In this edition of ‘In the Spotlight,’ let’s talk with Jen Gillett. Jen and I have been working together since November 2019. She is motivated, works her butt off, and has this 6th sense that I’m secretly trying to torture her. Although that may not be completely untrue, it’s impressive to watch how she has progressed through her strength training program up until this point.
Jen and several of her running friends created their own group for the Healthy Running Program’s 6-Week Challenge back in November 2019. With big goals for 2020 and limited strength training experience, she started building the foundation from the ground-up to improve endurance, core and upper body strength, and successfully complete several Ultra’s that she had her eyes set on. Unfortunately, the coronavirus caused her goal races to be cancelled but that hasn’t stopped her from digging even deeper on a weekly basis to continue building a stronger and more resilient foundation for when the time comes.
Without further ado, let’s shine the spotlight on…
Q: Where are you from?
Q: What do you do for work?
A: “I’m a server at Deadwood Bar and Grill. I’ve been there 8 years now, but what I’d really love to do is laser hair removal!”
Q: When you aren’t working, what are some of your favorite hobbies?
A: “When I’m not working I’m either running, reading or baking!”
Q: What are the top reasons you enjoy running and being active?
A: “I started running 10 years ago because my big mouth got me registered for a race. I’m so glad I did, because after that race I was hooked!! I used to say I run because I love the thrill of the race, and although that is still true, it’s not they only “why”. I love the feeling I get. I love that I’m doing something that so many people think they can’t. I love pushing myself. I love the friends I’ve made and running with them. I love running solo and just being in the moment. I love that my kids see me being active and they have learned how important moving is for their health and well-being. It took me 9 years to get into the woods and now I absolutely cannot get enough of the trails and the challenge they bring! Honestly I could go on and on!”
Q: If you could live anywhere in the world where would that be? Why?
A: “I’d love to live somewhere that doesn’t have a winter! I hate winter. I don’t like being cold and how blah and grey it is from December through March. I’ve never been to Tennessee, but from what I’ve seen and heard, I think I’d like it there.”
Q: When you first started working with Garrett, what were the goals you wanted to achieve?
A: “When I first started working with Garrett, I had a few goals. I wanted to get stronger overall. I had zero upper body/core strength and that was a main priority. I wanted to have the strength and stability to be able to gain endurance in the trails. I also wanted strength to carry me through the latter half of ultras. I knew from my first (2) 50k races that I needed more upper body strength to pull me through.”
Q: What motivated you to work with Garrett and/or start making changes in your routine?
A: “I knew I needed to add a strength training routine into my training. I was doing zero cross training and absolutely nothing to get stronger, more stable and build core strength. The opportunity came up to do a 6-week challenge class with Garrett, and I jumped at the chance. Here was a trainer that works specifically with runners! I knew I needed someone like that, with the knowledge, training and expertise geared specifically towards runners.”
Q: How would you best describe your current training program?
A: “I’ve now been working with Garrett for 6 months, that’s after the challenge ended. I was doing 2 workouts per week, one in-person at the studio and one at Planet Fitness. I joined there on the cheap membership and Garrett was awesome to write my second day using the various equipment they have. I also do a corrective routine to help strengthen weak areas and improve my balance/mobility 3 days a week.
Another super awesome thing that Garrett did was re-writing my program to the equipment I have at home available to me during the stay-home orders with the gyms shut down! I still get a super awesome, difficult but achievable workout at home!
Once covid hit and all my races started cancelling, I started thinking about refocusing. Three weeks ago I asked Garrett to add an optional 3rd workout to my routine. I spoke with him and told him I wanted to kind of treat this time as my strength focus time. Usually people go harder with strength training when race seasons are over and weekly mileage drops off drastically. I decided to take advantage of this time and work harder now, since I’m not in any training plan anymore. He knew exactly what do do after listening to me and came up with a great 3rd day!”
Q: What are the most noticeable improvements you’ve seen so far?
A: “There are so many noticeable improvements! I’m much more stable. I’m so much stronger and my exercises have been progressing as my stability and strength grows. My endurance has lengthened. I’m much more confident on the trails. I can feel my “core engaging”. I can SEE MUSCLES! (Not just my legs)! I can look back at where I started and actually see my progress!”
Q: Has there been any particular areas which were slower to see results? Why do you think that?
A: “I’ve seen progress all around because I’m dedicated to performing all of my exercises. Not only that, I do them as best as I can. I’ll admit I don’t do my corrective RAILS program on the days he has them scheduled, but I try to get all 3 days in each week. Those are very important!”
Q: If someone is in a similar situation as you, could you provide them a little background on what it takes to see success with a program like this?
A: “To see success, as with any program, you MUST put in the work. It will not happen over night. You will not see results in a month. It takes at least 3 months of consistent work to start to see a noticeable difference. It’s important to understand that going into a program like this. It’s not a quick fix. It will take time, effort, dedication and a good, positive attitude. Don’t give up! The results will come, and when they do, you’ll want more! It only take 2-3 workouts per week, and they aren’t long, only an hour, plus your individual corrective program. Most people waste AT LEAST an hour a day mindlessly scrolling social media!
Also, it’s very important to have a trainer that is specifically focused on runners! Going to a trainer or the gym using YouTube videos may give you strength, but will it be specific to your needs in running? To help with speed? Endurance? Gait?”
Q: Increasing core and upper body strength have been top goals of yours since your program started. How have these areas changed over the past 6-months and have you noticed any improvements in your running because of it?
A: “So so many improvements! I can feel my entire body engaging now. I feel stronger and healthier when running, both road and trail! I had no idea before, but now I wonder how I ever actually did what I did in running!”
Q: What is your favorite part about the sessions and now recent shift to a remote training program with COVID?
A: “My favorite part is the feeling of pushing myself in the harder exercises and how good I feel when I finish the set! Like, I just DID that! I’m freaking awesome!
Moving to doing everything at home hasn’t been bad. I don’t have a weight set (borrowed my mom’s adjustable dumbbells), no kettle bells or lots of gym equipment, but Garrett was great with rewriting my program to what I have at home and let me tell you, it’s STILL a challenge! And I feel proud when I get through an exercise that might be particularly challenging!”
Q: What is that one thing you dislike the most but continue to work on because you know it will help?
A: “Haha, there are so many exercises that I dislike because they are hard. But, hard is what gets results. So I do them. All. Maybe not well in the beginning when a new one is introduced, but I work at it. And I know it’s working! And, I always let Garrett know exactly how I’m feeling about a particular exercise after I finish it! He should post my comments for the world to get a kick out of!”
Q: Looking ahead, do you have any new goals/races you are working towards?
A: “I have zero race goals for the rest of the year. My running goals for the rest of 2020 and the first part of 2021 are to get my body stronger, my core and upper body stronger, and continue to gain stability.”
Thank you for reading this ‘In the Spotlight’ segment. And, a big shout out to Jen Gillett. To learn more about the Healthy Running Program, please click here.