Jo Meek podcast

011: Jo Meek on ultra-endurance



In this episode I talk to Jo Meek, aka the “Running Squirrel”. Jo is one of the world’s leading ultra-endurance runners. In 2013 Jo was 2nd woman across the line in the Marathon de Sables. In 2014 Jo was first in the Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica (a 225km run which she completed in 29h 17mins, 19s; 5th in Comrades marathon; 4th in the World 100km Champs.
Jo has a 10km time of 34:36; a marathon time of 2:46; and a 100km time of 7hr 43mins. Jo offers a unique insight into managing training, discomfort of training and how she reframes challenge into a positive.

In this intriguing episode, I speak with Jo Meek, affectionately known as the “Running Squirrel”. Jo has established herself as one of the world’s elite ultra-endurance runners, with significant achievements such as coming 2nd in the Marathon de Sables in 2013 and triumphing in the Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica in 2014. She boasts impressive timings across various distances, giving her a deep understanding of the world of endurance sports.

The discussion kicks off with a fun insight into how Jo acquired her unique nickname. She then delves into her somewhat unconventional journey into the world of sports, where she initially used it as a tool for social acceptance. From road running to mastering the terrains of Dartmoor, Jo’s running spectrum has seen it all.

As the conversation progresses, Jo attributes much of her success in ultras to her mental fortitude and unwavering persistence, which she believes comes naturally to her. A background in Sport Science aids her training, but Jo emphasizes the importance of making running a part of one’s daily routine.

The decision to become a full-time athlete carries its own set of pros and cons, and Jo provides a balanced perspective on this. She further dives into how her time in the army, including frontline action in Iraq, profoundly influenced her approach to challenges and personal well-being.

A significant portion of the discussion revolves around Jo’s training regimens, tailored for different events. She elaborates on the shift in her training schedule for races like the UTMB, a 170km race covering three countries. Shedding light on her daily routine, winter training adaptations, and the strategies she employs to maintain mental resilience, Jo presents a holistic view of an ultra-runner’s life.

In a surprising twist, Jo suggests that for her, ultra-running is somewhat more comfortable than marathon running. Looking ahead, she hints at possibly tackling the Western States Endurance Run.

To cap off the discussion, Jo shares her top tips for those venturing into ultra-running: maintaining training consistency, mastering fuelling techniques, and most importantly, enjoying the journey.





2:22 The origins of the nickname “Running Squirrel”
5:02 Unconventional entrance to sport. Sport as a key to join in and be cool! Road running and now running on Dartmoor
7:10 English cross-country champion, road racing and marathon and then ultra-marathon
11:37 Mental resolve, persistence and hard work. Mental resolve is innate for Jo
13:15 Sport Science top tips
15:35 Make running your routine
16:30 The pros and cons of becoming a full-time athlete
19:27 What moderates Jo’s training?
23:00 The army, frontline action in Iraq for 4-5 months
26:26 The army taught Jo the importance of looking after yourself
27:41 Endurance background to ultra and the Marathon de Sables
29:50 Highest British female finisher in the Marathon de Sables!
30:44 Variety of races, UTMB 170km around Mont Blanc, France, Switzerland & Italy
32:47 Tuning training to the event. UTMB training marathon training, long run becomes 3-4 hours and back to back long runs
35:30 Training schedule, daily routine
38:40 Managing winter training and darkness
41:20 Mental resilience, anticipation of problems to stay positive for the race planning…control the controllables
45:30 Ultra-running is easier than marathon running!!!!!!
47:35 The next challenge…Western States Endurance Run?
51:30 Jo’s top tips for ultra-training, consistency with training, fuelling and enjoy it!

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