Juju the Trail and Mountain Runner Guide Explains Everything about His Training and Racing

Runner Juju Jay

Am juju Jay. I’m a trail and mountain runner guide and trainer for all ages.

I live in Glendalough in Wicklow mountains here in Ireland where I train myself and others everyday. Am from Dublin, but moved to Wicklow to be closer to the open mountains where I’m now living in my hut in the forest.🌲⛰😎

So my job is running! Teaching all ages to trail and mountain run — from people getting into trail running for the first time to people that love running and want to learn more skills to help them run stronger and safer, or for those that want to learn to navigate by night and day, in the fog or snow, etc.

Running up steep mountains for hours is one of my favorite activities/hobbies. Love ridges and feeling the pure freedom when standing on one foot balance on the ridges or rough rocky grounds on both sides — hoping I won’t fall because that will only lead to a painful place!😎😱 Love being one with nature and walking my dog every day! No matter what the weather is, he (Patch) loves the mountains. He always wants to go out with me.

Am very friendly, so I’ve been told that I am an outgoing person. Love to chat to everyone. In my job as running guide, you need to chat lots! But I’d say am little shy at times! I can talk for Ireland, but still shy in my own time.

Besides running, my other hobbies would be hiking, cycling, dog walking, yoga, films and red wine, eating nice veggie/vegan foods, meeting friends, social chats with people, tree hugs, teaching, working with kids, swimming in ice cold rivers or lakes when it’s raining and snowing nude.

Runner Juju Jay

How and why did you get into running?

I was a tattooist all my life but got sore hand from doing too much tattoos, so I had to give tattooing up for few years. At this point I took up running in the gym as I was 16 1/2 stone (231 lbs) and my belly was too big (girls don’t like it). After a while of training in an indoor gym, I knew it wasn’t for me and I wanted more in my training. I joined a group while I was living in the UK so we all went trail running and I loved it so much! I got new pair of trail shoes and jacket, etc., and started to learn many great routes and slowly worked my way up to where I am now!

Five years later, I learned lots about trails and mountains from hurting myself way too much from falling, etc. I am now 11 stone (154 lbs) coming from 16 1/2 stone after about six years of running. Concerning my age, I’m 43 and am 6 foot tall. Running has given me a great new joy to share with everyone.

I didn’t want to race until I was 100% happy with my running skills because I did a local trail race originally and came in last. So I stopped racing and worked hard on my speed and style of running. I am more of a light foot forefoot runner now and I’m now a faster and much lighter runner which gives me the power to race. I love longer runs more than fast short ones and do lots of ultras. 50k, 50milers and love going out for back to back longer tougher mountain runs getting 60-80kms in two days.

Running has taken over my life and am writing a book about all of this.

I write for a magazine called, Irish Runner here in Ireland.

Why is running important for you?

Running gives me the inner freedom that I can’t get from other sports. For me, “Running saves a bad day.”

Runner Juju Jay

How do you train and become better at running?

I train myself with speed, do hill repeats, working on my recovery on the move, the focus on my air ways and body movement while running fast up hills. Also, part of my training is flexibility so I do lots of yoga style drills and animal movements in nature and on the Rocky Mountains, then I work on steeper rocky ridges, working on fast moving and staying light on the rocks — this is like scrambling or rock climbing without ropes!

I don’t have a coach. I teach myself and others.

Runner Juju Jay

What are the hardest parts of running?

Don’t have any yet, but I can say if I am tired in a race it means I’ve not trained right. So I’d just slow down, find my recovery and then soon I get stronger again and race again! Like one race I did in La Palma, it was 74km on a small island and it was very warm (Irish people don’t like heat). Well, the sunshine was too warm for Juju and it wasn’t helping me in any ways so I had to stop running. At this stage, I was passing out with the heat and I wanted to give up!

And all my pals were passing me — this doesn’t happen at all!!! 😜 so I walked very slow up the steep hot mountains and once I got into the forest, my power came back in the shade and the race was back again for Juju. I overtook so many people that passed me and even the Irish that was racing with me, they were all so shocked to see how fast I recovered!

So if anyone finds a part of a race tough, just step back and find your recovery pace. If that’s walking then walk, if it’s slow jog, do it as you will recover fast! Drink lots of water too! And wet your head and buff whenever you can as it helps to keep your temperature down!

Runner Juju Jay

How do you prepare for events/races?

I don’t rest coming up to a ultra as my job keeps me busy running, but I do take day power naps after training and get lots of sleep. As well as no wine the week before race plus I drink lots of apple cider vinegar mixed with water.

I don’t read books, etc., as I’ve no free time and when am off, I just love walking my dog!

Specific diet? Yes and no! Most of the time, am 80% healthy and 20% fun food like red wine, pizza, etc.

From time to time that % may drop to 50/50, but when am super busy I work in a 80% healthy life. I have also been a veggie/vegan for over 25 years and don’t eat many things — I don’t eat much at all really! I never eat when training or racing, but always have a running bar with me just in case! In races more than 50km, I’d eat something non-sugar to keep my brain working!

As for injuries and recovery, I’d do river dips after all tough sessions! Drink lots of ACV and do power naps. I also listen to my body — I’ve been running strong for years now.

Runner Juju Jay

What is your best advice people new to running?

Start very slow, take your time, it’s not a race, you will get there in time. Stay light on your feet and keep a short stride so there are more steps in your running. Stay tall and don’t bend over too much, relax into a soft stride and always have fun with running.😎

Less is more! People wear way too much when starting to run! You don’t need to buy everything, you only need a nice pair of runners and a light jacket. If you think trail running is for you then add the best and other little bits. Don’t jump into racing too soon, just get out on your local tracks and trails and have fun while running. Don’t go too far out as you have to run back! Always tell someone where you’re going in case you get lost! Stay local and learn to read a map and use a compass!

Runner Juju Jay

Best advice for people who have been running for years?

I love if people run much lighter on their feet, landing on their forefoot instead of the heels. This way the body will get stronger with time and with less impact, less injuries will happen!

How do you balance normal life with running?

I just run every day! Clock up to 150-200km every week! I have no children and am single. I live a very simple, easy life with no shops around so no spending money! Only food shops for every few weeks and wine, of course!

I do about 4-6 ultra races or skyline races a year and work/test running and mountain gear for my sponsors GreatOutdoors and Columbia.

What kind of running shoes and clothes do you use?

I train in a pair of Inov-8 Mudclaw 300 Trail Running Shoes as Wicklow Mountain has lots of bog! I race in them if the race is in open mountains. For skyline and other ultra races, I wear Salomon S-Lab, they are low profile shoes as I love to feel the ground and movement in my feet!

Clothes all year round, I wear 5″ shorts (don’t wear tights) just don’t think men look good in tights. 😜

In the winter, I still wear shorts! Less is more and when you keep moving you stay warm BUT! am not just a runner as I dip into very cold rivers in the winter as part of my training, teachning the mind and body to withstand cold weathers!

Runner Juju Jay

What other favorite gear do you have?

My Outdry running jacket from Columbia. So I wear Inov-8 and Salomon runners, and for fine roads and road runs, I wear the Columbia Montrail runners to help my knees, etc., from hard roads. I love my 5″ Columbia trail running shorts and wear them everyday (I’ve got 7 pairs😜). I wear light running tech club Tee and have two jackets both from Columbia. I wear caps in summer and buffs in winter. I use a Suunto running watch and love it! Don’t use gloves too much. At longer tougher races, I use the Black Diamond Z Poles. I wear two running vests when with groups, I use the bigger one to carry first aid and other things for the group! Then when racing, I wear my S-lab vest from Salomon as its much lighter and fits well to the body.

Runner Juju Jay

What will the future bring?

Who knows I might take up tennis soon 😜 I never think too much so whatever comes my way, I love to try it. I do want to do more extreme mountain running with ridges, etc.

Stay fit, smile and be nice to the people who are just starting to run. Peace.

Follow Juju Jay’s work and adventures on his website and Facebook

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  1. sonya mc mahon says:

    excellent read

  2. Gerard OReilly says:

    great read,juju its fantastic to see someone follow their heart and have a real passion for what they do in life ,one of the few who really love and enjoy their work and life,,fair play to you brother,

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