Jocelyn Forster

Jocelyn has been running for around 15 years. She has 3 marathons to her name: she clocked 3:28 on her debut in Manchester in 2021. This was followed by a fast 3:12 in Paris in 2022, which qualified her for a Championship place in London 2023. Then daughter Isla came along in early 2023 – becoming a mum for the first time meant she couldn’t run London in 2023.

Fortunately London introduced a new deferral policy for expecting/new mothers, and Jocelyn was able to defer her London entry from 2023 to 2024. She put in a lot of hard graft after Isla’s arrival, and she was rewarded with a fantastic PB of 3:07 in London.

Jocelyn took some time to reflect on her journey:

What’s your marathon history?

I’m relatively new to the Marathon distance, having only run Manchester and Paris before London… but I love it! I love the focus the training gives you. Each marathon medal you earn has a story behind it. You train so hard in the months leading up to the race, and there is so much anticipation when you finally make it to the start line. I think that the start line is harder to reach than the finish line!

Did you keep running throughout the pregnancy?

I did! my last run was 3 days before Isla was born! It was all about getting out and enjoying being active throughout my pregnancy. Any speedwork took a back seat quite early on and I just ran according to how I felt. It was nice to be able to hold on to something of the “old me” whilst going through all the unknowns of a first pregnancy! 

What made you want to get back to high-level running so soon after giving birth?

I missed it! Running is a huge part of my life and I get so much enjoyment from training and competing. I was determined to get back to fitness and successfully combine “running life” and “mum life” together.

Did you have any issues or problems getting back?

I took almost 12 weeks off running after having Isla. It’s so important to give your body time to recover and I believe you need to build back gradually after childbirth in the same way as you would coming back from injury. I saw a women’s health physiotherapist around 6 weeks after giving birth who gave me some strengthening exercises to work on for a few weeks before returning to running. I combined this with lots of walking with a buggy! I was very lucky that I kept well and was able to run throughout my pregnancy and I think this really helped the process of coming back.  

I have a very supportive husband who despite running a very busy farm, and he also does an amazing job of working things around me to enable me to get out training each day. Grandparents have also been a huge support, particularly in the run-up to London (which coincided with the busy lambing season on the farm!) where training sessions were longer, and I became increasingly twitchy!

What made you want to go straight back into the marathon?!

I ran the qualifying time for a place in the London Marathon Championship at the Paris Marathon in 2022, just before my pregnancy with Isla! I was lucky that the London Marathon deferral policy changed that very year which meant I could defer my place and run 2024, so it was in my plan to run London since then. I was very keen to get back to what I loved doing, and it was really good for me to have that goal in sight throughout pregnancy and the early baby days. 

Was London your first race back?

I ran a few shorter distance races before London. This was helpful for my training and they were good stepping stones. My first race back was the Manchester Half Marathon in October 2023 and it felt amazing crossing the line in a new PB of 87:59 after having Isla. I took that PB down to 86:06 at the Brass Monkey Half in York in January 2024 and then broke 40 minutes for the 10k in Carlisle in February. So it all went well! 

How did your training go this year for it? How was it with a baby, was it tricky to balance it all?

Training went really well. But I did have a few niggles towards the end of the training block. Carting a toddler around plays havoc with your back! Generally though, I was feeling good. With a little one, you train “when you can” rather than “when you want”, and often you train pushing a running buggy! This all involves some flexibility, but generally having the structure of a training programme to adhere to, and having something to work towards outside of “baby life” has been really healthy for me.

How did your London marathon go?

The race went well, and it has definitely helped to build my confidence racing the marathon distance. I had hoped to squeeze a little more from my time on the day, but it was great to be fulfilling the goal I had set out before having Isla. I achieved a time 5 minutes faster than pre-pregnancy so I walked away satisfied with that. My brother travelled to London with me, he was a fabulous support over the weekend and had to endure a mile-by-mile analysis after the race! He was very patient, and tells me he really enjoyed the experience…!

What next?!

A bit of a break from the long weekend marathon training runs! I’ll do a few shorter races over summer, but I would like to build on this block of training and have another crack over the marathon distance later in the year to try to get closer to the 3 hour mark…

Interviewed by John Lenehan

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