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I’m not going to lie, I didn’t even know who Jo Pavey was until the 2012 Olympic Games…I didn’t know much about athletics full stop before then.

I can remember reading something about her winning the 10K meter gold medal at the 2014 European Championships in Zürich, just ten months after giving birth to her second child, this was when I was training for my second marathon just 10 months after having my own daughter. It gave me strength to know that other women were out there chasing their dreams as new mums…although clearly there was never any threat of me actually winning any races.

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So anyway last Friday Jo Pavey was in my neck of the woods, and by that I mean the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in East London…no seriously, this is actually my local park. Jo was there to help encourage more parents to go running with their children with one month to go until the SimplyHealth Great Newham London Family Run on July 2.

My daughter is too young to take part even though she’d probably love it, but I am a real advocate anyway for mums involving their kids in their training where possible, and myself and a big bunch of ladies from The Clubhouse (my online running club) are taking part in the 10K event which is happening on the same day…with both races finishing inside the Olympic Stadium…which seriously is the most EPIC of ways to finish a race.

Now I have met Jo a few times at different events and we are Twitter pals, I even wrote a blog post a couple of years ago about Why Jo would never win Sports Personality of the Year even though, of course I was backing her the whole way.

Anyway when I arrived at the park on an overcast but humid day it was a buzz of photographers, a TV crew and lots of kids running around who were there to help promote the race.

The popular Family Run, for children aged five and above plus accompanying adults, takes place on Sunday 2 July at the London Stadium, alongside the Simplyhealth Great Newham London Run 10km. Both events are organised in partnership with Newham Council….my local authority.

Jo had her photo taken with each of the families that were there, and then it was time for a run…wowsers the kids went off like a shot leaving Jo and I, and some of the other parents in their dust. My legs were sore from CrossFit the previous evening so once again I was right at the back as the photographers took their pictures, but it was brilliant seeing the children so excited to run with a sporting superstar and also excited about the race they were all taking part in.

Pavey said in her interview on Sky News,

It’s very easy for me to talk about the benefits of exercise as an athlete, it’s my job after all, but the Simplyhealth Great Newham London Family Run and Great Run Local sessions are bringing lifetime benefits to families.

As someone who has finished a race in the stadium 3 times now she is absolutely right. It is not just the physical benefits but those memories last a lifetime and help children (and adults) believe anything is possible.

Jo went on to say,

Running doesn’t have to mean marathons, it’s just about being active as a family and establishing those healthy behaviours early. 

Mayor of Newham Sir Robin Wales who always runs the race each year, and normally quite a bit faster than me despite having to say hello to tons of people said:

What better incentive could there be for people to take part in the Simplyhealth Great Newham London Run than the opportunity to finish in the stadium where Olympians and Paralympians have won gold and where world champions will be crowned.

18766057_10155349562270477_4095086591379600862_nAfter a Q&A session with Jo the kids and their parents were all sent off with personalised autographs from Jo, I was lucky enough to get a picture of just us running and to get 15 minutes with her to talk to her about her training and how she fits it all in.

I have since put the recorded interview up in The Clubhouse  for my ladies to listen to, because it was so inspiring…not in terms of hearing about how an elite athlete who has competed at 5….yes FIVE Olympic Games does it, but just because of how normal Jo actually is, facing many of the challenges we do, like having kids in tow on some of your training runs, and rushing from one activity to the next with a boot full of kit in your car just in case you get a chance to fit in a session.

Jo spoke to me about the importance of having goals to help with motivation, but admitted that even she doesn’t feel like training all the time, but then she reminds herself of a big race coming up and it’s easier to get out of bed….I know that feeling.

I told Jo about the 24 ultra marathon I am doing in July and she was truly astonished…I may not be fast but I am sturdy. I worked out that Jo runs her 10Ks more than twice as fast as me…damn I can barely run a 5K in the time she covers 10…but none of that matters to Jo…she truly is passionate about running for all and understands how vital it is for women to be role models to their kids as they grow up.

Parents have the ability to make such a difference in not just their children’s lives but theirs as well. If your children see you running, they will find it a natural part of their life.

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

If you would like to come and join Jo and I for the Simplyhealth Great Newham Run on July 2nd click here...We will have a team of around 25 ladies taking part and I will be posting details of a pre and post race meet up on our Facebook page closer to the time, and be sure to look out for my race review.

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