Street Athletes: Joasia Zakrzewski
Joasia Zakrzewski is a friend of a friend of ours. We’ve heard tales of how this doctor is casually going round the world competing in ultra marathons and KICKING EVERYONE’S ASS, and found it hard to believe she’s not getting more attention. She ran the Bath Half Marathon a couple of weeks ago and came 11th. Yes, 11th. In a time of 78 minutes. Unsponsored, she takes on these challenges and is legitimately one of the best in the world. Read this interview and we think you’ll agree, Joasia Zakrzewski is a name we need to hear more of.
Joasia Zakrzewski (usually known as Jo though)
GP and police surgeon
- What’s your sport?
- How did you get into it?
I was a race and expedition doctor and thought it looked like more fun to take part rather than support. I signed up for an ultra-distance race (across Chile) after a friend plied me with a bottle of wine, just to complete it, but then won it and broke the female course record by 4 hours, so realised I actually had some talent for it!
- What’s been your best moment in your sport so far?
Being selected (a total surprise to me) to run for Great Britain at the 100K World Championships in Winshoten last September – finishing in 2nd place for a world silver medal and overtaking all the British men in the process!
- What motivates you?
I just like to challenge myself and do as well as I can for me and to prove to others that they are right to believe in me. When I race, I race myself and the clock, not other runners.
- How do you push yourself when you don’t want to train?
I try to think of the bigger picture and what my long-term goals are and remind myself that every time I go out in bad weather or when I don’t feel like it, there are others who are just staying at home.
- What’s your favourite motivational quote?
I don’t really use motivational quotes though I do like Kipling’s poem “If”, but I realise I perform/train better on praise and support than being shouted at or made to feel as if I’m not doing well.
- What events do you have lined up for this year?
I have turned down the 100K world champs this year to aim to improve my marathon time this spring, then I am going back out to South Africa to run the Comrades Ultra Marathon and then to Davos for the Swissalpine Ultra
- What role does fitness play in your life?
I feel I need to set a good example to my patients and friends, but it helps me relax and feel better about myself. Also, I love chocolate, chips, cakes, wine, cider etc, so I don’t feel guilty about having any of them!
- Do you draw inspiration from any other types of sport?
I admire the motivation and discipline of many athletes whatever their sport, and also for any beginners giving something new a go and commiting to try to improve themselves whatever their starting/finishing position. Single sport specialists have more problems than multi-disciplinists if it comes to a bad session or an injury, as they don’t have another discipline to fall back on to regain some confidence, so triathletes (for example) have the edge there.
- Do you do any other types of sport/fitness?
At university I rowed and coxed – and I used to go on skiing holidays. I was never a “sporty” kid and have memories of being punished at school for “not trying” when I just wasn’t very good. But as an adult I have tried many different sports, though since improving my running, I have to focus on that mainly and avoid others such as skiing, mountain biking, climbing, when I could injure myself. I recently got a roadbike for the benefits of cross-training, especially with any niggles/injuries.
I love walking/cycling/mountaineering holidays and could never just sit at home.
- What’s your top training tip?
Pace yourself and “train clever”. Know why you are doing each session before you do it and stick to it – eg if it’s a recovery run, then run easy and don’t be tempted to speed up or go further, but if it’s an effort, then be prepared for it to feel hard all the way through and work at it.
- What do you do in your down time?
What down time?!
Seriously, I love an evening with friends and a nice glass of wine, though I do have a weakness for chocolate and chick flicks, but I also like to travel and also support friends on races/events and help out with coaching/encouraging others at my running club and elsewhere. Embarrassingly enough, I also get a lot of satisfaction from growing my own fruit and veg in my garden!