EVERY THURSDAY LEADING UP TO MY FIRST HALF MARATHON (!) I WRITE ABOUT RUNNING AND runneRS. FOLLOW THE SERIES HERE.
This week, meet Joanna Woodcock.
How did you get into running?
Jo: I was the worst runner at high school and refused to run for 10 years after I finished. Then a good friend of mine who was recovering from cancer entered the Race for Life and asked me to do it with her. I couldn’t say no – my whining about how the teachers didn’t like me at school didn’t cut it against “I just had 6 months of chemotherapy but I’m still running”.
So I put in for the Race for Life – 5 km how hard could it be? I had my new running trainers and was pumped to get started, but after about 200 yards (downhill) I was so unfit I was sick on the side of the road!! Anyway that was 6 years ago and I have now done the Race for Life 4 times, two half marathons and I am now a running group leader.[xandra: wow! go Jo!]
Why do you love to run?
Jo: I love to run because it is so freeing physically and mentally. I love just putting on my trainers and getting outdoors. I am lucky that I live in a beautiful part of Oxford and I can run through beautiful scenery. I love exploring but I am impatient so exploring and running is a great combination for me!! [xandra: completely agree with this. run to explore!]
Mentally it gives me time to process my thoughts. It is a very important part of my day. I feel if I can combat my fear of running then I can overcome anything.
What is your running routine?
Jo: I like to run early before work, three times a week. Running early means I don’t have to worry about it for the rest of the day and I really like being out around dawn when it is peacefully quiet. When I see other morning joggers we give each other this smug smile that says, “yeah we’re awesome for being up at 6am.” [xandra: HA love this!]
I also lead my running group on a Thursday night called West Oxford Women (WOW) joggers. This is always the highlight of my week. It turns out I love to teach running!! The women are so positive and when they achieve something new I get this little fuzzy feeling inside. It’s awesome!
Where do you like to run?
Jo: I like to run down the canal near my house as I love being close to water, it calms me. Although the two big geese I encountered on Monday did scare me a little bit.
What do you struggle with as a runner?
Jo: My main challenges as a runner are the weather, injuries and motivation.
Weather: I really hate running in the rain and sometimes swap my run for a Jillian Michaels DVD workout.
Injuries: I have dodgy knees and sometimes have to take a break and spend some time with the dreaded foam roller (if you don’t know what this is then good you don’t want to, it hurts). When I am injured I do other things like yoga.
Motivation: although when I am out I feel awesome for being out at 6am, it is not always easy to get there. [xandra: so true!] I would love to tell you that I am super human and I jump out of bed and yell “failure is not an option today.” [xandra: HA!] But no I bribe myself, a little bit like when I get my step son to eat peas, “Jo if you are a good girl and get up today you can have a lie in tomorrow!!”
What is your number one tip for getting started and sticking with it?
Jo: Enter a race that is going to be a challenge for you – don’t think about it just enter!!
Jo: I have such a running guilty pleasure, it’s the Cahill Club remix of Cheryl Coles’ Fight For This Love, but it always gets me going and the line “Quitting’s out of the question, when it gets tough you’ve got to fight some more” makes me run faster. Did I just admit that? [xandra: guys. It’s actually awesome. check it out!]
P.S. Check out last week’s running feature: Going Places and Running Races: Why I Run and Maybe You Should Too