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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!