The Mother of Marathons by Charlotte Foot
PUBLISHED: 11:40 09 June 2011 | UPDATED: 19:31 20 February 2013
As a professional marathon runner and mother to a young daughter, Liz Yelling has mastered the art of multitasking. But, as she shares with Charlotte Foot, there's no competition between her personal and professional life.
Liz Yelling has an ability that most modern mothers long for. As a professional marathon runner and mother to a young daughter, she has mastered the art of multitasking. But, as she shares with Charlotte Foot, theres no competition between her personal and professional life.
Photo byHelen Turton
Family is of upmost importance to me. I want to continue to be a part of my childrens lives in the future.
The cosmopolitan interior and contemporary setting of Branksome Beach Restaurant and Terrace Bar is occupied by few. As dusk sets over the shoreline, a couple enjoy champagne while a mother and daughter are engaged in conversation over afternoon tea. This does not appear to be an Olympic athletes typical stop off. The door is held open for a woman with a slender physique, who looks in her thirties, by a man holding a young girl. She appears to be no stranger to the staff at the restaurant and, soon, she would no longer be a stranger to me.
As a Commonwealth Games medallist, double Olympian and professional marathon runner, Liz Yelling is also no stranger to those in the running world. On entering the restaurant, the only evidence of these titles is a necklace of the Olympic ring formation accentuated against Lizs cerise top. However, what is more apparent are her roles as a mother to 19-month-old daughter Ruby and wife to husband Martin.
Family has had an underlying influence in Lizs life since her mother, Leslee Dawe, introduced her to running at nine years old.
My mum has run for as long as I can remember, says Liz. I used to go and watch her running in races from a young age. I kept asking her mum, can I come out running with you? and, when I was nine years old, she agreed.
The 36-year-old was born in December 1974 in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, and is the eldest of five siblings. During her childhood, Liz and her younger brother would go to watch their mother finish a race together.
I have really strong memories of my brother and I cheering our mother on and running alongside her to the finish line. I remember my father driving us round in the car and stopping at certain points along the course to cheer her on.
Lizs mother took her daughter to a local running club in Bedfordshire where she met her coach, Alex Stanton, who has mentored the professional athlete for 27 years. However, Liz had to sacrifice her involvement with the club at 11 years old to move to Cornwall and live with her mother following her parents divorce. After spending a year in Cornwall, she chose to return home to Bedfordshire and spent the rest of her childhood with her father Peter Talbot.
Cornwall was such a culture shock, says Liz. My mother and I lived in quite an isolated area, which was an hours drive from the nearest main town. I lost some closeness with my mum although we still get on well and were quite close.
The Commonwealth Games bronze medallist became a wife to husband Martin in April 1998 and a mother to daughter Ruby in June 2009.
Throughout her life, Liz has been forced to choose between her personal and professional interests. During her pregnancy, the Adidas and Lucozade ambassador suffered from placenta previa a condition where the placenta is too close to the cervix. Liz was told she was not allowed to continue running while she was pregnant as it could increase the risk of haemorrhaging.
I didnt run for almost eight months, which is the longest amount of time I havent run since I started the sport at nine years old.
Since giving birth to Ruby, Lizs outlook on life has altered and prioritises her daughter as the most important of all her personal and professional interests.
Initially I didnt want to go out running as I didnt want to leave Ruby but shes added to my life. Nothing matters as much because shes the most important thing in mine and Martins lives. Its exciting because I have a future beyond the end of my competitive running career and ten years ago I couldnt comprehend life after running.
This is understandable after winning a bronze medal at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne. Liz also competed in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens as well as the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Despite her achievements, the mother of one remains modest and credits her husband with much of her success.
Martin has been a positive influence on my running and having a stable, loving relationship really helps you to perform well because you dont have to worry about that side of your life. I couldnt have done it without him.
After 27 years of running, Liz intends to end her competitive career and hook up her racing studs following the Olympics Games in London next year.
The couple, who have lived in Parkstone, Poole, for the past three years, are hoping to develop their sports coaching consultancy, Yelling Performance, in the future.
Running is important for Liz but it isnt everything, explains 38-year-old Martin. She keeps her running in perspective very well. Shes a wonderful wife and a brilliant mother.
Despite plans of retiring from competitive racing in 2012, Liz has set the pace for the next few years of her life. With hopes of qualifying for the London Olympics, coaching for Adidas and Lucozade, expanding her family and developing Yelling Performance, Liz is in no race to reach the finish line.
Family is of upmost importance to me. I want to maintain the balance between personal and professional life and continue to be a part of my childrens lives in the future.
For more information on Liz and Yelling Performance, visit www.yellingperformance.com