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Olympian Jo Pavey: My life as a mum

Jo Pavey with her daughter Emily [Photo: Stuart Clarke/REX_Shutterstock]

Olympian athlete and gold medal winning long-distance runner Jo Pavey, 41, juggles motherhood with intensive training and competitions across the globe. With two children under five, life is ‘fun and rewarding’ as she explains here.

I’m mum to two small children. Jacob is five and lots of fun, has lots of energy and loves being active. At the moment he’s really into swimming and gymnastics but also is creative and loves drawing pictures. Emily is 19 months and a sweet, happy-go-lucky little girl. It’s a really special time at the moment as she’s walking and starting to run around.

I didn’t know what to expect when I got pregnant but it’s a very exciting time. I took medical advice and was able to keep jogging every day. Unfortunately I got quite sick during both my pregnancies, especially during the second pregnancy which was quite hard, but of course worth it when I saw my babies.

“My husband and I would go to the supermarket at all hours for multi-packs of ice lollies”

In my first pregnancy I craved ice lollies and my husband and I would go to the supermarket at all hours for multi-packs! In general, I always eat a healthy diet and made sure I did while pregnant. I also took multi-vitamins designed for pregnancy to ensure I took on all the right nutrients.

It was hugely exciting to see the bump grow and feel the movements of the baby. I wasn’t bothered about staying a particular shape - the most important thing for me was that the babies were healthy.

I had Caesarean births both times. I would have loved to have had natural births for both but, although everything was fine throughout my pregnancy with Jacob, at the last minute I had to have an emergency Caesarean. This was worrying so to avoid similar complications with Emily, I elected for a caesarean with her too. It was still overwhelming and an extremely special time for me and my husband.

I got back in shape when the time felt right. I just tried to sleep when the baby slept. As I was breastfeeding, I made sure I took enough nutrition for me and the baby, and tried to gradually build up performance on the track. I was also lucky to have a lot of support from my husband which helps.

“Following the birth, my main priority was being a mum”

I won a gold medal at the 2014 European Championships just 10 months after giving birth. To be honest, I was more surprised than anyone else that I was able to achieve that! Following the birth, my main priority was being a mum. I think because I was so happy, I was more relaxed which meant I didn’t put too much pressure on myself. When I was younger I used to get stressed about training but didn’t have that so was actually able to achieve more.

I want to show my kids that it is fun to be fit and healthy. It’s important, however, to let them try their own things, rather than just pushing running on to them. The main thing is that they are happy.  

“I always make sure I get a good night’s sleep to ensure I feel my best”

Being a mother is so rewarding. It makes you feel so happy watching them grow and develop. I just try to have fun with them and make the most of quality time as a family. Obviously, even though I’m busy, I have to look after my health. I always make sure I get a good night’s sleep to ensure I feel my best and am able to cope with everything the day has in-store.

Family life is busy but the key for me is to be flexible. So, I don’t always get to train at the time I planned, I just make sure I get it done at a time that suits me and the family. You also need to be flexible with priorities. Sometimes the house is messy but time with my family is more important than a clean house!

Jo Pavey is the ambassador of Silentnight’s Sleep for Success campaign which is promoting the importance of a good night’s sleep to achieve more. For more information visit

Photo: Stuart Clarke/REX_Shutterstock

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