Meet the runner and physiotherapist - Anna Jenkins
I met Anna at a hen weekend where we were doing a 20 mile assault course. She, very sensibly, opted out of the more dangerous activities while I couldn't put my sports bra on for the next three days. She's an incredibly talented athlete who balances a job, a business and a family around her sport. I've been doing some of her pilates videos (link at the bottom) and wanted to find out more about her as an athlete and physiotherapist.
I’m a physiotherapist and mum of two (two-year-old and a four-year-old). I work for the NHS and work privately (see link at the bottom). I’ve recently launched online Pilates sessions via my website but normally teach this as part of my work.
I really wanted to travel the world and I thought that might be easier as a physiotherapist.
I love being a physiotherapist, everything about it. I really enjoy working with athletes with sports injuries, particularly acute injuries. I enjoy going through that process with clients – from the initial injury to recovery, rehabilitation and their return to sport – it’s brilliant. I initially set up the clinic to allow me to work less and row more. I started teaching some Pilates classes and the leisure centre where I did them had a treatment room where I could see clients too. In the end my physiotherapy clinic overtook my rowing career so it was a great move. I’m a great believer that everything happens for a reason.
I have a particular interest in stress fractures in runners. I’ve suffered from them myself. It’s a really interesting area as the fracture is a result of complex physiology and the sum of lots of risk fractures. It’s a really devastating injury as a runner and although perhaps not the most common it’s very serious.
Generally, triathletes get injured from their running too. They might have some problems with their shoulders from swimming but the combination of three sports helps to minimise the risks.
Back pain is the main problem in rowers. That and tendonitis of the wrist or forearm and thirdly, stress fractures of the ribs. I’ve seen some pretty bad back injuries with disc protrusions in rowers.
I have recently relocated to Cornwall and started to get much more into trail running. I currently run for Cornwall AC and I don’t have a coach. I don’t actually follow any kind of program but just fit as much running as I can into my pretty hectic life.
I don’t really identify as a runner. I’m a rower at heart. I rowed competitively for a long time and used to do a 5 km run once or twice a week as part of my rowing training, fairly slowly. After rowing I did triathlon for a few years, but I hadn’t done any stand-alone running races until after I had kids. (Anna is being massively modest here, she won her age group and came 4th at Ironman Wales 2018, qualifying for Kona, which she raced last year).
My last race before lockdown was the Kernow Vertical Kilometre (KVK).
I don’t really have a normal training schedule. I often cycle to and from work, around 8 miles or so two or three times a week during the summer but not at all in winter. I just run the rest of the time when the dogs need to go out, 4 or 5 times a week, anything between 30-60 minutes. Since lockdown I’ve been doing lots more running, which is great.
My favourite session involves going out running on the Cornish coast path, looking at the incredible views.
I’m still at work in the NHS in A&E as a musculoskeletal physiotherapist. The coronavirus has massively affected work. I’m doing lots more virtual appointments and I’ve had to move hospital. Overall, I’ve been able to spend much more quality time with the kids and my husband.
My overall best performance was as a rower. I won the women’s senior single sculls race at Women’s Henley in 2012. I actually had started triathlon around the same time and had suffered from a recent stress fracture, so I was on crutches on land! That’s another story…
Apart from competing at Ironman Wales and Kona I was 10th in the age group 30-34 at the ITU World Championships 2012 sprint distance (Auckland) and 2013 Olympic distance (London).
As a runner my best performance was at the Oxford Town and Gown 10k, shortly after having Jessica, my youngest. I ran 38 minutes, 13 seconds which came from nowhere and was a total shock. It was also my first standalone running race as I normally race 10km at the end of a triathlon. My PB was 40 minutes before then.
My worse performance was probably at Kona in 2019. I had a stress fracture and hadn’t run at all (zero running) for three months and then I did the World Ironman Championships, so my first run back was a marathon. That was the worst run, event or really thing I’ve ever had to do.
My favourite bit of kit is a pink singlet by Crewroom that my husband gave me (crewroom.co.uk). Either that or my Garmin Fenix Sapphire.
I have a couple of running book recommendations – Don’t tell me you’re afraid by Giuseppe Catozzella is a must-read. I also loved The Great Run by Braam Malherbe about this guy that runs all the way around China.
Having had two stress fractures made me lose my running mojo but I’ve never found it hard to get it back.
My diet is see food, eat food! I take calcium, Vitamin C and Vitamin D.
I just run to enjoy it. That’s my running philosophy!
You can find Anna @www.oxfordsportsphysio.co.uk or on Instagram @annajenkins_tri.