Olympian Jennie Finch on Celebrating Life and the Power of Running

A Fleet Feet employee brings three shoe boxes out for a customer

Former Olympic softball player Jennie Finch is passionate about raising awareness and supporting research for breast cancer. She lost her aunt to the disease and later supported several friends through their own battles. So, for Finch, the fight is personal. “Breast cancer is something that has really impacted our lives,” she says. “And I couldn’t be more thrilled to collaborate with Mizuno and Fleet Feet for Project Zero.”

She’s talking about the breast cancer research initiative created by the two brands that kicks off this week (Thursday, September 27). To understand more about what motivates Finch to be a spokesperson for breast cancer, we took a few minutes to ask her some questions. And, as one might expect, running—and how it changes everything—naturally made its way into the conversation.

How do you use your platform as an athlete and role model to help support breast cancer research and awareness?

The Breast Cancer Research Foundation has been one of my family’s charities of choice for many years. I’ve also supported the cause through speaking engagements at local events. I often say that it’s a celebration of survivors and the lives of those we’ve lost.

It’s important for all women to remember this: Make yourself a priority, because as women and as mothers, we often put ourselves last on the priority list. But the reality is that we have to take care of ourselves to take care of one another. With early diagnosis, your percentage of survival is so much higher. So, I encourage women to make health a priority. Do a self-check. Go get a mammogram.

In your opinion, if there is one thing we’re not doing enough of now to support breast cancer research, what is it?

It is as simple as an appointment, as taking your health into your own hands. You just have to go and do it. I know I should do self-exams more than I do. So, yes, while raising funds for research and treatments is incredibly important, we all need to make our health a priority. Early diagnosis works.

When it comes to prevention, how does running and an active lifestyle come into play?

I always talk about having a balance in your life. It is crucial to have that between your family, your work, your diet and your exercise. And that doesn’t mean that you shouldn't ever splurge. Even as an Olympic athlete I still splurge. It’s just that maintaining that balance (for the most part) is helpful for minimizing your chances of being diagnosed with breast cancer. While there are definitely cases of very healthy people diagnosed with cancer, many studies prove that diet and exercise are an important factor in minimizing the risk.

How has running helped you throughout your life?

I really enjoy getting outside and being active. You don’t need equipment (outside of shoes), and the fellowship that running has brought into my life after my softball playing days is really nice. Running offers so much camaraderie; it’s a great community to be in. Running also proved to me that my body is so much stronger than I thought it was. I never dreamt that I could run a marathon. And then I ran 10, 14, 20 (miles) … and then finished the New York City Marathon. It was so crazy to experience.

Outside of fitness, what purpose have you found through running that has helped to serve other parts of your life?

Since I’m a mother of three, running is my time to escape. While I love running with others for accountability (starting out, I wouldn’t have put in the work without them), I also find that running is a great time for me to be quiet, to reflect and to pray.

We have a saying at Fleet Feet: Running changes everything. Do you believe this and, if so, why?

I feel like running does change everything, and I would also expand that to moving in general because our bodies are meant to be in motion—emotionally, spiritually and physically. We never want to be stagnant; moving is vital. And running, I think, is the most common, most accessible and most effective way that we can all do that.

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