Skip to content

Rachel Parker, from Shrewsbury, finished second overall and first female in the Nant yr Arian Silver Trail half marathon near Aberystwyth, superseding the previous female course record by over 10 minutes. She finished sixth female at the Tel Aviv Samsung Marathon and was the first female to cross the finish line in the Long Mynd Valleys fell race – an 11 miles long race with almost 4,000 ft of ascent. She was also the first female in the Buff Winter Trail Wales, the Conwy half marathon in November and the Shrewsbury triathlon last September. In the Cardington cracker fell race in December she was the first female and achieved a course record – the fastest female in the 31-year history of the race.

Rachel is studying for an MSc in Exercise and Nutrition Science at the University, while also working as a personal trainer and a fitness instructor in a gym.

She said: “I literally live and breathe for exercise, health and fitness. My job is maintaining my own fitness, as well as that of my clients, and being a complete role model for what I do. When I am not working at the gym, I am usually doing my own training. It is great for clients and gym members to see you practicing what you preach!”

Rachel is very keen to learn about the links between nutrition and exercise, hence the reason for her studying her MSc. She said: “Nutrition can be the answer between winning and losing in a race. Over the past years of racing I have experimented with different nutritional strategies, from carbohydrate-loading techniques before marathons, to altering the proportions of carbohydrate and healthy fats in my habitual diet. Admittedly, sometimes my decisions have been wrong, but it has been a learning curve and, through trial and error, I have worked out which nutritional strategies and specific foods enable me to maximise my training and racing. The more I learn, the greater desire I have to gain more knowledge in the field of sports nutrition. It fascinates me!”

For her Master’s dissertation, she is investigating whether honey can be a performance enhancing aid for runners during a five kilometre time trial. As Rachel explains, for this reason, she always consumes honey before a race: “Based on my own research I have discovered that the combined carbohydrates in the honey have an 'ergogenic' (performance enhancing) effect. This is due to elevated carbohydrate oxidation capacity from the combined sugars. The glycaemic index of food is also very relevant, and what is consumed the day before a race, as well as the race day breakfast, is extremely important.”

She says the University course has definitely helped her with her own sporting success: “My times and racing have definitely improved since finding out more. That's without question. Especially during the time period whilst studying for my Master’s. My next goal is the Boston Marathon on April 15. I strive to run this in a time of under three hours if possible, which would really push me to my limits. My passion for sport fuels my determination. Another goal is to simply keep learning about the links between nutrition and exercise, apply it to my own training strategies and others’, and maybe one day seek a career in this field of work.”

Dr Ceri Nicholas from the Department of Clinical Sciences and Nutrition at the University of Chester, and Programme Leader for the MSc in Exercise and Nutrition Science, said: “I am so pleased to see that what Rachel is learning on the programme is contributing to her success in the field. I hope Rachel continues to put this knowledge into practice and achieves her goal of running a sub three-hour marathon later this year.”


Share this content