Running Feat meets... Jo Pavey

02-10-2014

After years of training and racing, Jo Pavey came into her prime this summer at the age of 40. The British mother-of-two won the European 10,000m in August after a clinching bronze at the Commonwealth Games in July.

Here she tells Running Feat why she's now running better than ever before and how she has no plans to retire...

Congratulations on your Commonwealth and European success!
Thanks, I’m really chuffed. I have been trying to get a gold medal for so many years at a championships so to finally achieve it at the age of 40 with two young children is quite funny in some ways. Years ago I would never had thought this would be in the circumstances in which I achieve a gold medal.

jo pavey racingJo on her way to victory in the European Champs 10,000m (thanks to Graham Smith for the picture)
 

Some people in their forties may feel it’s too late for them to start running – what would you say to them?
Just get out here and enjoy it. I think because I’m still able to enjoy it, I am still able to run well. I think some people retire too early from sport. I’ve been pleasantly surprised in training at what I can still achieve and haven’t noticed a reduction in speed. I can still be competitive. So I’ll say to other people get out there and enjoy it, you’re not over the hill yet!
 
How do you fit the training in with motherhood?
It’s really busy, I’m lucky that I have a supportive husband and it’s very much a team effort. Gavin is also my coach and manager and he looks after the children while I’m training. Sometimes I will train on my own or on other days they will all come with me to the track or the forest. We fit the training in around the kids’ needs because being a mum is my priority at this stage in my life. So we have to be flexible. But I think it has done me good because now I don’t stress about training like I did when I was younger. All I did then was eat, sleep, train and I could go to training camps around the world. Now I don’t stress about my training, I train harder than ever but I don’t worry if I’m not hitting my targets.
 
How many miles are week are you doing?
When I am in full training I do around 100 miles a week but as it get closers to a target race, I’ll taper off and do more faster track sessions. When I do 100 miles a week, it’s a mixture of long runs and speed sessions.  I do some conditioning work but I don’t do a lot of gym work.
 
How long did you have off when you had Emily?
When I was pregnant I carried on jogging but I didn’t do any hard running and I wore a heart rate monitor at all times. After I had her I took my time getting back into training as I just wanted to enjoy having a newborn. I carried on breastfeeding until April so in the early stages I just fit in what training I could around her. When I got back into tracks session earlier this year my times were nowhere near what I needed to achieve so I thought it would be unrealistic for me to try and make the GB this summer. The trial for the European 10k was in May and I really felt up against it. But I just kept working away and I qualified.
 
What are your targets for the rest of the year?
I’ll probably do some longer road races in the Autumn like a half marathon.jo pavey racing 2
Jo in the front pack at the European 10,000m (thanks to Graham Smith for the picture)

Have you any plans to do another marathon?
I would love to do another marathon although I haven’t entered one yet. I feel I still have more to achieve at the distance and I’d love to lower my PB. I still feel I have a lot to learn about the event so that motivates me.

Are you aiming for the Rio Olympics?
Yes, I’ve always hoped I would be able to go for a fifth Olympics and the prospect excites me but obviously I would have to qualify for the team. But this summer has given me the hope it could be a realistic possibility.

Which event would go you for there?
I don’t know, it would either be the 5k, 10k or marathon but I’d have to see how things pan out.

Why do you think you improved this year?
I think it’s because I am so happy, I have two lovely children and a supportive husband. Being happy gives me a lot of motivation and being busy as a mum has given me more endurance in a lot of ways.

What tips can you give other people on getting into running?
Take it gradually. At first it will feel really tough and the time will tick away slowly. But if you stick at it, you will get faster. Don’t run every day if you’re not used to it, have regular days off. Mix it up by doing speed sessions which makes it more interesting.  Consistency is important, you can’t expect to get fit right away but if you stick at it, you will. Earlier this year, I was way off what I wanted to achieve but gradually I improved, you have to be patient. Don’t just run on roads, go on woodland trails etc. The main thing is to enjoy it. Joining a running club is good as it gives you a social aspect. You’ll have people to train with and races to take part in with the club so you can have more fun and make friends.

How did you get into running initially?
I was always sporty when I was young, I ran around playing football and I was always roller skating. At secondary school my PE teacher got me to do the 800m and she was really pleased with how I did. She recommended I join my local athletics club in Exeter. And it went from there. When I was 14 I won the English Schools then I made my senior debut at a championships in 1997. I’ve had a few injuries over the years and I trained and worked as a physiotherapist. Then Gavin and I decided I should give running another go. I had success in my athletics career but never achieved that elusive gold until I was 40.

Would you like your children to run when they’re older?
I want them to explore different things and do what they enjoy. I’m not a pushy parent and I teach Jacob, who is five, that it isn’t important to win, it’s more about enjoying what you are doing. I want them to try different things and if they want to do running, I will support them.

You're an ambassador for Dreams Come True, tell me about the charity...
I’m thrilled to be an ambassador for Dreams Come True. They are a charity who fulfil the wishes of seriously and terminally ill children. I am honoured to promote the charity and give advice to their runners who are doing races like the London Marathon to raise money for them. The charity is close to my heart because being a mum myself, thinking of how ill the children are, it’s important to make their dreams come true. Given what they are going through, it’s so important to find ways to make their lives better.

For more information on Dreams Come True, visit: http://dreamscometrue.uk.com/