WR speaks to Jo Pavey - Women's Running

WR speaks to Jo Pavey

Author: Chris Macdonald

Read Time:   |  January 13, 2016

Jo Pavey

Best known for winning gold in the 10,000 metres at the European Championships in 2014 (at the age of 40!), Jo Pavey (now 42) is still nailing personal bests despite her age and being a busy mum to two children, Jacob, six, and Emily, two. She came second in the 2015 Great South Run with a world-over 40-best time of 52 minutes and 44 seconds and also came fourth in the 2015 Great Scottish Run. She seems to be running with confidence and enjoying it. As a fan of mass participation races, she’s an ambassador for Cancer Research UK’s Winter Run Series. We asked why she is still able to perform to such a high standard against much younger competitors. It would seem adopting a more relaxed approach to her training is helping. Here’s what she had to say:

Congratulations on all your achievements, especially coming second in the Great South Run. Why do you think you’re still running so well?

I’m happy and motivated and I’ve got a better balance in my life. Being older, I’ve been able to use years of experience. I wish I knew when I was younger what I know about running now. I’ve definitely become much better at listening to my body.

What have you learned?

When I was younger, I would say: “This is what’s in my routine, so this is what I must do” and sometimes I would be exhausted. Now I am more realistic and flexible. If I’m too tired and my legs feel really bad, there’s no point in doing that final session before a race if all it’s doing is making my legs worse.

 How is your body feeling at the moment?

I was quite pleasantly surprised with my races in the autumn. I had decided to not aim for the championships in the summer because of the school holidays and having two young children. I didn’t have as much impact fatigue as I’ve had in the past and I was pleased with that, as I hadn’t done a half-marathon for three years.

How do you feel about becoming a role model for mums struggling to find time to exercise?

I’m really flattered. I love taking part in mass participation races and getting to meet other parents. When I was younger I was in training camps all over the world and I had a different lifestyle, so it’s nice now to empathise with busy parents. Having a better balance makes me enjoy my running more.

Do you get your family involved in running?

I try to make running quality time with the kids. We all go to the forest and my little boy will go on his bike and he’ll do eight miles. Making running part of a family affair has made it more enjoyable or me. I’ve learned to be a lot more flexible with my training. You have to fit training around the kids and how you are feeling.

Did you make a conscious decision to be more flexible with your training?

I think it naturally occurred. When I had my first child I didn’t know if that would signify my retirement. Being a mum was my main priority and I was pleasantly surprised that it worked for us as a family too.

Have you changed your approach to nutrition?

Nutrition is really important as you need to have building blocks for repair but you still need to be flexible. When I go to the track I often drive past the supermarket and get a Meal Deal, as with a busy life and kids I haven’t got time to go home and cook a meal in that timeframe. I’ve always eaten a lot, which is why I have kept going for a lot of years.

You’re an ambassador for the Cancer Research UK’s Winter Run series. What’s the appeal of the 10K distance for you?

I love the 10K distance, as it’s manageable for people when they are trying to fit training into their busy lives. The Winter Run Series is for every type of runner, whether they are trying to build up for a marathon in the spring or whether they’ve never done a race before, it’s just something that will keep them motivated in the winter. I really enjoyed running through London last year.

What are your own future goals?

My massive goal is try and make a fifth Olympics but I’m not complacent about how difficult it might be as there are a lot of good young girls coming through. But if I don’t achieve it then I’ve had a really fortunate time going to four Olympics.

Chris Macdonald

Editor-at-Large, Women's Running

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