Team Jenkins update: Helen and Marc talk training and tiredness!

Chief Correspondent

Team Jenkins (Jinx Sport) Monthly Column – September 2019

ITU Triathlon World Champion in 2008 and 2011, Helen Jenkins has also represented Great Britain at the last three Olympic Games.

Since then, she’s had a child (Mali), had to go through major spinal fusion surgery (2018), and earlier this year she and her husband, coach and Olympian himself, Marc Jenkins, welcomed their second child (Max) into the world. Family life, time to move on, racing days over and time to reflect back on a great career? Well, not just yet…!

Helen is now returning to training having not raced since the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final in Cozumel at the end of 2016. Where will is lead to? We (and they!) don’t know yet… but each month, Helen and Marc will give us their separate and individual takes on the past month, as they strive for their next success in the sport they love.

Here is their latest update, covering the month of September 2019. (You can find the August update HERE).


Helen Jenkins

Training was progressing really well through August, but I have been hit with a few little injuries this month. It is to be expected with two kids and a back surgery within the last three years.

It is always frustrating to have progress halted, but the little niggly injuries make me address certain areas where I am weaker or simply remind me of what I am forgetting to do! I really didn’t realise how tight my glutes were until my ITB band got a bit sore, so a lot more stretching is now on the agenda. Usually after dinner in the evening is when I first get a chance!

It is crazy busy with two kids and training near full volume. When I was training as a full-time athlete with no kids I thought I was busy, but now I realise I really wasn’t and probably watched way too much TV. I do love the busy life though, although more than three hours straight sleep would be good.

Helen Jenkins / Marc Jenkins

Within ten minutes of finishing a session I am back in mum mode, maybe going to the park or playing with Mali and Max. I think most mums feel guilt whatever they do; if they go back to work, if they stay home, there is always the feeling you should be doing more or something else. I do have guilt when I leave them to go training, especially at the moment as Max is teething and the other day on the turbo I could hear him screaming while I was training. It’s really tough to leave Marc to it and not stop, but, I am training for a reason, so I can get back racing, earn a living, fulfil my goals and also to hopefully race in front of the kids so they can see what I do. I am also a better mum if I have been training as the exercise restores and balances me.

I’m always a bit cranky if I haven’t done some form of exercise. Life is definitely a balancing game at the moment – training/family life. I feel like we are doing a pretty good job most of the time. I am so lucky I have great support in my journey back to racing, firstly from Marc who is such a good dad/husband/coach and both sets of our parents are brilliant. I wouldn’t be doing it without their help.

An example of the balance at the moment, I am writing this, while feeding Max having just done my evening stretch and pilates. Now time to sleep! 

Marc Jenkins

September = TIRED.

Being a professional athlete, what a life of luxury. Wake up train, have some food and a bit of a rest, train again. Then a bit more food and a bit of a snooze, train again and some more food then hang out with your training buddies or may be another small session, then bed. Wake up, repeat.

Helen Jenkins / Marc Jenkins

We used to think that was hard. If we knew then what we know now! This is bloody hard. Helen is back to a good volume of training and I’m trying to stop myself getting too fat so I can keep up when we go on camps. We have a crazy two year old, Mali, who is busy which is great and Max who is teething and not wanting to sleep. So, the 20 hours of training is easy compared to the sleep deprivation and running around after the kids when you just want to be sat down doing nothing. Damn, I wish I’d made the most of those afternoon naps after a few hours training!

Helen Jenkins / Marc Jenkins

Helen trapped a nerve pre Cardiff Half which caused some breathing difficulties, she was really looking forward to it. It’s now settled down and the likelihood is Helen will look to get back to racing in early 2020. Back surgery miraculously seems to be doing its job, and touch wood…. none of the usual neural setbacks she has had her entire career after a sustained period of training like she has managed to do as yet.

Helen managed a solid 20 hours last week and has another planned for next week which by her standards is a massive volume, so, back to trying to do a bit of training while looking after 2 kids under 2. Thank god for grandparents and red wine. Single parents….. Helen and I salute you! What a tough job.

Have a great October everyone and hope all the great racing we have seen both long and short course over the season and last month especially has inspired everyone to get some events entered.


John Levison
Written by
John Levison
TRI247's Chief Correspondent, John has been involved in triathlon for well over 30 years, 15 of those writing on these pages, whilst he can also be found commentating for events across the UK.
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