What I've Learned: Charlie Lewis

Lining up at the start of this weekend's Shoreditch 10K will be Charlie Lewis, who practically had to beg for his right leg to be amputated in 2014, 10 years and 15 operations after a snowboarding accident. The 32-year-old Londoner will also run Somalia's first official marathon next year (and is pushing for sub-3 hours), so let him tell you a tip or two he's picked up along the way

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I had my leg taken off on my 29th birthday. It was like a fresh start, a massive weight off my shoulders. Going into theatre, I was shaking, but once I woke up it was pretty much euphoria (well I was on drugs, so it really was).

I knew that the only way I could run again was to have my leg amputated. I felt in the back of my mind that if I did want to go back to sport – which is this thing which burns inside me – the only way I could do it was amputation.

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If you want to choose an amputation, have a below the knee because it gives you access to everything – there is nothing that I can't do: I can still compete against people with two legs and do well; I can still run races and finish in the top ten, and finish in the top 10% of Iron Man.

I have a walking leg and a running leg and a cycling leg.

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I'd love to race in every country in the world because you get to view them as a proper person and mix with the local people. Any bold Westerners can do it via an awesome company called Untamed Borders.

After about 20km I'm starting to go through the pain barrier.

10k's a great distance for proper runners, for amateur runners, and for aspiring runners. I love it.

To get fast at a 10k it should be all speed. If you're doing it properly, you should be running a 10k at about 80% of your threshold. I do one or two gentle runs a week (so for a 10k that would be a nice 12k) and then two or three speed sets: interval, interval, interval.

Atmosphere's an important part of the race – being with other people, feeling the crowd, talking to people.

I would never race with music, but in training I think it can be a really great tool. Whatever song gets you onto a dancefloor: use that.

Get angry. Your easy runs can be about headspace but use the frustration and anger you need to get rid of for speed. Find someone who's annoyed you at work, find an ex-partner, whatever – everybody's got gremlins.

Picture parts of the race. So the London Marathon's a really easy one to use because you have that great finish along The Mall. Sometimes I put myself in The Mall and I'll see the crowds, visualise the adulation. You become a narcissist, right?

Stretching should be one of your workouts. A dynamic stretch before you work out, for 5 or 10 minutes? Fine. But a stretch is a proper workout and it should hurt: that's where your pain should be. You should be holding your stretches for 90 seconds, three sets.

A strong runner is going to be a better runner, so running is your training and then weights are your strength. Kettle bells are really good, and dynamic things where you're being explosive.

Take your nutrition properly – if you're going to run hard, you need food inside you. Eat protein, eat carbohydrate, and get vitamins in.

On race day, for me, you can eat what the fuck you want, but your stomach needs to be careful. Things like bagels are full of energy. Baked beans are full of energy but they make your fart so I wouldn't do that. My race breakfast would be brown wholegrain toast with peanut butter and jam, and a banana.

I always have black coffee before a race. Most races are early morning, and needing a crap on a run is horrible. You don't want to do a Paula Radcliffe or be running with stuff in your stomach (when you're running a long way that's what fucking hits you in the head). So black coffee helps bowel movement and gives you a kick.

Night before, don't go off radar – eat what you normally eat. Don't suddenly go, 'Fuck I've got a 10k race tomorrow, I'm going to eat something different for dinner.' If you like Domino's Pizza and that works for you, then be Michael Phelps and eat Domino's Pizza. It's full of energy.

Running is a necessity – it's this thing I have to do. It keeps my head straight, it keeps me on the straight and narrow, it's a massive release and it allows me also to lead a life of eating and drinking whilst remaining on an even keel.

When I can't be bothered I'm like, 'Hang on, I can run – that's pretty cool. I couldn't run for 10 years. Shut up Charlie – get on with it.' I should be making the most of the body that I've got.

The Shoreditch 10K takes place on 8 October, as the first of the new adidas City Runs series. For more information, click here.

Follow Charlie on Instagram @cgblewis.