Athlete Spotlight: Jennifer Faraone
The Athlete's Palate is dedicated to empowering athletes by encouraging wellness through holistic nutrition and sport in our community. This Athlete Spotlight post is on Jennifer, an accomplished runner who has write a co-written a book about training your way through pregnancy and motherhood.
Here's a little bit about Jennifer's background.
I grew up in Northern Ontario in a small town called Espanola. Whereas I played recreational baseball and ringuette, my passion for sports didn’t really take off until University. I started off with road running, then turned to duathlon for cross training, then started trail as cross training for both of those sports. The last few years, I’ve focused primarily on trail running, having fun exploring slightly longer distances. I left my career in health care a few years ago, and now spend my time with writing (co-authored the book The Athletic Mom-to- Be, and working on my next book), coaching, hosting trail run retreats and clinics, and being more actively involved with my kids.
What is your most memorable sport accomplishment?
So many stand out, all for different reasons. One is winning gold at the World’s Duathlon Championship (age group)—standing on the podium and wearing the Canadian flag was pretty neat, but the real highlight was racing on home turf (Ottawa) and having my closest girlfriends cheering me on. The other memorable sport accomplishment was the North Face Endurance Challenge Blue Mountain last summer. Not only was this the first race where I felt like I gave myself permission to let go (of my fear), felt strong and felt like everything just “clicked”, but I also came in first overall (beating the men) and then was crowd-surfed at the awards ceremony. How often does that happen!!!
What do you eat before a race?
I’m always super hungry before a race! Although sometimes I do have to force myself to eat if I’m nervous. Usually its half cup of coffee, oatmeal with half a banana and a bit of protein
powder, then a homemade muffin. And I always take a gel about 15 minutes before the race
(kinda out of habit).
What is your favourite recovery fuel?
Hands down-smoothie! I usually make it ahead of time with protein powder, banana, almond or
peanut butter, rice milk and spinach. I also like to add cinnamon and turmeric.
What is your mantra?
There’s many! Lately I ‘ve been using “just keep moving forward”. This applies to life in general. Because no matter how hard things might seem at the moment, my only job is to keep moving forward. If I have to slow down the pace and/or walk, no problem. What’s important is that I move forward, not backwards.
The other mantra I use a lot if “this is bliss”. Because if I’m not enjoying the race or workout, why am I doing it? These 3 words reminds me that my main pursuit is passion and enjoyment.
What keeps you motivated to train?
Passion. Curiosity. Being a role model.
Passion: how can I stop doing something that I love so much and get so much enjoyment out of? This is part of the reason why my focus has changed from road, to duathlon to trail. My enjoyment with the sports has changed over the years; I’m simply chasing my passion. And I’m a much happier and better person when I’m able to train; I can’t imagine a life without it.
Curiosity: I’m always joking that I’m going to be a kick-ass master athlete; I just need to find that perfect training approach! Maybe I’m a bit naïve and live in a bubble, but part of me believes that I still have some untapped potential. But not just in terms of performance/PB, but also around mental attitude and resilience. Fear has played a big factor in my athletic endeavours, and I’m now ready to tackle this head on. I’m beginning to feel more confident, looking to take on more risks, and challenging myself a lot more. This is going to bring my relationship with running to a new level.
Being a role model for my kids. It’s really important to me that they realize that enjoyment is top priority whereas performance is secondary. I also want them to realize that my accomplishments comes with hard work and dedication-something that applies to all aspects of their lives. Nothing comes for free. But if something is important enough, you are willing to make the sacrifices to get there.
What is your go-to quick meal to make during a busy training week?
I hardly go a day without a smoothie of some sort! I also make great soups that are pretty dense and nutritious. And I usually like to have some sort of homemade bars on muffins in the freezer that I can grab on the go. When I need to grab something on the road, I love fresh sushi.
What is your favourite cross-training activity?
Cycling and in the summer and cross country skiing in the winter. And I love that we have been incorporating this more and more with the kids and arranging family trips around these sports.
What's your favourite race and why?
There are many! But one of my favorites is the Sky Race Montgenevre in the French Alps. This race has significance for several reasons. The first is that I had been wanting to race in the Alps for quite some time; whenever I saw pictures I would fantasize about how great it would be. It was a bucket list item. And now I finally got the chance. And this chance coincided with a once-in- a-lifetime trip with my husband and kids where we toured Europe for 6 weeks and I will always have found memories of this. So this race is also tied to some amazing memories.
This race was also my first exposure to longer distances. Although it was only 37k, it still took 5h30 because of the elevation. This race got me hooked on longer distances!
Finally, although I finished second, what I remember the most if finishing the last km running hand in hand with my kids. I feel like they gave me the energy to just float in that last km!
What's your guilty pleasure food and how often do you have it?
Dark chocolate (with sea salt or chili flakes) and rich and bold red wines-especially cab sav from California. I eat my chocolate every day and sip a glass of wine most days as well. I’m all about moderation and not depriving myself of things I really enjoy. And I’m lucky that I have good will power!
To keep up with Jennifer's running, follow her on Instagram, Facebook, twitter and her blog. If there are any Canadian's that would like to order Jennifer's book The Athletic Mom-To-Be feel free to buy the book directly from Jennifer (slightly less cost), her email is email@example.com.