Black Girls RUN! CEO Jay Ell Alexander Shares Her Five Marathon Training Tips and Where She Sees the Organization in Five Years

What inspired you to start running? 

Oh, wow. So I started running in 2010. I'd hit my heaviest weight. What I call my “then” heaviest weight. I met my husband and put on that good, happy weight. I was 23 and started experiencing headaches. Do you know when you leave your parent's house? You do everything that they told you that you couldn't do. I was out partying, wasn't going to church, and doing everything my parents didn’t want me to do. I started experiencing headaches and high blood pressure. My doctor told me I’m way too young to be on blood pressure medication. He told me I needed to change up my regimen. So I signed up for a 10K in Richmond and started running and just fell in love with the pavement, you know, losing weight, all of that good stuff. And then I got connected with Black Girls RUN!

How did you go from a Black Girls RUN ambassador to CEO? I got introduced to the BGR headquarters, through my PR side. They were just taking off, looking for a branding director and I signed up with them to come on as a volunteer in 2011. I started the group in Richmond as the ambassador and just became the right-hand person for our co-founder over the course of seven or eight years. In 2017, they presented me with the opportunity to buy the company. Back then, I was just breathing, eating, sleeping, everything, Black Girls RUN! so it just seemed like the perfect fit. Now here we are three years later as CEO.

What has been your proudest moment while being CEO?

Well, two things. From a professional side, just the growth of BGR. We've seen a 30% growth even through the pandemic. Personally, I had hit my heaviest weight at 307 pounds 12 hours before giving birth to my son and over the last 10 years, I've been able to drop 160 pounds. That has been my personal testimony, which has really helped propel women in the community.

More than just representation, what does Black Girls RUN! provide?

Community. Sisterhood. Accountability. Encouragement. Knowing that it’s possible. Above all is just that community and that sense of connectivity amongst the community that we need. 

Where do you see Black Girls RUN! in five years? 

It really is my goal that we have a group in every major city across the country. Right now we have about 75 groups located in 32 states. I would love to establish our first international group somewhere. It’s my goal long-term that each of these groups actually become their own non-profits and that we'll be able to start employing people at the local level and create this kind of workforce development, health, and fitness chain at the local level. That’s my big vision and we have to drill it down from there.

What are your five marathon training tips?

1. Make a plan. And, make changes to your plan as you go along if needed.
2. Know that every run will not be your best run, and that is okay.
3. Showing up is half the battle, now let your body/mind do the work.
4. Do not try anything new on race day. Same shoes. Same snacks. Stick with the plan.
5. Celebrate the small wins.

Connect With Us

see the latest from Fleet Feet Chicago