Inspirational Runners Rachael’s Story: Origin of The Jolly Jeffers

Rachael, the creator of the Jolly Jeffers, is the one who got me interested in Jeffing. Today she shares her story with Pinkoddy’s Blog Readers.

In the Beginning

My first memory of any sports is quite horrific! Never chosen for the netball team, hockey team (thank goodness, it was always freezing and in the 80’s we had to wear blue gym knickers!), I was really on the outside of any sports at school, and felt it. The only thing I was semi good at was the 400m. Long distance running was the best! Always cold, always wet, always at the back!

Then Peter Webb (sadly now passed away) came up with the genius idea of staying at the back (this was so easy!!) then waiting under the bridge on Deeble Road, quick cigarette and snog, and then we’d join in somewhere in the middle when the group returned!! I didn’t run for the next 26 years.

A Move to Cheddar

So what happened to make me even think about running again after 26 years? I moved to Cheddar with my family, and a friend who loved running asked me to join her. I explained that it wasn’t my idea of fun and that I’d rather cut the grass with a pair of scissors! Not to be declined, Michaela took me on a ‘short-for-her’ run of 6 miles around Cheddar….which is VERY hilly. I didn’t walk properly for a week afterwards and was silent with Michaela for the same time. It was confirmed, I hated running!

running friends

Meeting Anja

6 years later I moved to Newent, Gloucestershire. I didn’t know anyone at all. The first girl I met, Anja, suggested at a baby group that we went on a run. She had just had a baby and so I thought ‘OK’. It was the start of a beautiful friendship, and one that I treasure today. It was also the start of my love for running, the outdoors, buzzards and exploring.

Since 2007 we have run at half marathons, numerous 5k’s, 10k’s, Parkruns and exploration runs. I found a peace when I was out that didn’t include children, work or husband. Mentally it was good for me. The more off road the better, even better if I didn’t know the route. I am not a lone runner though. I push myself too hard, then I don’t like it, then I give up, in that order!

10k Jane Tomlinson

One of my funniest memories was training for the 10k Jane Tomlinson race in Hull. Anja and I started a training plan with two others, Kathy and Kate (names changed) they decided to stick to the plan, but it got boring and tiresome trying to fit everyone’s free time in. So Anja and I went off plan, right up to race day. The night before we went out for a meal with everyone and while they stuck to water and pasta, we had pizza and wine…too much really!! The next day was race day. Who would win? The training plan keepers or the rebels?

We started well, and we got to a bit where we could see the other two were quite close, Anja was not going to loose this, she paced us fast, really fast and we did our fastest 10k 56 mins and something. I had a real problem breathing at the end, fell to the floor and was put on oxygen in an ambulance! Lesson learnt? You can still drink wine and run, just be sure that there is help at the end!!

Jane Tomlinson 10K

Joining a Running Club

2011 saw a move to Tewkesbury and I joined a local running group. I really enjoyed it, for a long time, until I got injured and was out for nearly a year. Going back was hard, and I struggled, mentally and physically. Everyone was entering races, getting medals and going here, there and everywhere. I went back to beginners group and helped with that for 10 weeks. Essentially, it was helping me, but I loved those 10 weeks and formed a close group of friends from taking them out on ‘homework runs’ in the week.

Tewkesbury Allrunners running club

Jolly Joggers

This group was soon to be named the Jolly Joggers because we always enjoyed our sessions. This 10 weeks taught me that I loved helping others achieve what they set out to do and the buzz led me to applying for a bursary to do my Lirf training. I was successful and gained my licence as a Leader in Run Fitness and following further training, I also earned my Guide Runner license to help runners with visual impairment.

Guide runner

Training for a Marathon and discovering Jeffing

Skip forward to 2018! I decided I wanted to run a marathon, well lots of people at running club were and it seemed a natural step! A group in Gloucester were advertising for people to join a ‘jeffing’ group to get to Marathon distance. I’d never heard of it, but I was older, slower and not enjoying my running at all. The love was gone!

I joined the group with my friend Dawn. She felt the same as me. We were just pounding the streets, feeling down because we weren’t getting any quicker and generally ready to stop running! Wow! The first week we ‘jeffed’ 6 miles.

Hucclecote Harriers and first jeff

About Jeffing

Jeffing comes from a strategy developed by Olympian Jeff Galloway. Basically we ran for 3 minutes and walked for two. I was converted. I found the 6 miles so achievable, there was time to talk and above all time to take in what was around me. No thoughts of time, speed or medals, just achieving what I set myself up to do, I was converted and so was Dawn. We continued with the training and got as far as 18 miles, sadly an old hip injury flared up and I had to stop.

Why a Jeffing Group

However, all was not lost, Dawn and I loved jeffing, we were converted. Following recovery, I offered to lead a jeffing group within the running group I was in. Specifically for people who were returning from injury, had lost motivation, couldn’t run non stop or just wanted a gentler form of running. The suggestion was not met with enthusiasm and once again my confidence and worth took a hit.

Jolly joggers

By 2019 I had sorted out my big girl knickers, devised a plan for a jeffing group and started spreading the word. The first meeting of the Jolly Jeffers was 1st April 2019 and ten people attended! I was ecstatic! Dawn agreed to help and later became a Lirf too.

The Jolly Jeffers

The name came from the original group of girls that I’d helped get to 5k, The Jolly Joggers. There are now 90 registered Jeffers and between us we have done 5k’s, 10’ks, half and full marathons! I have developed a group that is everything I felt was missing from as far back as my school days. Inclusivity, motivation, positivity, success, confidence, patience

Anyone can join the jeffing group. The youngest jeffer is 13 and the oldest is 72! We have a mental health ambassador and two other leaders. It will never be a big group, but I don’t want it to be. The focus is on group success and motivation, encouragement and wellbeing, not medals, certificates and days away from family competing in events.

Jolly jeffers jeffing half marathon

London Marathon

This year I am training for the London marathon with Dawn and Anja, and I am running for Parkinson’s, an illness my Dad has. It is by far my biggest achievement and I will be jeffing all the way! Not a bad ending for the schoolgirl who would rather smoke and snog under the bridge than do exercise!!

bride and her father

1 thought on “Inspirational Runners Rachael’s Story: Origin of The Jolly Jeffers”

  1. Wow, what an amazing story. I’d always assumed from your posts that the Jolly Jeffers had been around for a long time, but obviously not! It sounds like she has really inspired a lot of people and found a way to run that works for her too.
    Good luck to her for the London marathon! x


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.