Sport(s): Professional Athlete – Runner, Ski Mountaineering
BeetBoost is excited to welcome famed ultrarunner Jenn Shelton as a BeetBoost Ambassador. Jenn, who has broken numerous ultrarunning records around the world, is also a Patagonia-sponsored athlete and central figure in the bestseller Born to Run by Christopher McDougall.
We caught up with Jenn as she was tackling the Dolomites in Italy where she’s currently working on adding ski mountaineering to her long list of accomplishments. Jenn shares a bit about her interests and motivations.
Are you a member of or affiliated with a team?
I am Patagonia Ambassador and I have many awesome training partners scattered all over the world, but for the most part I am a lone wolf.
What got you started as an athlete?
I grew up doing gymnastics. My freshman year in high school was the first year of girl’s pole vault in Virginia High School Athletics so the track coach asked if any gymnasts wanted to try. After he saw my leg speed, he took the pole away and made me run.
Who are some of your heroes?
I think you should be your own hero. But of course I don’t live and die by that. In no particular order: Deena Kastor for her positive attitude, Laetitia Rue because she’s a badass skier, Lindy West for her fearless prose and Hillary Rodham Clinton for a lifetime of smashing the patriarchy.
Best advice you’ve ever received?
Be a student of your sport. You gotta learn the rules to break the rules. –Mike Nestor, my high school coach Ocean Lakes High School
Where do you place sports in their importance of your life?
After a year of a broken leg and back, I’ve learned to be a whole and complete and happy person without competing at a high level. That said, and from the comfortable mindset of a healthy athlete, sport is number one. There is not a close second.
How much time each week do you spend training?
If you count rest and recovery as training, the big R, which I do, then I’d say training never stops. But right now I’m putting in 30+ hour weeks.
Does exercise and competing interfere with a “normal” life, that is, what sacrifices do you make to be an athlete?
I don’t want a normal life. Sometimes it’s not super easy living out of a van and a duffle bag all year, but it has taught me to be organized and it forces me to accept a little patience now and again. Of course, I’m still a work in progress on those two fronts…
I’d love to have a boyfriend and a pack of huskies, I guess, but I have a stuffed mammoth named Mammoth who travels with me, a gift from Deena Kastor many years ago. He does the trick.
What one or two things do you currently do in your training that is key to your success?
This past year I learned to focus on nutrition. Thank beezlebub for BeetBoost, which is easy to travel with. I’d say of all the things, though, sleep is the most important for me. I sleep 10-12 hours a day, and I recover fast, so I am able to get back at it after a big day.
What is your biggest accomplishments in sports?
For eight years I held the world record for 100 miles 14hr57.
I qualified for the United States Marathon Trials in 2012.
I’ve completed the 223 mile John Muir Trail in 4days8hours and I have the record on the 93 mile Wonderland Trail.
And at age 32 (year 2016) I decided I wanted to be a professional ski mountaineer, despite not knowing how to ski or mountaineer. I moved to the Dolomites in Italy—the birthplace of the sport–and with enough persistence and bullheadedness and horrible crashes I found someone to coach me. It’s been so awesome so far.
Ultimate achievement will be?
To write a book that I think is beautiful and that I am proud of.
What is your diet like?
My diet changes with what part of the world I am in. But I do try to incorporate fresh vegetables and high quality meat–whatever is available in the region that I’m in. My diet also has a lot of carbs.
What are your favorite dishes to eat?
Hummus in Israel! Quiche in France! Avocados in California! Fish in Alaska! Pizza in Italy! Yumm sauce in Oregon! Green chile breakfast burritos in New Mexico! Philly cheese steak in Miami! Ok, I’m lying. In Philly.
Do you have a quote or two that your live by?
“You’re only given a spark of madness, you mustn’t ever lose it.”
IF YOU WERE CONSCIOUS
that is to say totally present
in the Now, all negativity would
dissolve almost instantly.
It could not survive in
What do you do for recovery?
Sleep. Drink a nice Weissen. Acupuncture. Self massage. Barre class (set to hip hop!) Dance. Laugh. Pet cats and scratch dog bellies. Read.
Curious to learn more about Jenn? Check out a short video by Outside Online.
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