This #activewomen interview is testament to the fact that you should dream BIG. Read on to hear about how Jenni started her Couch to 5k on a gym treadmill because she was too nervous to run outside and now she’s tackling ultra marathons and supporting others to run too.
Tell us a bit about yourself Jenni.
I’m a Londoner and have spent a lot of time living and working abroad. I’ve been back in London for three years. I work in theatre, backstage, doing automation (moving & flying scenery & people on stage). I love running and being part of the running community.
You can read my blog i ran here and follow me on twitter at @_jen_mo. I also help manage & tweet from @ukrunchat.
When did you decide to start exercising regularly and why was that?
I got into running in Autumn 2011 when a friend and I decided to sign up for a 6k run for fun and as some motivation for us both to get fit. I’d been going to a gym but it sounded like a great goal so I started a couch to 5k app on the running machines. The app included three runs a week & built me up run-walking over eight weeks and on to me being able to run for half an hour without the walking. During the eight weeks I braved a run outside. I was nervous about my first run outside but once I plucked up the courage to get out there I loved it and didn’t go back to the running machines. I stuck to the couch to 5k app with three runs a week and was so proud when I finished. I was living in Macau at the time and I actually ended up moving back to the UK before the 6k run happened but I kept up the running and completed my first race, the Sport Relief 6 mile run, in March 2012.
What activities have you tried and what’s your favourite?
I’ve tried all sorts of activities and I enjoy all of them but when I got into running I got the bug big time. It’s a great way to keep fit and achieve things I never thought possible. I do love going to a Zumba or spin class when I can- I definitely think the spinning helps with conquering those hills when running too. I also like to do yoga and arm & shoulder strengthening exercises weekly, if I don’t then I pay for it with sore shoulders when I run.
What has been the biggest barrier you’ve had to overcome in your fitness journey?
My work schedule isn’t the normal 9-5 and varies each week so I can’t commit to a regular exercise class and I find running is the best way to keep fit as I can fit it around my schedule.
Have you had any negative comments and how have you dealt with them?
I don’t think I’ve had negative comments whilst I’ve been out running. I know it’s a huge issue especially for female runners but I haven’t noticed any. I do listen to music so it’s possible I’ve had comments and haven’t heard them.
I do find that when you tell people you’re a runner and run marathons and ultra marathons, people tend to give you a look up and down as if they’re assessing whether you look like a runner. I run so I’m a runner and I ignore their judgmental looks.
Some people like to use social media as a tool to belittle people so I’ve had people telling me that I’m not doing it right because of the way I train or I’m not a proper runner because I take photos but that’s what the block button is there for. I try not to let comments like that get to me and focus on the support and motivation from the running community.
What goals have you set and have you reached any of them yet?
Since I’ve taken up running I’ve set myself lots of goals and am proud to say I have achieved all of them. Ok- there’s a few goals I’d still like to do, such as a sub-4 hour marathon but it’s nowhere near the top of my priority list as I prefer to run for fun than to the pressure of a time.
My first big goal was to do the London Marathon, so after my second unsuccessful ballot place I decided to sign up with a charity. Training was tough to fit in around a crazy work schedule I had at the time (70 hr weeks) but I managed it. I never stick to a training plan word for word- I tend to look at a few and then draw something up for myself that works for me.
I was so happy when I crossed that finish line of my first marathon-it really was a special moment and I loved it.
I completed my tenth marathon in Nepal in November 2016.
Through twitter I’d seen people talking about ultra running. Before, this was something that had never occurred to me that ‘normal’ people would do and the more I saw, the more I wanted to see if I could do it too.
I did my first ultra distance in December 2015, running 33 miles with some friends with Running Adventures. It was tough but really fun and it can’t have tired me out as much as I thought as I was out partying till 3am the next morning.
I really enjoy the 50k distance and have done three. It’s a really fun distance, time is no issue and the atmosphere at a 50k race is always friendly and inclusive. I’ve heard an ultra compared to a kids’ party: fizzy pop, junk food (at the aid stations), & lots of crazy running around!
In 2016 I set myself the goal of doing Race to the Stones 100k in one go. It was crazy, it was tough, I enjoyed it but I think I will be sticking to 50k as my maximum distance for the foreseeable future. It was very mentally challenging and took me a while to recover from, mentally rather than physically.
I’m so glad I did it as I wanted to see if I could do it- and I’m so proud that I did. After all, “If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough” and another of my favourite quotes, “Set a goal so big you can’t achieve it until you grow into someone who can”.
What benefits has being active brought you?
For me it’s introduced to me to a lot of my really good friends, I’ve met them through running. It keeps me happy & healthy and I have more energy than I used to. I love getting out there and exploring new places. I’ve visited places I probably would never have been to otherwise and even discovered places in my own city (London) that I haven’t been to before.
What advice would you give to other women who want to start exercising?
Get out there and do it. Find something you enjoy and it makes it easy to keep going. The benefits are so massive for you physically and mentally (unless it’s a 100k race and then perhaps not necessarily so great mentally!). Set yourself a goal and make the training work for you & your free time.
The support out there is amazing so don’t worry about negative comments, ignore them and get involved with an online community. If you’re a runner @Ukrunchat is an amazing, supportive group who will help motivate you when you need it and are there to celebrate your achievements with you too.
Thanks very much!!