Q&A: Jenni Falconer

We caught up with the TV personality on how she trains for a marathon on a treadmill, why she'll never diet and on why we should all head to Richmond Park.


by Annie Rice

What are you training for at the moment?

I’m currently training for the London Marathon in April. My training is going alright, although it’s really cold and I’ve got bad circulation in cold weather so I find it quite hard. I actually do a lot of treadmill running which loads of people say is wrong and that you should train outside but I actually find it helps me because I can really nail my pace.

Do you do your entire marathon training indoors?

I’ve done a couple of 18 milers on the treadmill. I watch TV at the same time. I just have to make sure that I go there really early while it’s quiet. I finish work on a Sunday at 8 o’clock in the morning so I either run home and my runs just get longer and longer or I’ll just go straight to the gym and get on the treadmill. I’ll run for 2 hours 30 minutes, I run at 12K an hour so I can just maintain one pace. Then I stop at 60 minutes as it automatically resets then and I’ll maybe nip to the toilet or have an energy gel and then do another hour and then get off and then start again. I mean it hurts the same muscles and I’d much rather be outside but until the weather improves I figure that getting mileage in is most important.

It must be hard to fit training in with everything?

Yes. I got a PB in 2010, I did 3:30 and then I was doing five runs a week and 2 weights sessions a week. And if you don’t have anything else to commit to that’s fine. If you don’t have children or a job then you have all the time to train. Some days I can put my little girl in the cresh at the gym and I’ll do an hours workout - I might do that twice a week and otherwise Sundays I run back from work. My husband works quite a lot as well so sometimes we’ll get a babysitter or I’ll get up early and do it before he goes. But some weeks I don’t get very much in at all.

Have you started doing some cycling yet for London Duathlon?

I haven’t been able to start cycling yet. Around now is the time you start training for September but I’m entirely focused on London Marathon at the moment. I do want to take that seriously as well. I had an injury last year so I want to do well this year. I had to have 4 months off running. 

How did you cope with the injury?

Not only is it mind numbingly tedious, it’s the worst thing for everyone. To go out on a Sunday and see everyone is running, it’s like when you’re pregnant and all you see is pregnant people. It affected me psychologically. I felt really left out and I thought I was going to get very unfit, but actually what happened was I turned to Yoga and weight training and I actually found that I loved it, I really loved it and so then when I started running again I start slowly. So this year it’s all about getting fit with the running and the cycling which I can introduce slowly. I’m also doing weight training.

Has the strength training made a difference to your running?

Yes, well I know when I got my PB it was when I was doing a lot of weights as even if you are tired you can carry on, it’s really weird but you’re able to swing your arms that bit more and it helps. I do a lot of one-legged work and as I remember this also gives you really lean thighs.

What’s your favourite race distance or event?

I’ve done quite a few 5 and 10Ks but for me I like the marathon because you get the challenge and it makes the training worthwhile. I’ve only ever done London Marathon I hate the training, I hate it with a passion, but when you cross the finish line, you’re like oh I love that I’ll do it again next year. I

How do you motivate yourself?

I don’t know how I get through it in the dark winter months and sometimes I do question it. I think whatever happens, there’s always going to be a week when you’re sick of it and you don’t want to do it. But actually I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having a week off because it kind of reinvigorates you as well. Sometimes people get a cold or something and it’s generally because your body needs a rest and once you have a rest you’ll come back stronger.

Do you reward yourself?

One of the main reasons I exercise is because I don’t believe in dieting. I never lose weight during training. Years ago, when I first started doing longer runs I lost loads of weight because it was a shock to my system but ever since it doesn’t help me lose weight it just helps me balance out.

Are you quite sensible about your nutrition?

During the last few weeks before the race I really will watch what I eat but until that point I want to be able to enjoy my life as well. These events are fantastic and they are great to be part of but at the same time if you’re not a professional athlete you can take part without changing your life. You can enjoy and embrace a challenge but you don’t have to be T total for 6 months or say I’m not going to eat anything. Some people walk round a marathon in 7-8 hours so anyone can take part and it’s the fact that you’re setting yourself a personal challenge.

Do you train in London?

Yes quite often I will just pound the payments and I prefer training next to the road because I always think if you’re next to a traffic jam you’re less likely to stop. If you’re in the park you might have a break.

Do you do speed and interval work as well?

I do Tabata style work on the treadmill; I do 40 seconds on and then 10 off. I only do it for about 8 -10 minutes and then the workout is done.

Do you have a favourite run or place to go?

I love Richmond Park. It’s just the most beautiful place to run. It’s a 7 mile loop around the outside. It’s the perfect location for the Duathlon. 

What’s your role with the London Duathlon?

I’m an ambassador so I’m trying to encourage people who’ve never thought about doing anything like this before to do it. You do have to be a super athlete to run it as there are different distance options. It’s a really nice social thing as well as it’s on a Sunday in September in Richmond, it’s the perfect excuse to have a lovely fitness day and then a Sunday lunch afterwards. 

Jenni Falconer is the London Duathlon 2014 ambassador. For more information or to sign up, please visit http://www.londonduathlon.com


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Jenni Falconer, running, london marathon, treadmill running, marathon training, london duathlon, cycling, tv presenter
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