Q&A with Herbalife Professional Triathlete Heather Jackson
Q: I am fascinated by someone’s childhood and I’m curious if you can share with our readers how you got into the sport of triathlon. Were you always an athlete?
A: Oh yes, I have been an athlete my entire life…I’m sure I was racing my siblings even when I could only crawl. My parents literally had me in every possible sport that you can think of- ice hockey, soccer, basketball, softball, tennis, gymnastics… I learned to skate on the local pond from when I could barely walk. My siblings and I were all super active and had a lot of energy so I think my parents just let us try different avenues to get that out. My main loves from about fourth grade and on were soccer and ice hockey and so I mainly played those through college. I didn’t get into triathlon until my Junior year of college when I was at home for the summer and my parents decided to try one of the local sprint triathlons and I went with them. I fell in love immediately!
Q: You hold the World Record for finishing an Ironman for an American in the time of 8:39:18. I don’t think people can really fathom what that means. For those that don’t know what is an IRONMAN, can you explain it in a few words?
A: An Ironman is a race that starts with a 2.4 mile swim, then a 112 mile bike, and then a marathon.
Q: What’s a good distance for triathlons for anyone who want to try it out? Can you give any advice for someone starting out?
A: I think it would be good to start with just a local event. Usually these are either a sprint distance or an Olympic distance, so approximately a 750meter swim, a 12 mile bike and a 5k run. These are usually super fun and don’t take up too much time in regards to training and race time. My biggest advice is to find some of the local training groups- masters groups for swimming, or local running groups to start out running. You can meet new, fun friends and learn tips of the sport while having fun with others. One local event to Los Angeles, and I’m competing on June 2nd, is the inaugural Herbalife24 Los Angeles Triathlon and 5K. There are several different distances.
Q: You are an ambassador for Herbalife Nutrition. Can you tell us a little bit about the upcoming Herbalife24 triathlon on June 2nd? It starts in Venice Beach (how cool) and it ends at L.A. Live. There’s also a 5K correct?
A: The Herbalife 24 Triathlon Los Angeles is going to be an incredible event, as we swim at Venice Beach before biking through downtown Los Angeles and follow that with running around downtown. It’s pretty cool to get to do events like this in such iconic places where literally the streets of one of the biggest cities in the world is shut down so that we can do a race on them. There are sprint and Olympic distances available for people to race, as well as an Aqua bike and a 5k, so something for everyone on the weekend. All of downtown Los Angeles will be shut down so there will be so many people out and about enjoying the weekend and this new event.
A: I certainly go through ups and downs like everyone in regards to feeling motivated. A little mantra I use if I’m not feeling like doing anything is: “Just get out the door…Just 10 minutes…” Something like that. The biggest issue is usually just getting your clothes on and lacing up your shoes and making the first step out the door. If you barter with yourself to even just try something for 10 minutes, usually you end up coming around and having a good workout. If you still aren’t feeling it, or you’re tired or stressed and after 10 minutes, and still want to curl up on the couch, then you probably need the rest. But nine times out of 10, I usually end up having my best workouts after I fret they will be the worst!
Q: Lastly, I am a mom of two young girls and compete (for fun) in small triathlons from time to time where I live in Southern California. Do you have any advice for young girls interested in swimming, running or biking?
A: I think my biggest advice for young girls interested in swimming, biking, and running is to find whatever excites them and makes them happy and excited. That could be so many different things depending on the individual, but I think it’s so important for kids to just have fun and “play” or try so many different things while they’re growing up and not just specialize in one sport. If they want to join a swim team because all of their friends are on it and they will have a blast and enjoy it, they should try that. If the thought of a local cross country team excites them, then try it out. Just keep it fun and it will become a lifelong passion of theirs.