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Running with Soul: Meet Jessica (#19)

How many years have you been running? 
I picked up running sort of casually around 2002 when a friend invited me to try out a gym for a free week trial. I ended up picking up a membership and gradually worked my way from walk/run intervals to running for 30 minutes straight. From there, I just fell in love with running. Nothing beats it really. You have to find that one workout that you really fall in love with, that you can stay with for the rest of your life. Mine is running. I enjoy strength training, yoga, pilates, barre, dancing, and so many other forms of exercise. But, sometimes those all fall away and all I'm left with are my feet on the pavement, and I'm perfectly happy.

Little bit about yourself:
I am a writer and personal trainer from Wisconsin, where I live with my sweet 5-year-old boy and my husband. In Wisconsin, the most fun things we can do are outdoors, and we just love kayaking, camping, hiking, cross country skiing and biking together. Yep, even the little guy has a pair of cross-country skis! I am really passionate about health and fitness. I can't stop reading about it, writing about it, researching it, trying it out, and on and on. Fitness truly is my calling, so that's why I decided to go for it and get my NASM personal training certificate this summer. 

Who or what inspires you to run?
The feeling I get after running is what inspires me to run on most days. Some days I do dedicate runs to people who can't run or are no longer with us. Their bravery and my gratitude for the fact that I am able-bodied gives me the courage to continue. But running to me is sustenance, as much so as food. I can't go too long without it. My body literally has running withdrawals if more than two days pass without a good jog. 

What is your running mantra?
My all-time favorite mantra is "Make it Happen." No one can do any workouts or train for you. If you want results, you have to make them happen. I use this mantra in other areas of my life too. For my business, for my goals, if I want something to happen, I need to make it happen. Sometimes when I'm running though, I like to chant "fast-er, strong-er, far-ther" in my head with each step. It really helps me key in on my cadence and push through with my stamina. I wrote an entire post about mantras, because I believe in them so strongly. Sure you could say they're just head games, but they are powerful enough to push you through tough sessions, focus on your goals, and give you the tunnel vision you need to finish.

What is your favorite running/fitness blog?
Oh goodness, this is hard to narrow down. I love what Tone it Up and Blogilates have done in the fitness community and hope to emulate their savvy fitness empires someday. I also read Erica House's blog regularly and of course the Lean Green Bean. Check them out! I enjoy following Taylor Ryan at Lifting Revolution. Aside from her informative blog, she's built a neat membership site where you can get access to daily workouts and meal plans for a small fee. Fitness Blender is building an amazing workout library on their site.

What has been your most memorable race?
For my very first race ever, I decided to run a Half Marathon. My city created this brand new run one year and I resolved to run the "First Annual" race. Not sure where that resolve came from, but I made a firm decision to run that race. Go big or go home, right? I kept it simple though, no fancy equipment involved. I used an online training plan (I think Hal Higdon's) and followed it as best I could and used running shoes from JCPenney, nothing else really. Oh, I did buy a water bottle waist pouch so I had water for long runs, but that was it. I knew I probably wouldn't finish if I got bogged down in all those details. I'm so glad I chose that half marathon for my first ever race though because my second race was a terrible XC race in sweltering heat and humidity. Had that been my first race, I may not have given racing another chance. 

The Half Marathon was such an amazing experience though. I just soaked up the sound of all those footfalls on the pavement and used all the cheering well-wishers as fuel. My parents and husband met me at some of the mile markers, and knowing they would be around the bend always made me pick up my pace. I don't remember a whole lot about crossing the finish line, but I just remember the feeling of accomplishment when it was done. I had just run 13.1 miles straight! This coming from the girl who practically died during the 1 mile runs in gym class.

What is your dream race? (Besides Boston)
After reading Born to Run, I felt like I wanted to do an ultra. Haha! However, I don't really think that I have the physical or mental stamina to take that on right now. I'd love to do runs in other states, like Hawaii, where I've never been before. Running in new places are more inspiring to me than anything.

What are you currently training for?
I'm actually currently on a training hiatus. I wrote a post about how it's ok to be a runner and not race. I have been perfectly content lately with just running for running's sake, trying to beat my own times every day, and having that time in the early morning to myself. What I'm really trying to do right now is build a personal training business, and I hope to one day add "running coach" to my resume so I can share my love of running with clients. My husband and I always run that same local race as that half marathon I did, only the 5k portion of it, in April. My son even loves to do the kids' run for that same event, so I guess I'm training him for a lifetime of love for running at an early age.

What one piece of running gear can you not live without?
A good sports bra! Ha! But really, I'm quite a minimalist when it comes to equipment. A good pair of shoes and a sufficient running outfit, and I'm set. Shoes are even optional! I've always wanted to try to become a barefoot runner. Although I could live without it if I really had to, I do have to say I've grown to love my Timex heart rate monitor. I know exactly which zone I'm training in and how many calories I'm burning so I never overdo it--or short myself either.

If you could share any words of advice/encouragement to a new runner, what would it be?
If you run, you're a runner! Embrace that. It took a long time for me to consider myself a bona fide runner, and I know a lot of people who say the same thing. And everyone starts at the walk/run (mostly walk) stage. But you are a runner! You will get faster and you will get stronger, and it's really amazing to watch your body do that! The running community is one of the most supportive, encouraging communities out there! The winners stay to cheer on the last ones to cross the finish line and it doesn't even matter where you place, just that you finish and give it your best. When I ran my Half Marathon, I could've just cried from all the support lining the entire 13.1 miles. I couldn't believe that people had so much excitement and support to show from the sidelines. Passersby even high-fived me and encouraged me to keep going. That camaraderie in the running community is really something rare and beautiful. So come on in!

Be sure to follow Jessica on her journey!

A huge thanks to Jessica! 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for featuring me Marcia. I'm really enjoying this series.