Training diaries: Catherine Jevans

As a breaststroke-swimming, non-runner with a shopping bike, Catherine Jevans seems an unlikely triathlete. Yet through a series of unrelated events she’s found herself enrolled for a first triathlon. Meet the triathlon novice…

Catherine Jevans, 46  works for a wine tasting company and lives in Twickenham.

I am new to sport. I had a bike with a basket and I occasionally went to Zumba classes. This was basically a lot of saucy hip gyrating by a bunch of middle-aged, pre-menopausal women in badly mismatched ‘sportswear’. Fear and panic would engulf us when the instructor shouted “FREESTYLE!” WTF is ‘Freestyle?’ For me it was impersonating Buster Blood Vessel from Bad Manners; sexy, oh yes!

I didn’t run because why would you when you can sit down on a bike and get there faster? Then I had a 25-year college re-union. I joined a bootcamp so I could fit into my dress – I didn’t want anyone thinking I’d turned into a middle-aged frump, and I couldn’t afford plastic surgery. Guess what? I loved getting fit and the difference it made to my body shape.

Then last year I went on a family holiday and someone dared me to swim a mile a day in the apartment’s 12m pool. I never realised quite how much I liked a challenge, but I did it and got a kick out of it! Dodging the lilos was hardly Olympic training, but it was a start. Move over Michael Phelps – more like Vanessa Feltz!

With summer over and term time about to start, someone else threw down the gauntlet.

“Why don’t you run?”

“Oh no, I couldn’t, I never have, I don’t think I’d like it, I think I’ve got dodgy knees…”

And then there was the running shop. Can’t hurt to have a look? £150 later (£80 is what I quoted to my husband) and I had a pair of shiny trainers, a phone holder, shorts and a top.

If I was going to run it needed to be near my house so I could return hastily if I wet myself; or needed to crawl home on all fours; or I could give up quickly and be home for a coffee within minutes and no one would be any the wiser.

My first runs were on Twickenham Green doing a figure of eight. My first run itself was 3.67km and it was hot and very hard work, and my earphones kept falling out, which was a pain. Although it did give me an excuse to stop and fiddle with equipment, and quite frankly at this stage I was looking for any excuse to stop. Special running earphones = £25.

Running around the Green has it’s drawbacks, although some have definitely made me run faster. It’s quite a popular public place, so I’m bound to bump into someone I know. Especially if I’m doing a figure of eight and just going round and round and round. They give me a withering look. Catherine Jevans running? Mid-life crisis!

Runners sustain many injuries, which sort of suggests it’s probably not that good for you. You don’t hear of any injuries from yoga do you? But I have been doing well, reaching the heady heights of an 11km run! Do you know 11km really hurts your hips and people (me) have been known to expire on bathroom floors screaming “f**kity, f**k f**k!” Stairs become a runner’s enemy. Why would a runner live on the 4th floor? So 11km remains the pinnacle of my running and presently I can’t see the need to pass this benchmark.

My little brother, aged 40+ (I lose count), has a great sense of humour, if a little cruel at times – not as funny as me obviously but a tiny bit funny. I casually mentioned to him that I’ve been swimming a mile in my local pool, cycling 25km and running! In a non-bragging, non-sibling rivalry kind of way, you understand.

“Ooh, you could do a triathlon, give you something to aim for,” he says. Since when did he become the sensible one?


Congratulations you have a place in the Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research Blenheim Palace Triathlon! This email should be considered as full confirmation of your entry. 

F**k! The little sh*t! What do I do now?