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Jenny Brod’s Love of the Trail Leads to 2011 Arkansas Traveller 100 Win – Interview

“To me, the longer the distance, the more fun the journey.” – Jenny Brod

Jenny Brod won the 2011 Arkansas Traveller 100 (results summary) female race in a time of 21:46:31. This effort from the Arkansas local was also spicy enough for an 8th overall finish in her second attempt on this course!

Jenny Brod (white shirt) at AT100 awards ceremony with RDs Chrissy and Stan Ferguson (pink and black shirts), male winner PoDog Vogler (Hammer Nutrition shirt), and the colorful Paul Turner. (Photo: Courtesy Lisa Vorwerk, the Pink Panther!)

Jenny’s love of the dirt, love of the distance, and a year of consistent training was highlighted by her numerous top-5 female finishes throughout the 2011 year so far. While results will come and go, it is apparent Jenny loves to challenge herself and simply…loves to run.

I hope you enjoy this interview as Jenny shares her running background, general training, reflections on the AT100 win, and her experience packed Fall run schedule.


Background / Training

[EB – What is your running background?  When did you start trail and ultra running and what led you to explore the sport?]

I started running in the fall of 2005 when I ran my first 5k.  I had never been a runner in school.  I was working out at the gym and my work was getting together a team for Race for the Cure.  I thought to myself: “surely I can get up to 3 miles.”  I wanted to run the whole thing and I did in a fairly decent time.  I was hooked at that point and decided that following Spring to go for a full marathon.  I hadn’t attempted a half marathon yet, I just wanted to go for the whole thing.   I have run numerous road marathons since then and still love them but trail running is so much more fun.

I ran my first trail 50k in February 2009 at the White Rock 50k and was hooked from that point.  I love the trails.  A good friend of mine who has been involved in the ultra running community for years talked me into doing my first 50k and later my first 100 miler.

I will also continue to do some road races now and then because I know it doesn’t hurt to get that speed work in but my heart is on the trails.  To me, the longer the distance the more fun the journey.  I love how people think I’m crazy for running 100 miles.  I love the questions people ask me and I thrive on that and it only makes me want to run more of them.  If I didn’t have a job and had a lot of money, I would definitely travel all over the world running 100 milers.

[EB – Do you have any specific running mentors that have influenced you along your journey so far?]

I have so many.  Harold Hays, Jack Evans and Paul Turner are a few that have made the most impact in my life.  I met them when I first started running in 2005.  Paul Turner was actually my pacer in my first marathon and I definitely credit him for making me stay tough throughout the whole race.

After hearing these guys talk about their many ultra adventures, I knew that I would have to try it someday.  They definitely got me through my first 100 miler.  Without them I know that I would not be where I am today in my running.  They have provided advice and support to me for  every race I have run.  I just didn’t know trail running would be this addictive.

There have been a number of people who have given me advice along the way but I would definitely say they are the ones that got me started.  I am truly thankful to have so many supportive people in my life that want to help me succeed.

[EB – What does a typical training week look like for you? How much training do you do on the trails? Do you do any type of cross training?]

I typically run 65-70 miles per week.  I just don’t feel like I have time to get in more.  I feel like Saturday and Sunday are the most important.  I try to get in at least 20 miles on Saturday and 10-12 miles on Sunday.

Several people have told me that I should be running more when training for a 100 but it seems to have worked well for me the past two years so I’m kind of afraid to change it.

I also do a lot of yoga and stretching.  I was doing weights for a long time but I recently stopped doing that and it seems like my race times have not suffered from it.  If anything, they have improved.  There is always that question of whether to do weights or not.  Who knows?

The only time each week I run on the trails is on my Saturday long run.  Me and a group also training for the race would go out to the actual race course and run 20-25 miles.  Consistently running on the race course helped tremendously during the race.  I have a typical 8-5 job and I don’t really have any trails close so it makes it tougher to get training on the trails during the week.

Arkansas Traveller 100

[EB – How was the body and mind feeling going into your second AT100 adventure?]

Great!  I was definitely mentally prepared because I knew exactly what to expect.  I wasn’t nervous at all.  I knew I could finish, the questions was just “how fast?”  The week of the race is always the worst because you are just ready to be at the start line.  You never know what can be thrown your way in 100 miles so you just have to be ready for anything.

[EB – What were some of your strongest memories across the 21+ hour scamper? What were some of your biggest challenges you had to overcome?]

My biggest challenge would have been my knee pain.  It didn’t start until about mile 52 but it came on really quickly and was hurting enough to where I had a very hard time running on it.  At that point I was extremely worried that I would not be able to finish.  I looked down and my knee was extremely swollen so I took a couple Advil and it made the pain go away.  A lot of people would argue that is a bad idea but I knew I was staying very well hydrated and eating plenty so I wasn’t worried about it.  I think it was the best decision I made throughout the race because I was able to pick up the pace at that point.

One of my strongest memories would be when I took the lead at mile 64.  My pacer told me that we had to keep running and not look back for as long as I could so that’s what we did.  I knew at this point that I could not waste any time and could not let up for a second.

My second strongest memory would of course be the finish.  My family and friends were there to cheer me in and it was an awesome feeling.  I was just surprised I didn’t cry.

[EB – What were the first thoughts in your mind after crossing the finish line and winning the Arkansas Traveller 100?]

My first thought was definitely joy.  I went into the race wanting to be the first female and run under 22 hours and I did both.  I couldn’t have been happier at that point.

After the joy, you always feel a little sadness because you train for so long and spend so much of your free time training and then you experience this awesome journey and it seems like it is over in an instant.  You immediately have to decide what is next so you can have that to look forward to and work towards.

I couldn’t imagine anyone crossing the finish line saying: “I’ll never do that again.”  Even if you finish in 30 hours, you still just ran 100 miles and not a lot of people in this world can say that.

[EB – You ran a 23:40:44 at the AT100 in 2010 and knocked off nearly two hours this year. Were there lessons you learned in 2010 that you incorporated this year? What do you feel led to this time drop?]

There isn’t really much I did differently in my training this year except run a few more races throughout the year.  In March of this year I ran the 3 days of Syllamo and I think that helped give me a mental boost and I also added in an extra 50 miler and some additional 50k’s.  Having more of the longer distance races helped me to be more confident.

Last year my #1 goal was to finish.  I wasn’t trying to win and I knew I needed to be conservative because the furthest I had ever run at that point was 50 miles.  I had no idea what would happen after that.

This year I knew I could finish so I was more focused on my time and running strong throughout the whole race.  There really isn’t anything in the race that I did differently.  I ate and drank the same things I did last year.  Why change something that seems to be working?

[EB – For someone looking to run the AT100 for the first time next year. What “insider tips” would you share to help them prepare for this specific 100 mile adventure?]

Train on the course as much as you can.  Get to know the good and bad sections.  Practice eating and drinking on your training runs to get your stomach use to it.  Most importantly, during the race, don’t go out too fast.  Your goal in your first 100 miler should only be to finish.  You can work on improving your time next year.  First you want to say you finished one.

Also, make sure you are eating and drinking plenty.  You are burning so many calories out there, your body needs food to keep going.

Lastly, never ever ever quit unless it’s too dangerous for you to continue.  Is it going to hurt?  Of course it is.  Your body wasn’t made to run 100 miles but you will get through it if you keep telling yourself that and the finish line will be worth all the pain.

Looking Ahead

[EB – Do you have any running events planned for the rest of the year? Any other trail adventures on your radar you would like to experience but haven’t yet?]

The rest of my year is pretty packed with races.  So far I’ve got planned 2 road marathons, 1 trail marathon, 1 road 50k and a half marathon.  I think that will do me for the rest of the year.

My new BIG goal for 2012 is Leadville.  It sounds like a big challenge and I love a challenge.  My goal there will definitely be to just finish.  I actually have never even been to Colorado so I am looking forward to going.

Luckily, the mentors I mentioned above have either run the race or watched the race or paced someone in the race.  They know every step of the course and they have already said they would love to be a part of my crew next year.  So once I can get all these little aches and pains to go away, it will be time to start focusing on that for next year.

I am hoping I will be recovered enough after Leadville to run the Traveller again.  I’d love to see what I can do after running 100 miles at altitude.

Gotta say, I love hearing from our TALON athletes!

A huge thanks to Jenny for taking the time and sharing with the entire Endurance Buzz community!

Special thanks to Lisa Vorwerk for turning into the official Endurance Buzz photographer for the AT100! 🙂

Do you have any questions for Jenny?

Be active – Feel the buzz!

David –

About the author

David Hanenburg David Hanenburg is the passionate dirt-lovin' creator of Endurance Buzz and has been playing in the endurance sports world since 2000 after knockin' the dust off of his Trek 950 hardtail thanks to a friend asking to go ride some local dirt. In 2007 he ran his first ultra on the trails and fell in love with the sport and its people. For more information on David's endurance sports journey, check out the About page.

3 Responses to “Jenny Brod’s Love of the Trail Leads to 2011 Arkansas Traveller 100 Win – Interview”

  1. on 11 Oct 2011 at 5:35 pm Lisa Vorwerk

    I’m a bit on the heavy side right now as a runner and I’m strugglin with diet and workouts. I strive to eat healthy but every week my weight is up and down. I’m up about 20 lbs from this time last year.

    Could Jenny share any of her dieting tips for ultra runners?


    Lisa “Pink Panther” Vorwerk

  2. on 11 Oct 2011 at 8:28 pm Jenny Brod

    Lisa, thanks for the question. I wish I had a better answer but “I run so I can eat.” I try to keep up the mileage so I can eat whatever I want. That’s one of the benefits of ultra running. Don’t get me wrong, I try to make healthy decisions but I definitely enjoy my sweets. Just try and be conscious of calories. They can add up very quickly. Try counting them on one of your normal eating days just to see how many calories you really are consuming and see where you can cut back while still enjoying the foods you love. I hope this helps!

  3. on 13 Oct 2011 at 12:26 pm Dexter

    Great job Jenny! Lisa, we camped together at the group site this year – I just wanted to share something that’s worked for me. My number one rule is don’t drink your calories!!! Soda is an absolute no-no – I try to stick to water, coffee, and green tea throughout the day. If I do feel the need to drink some empty calories, I’ll have a couple beers at the end of the day. It’s so easy to drink 1000 calories or more in a day. Juices aren’t much better, they have a lot of sugars in them. Energy drinks can also pack a lot of calories. Beware! I try to watch what I eat, but more than anything I watch what I drink. I’ll have an occasional soda, but other than that I stay away. Hope to see you again next year!