13 July 2020

Sportsister meets Jo Pavey

August 11, 2008

Beijing will be Jo Pavey’s third Olympic Games. The long distance runner finished 12th in Sydney and fifth in Athens, and won silver at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in the 5,000m. She has recently started running 10,000m too and finished fourth at the World Championships in Osaka last year. Sportsister met up with her before she flew out to the Olympic holding camp in Macau.

jo-pavey.pngWhat exactly does your training involve in the lead up to such a huge event?

At this stage (3-4 weeks before the Games) I have been doing well over 100 miles a week, usually 110-115. This week I will lower it a bit and concentrate on getting a good track session out, and form then on it will be focusing more on really good quality track sessions rather than the bulk mileage.

I feel like I have done the weeks now where the bulk has been really, really high. The track sessions that I do from now on need to be really good though and the kind that give you confidence that you are where you want to be, rather than just feeling tired.

Luckily for me we are going to the same training camp as we went to last year (before the World Championships in Osaka) so I can really look back at the training I did then and compare. Things went quite well in Osaka, I was a bit frustrated to just miss out on a medal, but I can still keep my training similar as it worked for me then.

What did you think about that fourth place run as it was such a good performance?

I was really happy with my performance but obviously very frustrated to miss out on a medal. One thing it has done is really keep my motivation going over the winter and I have been able to really keep focus.

Last year was the first year that I had done the event (10,000m), and that has certainly kept my motivation going but I am under no illusion as to how tough it will be to try and get a medal in Beijing; it would be dream come true though. But I realise people will be trying to raise their game even further because it is Olympic year.

Are you worried about the conditions in Beijing?

I quite like the heat; the night I ran the 10,000m in Osaka was the hottest night of the championships, over 37 degrees and very high humidity. We were trying to warm up just running in and out of air conditioned rooms. It was quite a strange race because of this.

But you have to look positively at it, that the conditions are the same for everyone.

Plus it gives you the opportunity to look at your race strategies and if you have better strategies than your rivals then you can use the conditions to your advantage.

Do you put more focus on either the 5,000m or 10,000m?

I’m definitely focusing on the 10,000m. My position on the 5,000m was that I was only happy to put my name there if there was no one else that could be selected. I didn’t want to prevent anyone else from going to the Olympics if they had the chance, as the 10,000m is definitely my priority.

I will do the 5,000m if I can but sometimes when you do a 10,000m race you can hardly walk after it, it varies. But this is the Olympic Games and if there is an event that I can compete it in I will unless I’m injured. It’s the Olympics, you have to go for it.

Being a runner is obviously an individual sport, so how is it being in the Olympic village and the training camp with the rest of Team GB. Does it have a positive effect on your performance?

I think we are very lucky that we have a very nice team, I found it a very relaxing environment last year when were at the training camp in Macau. That really enables you to focus on what you are there to do. Having people around you that are dealing with the same stresses helps you cope and you can cheer each other on and get boosts from other people’s performances.

jo-pavey-kate-reed.pngHow is the team sprit among Team GB?

We really want to get medals for the team so that we do well as a country. Athletics is such a difficult sport, such a world participation event, so it’s obviously very tough. But everyone gives it their all. A few years back there may have been some people who thought that once they had got to the Olympics that was the hard work done, but it’s definitely not like that now.

Everyone is so professional and doing everything they can to get those results. And that’s all we can do really, is get on that start line knowing we have done everything possible. The team spirit is fantastic so we are very lucky.

What’s the worst injury you have ever had?

It would be at the Athens Olympics. I tore my calf in a race on May 31st that year in Hengelo, and I realised that I had done it but knew I needed to get the qualifying time for Athens.

I made the decision to keep running as there was only one more opportunity to make the time before the Games. I knew I wouldn’t be fit for that race now with this injury so I just kept on running.

I got the time, but from then on all I could do was just exercise in the pool, doing aqua jogging all day. My leg was so swollen, and every time I got out of bed I couldn’t walk on it. It was like that right up until the day of the race and it was just agony.

When I was in the holding camp in Cyprus I just had to go with it and grit my teeth. The qualifying round was pure agony, but I got in the final fortunately and finished fifth so was really pleased with that. I have always had injuries, but that was the worst, but because it was the Olympics, I wanted to continue.

Are you planning to compete at London 2012?

Yes, definitely in either the 10k or marathon. I haven’t done a marathon yet but I am keen to try one in the next year or two and see how I find it.

Louise Hudson, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine

Jo will be competing on August 15th in the 10,000m; August 19th in the 5,000m qualifier and hopefully August 22nd in the 5,000m final. All are held at the National Stadium, Beijing.

More Olympic hopefuls on Sportsister:

Marathon Runner – Liz Yelling

Cycling – Victoria Pendleton

Heptathlon – Kelly Sotherton

Rowing – Donna Flood

Badminton – Gail Emms and Donna Kellogg

Read Sportsister’s round up of Britain’s top Olympic sportswomen, in a handy who-to-watch guide for the Beijing Olympics 2008.

Our Olympic athletes will be competing at the Aviva British Grand Prix, Gateshead on Sunday August 31st. Tickets are available at www.ukathletics.net and 08000 556 056.

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