Oiselle loves all of our women, and we love it even more when our athletes are willing to share their personality and story. When we look at someone tearing it up as a master, running faster than we can imagine at that age, it is a temptation to think it must come easy to them. Jennifer St Jean explains what motivates her to keep racing at such a high level. We salute you, Jen. Go fast, take chances!
I turn 41 on November 4th. I go by Jen but always introduce myself as Jennifer; often people misunderstand me & think I say Jan. My mind immediately wanders to Jan Brady.
I was 19 or 20 when I got my first tattoo--a road runner; road miles will always be my favorite and as a kid I loved that bird. I'm seeing a trend here. Head up, wings out.
My second tattoo is on my back. It represents where I was at that point in my life. I was 22 and trying to make it as a professional athlete. My design was a symbol of me but I couldn’t think of just one symbol so it includes an Olympic wreath, Chinese characters for strength & determination, “mom”, and has a moon & a star. I was 2 seconds from qualifying from the OT and 2 years away when I hung up my racing shoes. I’ve always been strong & determined so that element is still with me today. I made it through the hardest part of my life and came out on top as an elite runner again. My mom was my biggest supporter in life and now I am to my own girls. The moon & star was for feminine strength & all that encompasses it. I believe we are far stronger than we give ourselves credit for and what I’ve learned is this….doesn’t matter what I did yesterday, that is in the past. I will use that information to make myself better today.
After my 2nd daughter was born, I decided to retire from financial services & be a full time stay at home mom. This lasted 6 months. I got crafty & started making small bags. I started off as the itty bitty bag company but have rebranded my business to Jen Saint Jean LLC. I was making more than bags & with my new adventures in running at an elite level, it made sense to rebrand. So I design & sew little bags & accessories from my home & sell them online.
I think the struggle is always trying to find balance. I guess it doesn’t really matter what each of our situations presently are but we all try to balance our days: jobs, kids, home, family whatever it is, we all struggle with it. I learned to put my running first as often as I can. Taking care of myself first allows me to be the best wife, mom, runner & business owner that I can be.
I am in the middle of an 8 week break from racing which will conclude at my next big race. During this time I am building my mileage & increasing the intensity & duration of my workouts. I can’t do that while simultaneously racing. Since I run 3 seasons a year (cross county which includes road races, indoor track & outdoor track), I don’t get much of a break but it is important.
My essential workout has been pretty much the same for the past year. We do speed workouts on dirt hills and call it “Saturday morning at the Rockies”. This is my endurance, hill & speed workout all wrapped up in one exhausting session. I can only do two hard sessions a week on a non-race week. On a race week, my race is my hard session. The workout goes like this: We start off with a 3 mile warm-up at conversational pace, then we do continuous repeats and followed by a cool down of 1-3 miles depending upon how many repeats are included in each session. The variation depends on if I am training for a 1-mile race or a 5k race. Our intervals are based on time: 4 minutes, 3 minutes, 2 minutes and so on. We might do 4 x 4 minutes or some other variety. I’ve seen so much progress from one year ago when I started these intervals. When we do the 4 minutes continuous we cover one mile total but only 4 minutes of the 1-mile is at a hard effort, then we jog the rest of the mile. The total mileage for this session might be 10-13 miles of continuous running. I know these workouts have helped me improve not just by my faster race times but the location of where I stop our 4 minutes during these intervals. I run much further than I did a year ago during those 4 minutes.
First race up is masters championships 6k cross country club nationals out in San Francisco (12/12/15). I came in 7th last year so I am hoping to improve on place & time this year. The funny thing about these races is you never know who is going to show up. So I will just go out & do my best.
My next race after that is the Hartshorne Mile in Ithaca, NY. It is a masters invitational indoor mile on 1/23/16. Some of the best masters milers in the world will be there.
So my big goal does dwell a bit on the past but here it is.
I want to run faster than 4:19 in the 1500 meters which is what I ran at the top of my game when I was 23. If I do that then I want to shoot for the Masters American record of 4:16. This year, after one year of training & racing, I took 20 seconds off my time in the 1500. My current PR is 4:37. I realize the next 20 will not come as easy but I am willing to work for it. I have 4 years.
FASTER AS A MASTER.