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How a 37-Year-Old Mother of Two Became 70.3 North American Champion

After a second place finish in 2015 and a third place finish in 2017, Jackie Hering finally took the win in Chattanooga over a killer field. Her secret? Self-coaching, finding balance with family, and racing a half-marathon in her build-up.

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Jackie Hering surprised almost everyone, but not herself, with a solid swim, bike, and run performance that saw her top a championship-level field—including world champions like Holly Lawrence (70.3) and Mirinda Carfrae (Ironman), alongside former short-course stars like Paula Findlay. The PTO #11 world ranked Hering used a balanced attack throughout the day: exiting just over a minute behind swim leader Holly Lawrence, then riding with Paula Findlay before finally pulling away from the Canadian to post the second-fastest run split of the day—a 1:18:11—to secure the win.

But for those unfamiliar with the resident of Cottage Grove, Wisconsin, how did the 37-year-old mother of two end up atop a championship podium? We have the inside track—and two of Hering’s key workout sessions—below.

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A “Boring Day” In Chattanooga

Familiar with the course, Hering felt confident and calm going into the race. With over ten years of experience racing as a professional triathlete, her routine around racing is pretty set in stone. When talking through the race on a phone call, she stopped herself mid-sentence to ask, “Is this boring?”

“Usually when you have a good day, there are really no surprises and it means things are going along really normal,” Hering said.

The intense current for the 1.2 mile swim in the Tennessee river is something Hering believed helped her race unfold the way it did. Hering, who historically hasn’t swam with the likes of Paula Findlay, was able to stay attached coming out of the water.

Findlay’s faster transition created a small gap onto the bike, but once Hering realized the gap wasn’t opening as the miles ticked over, she committed to putting in the work to bridge up. Once she regained contact with Findlay, they shared a few words. “I turned to her and said ‘Hey, let’s do this and work together,’” Hering said. “It is so much better in the long races to have someone to work with.”

After a strong 56-mile ride in 2:14:12, Hering left T2 with Findlay, ready to execute a smooth and steady half-marathon. “The run wasn’t crazy for me,” Hering admitted. “It was really about controlling my temperature. The run has a huge amount of variety, and I always do well on courses like that. Twists and turns, bridges, paths, and roads, that all just keeps it engaging and interesting.”

With a 1:18:12 run split, she was able to beat the heat and claim the title. A solid day from start to finish and great execution from a seasoned veteran. 

RELATED: Last Weekend Now: Two Championships Over the Same Distance in Two Places

Starting Long

Jackie Hering started racing professionally in 2011 with a focus on Ironman. After 25 Ironman race—including several podiums and win at Ironman Wisconsin in 2013, Hering said she had “burnt herself out of the distance.” 

Then she became pregnant in 2015. 

“I had coaches before in my career, but once I became pregnant I needed to get in tune with my own self,” Hering said. “Ever since then I’ve dialed in to how I am feeling and what is good and what is not good. It works for me.”

Now, outside of her cycling coach Patrick Brady, Hering is self-coached and has found a rhythm that works well to balance training and family life. Hering has a 6-year-old son, Hunter, and a 4-year-old daughter, Skylar.

“Becoming a mom has been really good for me,” Hering admitted. “It generally cleaned up my life and helped me focus on making good choices. If I am taking time away from the kids, it needs to be for an important reason.”

Pre-Chattanooga

Though consistency has been key, Hering made some changes in her training block leading into Chattanooga—including race-specific bike intervals on her time trial bike outside. Previously, Hering had mainly ridden outside on only her road bike, and kept her time trial bike on the trainer. Additionally, she has been swimming one morning a week with a competitive group of swimmers that push her in the water.

“As far as her training build in general, I really believe it’s not about one or two special sessions for Jackie,” said Brady on her lead up to Chattanooga. “She really does an excellent job showing up and executing sessions day in and day out.”

While some may call it an overnight success, Hering’s performance to earn the North American championship title was really years and years of hard work in the making, and perhaps most importantly, finding a system that works for her. “Her end result is just a reflection of consistent training over days, months, and years, combined with a very strong understanding of what works for her and what doesn’t,” Brady said. “This allows her to block out what everyone else is doing and just focus on her own process. And that shows in her race results, which have been some of the most consistent in the sport.”

The Season Ahead

Hering plans to race the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon on June 5 in San Francisco and then turn her attention to the PTO races, including the Canadian Open in July, the Collins Cup in August, and the U.S. Open in September.

“This early season was more an experimental build,” Hering said. “Now we will take what we learned from that and apply it as we gear up for bigger races.”

Hering’s Prep Work

We take a look at two of Jackie Hering’s key sessions in the lead up to her breakthrough win at 70.3 North American Championships and get some insight from Hering and her coach, Patrick Brady.

Hour of Power Bike

Total: 3 hours

Warm up, then 6 x 10min. at threshold pace, with 3min. recovery between 

“This ends up being 60min of work at around 40 Watts more than 70.3 race effort,” Brady said “The last time she did this workout she had all-time best numbers, so I knew we were on the right track with her cycling for Chattanooga. We do a lot of the same sessions throughout a build because I think it allows her to really understand how to approach it and execute it well, but it’s also a good benchmark for how things are improving as we go along.”

Half Marathon 70.3 Race Prep

Hering does a half-marathon in almost every race build up, and her most recent one in the lead up to Chattanooga was at the EAU Claire Marathon where she ran a 1:15:48.

“I run steady and do a progression the last 6 miles, shooting for an overall negative split and really focusing on feeling good toward the end of the run,” Hering said.