Jenny Lem may spend her days as a J.P. Morgan account analyst, but get her out from behind her desk and don’t stand in the way of this ultra-marathon runner whose accomplishments include 20+ regular marathons and a bunch of ultras. To stay at the top of her game, Jenny follows a 6-day-per-week training schedule, does yoga 3 times a week and (this will impress you), she runs to and from her job and home, too.
Active since her teens, Jenny didn’t make running her priority until 2007 when her passion for competition kicked in. What drives her? For starters, her dad’s death from liver failure when she was just 16 made her realise that there’s only one way to live life properly: Staying fit and healthy. Fortunately, her employer feels exactly the same way.
At 35, Jenny’s running career is in full bloom. During the off-season, Jenny swims, cycles, rows, undertakes weight training, does aerobics and other body-conditioning moves at the gym. A healthy diet fuels her energy but she won’t deny herself a guilty pleasure from time-to-time. Her positive outlook and admirable discipline inspire those who meet her. If she doesn’t motivate you, nobody can!
RS: How do you balance work, family and your workout schedule?
Jenny: I get my workout done first thing in the morning—before work. Evenings belong to my family. I also get up early on weekends to run or cycle, but the rest of the day is for family and close friends.
RS: Does your employer play a part in your healthy lifestyle?
Jenny: J. P. Morgan’s corporate commitment to promoting a healthy lifestyle is awesome. We sponsor the annual J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge and employees are encouraged to participate. I’ll be queued up early on 27th April!
RS: Aside from the marathon, what else does J. P. Morgan do to encourage employee health and well-being?
Jenny: Health is wealth at J.P. Morgan and I’m lucky to work for a company that allows employees to balance work and fitness. Toward that end, the company also organises regular health talks and health screenings, open to all employees. Attendance at these events is high.
RS: They say getting motivated is easy, but staying motivated is hard. How do you stay motivated and disciplined?
Jenny: I want to see results and it’s extremely gratifying to reach goals I set. In my opinion, when you work hard and taste success, it feels natural to keep trying to work harder and achieve more.
RS: So, how does a busy 9-to-5 corporate employee find time for a daily workout?
Jenny: By planning ahead and prioritising. I treat my daily run as I would any priority; time is set aside each morning. But I stay flexible. If I can’t exercise in the morning, I make time to do it at lunchtime or after work.
RS: Running from home to office daily is a great way to clock miles. What other benefits do you receive from this effort?
Jenny: I consider running from home to office and back a good way to sweat it out, release tension and get mentally ready for what awaits at home and at work.
RS: Do you recommend running to and from the office to beginning runners?
Jenny: If asked, I recommend starting slowly—maybe 3km—and working up to longer distances. Perhaps take a bus one way until you’ve gotten into a routine. By planning a route, one can alter it if circumstances pop up; like a late meeting or drenching rain.
RS: What do you think can be done to improve the health of corporate employees?
Jenny: It’s essential for employers to recognise the benefits good health and wellness have in the work place. The J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge is a good example; it’s staged on a week day evening. Staffers turn off their computers to engage in healthy competition, camaraderie and teamwork.
RS: Sounds like you work in an ideal environment!
Jenny: J.P. Morgan is terrific at supporting employee participation at the marathon bearing their name and other events. They even provide office bathing facilities, set aside bicycle parking spaces and they encourage mobility and healthy living among employees.
RS: Which of the many races you have run is the most memorable for you and why?
Jenny: The North Face Singapore 2016. I was shocked to find myself in second place at the finish line since I had only trained for 3 months beforehand with Morph Performance. Earlier in the year, I had to undergo umbilical hernia surgery. Recovery was slow and I got terribly frustrated. Fortunately, on North Face race day, everything came together and I ran a good race.
RS: When’s your next race?
Jenny: I’ll run the MSIG Singapore Action Asia on 15th July, going for the full 50km. We’ll see how well my ability to motivate myself stacks up when things get crazy toward the end of this daunting race!
When you find a role model like Jenny Lem, how closely do you keep up with their accomplishments as they move from one successful marathon to another?
The 14th annual J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge Singapore will take place on Thursday, 27 April 2017, 5.30 p.m. at a new start location: St. Andrew’s Road, next to Padang and finish at F1 Pit Building.