Meet Jennifer Fitzharris-Funk – Resident Running Streaker and Triathlete
Jennifer has been a contributing writer for Minneapolis Running, almost from day one. She has written on a whole bunch of topics – from Chi Running, to massage tools, triathlon stuff and how to run with your dog among many other things.
Jennifer started running nearly 20 years ago while in graduate school.
Life felt mentally stressful, and I needed a physical outlet to keep me sane.says Jennifer.
She also had an uncle who was a huge runner and motivator. She can remember watching him finish several marathons and found herself in awe of his ability.
It wasn’t until Jennifer had been running for about 5 years that she participated in her first race.
And it wasn’t even a road race – my first official race was a triathlon! It was horrendous, but for some reason I got hooked. I’ve been doing them ever since.
Jennifer now does a few 10k and half-marathon road races a year, and the rest of the year she is focusing on duathlons and triathlons. On average, she races about 10 to 12 a summer.
She lives with her husband, Brian, who is also a runner. Brian has run several marathons and continues to mention that he wants to try a 50 miler! Their two dogs, Ruby and Koa, sometimes join on a run, or participate in a race.
Learn more about Jennifer in a quick question and answer session below!
Are you apart of any Teams?
I’m an ambassador for SOAS Racing (a female specific triathlon clothing company) and will be racing with about 125 other women (75 in the U.S and 50 Internationally) as part of TeamSoas for the 2015 season.
What is your Proudest Running Moment?
Hands down it would be running 365 days in a row (and still counting) and becoming a member of the U.S. Runners Streak Association on May 26, 2015. My streaking has helped me through so much this year and has become such a part of me that I’ll continue to streak until I’m no longer physically able!
What is your Worst Running Experience?
My husband Brian and I were out on a training run in Iowa on the cross-country fields of Iowa State. We were plodding along and all of the sudden down he went. His ankle got caught in a hole in the ground and he actually broke it. This was before we had cell phones, so I had to run a few miles to the car and find someone to help. A stranger and I carried him nearly 2 miles back to the car and then we went to the emergency room.
What is your Favorite thing to Eat Before and After a Run?
I have a really sensitive stomach, so I typically try to avoid eating at least 2 hours before any workout. In a pinch, a banana usually works okay. It becomes difficult on days when I have more than one multiple hour workout in a day (training in 3 sports sometimes leaves me with 2 training sessions a day), so I usually stick to easily digestible and super bland foods! If my workout is longer than 2 hours, I’ll throw back a GU. The vanilla and peanut butter flavors are my favorite.
What is your Favorite Running route in the Twin Cities?
I live near Lake Nokomis, so anything that takes me around the lake. Nokomis is quieter than the other nearby lakes, so I feel less distracted bobbing and weaving through other runners and walkers. There are a few triathlons that take place around Lake Nokomis so I feel like knowing every inch of asphalt gives me a bit of a home court advantage! I also enjoy the River Road, but usually reserve that for my training rides.
Do you have any Advice for Beginners?
Keep things simple. At times I miss the days when I first started running. You just put on some clothes, tied your shoes and ran. There was no GPS, cell phone app, or mp3 players. I had to plan my routes by jumping in my car and measuring the distance, and I wrote things down on paper to keep track of my runs! Although I love the advancements in technology, it can sometimes get in the way of just getting out and enjoying a run.
My advice would be to go device-free one run a week, and you’ll be surprised how quickly it goes by and what you can notice when you unplug.
What Has Helped You Become A Stronger Runner?
Variety has definitely helped me become a stronger runner. Not just variety in my routes and types of runs, but the cycling and swimming I do keeps me challenged both physically and mentally. And sleep, lots of sleep. I’m committed to getting at least 8 hours a night which can be challenging when you wake up at 5:15, but without I’m dragging during my workouts.
How Does Running Help You Lead A Happier Life?
Running over the past 3 years has brought me gratitude not just in running but in life. Spending a significant amount of time with a serious injury, which is now finally healed, has me saying “I get to run (or bike or swim) today versus “I have to run today”. When I find there are things I just don’t want to do, I try to turn it into a gain rather than a sacrifice – it’s a lesson I don’t think I would’ve learned without running and I’ve use it more times than I can count in the last year and am a happier person (and runner) for it!