|"Running healthy is always at the top. One run is not worth sacrificing all the others."|
Of all sports, running is my first love. It is something that I feel like is mine. I can do it alone. I can do it with others. It is a great way to clear my mind, think of ideas, and pray on my feet. There is a special place for me with running when my heart beats, foot strikes, and lungs make JOY and I feel like running is effortless.
The camaraderie with other runners. The setting goals. The self-confidence running brings with it. Running is, without a doubt, one of the things I'm most grateful for.
How long have you been running? How did you get started? Why did you choose running over other activities?
I have been running 12 years. I started with a group of Moms also with young kid(s) at home. I choose running because when I was a kid, and I would see a runner, I would always think there was something mystical and magical about that person. When I would see runners on TV at the Olympics, I would often get tears in my eyes because I could clearly see there was an art aspect of running. Also, I chose running because when my husband was healthy (he has Leukemia) he was talented. When we married, I asked him to help me learn to run. He said, "you cannot learn to run". Well, 17 years later (still married), he is very proud that I can run!
How do you motivate yourself to run regularly? What about on the days the weather is bad or you are feeling particularly lazy?
Registering for races and keeping a full schedule of races keeps me motivated. I have a racing season from September - May. I take off June, July and August due to the heat and humidity of where I live. However, taking off does NOT mean I stop running. I only means I stay trained for a half-marathon. I let speed go. I confuse my body by getting in the gym with CrossFit, more weights, spinning, etc.
When the weather is bad, I allow myself a pass. However, having a race on the schedule (say a marathon) you know you have to get your long runs done. I have done 17 miles on a treadmill (dreadmill) before because it was too icy outdoors, and I recently did a 20 miler on a track (yes, I changed directions every 2.5 miles). Having that race day hanging over my head gives me that extra push I need. Also, I always try to marathon in different states ... that way it is a treat for me to see a different city.
If I'm feeling lazy, I ask myself a few questions. Could I be run down ... if so, I give myself a one day pass. It is okay to take off, but not too long. A pass is not allowed on "pity party" days. Nothing chases the blues away like a run where I can pray on my feet, or fellowship with fellow runners. It can literally change my whole attitude.
Do you use a running coach, or read any books to aid in your training?
I've never used a running coach. However, I've read every book, and watched every "form" DVD out there. I don't subscribe to everything I read, but have incorporated many techniques (especially with form) and gotten faster, and gone longer. I'm 42 years old, and I'm still PR-ing from time-to-time.
How do you fit running in with your daily schedule?
Over the 12 years, I've been a stay-at-home Mom to a National Executive Director of a nonprofit, state-wide volunteer awards, community advocate and leader, active in church, and pretty much a busy gal but I've always given running a priority. Some of my 20 mile runs have started at 3:30 AM. Family is always first, and I am blessed that my family is supportive. When my daughter was little, it was easier to get my runs in before she ever woke. As my family's schedule change, I adjust my running around that schedule.
I'll never forget, when my daughter was four and I was getting her to pick up her toys in her room ... she took this to mean that Mom was grouchy. She brought me my running shoes, and asked me to go for a run!
Now, I'm scheduling my runs around my daughter's activities (she is now 13), and my husband's chemo schedule, and a busy life.
Do your friends and family support your running or think you are crazy?
My husband and daughter are supportive. However, I always ask their permission before I marathon or 50K just as a courtesy. However, my extended family (like my parents) think I'm "nuts" and wish I would stop doing damage to my body. I explain the mental health benefits. I explain that 20 or 40 lbs would be far worse for my knees, and heart that running, but they don't get it. Neither do my non-running friends. That is exactly why I do not live out-loud on Facebook. And, I can on Twitter. On Twitter, I can connect with like-minded people and actually receive encouragement, ideas, inspiration, etc. However, I never Facebook about running. With over 1,000 FB friends of old colleagues, high school friends, college friends, community friends ... maybe 25 of them "get it".
What is your favorite running terrain?
I'm a road runner. I do enjoy gentle trails, but the technical ones can lead to face-planting. I like a freshly poured, black asphalt because it seems a bit softer. I like wide shoulders and gentle hills.
What is the hardest race you've run to date?
I race a lot so this is a tough one. And, I'm a distance girl, so I'd much rather race a half-marathon than a 5K. If I have to pick a race, I'd say the Jonesboro, AR Heart & Sole Half Marathon. First, it is my home turf, so I put it all out there. Second, it is the toughest course I've ever run for a half. Very hilly, hot time of year, and unforgiving.
What is the most enjoyable race you've run to date?
Again, I race a lot so this is tough. But, I'm going to go with Rock 'n Roll Arizona in Phoenix marathon. Great course. And, the 26.2 is not nearly as big as the 13.1, staggered starting times so you are not cutting through half-marathoners, good expo, fun city, and good environment.
Have you ever been injured due to running? What were the ramifications?
Yes, lots of injuries over the 12 years. Calf strains, I snapped my peroneus longus tendon, plantars fasciitis, small hamstring tears, shin splints, tendonitis, stress fracture in pubic bone, compartment syndrome, Morton's neuroma, and probably a few more but these are the first ones to pop in my head. The ramifications have been rest, physical therapy and learning from mistakes. In my case, the mistakes were form (I am a recovered heel striker), and over-training. Being placed on the bench a few times WILL get your attention to take your rest days. Also, I strength train around my joints. I prefer light to moderate weights with high reps, but I chance it up and go heavy from time-to-time. I also cross-train now, and early on ... I didn't.
Do you use any music or run tracking devices when you run, or are you a naked runner?
I train with a Garmin about 2-3 days a week. I do not use it every time because I become a slave to the Garmin by letting it determine if I had a good run or not. That's no good for me. It's okay to run my 5 mile loop 50 seconds slower some days. While the information is good, I do not want to lose my joy of running, so I leave it off many days.
I only run with music when I am on the treadmill. As a road runner, I need to hear traffic and other noises. Again, I love to pray if I am running alone, and if I am with friends ... we are chatting it up! If they are faster than I am ... then I listen to them talk. It's all good.
How do you get yourself through the difficult parts of your runs? Do you have a personal mantra or do you just give up?
I always try to remember that as a distance runner ... I generally cycle. There are parts of a run that are more difficult on my physically so I just hold steady because I know I'll start to feel better again soon. In a marathon, I generally cycle 2 or 3 times from feeling great to feeling terrible, and all in-between. When I am racing for a specific goal time, I remind myself that I didn't come there to feel wonderful. I expect to hurt. I expect to hurt. I expect to reach my goal.
I never considered a personal mantra until I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Meb Keflezighi at the Arizona Marathon in January of 2011. Meb was not racing the event, but was there speaking. I just happened to be eating at a restaurant when he walked in (with his brother and his manager/agent). I had read Meb's book as part of my Christian faith reading, and had followed him on Twitter, and other areas because he is a favorite elite.
I am not a shy person, or one to become star-struck; however, when Meb sat down at the table right beside us ... I was as giddy as a kid. I told my girlfriends with me who it was, and they had no idea Meb existed (they are both Mom's of small kids, and University Professors). Meb had not yet ordered, we were finished eating, and I timidly approached his table. NOTHING CAME OUT OF MY MOUTH. My friend, Dawn, said in her Southern accent, "Mr. Meb, this is my friend Aimee who is star-struck" and it was true. Meb shook my hand, and my voice returned. I told him how much I appreciated his book (Running to Overcome), his Christian faith, and his talents. I was ready to walk off when he introduced me to his agent and brother (I'd also read about his brother in his book). Meb started asking ME questions about my running. My goals. He asked me if I had a coach, and I said no, and he got a pen out and started marking on his napkin. He asked me my 5K, half-marathon, and marathon times. He asked me my BIGGEST dream to which I answered "Qualifying for Boston". Meb told me with my times in other races, a mantra, and believing in myself, that I could qualify for Boston. Together, we developed my mantra for the next morning. We hugged. He started following me on Twitter. And, the next morning, I qualified for Boston. Now, for BIG events/races, I now develop a strategy, and a mantra. I learned that from Meb. Like Proverbs 27:17 tells us .... iron sharpens iron. Meb sharpened Aimee.
A lot of runners know that "Who has the runs" has a double meaning. How do you deal with the occasional "problem" that plagues every runner at one time or another?
After 12 years, I've learned my body better. Triggers for me are: overheating (racing in the heat/humidity), and pain relievers that are hard on my stomach. I cannot take an Advil before I race. If I know that a particular race is going to have hot weather, I take Imodium AD (anti-diarrhea) the night before and the morning of. Man, this one is just awful, but none of us are exempt if we run long enough.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about taking up running?
I'm always SUPER encouraging to those thinking of running. I try to give back to the sport by joining them on runs, and keeping them motivated. Two things that really helped me initially was 1) training buddies and
2) a date on a calendar for an event. I would also throw in there proper shoes from a "real" shoe store. I would also share personal stories of how running has helped me cope with life. How running has helped me Spiritually. How running has given me FAR more than I've given it.
What is your next big race?
I'm doing the Rock 'n Roll Las Vegas Marathon next weekend! Very excited.
What is your immediate running goal?
Running healthy is always at the top. One run is not worth sacrificing all the others so I try to keep this in mind. However, I am competitive with myself, so I want to Qualify for Boston again (they recently tightened the requirements for everyone) and I want a half-marathon in 1:39.
What is your ultimate running goal?
To run Boston Marathon, a 50 miler, and always seeking the next PR at any distance.
Do you have a way we can keep track of your progress?
Blog: I'm considering Blogging but I think I'm too chicken.