The fast-paced life of motherhood: TWU staff member balances cross-country training and motherhood

When Janine Moffett picked up jogging as a stress relief in grade 12, she had no idea she would eventually be running with some of the world’s top athletes. But after competing at the National Cross-Country Championships in Moncton, NB last November, Moffett was one of six women picked to represent Canada in the long course race at the World Cross Country Championships in Switzerland. Held at the end of March, it’s the highest level of competition for cross-country runners. And though the young runner hasn’t set any national records just yet, her times improve drastically with each race. On Sunday, May 4th Moffett placed second in the half marathon at the Vancouver International Marathon with a time of 1:16:56 and seventh at the Vancouver Sun Run only one minute four second’s behind Aster Demissie’s first place finish of 33:20.

In addition to being a top world athlete, this 29 year old is also career driven. In September of 2000 Moffett and her husband James moved to Abbotsford so she could enroll in Trinity Western University’s graduate counseling psychology program. And above and beyond being an athlete and psychologist, Moffett balances one more title: ‘mom’.

“Part of why I have kept up my running while having children is that my Mom actually seemed to give up everything for us,” says the mother of Zara, three and Caleb, one. “I think she deserved to have more time for herself and her own interests. It always seemed unfair to me that so many moms seemed to give up everything for their kids. I always thought that there should be more of a balance. Now my mom is working on a University degree and I think she is striving for goals that she had, but couldn’t pursue when being a full time mom.”

Moffett of course recognizes that though she needs to pursue her dreams, she can’t be an Olympic runner, an accomplished psychologist and a model mom. “It’s impossible to do everything,” she admits. “I have to make choices and there are positives and negatives to my choices. One thing remains certain, however, my kids are a definite. I want to be there for them, so my choices lie between pursuing school or running. My running has taken off, so I’ll pursue that for now and probably complete my masters when my kids are in school.”

In the meantime however, Moffett is not your typical stay at home mom. In addition to working part time as an Administrative and Research Assistant at TWU, Moffett trains daily with either her coach or club, and once a week does a Long Run of a minimum of two hours. Moffett’s competitive distances include anything from 5K to a marathon. “I think naturally I’m better at the longer distances,” she says. “I really like to push myself. It’s fun because there’s always another challenge—you can always get faster.”

And Moffett’s drive for excellence was something her own mom instilled in her long ago. “My parents always encouraged me to do my best at everything—give my all at everything I do,” she says. “Athletics was not a big part of my family life. My parents weren’t athletic and I always felt inadequate at team sports. Running was something that I just discovered on my own, but then I approached it with the determination, drive and work ethic that my Mom fostered.”

And it was that tenacity that landed this novice runner a spot on the cross-country team at the University of Toronto.

“I didn’t realize that everyone had been training since elementary school,” says Moffett. “I obviously didn’t have the background or experience and I was at the bottom of the team, but because of my recreational running I was able to keep up.”

Despite her late start and the fact that competing terrified her, Moffett took her running more seriously when and joined TWU’s CIAU cross-country team. It was there that she enjoyed her best running season yet, securing one of the top ten times in the CIAU that year and an eighth place finish at Nationals.

And though Moffett had a one year old daughter at the time, pregnancy didn’t appear to have hurt her times—if anything they got faster. “It takes a bit to get back in shape,” admits Moffett. “You’ve gained weight and haven’t been running for a year, but once you’re back in shape it’s no problem. In fact, a lot of women do better after they’ve had kids. It’s neat because if anything women get stronger and faster as they get older. The peak age for long distance running is late 30’s, so that’s encouraging.”

Moffett’s next competition will be at the Harry Jerome Track Classic on June 7th where she’ll run the 10,000m Canadian and BC Championship race. And though Moffett hopes to continue to do well, it’s for her children that she holds her highest hopes.

“I want them to know that they are valuable and to feel secure and good about themselves,” she says. “I always felt inadequate and insecure. Running has actually given me a freedom and carefree enjoyment that I never had as a kid. I want them to strive for their goals and not give up in the face of troubles and hardship. I want them to be great at whatever it is that they love to do and are gifted in. I think that my example of striving for my goals is one of the best ways to instill in them a desire to be great at something and work hard—modeling is the best way of teaching!”

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Last Updated: 2015-07-13
Author: Keela Keeping