Jenna – HER STORY
Jenna ‘s Blog
How did you get into running?
I’ve really only be comfortable calling myself a runner for about 10 months and I got into it after doing a number of endurance events that I mainly walked. In 2012 I walked 435km across the Simpson Desert, and then in both 2015 & 2016 I participated in the Big Red Run, a 250km multi stage ultra marathon. These three adventures cemented my love for a good physical challenge, and after the 2016 Big Red Run I decided to take the next step and learn how to run. I contacted an experienced ultra running coach and from there began the journey to build a solid running base. I’m not your typical runner who finds their ‘inner zen’ while running, but I do find it a very rewarding challenge and that is why I continue to get up everyday in pursuit of something so big.
How much running do you do per month?
When I first began running I was covering about 80km per month which for me that was a huge achievement. That amount slowly built up over several months to be around 200- 240km per month, until I tested out a new pair of shoes and succumbed to an injury. As with everything though there is a silver lining to getting an injury as it has highlighted an area of weakness that is better to know about now than during the Running for Bums adventure. Since beginning a recovery and rehabilitation program, my running distances have decreased dramatically but I am now doing all the strength and recovery work that I should of been doing all along but wasn’t, as well as incorporating a lot of walking into my routine as well. The injury has taught me that I need to be strong and flexible in both body and mind if I am to make it through to Cape York in one piece. Where I was only spending 60-75 minutes training most days, I am now spending 3-4 hours every day incorporating yoga, walking, running, rolling/stretching, and strength into my routine.
How did you get involved in Running for Bums?
After finishing my walk across the Simpson Desert in 2012 I vividly recall sitting in my kitchen coming up with new and outlandish ideas, one of which was to run the length of Australia. I didn’t put any more thought into it at the time and let it simply fall away into my memory until the August of 2016. I had just started training with my running coach and was looking for something big to do that would stretch me way past my comfort zone and that could potentially bring about a lot of good. Running for Bums came about when I realised that I had a personal message about Bowel Cancer that could save lives, and that I could use my love of sadistic adventures to reach a wider audience with it. We are so limited by what society thinks we are capable of, that we very rarely stray into ‘unknown territory’ and actually see what we are truly capable of. I don’t know what will happen as I attempt to run 4500km from the bottom of Tasmania to the tip of Cape York, but I do know that by training hard, planning meticulously and having a red hot go, that I will be able to spread a very important message and in the process save the life of someone’s child, someone’s parent and someone’s friend.
What’s your background/situation now?
I live in the small Outback Queensland town of Birdsville which borders the Simpson Desert and gets ‘slap-you-in-face’ hot in summer. My family have been a part of the community here for over 100 years, and I am very grateful to be supported by the local community as I chase my dreams. I run a small airbnb property in town that allows me to connect with people from all walks of life and share some local knowledge about the area. When I’m not out walking with my four-legged baby, I spend a lot of my time planning the logistics of Running for Bums, building its social media profile and sourcing sponsorships. To be honest, the training aspect of Running for Bums is the easy part, it’s just me and a pair of shoes!
How has running changed you mentally and physically?
Moving from walking to running has been a big leap of faith. Every week I am doing something for the first time, and that is actually a very cool thing. Whether I am running the furthest, the fastest, the most number of steps, or the most squats there is always something to be proud of and to take away from the week. Funnily enough running has reminded me that life and ‘races’ are not in fact a race at all. I find great joy in seeing people achieve something they never thought possible and running has certainly helped me to show more empathy and be more emotionally invested in the successes of others.
Running has also mentally changed the way I view how I fuel and recover my body. When I started to realise the extent to which my body was achieving what I asked of it, I realised that I should repay it with kindness and love. While I would always generally eat home cooked meals, I started to swap things out for better options and over time noticed that my body seemed to function better. I’m still capable of knocking back a block of chocolate in one sitting, but I’ll serve it with a side of honey dew, and a hot bath of magnesium salts.
From a purely physical point of view I think there is no doubt that running has changed the way I look. While I don’t strive for the physical benefits of running, when you are running 200km per week there is little you can do to stop them from happening. My body is a lot stronger now and is slowly becoming accustomed to taking the physical beating that running puts it through. It’s also got some wicked tan lines that are a great conversation starter!
How important is getting the right bra to wear? What are you looking for? What’s you view on Sixty4 Bras?
As a woman with boobs that bounce getting the right bra is an absolute must. I know a lot of women who simply don’t do high impact activities because they are uncomfortable and this is a such a shame for something that can be easily fixed. There is nothing comfortable about running with boobs that feel like they’re about to bounce right of, so finding a bra that gave me the support I needed to have full confidence in my body, as well as being comfortable enough to wear for up to 10 hours while moving was a must. There’s no denying that the traditional crop top is really difficult to get on and off when you’re sweaty, and they have on occasion reduced me to a pursed-lip, obscenity yelling, sweat dipped devil as I try to extricate myself from them. They have their place on the yoga mat, but for a sports bra that type was not going to cut it on the open road for me. I’d tried many different types of sports bras, most of which were fine for a game of hockey or a hike up Mt. Lofty, but very rarely did they cut it in an ultra marathon. Actually what I should say is they did cut it, except “it” was my skin. I’d come home, get in the shower and squeal in pain as the hot water hit the raw pieces of skin that the bras had just had their way with. After returning home bleeding after one particularly long training run, I decided then and there that something had to change. I couldn’t keep taping my boob skin up every day and then tearing it off after every run. A friend suggested Sixty4 Sports Bras and without hesitation I contacted them and started the ball rolling. I’ve been in Sixty4 bras for the better part of 8 months now and I really can’t fault them. They stop my boob bounce yet aren’t that tight that I feel like I’m being suffocated, and I can’t really remember suffering from chafe at all since I switched to them. I know that I can trust my Sixty4 bras over a 10 hour event and that my boobs will still be singing their praise at the end of the day.
Have you any running goals?
At this point in time my running goals are firmly focused on Running for Bums and ensuring that I am as fit and healthy as I can be come February next year. While it’s unlikely I will be capable to run 110 marathons back to back when I start in Tasmania, over the course of the run I would expect that I would get fitter and fitter (albeit more tired) as time goes on. The most important for me is to begin Running for Bums with a body that is strong, and as fit as I can get it. While it may be called Running for Bums, there is no denying that I will be walking a lot of it as well in order to keep my body in a state that can move forward each day.
Is there one key training tip you would recommend?
I could recommend a thousand tips, but for people new to running (just like me) – I would say that it’s ok to go slow. Whilst it is important to continually reach outside your comfort zone in order to improve, there is nothing to be gained by jumping from 2km runs to 20km runs in a month. Go steady, let your body naturally adapt, and then push it a little more. Set your sights on a goal that is 18 months away, and then set little ones building up to it.