Sharing the passion: Runner Jane Hodgskin
Running is often considered a solitary pursuit, especially for those in search of a personal best. But not for this year's Standard Chartered Half Marathon runner-up, Jane Hodgskin.
Together with running partner Charlotte Cutler, Hodgskin, 30, organises the weekly "Tuesday Track" - a high-intensity, high-speed running session at the Aberdeen track for aspiring running elite and rookies alike. Sharing her passion has been the secret to her success.
It began six years ago when Hodgskin ran her first race in Hong Kong. She nervously noted the willowy, fit-looking Cutler to her right. The gun went off and the pair battled it out stride for stride until the five kilometre-mark, where Cutler "blew me away", she says. The pair reunited at the finish and have been training partners - and best of friends - since.
Others soon joined their weekly training sessions. As word spread among the running community, the numbers doubled, then tripled. Up to 60 runners now join the free session each week.
"I believe you should never have to pay to run," says Hodgskin, the communications adviser for Asia at Linklaters. "[The group] helps me as well. I have so many people to push me along. When you're training for a race, you can let it consume you, but you have to keep a balance and not get carried away by it."
Growing up, Hodgskin was a competitive swimmer and triathlete (at 16, she won a bronze medal at the Australian Junior Championships). Her father, an accomplished runner, would encourage her, although she didn't start running seriously until leaving school.
She has clocked a number of impressive personal records in the five-kilometre (18 minutes: 30 seconds), 10-kilometre (38:40) and half-marathon distance (1:24:00).
Did you think your running career was over when you moved here?
I had in mind that my running would take a bit of a back seat. I had no idea that Hong Kong would be a place to run. I just pictured it as a concrete jungle. When I got here, I was just blown away by how much I could actually run - particularly on the trails. Of course it's different, but you adjust.
Is running about the destination or the journey?
The journey is the destination. It's all about the experience that gets you to wherever you want to go. At the beginning of each race, I think back to everything I went through to get me there, and then realise I'm at my destination. All the hard work's been done - I just have to do the home sprint, which is the race.
What's the greatest lesson you've learned over the years?
I've come to realise the importance of cross-training. I don't think you should run every day. If you want to improve, you have to do quality stuff like track. I only run four times per week and three of those sessions are quality, with one easy run. I combine this running schedule with two weights sessions at the gym and some swimming - if I have time.
Rest and recovery is part of being a good runner. Even when I've had three months off for a stress fracture, I will actually come back much stronger because my body and my mind have rested.
What's your relationship to running these days compared to when you were a young athlete?
I always think runners will never stop running. Once you're a runner, even if you're not competing, you'll alwaysget up in the morning and just go for a run. I think running will always be a part of me; it energises me and it's a way of relaxing.
For those who have never run on a track, what are three words that describe it?
It's empowering. Then there's a sense of accomplishment. It's also an adrenaline rush.