Sunday, December 7, 2014

Meet Coach Jenny!

Good Morning!  I would like to share my blog today with my new coach, Coach Jenny!  Rather than me go on and on about here, (she is my best friend from high school's wife, how cool is that!!!) I sent her some questions to answer instead.  Enjoy reading about my new coach! I am so excited to be her client and so excited to start my next training cycle in January for FOUR half marathons!
Introduce yourself to us:
I’m Jenny Clayton, a clinical pharmacist by training, but currently a full-time stay-at-home mom to two incredible little boys, Jack (5) and Will (3).  I’m also an avid runner!

When and Why did you start running?
My first experience with running was on the 8th grade track team.  I had always been pretty athletic, but never considered myself to be a fast runner.  By running with the track team, I learned that this is true-I’m not fast!  The next school year I joined the cross country team and found that I am much more comfortable (and competitive) at longer distances.  I took a long break from racing while in college and pharmacy school, then did my first true long distance road race (the Country Music half marathon here in Nashville) in 2011, simply to get back into shape after our first son was born.  I was pretty pleased with how I raced there.  After that day, I was hooked again. 

Tell us about your most memorable race?
That’s easy- the Boston Marathon!  I ran it for the first time this past April.  It was incredibly special not just because it was Boston, but also because of it being the 1 year anniversary of the bombings that occurred in 2013.  My training plan was far more difficult that anything I’d ever done, and performing well on race day became a bit of an obsession.  It was so important to me to do well there as a show of support for such a special city.  I arrived in Boston with a time goal of 3:20.  My official time was 3:20:01.  That one second didn’t bother me one tiny bit!  I was so thrilled to be part of one of the world’s greatest marathons.  I’d wondered for weeks of training what it would be like at the finish line.  Would I cry?  Laugh?  Kiss the ground?  As it turned out, all I was able to focus on was staying on my feet.  The course had wreaked havoc on my quads and I wasn’t sure how much longer they would hold me up.  After a half hour though, I had eaten some post-race food and found my husband, and it began to set in how exciting and incredible the whole experience was.  It’s 8 months later as I write this, and I still feel exhilarated!  I did have to walk backwards down the stairs for a full week as my quads healed.   

What is your favorite distance?
If I’m in a racing mindset, then without doubt, it’s the marathon.  Anything shorter than that just requires too much speed for me to be really competitive.  I did a 5K just last week on Thanksgiving and yes, they are short and sweet, but when a race requires such a fast pace I tend to not have as much fun.  I do really love the half marathon if I’m just out there for fun. 

What is your favorite piece of running gear?
You’ll hardly ever see me without a headband.  I have super curly hair, and it requires some “taming”.  Every now and then I’ll wear a hat or visor if rain or intense sunshine is in the forecast, but 99% of the time the hair is pulled back and the headband is in place.  Right now I’m loving the stretchy, glittery ones I found from a company called Sparkly Soul. 

What is your mantra when running, especially those hard runs?
I have a couple:
1.     Pain is temporary
2.     You won’t be able to look yourself in the eye if you give up!
3.  I like to play the “One More Mile Game”.  If I’m struggling through a hard race or workout, I’ll tell myself I can keep up the pace for just one more mile.  If I need to slow down at that point then I give myself permission.  Most of the time, that mile comes and goes, and I play the game again…
For the readers out there that are moms trying to run on top of being mom, how do you balance running with being a mom?
Training for my first half marathon felt so difficult because our son was only 14 months old at the time.  I got into the habit of running in the evenings when my husband came home from work.  I would spend a good part of the day worrying about being too tired and dreading the workout.  Things finally began to click when I forced myself to become a morning runner.  Nowadays, it’s rare for me to sleep past 4:15 am.  I know that sounds absolutely brutal, and some days it is, but I have never, ever, ever said “Sheesh, I wish I had NOT just gotten up early and gone for that run”.             

Love or hate the treadmill?
I can tolerate it because I know it’s a necessity.  I became intimately acquainted with it while training for Boston this year because we had an unusually icy winter.  The treadmill serves as a really good example, though, of how your perspective changes when you are immersed in a difficult training cycle.  I can remember a time when more than 3 miles indoors would bore me to tears.  While I trained for Boston, it was no biggie at all to grab the ipad with my Netflix app, head to the treadmill, and bang out a 10 mile tempo run on a random Wednesday morning.

When did you know you wanted to be a coach?
A very good running friend of mine was the one who told me that the RRCA certification course was coming to Nashville.  She was interested in taking it and wanted some company.  When I registered for the class, I didn’t have a clear picture of what my coaching future would look like.  I simply thought it would be a huge advantage to have all of that great knowledge, even if I never officially coached anyone but myself.  Since then, though, I’ve had friends request help with training plans, and I’ve discovered it’s something I really love.  I’m quite excited to be Michelle’s new coach, and I think she has a TON of untapped potential.                   

Do you have a website or a FB page readers can go to for more information about your coaching services?
I’m currently working on a website.  You can find me on Facebook as Jenny Peterson Clayton.  Also feel free to email me directly:

Best piece of advice you ever got about running
“In terms of running ability and general fitness, you can’t peak year round.  That would be a plateau.”

I reached my first true plateau this year.  By that I mean that I was used to showing up for just about any old local race (5K, half marathon, or otherwise), and getting a PR.  When that stopped happening, I couldn’t understand what was wrong with my running.  Then a very smart person pointed out to me how I had been on a steady trajectory of improvement for about 2 years.  Everyone must plateau at some point in order to begin to improve again.  Once I realized that even the elites have seasons and plateaus in their training, I was a much happier runner.  I’m in a recovery and strength-building phase of my training currently as I begin to think about my next big build to Boston 2015.  I’m running fewer miles per week now than I have all year.  I feel great though, because I know I’ll be fresh and ready to conquer the next big goal.

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