Jess competed at an elite level as a heptathlete until suffering a career-ending injury. She now competes in the 400m hurdles, living in Loughborough with her boyfriend who is also her training partner and coach. She talks to Sundried about the highs and lows of competitive athletics.
Have you always been into sport?
Yes, very much so! I have always been super active and full of energy.
How did you first get into the world of heptathlon?
I was entered by my coach at the local track for the South of England indoor pentathlon championships. I had no idea what the event even was and had never done half of the events. However, I managed to go on and win the whole competition.
What are the challenges of training for so many different sports?
Injury! There is so much impact on the body and I had so many stress fractures through the years, which finally finished with me tearing the patella tendon in my knee, ending my heptathlon career.
After recovering from this, I decided I could still run and took up the 400m hurdles, which is not the easiest event! In my first year I won the England Championships for the 400m hurdles. Training is extremely difficult but I absolutely love it! It's just so important to listen to your body.
Do you follow a specific diet? If so, what/when do you eat?
I eat really well and have a crazy appetite, but I make sure I eat everything in moderation. I always make sure after training I’m getting enough carbs and protein.
Talk us through a typical week's training.
At the moment I’m in pre-season/winter training so it's is as follows:
Monday: In the gym doing cardio
Tuesday: On the track
Wednesday: In the gym doing weights
Thursday: On the track
I work during the week and see my family and friends at the weekend. Sometimes it gets a bit much and I have to have a duvet day, they’re always the best.
Who do you take inspiration from?
Carolina Kluft has always been an inspiration to me.
What advice do you wish you'd been given when you first started out?
I wish I had coaches around to give me technical advice. Changing bad habits when you’re older is hard!
Psychologically, don't worry about what people think of you! I used to get so worked up about silly little things, thinking people would think this or that about me, about how I looked, what I was doing, how well I did. When really, who cares! Just do the best you possibly can; it doesn’t matter how you do it as long as you can look back thinking, "I gave it my everything, that’s all that matters."
What's been the highlight of your heptathlon career so far?
The Commonwealth Games in Glasgow 2014, which was the most amazing experience ever! Walking out for my first race (100m hurdles) I was welling up. Then finishing the 800m, coming onto the home straight, hearing the whole crowd roaring. It was an experience I will never forget!
How do you balance life and training?
It's easy now that I have come to terms with the fact I have to miss out on a lot of things with friends and family, also making sure they understand. I have lost a lot of friends because of athletics and not being able to make it to certain events. It’s sad, but if they are your real friends they will understand.
I now live in Loughborough with amazing facilities (minus the weather) with my boyfriend who is also my training partner and coach. I also work in a local coffee shop which I love.
Why work with Sundried?
It's a friendly team with amazing kit, not a bad combination if you ask me!