Today on the podcast, we catch up with South African marathon runner, Jenna Challenor. This mother of three keeps a busy schedule. Hear how she juggles it all, making very sure her nutrition is taken care of along the way. She’s also coming off an injury, and has the 2017 World Championships within her sights.
Welcome to this week’s addition of 32Gi Sports Nutrition. I’m Mr Active David Katz. One of the marvels of technology is that we’re able to do what we do from anywhere. I’m unfortunately not at home today, I’m out in public. But it’s a great opportunity now to catch Jenna Challenor. Because the South African marathon runner, she is extremely busy. She trains really hard, she is a mother of three, I don’t know how she gets it all done, but she does. Jenna thanks very much for joining us today.
JC: Thanks Dave it’s great to be on the show.
DK: Well Jenna first of all you are one of the athletes in the 32Gi family, hence our chat with you. What I want to ask you first of all is how do you fit it in? I know you’ve got three girls, they very active as well. You train up to three days times a day…you’ve got a busy schedule.
JC: Dave I always say where there’s a will there’s a way. You wanna do it you’ll make time for it. It is hectic it is crazy, my life is very busy, my girls are very sporty. Obviously as you say three times a day especially using my pre-protein recover shakes it gets me from one training session to the next. I make it work.
A day in the life of Jenna Challenor
DK: Well tell me about making it work. Run us through a day. I know you up really early and with that you probably go to bed early. It’s a tight schedule from really early in the morning isn’t it?
JC: Yes it’s very tight, so this morning I woke up at 4:15am. Then my older daughter actually wanted to come train with us. So she came along on the track and the track session that was two hours.
Then from there I came home got them ready for school. Out the door by 7:15, got home by half past six, out the door by 7:15 to school. I then had to go fetch something for my husband. then I went down to Prime High Performance Centre, to Jaryd Rudolph, he’s the bio at Prime.
After that I came home I got pretty much a 30 minute gap now before I gotta fetch my little one home from school at 12:15. Then after that I bring her home sort her out. Then a physio appointment which I gotta go to. After that I go and fetch my other two daughters from school, they finish at 2 o’clock.
Then I bring them home help them with homework sort that out a bit. Then I go drop them, the one will go to swimming, the other will go to either running or gymnastics or whatever their session is. In between that I’ll fit in my third session.
Fitting nutritional recovery into a busy day
DK: Well with a day like that recovery becomes even more important Jenna, doesn’t it? If you doing three session you running around the household the whole time. I mean what is that you do between sessions? How soon are you eating after a session? I presume also hydration throughout the day is also very important.
JC: Recovery is really important. Unfortunately I don’t have the joy of eat, sleep and train I have a lot of other things so the sleeping go out the picture. But where I do I focus on recovery as my nutrition straight after a big session like this morning.
I’ll within 20 minutes I’ll take my 32Gi recover shake. That’s really, really vital because that really helps me to get from one session to the next. If I don’t take it I really do feel it. I’ll also make sure I have a good meal and a good cappuccino.I love my cappuccino that really helps me.
Then with regards to other kind of recovery I wear my compression socks or my compression pants to help with that. Where I can I’ll fit in a massage. But my physio is absolutely incredible…Wayne Holroyd he literally helped me to get that, I have a lot of physio with him. If I have any niggles or if I just need a rub Wayne Holroyd’s the man that literally keeps my body working.
Making a come back from injury
DK: Well talking about that. I know you’ve had a little bit of a injury setback this year. For people who don’t know what happened and how’s the recovery gone?
JC: I ran Japan marathon in March. I’ve got a knee injury but it’s been the same reoccurring knee injury after all three of my marathons that I’ve run. The last two marathons I was kind of out for seven weeks. We kind of patch it up and thought we’d healed it and I got back into training.
I only had really seven weeks off and I got back into training and training for the next marathon. Then this marathon I ran, the marathon itself was okay, it hurt toward the end. But straight after the marathon literally the minute I put my foot on the finish line my knee seized up and I could hardly walk.
It was the same knee injury but this time around we were at seven weeks, eight weeks, nine weeks post-marathon and I was getting progressively worse. I couldn’t even walk. I was on crutches. I couldn’t run for a 150 metres without falling over and not being able to walk for the rest of the day. I couldn’t even cycle for two minutes even swimming in the pool I couldn’t tumble turn.
So it was really bad and I was just getting progressively worse and worse. So we, we tried everything. I had four cortisone injections, five ultra sounds, two MRI’s you name it. I had two orthopaedic surgeons try and look at it. I had Olympic sport doctor, doctor Kevin Subban and Wayne Holroyd everyone trying and nothing was helping.
So eventually we all met together the orthopaedic surgeon Andrew de Vlieg, Wayne Holroyd, Kevin Subban and we decided we actually need to go in to key hole surgery. We need to look and see what’s going on with the knee. Cos the scans are not showing anything, I couldn’t go on with it any longer. I was in so much pain I cried everyday it was really bad.
So we decided to do the surgery. When they were in there they discovered that the fat pad of my knee was so abnormally huge and ten weeks post-marathon it was still haemorrhagic, hence the pain I was going through. So they cut that whole fat pad away and they, they cut it down to some normal person’s size. They did a few obviously other things.
But the structure of the knee itself was perfect. So they say this is an ongoing problem, because I was born with an abnormally big fat pad. It was throughout the marathon training that this inflamed and irritated it. Then when I ran the long the marathon at that pace that I ran at it really irritated it. Made it really swollen hence the pain.
So they very positive now that it’s sorted out, that I shouldn’t have this problem ever again. So it’s been a long hall. I was out for 17 weeks. It’s hard coming back from 17 weeks injury, so it’s a four month injury of doing nothing. I did swim a lot, I thought I was gonna take on Chad Le Clos in the pool now. But I’m so glad to be back on the road running.
So I’m 11 weeks post-surgery now and loving it back into a full programme. I’ve obviously weaned into this full programme. I went back into a full programme this week. It’s a bit of a shock but it’s amazing just to be running again pain free.
Why I love marathon running so much
DK: Well Jenna at the moment, you know you do all the distances. But marathon seems to be your strongest. What is it about marathon running that you enjoy and what do you think why it suits your running?
JC: No I enjoy all the distances, but the marathon is the one that I’ve waited for so long to run. I just needed to find the right time. My kids were too young and it doesn’t have a lot more millage on the road. But a lot more time dedicate to training.
I’ve always found 10k running the road runs are, as I get into the race and start catching people I run out of road. So therefore on the 21 I’ve got a bit longer road and I enjoy it and I do better. Then the marathon I’ve got enough road so I don’t have to run out of road if that makes sense to you.
DK: It makes a lot of sense. You know this year of course with Rio it was an Olympic year. You ran one of the fastest times, you weren’t in the top three, but you know your injury would have ruled you out anyway. But you know you are right up there. And there’s such a nice revival of South African women running at the moment. It’s a great crop of women who are running the marathon distance. Do you enjoy that do you enjoy that competition and also what’s your PB?
JC: I really do enjoy the competition. I think it’s absolutely amazing that there’s South African women all vying for spots in the team. I know there’s World Champs coming up next in London. They take five and there’s about nine of us that can definitely run a good qualifying time for that. So it’s nice to have a bit of healthy competition. Makes it, spices things up. Not just for us but for everyone else waiting to see who makes the team.
Great to be an active role model for my girls
DK: Jenn you’ve I mean you’ve been talking about it, anyone who follows you on social media sees how active you are not just as an athlete, but as a mother. Your girls are very active, I know both your older girls you know do duathlon. They do a lot of sporting events they both into their lifesaving. Is that important for you or is it nice and great to see that interest they show in physical activities seeing what you do?
JC: that is really important for me. My girls have grown up in the life of sport. They’ve always been around it. It’s just natural to them. They used to us running, swimming doing lifesaving. They’re very used to it, it’s just part of their lives. They love it.
It’s not about being the best or doing, at their age, it’s not about being the best or doing every sport. It’s about the love of it and if they loving it and they enjoying and they doing it that’s what I love to see. And so they are doing really well in their sports and they absolutely love it. So that makes up really, really proud.
DK: And already at that age it’s a little bit different when you look at their nutrition and their diet. You know recovery for whatever you doing it’s important and kids burn so much energy. So that gets passed on as well from you to them?
JC: Definitely and something my coach Ernie Gruhn always says whenever I phone him saying, Reilly did so well in her running or Nix did well in this triathlon, he always says to me, Jenna less is more. And for the last two years I really have gone with that less is more. You can’t pound kids they very young they need to explore all sports.
You give them the opportunity to go to various sports as well as guide them with their nutrition. What is good like obviously fuelling their bodies, they both use 32Gi I might just add they love it. They’ll use the juice, the endure or race on the actual race days. They love the 32Gi tabs as well. It’s all very safe and for kids so that’s really, really nice.
DK: Yes it is. We did a podcast recently on the benefits of the product and how safe they are for kids. I’ll put that up on the show notes if you didn’t hear that. You interested in sort of supplementing your kids diet where needed. But again as Mark Wolff propagates, he says; clean food, real food first. Then around that. Jen before we let you go is World Champs next year is that the big goal on the agenda at the moment?
Targeting 2017 World Championships
JC: I’ll say yes, world champs is definitely a goal for me, I’ve run the half marathon for South African. So I would love to run the marathon for South Africa as well. Obviously all has to go well you have to run a good qualifying time. Obviously my knee has to hold out. But all going well so definitely one of my dreams. I would love to be on that starting line in London next year in August.
DK: Jenna very active as I mentioned on social media as I mentioned if people want to follow you how can they do so?
JC: I’d love everyone to follow me I have twitter it’s @jennachallie1. I’m also on Facebook I have an athlete page Jenna Challenor athlete. So I would love everyone to follow me. I also have an Instagram account which is @jennachallie1.
DK: Well Jenna thank you very much for your time. I know you off quickly to the next engagement. But it’s been great having you on the podcast and all the best with that build up to the World Champs.
JC: Thanks Dave thanks so much. I really appreciate, it have a great day.
DK: Well that’s Jenna Challenor, South African marathon runner joining us on 32Gi Sports Nutrition. From myself Mr Active David Katz we’ll catch up again with you next week.