Bits & Pieces: Stephanie Jenks Cross-Trains

Not long ago, I scribbled about the surprisingly high proportion of elite young triathletes who’ve been successful when they switched to running. Think Lukas Verzbicas, Jordan Hasay (in her high school years), Alexa Efraimson, Elise, Cranny, and Sarah Baxter.

We can now add Stephanie Jenks. At the USATF Junior Championships, Jenks trailed Mary Cain throughout the 3000-meter race.

stephanie jenks
Stephanie Jenks (Click to enlarge. Photo: Des Moines Register)

Cain had no competition – she was miles better than the other athletes in the field. For Mary, it was a pleasant, comfortably hard workout. But whereas Cain is a world-class pro with Nike OTC, Stephanie Jenks is a high school sophomore.

And, guess what, Jenks is an active triathlete. Counting her running, cycling, and swimming, she trains 18 times a week. Swimming and cycling allow her to develop her aerobic and leg strength without stressing her entire body, as running would.

Cain easily won the 3000. None of the other under-19 track superstars could match her pace except high school sophomore Stephanie Jenks.

Is the running world discovering that cross-training is an efficient way to improve? Mark Bloom, the excellent Runner’s World high school running columnist, reveals that the girls on the track team at Pennsylvania’s Unionville High cross-train all the time. They’ve emerged as a national power, although they run half the mileage of many other teams.

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