Today I’m running and chatting with Jesica D’Avanza, who is a running coach and blogger that isn’t afraid to tell it like it is when it comes to running (and just about anything else).
In addition to running and blogging, Jesica has also completed several triathlons ranging in distance from the short sprints to a half iron man.
And she has the goal of completing a full iron man at some point in the not too distant future, which qualifiers her as being as crazy as the ultra runners among us.
Jesica D’Avanza Has Running in Her Blood
Jesica comes by running naturally.
Her father was an accomplished track athlete in his day, and he was a cross country coach when Jesica was younger. She would tag along with her dad at practice, and since everyone around her was running she fell into the sport very organically.
However, she wasn’t much of a distance/endurance runner until she got out of college when she started to push the limits of her body physically.
At that point, a coworker asked if she’d ever thought of completing in the triathlon, and she fell in love with the three sport event.
The peer pressure continued, and she kept giving in, and pretty soon she was running longer road races and triathlons.
A Renewed Focus on Running
For awhile, Jesica was really focused on triathlons.
But while training for a half iron man in 2013, she participated in the Hood to Coast relay across Oregon, and that experience rekindled her desire and focus on running.
Since then, she’s upped her mileage and her intensity and continues to see marked improvements in her running times.
The Mental Aspect of Endurance
Jesica has found more success in endurance sports the more she’s gotten comfortable being uncomfortable.
And that’s one of those things that sounds simple but is really quite difficult.
One of her tricks to improving this area of her training is to reframe the thoughts she is having at any given time.
So instead of telling yourself that you really feel terrible during a workout, you tell yourself that you’re really being challenged right now and the greatest improvements come from overcoming such challenges.
If you can spin the negative thoughts to something more uplifting, you can push through those rougher patches and see the fruits of your training.
Jesica also reminds herself of the importance of patience and consistency in running.
It’s important to remember that it takes years to really see serious progress in running (and any endurance sport), and sticking to the plan and staying patient over the long run is what takes to see the improvement that you desire.
Keeping that in mind, especially when the mental struggle is at it’s worst, can help you build the mental focus required to reach your highest goals.
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The Boston Marathon “Situation”
Jesica has never had a big goal of running Boston.
Unlike someone else I know…
But as her training improved after really focusing on running instead of triathlons, she set a goal to qualify for Boston.
She recently qualified, but didn’t qualify by “enough”, so she was unable to run in Boston this year.
While that missing out on Boston by a handful of seconds is disappointing, for Jesica the accomplishment lies in running a BQ and not so much with lining up in Hopkinton.
I’m not sure I could have as positive of an outlook if I was in that situation myself, but hopefully I’ll never have to deal with qualifying but not qualifying enough.
The rUnladylike Brand
The title of Jesica’s blog is unique, to say the last.
I had to ask her about the story behind the brand, and it definitely didn’t disappoint.
She talks about her willingness to tell it like it is, without any filters. And in the running community, that includes bodily functions (we’ve all been there), tough runs, and any of the other issues that we have to address as runners.
And while chatting with her husband about potential blog names back in the day, as soon as she combined run and unladylike, she knew she had found the name.
And honestly, I love the realness that Jesica brings to the running community.
I quick scroll through my social media accounts shows almost primarily the highlights.
- A new PR
- A new race distance
- Smiles, hugs, and medals
But what we rarely see posted are the darker sides of running.
- The DNFs
- The injuries
- The feeling of failure after a missed goal.
We all need to remember that all of us as runners have struggles. And so when we have a rough patch, which all of us will have at some point, being open and having the support of others is huge.
Jesica got her coaching certificate through the North American Academy of Sport Fitness Professionals, which is definitely a very rigorous certification. (Which is a good thing!)
All in all, it took Jesica almost a year to complete the coaching program!
We got into talking a little bit about coaching programs/certifications, and how having a “certification” after your name doesn’t mean that you’re a great coach.
Finding a good coach, if that’s something you’re looking for, is much more involved than just looking for a credentials and the lowest price you can find.
As with other coaches I’ve talked to, Jesica finds as much enjoyment from the success of her athletes as she does from her own success in running.
She’s also learned how much bad information is available out there to help new runners avoid making some critical errors in their training.
And because there’s so much information, both good and bad, it can be hard for runners to find out what information is out there and worthwhile.
As a coach, she also encourages her runners to be more than runners–to be athletes. Being well rounded athletes is definitely a key to injury prevention and expediting improvements for runners at any level.
As we wrapped up our chat, I asked Jesica to speculate on her future running plans.
She said she definitely wants to run a few more marathons, but doesn’t really see herself being a marathoner for the rest of her life.
And the big goal, as she mentioned at the beginning of our chat, is to complete a full iron man at some point in the not too distant future.
If you haven’t connected with Jesica before today, please head over to rUnladylike.com and have a look around.
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