Athlete Interview: Jennifer Vollmann


Your Name: Jennifer Vollmann

Where you live: Phoenix, AZ

Number of years in triathlon: 1

Number of years working with Marilyn: 1

Profession: Stay at home mom

Family: 3 year old daughter, 16 year old step and husband

MC: Please describe your athletic back ground:

JV: I was never involved in sports growing up. If you see me try to catch a ball, you would know why. But I grew up trail running, swimming, and hiking in the desert. Just for fun.  swam 3 miles every Saturday during college.  I always stayed fit with running and basic weight training, until 6 years ago. I found Crossfit and Olympic weightlifting, which brought my competitive side to sports. I started training to lift more weight and do more pull ups. I finally didn't care what my body looked like, I just cared how strong and fast I could be. But I love running, and even in the peak of my Crossfit training, I would run the 2 miles to the gym, train, and then run 2 miles home.


Marilyn Chychota: Please describe a typical training week:

Jennifer Vollmann: Monday- recovery swim; Tuesday- trainer ride AM/Olympic weightlifting PM; Wednesday-  Run AM/swim PM; Thursday- trainer ride AM/Olympic weightlifting PM; Friday- quality swim; Saturday- long ride (outside if possible); Sunday- long run.

MC: What adversity have you had to work around training and racing?

JV: Scheduling is always the hardest to manage. I am a stay at home mom and my husband travels at least a few days a week so I am always juggling training. It usually means my morning starts a 4am and I go to sleep when my 3 year old does.

I broke my pelvis, tail bone, and lower back in a car accident 10 years ago. It's an injury that I will probably spend the rest of my life catering to. I always need to make sure I have time for stretching and core work to make sure I can keep my body balanced.

MC: What has been successful and worked well for you?

JV: A slow ramp up to longer distance racing. I started with a sprint and olympics and completed my first 70.3 nine months after my sprint. Coming from a high intensity training with Crossfit, jumping right into 70.3 training would have been a shock and I might not have enjoyed it. I still olympic lift twice a week. I am happy I can still see my awesome athlete community and keep much of the strength I built over the years.

MC: What are your strengths?

JV: I love being outside and exploring the world on my feet. When training is hard and long, I can always go back to why I love triathlons and enjoy the moment- the sound of my feet hitting the ground, the speed of the road passing under my bike, the smoothness of the water. If it wasn't for this head space, I don't think I would be very successful at long distance training.

MC: What is the biggest thing you’ve learned that has surprised you?

JV: I am a pretty darn good cyclist. Before I started training for my first triathlon, I was a fiend on the spin bike but had not ridden an actual bike in 10 years. When I started training, I assumed it would be my weakest sport of the three. But I fell in love with cycling during training. During my first race, I realized how strong I really was on the bike. I freaked out during the swim (my first ows) and was last out of the water. I hopped on my bike and passed nearly the entire field with a very hilly course to be 4th in my age group off heading into the run.

MC: What works well in your coach / athlete relationship?

JV: I met Marilyn while olympic lifting, her husband is my coach. She was the one who encouraged me to do triathlons. When everyone else told me long runs and swims were hurting my lifting, she told me I needed to embrace what I enjoyed, what my body was designed for, and focus on triathlons. Because she is the one that encouraged me to start this journey, I trust her 100%. I am still learning so much about endurance training and my own limits. I don't really understand what I am capable of, but I know Marilyn does. Sometimes I look at the program and the pace goals and I think she has completely lost her mind. But at the end of the session, I find my self in a pile of sweat amazed that - once again - she was right. I am way stronger and faster then I think!

MC: What does triathlon bring to your life athletically and personally?

JV: Even though I did not participate in sports past the age of 10, I always knew I was an athlete. I used to joke that I am a national level curler, I just don't know it yet because I haven't tried it. Turns out, it was true. I am an athlete, and a darn good one at that. It just took me 34 years to find my sport. It's hard to describe how amazing it is to unlock a part of yourself that was buried. I don't feel like a new person, I feel like I am a more complete person because I can finally embrace and thrive in who I am. I am a better mother, wife, friend, and all-around better person because of triathlon.

MC: Any closing thoughts?