Who decides to become a triathlete while training for a half-marathon while pregnant with their third child? Ponya customer and overall superwoman Jill Adelson does! Professor, mother of three, and self-proclaimed, “adult onset runner,” she proves that you can do anything you put your mind to and work for.
A Michigan native, Jill bounced around the U.S. before settling in Louisville as an adult. Her family moved Tennessee when she was in the 6th grade, and then she got her first taste of Kentucky as a Transylvania College student in Lexington. From there, she moved to Virginia and then Connecticut before putting down roots in Louisville for 9 years. Our loss was North Carolina’s gain when she relocated in 2019 to Durham.
She discovered her love of running in graduate school. A time when many turn to copious amounts of coffee and other questionable health decisions, she turned to fitness. She was already into strength training and cardio kickboxing, she realized she “could” run that last year of grad school. She stuck with it for a year, got a job as a professor, and stopped. She tried again after having her first child and stopped again.
However, after her second child, she took up running again and it stuck. The trick? Joining the Fleet Feet Lou 5K program. She wanted to get fit and find herself again. “I fell in love with the community, and that catapulted me into becoming a runner,” said Jill. “That was the start of me being active and into running.”
Originally, she fell in love with the half-marathon, but triathlons have her heart now. She related “While half marathon training in my third trimester with my third child, I decided I wanted to become a triathlete even though I had never swum laps in my life and only rode my hybrid bike on short commutes.” That certainly takes guts, and she now loves everything triathlon.
Like many of us, Jill has struggled with her identity as a mom. “Being a mom of two young children and a professor led me to start asking questions about my identity - who I am and who I want to be. I didn't want to be defined just by my profession and my role as a mother,” explained Jill. “Being a mom is the most important role in my life, but it is not the only role.”
When asked about balancing motherhood and training, Jill had a lot to say that echoes with many of us. “Being a mom has inspired me to be a runner and now to be a triathlete,” she said. “Being a mom has inspired me to prioritize my health for myself and as a model for my children. When I was a mom of one, I primarily did fitness activities with my child, "mommy and me" classes and running with the jogging stroller. When I became a mom of two, we made a family commitment to my run training, and I made that my time. Now as a mom of three, my training is my time.” She still has her solo time running, biking, and swimming but makes time to be active with her family as well.
They hike together, bike together, and run together, and she even swims laps with her son. She does her strength training at home where her children can watch or even pitch in as extra resistance. Jill said, “I feel like I'm now in a great place where I have my training that allows me to be me and not mom but also have fun fitness activities that involve my children.”
She also pointed out how important her partner is to her training and their family. He makes dinner and takes care of bedtime when needed, or gets the kids ready for school if the baby kept her up late and she’s running behind on her workout. She said, “He helps me make the space to be an athlete AND a mom.”
Ponya has been with on this fitness journey from her Fleet Feet Lou days. She bought some from the store, ordered some online, and then met Ponya’s secret weapon, founder Judy Beyerle at a race at Cherokee Park. She quickly became friends with Judy, as almost anyone who meets her does, and noticed Judy’s passion for the brand and care for her customers wants and needs.
Jill’s favorite bands for herself are the Bamboo-Lined Sweatbands because they fit perfectly and absorb sweat so well. For her daughters, 6 years old and 1 year old, she likes the Non-Slip Headbands. The Non-Slips stay put, are comfortable with no headaches, and come in widths that work for each of them. The fun patterns don’t hurt either!
Jill really wants working moms to know that integrating fitness into their lives will pay off with more than just health benefits. “I have other moms who work outside the home often tell me they don't have time to work out because they feel guilty because their child is in school/daycare all day, so they don't feel like they can get away and workout,” Jill stated. “It's so hard to integrate everything into our lives - and I say integrate rather than balance because it's never equal, sometimes family needs to take more of our time and attention, sometimes we need to put more into our career, and sometimes we have the space to focus on our fitness more.”
She went on to explain more about self-care. “It’s so important for us to take care of ourselves,” she emphasized. “By making the time for fitness and for ourselves, we are a better parent. We are able to be more present when we are with our children. We are able to value that time more. We also are setting examples for our children, showing them not only how to prioritize fitness but how to prioritize ourselves. They are watching us. They take in what we do and how we treat ourselves. And this will affect them as they grow up. So it's important FOR YOU and also for them to make that time. And if you do have a partner, it's important for them to get time with the children as well, so do not feel guilty that they are spending that time with the kids while you're working out.”
Jill ended with this advice for fitting fitness into your life. “Whether you're a parent or not, is to find what you enjoy doing and to find community,” she advised. “Those two things provide motivation for making fitness a priority. My fitness communities have brought so much to my life - yes, I have people to ask questions and learn from, but it goes well beyond that. Some of my closest friends are those I've met running with Fleet Feet Louisville and Fleet Feet Carrboro and Durham and the North Durham Runners Club- we talk about a *lot* during those many hours of running! For triathlon, I haven't found a local community, but I found an online community through Coeur Sports' The Collective Beat team and have learned so much from them and love having a group to share successes and trials with.”
Follow Jill on her fitness journey on her Facebook page Mama Is A Runner or on Instagram @mamaisarunner. We love seeing our Ponya Community do hard things and succeed! You got this Jill!