We're at episode 30! It's the amazing Jen Scotney, everyone.
How does someone cope with losing a Dad and a brother in less than six months, whilst managing an intensely stressful and emotionally demanding job?
Jen has a lot of life experience to talk about and she was a joy to speak to. I already want to schedule another. She is perhaps known in our digital world for her running - completing tough endurance races like the Spine Challenger and 190-mile Northern Traverse - despite the fact that she is still fairly fresh to the game with less than five years under her belt. Her life today, training on the wild fells of the Peak District in Derbyshire and working in the cottage she shares with husband and pro runner Marcus Scotney, starkly contrasts to the fast-paced lifestyle she led before, as an overworked lawyer in London.
Several years back, Jen lost both her Dad and brother in just five months. She shares her experience, from how she works through her grief to her ongoing struggles with anxiety, chronic fatigue syndrome and the sometimes debilitating stress of her work. Jen often works 80 hours a week as a freelance human rights lawyer, in which she campaigns for the rights of under-represented and marginalised young people in the prison system. She is regularly exposed to harrowing stories of abuse, neglect and violent crime, and the emotional fallout from this contributed to her chronic fatigue and burnout.
We might think lawyers are well-paid and long hours should just come with the territory, but legal aid lawyers, especially those who are self-employed, are doing all of their own admin and accounting and most certainly do not fall into this category. Talking to Jen challenged my own perceptions of this career and inspired a lot of respect for people who choose to do this work, and withstand the intense pressure it brings. Reflecting on Jen’s career, I can see how the coping skills and strengths she has gained flow through into her ultra running. There must be at least some overlap in the mental toughness skillset.
Over and above all of the challenge she has endured Jen is an amazing human…no fuss and radically modest and honest in equal part. Someone who stays open to the hurdles of life and faces her fears. In our conversation she is open and direct about what life has been like, from her unique perspective. We get into:
Jen’s second Spine Challenger race, the toughest moments, and the effect running for nearly 40 hours had on her mind.
The dangers of connecting your self-worth to race results, times and Strava accolades.
The experience of losing her Dad and brother, and the different grief responses she had due to her Dad's death being anticipated and her brother’s sudden and accidental.
The emotional and psychological demands of working as a human rights lawyer.
Managing her anxiety and bouts of chronic fatigue.
Motivations for being vegan.
Ambitions to run the entire 268-mile Pennine Way this summer.
Check it out from 8am (GMT) Friday 5th April on Soundcloud, iTunes, Stitcher, Tune In and most Android apps. If you enjoy this episode please show Jen your love and tag us on social or share it with others.