Jenny Nesbitt, the 2017 Welsh Half Marathon Champion, shares details her training, motivations, and most importantly her favourite food.
The 22-year-old’s running career highlights include; a European U23 Cross Country team gold medal in 2015, European Cup 10,000m bronze medal in 2016 and a 10,000m fifth-place finish the 2017 World University Games. But, probably the most memorable moment was beating Paula Radcliffe in the Worcester 10K in 2014. How many can say they done that?
Why do you run? What are your motivations?
I run because I love it. I want to be involved in the sport for the rest of my life, whether that’s at a competitive level or not. I enjoy testing my limits and seeing how far I can push myself.
My ultimate goal and motivation, is firstly making it to an Olympic Games and then being able to compete at that level. I want to see where I can feature on the world stage, working hard to reach that, but also enjoying it at the same time.
As a runner, what is your biggest strength?
As a result of training mostly on my own and having spent time on the sidelines watching on, I feel like I am a mentally strong athlete and more capable of overcoming the mental challenges of the sport.
And a weakness?
Finding the balance between training hard and recovery. I push myself constantly wanting to improve, but recovery is just as important as training hard, but sometimes finding that balance, even when you know what you should do, can be difficult to actually adhere to.
Easy running is important and you are not going to progress unless you allow your body the time it needs to recover, but I am getting better at that.
Favourite running distance?
Currently, I feel like the 10k on the road and track is the distance I can make the most progress in. It’s the distance where you need the endurance, but still, need to have that bit of speed, so I think that plays to my strengths.
But, my race distance would be the half marathon. I only wish it was an Olympic event.
And what about the event, road, track or cross country?
My first GB vest came in cross country and that was a really special moment and I love cross country because of that. Track races are that bit special though, the build-up, being in the stadium, the atmosphere, all of that really makes the track standout for me. But I do love road racing too.
Do see a future in the marathon?
In the future, I definitely hope to progress to the marathon, but I’ll wait until I am a bit older and have given the track the best chance first.
What does an average week’s training look like?
Typical I train twice a day during the week and my evening runs are always easy, never fast. Every run is on my own, so my iPod comes along quite a lot. For my speed work I normally just train off my stopwatch and take target splits from past races.
Monday: It’s an easy day. Normally a 40 minute run in the morning and a 30 minute run in the evening. During the day I will also do a gym session.
Tuesday: I normally run a session on the road. Longer reps something like 4×10 minutes. In the evening it’s a 30-minute easy run.
Wednesday: A 60 minute run in the morning with a 30 minute run in the evening.
Thursday: I have my second session of the week on Thursday mornings, something like a tempo run or fartlek. After an easy jog, I include between 30-40 minutes of quality work. In the evening it’s an easy 30-minute run.
Friday: Either complete rest or if I run at all it will be an easy 15 minutes run.
Saturday: I have a track session, usually 400s. I will have a set pace to hit, so 75 seconds to start then if I am feeling good I will pick up the pace on the last five reps.
Sunday: On Sunday’s it’s the long run. Over the course of a week, I would run between 70 to 80 miles.
What’s your favourite training session?
I love 400s on the track. Once I get into a rhythm I can just keep going and it sort of mimics a 10k race for me. I’m also a big fan of the long run on a Sunday, just getting out and running. After the long run, you feel like you have accomplished something and can relax for the rest of the day.
Least favourite training session?
Hill reps for sure. It’s the one session that takes ages to actually get done. I know I have to do it, but I’ll spend ages procrastinating before just wanting an excuse to avoid it.
You are studying sport and social science at the University of Bath, how do you find balancing training and studies?
I’m quite lucky, I choose a degree, that is very flexible. I don’t have exams, and there isn’t a set time I need to be in university. All of my lectures are available online too If I happen to miss one, I have the option to catch up that way. I am self-motivator, so I am happy to get on with the work in my own time and fit it around my training.
Favourite post-race food?
I am a massive fan of pancakes, they are my go-to treat after a race. A large stack with maple syrup and fruit on the side.
Favourite pre-race food?
Always porridge. Made with a mixture of milk and water, with honey and nuts on top. I really enjoy it and it a safe choice before a race.
Jessica Ennis-Hill. She is a good role model and approaches the sport in a really positive manner.
Nesbitt also spoke to Fast Running about winning her Welsh title at the Cardiff Half Marathon, plus the high points and setbacks in her athletics career up to date. You can read the full interview here.