Out of office – Claire Berry talks about running, triathlons and ironmans

Claire Berry discusses her hobbies away from dentistry and why having a hobby away from your profession is so important.

Please introduce yourself

My name is Claire Berry and I’m a dental hygienist in the north of England between Leeds and Doncaster. I qualified in 2009 whilst I was serving in the Army, which I very much enjoyed and miss.

In 2018 I won Best Team Member North at the Dentistry Awards and in 2019 I won Best Team Member North as well as Overall UK at the same awards. That year I was also awarded Highly Commended Best Dental Hygienist at the Oral Health Awards and Highly Commended Most Valuable Team Member in the Private Dentistry Awards.

I am a proud key opinion leader and digital opinion leader for Oral-B, an ambassador for the British Society of Dental Hygiene and Therapy, Boutique Whitening and I am also proud to work alongside Ivoclar Vivadent aswell.

 What do you get up to in your spare time away from dentistry?

Outside the current situation we find ourselves in, I like to run and keep fit.

Unfortunately, due to work commitments last year I didn’t do much by way of organised races. But previous to that I took part in numerous organised events such as Man versus Lake (a trail marathon throughout the Lake District and over Morecambe Bay that takes you through lakes and up mountains).

In 2018 I completed the Outlaw half ironman triathlon as well as numerous other marathons, half marathons, triathlons. I twice took part in relay full ironman distance triathlons.

The amount I work now outside of surgery means I cannot train for this kind of distance anymore, not that my knees would allow it even if I could. I settle for shorter runs now, never more than six to seven miles and HIIT/spin sessions.

After lockdown I plan to give myself more time to get in the lake. I miss the ‘yep I am definitely alive’ feeling of a freezing cold lake.

Luckily whilst in lockdown, I can run and still keep that up. I have never appreciated walking as much as I do now. It’s a nice feeling to want to go outside and not take it for granted.

Are you a foodie? Why and what particular food do you go for?

I can cook about four meals extremely well, I’d like to call them my signature dishes and I’ve spent years perfecting them.

Outside of this I am actually pretty mediocre. I follow instructions and ingredients well until I have cooked it once and then I like to think I can remember what to do. It almost never turns out the same as that first time…I wonder why?!

When I was training more I saw food as fuel, but lockdown has got me looking forward to meals. I have started a body challenge that makes me consider what I am actually eating now though, so I can reign it back in before going back to work.

I do like eating out and I cannot wait until that is the norm again. Until then Dominos will have to do (don’t tell my body coach).

Are you into any sport? If so what sport? Why did you get into it in the first place?

I used to play football until I was 16-17. I played from the age of nine. The running theme here is I used to be a bit of a tomboy!

I used to play for Doncaster Rovers and then when I was in the Army I played corps football.

I’ve mentioned I like running and used to also take part in triathlons.

In all honesty I like all sports. I think it is very important to play sport and I think children should give all sports a go. Team sports are particularly important to help with leadership skills and working as part of a team. It’s definitely taught me skills that I can translate into my everyday life and work.

I’ll happily watch and play tennis, football, badminton, netball, basketball, boxing, golf, swimming and any sport. I just appreciate all the hard work that goes into playing a sport.

Before I left to join the Army I went to university to do sports science. I would go as far as to say I can turn my hand to any sport and give someone a run for their money. But I am not a master of any. I wish in hindsight I had picked one to excel in so I could say I’ve been to the Olympics or represented my country. But I enjoyed them all too much to choose just one to succeed in.

What type of television/movies do you like – any guilty pleasures?

When my other half is out of the house I sneak a rom com in. Other than that my film choice is always a thriller, I love a plot twist I don’t see coming.

Also, as soon as a film says it is based on a true story I am engrossed and then I like to Google afterwards to see how true to life it was to watch.

Apart from the news I don’t watch a lot of terrestrial TV, I’ll opt for a series instead that I can binge watch and then be devastated to have finished it.

Do you like to travel and do your hobbies take you anywhere in particular?

I love to travel. I used to part own a holiday home abroad and so I felt like I went there for a lot of years and didn’t see the world.

But now I try and have city breaks throughout the year with my other half for long weekends. And we also try to have a longer holiday each year.

I used to ski too, which I loved. I haven’t for a few years for various reasons, so I can’t wait to get back to that again.

Why is it important to have hobbies away from your profession?

Up until lockdown and for the past year I have been so busy with various projects that it has taken me away from the hobbies and I definitely feel like I have suffered for it.

It is good for your mental health to get away from it all and immerse yourself into a hobby. Further to this it will give you transferable skills that may help you with your work and home life.

All the things I have done have also given me things I can talk about with patients, colleagues and even while networking. Skill diversity is a career strength.

Hobbies are also great for introducing you to new people outside of your circle or outside of your profession who share your interests. The larger and more diverse your network, the larger and more diverse the opportunities you are exposed to.

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