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Chatting to Jo Pavey is like chatting to an old friend – she’s so down to earth. But let’s not forget that Jo is a remarkable athlete who we’re looking forward to seeing at the 2012 Olympics.
What did it mean to you to qualify for the 2012 Olympics?
I had a stress fracture in 2010 so I had to stop training in mid-September until mid-December. This meant it was a bit of a rush to get ready for a spring marathon. I was so thrilled to get the time off this background. Obviously I was pleased to get the A standard but the final selection date has not passed yet. To go to a fourth Olympics would be great but a home Olympics is extra special. As an athlete it is a dream come true to run in an Olympics on home soil, and not many athletes get this chance in their career.
How did you celebrate after the race (the qualifying race)?
Straight after the race I couldn’t wait to see my little boy Jacob and my husband. Later there was an after race party organised by London Marathon and I enjoyed having some red wine. I then took a couple of weeks off which we spent down in Devon with friends and family. The weather was good so we headed to the beach.
What made you decide to turn your hand (or feet rather) to the marathon?
It keeps me motivated at this stage of my career. After having my baby, I felt so happy with life generally and the marathon was a great new challenge. I do find racing on the road exciting, there is always a great atmosphere and it is always nice to be in a race where there are so many people running. In some ways it is also a natural progression It would be kind of nice to run the marathon in London 2012 as then I would have run the 1500m, 5000m, 10000m and the marathon at an Olympic Games.
Was it an easy decision to be coached and managed by your husband Gavin?
Gav and I first worked together as a coach athlete in winter of1996-97. He then took over again in 2001. We find if great as we can be more flexible. We don’t have to schedule in meetings they can be as and when needed. We are both laid back but hard working and so it works well for us. I also really enjoy working towards goals together.
Was it difficult getting back into training after the birth of your son Jacob?
I had an emergency c section which delayed things a bit. I then breast fed for just over 6 months. Along with some other medical problems this delayed my comeback. I wanted to give my son the best start in life so I didn’t have specific dates in mind to start back. It was just as and when I felt ready. I did in some ways get back to fitness fairly well at first but then I got a stress fracture which was possibly due to my bones being a bit weaker due to pregnancy and breast feeding.
Any running tips? How do you get out the door when it’s icy, cold and dark?
I think for a half you need to concentrate on plenty of threshold running. You need to be able to run at pace feeling relaxed. Your long run is a vital component but unlike the marathon where over 2 hours is recommended, about 90 minutes will do. Try to throw in an interval session to keep some speed in the legs, as this will help with your running economy.
I do prefer nice weather for training but I just wear the right gear and get on with it when the weather is bad. As an athlete you know what you need to do so you get out and do it without really analysing whether you want to or not. It gives you a lot of satisfaction when you get through a session in bad conditions, it can toughen you up. Obviously if it is icy this can be a problem. It means finding somewhere you can train or even use a treadmill.
We can imagine you have to be extremely focused with training and your diet, what other interests’ do you have?
I really just devote all my spare time to my son now. We tend to go swimming, the local parks or to playgroups, or fun activities at home. Jacob is at home with us full time which we absolutely love. We don’t have any child care help so we are kept busy but its good fun. Before I was a runner I loved tennis and a bit of boogie boarding.
How important is funding such as the Lottery fund to athletes such as yourself?
I’m not on any lottery funding so I can’t comment on that. I went to my first World Champs in 1997 and to my first Olympic Games in 2000 all without any funding, so I know how to get on with it. You need to be tough and have a good work ethic to succeed in distance running. The East Africans do just fine without all the pampering! However, it is very helpful when you have medical support, and I have been grateful when I have had that.
You inspire us, who or what inspires you?
Thank you very much for that.
I feel inspired by unsung heroes. People who work for organisations, in far flung third world countries do such much good but hardly get any recognition.
Last but not least, what’s your guilty pleasure?
I do like red wine and chocolate!
Thanks Jo, it’s been a pleasure. Follow Jo on Twitter @jopavey