Jo Meek AKA ‘The RunningSquirrel’ is a former logistic wiz of the UK Army, which likely contributes to her abilities as one bad ass trail runner. When I first met Jo, she had just completed a 2 day recce of the CCC course, sleeping along the way in a random barn. She went on to place 2nd at CCC that year along with 7th at the World Trail Championships and 1st at the Laugavegurinn Ultra. Here is a little more insight into how this UK national representative does what she does.
What do you do for recovery in between training?
Go to work! Recovery is the thing that’s difficult to fit in. I can train but then have to rush to work so it’s not ideal. I try and get some good sleep in so I go to bed early to make up for it.
Are you coached? if so, what are the benefits?
I am self-coached. The benefits of having a coach would be someone who moderates me and tells me to stop/ rest. It would be useful to chat through these things because I usually have a doubt, but don’t listen to myself. I tend to use my husband as a sounding board.
What is the most important session you do all week?
My training plan is based on quality rather than quantity so all my sessions are fairly important. If I had to ultimately choose I like to know I’ve got some speed work/ threshold runs in as naturally I lack speed so I like to keep on top of it.
What does your rest day look like?
I do not put on any trainers. The most exercise I do is walk the dog and do the housework. I have one rest day a week.
Do you have an ‘OFF’ season from running?
Sort of. After my last race of the year, I ease off for a month. Unfortunately, I’m usually really susceptible in this time to being ill so it’s usually a completely enforced rest from everything.
How would you describe your everyday nutrition? Do you stick to a specific nutrition plan?
I do not follow a specific nutrition plan. I eat a good all round diet. I used to be vegetarian but now eat red meat for iron levels, 2 or 3 times a month. Basically, I eat whatever I want but I do think about my intake in terms of energy and recovery. I like cooking and baking so we eat well in our house and there is always a cake in the tin.
Why trail running, why ultra running?
I used to just run the roads so it makes a nice change to mix it all up. I love where the trails have taken me. I naturally have an infinity with endurance so ultra running was a natural progression from marathon running. I love running and I love the challenge of ultra running.
What is your favourite food in a race?
Bounce balls. 32Gi gels and chews. I’m there to race, I just need good solid energy.
What are your other passions outside of running?
Running does take up a lot of time but I also work and really enjoy my job. I am a sports/ musculoskeletal physiotherapist. I love being outside….cycling, walking the dog and generally burning energy, spending time with my husband, Jon, and catching up with friends over good food.
What are your plans for 2017?
Good question. I’m trying to finalise it now. I was lucky enough to be contacted by the Ultra Trail World Tour and as a result, I may be eligible to get into races that I’ve been unsuccessful in entering via the lotteries such as Western States. Their results regarding which athletes can do which races is not out yet. However, my first race is booked. I’m off to race in El Cruce in February and can’t wait!
You can follow Jo and her missions at the following
@jo_meek (Twitter); @TheRunningSquirrel (Facebook); running_squirrel (Instagram)
Photos courtesy of Ian Corless