Jenni has been running for most of her life. She ran competitively from the age of 10 until college, specializing in the 800m and 1 mile distances. When Jenni was in her mid-twenties, she quit exercising for about 2 years, gained 20 pounds and was in terrible shape. She later decided to start running again and was shocked at how much fitness she had lost and how hard it was to get back into shape. After about a year of consistent training, Jenni renewed her passion in running. She became fit and eventually worked up to competing in her age group at local races, specializing in the 5k and ultimately worked up to running the marathon. Jenni knows from personal experience how hard it can be to start from nothing and to work up to a race like the marathon.
Jenni has completed 16 marathons (including Boston twice) and 32 half marathons. Jenni joined the Run On team in 1998 and started coaching for Run On in 2006. This is Jenni’s fifth season as a Team Challenge Head Coach, coaching over 145 walkers and runners from the North Texas Chapter. Jenni's greatest satisfaction comes from sharing the knowledge she has gained over the years to help her students achieve running goals they never thought possible. Jenni is a Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) certified coach. In addition to running and coaching, Jenni also volunteers for the Dallas/Ft Worth Labrador Retriever Rescue Club Inc.
I ran my first half marathon with Team Challenge DC in 2011. I was instantly hooked on both Team Challenge and running. After completing a half, I began running 5ks and even an 8k.
Since moving to Texas, I joined Team Challenge NTX and became a mentor for the summer season 2013. I was honored when Managers Paul and Katie asked me to coach a small, but fierce group of girls who wanted to go to Team Challenge’s Nashville Women’s Half last September. For the winter season of team challenge I worked with Coach Jenni preparing a fantastic group of people for the Vegas Rock and Roll Half Marathon. This winter I have also completed my Team Challenge Coaching Certification.
As a Crohn’s patient, I understand what it is like to face the day to day challenges of the disease. Having an amazing and inspirational group of people who know first or second hand what the disease can be like is comforting. My favorite part of Saturday practice is seeing each team member’s huge smile when he or she achieves a new distance goal they never imagined possible before Team Challenge.
I plan to continue running races, and hope to train for a full marathon very soon!
Tricia joined Team Challenge in 2013 completing the Chicago half marathon. When asked why she joined TC she pointed out a couple things. First, she wanted to raise funds to help find a cure that impacts some of her relatives including her brother and cousin. Second, she is passionate about raising awareness about Crohn's and Colitis. She feels people shouldn't be embarrassed to discuss their illness because society thinks it improper to talk about digestion and poop.
Tricia joins us again this season as the North Texas Chapter's Walking Coach. She had been a runner all her life but has found her true love of fitness revolves around walking and yoga. She has participated in several endurance walks as both a walker and a volunteer. Tricia tells us, "I am excited to share my love of health, fitness and nutrition with such a great group of people. Endurance events, especially half marathons, are amazing personal challenges to be conquered. I can't wait to help open up that challenge to a new group of athlete - the walker!"
Below are Coach Dave’s top five tips for sticking with your new year’s resolution:
• Create one, specific goal. Whether it’s to lose a certain amount of weight, to walk or run 5-6 days per week, or to complete a 10k or half-marathon, having a specific goal is a great way to stay focused. Make sure your goals are ambitious, but attainable for you with a bit of hard work and persistence.
• Make small changes and don't overdo it. The human body is very adaptable, and it’s designed to move. The key to starting a running or walking program is to make gradual changes to your current situation. Start by walking 15-20 minutes 3-4 days per week. Gradually increase the time you walk, and if you want to run, start adding a few minutes of running at a time, interspersed with 2-3 minute walk breaks. Over time increase the duration of the running segments and decrease the time of the recovery walks.
• Track your progress in a training log. It’s a new year. Get a calendar, special book or use an online workout tracker like endomondo.com or mapmyrun.com Record your workouts every day, even if you take the day off. Track your mileage, how you feel, what you eat, how much you sleep, and anything else that has an effect on your training. Then—and this is important!—go back and read your diary from time to time! If things are going well, continue with the same plan. If you’re going through a bad patch, try to sort out what might be the cause, such as increasing your mileage too quickly, insufficient rest, poor diet, etc.
• Tell others about your goal. When family, friends and co-workers take an interest in your goal and ask how your weekend long run went; do you want to tell them you ran farther than you’ve ever gone before, or that you finished off a bag of donuts while watching the Real Housewives Marathon? Accountability keeps you honest. Social media is a great way to update friends and family of your progress.
• Make it fun! Training with others, varying your training routes, and rewarding yourself after milestone workouts are great ways to make your training more enjoyable. Finding creative ways to make your workouts fun is the key to sticking to your goal into February and beyond!
Q: I’m not currently running or walking more than a mile or two at a time a few days per week. How will I be able to finish a half-marathon?
A: Your coach will design a program for you based on your current level of fitness, whatever it may be. You’ll gradually build your mileage over the course of the coming months until you can walk or run (or with a combination of walking and running) a ten-mile workout. From there, well over 99% of our participants complete their half-marathons.
Q: What kind of shoes do I need?
A: Everyone has different feet and biomechanics. The staff at your local running/walking specialty store will be able to fit you for these needs, as well as your mileage level, and the surfaces on which you train. To find a local specialty store, head to www.runnersworld.com/store-finder
Q: What’s a “GU”?!
A: “Gu” and other sports gels (PowerGels, Cliff Shots, Hammer Gels, etc.) are concentrated forms of carbohydrate about the consistency of honey. They are an alternative to sports drinks and are designed to provide athletes with energy for endurance activities. Each gel contains about 100- 110 of concentrated carbohydrate. Many half-marathons will provide gels in the later stages (around mile 10) to give runners and walkers an energy boost for the last few miles. Although they are generally pretty easy on the stomach, especially when taken with water, it’s always a good idea to try gels several times in training first before using them on race day.
Q: I had to miss three days of training. How do I make up the lost days?
A: You don’t! If you’ve missed anything less than a full week of training, just jump right back into the schedule. If you missed more than a week, talk to your coach about modifying your schedule to get you back on track.
Q: My fingers swell during my training walks. What’s going on?
A: Your heart beats harder and faster when you train, so blood is sent more forcefully to the extremities. Muscle action helps to return blood back to the heart, but many walkers don’t pump their arms very much when they walk (they should!), so blood pools in the fingers. Swollen fingers are more common with changes in temperature, during pregnancy, and when electrolytes are out of whack. Clenching and unclenching your hands, or shaking them over your head will help to pump the blood out of your swollen fingers.