Andrea’s Story: A 1:37 to a 1:17

HAPPY SUNDAY!!! I hope you are having the best Sunday morning ever!  We got back a little late last night and I drank one too many chocolate milks if you know what I mean;) and so I will be writing the recap of the Endurance Live event on the airplane and will post later today.

I have a special treat for you that I can’t wait to share.  Remember the elite runner Jake that I had last week on the blog…..well today we have his girlfriend Andrea a sponsored athlete by SAUCONY! She is such an accomplished athlete and I pretty much want to be her:)  ENJOY!!  Check out Andrea and Jake’s blog HERE!

Quick Background – I ran cross country and track all through high school in Knoxville, Tennessee (my hometown – Go Vols!). I decided not to run collegiately and instead focus on school, but continued to run recreationally. I graduated college in May 2010 and moved to Salt Lake City, Utah for a great biomedical engineering job here. Since then, I have put much more focus on having fun, enjoying life, and exploring the west. My running has really ramped up, and I have made tremendous strides in my ability level. I’m definitely a better athlete at altitude than I ever was at sea level!

1.  Why do you run?  What are some of the benefits that you get from running?

I run because I love it, it’s my passion. How can you not love something that gives you so much in return? The benefits are tremendous and span a wide range…


Probably the most important benefit I get from running is mental health. I run in the mornings to start the day off right feeling productive and energized. By the afternoon, I use running as my time to unwind from a long day at work and de-stress – it puts separation between my work life and my home life.

Obviously, physical health is another huge benefit. It’s good for your heart, your joints, your lungs, your bones, etc…I could go on forever. I feel strong and good about my body when I run.

Also, because exploring the outdoors is such a big part of my life, running keeps me in shape to go on long hikes and trail runs, backcountry ski, go mountain biking, go backpacking, and do so many other physically challenging but incredibly rewarding adventures. There are so many more things you can see if you have a high level of fitness and are willing to work for it a little.

016 1

2.  When did you start to train seriously? Why did you start running? What are some of your biggest motivations to continue running?

To be completely honest, I started running way back in middle school for two reasons – 1) to maintain my “girlish figure” at 12 years old, and 2) because practice was every day after school, meaning I didn’t have to be home alone until my parents got home (I was quite the wimp!). I continued to run because it became fun – I made friends in the sport and thrived off the challenge to improve myself and my abilities.

Screen Captures4

I didn’t start to train seriously until the beginning of 2011. For several years before that, I was consistently running probably 25-35 miles a week. The miles were all relatively easy jogging – no hard workouts except for maybe a few races. Jake convinced me that increasing my mileage and putting in some quality workouts could really improve my running. Turns out he was right! My 5k went from 20:03 to 17:16 (at altitude!), my half marathon time went from 1:34 to 1:17, and ran my first marathon in 2:49. It’s amazing what more mileage (65-85 mpw), a little speedwork, and tempo running can do! I had no idea what I was capable of, and I credit that to Jake for being such a great coach and mentor to me.

Andrea comparison

3.  What was the biggest lesson you learned from your first marathon?

Marathons are HARD! There are so many variables to running the perfect race – the training, the taper, fueling, the weather, mental preparation, health…it’s really difficult to align everything just right (especially the factors out of your control). That’s why the marathon is so unpredictable. And also why it’s so addicting!

4.  What are some of your mental tips for dealing with injuries?

I am currently recovering from a couple injuries right now. After my first marathon and first hard year of training, I didn’t allow myself any recovery time. Because of that, my body wore down a little too much (I have now learned how important it is to give the body a rest after a hard training cycle). I struggled from some back pain and muscle/ligament irritation in my feet. I’m finally starting to see positive results and hope to be back running a lot more soon! The injuries have worn on me a little, but I am trying to stay positive and let myself enjoy the time off. I have turned my focus on lots of cross training like spin and strength classes which are fun too!

5.  How do you find the time to train so intensely?

Like anyone else, I have to make the time to train. It can definitely be a challenge at times, but I try to be as efficient as possible. Those early mornings and late workouts can be tough to work in, but I know that I’ve never regretted a single run. I probably have it a little easier than a lot of people, as a 25-year old with no significant responsibilities outside of my job. I am so impressed with those that have families to take care of and still train just as hard as I do. Hopefully I’ll be able to manage my time as well as them someday :o).

6.  What is your favorite distance and why?  What are your future goals for this distance?

My favorite distance, by far, is the half marathon – it is the perfect mix of speed and endurance. I like the variety of workouts, from 200s to long tempo runs to train both systems. There is also a relatively quick recovery time after a race to get back into running.


My #1 future goal in this distance is to break 1:17. Last fall, I ran 1:17:03 at Long Beach Half Marathon (and am still asking myself why I couldn’t run just 3 seconds faster!!). I would be quite excited to have some races in the 1:16s in the next couple years.

7.  What is your post-run routine?  What do you refuel with before a race, during a race and after a race?

My post-run routine usually includes stick and foam rolling, stretching, and rehydration. I have recently introduced a short yoga session into my post-run routine as well. Occasionally I will ice my legs, but it is really hard to do after an already cold, winter run!

Before a race I eat a banana and smoothie powerbar, maybe a little more if it’s a longer distance. I don’t eat/drink during a race shorter than a 10-miler, but otherwise a caffeinated Gu and Gatorade is my fuel of choice. After a race I love chocolate milk!

8.  What is your favorite race experience?

My favorite race experience was Utah Valley Half Marathon last year. The race was managed so well, the weather was great, and my legs felt ready to race. I didn’t hold back and was able to have a breakthrough race, winning in a huge PR of 1:17:54. Not only that, but Jake ran his debut marathon that day and had quite the breakthrough day himself. Success is so much sweeter when you can share it with someone.

9.  What tips do you have for beginner runners?  Intermediate runners?  Advanced runners?


Nothing trumps consistency. There are no magic workouts or secrets that beat just running every day.



Find a support system that encourages you to challenge yourself. Jake is my #1 supporter, but I also have a whole community through the FastRunningBlog which has been such a positive influence on my running. I have also made so many friends and found great running buddies, both here in Utah and when I travel, through the site.

Beginner –

Don’t get discouraged. The fitness and endurance will come, it just takes time. It’ll be well worth it.

Intermediate to advanced –

Don’t be afraid to run SLOW. Make hard days hard and easy days easy. I used to never allow myself run slower than 8 min/mile pace, but now I’m not afraid to run 10 min/miles if that’s how slow I need to go to recover from a workout. I can remember one particular run with Jake last fall, the day after a 13 mile tempo at marathon pace (6:17/mi for me, 5:17/mi for Jake) and we could not break 9:30 min/miles! Not every day can be hard – that can lead to an injury or burnout really quick.

Short, faster reps are crucial to getting faster at every distance from 5K to the marathon. I was afraid of the track until I finally stepped on it and realized that it wasn’t the enemy I thought it was! Now 200m reps are my favorite. They are short enough to not beat you up, but you get your legs turning over fast which makes you a much more efficient runner. Even 100m to 150m reps are great too. If you run these while focusing on maintaining good form, it carries over to longer races.

Mental training and race visualization can be just as important and the physical training.

10.  What athletes do you look up to?

There are so many great runners to look up to right now. I was so excited to watch the Olympic Marathon Trials this past January. The three ladies that made the Olympic Team are unbelievable in their own ways. Shalane Flanagan has consistently been one of America’s best women runners for 10 years. Desiree Davila is known for her blue-collar work ethic and has made quite a name for herself in the past couple years. And Kara Goucher has a 1-year old and just ran a 2:26 marathon! Not to mention so many other amazing women – Deena Kastor, Paula Radcliffe, Jenny Simpson, Molly Huddle, etc…and they are all beautiful! So many great role models in this sport.

In terms of men, I really look up to Ryan Hall, Meb Keflezighi, and Josh Cox for their perspective on running and life in general.

Not only do I look up to elite athletes but also runners of all abilities that promote the sport and encourage anyone and everyone to participate.

11.  Tips for preventing injuries?

Well, at the forefront of my mind right now is making sure to recover properly after a marathon, as I am learning the hard way! Some other tools I believe have helped me prevent injuries in the past are icing, foam rolling/stick, massage, stretching, and LOTS of sleep (I usually get 9 hours a night).

I also cannot stress enough how important proper nutrition is for preventing injuries and getting the best out of your running – protein, vegetables, calcium, iron, fruit…all that good stuff. And lots of it! Here is a blog of Jake and my Training Staples (we love Costco too!). A few treats are good too – I’m probably more obsessed with ice cream and froyo than Janae is, but she probably has me beat on the candy!



Any questions for Andrea?

What Personal Record are you most proud of?

How do YOU find time to fit in your running or working out?

Who wants a delicious dipped cone after seeing that picture?

-ME ME ME, LAX better have a Dairy Queen!

Who is spending time with their family today?!?!

-I can’t wait to see Curly!

You May Also Like



Andrea- Excellent read! The first question that always pops into my head with female runners is what you think the key is for balancing running and menstration? do you think speed is a factor in that? or more about fueling? I only ask because I ran more miles than normal last month and it made a guest appearance.

Your dipped cone looks delicious.

Enjoy sunday janae. Happy family time!!


Hey Erika ! I have to say, menstruation is such a pain when it comes to training. I found this article from Running Times that discusses the issue in more detail and gives some advice – I personally gain about 2 lbs and get terrible back pain for two days, so I adjust my schedule or workout to accommodate with how I’m feeling.

I have heard of a lack of menstruation when there is a sharp increase in training or speed, but never guest appearances…you must be special :o)


I think I must be special……….I commonly am a lack of girl…….however, I increase mileage……and low and behold it returns. Anyways, yes, I am always trying to figure out that balance.

THANK YOU for your reply!


I love this post!!! It’s so inspiring to see what hard work and consistency (and froyo, of course) can do!!!


LOVE this!! Thanks for sharing, I love reading about what super talented runners do, how they train, how they eat, tips and advice. Andrea and Jake are awesome – thanks so much for sharing their story!!


I always make a workout plan for the week. It’s much easier for me to stick to when I have it planned into my schedule.

Spending time with the sister and brother-in-law to watch college basketball and make dinner today. Yay!


Hi Janae, this is the first time I comment on your blog, but have been reading everyday since January. This is truly when I started running! I started training for the RnR Nola half marathon around the middle of January with inspiration through bloggers like you! I ran my first marathon last Sunday in New Orleans in 1:58:37. I have never done any “training”, speedwork, or anything like that. I am anxious to start working harder to lower my times in the future. I have just this week been diagnosed with Piriformis syndrome. Any one familiar with this or have any advice? How to recover? I love reading Andrea story. It is so great how she can run so FAST!! Any tips on recovering from Piriformis?? Any Must Do workouts that could drop my time?? I usually run about 5-6 days a week for about 25 miles per week. Thanks for any advice! You (and Andrea) or so inspirational. Thanks!


I’m sorry HALF Marathon….NOT Marathon…look at me trying to be all ELITE..HaHa


Hey Erica!

The two things that I do when my piriformis is tight is stretching and massage. My two favorite stretches are shown here – In terms of massage, I usually lay on a medicine ball where my piriformis is located and roll around. It helps a lot. In terms of prevention, hip and core exercises can get the surrounding muscles stronger and take some pressure off the piriformis.

In terms of workouts, I am a firm believer in 200s. They are a great start for speed – help increase turnover and teach your body to run faster without putting too much stress at first. Something like 6-8 x 200m, making sure you focus on having good form (you want to avoid too much too soon). This is exactly what I am doing as I am starting to incorporate workouts back into training after injury. After a few workouts, starting on longer intervals (mile repeats at 5K-10K pace) and tempo runs (4-10 miles at half marathon to marathon pace) will really improve your times and running.

Hope this helps!


Thanks so much Andrea, this information is great and I’ll put it to good use! Very helpful..:)


I fit in running by waking up wayyyy too early…but its SO worth it! People tell me I’m “insane” all the time for waking up so early, and I take that as a compliment :) I hate mornings that I don’t start with a run/workout.
And those dipped ice cream cones look amazing! :)


Dear Andrea,

I so love your story. I read a few of your boyfriends entries and I was cravinG more information about you.
Although I am a spectacular klutz, I love to run; albeit slowly, on a treadmill.
It seems like when I up my pace, I am prone to injury. What really helps my fitness, is messing with the incline on the treadmill. Do you have any suggestions for improving endurance/ overall fitness if I am not really capable of running fast. Thank you


You are definitely right – raising the incline on the treadmill is a great way to improve overall fitness. Uphill running is one of the best tools for strengthening your legs. If the increase in pace causes you problems, you could do hill intervals – something like 10 x 1 min at 5-6% incline. That actually sounds like a good workout for me in the next couple weeks too! I’m sure you know this, but just make sure you don’t hold on to the rails – it reduces the effectiveness of the incline and you might as well be running flat! :o) You may actually find that these runs naturally increase your ability to run faster.


Thank you for sharing both Andrea and Jake’s blog and story! It is so awesome to see two people balance running with all of their outdoor endeavors…. and working full time jobs! Very inspiring and fun to read about, not to mention some gorgeous outdoors pictures.


Great post, loved Andrea’s story! I wish I could run a 1:17 half! Wow. And I had a dipped cone from McDonalds yesterday, it was amazing!


this was a great interview! thanks for sharing.


Thanks for sharing Andrea! I like that you keep it real with a balance of good nutritious food and ice cream! :)

And yes, I want a dipped cone right now!


Great post!! :) I love the two of them. Freaking rock stars!


Loved reading her story. Incredibly inspiring!


Is it bad that my favorite part of that entire post was the picture of the ice cream?? ;)

Just kidding … the whole thing was great!!


GO VOLS is right!!!!! :)

Loved hearing Andrea’s story!


Great post!! Can’t wait to check out her blog! And those legs and arms–WOW. So fit and such a great athlete–can totally tell! You’ll be able to break 1:17, for sure. With those goals and training!!


Andrea you’re a beast! How tall are you? Just curious! I’m recovering from a stress fracture back in the late summer and spent 3 months in a boot on crutches but am finally up to running 4 miles…luckily I was able to keep my cardio up through teaching my spin class and cycling through my injury…any advice for returning from an injury back to running?! I have a bad habit of going all out every time!!


I’m almost 5’8″. I look like a beast next to most of my typical short running buddies!!

So glad that you are recovering from the stress fracture. Just don’t do too much too soon…it might be a good idea to keep the hard workouts on the bike and keep the running easy for a while. I’m not sure what point in recovery you are at, but if you are just starting to run again then every other day can give the foot time to adjust to the stress of running again. A week of that, then two days running, one day off, then gradually increase the amount of running. Keeping the cross training and cycling on off-running days will still let you exercise every day and keep fitness strong. Once you are comfortable running everyday with no pain, that’s probably the ideal time to start making the runs harder and incorporate workouts. With many of my friends that have had stress fractures, I have heard that they try to do too much and then delay the process of healing and allowing the bone to adjust to running again. So avoiding that is key! Good luck!


I just realized that my comment came off as me calling you a beast because of your height!!! That’s not what I meant!!!!! Your running times and determination are what make you a beast and I meant that in the most positive way!!!! :) I was just curious about your height because you look very tall in your pictures!
Thank you for the advice about my injury. It is so challenging to take it slow and not bust out super fast miles!


Wow, I am SUCH an admirer of your work ethic and achievements! I’m a newish runner myself–I started a year and a few months ago–and I’ve been trying to get up to the mileage you describe so I can really improve, but, like you, I’ve been hit with some really awful tendon inflammation in my left foot, along with sciatica all down that leg. I foam-roll and use the stick, but even so, I’m in too much pain to get in more than 35 mpw nowadays, which isn’t enough even to train for the mile, let alone the HM I have in May. Any further tips on foot pain?


I am currently seeing a doctor that specializes in Active Release Technique – and that has really helped with my foot pain. I know that line of work helps with sciatica pain too. It might be something worth trying.

In addition, I try to massage my feet very often and stretch out my calves really well (most everything in the foot connects in someway up the leg and tightness there can cause problems in the feet). I’ve also incorporated a short yoga session into my routine to loosen everything up. There are some topical ibuprofen medications that may help with the inflammation and only focuses on that area…I know some people worry about taking too much medicine.


Thanks for the advice. I am about to check out a doctor who does ART, stretch my calves, and roll my leg and foot out on a frozen water bottle. It’s so nice to hear I’m not the only one dealing with this stuff. Thanks again.


I ran short distance track in high school and my coach always talked to me about my form. The first picture of Andreain this post…perfectly shows what she my coach was always talking about.


I was amazed by the form! I am constantly amazed at what our bodies can do when properly fueled and trained. I will never be elite but I love the idea of pushing myself to be the best that I can be. Thanks for sharing such an inspirational post.


Man. I was hoping her secret was those chocolate dipped cones. I could get behind that!!! :) Fun interview. Totally agree about the mental benefits!


can’t WAIT to read about the full recap…i hope u have safe travels home! :)

loved reading the interview you did with Jake and his wife, it’s so fun to find out what works for people and her story is particularly motivating being that she only rather recently started following a structured training program.


Such an awesome post!! Andrea is awesome and yes she is right about running SLOW and recovering properly. She even settles for running at my pace sometimes. ;)

Loved reading this!


Andrea I’m so totally jealous of your running and wish I could be as fast as you. I too am learning the important lesson of giving your body some time after a marathon. I just had to get back out there and start running right away after my last marathon in November and hurt my foot. I have not been able to figure out what is wrong with it but reading your interview I’m almost certain it’s the same thing. It’s hard to describe because everyday I feel like a different part of my foot is bothering me (either outside or inside arch) or I have a tingly surge up my angle. It’s got to be nerve and some major tendon issues. Anyway I’m still running on it. Probably not very smart but it doesn’t seems to hurt worse when I run. Through your research or doctor visits have you learned anything that may help me? I’m currently training for the Ogden Marathon (I signed up for it before my foot problems). I’m really excited about it and I’m about to really just go for it with my training program. I’m trying to be cautious but I don’t want to have any permanent damage.


Very nice post.

The whole Utah running community id fortunate to have Jake and Andrea.


IS fortunate!

There is no edit function on this blog.


Thanks for this great Q and A session-best wishes for a fast running future.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *