In 2014 Jo Pavey won Commonwealth bronze over 5000m and European championship gold over 10,000m, all just months after giving birth to her second child. She tells SPIKES what motherhood has done for her running career.

She’s just run 10k in 32:47, but instead of taking it easy and recovering from the race, Jo Pavey, 41, is in a playground only metres away from the finish line, playing on a roundabout with son Jacob (5). Gavin, her husband, is in the car nearby feeding daughter Emily (1).

It’s been quite the year for the Brit. After giving birth to her second child in September last year, she was back in training for this year’s international championships within months.

“I was still breastfeeding until the start of April and then I made it back for the summer season,” she remembers. “I had the [Commonwealth] trials on May 10th in the 10,000m, but I was pleased that I was able to do that.”

Jo Pavey Commonwealth Games ()

Less than a year after giving birth to daughter Emily, Pavey took bronze at the Commonwealth Games

Not only did she do well at trials, it was medals galore for the Pavey household this summer. It probably helps that she trained right up until the last opportunity.

“I ran right up to the end, probably within two or three weeks of the birth,” she says.

“But I didn’t do any sort of track sessions.I was mostly just doing forty-minute jogs on most days, but nothing hard. And I was always wearing a heart rate monitor,” she adds.

Never mind the training, it must be madness in the Pavey household with two kids, training camps, races and championships.

“Yes,” she laughs. “But it’s been fun. I think I just feel so happy now with my personal life and I feel like I can actually enjoy my running. I don’t get stressed about it like I would when I was younger, but I couldn’t do it without the support of my husband [who’s also her coach].

“You have to fit things around all the activities of the children – play-dates, parties and going out for the day,” she says while skilfully opening a packet of biscuits for the two little ones.

Jo Pavey Euro 2012 ()

In 2012 she took silver at the European champs

So what’s the secret to her recent success?

“I haven’t been on a training camp in six years,” she explains. “It is something I decided to do once I had my first child. I wanted a consistent life for my children, so I just stayed at home.

“After I have done a long run, instead of lying around on the sofa I’m at a soft place somewhere like a big indoor play centre, or at a play park. I enjoy that.

“It’s a great excuse to go to play parks. Before you have kids you wouldn’t do that because people would think you were very odd obviously. But now having kids it’s a good excuse to be able to play again, like when you were a child, which is a lot of fun.”

Supermum Pavey isn’t the only one on the circuit who has had addition to the family in the last 12 months. This year’s seen a real baby boom with some of the sport’s greatest athletes welcoming their first-borns. Jessica Ennis-Hill, Christina Obergfoll, Yelena Isinbaeva: the list goes on and on.

Having a child is an experience like no other, and even though the track looks tempting, she is clear on where any new mother's priorities should lie.

“After having a child – as opposed to during the pregnancy – I think really the main thing is to enjoy your newborn,” she says.

“That time is never going to come back to you, so even though you want to come back to your running [or training], just make sure you enjoy that time. 

Jo Pavey Continental Cup ()

Pavey capped off a glittering 2014 by captaining Europe to success in the Continental Cup

“Don’t have any definite plans of when you’re going to make it back. Don’t set targets until you’ve made your way a little bit back, just enjoy the time, so you can just get your fitness back as your body allows and as the lack of sleep allows.”

“If you are thinking you will stick to rigid training plans, that’s not going to work. Get the training done, but don’t worry about maybe delaying a session if it’s not going to work out that day. If you’re trying to plough on regardless, that’s when it’s going to become stressful and you can break down with not only being injured, but being exhausted.”

Just as she's explaining how to balance motherhood and professional running, little Jacob shouts: “Mummy, can you go on it now?” pointing at a slightly scary looking fast spinning piece of playground equipment. Without any further ado she’s off back to playing like she’s one of the kids…