20 Questions with... · Training and motivation

20 Questions with: Jane Wood Rackham, founder of The RackhamEffect


Bio: Jane Wood Rackham founded The RackhamEffect in 2005, providing sports massage and Myofascial Release, among other treatments. She has also completed a mountain of endurance events, among them IRONMAN Triathlons and running The Forces March in 2015. She says: “I am 45 but feel 25 most of the time. The RackhamEffect started when I took up residence in a gym renting a room, and I’ve been there ever since. My clients are everyone from office workers and runners, to triathletes and swimmers – from 9 year-olds to octogenarians.”

1: How long have you been a runner?
A very long time. I’ve played competitive hockey and so always been running but my 1st half marathon was in the early ’90s.

2: Why did you start?
I wanted to raise money for a cancer charity.

3: What were the biggest challenges or misconceptions you had to get over when you were starting out? I really don’t remember!

4: What was the turning point for you and your running?
Using the correct training plans.

5: Which running achievements are you most proud of?
My two Ironman events and The Forces March May 2015 5 Marathons in 5 days.

Jane Forces March

Jane mid Forces March, pictured right.

6: What keeps you going over long distances?
Having a mantra that I put on all my water bottles. ‘Believe to Achieve’ is my motto, so it’s all in the training for me. Get that right with the mind set, and you are good to go.

7: You’ve been coping with injury this past year. Can you talk me through it, and where you’re at with your recovery? 
Plantar fasciitis started as a niggle last year in January 2015. It however became very bad after completing a five-day run event in May 2015. Eventually I had an ultrasound in the September which showed that it was damaged, and needed complete rest. So that’s what I’ve done. No other training other than walking Gem, my dog, seeing my clients and teaching a few classes while I wait for it to heal. With this type of injury it’s the only way to recover. Eventually in January it started to make a massive improvement, and I’m happy to say that I’ve now been running the last month with Gem, doing the odd Parkrun. It’s good to be back.

8: How have you dealt with not being able to run?
Not very well!! As a runner you feel like your whole world is falling apart and nothing else fills its place. We are special. I have been through every emotion possible. The worst is seeing other runners, knowing you can’t get out and run. All my running clients are the same. Saying that, being out for this long has made me realise it’s not the end of the world.

9: What are you now working towards?
Strength and conditioning is the only way for me to get better long term, but I am planning to book a 10k road race in September, and then a half marathon in December.

10: Can you sum up your training style in three words/phrases?
Focused, quality not quantity, calculated

11: And explain what you mean by them here?
Focused – it’s like a job you have to do, to do it to your best ability
Quality not quantity – if you’ve been unwell, working more, or are too tired to train, don’t play catch up. Take time out when you need it.
Calculated – Follow the plan!

12: Who or what inspires you?
Christy Wellington (British Ironman Triathlete), and for me, local swimming LEGEND Oliver Wilkinson (Jane lives in Gloucester).

13: What is the biggest issue people come to you with for advice/treatment at The RackhamEffect?
Upper and lower back issues. There are many reasons why this happens, as different areas of the body can contribute to pain.

14: What’s your essential kit for training, and for events?
Training – Run cap, sunnies, hydration vest and my Garmin.
Racing – all the above + my Almost Athletes vest and gels.

15: What would your advice be for someone wanting to take themselves from half marathon to marathon distance?
Make sure you have the time to train for longer and further. Work or family commitments can change things dramatically, but there are different run plans designed for this.

Gem takes Jane for a run

16: Music – yes or no while running?
No never. I need peace.

17: What’s your typical diet when in training? 
Good! Plenty of water, small meals and often, protein, vegetables, smoothies

18: What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you?
Never rush the start of any race.

19: Do you prefer running with friends or solo?
Both, but long training runs on my own.

20: Finish this sentence: ‘To me, running is…’
…My time to sort things out in my head. I either think things through and sort them out or nothing at all. It’s very calming.

Find out more about Jane and her work by visiting www.therackhameffect.com

On the Run! · Training and motivation

Running in the X’treme: 22.07.16

Run date: Friday 22 July 2016

Set-off time: 6.30 am, give or take

Pace: 9.41 mins/mile

Distance: 7.1 miles

Total run time: 1 hour, 8 mins:46 secs

Terrain/landscape: tarmac then gravel track, fluctuating gradient (but never steep)

Weather conditions: Cooler, pretty spot on really. ALTHOUGH: I had a severe run-in with the mozzies – 23 bites, I kid ye not! They feasted on me!

The route: (Got a bit squiggly at the end when I was rounding up to 7 miles)


Music of choice: Well, it started off with my dear Chris Hawkins, ’til the robot lady voice in my fairly new bluetooth headphones announced that her energy was fading, like a mayfly… So after a great bit of nostalgia with Bananarama:

I had nothing. Nada. No music, quite a rare thing for me. And I really enjoyed it, my thoughts darted about and sorted themselves out, and there was something cathartic about hearing the pad of my feet upon the pavement. And also how erratic my breathing can sound at points. I didn’t think silent running was for me, but I think I may do more of it.

 Fuel? Now do I have a story for you! So, after five days straight of no processed sugar – that’s right, no cake, chocolate, candy floss, marzipan, whatever else I usually get my hands on (PUDDING) – I went for it. A little bit. So, a very honourable cray fish and mango wild rice salady thing ended up being superseded by not one but 10 Celebrations, and two whole pieces of cake. Not forgetting the teeny-tiny Scotch eggs, onion bhajis and, er, miniature quiches. I was on fire.
So after that charade, I really didn’t deserve to not only beat Wednesday’s time a little, but to feel good on my run, and go further.
What was different? This morning, for the very first time ever (hyperbole alert), I decided I was going to drink an energy drink on the way round. This one, which I bought from Holland & Barrett for £6.99, 20 tabs, caffeinated, nondescript berry-flavoured, electrolyte, magnesium-infused,  effervescent terribleness:

crop Zero Xtreme 2

Or so I’d always thought, hence why I’d always steered clear. But I felt good, I never fatigued… obviously this warrants a bit more experimentation to see if my hypothesis rings true (sorry Mum. She’s a hygienist and a little worried about ‘runner’s teeth’).

To sum up: The best run of the week, for sure!

What’s the plan now? You’ll just have to wait and see…

Training and motivation

Our dirty little secrets

“So, what drives you?” Any elite, whatever their fixation, is bound to at some point be asked this age-old jabber of a question.

“What keeps you going when you’re out there?” “What inspires you?” “Why do you do it?”

The hope is that this profoundly-versed question will give way to profound musings. And when it comes from the mouths of conquistadors, the answer is going to be much more of a hook. Of course we want to know the secrets of the extremely talented: we want to know the secret thing they’ve unlocked that’s helped them reach super status. Like discovering Thor’s hipflask on Mount Olympus, for instance.

Yet we lowly earth dwellers have motivations too, dagnammit – especially when it comes to running – though we might prefer to ferret them away like dirty little secrets.

Let me give you an example. Last night, my friend the lovely Laura and I, went to see Absolutely Fabulous, the BBC movie based on the Jennifer Saunders classic. True to form, it was very silly. It also gave me free rein to mindlessly pile truck loads of sugar into my blood stream in the shape of giant chocolate buttons and sparkling fruit pastilles. The action could have feasibly been described as uncontrolled ‘shoveling’, and also followed on from the few slabs of cake I’d scoffed during the day (for teamwork purposes, you understand). I wasn’t my most controlled, dignified self.

And this is in no way a rare occurrence. When I first started running over 3.5 years ago, I was spending half my time working in a coffee house rammed with cakes, and I needed to counteract the after-effects of enjoying my delightful sugary cocoon. So that’s chiefly why I began to run. But once I was up and running, it didn’t take long for me to swap my taste for sugar with one for lolloping round the rural roads of my childhood village.

Thankfully, experience has brought strength – not just to my legs, but my steely runner’s reserve.

For example: I hate it when the days draw in for winter, so I’m motivated to go out running in the early hours, to see the sky move from pitch to sunrise, even when my blood turns to ice at first. I love going out running first thing in the summer when the air is fresh, to save myself from turning into a sweaty heap at the other end of the day, even if it means getting up at 5am.

I’m psyched by the thought of conquering my second half marathon distance, and moving onto a marathon, even if it means making it my life for a while. In short, I’m ambitious to smash so much more than a few hundred calories a go. I want to challenge who and how I am, my approach to things, the in-built barriers that have me self-checking my abilities, capping what I think I can do.

In my book, those motivations are pretty ‘super’. But I also know I’ll probably never shake my dirty little secret: that need to burn off the 40 giant chocolate buttons I scoffed the night before.

Training and motivation

Sunday morning: getting back on track

Today I woke up bright at 6. I really am an early bird, so the fact that post-op I’ve been conked out for all the world through dawn hasn’t been a ha-ha funny sensation. I like being wired and awake while others are sleepily toasting in their covers.

Even better, I woke feeling more like me than throughout these past couple of weeks. So I decided to up it and go for a wander round The Meadow to test out my stamina.

(And I wore my running shoes, for good measure, because I’m a big saddo. It was lovely.)

I live right in the middle of town, yet The Meadow is just a short walk – a bounding 3-mile round, tops. Straight out the door the air was hot and heavy, like the armpit of a glorious and sweaty chanteuse. The sea devils made their faint calls overhead (squawking loud and proud since 4am, baby).  All around, swathes of faint, eye-level green-yellow meadow grass made me feel like a Carpet Person.

A mile in, and walking a steady pace, sweat stuck my top to my back. My forehead grew misty; physiology at its finest! I made the loop, made my way back through a dozing town, and made up some toast and honey back at the ranch. Feeling refreshed – yes! – and not like I was going to keel over.

Sundays can be odd, can’t they? Days of Funk. And not the fun kind. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I find them unbearable. I feel it impossible to start, unable to concentrate or commit to anything; just waiting for Life #1 week #xyz to get back into gear.

But not today. Today I will go and watch the men’s Wimbledon final, ignore my phone, and look forward to seeing more of my sleepy town in the working week’s early hours in the days a-coming.

Training and motivation

Tonsillectomies are not fun

I thought I’d start this brand-spanking new blog of mine with an obvious-ity: tonsillectomies are not fun.

They are pretty horrible in fact, and I’ll tell you something for nothing, it’s not all jelly and ice cream neither. There was an absolute jelly void. When I was coming round I was offered toast about six times.

Ironically, for a blogger calling myself The Messy Runner, it’s meant I’ve actually not been able to run for over two weeks. Instead I’ve been knocked out with painkillers for a fortnight while my body goes, ‘hey, hey, what-the.. what-the-hey just happened?’, and I whimper for an hour at a time while trying to eat carrots.

So how have I spent those two weeks? I’ve slept a lot. And, unable to beat out my running frustrations on the tarmac, or in a sticky mud-clogged field, I have become an obsessive back-seat runner. This has manifest itself in me staring at new running shoes on Amazon and SportShoes.Com wondering which will give me the best support, lightness and fashion points for my meagre monies. I have been spotted urgently and enthusiastically trying to tell my anesthetists all about an amazing Runner’s World mouthwash tip before passing out. I’ve started reading Born to Run by Christopher McDougall, a bare-foot running classic recommended to me by an amazing ultrarunner, and then wondering if I should be bothering with shoes at all.

Then yesterday I signed up for the Great West Run – for nearly £40! Flouting my better judgment but excitement winning over yet again.

So why have I started a running blog with a tale about not being able to run? Because I want you to know from the start that this blog isn’t just about running. It’s about scattyness and hopefulness, and yes, [my] messiness; the electric mornings when I can dart out of bed at 5am, and those days when I really struggle. It’s about my running, how running helps with all of that, how I’m trying to be better.

And it’s also about my continued pursuit of the Holy Grail: the one where I can stop myself eating 30 fingers of shortbread in one sitting. Or entire bags of oat and raisin cookies. Or a giant Toblerone. Because the wisdom tells us that these will not make us run farther or faster, dammit, and I want to see where my post-tonsillectomy running will go.

But then, I am a mere 5″2 humanoid, and not a clean-eating goddess…