Inspirational runners 003. Janna Cowley.

Shares
Janna at her local stomping grounds. Auckland Viaduct Harbour. Photo by Paul Petch.

Janna at her local stomping grounds. Auckland Viaduct Harbour. Photo by Paul Petch.

Based in central Auckland Janna is always posting inspiring images and stories via her Instagram and Twitter that share what’s special to her about running and the community.

After months of ‘nearly’ crossing paths at various spots in the City, we managed to catchup for a chat and a quick photoshoot. Janna really does get involved with so may aspects of the sport from volunteering to fundraising and taking part in varied events.

A morning jogger, passionate advocate of our culture and an Ironwomen no less, who runs for the love not the time or kudos. Janna has a sincere and genuine energy that makes it easy to LOVE what she does too!

For 2015 Janna is swapping the collection bucket for running shoes and chosen to run Auckland Marathon in support of the NZ Breast Cancer Foundation.

“8 NZ WOMEN A DAY are diagnosed with breast cancer. I lost my darling Aunty when she was in her 50s and a gorgeous school friend when she was just 30.” – Janna.

It will be Jann’s 7th time running the Auckland Marathon and as one of the New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation Golden Charity Runners. This is her third and final marathon this year – Christchurch was in May, Loch Ness in September, and Auckland tomorrow (coming back early from the UK and missing the Rugby World Cup final!), where wearing pink has been the norm!

To sponsor Janna visit here fundraising page here. If you live in New Zealand your donation is tax deductible and a receipt will be issued.

Where do you call home? And why do you love it?
I live in a tiny wee apartment right in the Auckland Viaduct. I love being in the heart of the city; I can walk to work, go home for lunch and never have to take a taxi home after drinks! And of course I have some great running options on my doorstep too.

Current occupation/what do you do?
I work for IAG New Zealand as a Business Coordinator in Claims Services. This involves a lot of project delivery and supporting the National Managers with their annual initiatives. There’s lots of variety in what I do and we work at a fast pace. There has been so much change in our industry and I’ve probably learned more in the last five years than in the 15 previous put together.

Give us a small insight into your daily running/ training routine.
Daily?! Well for a start, I don’t run or train every day. I run four times a week – a mix of short, intervals, tempo and long runs. My long run is always on the weekend. My one constant is that I would do 99% of my runs early in the morning, simply because that is when most events are held. This only changed when I trained for Ironman when I switched to brick sessions and ran after work, to get my body used to running later in the day. I go to RPM (spin) class on Friday mornings and over summer I take part in the Beach Series (open water swim races) and the Ocean Swim Series.

How long have you been a runner?
I would describe myself as a born-again runner. As a kid growing up I used to win all the sprint races and do well at cross-country. I lost that competitive edge at high school and for years I only ran as part of my netball training. In my early 30s I did a few 5km events and little triathlons, but I didn’t start running seriously until 2008. I entered the Auckland Marathon and haven’t looked back!

Describe what your runners high is like?
For me it’s when I run with a huge smile on my face and everything just feels easy. I will sing out loud and the energy will stay with me all day. It’s such a buzz. If it happens during an event then that’s a major bonus!

Where are your favourite places to run and why?
My backyard in Westhaven because it’s just so pretty – I have a lot of sunrise photos!
Hagley Park in Christchurch is great for running and I remember the first time I managed to get around it after multiple attempts. I always pack my running shoes when I go to CHCH. I like running in new places. I did this recently in the UK and it was a great way to explore.

What’s your main motivation for running? What are you seeking? Fitness, adrenaline, freedom, mindfulness?
Often my motivation for getting out there is event-related, but I also enjoy running for the sense of satisfaction it brings. I’ve had times where injury prevented me from running and I really missed it. If I run in the morning before work then I get into the office feeling focussed and alert.

Your story is inspiring about following your dreams as a runner. Can you tell us more about this?
I wanted to run a marathon ever since I did a speech at primary school about Allison Roe winning the New York Marathon! When I finally decided to enter a marathon my longest run had been 12kms and I used a training program out of a book. It was all consuming for five months but the quote by Susan Sidoriak that says, “I dare you to train for marathon and not have it change your life” is completely true for me. Since then I’ve run 9 marathons and 16 half marathons, which is more than I ever dreamed of doing when I started out.

Endurance challenges seem to be what you enjoy most. What stands out as the best experiences for you and why?
Here are my top 3;
Auckland Marathon 2008 is special because it gave me a huge sense of self-belief. In the build-up to your first marathon you have so many unanswered questions. Can I run that far? Will I make it? Have I done enough? But once I got out there I smiled the whole way around and the bug was well and truly caught.

I strongly believe that it’s important to find something you love doing. It’s a bit like a relationship – you have to work on it but you shouldn’t have to force it.

Paris Marathon in 2010 was incredible because I trained with a group for the first time after two marathons on my own. I learned a lot from the training process and Gaz Brown’s coaching. I made friends for life and running an international marathon with more than 30,000 others is quite surreal. I ran a PB by 30mins and still found time to stop for a wee Beaujolais on the way!

The pinnacle to date was Ironman New Zealand in 2014. I had always wanted to do an Ironman but there were so many obstacles to overcome: the financial cost, the training time and my pathological fear of the bike. Luckily I am a strong swimmer and I already knew I could run a marathon, so after three years as a spectator in Taupo I took the plunge and trained for a year. It was one of my best marathons in terms of pacing despite having been on the bike for 8.5hours and carrying an injury which meant I couldn’t run for the month leading up to the race. I was laughing, smiling and chatting throughout the run and used the strategy of chunking the marathon into 6x 7km legs. I absolutely loved every minute of it and often describe it as the best day of my life.

Ironwomen smile too. Image supplied.

Ironwomen smile too. Image supplied.

How is running important to you and your life and it’s direction?
Running is an integral part of my life now. I have met so many great people through running. When I can’t run I get very sluggish. My latest holiday was planned around a marathon (okay, and the Rugby World Cup!) It gives me a buzz when people introduce me as a ‘marathon runner’ :) If you have to have a label, then that’s quite a cool one.

Music or no music when running? If so what floats your boat?
Every now and then I leave the music at home but I have a running playlist that is constantly updated. I am frequently mocked for my taste in music so I’m not going to tell you what’s on it! I always keep the old songs on there as they remind me of different events etc.

Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey for some old school long run inspiration and Titanium (David Guetta/Sia) for running up hills.

What advice can you give to people who want to follow their dreams and use running as a positive vessel to do what you LOVE?
I would never encourage anyone to run a marathon simply because they think it should be on their bucket list. Chances are they won’t like it, they’ll get bored and flag it or they probably won’t ever do another one. On the other hand, running can be a fantastic outlet for stress and allows you to think about all sorts of things without being tied to a computer or a desk.

I strongly believe that it’s important to find something you love doing. It’s a bit like a relationship – you have to work on it but you shouldn’t have to force it. Running shouldn’t be a chore; it should be something you look forward to.

The beauty of running is that you can literally do it anywhere. You’re not restricted by opening hours, timetables or fees.

What’s your philosophy on giving back to people in general?
I feel blessed by the number of amazing people I’ve met through running. Now that I’m a bit more experienced, I am often asked by first-timers for advice and information about training for marathons. I think that’s partly because I’m not your typical runner – I don’t look like a Kenyan and I’m not super-speedy like some of my talented friends! I love meeting people to chat about running, understand where they’re at and provide some tips. I never offer coaching advice but I can share experiences and suggest options for people to look into. I’ve run with people I’ve met through social media and I really enjoy hearing how “newbies” are progressing and how their first marathon went! If I can share my mistakes, lessons and enjoyment then I’m more than happy to do so. Social media is great for this.

Have you been involved in any charity events? If so what ones?
I haven’t run many charity events as such but I have done a lot of volunteering at major events. I was asked earlier this year if I was a professional volunteer! have been to a few Achilles NZ training events and fundraisers and this is an organisation that I would love to be more involved in going forward.

In my second marathon I ran for the Heart Foundation as a Heart Racer and raised a few hundred dollars. This year I was accepted as a Golden Charity Runner at Auckland Marathon and I’ve been raising funds for the NZ Breast Cancer Foundation. I’ve been very active on Facebook via a public page and Instagram; so far I’ve raised nearly $2500.

Can you tell us more about where you see yourself in 5 years from now as an athlete and a person?
I have an ever growing list of marathons around the world that I’d love to run! Running and Travel are my big passions in life, along with taking photos. I may have completed another Ironman by then (venue yet to be decided). As a person… This is such a hard question to answer! I’ll just be me :)

Janna Cowley. Image by Paul Petch.

Janna Cowley. Image by Paul Petch.

Your top three tips to achieving happiness?
1. Do the things you’re passionate about and do it wholeheartedly
2. Don’t be afraid to fail or take a risk – taking a different path is better than being stuck on the one you’re in
3. Smile – it’s catching!

To sponsor Janna visit here fundraising page here. If you live in New Zealand your donation is tax deductible and a receipt will be issued.

Shares
Good People Run
We love running! With incredible articles, people, events, photography, creativity & running centric news at your fingertips, think of Good People Run™ as your personal & positive concierge for modern running life and culture. Founded by Paul Petch.
Good People Run

Latest posts by Good People Run (see all)

About Good People Run

We love running! With incredible articles, people, events, photography, creativity & running centric news at your fingertips, think of Good People Run™ as your personal & positive concierge for modern running life and culture. Founded by Paul Petch.