My Running Truth: Jackie McCloud

HELLLOOOOO!!!!  My name is Jackie McCloud.  I have a VERY hard time talking about myself.  But here a few fun facts about me:

  • My biggest passion in life is protecting the environment and public health. I get to do this every single day in my career
  • I love being outdoors and I have my grandparents and dad to thank for instilling in me a strong connection to nature.  When I was younger, they “forced” me to go fishing, canoeing and camping.  I’m lucky that they exposed me to the great outdoors from a very young age.  Now there’s nothing better than the sound of water against the bottom of a canoe.
  • I love running trails with my friends
  • I run for cupcakes.  Chocolate cupcakes.   Buttery chocolate cupcakes, with ganache frosting and sprinkles if we are being specific. When did you start running and what inspired you?

Jackie: I really started running about 4 years ago.  I had only dabbled before and run in spurts but it had never been part of my lifestyle.  One of my best girlfriends was visiting with her husband and they kept telling me about their awesome run-ventures.  I got inspired and looked at my local running store for a beginners running group.  I wanted to be healthier, have accountability and find a really awesome community.   I admit that I actually went in multiple times before signing up for a training group and told them how nervous I was and I didn’t think I could do it.

SIB: How has running affected your personal self-esteem, body image, goal setting, as well as other aspects of your life?

Jackie: Running has made me realize that I’m capable of so much more than I thought.  I was never considered athletic growing up.  I was the band nerd.  I could rock out a really awesome oboe solo, but run the mile in high school.  FORGET IT.   So going into adulthood I had this really negative perception of myself. I just assumed that since I was never a runner when I was younger, that there was no way I could ever do it.  And like it.  And incorporate it into a daily routine.  And have fun while doing it.

My first Wharf to Wharf training was such a mess!  It was almost like a self-fulfilling prophecy that I couldn’t be a runner.  My feet would go numb for at least 30 mins during the run.  I had the BEST COACH though in Coach Charissa from Fleet Feet.  She would stay with me the entire time I was having a meltdown, remind me that I just needed to go slow and it would happen for me.  To find a supportive community that has grown me into an adult runner has given me confidence.  I know when I set a goal, I can accomplish that goal with a lot of hard work and determination.  I literally cry every time I cross a finish line because it seems so out of the world to me that I just decided to run one day.  Now here I am multiple 5K, 10Ks, half marathons, 2 marathons, and soon to be an ultra under my belt.  I feel blessed to be surrounded by positive people that believed in me when I couldn’t or wouldn’t, and kept pushing me to new limits (and they are still pushing me to new limits). 

SIB: What piece of advice do you have for new runners?

Jackie: Put one foot in front of the other.  I think there’s a real misconception amongst new runners or beginners that if you aren’t running fast miles you aren’t a runner.  If you are moving your body every day, whether it is walking or run/walking, YOU are a runner.   

Also make sure you cross train.  I neglect this part of my routine and think quantity of miles will get me to my goal.  But if I run nonstop I get injured very easily.  Building in a couple of cross training sessions makes for a stronger runner. (I say this as I’m coming off a 2 month IT band injury….AND I missed running every single day that I couldn’t do it!)

SIB: Why do you keep going? What has kept you motivated to continue to reach new goals and get out the door?

Jackie: I keep going to explore new places and new spaces for myself.  Running is such a mental sport so I use it as my form of therapy and meditation.  I don’t get to be disconnected from work, life, technology too much these days.  But my run time, that’s all for me.  I turn the phone off, I don’t listen to music, and I just run.  I listen to the sounds around me, I say hello and smile at everyone on my runs. 

My motivation to get out the door is always I want to be healthy.  That has different meanings for a lot of people but I have been diagnosed as a borderline diabetic.  Which means I have two options: change my lifestyle and eat right or take pills.  I’d much rather take the running pill than an actual medication.  This keeps me focus on setting training schedules for myself and lacing up regardless of what is happening that day.  I always know I’m going to feel WAY better after getting out for an hour or two to take care of myself.    

SIB: What are your favorite running shoes and why?

Jackie: Much like Cinderella and her glass slipper, I had to find the magic shoe to carry me through long miles.  I am obsessed with my Hoka One One Cliftons for road and Challenger ATRs for trail.  They are built like a marshmallow.  I used to struggle with Achilles pain in other shoes, but I’ve not had any feet issues in the Hoka’s.


SIB: Do you have any running buddies that have inspired you along the way?

Jackie: Yes.  SO MANY!  I don’t think I have enough space to even include everyone that inspired me.  I will say without the support of my very first running partner (that was pregnant!) I don’t think I would have continued to run.  She stuck by my side and encouraged me. All the while she was pregnant and keeping her pace.  I was so inspired that she stuck to her training plan and her race goal!

I’m also inspired by the trainees that I get to coach.  It’s amazing to watch their dedication and joy when they hit their goal or a new goal.  Or when they push themselves to something they never believed was possible.  I connect with that on a deeper level since I have been there.  And I know that feeling of overcoming your own perceived barriers.

SIB: What’s on your race calendar this year?

Jackie: My first 50K!  WOOT!  I’m also going to run a Halloween marathon, Run for Pie, and She is Beautiful Santa Cruz (of course!).  If there’s an awesome trail run that catches my fancy, I’m sure I can be talked into it.  I’m way more into the training than I am the racing so I don’t typically have a lot of races on the calendar.     

SIB: Do you have a big, scary running goal you want to accomplish in the next 5 years?

Jackie: The most immediate goal is actually finishing the 50K.   I have just come off an injury but this year I’m dedicated to hitting that race goal.   This is the biggest goal I could ever imagine having just started running 4 years ago.    

A scarier goal for me is a destination race.  I’d love to go to a national park or monument and complete a longer distance race.  But all the planning has stopped me for even considering it.  Once I prove I can do a 50K I would like to start looking into that goal.

SIB: Fill in the blank, “My running truth is _____.”

Jackie: I get to do this!  There are so many people that can’t run or don’t want to run and I think we forget that we have a choice.  I get to make the choice daily, weekly, monthly, yearly to run.  I have suffer fest days for sure.  But through this sport I have met some of my closest friends, run in the most epic places, and gotten stronger and healthier than I have ever been. 



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