Liz Ollosson

APRIL 2020: Liz Ollosson has trained regularly with RunBrighton, over the last three years.

A Radiotherapy Radiographer at The Sussex Cancer Centre in Brighton, Liz is currently facing the challenges of working on the front line.

Liz, I understand you’ve always kept yourself pretty fit, swimming as well as a running. Which came first?

I have enjoyed running since a young age, when I was more of a sprinter than long distance runner. I then moved, off and on, to some 10ks and half marathons, until deciding in 2016 I wanted to run a full marathon. This led me to find RunBrighton. I had swum in pools for exercise until I met my partner; he introduced me to the world of open-water swimming, the same year that I started my marathon training. I’ve since then cold-water dipped and swum in the sea in Brighton, as well as other warmer destinations whilst on holiday.

What originally prompted you to join RunBrighton?

As I embarked on my training for the Brighton marathon, I felt a group training environment would be helpful in both meeting people of a similar mindset and also for motivation on the long runs.  I also liked the sound of the off-road runs.

What would you say has been your most memorable running experience?

I would have to say the marathon; the feeling at the end is one that is difficult to put into words. I think the best way I can describe it was a mixture of relief and elation.

You’ve done a number of seasons with us. What is it that makes you keep coming back?

I find the people in RunBrighton incredibly warm and welcoming. And I’ve made good friends, through car sharing as well as in the running pace groups. There is always good banter too.

What about the swimming… what has been your biggest challenge to date?

In 2018, I successfully completed a 14km swim crossing from Corsica to Sardinia. I did this alongside a friend and it was an incredible experience. The things I had learnt from the marathon definitely helped me with this challenge, in particular the mental part of breaking things down into manageable chunks and also visualisation techniques.

You’ve led a Yoga for Runners course, for RunBrighton runners, the last couple of years. How did that come about?

I carried out my yoga teacher training a few years ago, and last year completed a Sports Yoga course which was fantastic, led by Sarah Ramsden. Sports people, including runners, can really benefit from doing yoga. I taught these courses to a small group of RunBrighton members to help compliment their running. I thoroughly enjoyed it and hope to put on another course in the near future.

As a Radiographer with the NHS, it must be difficult to function at a safe distance from patients, and I imagine some of them will have coronavirus symptoms? What does your daily work routine entail and how are you coping with the inevitable associated risks?

There have been a lot of changes recently, as you can imagine. I treat patients with cancer, some of whom are very vulnerable. We have PPE now, which is progress, and follow robust protocols to ensure both patients and staff are at the lowest risk possible. Things have settled down now and the department is adjusting to the new ‘normal’ for now. People undergoing cancer treatment are understandably anxious about both their treatment and the current pandemic. We try our best to keep things going smoothly and hope that, despite wearing a face mask, patients can see we are smiling through our eyes.

And how are you getting on with ‘lockdown’, when not working?

I’m actually finding it okay. In some ways, I feel fortunate to still have the routine of going to work and interacting with people. The time we do get to escape and do some exercise certainly feels precious. I miss my family and spending time with friends, but it’s not forever and the peacefulness and simplicity of things have many positives to them. The first drink at the pub with others will be good though!

Do you have any particular message for anyone reading this, that might make a difference in terms of combatting the current crisis?

I liked what a friend of mine, Anna Wardley, an ultra long-distance swimmer, said recently: “Try to see this pandemic as a challenge. Stay positive, as your mindset will determine how you cope, and try not to focus on the end but rather take it one day at a time”.

Liz, I appreciate you taking time out to chat. Well done for what you’re doing for your patients at this challenging time. Stay safe, and hopefully we’ll see you on another group run before too long.

By Mike Bannister