Jen told us that she was always pretty fit and loved doing exercise outdoors but only started running (late 40s) when a friend persuaded her into a charity race – “I never saw the attraction of running before as most runners you pass are not usually smiling.”
As the race approached her friend got injured and Jen ended up doing the race by herself and was surprised by how much she got out of the training.
Meet Jenifer McMurtrie
I didn’t run again for a few years as I enjoyed cycling and HIT and Tae Kwon Do (more than enough) but then the menopause arrived.”
For Jen, there were no traditional symptoms or hot flushes, instead, she had muscle fatigue which crept up over a year or so and just totally wore her down.
Combined with the irrational descent of red mist I was not a person I liked or wanted to be. I lost all my fitness and was in a dark place.”
Jen says that thankfully she was prescribed HRT and for her, it was like night and day… the weight both physical and mental that she felt she was under slowly lifted.
I still had to get some fitness back and took up running/walking/jogging.”
Jen told us that she was very much assisted by having dogs … she loves this.
One of the dogs went blind at a very young age but as a springer spaniel – needed lots of exercises!
When I first started running I was very competitive but against myself rather than others, probably why I liked HIT exercises.”
For Jen, running was bitter-sweet at first because she felt that same pressure to constantly get better.
The one area where pressure was less, was dog running (Cani Cross) with her blind dog. They were a team learning together and just enjoying being out.
I was so proud of her and she boosted my desire to run better to not let her down. I do fewer Cani Cross events now but nearly all my training is with my dogs running loose on trails and I feel so much better after a run with them.”
Jen nearly stopped running again during covid but then discovered Coach Parry at the right time to get her back out.
She says that her attitude now is about enjoying the run more and stopping to take a picture now and again.
Before coach Parry, I was always squeezing runs in and trying to get faster and further all the time. Running based on time on feet rather than distance is very freeing.”
Running is important to Jen now to maintain fitness as she thinks it is really important that her children see their mother doing things – “I had my children later in life so my daughter is just 16 and son 13.”
Jen believes that children whose parents exercise, especially their mothers are much more likely to stay in exercise and this is important to her.
That and staying fit as long as I can to both help and annoy them, in equal measure, as long as possible!”
She says that the feeling of just being outdoors and enjoying the moment, even in the snow and rain of a Scottish winter day is essential to her well-being.
Thankfully I also have a very supportive family and they can see what a difference running makes to me.”
Jen was So well pleased with her most recent achievement!
She aimed for 2hrs 10ish and completed the race with a chip time of 2hrs 2mins and 19s for the 13.6miles.
There was a marker at 13.1 at which point I was 1hr 57 and 8 secs but my watch didn’t measure 13.1 till 1.58min 13s (and that includes the 30s due to my watch pausing at water stops) Whatever, I am delighted. It was a pretty rainy, blustery day so not ideal conditions but good temperature.”
She says that she couldn’t tell us how please she was and that her head still struggles to understand how running lots slow translates to race day speed …” but it seems to work so don’t overthink it!”
Jen started in the group that was aiming for 2hrs to 2hrs 15 and when the race started they were off like whippets after a rabbit and she was thinking “whoah this is way too fast but I got a bit carried along with it all and it felt fine but I did keep thinking I need to slow.”
A friend came alongside Jen and she was fairly zipping along but another few miles in she thought this is mad and let her friend pull ahead and tried to just get into a rhythm.
I knew I would be walking at all water stations so just decided to keep going without being too stupid, as long as I felt ok. (Ps passed the friend just before mile 10 and she is now considering your training program 🙂)”
Jen told us that she also thinks she has nutrition a bit more sussed. She finally found some gels which aren’t too gloopy or sweet and that don’t upset her stomach.. so she has been testing them out on previous long runs. They can be put in a reusable bottle that holds 2 gels so you can take them a little bit at a time which Jen likes. (Kendal Mint Gels – for anyone interested)
One of Jen’s previous achievements was her dog run with her 2 sighted dogs in Wales in October of last year.
First run since Coach Parry and a bit of an unknown as an over-hilly trail with dogs, the younger of which it was his first race. Distance approx 12 miles.”
Jen was nervous, she had nearly stopped running in lockdown and didn’t understand how the Coach Parry method translated to results.
Dog running is also strange – you are assisted by the dog absolutely but, you also have to maintain tension on the bungee so you are pulling back while going forward and it takes it out of the legs. “
The race was far from home – travel night before and stay over – and she thinks she had covid isolation nerves from being at home for the previous 2 years…
The weather was perfect and she followed all the instructions with warm-ups and was probably more on top of the dog’s nutrition and hydration than her own. – so she says!😂
“I set off determined to do my best but to enjoy it.”
It is a mixed-race, dog runners, non-dog runners, walkers, male, female, there are no distinctions and it is a really friendly race according to Jen.
It is also a staggered start because of the dogs and you wear a tag for timing (and in case you get lost) so you don’t know how you are doing.
The race was shortened due to farm access issues and you run through woods, across fields, climb over stiles, and are generally just out by yourself and hope you are on track.”
I basically treated it as a day out and really tried to enjoy it and encourage the dogs who were brilliant and worked really well together. It is a hilly route and ended up being just under 10 miles and over 500m of ascent.”
Jen says that in the race you get to the top of the last hill and see the valley and the finish down below and it is a nice feeling that all the hard stuff is behind and you have a nice downhill to finish.
A Surprise For Jen
“The shortened route took me a bit by surprise … I got down to the finish area and it was quieter than expected and for a moment I thought I had gone the wrong way.”
People were shouting from the finish line for her to keep coming and she got over the line to realize that she was the first female home and 4th overall!
I couldn’t believe it! Absolutely gobsmacked! Of course… I then did my /oh it must have been a smaller field due to covid, there must be fewer people with 2 dogs, etc, etc.’”
No, there were 150, and the 2 ladies behind her both had 2 dogs and were younger than Jen so she had to admit negative defeat and actually admit … job well done and enjoy the moment!
Enter Coach Parry…
Jen joined last summer after she watched the Running Through Menopause Webinar by Shona.
It was one of those moments where someone lists things and you go yes, yes, yes, oh my yes, and yes – you have just described me!”
Join us for a free online presentation of the…
The Running Through Menopause Masterclass
…and discover how you can run well (and faster) as you get older, without training more or harder than you currently are, all while avoiding injury.
If it feels like you’re training harder than ever but not running the paces you’d like to be running or if you’re constantly tired, fatigued or running in some sort of pain, then this is specifically for you.
Save Your Seat In This Training Now…
Biggest Contributor To Jen’s Success Story
She answered us by saying having a plan to follow, having all the extra support from the videos and clips and information you get from Coach Parry which explains the sense of that plan… even if you don’t understand it, and being stubborn and willing to start again plus of course lots of family support and not forgetting the dogs.
What Next For Jen
The 1/2 marathon was part of a trilogy event with the 10k already been and the marathon part is in August.
However, her main goal is another half marathon which is in September, and climbs Ben Lawyer in Scotland and has a 1300m ascent “gulp!”
Hardest Part Of Reaching Her Goals
I think my struggles were more mental. I don’t think we appreciate how fit we are at times.”
She says that when she did insanity every day and cycled miles and was a black tag – she didn’t think anything of it and then when she could barely get out of bed … it was tough not to look back and compare negatively.
Getting back my belief in myself but at the same time acknowledging that I might never run as fast or as far as I did before and that is more than ok and, although it sounds schmalzy, the getting out each day is the winning thing, doing well on the day is an extra.”
We couldn’t agree with Jen more!
Discipline to keep going when maybe mentally you are not in the mood or family life distracts you from taking time for yourself to train.
“I always try to smile and say hi to other walkers and runners when I am out just to disprove the rule that runners don’t smile :-)”
We found your story so inspiring Jen! We know a lot of other runners will too.
Well done and we can’t wait to hear about your next race! 🙂