Friday, February 19, 2021

Featured Follow: Jo Ronk, @just_chasing_unicorns

At the end of January, I sent out a questionnaire to a few of my favorite follows on Instagram. These are athletes I find inspiring, funny, educational, and just plain fun to follow.

With the new IG algorithm in place, it can be hard to reach our followers, let alone expand our audiences. I hope that as I share these questionnaires over the next few weeks, you get to know a little more about these runners and find someone new to connect with.
I'm so excited that the first edition of the Featured Follow series is Jo Ronk, aka @just_chasing_unicorns. I've followed Jo for years, having found her through some mutual connections. I always saw her posts as something to aspire to: she never let Florida heat stop her, so why should I?! 

These days, her posts of Florida skies and water soothe my soul when I'm feeling a bit homesick.

Her feed is full of pictures that highlight the fun side of running, even when training and racking up high mileage. I love watching her go after her goal to run Boston (which she's qualified for but didn't quite make the time cut-off) and her dedication to getting stronger. I have some major ab envy, too!
Jo seems like such a natural that some of her answers surprised me. A late-blooming runner like myself, she's only been running for 10 years. Her commitment to hard work and her love for running has fueled her to meet some awesome goals as she continues to chase her Boston dream.

I cringed reading about her hardest running moment, at a marathon with a course that would test anyone's mental mettle, and her advice to new runners is spot-on. Read on to learn more about Jo!

Tell us a little about yourself.

I have lived in South Florida since moving to the United States when I was seven. My father was in the military and we lived overseas. I’m in my 27th year of teaching, currently teaching high school. I have two daughters that are in their 20’s. 

I love to work out with Beachbody programs and running marathons. I’m signed up for the Milwaukee Marathon, Berlin Marathon, and Chicago Marathon. Hopefully some of them actually happen. 

I’m also an avid reader and trash tv watcher.

Is there anything you struggle with when it comes to running?

I’m very hard on myself and constantly compare myself to others. I tend to get upset at myself if I don’t perform how I want to. There’s been a few races that I took way too seriously. 

What do you love most about running?

I love that I can call myself a runner. I love the bond I feel around other runners. It’s like an instant connection. 

Running helps untangle the craziness of life. It’s just so nice to be out there by myself figuring it all out. 

Running has taught me that I am able to do really anything. It’s given me so much confidence. I feel great about myself nowadays. I’m almost 50 and I feel like I’m in the best shape of my life.

Can you share your hardest and proudest running moments?

Running is hard but my most difficult running moment was probably a marathon that was a 3-mile loop over and over and over. It was one of those races that is supposed to help you to qualify for Boston so the field is very small. I was second to last in that race. It was horrible. I put way too much pressure on myself and it showed in my performance. 


My proudest moment was the Atlanta Marathon when I got a 20-minute PR. That’s when I figured out that it is possible for me to get faster and probably qualify for Boston. (As you can see, Boston is a huge deal for me!)

Do you have a non-running accomplishment you'd like to share?

My non-running accomplishment has to be my daughter. She has turned out to be a wonderful young lady. 

What is some advice you’d give someone who is interested in starting to run?

I’d say if you are interested in running you should just go for it. I know you might be self conscious about how you look while running but really no one is paying attention. Just go for it.

Do you have a favorite running item or article of gear to recommend?

I love my ProCompression socks, Spi Belt and Airpods. 

What is your preferred running shoe?

I prefer Saucony Kinvaras for racing and speed-work and Hoka Cliftons for easy or long runs. I’ve started to wear the Saucony Endorphins during speed-work, too, and they are pretty good. 

Finally, can you share a fellow runner or athlete you love to follow on Instagram?

I love to follow pinkcupcakegirl, runfoxxirun, and heatherrosescott. There's soo many that I love to follow.

I want to thank Jo for taking the time to participate in the first Featured Follow! You can find her on Instagram here to keep up with her journey to Boston. 


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