Jessica Laird


Jessica Laird is a Manager of Customer Care & Billing for ATCOenergy. She’s an Ultra Marathon runner and a mother of two high energy kids. Jessica trains at The Base.

RVH: What is your history as an athlete?

Jessica: I’ve been active my entire life. As a child, I studied Irish Dance, which I think should be considered a sport given the athleticism needed! In high school, I played some team sports and worked out at the gym. I became a certified Irish Dance Instructor in my early twenties and continued to moonlight as an instructor for years. I also kept up a steady daily workout…but I hated running! Up until six years ago I was the elliptical queen. After the birth of my second child I struggled to get the baby weight off. I put on 75lbs during my second pregnancy, (which was an improvement from the 90lbs. I put on with my first!). I knew I needed to change my workout and start challenging my body. I hopped on the treadmill and slowly started building my distance. I ran my first race, the Edmonton Police Service ½ marathon, in April of 2010. That started my running addiction and over the last few years I’ve taken on longer and longer distances. I have also lost all my toenails and now officially have really ugly feet!

RVH: What do you like about the challenge of Ultra Marathons? How different is it to prepare for and complete a 100 miler?

Jessica: My favorite part about Ultra Running is the awesome people in the community. They will literally give you the shirt off their back if you need it! I also love the challenge of seeing how far I can push my body without breaking it. I get to see views from the tops of mountain peaks that I got to on my own two feet. Sometimes the climbs can feel excruciatingly long, but when you hit the top and look around, the sights can be pretty overwhelming. Plus you get to run down at awesome speeds jumping over rocks and tree roots – can’t beat that! Except when you fall. That hurts…a lot!

Training for my first 100 miler last summer was kind of neat because every ultra distance I ran up to that race was a “training run”. I got some strange looks from some of my non-running friends when they asked what I was up to on the weekend and my reply was “I’m doing a 50 mile training run in the mountains!”. Completing my first 100 miler didn’t feel too different from completing any of the other ultra-distances for the first time. There is a certain point at which your body hurts, but you know it’s not going to get any worse and it really becomes a mental push to keep moving. My husband and kids were my amazing support crew. They met me at each check point for hugs and kisses. That was a huge motivator for me.

RVH: What’s next on your racing bucket list?

Jessica: This year’s race list starts with the Blackfoot 100K in May, the River Valley Revenge 50K in June, Sinister 7 100miler in July, Squamish 50 Miler in August, and the Lost Souls 100K in September. I might move up to the 100 miler if Danielle can put me back together fast enough between Squamish and Lost Souls – there’s a 2 week window so I’m hopeful!

RVH: Do you train with your husband? How do you manage kids/work/training?

Jessica: Sometimes! It’s pretty hard for the two of us to get out together at the same time so we take turns looking after the kids. He is definitely my biggest supporter and I couldn’t do what I get to do without him. During the week I get up at 5:00 am to run or cycle, then hit the gym over my lunch hour to do a strength or cardio session. On the weekends, I work around the kids’ schedules and try to get in at least one long run.

Over the last couple of summers we let the kids choose a 5K race every few weeks and we would run it as a family. Our son just turned 8 and our daughter will be 7 next month – they can both run a consistent 5k without walk breaks. They do it for the bling! Last summer they ran the kids Death Race. At every race they ran before the big event, when someone said “good job”, they would say “thanks – I’m training for the Death Race”. They both joined the cross country team at school in the fall this year and our son joined the indoor track team at school. Our daughter is peeved because she isn’t allowed to until next year! I realized the influence was there when I was having an adult conversation with a friend. She was complaining that she was having trouble committing to her workouts and my daughter piped up with “You just need to put your mind to it and get it done”…..awesome!

RVH: What else do you like to do?

Jessica: We love to travel. Our holidays are based on where we are going to race. The first question from our kids after we tell them that we are going away somewhere is “how long is the race?”. I do like to cook and bake and try new recipes, so it’s a good thing I’m active! My favorite thing to do is spend time with my family doing something active, whether it’s hiking, biking, skating, skiing, swimming, etc. It’s exciting to see the kids develop their own adventurous spirits.

RVH: How does the team at RVH help you get better/stronger/faster?

Jessica: Dani keeps me together! Last summer, before the Canadian Death Race, I having some issues with my knee. Dani pulled me back together in time to complete the event and take 1st in my Age Group. This past summer right before my 100 mile debut I developed an IT band issue that caused some knee pain. Once again Dani pulled me back together to complete the event and place 1st in my Age Group. I refer to her as my miracle worker! After my IT issues in the summer I took some one on one personal training with Jess to help build up my core and work on form. The training was incredibly helpful in getting my muscle awareness activated. My muscles still hurt and get knotted up, but the knots are showing up in the right places now. That’s progress in my books!

Last week my son had to come to my appointment with Dani at The Base. On the way out, watching through the gym window, he said “Mommy, when do I get to train here?”. 

At RVH and The Base, we use our integrated approach to build strong, powerful athletes who are less likely to become injured in the first place, and keep our injured clients active in their sport while helping them recover. With our Personal Training program we provide a customized training experience for every fitness level, based on the principles of our groundbreaking 43°22 training system.