Interview with Jessie Pavelka

RunTogether with Jessie Pavelka

Jessie Pavelka, presenter of Obese: A Year to Save My Life, is proud to be an ambassador for the England Athletics RunTogether project. We managed to grab a few minutes to explore his philosophy and how RunTogether is a great fit for him.

When did you discover running and what did it bring to your life?

I remember being five years old and running across the fields during recess. I can still picture looking down and seeing the ground moving under my feet and I realised I could run, and I could run really fast. I got into my body and that is something that I have experienced and used throughout my life – getting out of my head and into my body.

What is the best thing about running?

It’s like meditation in motion.

Have you ever turned against running and not wanted to do it any more?

When I was younger I ran for speed. The transition of running short to longer distances was challenging – but I wouldn’t say I turned against it.

What has made you want to encourage others into running?

I’m particularly passionate about running because it’s such a low cost accessible activity. Once you have a pair of trainers you can go anywhere, any time. I travel a lot with work and find it’s a great way to explore new areas. When I heard about RunTogether I just loved the concept; from helping people at the start of their running journey through ‘get me started’ groups to the social camaraderie of running with others.

Do you race?

On occasions. It is something I would like to do more of, looking into the future, but whilst work and family life are so busy, running helps me to switch off and enjoy chatting with my running buddies whilst getting in a workout.

Do you have a runbritain handicap score?

Unfortunately I don’t get to spend too much time in the UK. I do a lot of my running and exercising in the USA.

What are your thoughts on racing? What does it add to the overall running experience?

I think it’s a challenge – you challenge yourself but you have healthy competition with others. Also you have an accountability buddy which adds to your training experience. It exercises the art of competition in a healthy way.

What would you advise for a runner's first race? - What should they be looking for when they choose the race and how long out should they start the specific preparation?

Firstly, think about the distance that’s right for you. Whilst a marathon is on many people’s bucket list, if you’re new to running I’d recommend starting with shorter distance races and building up – 5km, 10km, half marathon, before embarking on the full marathon distance.

Secondly, I’d suggest picking a smaller local event as your first one, they are usually less formal than the larger events so good for building confidence.

Next, I’d suggest finding others to train, and if possible, race with. The company and accountability, on those days you just don’t feel like it, make all the difference. There are over 1,000 RunTogether Groups in England offering sessions for people at all stages of their running journey, from ‘get me started’ to ‘keep me going, right through to ‘challenge me’ runs.

I’m very passionate about nutrition and would recommend reading up on the right foods and hydration for your race distance and the climate, both on race day and the days leading up to the race. If you’re going to take on food and /or energy drink during the race, make sure you’ve run with it during training to be sure it agrees with your digestive system.

Finally, I would recommend following a training plan, there are several available as well as a range of hints and tips on

And of course there is a wealth of information and guidance on runbritain in our Training and Advice section!