Once again, I am excited to introduce you all to a good friend of mine, Jeni, I am always blown away by her running exploits. They put me to shame, I love hearing about her upcoming goals and dreams. We first met a few years ago through a mutual friend and from there I have followed Jeni’s journey through trail running.
Get a wee squiz on Jeni’s fab achievements and learning her why . . .
1. When did you first get involved in sport/ exercise/ physical activity?
In 2005 I found myself in front of a mirror and saw myself for the first time in a very long time, I didn’t like what I saw. Many struggles of life had occurred before that point but the truth was I was unfit, lumpy, grey, dull and needing to lose some weight. I changed my lifestye for the better and along with some gym stuff I found running was most convenient for my life. So I ran a few 10k races, they were tough. I completed a half marathon in Glasgow and I was destroyed, it wasn’t good, I ran other in Aviemore a few weeks later and had to walk half the way due to pain. I gave up running that day. In 2011 I found myself in-front of a mirror again, I was 14 stone, I had a 6 month old baby and a 2 yr old. My youngest had a bad start in this world and we struggled through 6 months of hospital visits and zero rest. I was tired, fed up, depressed, and lacking in energy. A couple of pals (Donna; who introduced me to the inspiration behind these questions; Louise) encouraged me to hit the gym and join JogScotland. So I did…. In 8 months I had lost 5 stone and had completed my jog leader qualification and was back to work, happy, and running….
2. I know you through your fantastic and inspirational running exploits, can you tell us more about your journey through running?
I have a passion for mountains and big days out, I wanted to have the strength to run further to make hill days count for more, fell running was my goal and I knew ultra-distance would be good for me. In 2014 I ran my first Ultra (D33). I ran 2 ultra-marathons that year and to be honest I found it tough and mentally awful. The following year I ran a few more; I visited some beautiful places through events such as the Highland Fling race, Speyside way, Jedburgh 3 peaks and Glenmore 24; many many lessons were learned that year as I found I loved running further, I absolutely loved the ultra-family who adopted me with little bribery. I loved the events but I felt I could be using my running for a greater cause. Then 2016 happened. It was never the plan to run as much as I did and I properly do not condone it as it nearly broke me, but in a mission to complete a charity challenge I had the goal of running 70 miles a week. On paper, ultra races would help to cover those miles, I absolutely would not race, I would have company (I was already feeling isolated in my village), it would be fun, there would be bling and I get to check out awesome places…. so it was a no brainer at the time; enter loads of events throughout the year till my 5000km year was filled; BOOM. I finished my challenge and ran the distance as well as raising £7000 for MNDScotland, I am still so grateful to all those that helped me and although I was mentally and physically broken I felt at peace. Oh and I won the Scottish UltraMarathon Series for the lassies…
I now focus my charity work towards mental health charities as I have struggled myself over the years and running has helped me to work through some of my issues. Makes sense to support others.
3. Do you have anymore running goals in the coming months and years?
My goals this year are to heal my mind and soul, I need a year to get a normal life back and let my body recover properly. I have started to prepare for mountain marathons and completed the L
one Alpine Mountain Marathon a few weeks ago. We tackled the top head on and entered the A class, probably a bad idea for your first one but I loved it. I am also having a shot at the Salomon skyraces in the Lake district which again could be a complete disaster but I know I will enjoy the adventure whatever happens! It is after all only running. Next year my goals are to complete a 100 mile race and have a bash at actually racing it. Then its all about the mountain rounds for me, starting with the Ramsey round, then Bob Graham and if I survive then its the Paddy Buckley!
4. What would you say to women/ anyone wanting to get started in running but is thinking ‘I’d never be able to do that’ or they fear being last?
I have started and stopped a few times now, every-time I gave up was due to being under trained and lacking knowledge of what I was taking on. Since training properly and taking as much advice as possible I find I can run distances more comfortably. So don’t give up, you can do it but you need to put the work in. Every runner starts the same, we all start struggling that first mile and some days its as hard to run that first mile as it was all those years ago. As for being last, I’ve been last plenty, and you know what its not that bad. I read a great article once and will never forget the lesson. It was about putting more value on a PW (personal worst) than a PB (personal best) performance. When your oranges are down (an orange represents a reason not to run, if you have 3 or more reasons not to venture out then don’t… could be tiredness, an over run meeting, a cold… anything) and your race/run is terrible and you achieve a PW then actually you have gained more, so be proud that you did it. You got out and battled against all odds. Always remember those who actually can’t run, do it for them! Do it for your heart; mentally and physically.
5. What does running give you?
Mentally running is very very important to me, any exercise in fact has been a blessing. It helps me process my day, mostly I’m quite happy and I like to think through my endless ‘to do’ lists and plan my next adventures while running. Some days I don’t cope with being on planet Earth very well and if I go for a run in the woods or up a hill its all sorted and I find I’m able to give myself a good talking to. Life is always better after a reality check in the hills.
Physically I’m now fitter than I have ever been, I turned 40 this year and I’m delighted to feel that I’m improving my running and I hope that by the time I’m 60 I’m still gunning for big adventures and gaining personal bests.
Socially, I am grateful to running, I currently partake in long distance events that are as off road as possible. Through this I have made some amazing lifelong friends. Adventures and shared experience give us a connection that is very special and I do whole heartily admire, respect and love those who take time to get to know me and hang out while on the trails. I’ve been lucky to have fallen in with a crazy bunch who enjoy meeting up regularly and am lucky to have many chums across the country. I must add in that marshaling at these events also helps my socialization on the planet and I encourage anyone wishing to run far to try marshaling first to gain insight to our ultra world; this is my only regret and wish I’d helped sooner.
Thank you to Jeni for bring my ‘Women In Sport Week’ blog series to a close (ahem, albeit Im late on this).
The primary aim was always to celebrate the successes and amazing feats of those who are around us every day. I think sometimes we can forget just how much inspiration can be taken from our friends, our families or our colleagues.
Thank you everyone, I hope you enjoyed this little series as much as I did.