Team Chocolate Milk interview: Jen Ator

You read my interview with Team Chocolate Milk member Apolo Ohno. If you didn’t, check it out here.

Another member of Team Chocolate Milk is Jen Ator, Women’s Health Fitness Director.

Jen is currently training for the 2014 IRONMAN World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii in October. Follow her training at GotChocolateMilk.com.

She hit the pavement with Apolo in the streets of Seattle in her first Mission Apolo: BUILT WITH CHOCOLATE MILK race – Rock n’ Roll Seattle Half-Marathon.

Unfortunately due to Jen’s travel schedule I was unable to meet up with her prior to her run. I was super bummed!

However, she was awesome to answer some questions via email.


How do you balance work and training?


Balancing work and training is far from easy—both are demanding, and both have to be a top priority. Working out in the morning has been crucial for me—not only in terms of being able to balance both, but also to be fully present at both. When I’m up in the morning, the only thing that matters is my training. That has my full attention. Then, once it’s done, I can get to work and be completely focused on what I need to do that day at my job (rather than being distracted or stressed about getting my workout in later that day). It also has helped me stay consistent with training; if something comes up at work and I have to stay late (which happens a lot), it doesn’t mean missing a workout.

I think the other big component to balancing everything is that going into this journey I knew I would have to make sacrifices in other areas of my life and I was comfortable with doing that. It might mean I have to skip that happy hour or pass on taking a long lunch break with a co-worker. For me it’s worth it because I know what my priorities are right now and that’s where I need to be focused. My schedule is pretty simplified these days: train, work, sleep, repeat.


What has been the biggest obstacle in training? How are you getting over it?


I think two of the biggest obstacles have been nutrition and sleep. You can only train as effectively as you’ve recovered, which means how I perform in my workouts is directly linked to how I take care of my body during the remainder of each day, outside of my training. With all that I need to get done in any given day, it’s all too easy for nutrition and sleep to fall off my radar and not get the adequate attention they need.

With nutrition, it’s all about setting myself up for success by planning ahead. I stash a bottle of chocolate milk in my gym bag so I have it immediately after my workout (I have a freezable lunch pack that I use each day to keep my meals cold while I’m at the gym – really useful!); I do a little prep work each week so that I have simple ingredients that can be tossed together in less than 10 minutes for dinner when I get home late; I keep healthy, well-balanced snacks in my office so that I can grab something in between meals if I can’t get away from my desk.

Getting enough sleep is an everyday struggle—there are not enough hours in the day! Like I said before, when something is a priority in your life, you find a way to make time for it. I’m turning off the TV earlier (or not turning it on at all), and trying to create a habit of unwinding before bed—10 to 30 minutes without my computer, or phone, or other distractions to help improve my sleep quality.


Which event (swimming, biking, running) are you the strongest? Why?


Running is the event in which I have the most experience and that I’m the most comfortable with but that doesn’t mean it has been easy. Coming back from knee surgery, I’ve had to adjust to a slower pace and tolerate a few more aches and pains along the way. I really enjoy swimming and biking in general, but both come with their own challenges when training for this race: I’m an anxious swimmer in open water and I will be learning to ride a TT bike for the first time.


Jen has a busy schedule , but really knows how to efficiently make the most out of time and stay on top of her training!

Be sure to follow her journey at GotChocolateMilk.com.

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Posted on July 13, 2014, in 2014, Half Marathon, Running, Seattle, Training and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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