Jenna Wrieden: Breaking World Records, Setting Tough Goals, and Making Boston History
Every runner has a motivator—a reason to lace up the shoes and go. For Jenna Wrieden, it’s about breaking records. Track and field coach Jenna Wrieden sets her sights on a world record at this year’s Boston Marathon. Join her as she races for the treadmill half marathon world record on the ProForm Official Boston Marathon Treadmill at the Boston Expo, Booth #1519, April 20. The current women’s record is 1:34:02.
Meet Jenna Wrieden
Jenna Wrieden was promoted to head women’s cross country coach after leading High Point University to its first-ever Big South Championship in women’s cross country in 2011. Also an assistant coach in track & field, Wrieden joined the Panthers in 2010 after working at Queens University, Arizona State, and Appalachian State.
Wrieden earned her bachelor’s degree from Arizona State and master’s from Appalachian State. Arizona State was runner-up at the Pac-10 Championship all four years that Wrieden competed there. In track & field, Wrieden competed three seasons and ran in the Pac-10 Championship twice. She earned six Pac-10 academic awards.
“MY GOAL IS TO BREAK THE WORLD RECORD ON THE TREADMILL FOR THE HALF MARATHON.”
What is your No. 1 goal for Boston this year?
My goal is to break the world record on the treadmill for the half marathon. My No. 2 goal is to be a part of the whole experience at Boston. That is irreplaceable.
How do you feel about potentially breaking that record in front of thousands of spectators in Boston?
Extremely motivated. I am going to need every ounce of support I can get. It’s amazing how much just one person cheering for you can do. On the treadmill, it will be difficult because I am staying in place. It’ll be really encouraging to have people interested in what I am doing—even if they walk by the booth once and yell something encouraging at me. I am going to use that to continue pushing on the treadmill.
What does it mean for you to break a world record?
Every runner (or person in general) needs a goal to get through his or her training or to feel accomplished. When I learned about the opportunity to break the world record, I thought, “Why not me?” It could be anybody, so why shouldn’t I go for it?
As my goal developed into this event at Boston it began to mean a lot more. It is exciting to be a part of it and to have the support of ProForm and the support of my friends. I don’t know what I would have done without ProForm.
At first, I didn’t really want to tell anybody. I wanted it to be my personal goal and to just do it. And then more and more people rallied behind the idea. I thought it was pretty exciting to have all of that support.
“When I learned about the opportunity to break the world record, I thought, ‘Why not me?'”
Tell us about your backstory? What gave you the idea to shoot for the world record?
It all started when I was chatting with a friend of mine, Amy Hastings. She is a professional runner and Olympian. We went to college together. She brought it up and said I should do this. Initially I laughed it off. Then later that night, I thought, “Why not? I can do it. It’s an attainable goal.” I knew it would be really fun to pursue it. So I called her back and told her “Hey, I am in. Let’s do this.”
She had a contact in the BAA (Boston Athletic Association) and it was amazingly easy to set it up. I sent one email and they directed me straight to ProForm. I was shocked about how supportive and immediately interested you were. That got me even more excited.
When did you start running?
I started running pretty young—eighth grade. I was an average high school runner. I ended up walking on at Arizona State, which was at the time—and still is—one of the best track and field programs in the nation. That is where I met Amy Hastings and Desiree Davila (she took second in the Boston Marathon two years ago). I really enjoyed my experience at Arizona State. I was an average college runner; I wasn’t off the charts. I worked hard but didn’t win any conference titles or anything.
I just never stopped. I kept running in graduate school at Appalachian State. I ran my fifth year there and was relatively successful. But I stuck it out and really enjoyed the sport, which is obviously why I am coaching now at High Point University. It is a small Division I private university in High Point, North Carolina. I coach the women’s cross country and track and field teams.
That next year after graduating, when I was done with my eligibility, I decided to run my first marathon in 2009. I ran the Phoenix P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon with a 2:50. I got a taste of the marathon. I loved it. I knew that was going to be my best event.
“I got a taste of the marathon. I loved it. I knew that was going to be my best event.”
What motivates you to be a runner?
1) I love running. It is very freeing and relaxing. I also enjoy the toughness of it and the pain. You can go for an evening run and really enjoy it and relax or you can really push yourself to the point of extreme pain. So you can get two extreme emotions out of one thing.
2) I have an ultimate goal of qualifying for the U.S. marathon trials. I don’t know if I can make it or not—but I know if I don’t try, I am going to regret it. So that is a big motivator for me.
What has been your training preparation for this attempt?
I ran the Philadelphia marathon in November. I had a nice personal best and I came off that marathon motivated and at a good level of fitness. But I knew I needed a spring goal to maintain that motivation and fitness—especially with my job as a track and field coach. I am around it all day, but I am also training other people—not myself. I knew I would need a high goal to keep me dedicated to my training.
For the marathon in the fall, I was running probably 75 to 80 miles a week. This spring I have been running less at around 50 to 65 miles a week. The most important part of my training is that twice a week I have been on the treadmill. I have never done that before.
Once a week I do a half marathon specific workout and the other run I go for distance. We are lucky at High Point University to have a human performance lab with an altitude chamber. So once a week I do a short run at altitude. I am very lucky to have the facility here.
As told to Erica Colvin, ProForm writer