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Jo Wilkinson

Running & Coaching Bio

Jo Wilkinson running on track

Photo © Mark Shearman

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Jo Wilkinson at the end of the race

How it all began

I started running when I was 11 years old. By the time I left school I was ranked 3rd at 800ms for my age with a personal best of 2.11.8. Then I briefly drifted away from running until my postgraduate degree at Oxford University where I ran for the varsity cross country team. However, I didn’t achieve my full potential until I joined Bedford and County Athletics Club. There I met my long term coaches, Alex and Rosemary Stanton. Within a year I had significantly reduced my 1500m personal best and made the final of the national 1500m championships. Then my major breakthrough came after the decision to step up in distance to the 10000ms and I finished 6th in the Manchester Commonwealth Games 2002 in a new personal best.

The international years

After the birth of my first child in 2005, I competed at national and international level at track, road and cross country over many years. During this time I was consistently ranked in the top 10 British women for 5000 to marathon. Some of my best performances include my personal best of 72.36 at the Great Eastern Half Marathon in 2008 and my silver medal at the UK Cross Country Championships in 2008. I also represented Great Britain at World Cross Country Championship. On the road I finished in the top 20 of the London Marathon Elite Women’s Race in 2.37.39 and the top 12 of the Great North Run Elite Women’s Race. I finished my international career by representing Great Britain in the marathon at the European Championships in 2010. Here I  finished 23rd and was part of the Bronze medal winning Great Britain team.

These days although I may not be running as fast I am still training regularly and recently finished the 2019 London Marathon in 3.19.09. I’m training hard again and hoping to beat that time in 2020.

Getting into coaching

I started coaching in 2015 as a Leader in Running Fitness. Then in 2018 I was invited to attend the British Athletics Elite Athlete to Coach course and I qualified as an Athletics Coach. My coaching has been influenced by my experience as an elite athlete and shaped by time spent with numerous leading British Athletics over the years.

What do I bring to coaching

The focus and determination which drove my athletics career is now directed towards my coaching instead. Since qualifying I have continued to develop my knowledge and experience. I am now an Event Group coach in Endurance (which is British Athletics’ highest level of coaching for each event group). To extend my technical knowledge of running further I am now studying to become an Event Group coach in sprinting too. I regularly attend workshops and courses on subjects including physical preparation, marathon performance and youth endurance. I’ve also work with a number of different coaches to learn from their practice.

Even more importantly, I understand the key role of fundamental movement skills and physical preparation to achieving the best performance. I now work closely with Mark Buckingham and Matt Bergin (Chartered Physiotherapists) from Performance Team to develop my knowledge and experience in bio-mechanics and running technique to minimise injury and develop performance. 

As a former elite athlete, I know how to train, target and peak for a specific event. I have excellent experience of how to develop, plan and implement good tactics to race successfully and develop an individual race strategy to run fast in a range of events from track to marathon. This enable me to work with runners to transfer good training into effective and successful competition. 

Jo Wilkinson cross country running

Photo © Mark Shearman

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Who do I coach now

I currently coach athletes and runners from beginners to more experienced runners who are seeking new inspiration and personal bests. Until we moved house in spring 2019 I regularly coached juniors and seniors at Watford Harriers Athletics Club. Now I coach a weekly session for RAF Honington and lead my own running groups for beginners to those seeking to run faster at 5/10k.

Why do I love to coach?

As a coach I believe that anyone can run and everyone can love running. I enjoy finding the right balance of challenge, achievement and enjoyment for each person. As long as you want to improve we can work together! Whether you are starting running for the first time or are more experienced and want to run further and faster.

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To find out more about my Personal Bests and running history visit Power of Ten

To follow my running and coaching follow me on Facebook,  Instagram or Twitter

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