Hi Jane. Many thanks for speaking to Support through Sport UK. To begin, can you tell us when you first took up running and what inspired you to do so?
I first took up running in 1988, when I was 45. I took it up to be as fit as possible for walking the West Highland Way. Over the following nine years, I didn't run much, beyond the local park. The next milestone came when speaking to a friend who had run the London Marathon three times but now had knee problems. I casually said how fantastic it would be if I were to do it, but never thought I could. She then suggested that I run for Children with Leukemia and so I completed my first London Marathon in 1999. I thought that was that but, in 2011, my husband noticed that the New York Marathon was taking place at a time when we would be in the USA for a conference and so decided to book. I was reluctant and actually spent the summer away from home as my mother had a stroke. I returned with only two months until race day but started training and ultimately went on to finish the race, albeit in a slow time. However, we ran it again the following year and I was 30 minutes faster, beating my husband. Over the last six years we have run two marathons a year all over the world, so have now done 13. We are aged 75.
How would you say that running has changed your life?
It has certainly kept me fit and slim and means we are still able to do long distance walks and treks in the Himalayas, as well as enjoying our long weekends away for the marathons. Running has also kept us fit enough to continue working, my husband as a doctor, me as a physiotherapist and potter.
We’re aware that you recently completed all six of the AbbottWMM marathons. That’s an amazing achievement, tell us more…
We only recently found out about this special medal and series (the Abbott World Marathon Majors is a series consisting of six of the largest and most renowned marathons in the world. The races take place in Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York City). Several people on our Tokyo marathon trip obtained their medals there and were wearing them afterwards. We only needed to run Boston to complete the set and, despite earlier applications, were given places just this year. What a year to get a place! The extraordinary cold and the torrential rain were horrendous and we only just scraped in under the time limit. Many dropped out and all competed wearing rain gear. I had to dig very deep to complete it and was grateful for the encouragement of my husband, who was not so affected by the cold.
What would you say to anyone who thinks that they can’t take up running as they’re no longer in their twenties or thirties?
I would say “rubbish”, but first check with your doctor. I ran an exercise class in the local church for 30 years but finished it when going abroad in 2014. I now take a group of people to the local park to use the “urban gym” of benches, gates and smooth pathways and have 80-year-olds jogging.
What first steps would you advise that new runners take?
First, always check with your doctor. Then go out the door and start walking. Wear trainers and loose clothing and don't carry any bags. Once you can walk a mile at a good speed, start jogging for a few paces. We used to call it Scout's pace. Gradually increase the time you are jogging until you can run a mile. If you have a friend to jog with, it can help. Next, take a look at the park races which are held all over the country. They're usually 5K races.
As we get older we lose muscle, so doing some weight training at home or at a gym is important. Recovery time is also important, so don't overdo it. In fact, "run less, run faster" is a good mantra for older people, so as not to put too much strain on the joints. If you're overweight, reduce your meal portion sizes and cut out snacks, but don't embark on complicated diets. The weight will soon start to come off. It's also important to make exercise just a normal part of your life, as then it's not such a big deal. Finally: walk briskly; walk rather than taking the car; walk up stairs or steps (if there aren't too many flights) and walk down, and even up, escalators.
Many thanks for sharing your story with us, Jane.
Support through Sport UK would like to thank Malcolm Sloan from Sports Injury Fix for arranging for us to speak to Jane. Sports Injury Fix is a free, online resource that helps you to prevent sports-related injury or recover from injury. It allows you to search by who specialises in your sport and/or injury in your area.