In this edition of ‘In the Spotlight’ let’s talk with Jennifer Blindert. Jennifer is a recent participant and co-winner of the RunStrong Challenge. This is no easy feat as she completed each and every task asked of her over the 6-week time period. When it comes to creating reliable results that impact your running, consistency is at the top of the list.
Jennifer and I first started working together to troubleshoot and alleviate persistent hip flexor fatigue/tightness. Hip flexors and hamstrings can commonly feel tight and fatigued for a myriad of reasons. So it’s important look more closely at running form, flexibility, strength, and a handful of other areas.
Over 2-3 months, we were able to make strong improvements to resolve this “tightness” by following a consistent and focused strength training and corrective program. Luckily, Jennifer is hardworking, consistent, and a very good communicator which creates a great situation when it comes to working with clients virtually during the craziness of COVID.
Without further ado, let’s shine the spotlight on…
Q: Where are you from?
A: “I grew up in Michigan and that is where I currently reside but I lived in Colorado for 7 years.”
Q: What are some of your favorite hobbies?
A: “Running, skiing, swimming, SUPing, gardening, and spending time with my animals (dogs, chickens, and budgies (parakeets)).”
Q: If you could live anywhere in the world where would that be? Why?
A: “Somewhere without ticks! I like Michigan and the seasons but I do not like ticks!”
Q: Is there something unique about you that most people don’t know?
A: “I really like hanging out with my chickens (but most people know that). I also played the trumpet for 12 years but have since focused on my other hobbies.”
Q: Tell us a little about your running background and what is your favorite moment to date?
A: “I started running in middle school when I didn’t make the softball team. I did have some previous experience running from playing soccer. My mom is also a runner, so I grew up in the running community. I ran cross country, indoor track and outdoor track in high school and college. My primary event was the mile (or 1500m) in track but I would occasionally drop down to the 800m and 400m in 4×4 relay. After college, I continued to run road races and have done countless 5k’s, some competitive miles, a couple of 10k’s, and a few half marathons.
One of my most memorable races (and probably my favorite race) was the Bolder Boulder 10k in Colorado. I trained specifically for the race and my goal was to break 40 minutes because you got a special shirt that said ‘sub 40 club.’ During the race I went through the 5k at 19:58 and thought to myself, “I can’t slow down AT ALL!” Miles 3-4 are always the hardest for me and this race was no exception. I felt awful. Then somewhere in mile 5, I starting feeling better and said to myself “I trained to hard all year for this race to not break 40.” I pushed harder that last two miles than I ever have. It was probably the best mental race I’ve had. I went across the finish line and looked at my watch and saw the :16 and I was disappointed that I came so close and then I realized there was 39 in front of it…39:16! I was so shocked that I broke 40 minutes by over 40 seconds!”
Q: When you first started working with Garrett, what were the goals you wanted to achieve?
A: “I wanted to strengthen my hip flexor muscles because I had been having problems for a while with fatigue and pain in the hip and upper quad area. I wanted to become a stronger runner overall as well. I also wanted some more variety in my workouts to break up the repetitive exercises I had been doing.”
Q: At this point are you still feeling the same hip flexor pain/tightness and how has that changed after modifying your strength training program and adding the RAILs component?
A: “I have not had the hip flexor pain/tightness since the challenge. I have continued the strength training and RAILs which have made a big difference with my balance and mobility and helped train me to engage my core. All of these improvements have taken the stress off hip flexor muscles, so I haven’t had any of those old issues. Yay!”
Q: Oftentimes, the process of progressing a strength training program isn’t always smooth and linear, were there any setbacks along the way? And if so, how did you deal with them?
A: “Yes, my hips were very weak and I tweaked my posterior hip muscle (while washing the dogs). It took a long time for the pain to subside. I wasn’t able to do some of the exercises in my program for a few weeks because of the pain, but Garrett was able to modify my workouts so my muscles could heal and then I able to progress the difficulty of my exercises once again.”
Q: How did your strength training program change after working with Garrett?
A: “I’m not just lifting to ‘check the box’ anymore. Lifting more weight isn’t necessarily my goal, but being focused on proper form. I do a lot more balancing exercises now, single leg/arm. I also engage my core with every exercise not just the abdominal exercises.”
Q: What is that one thing you dislike the most but continue to work on because you know it will help?
A: “Ugh, planks. I still do them multiple days a week because they really target my weaknesses but they are hard, especially the side variants.”
Q: What are the most noticeable improvements you’ve seen so far with your running?
A: “I have a stronger core (canister-like) and feel more stable and strong during my runs. It’s not noticeable in my running necessarily, but I couldn’t do one push-up before the challenge and now I can do a couple sets of ten!!!”
Q: You were a co-winner of the Fall 2020 RunStrong Challenge and achieved a perfect score… How did you enjoy that program and what contributed to your success in being so consistent over the 6-week time period?
A: “I really enjoyed the challenge. It was great to get a running analysis and a personalized workout plan all from the comfort of my home. It was also fun to ‘meet’ some new people during such an isolated time and to be able to interact through the Facebook group.
I was determined to not miss any points especially for things that were in my control such as water intake, posting challenge videos, and completing my workouts. Even if I didn’t feel like doing something, I did it anyway because I didn’t want to be out of the running for grand prize, especially for something I could have done. It was the competition that kept me on my toes. I knew the other competitors were not going to miss any points so I couldn’t either! My advice is to not fall behind on anything especially with water intake. I pulled a couple ‘chug at 10 pm’s’ and that’s not fun at midnight…2am…4am….”
Q: Looking ahead, do you have any new goals/races you are working towards?
A: “I would like to run more road mile races again and I plan on doing the Detroit Free Press International Half.”
Q: If you could give advice to the 18 year old you who is getting ready to run in college, what would you tell her?
A: “Work with Garrett first (haha). Or find a college program that has a good strength training coach. It’s so important to get a good base with core strength and overall stability and strength before moving on to more miles or faster miles.”
Thank you for reading this ‘In the Spotlight’ segment. And, a big shout out to Jennifer Blindert. To learn more about the Healthy Running Program, please click here!
Tagged: college runner, Detroit free press, garrett mclaughlin, healthy running program, hip flexor fatigue, hip flexor tightness, In the Spotlight, injury, Jennifer blindert, michigan, rehabilitation, running, RunStrong challenge, strength training