Jo Pavey has enjoyed a career that has seen her race on the track and on the road and compete in four Olympic Games.

Jo Pavey

Jo Pavey

However, it was last summer, at the age of forty, when she tasted gold in Zurich over 10,000m at the European Championships - which saw her follow up the bronze she won over the 5,000m at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

2015 is the year that Pavey had earmarked to retire, but she will be returning to the road for the Morrisons Great Manchester Run in May, before going to compete at the world championships.

We caught up with her to chat about the race in Manchester, her success last year, and how she juggles her demanding career with being a mum of two.

- There are just a handful of weeks to go until the Morrisons Great Manchester Run so how is training going and what sort of shape are you in at the moment?

I am just getting the miles in and I got really busy before Christmas doing things that I thought I didn't expect to be involved with so I decided not to race in the winter and am now just putting in the miles, getting down the track, getting all the hard work done.

I am really excited about the prospect of competing in such an exciting race; I have great memories of competing in the Great Manchester Run. It's such a great event, to be able to run with 40,000 runners and it's a great atmosphere, with the Manchester public really getting behind the race. It's an exciting course too, nice and fast and flat, with iconic landmarks like Old Trafford and it's just fantastic, very inspirational with being running for their different charities.

With it being Europe's largest 10K, it's always got a great sort of festival atmosphere and it's a really exciting event and I am really excited this year to get back out on the roads. Last year, I was so up against it to qualify for two championships which meant that I didn't really have any time for road racing and it's exciting that I now have the time to run these road races and I couldn't think of a better start point then the Great Manchester Run, because it's a really exciting event.

- This is your first major road race since 2012, so what made you want to get back out on the road and compete?

I love road racing, I obviously love track racing too and am excited to have the chance to combine the two this year. Obviously 2012 I did some road racing, 2013 I was pregnant, 2014 was all about getting back from having a baby and trying to make the team. This year I am really excited to be able to make race plans because I thought that I would be retired, so it seems like a bonus to be making race plans.

I love road racing and being able to compete with thousands of other road racers and the atmosphere and running around the streets makes Manchester a great place to start getting back out on the road and I have great memories from running that event.

I just love mass participation events, competing with so many people, all aiming for their own goals and running for inspirational charities and I am looking forward about getting out there. It is a totally different atmosphere to track and it is really exciting.

- I was reading that 2015 was the year that you were expecting to retire, so how shocked are you that you are still competing in major events? How much did last year's success at the European and Commonwealth Game change your plans?

Definitely at the start of 2014, I thought this was the start of my final year and even having made a comeback from having my second child I thought I would have already been retired because if I didn't make it into the team, I would be retired. I didn't think there was any chance I would make the team but fortunately I did, but I didn't think for any minute there was any chance of getting any medals, that was just such a shock and I know find myself in 2015 in a situation of the real bonus of making race plans.

It was such a sock that this year I am still competing which I am really excited about because I am still enjoying my running, I am still enjoying setting goals and aiming for things and more importantly for me we have found that it can work for us as a family.

Gav, my husband is coaching me and it feels like a juggling act sometimes fitting it all around, but it seems to be possible and it seems to work for us and enables us to enjoy nice family time all together. We've made it work and it's a pleasant surprise.

It's a nice bonus to be able to be making race plans this year and also now gives me thought of attempting to qualify for the Olympics next year in 2016. It's my long-term goal, it's exciting to have those thought and I am not complacent about how difficult it is to get into the Olympic team. There are some good young girls coming through and I am getting older and older, so I am not getting complacent about it but it is something that is in my long term plans to try and do.

- As I said, we are still a good few weeks away from the event but how does your training differ when you are preparing for a road race rather than the track?

For a road race, it is important for there to be some repetitions on the road, because I find that helps to avoid the impact fatigue that I feel when I start road racing, whereas when I am purely track racing, I don't bother doing any road racing at all. Last year, when I was aiming for track I didn't do any road stuff at all because it is pointless as you are going to beat your legs up.

When I aim for road racing, I make sure to do some session on the road because I practice running on the surface but also getting my legs adapted and I find that helps with not getting so much impact fatigue in the later stages in the race. Also, practicing running at speed on a surface that isn't as perfect as a track, which is so perfect, whereas a road has so many ups and downs and twist and turns, so I find it necessary to do that and I probably put more focus on long tempo runs which is particularly important for the longer runs, going up to half marathons.

But even for the 10Ks on the road, my training has been for longer tempo runs because it still feels like more of a sustained effort than being on a track. I just practice more tempo, or threshold runs, on the road as well.

- What will you work on between now and the 10th May as race day edges nearer?

I will work at getting the track reps where I want them to be. One positive of being old is having years of experience. I know what kind of times I want to be hitting in training on the track, so I will be working towards getting those times improved and putting in a bit of road work to get used to running on a road surface and racing flats.

- The Manchester course is fast and fairly flat, so how much does that suit you?

I like fast and flat courses, I do a lot of hill work in training but even though I don't mind pushing myself hard, hills are never really my strong point but I have improved on that since moving to Devon as I am able to do a lot more hillier runs. Before, I used to have to make the effort to go find a hill whereas now, it's like the other way round; you have to make an effort to not do the hills.

I have improved my hills in the time I have been in Devon, but I still prefer fast and flat, that's the thing that appeals to be about the Great Manchester Run, is the course.

- Many of those who are taking part are fun runner and are running for a charity, so what tips and advice would you give them as they prepare for the big day?

Training wise don't over-train for the race. If you are new to running, just build up your training gradually, if you are quite new to running don't feel like you have to run every day, the main thing is to not get injured. If you are really new to running and it's your first race, just start off with a bit of walking and jogging and maybe run for two minutes and off for two minutes and build it up gradually then work towards running for about 15 to 20 minutes.

If you are a more experienced runner it's important to fit in interval sessions, where you break up the distances you are running. And aim to do a tempo or threshold run, where you sustain the pace for about 20 minutes after a warm up and then do a warm down. Try to include a long run in your training week where you don't have to run for miles and miles but you practice running a bit further, to help you cope with the distance on the day. When you are doing the interval sessions, you are practicing quicker than the actual race and all of these different paces help you prepare for the race itself.

The main thing is to make sure you have easy days and rest days and listen to your body, don't just train blindly. Have a schedule, but have a flexible plan so if you have a few niggles, don't feel afraid to take an extra day off or delay your session by a day.

On the race day, make sure you've got everything organised, the night before so you haven't got any stress the morning of the race. Make sure you've worked out your timings and your pre-race meal and when you are going to have it. With your pre-race meal, make sure it's something that's tried and tested, so you're not having something for the first time that's going to upset your stomach.

Keep well hydrated the day before and on the morning of the race, but make sure you don't keep drinking gallons of fluid right up until the start. Maybe the last hour to an hour and a half take sips of fluid to avoid needing the loo on the way round. Also be very strict on pacing yourself, hopefully in training you have worked out what paces you need to aim for per kilometer, be quite strict with this to get your best performance but also listen to your body on the way round.

Work out whether you are going to have any sips of water, whether there's any sports drink on offer, you need to work out if that's going to agree with you or anything like that.

Overall, just enjoy it. 10k is a nice distance if you are quite new to running, it's a good manageable distance that's good to fit into your daily life in terms of training for and it's always good to have exciting goals such as the Great Manchester Run. I think that's a great motivation to get out and get fit.

Don't get stressed about running a fast pace, just get out there and experience the joy of running, the health and fitness benefits and just go for it and enjoy the day. It is a great event and a fantastic atmosphere so go and soak it up and enjoy it.

- The Morrisons Great Manchester Run is part of the CityGames in Manchester - which has been running for a few years now - how big a fan are you of having athletics in the heart of the city? What do you think this format has done for the popularity of athletics in recent years?

I think it's fantastic because in the times we are in, we want to get youngsters excited about athletics and find athletics exciting. We need to take athletics out there to the public. Sometimes people maybe aren't in the situation to get into an athletics stadium, so they might not even think about trying to get to a stadium event or buying a ticket, so bringing athletics to the street is a great way to showcase the sport and make the sport exciting and make more people aware of it.

And in the times we are in, with all the competitions and sports, we want to get out there and show how exciting athletics is and I think it is doing a lot for the popularity of athletics, to get it out there and show people what it is and show people how to get involved.

- You are a busy mother of two just how difficult has it been juggling homelife and your commitments to the track? How much do you think taking some time away from competing to have a family has helped the longevity of your career?

It's always busy juggling things and I couldn't have done it without the support of my husband, Gav, who has been really supportive. It's very much a team effort and he coaches me as well. I think we manage to juggle things by having a training schedule but being quite flexible with what we do in terms of timings for each day, and that helps to fit around the needs of the kids.

And it is busy, but I think psychologically I feel a lot happier and I've got balance in my life and that's really helpful for enjoying my running and it gives me motivation. Now that I am a mum of two little children, I feel much happier and that balance had made me more motivated and enjoy running.

It is busy but sometimes we make training family fun, where we all go to the forest and my little boy will be on his bike and my husband will be there with our little girl on the back of the bike and we enjoy it in that way. When people say does taking some time away from competing help with the longevity, I think it's hard to know because the main priority is being a mum because you don't really think about your career when you're being a mum because it's the most wonderful thing.

Training wise, it's not really an advantage because you've got to a state of deconditioning and you've got to come back from the sleepless nights and both times, I needed to have a caesarean and needed to recover from that, and all the breastfeeding and sleepless nights. Obviously, the main priority is the breastfeeding and just being in that deconditioned state and having to make a comeback feel quite a disadvantage at the time.

It's quite a battle to get back from it and when you are coming back from a pregnancy it doesn't feel like much of an advantage because you would never choose to get that unfit.

I think in terms of longevity it has helped because it's given me that balance and has helped in a psychological way but it's hard to tell in a physical way.

It might have helped to have had a break but it feels like such a big task to get back but as I say, it's not something you really thing about because having a baby is so much more important than running, so you don't really analyse whether it's good or not for running.

- I have already mentioned the success that you enjoyed last summer, what do you make of that success when you look back on it now?

Shocked as at the start of 2014 it was about wondering if I could make the team for the Europeans or Commonwealth or both and it seemed a bit unrealistic but my husband and I decide that I would give it a go. It seemed quite unrealistic, especially because the trials for 10,000m were so early, they were on May 10, I was still breastfeeding at the start of April, and my times down the track were just horrendous. But I didn't stress about it, I just kept plugging away and thought that I can only do what I can do, and it just seemed a real shock.

I thought I wouldn't get in the team or win medals, I thought that was a big ask, so I was really pleased to get in the team. It was a real shock to achieve medals and it was a real shock for the commonwealth because I hadn't done a race of that nature since having a baby and I was pleasantly surprised to be competitive with the Kenyans.

And the Europeans was only ten days later and I wasn't exactly brimming with confidence because it was a different event, and was slightly worried about doing a longer event and if I had missed out on a bit of the endurance, compared to my rivals who mostly were only doing the Europeans and the one championships. Then, there was the worry of people coming up the woodwork at European level that you don't know and you don't expect to run well, so it was all a bit of an unknown.

But when I crossed the line and got gold, I couldn't believe it. The whole year was a real surprise. I had been happy enough from my career and the life I had had in sport and I really didn't think that circumstances of finally getting gold, being over the age of 40 with two kids having just come back from having a baby. I think that it showed me that being happy in my life can help you with things when you are in a good state of mind.

- With that success under your belt, are the world championships something that you are looking to race in later this year?

I definitely want to go out there and do track and road and get the track qualifying times. I am just looking forward to having a year when I mix track and road. Track-wise it's going to be about re-focusing for track next year, with the Olympics being so important to qualify for. This year I am really looking forward to combining the both really, which will be motivating.

- We saw Team GB perform well at the European Indoors earlier this month with many youngsters making a name for themselves, putting down good times/performances and winning medals. Bearing that in mind, in how good a place is British athletics in at the moment?

It was really exciting watching the European Indoors, and I am really excited about what British Athletics is about at the moment. I enjoyed being part of the team in 2014 and even though I'm the oldest I've ever been, I feel like the team was the youngest team that I have been in.

Most the athletes were half my age, being in their 20s, they are so enthusiastic, inspirational, and professional, and being amongst them keeps me motivated because they inspire me with their enthusiasm. It's really exciting to see them coming through and all the great role models we have coming through.

I think athletics is in a good place because all the people we have out there winning the medals are all quite young and they can only go from strength to strength, so it's really exciting. We've got a mixture of ages within the team which is always really nice as we bounce off each other with support.

- You have enjoyed a career that has seen you compete on the road and on the track and at all of the major competitions. For someone who it thinking of getting into athletics, what advice would you give them?

If you are new to athletics, try lots of different events to see which one you enjoy. When I started at an athletics club, I tried all the different events and found that I was passionate about distance running and if you find something you enjoy it makes you want to keep on doing it. Athletics is enjoyable because it's sociable and you can join a training group and enjoy being a part of a team and cheering each other on.

Advice to give as well is consistency with your training is the key to achieving any success. It's all about listening to your body because everyone gets to know their body and what training sessions are needed. But the key to it is having the right training and enough time for recovery. It's all about being patient and keeping going but there's no point in trying too hard and getting injured and having to take weeks off and then it's a vicious cycle so it makes sense to just be consistent with what you are doing and really listen to your body.

Get out there and enjoy it, athletics is a great sport and you should make goals. If you have a goal for a certain event it make it easier to keep motivated, enjoy being part of a team and embrace athletics. It's given me a fantastic lifestyle, I've really enjoyed it and I recommend it to anyone.

- Finally, what's next for you going through the rest of 2015?

I am excited about the Great Manchester Run, it's a fantastic event, fantastic atmosphere and fantastic course and I have fantastic memories of competing in that event so I am really excited about competing for that event so at the moment that's my main focus.

So then, for the rest of 2015, I see myself doing a mixture of track and road. I would love to try to run some quick times on the track but I am really excited about getting out there and having a year of track and road really. I will be doing some road races before and after the summer.

To be honest, 2015 is a bit of a shock really because I thought it was going to be the year of my retirement and to be sitting down, making those plans and training schedules is something that I am finding quite excited about at the moment because it's a bonus not to be retiring.

To take part in this year's Morrisons Great Manchester Run, visit

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