The Pro’s Kit: Lucy Bartholomew
In our new Prokit series, we go behind the scenes with some of the world’s best. Each interview covers the nuts and bolts of how they do what they do — favorite gizmos, gadgets, gear; what they read, watch and listen to; and the hacks and habits behind their mental and physical health.
Last week we looked at what’s in the kit for trail and ultra runner Hillary Allen. Today we talk to Australian ultra runner and adventure seeker Lucy Bartholomew. Lucy was entering 100km ultra runs by age 15, and on the podium of every type of trail, mountain and ultra race not long after.
While Lucy quickly found success in races around the world, including finishing 3rd in her first attempt at the storied Western States 100, it’s how she does it that leaves a mark. She inspires through a candid and positive approach to life — where her love of food, adventure, outdoors and good friends are celebrated as much as her running.
Reading, Listening and Watching
Watching: Friends TV series; The Dawn Wall
Resources: Go-to apps
Strava, Instagram, All Trails
Nutrition and Hydration: Strategy before, during, and after a big ultra distance event?
Simple plant-based foods all day, everyday. Drink more when hot and thirsty, eat more when long and hungry.
Race lead up
I have never been as strong as I was for WS100 race day and the only thing I changed in my preparation was the food on the end of my fork.
I focused on high quality, fresh, and in-season ingredients and did little to them before I consumed them. I made sure to focus on getting healthy fats through avocados, nuts, and seeds and “carbo-loaded” with sweet potato of any colour, grains, and fruit. I kept it simple. The body likes simplicity and can absorb more and increase efficiently in utilising nutrients when there isn’t so much ‘trash’ to sort through. I am an ultra runner, I like simple things too (like running for days).
Pre-race meal doesn’t change! Don’t obsess on carbs and suddenly change your meal to include a bucket load of pasta because your body isn’t use to it. Keep is simple, keep it normal for your body, and keep it nutritious! Here is what I typically eat before a big race – I call it a ‘buddah bowl’ because it typically changes wherever I am in the world and what I have available, but the gist is always the same:
Cooked crabohyrate: rice, quinoa, yam, potato
Cooked vegtables; carrot, broccoli, beans (less then normal, but still there to add some colour)
Fresh veg: cucumber, grated beetroot
And my favourite dressing which I put on everything before racing and after racing. The miso gives you amazing salts to replenish, and the turmeric helps those inflamed, hard working muscles!
½ cup tahini/ nut butter
2 tsp turmeric powder
A few cracks of black pepper
2 peeled garlic clove
2 tsp red miso paste
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
¼ cup boiling water* as much as you want for the correct consistency you enjoy
Put all the ingredients in a blender and blitz until smooth. Transfer to a jar and place in fridge ready for use. It sometimes gets a bit thick from being cold so add some hot water to liquefy it before using it. So tasty!
I like to use the thick dressing as a dip or spread on bread, or with veggies, or I add more hot water and thin it out to a dressing for salads!
Nutrition: Anything unique about your philosophy?
I follow a plant-based diet. Lots of fruit, veg, grains and legumes.
Turmeric waffles with fruits, yoghurt & seeds + tahini
Rice paper rolls with kale, tempeh, carrot, mint and beets + tahini miso turmeric dipping sauce
Veggie and lentil one pot random mix (zucchini, carrot, mushroom, capsicum, red lentils, rice, stock, nutritional yeast, rocket) + also served in said pot.
Mind: Anything you do for your mental health?
Journal, meditation through movement, talk to people.
Sleep: Any rituals or habits?
No naps, I sleep 8-9 hours.
Strength and Mobility: How much, how often, and what type?
I do strength 2-3x a week with heavy weights and 4-5 days of mobility and core work.
I have found that cutting a run short by 10 minutes and instead including 10 minutes of core training, or lying on the floor while watching TV and completing a 10 minute core routine has changed my body — not only in my running form and efficiency, but in life through posture and reduced tension. Your core is your trunk if you were a tree and without a strong core you will ‘flop’. It doesn’t take joining a gym, expensive equipment or a lot of time!
Here are 10 exercises you can perform for one minute each. Rest if tired, adjust if uncomfortable, and swap out other exercises to keep things interesting. Start with five and work your way up to completing them all!
- SIDE PLANK (30 seconds each side)
- HEEL TAPS
- SINGLE LEG EXTENSIONS
- TOE REACHES
- V SIT
- UP DOWN, UP DOWN PLANK
- TAIL BONE WITH LEG EXTENSION
- ROLL UPS
This was a routine after my run and before a stretch.
- Plank side to side drop
- Side plank one way
- Side plank the other way
- Hamstring kick into plank (mainly feels good for the stretch)
- 2-way Mountain climber
- 3 sit ups into extension Bicycle Russian twists (weight optional)
You do you on ‘time of each’ and ‘how many times through’ but focus more on form then worry for numbers!
Recovery strategy, or health metrics you watch? What about coming back from injury?
I just listen to my body.
Last year, I over-trained on my hamstring before Western States 100. I continued to push it with fear or not being ‘ready’ (turned out I just wasn’t ready AND was in pain and wasn’t enjoying running). I ‘managed it’ to continue running. I pulled out of CCC and UTCT due to the fact that I had stopped enjoying running because it was painful and felt unnatural. I was not running well (for my standards) and I ended up finally getting a scan that revealed a big tear that required nothing more then rest, time, and rehab.
That spanned 7 months.
I look back and am shocked I handled it so inhumanely, pushing through pain in the hope to be “ready”, to get better. I didn’t understand that this wasn’t necessarily a step backwards, but a step up in growth.
Life is a constant problem solving game. Being adaptable is crucial and being self-aware and surrounded by people who know and understand you as a runner and as a human is vital.
If you are injured, take time, create space for you to repair, grow and learn. Listen to your body and honour it with self love. It will pass.
You are not defined by your injury. You are not defined by your times. You have everything you need within you to pass this challenge, and you have the choice to learn from it or repeat it. Thanks to @davidroche for being there. He was just a comment away to say “I’m proud of you for taking that rest” and reassuring me that nothing last forever!
Anything unconventional about your approach to training, mindset, nutrition or life?
Do the basics well. Training is hard; it takes dedication, commitment, and relentless belief that this all builds to something bigger. No single run defines you or your goals.
So many people have asked for a simple program to build up into “becoming an ultra runner.” This 12 week plan is beautifully simple in its approach to doing the basics well, smiling hard, singing loud and enjoying the journey with me as your coach. Use code LUCY10 to save $$.
Who’s in your crew?
My coach is David Roche.
Gear: Favorite items in your Kit?
Are you partnered with any brands or causes?
Watch Lucy Bartholomew talk shop last year with filmmaker Billy Yang.
Questions for Lucy? Ask in the comments!
Follow our Pro’s Kit Collection for the full series. A few of our interviews with fellow ultra runners.