Lottie Ryan talks about love, work and learning how to run

Clodagh Finn meets the force of nature that is Lottie Ryan. She is preparing for the Breast Cancer Ireland’s Great Pink Run in August.

Lottie Ryan talks about love, work and learning how to run

IT’S been a boisterous morning, says 2FM DJ Lottie Ryan, sipping from a mug of tea in one hand and an espresso cup with a straw in it in the other.

Normally, she takes it easy on the caffeine but she’s just discovered that her passport is out of date while booking an impromptu holiday online.

She’s been on the phone since, trying to secure an emergency passport to tide her over.

“Apart from the annoyance of the situation, I was so annoyed with myself because it’s so unlike me. I’m the person in my family who is in charge of everyone’s passports so I’d let them all drop.

"I’m trying to catch up on everything,” she tells Feelgood over tea (and coffee) at the RTÉ radio canteen.

She apologises profusely for having the phone on during the interview but she’s waiting for that all-important call from the passport office.

She’s also covering for fellow DJ Tracy Clifford this week, so she’s gearing up to present three hours of tunes and banter, yet she still manages to be totally present and is full of chat about everything from training with her marathon-loving mum, Morah, for Breast Cancer Ireland’s Great Pink Run in August, her health routine, her grandmother’s legendary vegetable soup, her dad, the late Gerry Ryan, and the pressure of being in the media spotlight following the recent announcement of her engagement to long-term boyfriend Fabio Aprile.

Actually, she says, that wasn’t really news.

The couple got engaged last year but managed to keep the news under wraps until now.

“It’s possible to do that. I have good friends who understand and respect [the need for privacy]. I’m very lucky,” she says, adding that the cat got out of the bag and that’s why the news is making column inches now.

While she has no issue talking about herself, she says she will always protect those close to her from the glare of media attention.

Fabio is “super private”, she says.

While little details emerge during our chat — he’s a Juventus fan, he does a lot of the cooking at the couple’s Clontarf home, they have no wedding plans yet — Lottie very gently says, “let’s just leave it at that” whenever the conversation strays too far into the private sphere.

“I’m just enjoying what we have now,” she says of her engagement and is happy to show her engagement ring, a classic band studded with diamonds.

It’s beautiful and understated, a little bit like herself: the 30-year-old is the picture of radiant health and is perched on a stool wearing black jeans and a simple white top.

She’s grown up in the public eye herself and says she knows nothing else.

And, for the most part, she says that experience has been really positive.

“My personal experience, knock on wood, has been very positive but in saying that I would never actively search for stuff online.

"So for people to be nasty, they would have to be directly nasty, and the majority of people are good and not like that. I stay away from it all — good and bad. It’s not the real world.”

In the real world, Lottie Ryan is using her public profile to get behind Breast Cancer Ireland’s Great Pink Run which takes place in the Phoenix Park on Saturday, August 27.

She’s an ambassador for Avonmore Slimline Milk and is delighted to help raise funds for breast cancer research, a disease that will affect one in nine women in Ireland at some point in their lives.

She’s easing herself into training with her marathon-running mum Morah who, she says, “swears by running marathons”.

“We have a good laugh training. She comes fully-equipped with her belt with the water and everything and she’s ready to rock.

"I’m not even close, but we have a good time doing it. It’s a special bond,” she says.

Lottie says she’s not a natural runner but the whole point of the Great Pink Run is that you can be a complete novice and walk 5k, or follow Olympian Sonia O’Sullivan and test yourself on the 10k option.

“I’m a dancer so my body is used to short bursts. The average song is 3½ to 4 minutes so I’m easing myself in using a couch-to-5k app.”

She also has to be careful because injury forced her to give up her promising career as a dancer after she trained at the Broadway Dance Centre in New York.

“I’ve torn ligaments in both my ankles and have collapsed arches. It’s not a current injury, but they will never be as strong as they were before the injury.

"So I’m cautious and am slowly introducing myself to running under the watchful eye of my mother.”

However, Lottie does admit to having a competitive streak that has to be reined in.

“I want to give it 110% immediately, but I have to accept that my mum is the experienced runner. She gives me really good tips about that.

"She’d be very good at telling me when I’m struggling not to give up and not to be too hard on myself by expecting to be fantastic from the offset.”

Following a healthy diet, however, is no struggle at all.

“My family as a whole would be very healthy. We are quite fit. We like to look after ourselves and make sure we fuel ourselves correctly.

“If you are asking your body and your mind to give you energy at times of the day that it might not want to, you have to be careful that you are giving it the right nourishment and headspace.”

And Lottie certainly makes demands on her body: she’s up at 4.30am at weekends to present the Early, Early Breakfast Show.

On Saturdays, she also teaches commercial hip hop to her beloved dance students at The Young Performers Academy in Dublin.

“I will always dance,” she says.

“I’ve been doing it since I was about four and I will be dancing when I’m 90.”

It was an awful blow, then, when she was forced to abandon a dance career and start all over from scratch with a CAO application that led to five years’ study and a BA in journalism and visual media in 2008.

After that, she went back to the States and got a job as an intern on the set of the first season of The Good Wife.

“I rang home to tell my parents that I had got an internship. They said, ‘Great, what’s the show?’ When I said it was called The Good Wife, there was just silence and then they said, ‘OK, are you sure that it is real television?’”

Of course the show would go on to win Golden Globes but after four months as an intern Lottie Ryan had had her fill.

“I worked hardcore hours, 16 hours a day. It was a real eye-opener. I was a runner, so you did what was asked of you.

"I was doing everything from getting people their lunches and their dinners to lugging around lighting rigs to screaming ‘quiet’ on set for the director.

“It was an incredible learning curve. But they live, eat, breathe the industry over there.

"There are married couples on set — that is their life. That’s why it’s so successful. I don’t know if I’d want my job to be my whole life.”

And though Lottie loves her job — “I pinch myself all the time” — she makes sure she has lots of downtime.

There are no phones or emails on holiday and she aspires to do daily meditation to clear her head and let the day go.

She’s pretty good at that, she says, and makes as much time as she can for family and friends in Clontarf.

Both her mum and her late dad’s family live in the area.

She loves that, and says the extended family are really close.

At work, she passes the bronze tile commemorating Gerry Ryan every day.

She says it’s a lovely tribute to him and she enjoys the fact that he’s still part of the woodwork at the national broadcaster.

The family marked the sixth anniversary of his death on April 30 with a private family day that focused on all the happy memories.

She says he’d get a kick out of the fact that she and her mum are training for a run.

When asked if he’d have been likely to join in, she says ‘no’ with an amusing vehemence.

“He definitely would not run. Maybe he’d drive beside us in the car shouting abuse at us,” she says.

Which brings her back to talking about her running routine and the food she needs to get her over the line.

“I’m not at all a diet person. I give my body what it wants. I would have a healthy diet but I don’t ‘diet’,” she says, making inverted commas with her fingers around the word ‘diet’.

“I’m a veg and meat kind of girl,” she says, explaining that she loves to make soups and juices.

“My nana Noreen Brennan [Morah’s mother] has the most incredible recipes for soups. She is a rock star. I love her to bits. She’s an incredible human being.

"I learned so much from her, including how to make proper vegetable soup. She is a fine chef and I learn from her whenever I can.”

But there are cheat days too — a takeaway from Beshoff’s or a Murgh Tikka Masala from Kinara restaurant in Clontarf.

“If you’re doing it only once in a while, you can get what you want,” she says, repeating what seems to be a guiding principle — it’s up to everyone to find what’s right for them in all areas of life: diet, exercise, work.

“You do your thing,” she says, offering a last piece of advice to would-be runners.

“I’ve said I’m doing 5k and I will see how training goes. If I am able for it, I will absolutely do it.

"I’m trying to figure out how far I can push these feet of mine. If they will allow me to, I will totally go the whole hog, but no matter what I will crawl over that finish line if needs be.

"Then there’ll be party poppers and cartwheels.”

A little later in the day, Feelgood gets a text from Lottie.

The emergency passport is through.

Follow Lottie Ryan’s training updates on Twitter at @lottieryan1 and see www.greatpinkrun.ie.

Lottie’s five tips for novice runners

Don’t be so hard on yourself

If, like me, you’re a newcomer to running, the absolute first thing you should do is congratulate yourself for starting.

Take it slow at the beginning and don’t feel guilty about walking in parts or taking breaks.

If you don’t enjoy it at first, set yourself small milestones. The more milestones you achieve, the more you’ll begin to enjoy your run.

Set a goal

It’s much easier to stay committed to training when you have something to work towards.

I’m working towards completing a 5K run for the Breast Cancer Ireland Great Pink Run with Avonmore Slimline Milk on August 27.

The fact that it’s for such a worthwhile cause is also a major motivating factor.

That’s what gets me off the couch in the evenings and keeps me going when I’m training.

Follow a plan

Find a running plan that suits you and stick to it. There are tonnes of training plans online and on the App Store.

I’m following a plan from Run Ireland, you can track my progress on @LottieRyan1

Train with friends

If, like me, you find running boring at times, then grab a friend and train together.

Having someone to chat to by your side while running can be enjoyable.

You can also motivate each other when one of you is having a lazy day, plus it’s a great way of catching up.

Music, music and more music

If you prefer to run alone or your running partner can’t make it, music can be your friend.

I’ve started making running playlists to help entice me out the door in the evening.

A playlist full of your favourite tunes will put a bounce in your step and re-energise you when you’re feeling tired.

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