Interview: Scottish television presenter Jenni Falconer on her debut running book Runner's High

It includes inspiration as well as practical advice on kit, routes, methods and safety
Jenni FalconerJenni Falconer
Jenni Falconer

Sometimes, the thought of running can result in procrastination.

It’s too cold, too dark, you have the wrong gear, or you’ll look silly.

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If you find yourself staring at your trainers, but not lacing them up, let Scottish radio and television presenter Jenni Falconer, 48, be the one to gently nudge you out of the door.

Runner's High book jacketRunner's High book jacket
Runner's High book jacket

She’s just written a debut book, Runner’s High: How to Squeeze the Joy From Every Step, which is a persuasive and informative read for those who haven’t quite taken the plunge. In fact, it’s dedicated to her 12-year-old daughter, Ella, who read the pages before they were published and consequently tried out for the cross-country running club at school.

Falconer could probably convert anyone, as she’s just so infectiously effusive on the subject. When she recorded the audiobook, she even got tearful when talking about her marathon experiences.

“You become the best salesperson in the world for the thing that you love,” says Falconer, who’s just back from her morning run, in preparation for yet another upcoming marathon.”It’s one of the reasons I started my podcast, for those who wanted to start or push to keep running, so they could listen to the joys of it. When you start talking about it, you can’t stop”.

The new book has been written as an accompaniment to Falconer’s popular RunPod podcast.

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 25:  Jenni Falconer  completes the 2010 Virgin London Marathon on April 25, 2010 in London, England.  (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 25:  Jenni Falconer  completes the 2010 Virgin London Marathon on April 25, 2010 in London, England.  (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 25: Jenni Falconer completes the 2010 Virgin London Marathon on April 25, 2010 in London, England. (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

She has had hundreds of celebrities and athletes on her show, which has been going for five years.

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Recent guests have included Gabby Logan MBE, Diane Carson from BBC programme The Traitors, Helen Skelton and Faisal Abdalla. Some of their stories have also made it into the book. For example, Ruth Langsford shares her tale of a couch to 5k journey, and Nick Butter reveals what it was like to become the first man to run a marathon in every country in the world.

“There have been some amazing guests and I don't miss a week. Recently, I've had Lorraine Kelly and Sara Davies,” says Falconer. “She’s one of the dragons from Dragon's Den and her story is relatable. Even though she's got a full plate and is really busy with family and work, she still tries to get up at 5am to make sure she gets a run. She says it's non-negotiable because she knows how good she feels at the end”.

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There are guests that Falconer would still love to get on the podcast.

“My ultimate aim is to get the Prince and Princess of Wales because they love their fitness and are champions for the London Marathon and many of the charities that benefit as a result of it, and because they both are hugely competitive,” she says. “They love fitness and promoting health and wellbeing for everyone. I just think that they would be absolutely amazing guests”.

Do they really run?

“Oh my goodness, if you look online, there are loads of clips of them, and I think they’re in great shape and seem pretty fast,” she says.

We wonder if they could be classed as gazelles or tip-toers. In the book, Falconer catagorises runners, according to their method.

Among others, there’s also the keeno, the plodder, and the author’s personal style, which is the Terminator. This was coined by Falconer’s next door neighbour, who saw her running past their house every day.

“I had a bit of fun with that. If you stand at the edge of a race or put the telly on with a Great North or the Great Scottish Run, you'll see lots of different running styles and techniques,” she says. “But the one thing in common is that they all get round. The fact that they’re doing it is the most important thing”.

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Falconer, though she still runs like the Terminator and always smiles at fellow runners - especially if they’re wearing a T-shirt to show that they’re part of the RunPod Run Club - has noticed that she’s not quite as fit as she used to be.

“I am getting older and started running almost 30 years ago. I did have an injury that set me back for a while. I was at my fittest in 2010 - the year I got married - I got all my PBs, for 10k, Great Scottish Run, London Marathon, half marathon, and I was all set for a strong 2011 but I got pregnant and had my little girl,” she says. “I bear no grudge about that. I also have a job that doesn’t allow me to commit to my fitness. My life was different, but work and family took over”.

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In the book, Falconer recommends lots of routes, and she includes three of her favourite Scottish cities - Glasgow, hilly Edinburgh and Inverness, where she carried the Olympic Torch from Lewiston to Inverness in 2012.

“I've run more places in Scotland to be fair, not just cities. I remember going to Tiree years ago, for filming, and it was breathtaking,” she says. “Whenever I go home, I run in Glasgow. It’s where I learnt to run at 19. My parents live outside, so I used to run into the city, and my dad would always turn up afterwards with an ice-cream from Colpi. My grandma lived in Cleveden, and we were in Milngavie, and I didn’t know much more than the roads in between. When I started running, I learnt about all the other routes. Now, Glasgow is forever changing. Whenever I come home, there’s something new”.

Runner’s High by Jenni Falconer is out on March 14, £14.95, Orion Spring



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