Back in August last year I was lining up for the Kimbolton Half marathon when I noticed a lady in one of my non slip Sweatybands. So I headed over to say hi and then met Jo properly for the first time. Once we got going and she flew past me (while nursing an injury) I had a flash back to seeing her Strava updates which were rather speedy. (They caught my eye because she lives near to where I grew up.) Roll on a few months and Jo was a regular contributor in my Facebook community, The Original Buggy Runners, customer and she also supported us buying a Buggy Squad hoodie. So when I heard she was going to be running London I was excited to see her again at the expo. Like many runners Jo had worked super hard all winter and was a little concerned by the freak weather that week. She wanted to break the 3 hour mark, clearly no mean feat! After the race I heard so many stories about people not hitting their goals that I was delighted to see Jo had smashed hers. So I wanted to share an interview with her so you could all be as inspired as I am.
Jo came 21st female overall and the 9th outside of the elite field and she smashed her PB at the same time! Just wow!
My name is Jo O’Regan, I live in St Neots, Cambridgeshire and am mum to 3 small people; Wills is 6, Everly is 4 and Ella is 2, and wife to Daddy Dan who is an occasional runner.
Tell us about your running background. Have you always been a runner? What distances, how many marathons?
I started running after I graduated from university and started working full time in Cambridge, when I had no parental responsibilities. I made some amazing and lifelong friends and quickly found that I enjoyed long distance running most of all. At this time I would also swim every morning before work. We travelled as a group to many European marathons and I completed 9 marathons from 2008-2011. My first was Robin Hood Marathon in Nottingham in the summer of 2008 which I ran with a good friend in 3hrs 31minutes. My favourite was Paris Marathon in 2009 where I ran a personal best of 3hrs 11minutes gaining me championship entry for London Marathon in 2010 and 2011.
Tell us how you managed to fit in the training required to run sub 3?
Lots of juggling was required to fit in the training required. My peak weeks had me running circa 10hrs per week. I have some very kind neighbours who helped watch my young girls on double run days, a supportive husband who would look after the children nearly every Sunday morning for 12 weeks and thankfully my youngest daughter turned 2 in January allowing her to attend preschool for some 3hr sessions during the week.
Tell us about your buggy running? When did you start, what buggy do you have and how often do you go?
After 5 1/2 years off from running whilst I was working and busy having 3 children I knew we would not be having any more children and wanted to return to running for a variety of reasons. Ella was 6 months old and I wasn’t returning to work with a baby, 2 year old and a 4 year old so we bought a running buggy so she could just come with me when I went running while the others were in preschool. I started with a baby jogger summit x3 but then upgraded to the Thule Glide. I used to buggy run3/4 times a week upto 10 miles while I was regaining my fitness. I now only buggy run perhaps once a week as the girls both go to preschool so I have a little free time without them.
How did you feel on race day and what were the ups and downs?
VLM 2018 was amazing, if a little toasty, but I had trained hard and knew I was as fit as I was ever going to be. I was determined to not let the weather ruin my current life goal of running a sub 3 hr marathon. I went through the first half in 1hr 23 and was on for 2hrs 50 but I by mile 17 the heat was getting to me and I had a small wobble and had to slow my pace down a little. I picked back up again by mile 21 and then knew I was on track for the 2.54 my training plan had prescribed. I had loads of support on route from family and friends, the crowd (lots of go riverside lady or lady 924). The crowds were epic and really help when your a little low.
Who supports you to achieve these amazing results?
My family, neighbours, awesome local running community and I was very lucky to get a prescribed coaching plan for this marathon, using training peaks so I met each target on the plan without actually having to think about the plan and the work that went into it. My running coach/training buddy helped immensely with the change in training and adapting the plan to allow me to achieve the goal.
What sacrifices do you make?
Time is obviously sacrificed but when your giving up time to do something you really enjoy it’s immensely rewarding. The main sacrifices were giving up Saturday nights as Sundays were pretty heavy for a number of weeks. I would always run early on a weekend with 3 small people I’m very accustomed to early starts and little recovery. I pretty much gave up alcohol for the last 5 months and didn’t really miss it. I also gave up a number of evenings out as running 80-90 miles per week is exhausting with a young family.
How do you fuel during long runs including the breakfast choices?
In training even for long runs up to 25hrs I run fasted an without fuel or drink. It helps that training throughout the very cold winter means I didn’t get particularly thirsty. For races I like a bagel with raspberry jam, a bowl of cereal and an almond croissant. On marathon day as we were staying away from home I had an almond croissant, a protein bar and a gel before the start. I then carried 5 gels and took them from mile 7, with lots of water as it was so warm. I also had a little of the lucozade sport on offer while running in London.
What advice would you give to people on how to get quicker?
Mix up your training sessions, I now run hill sets, tempo runs, intervals ranging from: Yassos (800 repeats), fartleck, 400 repeats, hard efforts within a long run, some steady miles and a long run.
What’s next for you?!
Milton Keynes half marathon next week then I want to run a quicker marathon as I believe I can run 2.50. Perhaps just some speed sharpening over the summer to further build upon my base then I’m likely to enter Chester marathon in October before London 2019. Oh and St Neots parkrun is set to launch in June so maybe a few more parkruns for fun!
If you are interested you can follow Jo’s progress on Strava!