Crowned European 10,000m Champion less than 10 months after having her second child at the age of 40, Olympian Jo Pavey has learned that being adaptable and flexible has given her the edge – and now she’s setting the bar even higher. Evie Serventi reports.
As well as running (with the family!) and preparing for future goals, what are you up to these days Jo?
I’m enjoying being a Saucony ambassador and attending running events with them. I also often do running-related talks at events or in schools, along with some writing work and bits of media work. Of course, being a mum keeps me extremely busy juggling everything, which I’m sure most parents can relate to.
What is it about running in green space that appeals to you, compared to say running on town/city streets?
I love being in the great outdoors. I find running in beautiful locations so uplifting and it makes me really appreciate my running. Mentally it provides a real boost to get away from the bustle of a busy life. Getting out and enjoying nature resets your mind and physically gives you the chance to run off-road, which can strengthen your legs and there’s less impact through your joints than running on the tarmac. It’s also lovely to go to beautiful locations to keep active as a family.
Is there a race/run you did that you’ll always remember?
Race wise, I suppose my most memorable was when I won gold at the European Championships in Zurich in 2014. It was a big surprise to me as it happened when I would have least expected it. I was a busy mum over the age of 40 and just coming back from having a baby. However, it definitely made it feel more special than if I’d achieved it when I was younger.
Tell us why you love Saucony shoes, particularly the new Peregrine ISO trail shoe. For you, what’s different about Saucony shoes compared to others you use?
I absolutely love Saucony shoes, as you can tell. They are designed for people that are serious about their running, allowing the foot to function naturally whilst providing support where needed.
Before trying Saucony shoes I always avoided trail shoes as they usually felt too stiff and inflexible. This would make them feel like they were putting too much strain on the soft tissues in my lower leg. The new Peregrine ISO trail shoe is flexible underfoot which enables natural foot motion, yet provides the support you’ll need on rough terrain.
How are you feeling about your goal to compete at Tokyo 2020? And what are the key differences in your approach to preparing for your 6th Olympic Games?
It’s a tough goal and I’m certainly not complacent. At this stage of my career, I’m definitely more mindful of listening to my body and being more flexible with the way I train. Recently I have done a lot more of my quality sessions on grass and trails rather than on the track. With age and experience, you can use what you’ve learnt over the years about training and what works for you, which is useful. Of course, I still have to try to hit certain targets in training to try to achieve my goals.
The themes in your book, This Mum Runs, are your perseverance and positivity in the face of adversity and, secondly, your adaptability in terms of managing training and racing priorities. Did you always take this approach?
After becoming a mum, of course my life completely changed, as being a mum became my main priority. I took the approach that I could only do what was realistic around a busy family life and I would therefore be flexible with my training and not stress about not always being able to train exactly how I would ideally want. I learnt to prioritise and embrace the happiness that motherhood brought me.
Looking at how you approach training now, compared to say 15 years ago, what’s the main change?
I listen to my body more and prioritise the important aspects of training. I would say I’m now also more diligent with my stretching and ensuring that I get a massage regularly. It’s very important to enjoy your running so that you don’t feel like a slave to your schedule. Run with others when you can and run in beautiful locations. Try to involve the whole family. Run to time rather than distance for a lot of your quality work so that you don’t always feel stressed about hitting targets.
More information: Jo Pavey is a proud Saucony UK ambassador, and she is supporting the launch of the Peregrine ISO available to buy for £110 from www.saucony.co.uk