Jo Pavey hoping London Marathon leads to World Championships

Great Britain's Jo Pavey in action during the womens 10,000m at the 2016 European Athletics Championships. Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Jo Pavey insists the chest infections that have dogged her training for Sunday's London Marathon will not impede her chances of qualifying for this summer's British World Championships team.

She needs to cross the line as the first or second UK woman and finish in 2 hours and 36 minutes during the event, which doubles as an official trial, to claim another landmark in a remarkable career.

Success would allow Pavey to extend her record of national representation at world level, having already run for Britain at 1500 metres, 5,000m and 10,000m.

But despite her 43 years, there cannot be too many who would back against the athlete her national newspapers have dubbed 'Supermum', the woman who made history as the oldest female European champion in 2014 by winning the 10,000m and has appeared in five consecutive Olympics.

"I've got two young children bringing the bugs home but I've kept it going even though I haven't felt right," said Pavey. "For many athletes, the build ups aren't always perfect.

"It was chest infection problems, a lot of that; having antibiotics, it clearing up and then coming back. I don't feel like my body is getting older, but it almost feels as though my immune system is a bit."

More seriously, Pavey thinks the explanation lies in lifestyle changes which have seen her spend more time in the UK during training blocks than when she was younger, and around young children, of course.

Mother to Emily, three, and seven-year-old Jacob, the woman who hasn't run a marathon since New York in 2011 has more than enough distractions to prevent her fretting too much about the smaller stuff.

Pavey has, latterly, because of her athletic success, become an inspirational figure for many other mothers juggling the competing priorities of everyday life. Her autobiography was called 'This Mum Runs' and maybe 'The Runner Mum' would have been fractionally more apposite, but either way the two elements seem to define her.

"I enjoy all the juggling and that balance in my life has made me more happy," said Pavey, who sometimes takes her family to a canal or forest near her Devon home so they can all enjoy themselves during her workouts.

"I enjoy fitting the training around all the business of being a mum. It has given us quality time as a family."

She said all this with the sort of calm fluidity that mirrors the action of a marathon runner in motion, but combining motherhood with professional sport her way has undoubtedly been a detour to her previous approach to her job.

Pavey's quality runs now take place in the morning, more often than not, with a recovery-style run later in the day, rather than the other way around, which used to be her preference.

The restrictions placed by school and pre-school hours, and the need to provide transport to clubs, are also writ large, even when they can be shared with husband Gavin.

Inevitably, the biggest price Pavey has paid for all this is in her recovery time; in sleep hours.

"No, I don't get enough sleep," she said, emphatically, but smiling. "That is a problem but then, when I was younger, I probably laid about too much because I didn't have anything else to worry about. Keeping on the go does you a lot of good. It keeps you active.

"Occasionally, I get a rest in the day but not that often, and I'm thinking that if I'm resting I'm missing out on going to a play park or playing with the kids.

"There are other things to do: I have mountains of laundry, it's totally out of control. I never get on top of that. I get tired a lot of the time but you just get used to it and I feel so happy that I don't mind."

Pavey is less happy about repeatedly being asked when she will retire, but she answers the questions with good grace nevertheless. As anyone who has run a family home knows, it takes a bit of stamina, and this particular athlete has plenty of that in the tank for both of the big parts of her life.