While I wouldn't consider myself a woo woo person, I work in a somewhat woo woo field with massage, and believe that magical things happen when you fully commit your energy toward something you're passionate about. So when Jess Mullen happened to come up in conversation with a PT at Real Rehab in regards to their metabolic testing (more on that soon) and then she reached out to me wanting to be involved in Cascade Endurance both as a coach and a nutritionist, I knew expanding our business was the right decision. Since then, things I'd only hoped we could eventually do are falling wonderfully into place. There are more posts to come on all of these things, but before getting too much into that, I want to introduce the experienced, intelligent and lovely Jess Mullen.
Alison: Hey Jess. I'm just going to just jump right into things: how long have you been running and how did you get into it? Did you always run ultras?
Jess: I have been running for 20 years, starting in college as a way to exercise and socialize with friends. For many years, I ran 3-5 miles at a time, nothing farther. Then I slowly started building to the half marathon distance in the early 2000's. 2005 is when I started running marathons regularly. And then the shift toward ultras occurred in 2007 and has continued ever since!
A: It's a slippery slope, for sure. What's your favorite race? What about your favorite training route?
J: Cascade Crest 100 is my favorite race. It's beautiful, challenging, long, low-key and so many locals are there running, pacing, crewing or volunteering - I feel like I get to see all my friends. As far as my favorite training route, it is also my least favorite at times - because it's hard and effective. And that would be the Chirico Trail at Tiger Mountain.
A: I couldn't agree more about Cascade Crest, though by saying that, we're making it harder to get in. :) I feel like CCC is the epitome of everything I love about the ultra community. And Chirico! What a tough but fun trail. You also put on a race there in April that I'm sure we'll hear more about... You're also a nutritionist; do you have any guilty pleasure foods?
J: I'm glad you mentioned that-many people refer to me as a "nutritionist" and I do like to clarify that I am a Registered Dietitian with my Master's in Nutrition. The field of nutrition is confusing and anybody can call themselves a "nutritionist" - with little to no training but a RD must complete a university degree and internship. And I think it's important that people know the difference if they are looking for a "nutritionist" to hire to work with. Sorry of the digression. Guilty pleasure foods...I do enjoy dark chocolate with sea salt on a regular basis. Occasionally I like to get Blue Bird ice cream, but that's about it. I do have a love affair with frosting but I avoid having that mostly as it makes me feel sick afterward (boy does it taste good, though! Ha).
A: That's not a digression at all. I agree that it's good to specify the difference and am really glad to know that you still like chocolate and ice cream! I've been eating less sports "food" lately, but tire of PB and J (my go-to). I know you like to eat real food on the run: what's your favorite running food these days?
J: Currently my favorite running food is the "granola bar" from PCC. I also love anything with avocado.
A: Mmm, avocado. And PCC...I'll check that out, for sure. All this talk about food is making me hungry! Getting back to running, how would you describe your coaching philosophy?
J: I believe in sharing knowledge and helping others find/tap into their potential. I believe discipline is rewarding and that the discipline in training flows over into other areas of life. I see each client as a unique individual with their own specific history, their own unique current situation and their own personal goals. I believe my job is to help them get there in a safe, appropriate manner.
A: I love that. Has being a coach changed your own running?
J: I think being a coach has improved my running. I feel I am more objective in planning and evaluating how I train and perform. I figure I should walk the walk, you know? For example, I take my "easy" days easier than I did years ago. It has also made my running more interesting - since I use myself as a test case for learning, it keeps training/running interesting through the years - seeing what works, what isn't as effective, etc.
A: I know exactly what you mean, but man is it hard to take our own advice! Ok, last question: what's your favorite thing about working with people?
J: My favorite thing about working with people is being a part of their journey in life! Helping them learn and grow and supporting them through their struggles and victories.
A: Yes! We all need people to share our experiences. Thanks for taking the time to chat, Jess. You can find out more about her here. If you need help with your nutrition, you can find out about that at FitFirst.