April Local Athlete Spotlight: Jen Forman
It’s below-freezing temperature outside, and the howling wind makes you not even want to get out of bed. You hit the snooze button a few times and proceed to drag yourself through your morning routine. With your hot cup of coffee in hand, you hit the road and see some crazy woman doing hill repeats up the Medimmune hill on Great Seneca Highway in the dark. Who the heck is that? THAT, my friends, would be Jen Forman.
People that know Jen would tell you she wasn’t always a “morning person.” However, as she and her husband started a family, free time became non-existent. An early riser, her first born had difficulty sleeping past 4:30am. She found that he really liked being in the swing, and she could log some early morning miles next to him in the basement on the treadmill; thus began the transformation to morning workouts. When her second son arrived a few years later, the tradition continued, and Sesame Street became the anthem for Jen’s comeback to running. Now that her boys are older (5 and 10 years-old), they sleep a bit later, but the early morning workouts continue to free up invaluable family time after work and sports finish for the day.
If there is one thing that Jen is not short of in her personality, it’s determination. You might already believe me from the aforementioned morning ritual, but I know her in a different light. I know Jen from an angle in which all of us runners are most vulnerable: when we’re injured. Jen has logged a huge volume of training and racing over the past year, and she has picked up a few aches and pains along the way. When you’re fully-invested in a goal, the stars have to be in perfect alignment for your training to go off without a hitch. In reality, this rarely happens, as we all have jobs, families, and other commitments that need our attention. Slight aches get ignored, and, after a few weeks, those otherwise insignificant injuries become debilitating. As we helped Jen rehab, it became evident that this woman was not a quitter. In fact, I think the injuries that Jen sustained fueled her with an even bigger desire to succeed. She also found a tranquility in realizing something that many runners lose sight of: the “why” behind our running.
“Why do you run?” How many times have you been asked that, right? Throughout the past year, Jen has learned that she runs because she can. “I’ve really been working on being appreciative of the fact that being able to run is a gift, and also trying to look at the positive side of things,” she says. A very self-critical runner, she has realized that every run will not be a PR, and there will always be another opportunity to put her fitness to the test of time. Jen has an amazing support system that fosters her positive outlook.
Jen’s husband and two boys, Jake and Brady, are her biggest cheerleaders. She notes, “Some of my favorite race moments are when I was able to see my family on the course. Their smiles and cheers are a huge motivation for me…and I truly appreciate the fact that they have stood out in the cold and the heat for many hours just to watch me run by for a few seconds.” She is also blessed with wonderful running partners and coaches that show up to cheer at races, pace her during harder tempo workouts, and help her endure the miles of a long run. Jen says, “My running buddies have a special place in my heart.”
Before we wrapped up, as I frequently do, I asked Jen what advice she’d give a new(er) runner. She tells new runners to take it slow. “I remember when I first started running, I could barely run a mile. It was hard, and it was frustrating, but each day, I made a promise to myself that I would run for one minute longer than I had run the day before.” That feeling of progress is important to the new runner, and it often leads to the feeling of “fun.” After all, when you become better at something, it usually becomes more enjoyable. Jen urges newer runners to hold onto that fun. “Running should be something that you enjoy and makes you happy,” she says. Don’t lose sight of that.