Find Your Feet Ambassador - Jessica Collins
Hey there Jess! We are so excited to welcome you on board as our newest Find Your Feet Ambassador! Could you share with us a little bit about how you spend your time?
I’m an outdoor enthusiast and I love all forms of physical activity. I found my love for running and trail running while studying at university and that love has only grown stronger over the years. I need to climb to the top of any mountain I see and I have a thirst for knowledge, particularly in the health and medical sciences. I am currently a post-doctoral neuroscientist at the Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre, so when I am not running and exploring the outdoors you’ll find me in a medical lab studying the brain. My research focuses on how the brain changes throughout ageing and in degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.
Why are those pursuits important to you?
For me, the most important things are the health and happiness of myself and those around me. I am happiest while exploring the outdoors, new places and pushing myself to my limits. Running and doing ultras is a great way to achieve this. My legs have taken me to epic places and helped me meet a lot of great people. I enjoy learning, especially about health and fitness and trying to understand the incredible machine that is the human body. In my job, I get to do just that. Through my pursuits, I hope to inspire others to be the most healthy, active and adventurous versions of themselves.
Did you have any strong influencers or support networks to help you get to where you are now?
I have had a lot of influencers and support networks throughout my life, particularly my friends, family and coach. I got into trail running through my partner and some friends from work, I fell in love with it instantly and haven’t looked back. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the support of these people, especially my partner Lachlan who is the most amazing support crew person ever.
Do you find it beneficial to set goals for yourself? If so, what do you hope to have accomplished 12 months from now?
Yes. Setting goals helps me to get the best out of myself in everything I do. In the next 12-months I’m going back to the UTA100 to beat my time from this year. A longer-term goal of mine is to complete UTMB and so in the next 12-months I aim to get the qualifying points necessary for entry. I also have the more adventurous goal of climbing the treacherous and awe-inspiring mountain Federation Peak in Tasmania.
What does it mean to you to ‘be wilder, play wilder and perform wilder?’
I think it really comes down to three main things for me: taking myself out of my comfort zone, trying new things and exploring new places.
Do you have any gear/apparel recommendations that were a game changer for you as a trail runner?
Three things have really been game changers for me:
Electrolyte tablets – I use Shotz electrolyte tablets. I find getting dehydrated very bad, if not worse then running low on glycogen during a trail run. Shotz tablets allow me to separate out my hydration and nutrition and keep myself optimally hydrated throughout my training and racing.
Vest pack – I use the Salomon S/LAB Sense Ultra 8 Set trail running vest pack. A good vest pack is essential for long trail runs with lots of gear. Vest packs stay firmly in place so you don’t get sore shoulders and chaffing from them bouncing around.
Good socks – I use the Icebreaker Run + Light mini socks or the Find Your Feet socks. These socks are amazing. I have never had to change them during any of my 100km races and I haven’t got a blister yet. They are great even when your feet get wet.
Finally, and I would find this question tough to answer, but I’m curious… do you know what your personal ethos and idea of success is?
I’m all about chasing the best version of myself – achieving or success to me is pushing myself to be better than I was before, not about being better than anyone else. In a race this means getting to the finish line and knowing I ran the absolute best I could, leaving no ‘what if’s’ out there. In my job as a research neuroscientist success is to always be learning and teaching others the best I can. I know if I do these two things I will contribute to enhancing our knowledge about the brain and neurological diseases. I like to live by the words of ‘make no excuses’ and when I am standing on the start line of a race or about to do something daunting, I like to remind myself of the hard work I have put into preparing for the event or moment and tell myself ‘you’ve got this’.
Thank you so much for taking the time to share a little bit of yourself with our Find Your Feet community Jess! We look forward to following your journey and you be, play and perform wilder. You can find Jess over on Instagram @sweatyscientist and Strava - Jessica Collins.