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Runner Interview: Jenny Tough (@jennytough)

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Runner Interview: Jenny Tough


  • Location: Edinburgh, Scotland

Running across Kyrgyzstan
Running across Kyrgyzstan

When and why did you start running?

I started running, in a sense, when I was a teenager, rather reluctantly and mostly as a form of punishment for eating. Throughout university, I began to run more often in the mornings and discovered the link between better performance throughout the day, as well as feeling more happy and confident on days that I ran.

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I decided to set a challenge to run a half marathon, and at the finish line of that run, I must say I was officially hooked. In the past 10 years, running has been completely integrated into my life.

Describe your ideal race or adventure challenge

I race for two reasons: 1) to give myself a goal to train towards, and 2) to enjoy the atmosphere of running with other runners. My ideal race is one that is a challenging distance (something which changes throughout the year depending on my current level!) and has a great atmosphere. Great scenery is a must, and a big bonus if I get to travel somewhere new!

Trail running in Korea
Trail running in Korea

Tell us about your favourite trail

I grew up in Western Canada, and Banff National Park was my playground. The Rocky Mountains are loaded with stunning and challenging trails – I could never pick just one!

In the past 10 years, running has been completely integrated into my life.

What has been your biggest running / adventure challenge to date?

In September of this year I ran solo across Kyrgyzstan. It was a distance of about 950km, carrying all of my 12kg of equipment in a backpack. I aimed to use ancient nomad trails to cross the Tien Shan mountains on a route that had never before been run, relying on yurt-dwelling nomads for assistance in the wild.

Trail running in Whistler
Trail running in Whistler

Tell us about your greatest running fail, we’ve all had – or will have – them at some point!

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I once decided to run a full marathon the weekend after running a half marathon. I completely failed to pace myself on the half, so by the time that next Sunday rolled around I was not recovered, but gave the full a go anyway. It was awful, and I definitely cried. I wish I had dropped out, but something made me finish the race in something like five and half hours of total torture. I’ll never forget that pain!

What advice would you give to a new trail runner?

Think about safety when you head into the wilderness, and stop to take photos!

Jenny Tough
Jenny Tough

What is your favourite bit of running kit, and why?

My favourite thing about running is the lack of kit (it’s a sport that is accessible to everyone!), but I do love my LifeStraw Personal Water Filter, which allows me to save weight on carrying water as I can drink safely out of any water I come across through the filtered straw.

In September of this year I ran solo across Kyrgyzstan. It was a distance of about 950km, carrying all of my 12kg of equipment in a backpack.

What challenges / races / adventures are you planning for the coming year?

It sounds remarkably lame, but I’m going to give the road marathon another shot. Over six of them, I’ve always failed somehow to focus and ended up with disappointing finishing times. So in May 2017, I’m determined to finally run a sub-4 marathon. I just need to check that one off the list! And then after that I’ll find some amazing multi-day trail runs…

Whats your favourite running/adventure book, and which songs keep you going when things get tough?

Born To Run is my not-a-surprise book answer. It does a great job of explaining why we do this to ourselves and the beauty of the community.
(plug – My book Mountains of Heaven, from my expedition run across Kyrgyzstan, is coming out in 2017!)
I have a very cheesy running playlist that keeps me going, and I’m honestly too embarrassed to disclose all of the songs on it, but Paul Simon’s You Can Call Me Al always keeps the feet turning over!

Terry Fox monument in Newfoundland
Terry Fox monument in Newfoundland

Finally, What do you get up to when you’re not running or adventuring?

I’m really into cycling and split my time between running and riding. Travel is my biggest passion, and I usually combine either running or cycling with my travels.

Thank you for taking the time to be Interviewed Jenny, happy trails!

Social media links:



Mentioned in this Interview and recommended by Trail & Kale:

Born to Run – Christopher McDougall (BOOK)

Lifestraw (water purification)

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