Follow This Mother!

Jennifer's first 1st: She took the top slot in her age group at a local 5K last September.

Despite her last name, Jennifer Small, a 37-year-old mom of a toddler girl, weighed in at 250 pounds just two years ago. But this resident of Biddeford, Maine, has cleaned up her eating, dropped more than 100 pounds, and become a speedy runner. Last summer she even morphed into a triathlete. Watch her go!

Best recent run: Has to be the 6-mile run on New Year’s Day with my training partner, Dawn. It was in the 50's (a rare thing in Maine in January!), I was sporting new running gear, I was with one of my dearest friends, and I wasn’t concerned with pace or heart rate. It was just about being out and running.

Knee, jerk:  While the New Year’s run was a pleasure, the next day the exact opposite. It was a 10-mile hill run and at mile 7.35, while heading up, I felt a sharp pain in my right knee cap. I walked it off, stretched, and all seemed okay. Then again at mile 9, another long hill stopped me in my tracks. Walked it off and finished the run strong. Physical therapist later confirmed what I suspected: Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome from improper tracking. We changed my stride and cadence (up to 185/min), and I am happy to report I am running pain free. I’m doing three to four miles per day and feeling good.

Lost, not the TV show: I started gaining weight when I moved back to Maine from Boston in 2000. I was not active, and I was eating and drinking too much. Six years later, I was easily 250 pounds, and I wanted better for me. I quit smoking, quit drinking, quit eating garbage, and

Jennifer Small in her bigger days

started moving. Then I got pregnant. I had my daughter in October 2008; by January 2009, I was in the gym and eating as clean as I could. Over the next 14 months, I lost 97 pounds and hit my first goal weight. Once I started weight training, the fat just melted off. To date, I have lost 107 pounds, and I am stronger than I ever have been.

Eat like a caveman: The whole Paleo eating style is pretty new to me. I am a huge advocate of eating clean foods and banishing processed junk, which is a big part of Paleo--lots of good-quality proteins, fruits and veggies, nuts, seeds, and berries. Things our bodies are supposed to be eating. In December, I attended a Joe Friel workshop, and he talked about Paleo, but he has made modifications for endurance athletes, like eating grains at certain times during a training schedule. I picked up his book The Paleo Diet for Athletes, and I like a lot of the principles of the plan. After only a couple weeks, I dropped fat. Ideally, I would like to lose another 8 to 10 pounds for racing season to improve my speed. One extra pound of fat can slow you down by two to three seconds per mile.

Tri as I might: Last year, I had so much fun running road races but I was ready for the next challenge. I was inspired by a friend’s adventures as a newbie triathlete—it sounded like so much fun! I had planned to do my first tri in 2011 but found a sprint triathlon that fit into my racing schedule so I decided to go for it. I placed 2nd in my age group at that first tri, and I was hooked on the variety, the people, the challenge of three disciplines, the rush of racing! Two years ago I would have laughed at the idea of me becoming a triathlete, yet now it’s such a big part of me.

Cold as a: Yes, Maine can be cold, but I can’t let the weather stop me. I just prep for the conditions by dressing in layers with the right fabrics. I actually love running in snowstorms! There is something so serene about running past a violent ocean with quiet snow falling from the sky. I only wish I could bike outdoors more during the winter! This winter is proving to be a real challenge.

Follow this mother at:

22 responses to “Follow This Mother!

  1. Very inspiring!! My grandmother used to have a place in Biddeford, Maine and 2 summers ago we rented a place on the same beach for my mom’s 70th birthday. It was so great running by the beach, smelling the ocean, hearing the waves. Wish I could live there year round!

  2. What an inspiration you are! Thank you for sharing your story. My husband and I are both training for a tri. We have already started to cut out processed foods, so I’m excited to look further into the Paleo Diet for Athletes!

  3. Hi there, Jennifer! We are neighbors!! I live in Scarborough, Maine. :))))

    I love your story, what an inspiration! Maine winters are brutal (especially this one) but once you get used to it, it is not so bad. 🙂

    I’m loving your story about being a triathlete. I only run right now, but my dream is to enter a triathalon someday – I’d just like to become a better swimmer first.

    Maybe I’ll see you in a race around here someday – are you going to do any upcoming Spring races? I’m doing Race2thePoint here in Scarborough (race to Pine Point Beach), and the Seadogs Mothers Day 5k.

  4. Great profile! I just bought the Paleo Diet for Athletes book too and I’m starting to tuck in. I’ve been really reluctant to jump on the Paleo bandwagon. I like that this seems like a more moderate approach that acknowledges that you just might need some grains for endurance activities. You don’t need to eat a pound of pasta for a run, but a cup of brown rice isn’t all bad at the right time. 🙂

  5. One of my favorite things about RLAM–reading about women like this and seeing them later on the facebook wall. It helps me feel more connected to everyone. Great work, Jennifer. What a role model you are!

  6. LOVE all of this info! she has gained a new fan in me! 🙂
    checking out the Paleo diet AND suspect i am suffering from a mild case of PFPS!
    she has definitely inspired me!!!
    way to go Jen!

  7. Congrats on your amazing weightloss! As a fellow 100lb. loser(and Mainiac!) I know how challenging our “lovely” winter weather can be for those of us who run. Your great attitude is inspirational!

  8. I love that book! My husband and I switched to more of a paleo diet last year and dropped a combined 50 pounds and have stuck to it every since. I now get sick if I eat too much sugar or refined carbs, despite my love for them. Go lady, go!

  9. wow what and inspiration! Just helps me to realize it is never to late to turn your life around. It doesn’t matter the stage in life you are in…when you work hard at something it can be accomplished! Hope when I’m married from more then 3 years (will be in July) I will be in as great shape as you are! Thank-you for the encouragement.

  10. Thank you for your kind words! It really has been an amazing journey of personal growth and finding the ME I needed to be. I am honored that RLAM wanted to share my story with you!
    If you have any questions about anything, please feel free to ask away!
    All The Best!!

  11. I love that instead of whining about the winter weather (um, like I do!), she simply writes, “This winter is proving to be a real challenge.”

  12. What a great profile! Truly inspiring :-). You look amazing!

    I’ve been fussing to drop 12 lbs for the last 6 month…. to think that losing them could drop 24 seconds per mile….? Wow! I didn’t I realized that.

  13. Good for you, Jennifer!

    I love these profiles. Doubtful that women realize helping themselves (in the beginning) will help others, but they do just that. So inspirational!

  14. This is my favorite part of the RLAM blog! I love reading about all these inspiring women who make me feel like I can do it too. Way to go!

  15. Wow! I love her arms, you look amazing! This is a great feature… I love that this mom seems so driven and focused. She is well rounded with it all- healthy mind, body and diet! (probably a type-A) ;o)

    Way to go also for running outdoors in a climate that so many people would find so many excuses to hit the treadmill or to just do nothing at all. Way to go!

    I really look forward to these stories. Love the blog too!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*Exclusions Apply

Want some mother runner insipiration with special content and deals? 

You will receive an email within the next 24 hours with your discount code!