What is all this ‘Jeffing’ About?

Victoria Cusack

Run Leeds had the pleasure of joining Leeds resident, Sandra for some run-walking, (otherwise known as jeffing), to find out how ‘jeffing’ has enabled her to keep on running, active ageing, and some of the highs and lows she has experienced throughout her running journey. This is her incredible running story…


So, Sandra, when did you first get into running?

In 2011, age 64, I was semi-retired and working from home in Sun City Centre, Florida. I was starting to put on a few pounds, and I wanted to get my weight under control, so on December 31st I resolved to do something about it. It’s the only New Year’s Resolution I’ve ever stuck to, but the next morning, January 1st, 2012, I went for my first run (well, nobody likes dieting, do they?!). After about 200 yards (metres, if you like) I was doubled up with a stitch, but when I straightened up, I noticed a palm tree a little way ahead. I resolved to at least make it that far the next day. And I did!

I didn’t have a fancy sports watch back then, only my Mickey Mouse watch (it was Florida, remember!) but after a few days I figured I was managing about half a mile around a little circuit at the back of the house. We lived on a disused golf course, so the golf cart track made for a great running circuit. Well, half a mile led to a mile, and then to two, and in October of that year some ladies from my belly dance studio asked if I’d like to join them in a 5K charity run… it was for a breast cancer charity, and we called our team ‘Bellies for Boobies’. But it wasn’t until we were called to the start line that I discovered they were all walking! Anyway, I tucked myself in behind a guy dressed as Batman and finished in a little under 40 minutes. The feeling of crossing the Finish line was exhilarating. I was hooked!

I soon discovered that there were local 5K charity events every weekend, except during July and August, so I was soon running competitively once a month and raising a little money for charities along the way. The following year a 10K was announced in St Petersburg, FL. I was a little hesitant, but a friend assured me that… “If you can do 5K you can do 10K.” I guess I’ve always been a bit gullible, so I took them at their word and entered. It was hard work in the Florida sun, but I made it, and haven’t looked back. I was subsequently ‘conned’ into doing a half marathon … “If you can do a 10K you can do a Half”, and yes, you’ve guessed it… “If you can do a Half, you can do a Full Marathon!”

In 2016, after 28 years in the USA I returned to Yorkshire… yeah! Two of the first things I did were to join a running club, Bridlington Road Runners and start going to Sewerby parkrun. Taking part in a parkrun is possibly one of the best things a newbie runner can do, especially as Parkrun now officially embraces walkers. There is always a designated ‘Tail Walker’, so you will never come last! Most running clubs are also welcoming of all abilities, and some even have ‘Couch to 5K’ groups.

2020 came around, and it was supposed to have been a busy year for me, with entries scheduled in for three marathons… London, Washington DC, and Edinburgh. Well, we all know what happened to that, don’t we! Covid came and went (as did my fitness), old age started creeping up on me, and to boot I suffered several falls over the next couple of years. In fact, by early 2023 I couldn’t even run a mile… downhill! The old enemy, weight gain, was once more taking hold. I had to do something, fast!

Enter, ‘jeffing’.

Some years ago, while running a half marathon in San Antonio, Texas, I got chatting to a young woman. She had passed me a couple of times and then I’d passed her again because she’d started walking. I heard a beeping noise as I ran by her and asked her what it was. She said that it was her alert to start running again. She told me… “I run for three minutes and then walk for three minutes… it’s the only way”. It seemed to me like a strange way to run, and I thought no more of it until, back home in the UK, I started hearing folk talking about ‘jeffing’. I Googled it (of course) and discovered that in its basic form it just means run a bit, walk a bit, repeat. Jeffing gets its sobriquet from Prof. Jeff Galloway, who has turned it into something of an artform, not to say a nice little earner. Books are available, there are Facebook groups for ‘jeffers’, and you can buy a little gizmo that will beep at just about any combination of intervals you choose to keep your jeffing on track.

And to give it it’s due, jeffing did get me back on track. Starting with intervals of just 30 seconds running and 30 seconds walking, I gradually stepped it up to 60 seconds running and 30 seconds walking until, hallelujah, I eventually again managed to run 5K!

A permanent back injury means that I may not be able to progress to 10k running, but by jeffing it, I may still be able to do the distance, although I have to admit that my marathon days may be over. Recently, though, I joined an AVSED (Aireborough seniors’ group) walk-to-jog group led by Run Leeds’s own Victoria Cusack, where I hope I may be able to inspire others to eventually complete a 5K.


Any running highlights or races that stand out?


A couple of highlights of my running career has been wearing a retro style official England vest, as a member of the England Athletics Age Related Team, at the Chester Marathon and Birmingham 10K.

In addition to this, nothing can quite compare to running the 2019 London Marathon, where I met Andy Murray, and the Mayor of Greenwich (the official starters, that year). I appeared on Look North and BBC Breakfast, and was interviewed twice by TV personality Radzi Chinyanganya, garnering


£5,000 of donations for my charity, the Macular Society, in the process. But my favourite race has to be the McCain’s Yorkshire Coast 10K, which I’ve now completed three times. Starting at Scarborough’s Spa complex, the race takes in the South Bay, the Marine and Royal Albert Drives, as well as the famous Open-Air Theatre, North Bay, and Scalby Mills, before heading back. Such a thrill every time to run in the town where I grew up!

Running has also taken me to one or two other interesting places. For example, I’ve run at the stadiums of the Tampa Bay Rays MLB baseball team and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers American football team. I’ve done an out-and-back-5K on a runway at Tampa International Airport (we had to exit that one pretty sharpish because a flight was due!). Other favourites include a marathon and a couple of half marathons at the Alamo, in San Antonio… you may have seen the film, “Remember the Alamo” starring John Wayne, Laurence, Harvey, and Richard Widmark.


You have run in some pretty interesting places Sandra! Any running challenges?

I hope this has given you an idea of why I run, and what I gain from it. Sure, it’s good for your health but running is hard work. Sometimes you fall and hurt yourself. Often you get hot and sweaty. And occasionally you get soaked to the skin (running in wet socks is the worst!). But we all have these things called endorphins and the miracle of running is that it releases the endorphins, giving you a feeling of euphoria… try it and see for yourself! I live on a busy street and when I’m laid up through injury and can’t run, I actually feel jealous when I see other folks running past my window!


You are without a doubt, an inspirational woman, and a role model for ‘active ageing’. Finally, what advice do you have for those who want to follow in your footsteps?


I do have a few tips to anyone who is thinking of taking up running. I’m not qualified to advise on training, running technique, or nutrition, but here are a few basics that may get you literally up and running:

  • Buy a decent pair of running shoes. You may think that you’re not at a level to require specialist footwear, but believe me, when your feet are hitting the pavement at up 180 times a minute, if you buy no other equipment, a proper pair of trainers is essential. Go to a proper running store where they will study your gait and advise on the right shoes to suit you. There are several stores in the area, including Leeds city centre, Headingley, and Otley. Be sure to check first if they can analyse your running gait… it’s usually free.
  • While you are there, consider a couple of pairs of running socks. This may seem like overkill, but a nice pair of socks, padded in just the right places, will prevent sore feet, and maybe blisters.
  • A ‘breathable’ tech T-shirt is better than cotton as it will wick the sweat away, and a comfortable pair of shorts or leggings will make you feel and look the part.
  • Stay hydrated, especially in hot weather… tap water is fine.
  • Go to parkrun. It’s a free, timed event that takes place at 9:00 a.m. every Saturday. Parkrun takes place all over the World and there are several in and around the Leeds/Bradford area. As I mentioned earlier, it’s perfectly fine to walk parkrun and you will always receive a warm welcome, so don’t be shy. Sign up for free, register online, print out your individual barcode (and bring it with you every week), and show up about 10 minutes early your first week for the first timers briefing.
  • If you’re comfortable with jumping in at the deep end, join a running club, the support and camaraderie are invaluable.
  • If that’s not your bag, but you’d still like to ‘belong’, there is a club for you; it’s called the Lonely Goat Running Club. There’s a website and a Facebook page and they arrange lots of ‘virtual’ challenges that you can complete in your own time, at your own pace, and in your own neighbourhood… just run where your feet take you and your progress is tracked online.
  • Still not your cup of tea? Don’t want to join a club? There are a couple of companies that offer a wide variety of online challenges. ‘End to End Virtual Challenges’ is one that I’ve used, but there are others. For example, last year I ran (virtually) from Land’s End to John O’Groats and this year I’m heading back… currently getting close to Blackpool 😊. Earlier this year I ‘climbed’ Mount Everest. Instead of tracking distance run in miles or kilometres, this challenge measures feet of ascent, although you’ll definitely need a running app to track this (see next bullet).
  • A sports watch will help you keep on track. I use a Garmin but there are several other good makes. Link your watch to the Garmin Connect app and it will tell you all you need to know about your efforts and progress.

Note: If all of this seems too much to handle, please don’t be put off. Just get yourself a decent pair of trainers and get yourself off the couch and out the front door… the rest will follow all in its own good time.


Now that I no longer drive, I find it difficult to get to events such as parkrun and races, but thankfully I can still get out and run around the streets and parks around Yeadon and Guiseley, and hopefully still raise a little money for my charity. So before I wrap this up, a little plug: If you’d like to help me find a cure for the worldwide leading cause of blindness, my little fundraiser is always open at Thanks so much for reading!


Thank you so much for sharing your running story, Sandra, and all your great tips and advice! You are a role model, not just for women, but also for ‘active ageing’. You demonstrate such determination and spirit, to start running at 64. You then go on to achieve so many running milestones, and still continue to be active. Here at Run Leeds, we are seriously impressed. Long may your run-walk journey continue.