and the different wildlife. It’s a beautifully tranquil setting and I feel so lucky to have it on my doorstep in Cardiff. How blessed are we?
The way out west
Laugharne is a magical place to go running. I’ve just been doing some filming there, and we completely lucked out with the weather. It was still, bright and warm – I think the Welsh gods were on our side! But come rain or shine, I’ll always be in love with that part of West Wales, around the Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire coast.
Learning on the go
Running was my best friend when I had to learn Welsh from scratch for my role in Keeping Faith. My producer recorded all the lines with no inflection. He just said them as plainly as possible, so I could hear the pronunciation of the Welsh. I’d get up early, put my headphones in my ears, and I’d be on the Taff Trail at six in the morning. I’d run for an hour and a half, listening to the lines over and over, until the it was time for the kids to wake up.
Running was my best friend when I had to learn Welsh from scratch for my role in Keeping Faith."
My first steps
I’ve kept fit all my life, and always been active with things like circuit training, I didn’t start running until 15 years ago. I was working away from home and was very homesick. Everybody was going to the bar after work, but I needed to find something else to do.
There was a running club on the green opposite my hotel, so I bought a pair of trainers and joined it. The rest is history: I got the bug, and haven’t stopped running since. I eventually took the plunge and signed up for my first half marathon. I’ve done several more of them since, and managed to complete the London Marathon in 2018.
Competing in Cardiff
Running the Cardiff Half Marathon was one of the most wonderful experiences of my life. The crowd is incredible, and the music and noise really keep you going: there are bands playing and hundreds of people cheering you on. It’s a remarkable day, whether you’re taking part in it or just there to support someone. My husband and children loved it – that day was a real memory-maker for us all.
A story of two halves
Every one of my races in Wales has been different, and I’d happily go back and do them all again. The Llanelli Half Marathon involves a lot of trail running, so you get muddy. It’s smaller and more intimate than the Cardiff Half; when I did it, a lot of the runners were getting through the miles by singing, and I loved that.
The Swansea Half Marathon is beautiful. You run down to Mumbles along the waterfront and then loop back into town. It’s a great place to run even if you’re not in a race. You can continue all the way down to the pier – and stop off at the ice-cream parlour!
Best feet forward
I absolutely believe that running is for everybody. As long as you’ve got the right footwear, you can do it – it’s really important to get that right. Fortunately, we’ve got brilliant running shops in Wales. I was suffering badly with runner’s knee. I went to one of the specialist running shops in Cardiff, where they’ll record you running to see where you’re putting weight and stress on your feet, and then suggest the right running shoe for you. I’ve never suffered with it since.