|"It's pretty cool to whip the pants off my younger self"|
Why do you run?
You know that feeling when you hear a song you really like and it completely changes your mood, maybe sends a chill down your spine, and for a few minutes just makes you feel good? Kind of like that. Running is certainly an escape, but when I run, I’m not running away from anything -- I’m running toward personal goals, making milestones, finding a balance.
How long have you been running? How did you get started? Why did you choose running over other activities?
In high school I was a swimmer, I hated running. As an adult, I saw somebody run Chicago Marathon, and it motivated me to try running. I ran my first race (10K) when I was 27. Over these past 11 years, I ran on and off, but gradually it became more and more a part of me. In the last few years it became one of my most important activities. Now, I get a little crazy when I’m not able to run.
How do you motivate yourself to run regularly? What about on the days the weather is bad or you are feeling particularly lazy?
When things are flowing and feeling generally good, finding motivation is not an issue, if anything, I get overly motivated, resulting in putting too much focus on running, training and racing. Of course, there are times when either it’s a really dark, cold and windy morning, or I have the post-marathon blues, it can be difficult to get going. I just try to visualize my current goals, or I simply want to be able to say I beat back the laziness. Definitely, though, once in a while you need a break and there’s nothing wrong with that -- breaks are good and help to recharge the motivation batteries.
Do you use a running coach, or read any books to aid in your training?
Since I’ve never been coached by anyone, I’m actually quite interested in what a coach might provide, but it’d be vital to have a good personality match. There are a lot of coaches out there and I don’t know how I’d find the right one (or whether I could afford one). Is there a coach-match.com out there? I’ve read some books on running and marathon training which helped along the way: “Advanced Marathoning,” “Daniels’ Running Formula,” “Born to Run,” “The Runner’s Body,” “Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide,” “Smart Running,” “First Marathons,” and “Marathon: You can do it.” I collect bits of running info from wherever or whomever I can, but after a certain number of miles experience and instinct are hugely valuable.
How do you fit running in with your daily schedule?
I either get up early and run before work, or if it’s a busy morning I’ll try to fit a run in during lunchtime. Rarely am I an evening runner.
Do your friends and family support your running or think you are crazy?
They support my craziness. There might be some desire for me to run less, but they know it’s important to me, and I’m fortunate to have their support. (In my own defense, I like to tell them: ‘would you rather me be a marathoner or overweight on the couch watching TV all the time?’ -- even though I already manage to fit in a fair amount of TV.)
What is your favorite running terrain (road, trail, treadmill)?
Currently I am a road runner. I think it would be awesome to get off the roads and do some serious training on trails in the woods or mountains, but I mean, let’s face it, I live in the middle of an urban jungle and I’m very lucky to live a half-mile from a 20-mile paved path on the lakefront. I could run in the grass, but I’m not sure that’s really trail running? My races are on city streets usually, so I go with paved paths for training. And the treadmill: only if I have to, as I both fear and loathe it.
What is the hardest race you’ve run to date?
In the moment, when I’m running hard and racing, each one is the hardest, from 5K to 50K. Looking back, however, my toughest races are my slower marathons on hotter or hillier courses. The marathon leg of Ironman Wisconsin 2005 was probably my most challenging run due to exhaustion, high temps, stomach cramps, and a couple hills. Ironically, it’s this race that made me want to become a frequent marathoner (and I haven’t done a triathlon since).
What is the most enjoyable race you’ve run to date?
My best race experience was the 2011 Indianapolis Monumental Marathon. After two marathons that got the best of me (despite PR’s at both) in September and October, everything came together just right at the IMM: weather, organization, people, training, attitude, etc. I ran the race I knew I could run, beating my month-old PR by 7 minutes, and making the new qualifying time for Boston 2013. Hard to say if it was due to the race itself or all in my head, but it was pretty darn enjoyable.
Have you ever been injured due to running? What were the ramifications?
I’ve had nearly every running-related injury in the book. In March 2011, a few weeks before a race, I got a stress reaction in my pelvis forcing me to dump running the Illinois Marathon after training through the worst winter. I missed about 6 weeks of training from that. In June of the same year, I injured my left Achilles tendon, but was fortunate that it resolved itself after a couple weeks of easing up on the training. I’m just now recovering from a shin pain that has nagged me since the start of the year, which has also led to dramatically cutting my running and missing quite a few days of training. I hit the elliptical machine when I’m injured; it helps maintain my fitness, but it’s far from enjoyable…
Do you use any music or run tracking devices when you run, or are you a naked runner.?
No music. I go with the sounds of my surroundings and the thoughts in my head. The only exception is if I’m stuck on the elliptical, which ideally is not too frequent. I always run with my Garmin Forerunner 210 -- I love to come in the door and upload my route info and stats, regardless of whether I’m tracking any splits during the run.
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 try to rise to each challenge, but I’m still human. Some days I do better at responding to the challenge, and push through the pain or nausea by digging down deep. On other days, I back off because of exhaustion, my legs are dead, or my head’s not in the game. We have good days and bad days, and plenty of days in between. A good skill is being able to interpret signals from your body so you know when to push through the pain, and when to use restraint. PR’s don’t come from any single good training run, but what you do with the hundreds of good, bad and in-between runs.
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?
Hehe, we’ll that’s a good question. I probably shouldn’t say too much and jinx myself. However, without getting too graphic, I recommend runners give themselves adequate preparation time before each run to do what needs be done.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about taking up running?
I try to be enthusiastic and encouraging, but realistic. When the topic comes up with budding runners, my advice is minimal: 1.) start small - try for short run-walks and go slow; and 2.) get a pair of running shoes that fit well and are not from the local discount superstore. I try to not get carried away with advice because they probably won’t remember everything anyway, and I really want people to succeed at running. It’s challenging enough just getting up the courage for your first run (even if returning), not to mention sticking with it those first several days and weeks. I know things are going well for them if they come back after a couple months to talk about chafing.
What is your next big race?
I have several marathons coming up quickly and I’m at nowhere near the level of training I’d like to be. So I’m focusing on a couple races later in the year to run hard: Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth in June, and Chicago Marathon in October. The rest will probably be fun runs or training runs for me.
What is your immediate running goal?
I would like to run a 2:57 marathon this year. I think it’s doable. I finished with a 3:57 at the first marathon I really raced, and I’m relatively close to the 3-hour mark now. It would be a really exciting milestone to come in an hour faster than my first.
What is your ultimate running goal?
To continue improving my running. That does not necessarily mean to continue getting faster, but rather to become a smarter and more efficient runner. At the same time, since I’m a late-bloomer runner in my late thirties, I hope to continue improving my speed for a couple more years at least. It’s pretty cool to whip the pants off my younger self.
Do you have a way we can keep track of your progress (Twitter, Facebook, Blog, etc)