Why Go Pro? "Why Not?" An Interview With Pro Triathlete Jenny Fletcher, Part 2
Jenny Fletcher had a successful modeling career, but she still wasn't quite living her dream. As we discussed in part one of our interview, Jenny started out as an athlete and became a model at the age of fifteen. But she never lost the desire to be a professional athlete. During our interview, Jenny told me a bit about her decision to go pro:
I just had this restirring of the dream of always wanting to be a professional athlete, and I was just at this point in my life where I’m like, ‘Why not? I should just go for it.’ It’s what I’ve always wanted to do. It actually falls in line with joining the modeling and sports together. I always used to use Gabrielle Reese as an example, with what she did going from modeling to sports and taking it to a whole new level…I was like, ‘I could be like this.’”
That decision meant some rapid changes. "I moved to California, got a full time coach, and started training literally full-time. I had to pretty much put the modeling on the back burner. I’d get a call to do a casting and I’d be getting out of the pool with wet hair and goggle marks." Jenny managed to continue modeling even during her transition into professional athletics, although she's had to be more selective about how many projects she takes on.
According to Jenny, the difference between competing as an amateur and a professional is tremendous. Part of that difference lies in the training intensity. "It’s an intense life. It’s non-stop training, non-stop learning about the sport. Most people have done it for so long, and I’m trying to get to this intense level in such a short period. And I’m very hard on myself, so it’s like I’m doing well, but I want to be so much better." Jenny gave the following account of what a typical training week looks like:
We usually swim four to six times a week, usually 4,000 to 5,000 meters a day…you end up running three to four times a week, or more depending on what you’re focusing on, and the bike is similar. On the weekends is a similar thing. On Saturday we do long rides; Sunday we do long runs. Monday is our easy day where we usually just swim only or do some strength training. It’s pretty much you get up in the morning and do a training session, then you have your second breakfast and go again…it’s a full on day.
Jenny also had some encouraging words for everyday athletes who might be considering competing in an event. "Sign up for a race, whether you’re a professional athlete or not. It’s just so much fun; you show up, and there’s the venue, and you get nervous and push yourself on a different level than you do in training. Or maybe the same; it just depends on who you are…competition gives you something to train for. If I didn’t have goals or races, there will be times where I’m like, ‘Okay, then why am I pushing so hard?’"
Competition also provides a challenge that you can't really get from training alone. Even people who don't consider themselves competitive may find themselves pushing harder during a race or other athletic event. As Jenny noted, "I’ve met so many people that either haven’t been in sports or they’re just getting into it, and they’re like, ‘I’m not competitive at all!’ And then they’re the most competitive people I’ve ever met in my life! It brings out a different side when you have other people there to challenge you as well."
In that spirit, Jenny's ambition for her training is to just continue to be the best athlete she can be. "Who doesn’t want to be on the podium more than once? I want to keep challenging myself to a higher level. I believe I have the potential; it just takes a lot of hard work and focus...Life is about taking chances and trying. There’s always success in that alone. You don’t have to be the world champion if you’re out there doing what you love."
Jenny is an inspiring example of what you can achieve with that attitude. Her goal, as an athlete and model, is to inspire women to pursue a healthy lifestyle and take care of themselves. "If you do the things that make you happy, whatever it is, that’s exuded externally. I am so inspired by that. You see it; you sense it. I find that so much more intoxicating than someone who’s spent all their money on externals. A woman who is strong, confident, and will just laugh and enjoy life…that inner beauty is the most appealing thing. Once that comes out, it doesn’t really matter if you can’t make it to the finish line. There’s this satisfaction in finding that about yourself."
Find out how Jenny got started in athletics and modeling in part one of our interview.