Sunday, December 16, 2012

Tara, 48 years old


How much do you run?
I am not running now, due to an injury.

How long have you been a runner?
3 years.

How did you start running?
I was dating a runner so I would use a treadmill at the gym sometimes. When we broke up,  my office was putting together a team for the Corporate Challenge. I channeled my energy into training for that event and found it was something I enjoyed and helped me make peace with the relationship ending.

Best running experience
Any race in which I'm not dead last for my age group. Seriously, last year's Brooklyn Half Marathon.  I belong to a running club. One of the faster members came along side me at mile 8, she was loosing her energy.  We helped each other get through the next few miles.  It felt so good to help a better runner and have her help me.  And what a blast it was running up the Coney Island Boardwalk and being greeted by clowns and jugglers at the finish line!

Unexpected benefit of running
I don't always go to my club's organized runs in Central Park.  But I have plenty of people to run with. Going to Central Park on the weekends means I'll bump into my friends and find someone to run with for part of the time. 

Until I became a runner, I didn't realize it is a social sport. I've done races and had wonderful conversations with strangers on the bus afterwards. We're all buzzed with that runner's high. It's like a more open version of having coffee. You're extra aware and extra open to the people around you. 

Running-induced crazy story
I've been in physical therapy for months now for an injury that has me in pain when I walk. I know I'll get past this and be able to run again although thinking and talking about running right now is pretty frustrating. I'm active and like to do other things but nothing takes the place of running so that is what is motiving me through my recovery. 

In some ways, running is the simplest sport but there is a lot of potential for injury. Since is it repetitive  if have an issue with your form, a particularly tight area, you increase your milage quickly-- these are magnified by the thousands of steps. 

Of course, all these things can be addressed but it takes time. To go from not being a runner for most of my life to being an injured runner is tough. 

Advice for new runners
Don't worry about your speed or distance.  Build slowly.  Don't be afraid to ask more experienced runners for pointers.  They love their sport and are happy to help newbies.  Enjoy your run!


Sunday, December 9, 2012

Raymond, 35 years old

How much do you run? 
Around 14 miles a week.  But I am going to try to bump that around 20 miles a week, adding another 5 - 7 mile run to my routine after the winter. 

How long have you been a runner? 
4 years.

How did you start running? 
I needed to loose weight and it seemed to be the fastest and most effective way to do it.  It's kind of hard to half-ass running. If you run from point A to point B you always have to go back to point A so it is easy to finish a run you start.

Best running experience
I love running in the very early morning where you can see the sun rise!  The blues and purples and everything waking up is just beautiful to me!

Unexpected benefit of running
It's a time to myself to kind of meditate and test the extremes of my body.

Running-induced crazy story 
Not sure what to discuss here. The black and blue toes and general pain I feel most days? What it was like running after hurricanes Irene and Sandy to see all kinds of odd debris on the East River run? I find it crazy that I would continue to run all these years or that I would ever allow my body to fall apart.  I am equally amazed by how easily mother nature can wreck havoc on our lives. I think of our city as powerful and strong so the effect of Sandy is that much more humbling.  These are both topics I often contemplate while running the East River, Central Park, or other parts of the world I've had the opportunity to run.

Advice for new runners 
Spend the money on the RIGHT shoes.  Take risks and continually challenge yourself. And lastly, every once and a while run with someone you know if faster than you to help push yourself just a little bit more.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Karla, 34 years old


How much do you run?
More days than not.


How long have you been a runner?
7 years.


How did you start running?
Thanks to a slow-growing bone tumor in my leg that sat right at the knee joint, running had been a painful endeavor for more than a decade. I avoided it at all costs. I walked with a limp, lived with constant pain and stuck to low-impact exercise until any exercise at all was too painful to contemplate. Eventually, even riding the elliptical machine and walking was sheer pain.That is, until surgery changed things. It was a long road to recovery—three months on crutches, three months of no activity whatsoever and six months of only the gentlest low-impact activity.


But one year post-surgery I was largely tumor free and my doctor told me it was time to start rebuilding the muscle and bone-density in my leg. The quad muscles in my “bad leg” had shriveled after years of limping and disuse; I even used to row one legged by anchoring my stroke with my “good leg” while the bad one just came along for the ride. My right leg was at least two pant sizes smaller than my left one. I looked like a healthy athlete from the left side and an anorexic model from the right.

But when my doc suggested running as the perfect bone-building exercise, I scoffed. It had been the single most painful exercise pre-surgery. Once upon a time, I’d loved to run. As a kid, I’d run to swim team practice as my best friend bicycled by my side and I enjoyed hitting the track for “dry land” workouts. But as the mystery pain in my knee crept in, so did my fear of running.

But I’ve always been the person who follows doctors orders. So one day, I laced up the only sneakers I had—a pair of cross-trainers—and I hit the sidewalk. It was some ugly business. After 12 years of avoiding running at all costs, I lasted three blocks before I was completely out of breath. There wasn’t exactly pep in my step. Instead, there was lots of sweating, heaving, huffing, puffing, and, oh yes, walking. But I stuck with it and three blocks turned into five, which then became 10, and eventually stretched into a mile.

Running has just been different that anything I’ve challenged myself with before. For starters, I wasn’t immediately good at it. With swimming and rowing, I was a natural, using my tall frame to my advantage. Running, on the other hand, felt anything but natural.Best running experienceI soon felt my well-worn hatred for running morph into something else—joy. Sure, it hurt. But it hurt in a different way than it used to. Instead of the usual searing pain shooting through my leg, I felt a familiar burning in my lungs—a burn I recognized from swimming and rowing. It was accompanied by that familiar burst of energy that comes with an endorphin high, which was doubled when I made the startling realization that I could run at all. I was free from the pain that inhibited me all those years. Free from the fear. Just free. The athlete within me had been reawakened and given a new lease on life. I felt pure, unfiltered joy.


Before long, I was ready to tackle my first race. It was a 4-miler in New York City’s Central Park.


Unexpected benefit of running
I love running. And I love that there are millions of other people out there, like me, who love it too—fast and slow, lifers and newbies. I love that all I need for a run is a can-do attitude. Heck, I don’t even need a pair of shoes. Running is with me every where I go, and many of the places I go, I tackle with a run.


Running-induced crazy story
The Staten Island Half Marathon on October 7th was my 50th race. It’s a milestone I never could have imagined in my previous life as a person who hated running.

Over the course of those 50 races, running has become one of my passions—not because I’m great at it. I’m only slightly better than average. But because it’s something I couldn’t even conceive of doing for many years. Being able to run now feels like a gift, even after five years and 50 races.


Advice for new runners
Just keep going. I know how hard running and, especially, racing can be to a newbie. I've been there. On days when it feels overwhelming or intimidating, just run. Forget about everything else. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other and it will get easier. And if you can swing it, try to have some fun!


Want to know more about Karla? 
Check out her blog:  http://www.runkarlarun.com/

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Mike, 46 years old

How much do you run?
At least 4 times a week.

How long have you been a runner?
Most of my life. 38 years.

How did you start running?

Running in the Columbia Track Club in Missouri. 

My dad's friend at the university was trying to get a runner for an interesting relay where the collective age of the two runners need to be under 50. It was run on a track. He would run one lap, I would run one lap, and so on. My being only 10 years old was a big plus! 


We ran as a team three or four years in a row so I found each year that my times would improve.  I was proud to be able to contribute more to our performance as I got faster.


Best running experience

The 2009 Twin Cities Marathon was the perfect weather for a great performance, although it was not a good year to be a spectator. It was in 40s at the start with a cold drizzle. This was particularly remarkable because in 2008, although my training was just as successful, there isn't much you can do when it's 90 degrees on race day.  After the year before, it was particularly sweet since I was able to qualify for the Boston Marathon. It was exhilarating.

Unexpected benefit of running

After a run, I like to say "I have a free day." I'm free to eat and drink what I like, relax or not. I've taken care of my health in a tangible way and taking care of my happiness is what comes next. Running allows other indulgences.

Running-induced crazy story

I used to run 10k events in my teen age years.  Sometimes when I ran too fast (relative to my training--I never won anything),  I would get sick to my stomach.  No problem, I would detour a few yards into the ditch.  Heave, ho.  And I would be running again, feeling better!  It used to make my brother hysterical!!

Advice for new runners

Do lots of events, fun runs.  The energy of a crowd is so inspiring.  Not every run needs to be for a PR or all out.  Having events dot the calendar will help maintain motivation and break up the monotony of training.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Stephanie, 33 years old



How much do you run?
In my most recent marathon training, 35 - 40 miles week. Once I've recovered from Marine Corps, I'm hoping to move closer to 50 miles a week.

How long have you been a runner?
Since the summer of 2009.

How did you start running?
I joined Weight Watchers, thanks to a good friend's encouragement, in my late-20s.  That summer they had a 5k challenge that got me started. The goal was to run an August race.  We picked a really fun one that went over the Brooklyn Bridge and back again.  It was pouring rain that day and I had a blast!

We had a coach who showed me that running is not just running as fast and far as you can in order to loose weight. She showed me that there is a structure to it.


Having a race gave me a purpose.  I knew I needed to exercise in order to feel better about my body but that didn't motivate me from the same place.  That difference makes exercise fun.

Best running experience
What brings me out to go for a run is that I get to call the shots in my own training. That feeling propels my training. So much of life is about doing what other people want you to do. I am the one who decided to start down this path. I am the one who started running. I am the one who decided to run a marathon and did the work it took to complete it. Running is something that I do for myself so the pride taken in my running accomplishments has a special place.  

Unexpected benefit of running
I have to say it is the friendships I have made as well those I have deepened.   There is something to be said about the way a friendship is accelerated on the run.  When you go out for a two to three our run with someone you don't know well, you come back with a newfound knowledge of their entire life, hopes and dreams.  That is a pretty cool thing.  

Running-induced crazy story
I would definitely say the decision to run marathons.  I was pretty out of shape growing up.  I had good genes but was never rail thin like the 'popular' girls.  I 'danced' as part of various musical theatre productions (I wasn't coordinated at all) and rode horses, but I didn't play any sports.  So, to now, be training for my third marathon 16 years later, feels pretty crazy.  I can guarantee if you had asked 17 year old me if I would ever run anything, let alone a marathon, I would have laughed in your face.

Advice for new runners
Talk with other people who also started running later in life. They have been there and understand the process in a different way. People who ran high school track, or even just played sports and had to run as part of their conditioning training, don't approach the process in the same way.

Want to know more about Stephanie? 
Check out her blog. http://www.therunningcookie.com/ 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Shawnessy, 30 years old


How much do you run?
I've been running 6 days a week ranging from 6-21 miles for each run for the last number of months. However, I just completed the Chicago Marathon, so I'm currently taking about 2 weeks off of running. Once I start again this week, I'll run 4-6 days a week, averaging about 20-30 miles per week. This changes depending on what I'm training for throughout the year.

How long have you been a runner?
I've been running since I was a teenager, so about 16 years I think. As a kid I ran around with my brothers and sisters and we would race up our long driveway in the summer. In junior high, I became active in sports and as a freshman I joined the track team, where I sprinted through high school with my sisters.  

How did you start running?
I wanted to maintain fitness as I prepared for preseason field hockey back in high school, so would go for a run here and there during the summer. After playing junior high softball, my skills as a first baseman weren't as strong as I had hoped and I decided I was a better runner, so I joined the track team. I've been running consistently ever since.

Best running experience
I have so many great running experiences, but will try to narrow it down! Running at midnight for the Ragnar Relay. Seeing a moose during my first marathon. Breaking the 400m record in high school. Finishing a marathon. Exploring new places while running on my trips. I could go on, which is a good sign that running is an important and great part of my life.

Unexpected benefit of running
The amazing friends that I've made over the years. When I first started running it was at my very small high school and being on the track team wasn't super cool. But ever since running became mainstream, I've met some really great people over the years, and have also continued to share running with my sisters--we've been running together for over 15 years. Also, it's such a stress reliever. In college, I would get upset over an exam and would go for a hard run. Nowadays if I have a bad day at work, I just want to run it out. 

Running-induced crazy story
Again, there are just too many. Running a marathon (actually 6 of them). I know it's normal nowadays, but it's still kind of crazy. Seeing a moose during that first marathon. Good thing I just keep running. Running a half marathon in freezing temps that resulted in icicles (or sweat-cicles). Seeing nutty costumes and antics during races. And so much more...
 
Advice for new runners
Take it easy. Start with low mileage and go slow. Gradually build up and before you know it, you won't be able to stop.

Want to know more about Shawnessy?
Check out her blog. http://shawny-30-fun.blogspot.com/

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Lolline, 35 years old


How much do you run?
Probably average 20 miles a week. That's enough to make me feel good like I've met my goals but not so much that it gets in the way of other things I need to do.

How long have you been a runner?
Since 1993, my junior year of high school.

How did you start running?
As me and my friends started to worry about college applications, I decided to join the track team to have an extra curricular activity. 

I continued to run sporadically for general fitness until about 2008. When I decided to run a half marathon, I found a training program and made running a priority. 

Best running experience
I've had some great experiences racing but the freedom of movement is the best part of running even if that isn't a specific time or experience. It's that feeling that keeps me coming back to it. I like training hard and meeting my goals. The freedom of how it feels to just be outside pushing myself on my own, or taking it easy chatting through a run with a friend, that every day joy of running is the best experience. 

Of course, there are times when I don't want to go for a run at all and I'm not into it for awhile but there are other times when I get distressed thinking about how to fit a run into the day since I need one that badly. It's funny how you can't predict those mood swings around running but you know they'll come.

Unexpected benefit of running
Running has taught me to expect more for myself. It has taught me that I'm stronger then I think I am. It's taught me to live with discomfort in a tough workout or getting through a run on a day when the weather isn't cooperating. There is a lot of discomfort in life as a whole and you being able to sit with it and get through it leads to the next good thing. When you get to the other side, the discomfort is always worth it. 

Running-induced crazy story
At one 10k race, I saw this runner in her 60s wearing shorts who I've seen in several other races both before and since. She had poop all over one of her legs and didn't let it stop her, slow her down, or seem to bother herself nearly as much as it upset those of us who saw her that day. There are certain things that I will not run through. There are times I get sick of it. There are times when I need a break. Nothing is worth finishing a race once I've pooped myself. Maybe if she was wearing pants it would have felt differently.

Advice for new runners
Listen to your body and take it easy. Give yourself time to adjust to all the stresses of becoming a runner. If you have a pain or a tightness, don't run through it until you've gotten accustomed to what normal running discomfort feels like. It take awhile to be able to tell the difference. Following a training program to the letter instead of listening to your body causes injuries.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Les, 27 years old



How much do you run?
Probably 5 miles a week as one longer run or two shorter ones. Since running my 6th marathon last October, I take a few spin classes each week and lift kettle bells so I'm not running as much.

How long have you been a runner?
Since 2004. It was the winter of my freshman year of college and I found myself unprepared for the gloom of a winter in New England. 

How did you start running?
My college housemate, Emily, was a very talented member of the cross country team and just loves to run. I was getting into a funk with the cold weather and she convinced me to come out for a run. It just clicked for me. I ran at night and in the snow. You know how people talk about weight just melting off? I lost weight and it felt effortless. I felt strong, too.

Best running experience
Running through the middle of night in my first Ragnar Relay. I could barely see anything with my dim little headlamp, but the stars were clearly visible and seemed at points close enough to touch. It was just me for 7 miles, and all I could see in the distance was the blink blink blink of another runner's headlamp. I felt incredibly connected to this Earth. 

This run came at a time of enormous change and transition for me. I remember thinking about the road, and knowing that even if I was unable to see it, it was there. I found myself thinking about how that is true for all things, running and otherwise. The path, the journey, the road is always there, even if you can't always see it.

Unexpected benefit of running
Running (and exercise in general) is a healthy way to take your mind off tough things. 

I lived in Paris for a year and was surprised at how the experience of being in another country could often feel lonely and alienating.  Training for the marathon, running and lifting weights pretty much every day, was a healthy goal to work towards that made me feel better about some tougher parts of being in Paris. 

I joined a running club to help me get over a break up. Through the club, I  found my closest friends in New York and even my relationship. 

Now I am on the very long path to becoming a physician. Exercise helps keep me happy and focused.

Running-induced crazy story
In 2010, a group of friends did the Tough Mudder in some random part of Pennsylvania. This was a 7 mile race with several obstacles along the route, one of which included jumping into a lake. Some guy who clearly didn't know how to swim jumped in and was drowning. I was a life guard so I jumped in and pulled him to safety. I don't think the friends he was running with even realized what happened. 

Advice for new runners
Put on your headphones and just do it. The moment when that great song (for me, it's currently a remix of Call Me Maybe) comes on and you feel lighter than air...there's just nothing like it.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Natalie, 36 years old



How much do you run?
10 miles a week is normal when running is part of my crosstraining, but it shifts up to 15-20 miles a week when I'm training for an event.

How long have you been a runner?
Since 1998 when I decided to quit a college habit of smoking cigarettes.

How did you start running?
In my teens and early 20s I was more into music and art than athletics. Physical fitness was not part of my world.

After college, I was trying to figure out who I was. Who did I want to be? What did I identify with? Smoking didn't fit with my picture of who Natalie is on the inside. Perhaps I was a runner on the inside? My father was a duathlete so I knew the ability was within me. 

I joined a YMCA in New Jersey and started lifting weights. I also tied my shoes and went my first run ever. I ran as far and as fast as I could. I was out of breath. I was sweating. But it flipped a switch in me. I felt like something. Here was something that connected current me to future me.

Best running experience
I was on a few running-related mailing lists in New York City; one of them was The Running Center newsletter. There was an opening for an assistant running coach position in 2003 for a few evenings a week. I read the requirements and thought, "the hours don't conflict with my work schedule and I meet the requirements." A few interviews later, I was offered the job. 

One crisp late autumn night, I was at the peak of the Great Hill in Central Park with a stopwatch. Waiting for the first runner to crest the hill and give splits, this feeling of pure presence and, well -- being alive -- overwhelmed me. Then followed a wave of thoughts, led by, "I can't believe I get paid to do this." I saw firsthand that training to accomplish a goal in running also builds confidence in your ability to do better at anything else that is important to you. One-on-one as a coach, I was helping improve lives. Could I make this my life? 

Less than a year later, I passed my board certifications to become a personal trainer. 

Unexpected benefit of running
Through running, I've learned great lessons. When practiced artfully, it's a sport of patience, slow gains, and endless rewards. As with life in general, you can make bad decisions in running. It's easy to be too enthusiastic, thinking to yourself, "I don't care. I'll suffer the consequences." That's when you get injured when you run. It's heart-breaking.

Running-induced crazy story
When I moved from New Jersey to New York City, I was looking for social opportunities to meet new people. I saw that the New York Road Runners offered running classes and I thought it would be a great chance to go jogging with a few people. 

So I showed up to the first session of the 10-week class with Bob Glover (author of "The Competitive Runner's Handbook"), in his booming voice saying, "Today, we're doing One. Mile. Repeats." What? It was all speed work! What did I get myself in to? So I completed the whole program and ran a race a few weeks after, and discovered I was now super fast! It was the first realization of what speed training can do. Running felt easier after that.

Advice for new runners
Avoid putting pressure on yourself -- just be open and get started. Forget time and distance. Walk a bit. Run a but. Relax and keep it comfortable. From the first step of that first day, you are member of this open community. You are a Runner.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Elke, 36 years old

How much do you run?  
I'm training for a marathon right now, so I'm running about 50 miles a week. 

When I'm not training for a race, I run around 30 miles and mix in more cross training.

How long have you been a runner?  
Running has been part of my life since I was a teenager. 
I've always been athletic (TaekwonDo, rowing, tennis) and running is part of every sport. 

Two and a half years ago, I switched to running exclusively.

How did you start running?  
A friend asked me to help out in a relay race. Two of the teams all had matching Front Runner New York (FRNY) jerseys because they all belonged to the same running club. I really liked that "sharing a passion" feeling, so I joined FRNY too. 


Best running experience  
When I race, there are always so many teammates racing or cheering. 
It doesn't matter how slow I run. That support from my club is my most treasured experience.


Unexpected benefit of running  
You feel really good after a run. Even if you didn't feel like running certain days, you know once you start and get out there, you'll love it and feel very accomplished afterward. I don't listen to music because I use runs to "think things out." Whether it's a problem I had at work or with a loved one, running gives me the chance to reflect on that. I also usually have the best ideas during a run. :)


Running-induced crazy story  
There was a time when I'd "pick up" random guys on my runs. No, no it's not what it sounds like. Running is such a community sport and most people are really nice and helpful. 

Last year, I almost always ended up running and chatting with a complete stranger at Central Park. I'd start my run and after a few miles, a guy would fall into my pace and strike up a conversation. I ended up learning about one guy's plans to buy an apartment in NYC, how much he made in a year, that he was married with two kids, without ever knowing his name.


Advice for new runners  
Talk to experienced runners and pick up biographies by famous athletes. Every novice runner is fueled by excitement about running, which is so wonderful. But excitement can sometimes lead to doing too much too soon. Seasoned runners usually have great advice for any running-related obstacle.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Michele, 41 years old

How much do you run?
16 - 20 miles a week.

How long have you been a runner?
Since sophomore year in college. I run for fun.

How did you start running?
My college roommate dragged me to the track and said I would love it- I did!  Especially running with music! 

Best running experience
Finishing the NYC marathon with my friend Les-- 5 seconds under our goal time. We trained together for months, which was part of what made it fun.

Around the mid point of the race, we lost some time meeting up with another runner.  All that stuff about the marathon being a 20 mile run with a 10k race afterwards felt true. By mile 20, we were feeling broken and that all hope was lost to meet our goal time. At just that moment another friend decided to help and paced us (quickly!) all the way to Columbus Circle (about a quarter mile from the finish line) to get us in under our goal time. Running the whole race with Les and having several friends run alongside us and cheering us on at key times motivated us to meet our goal.

Unexpected benefit of running
Meeting lots of great friends I would have never met otherwise. 

Running-induced crazy story
Minutes after finishing the above marathon having to do CPR on a runner down at the finish line who came back after a few minutes and sat up and spoke French!!

Advice for new runners
Go at your own pace - don't worry what everyone else is doing- and just enjoy. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Doug, 70 years old


How much do you run?
These days, 5 miles a week but it has varied dramatically over the years.

How long have you been a runner?
More than 55 years.

How did you start running?
I always enjoyed running. In my early teens, it was clear that I didn't have basic speed relative to my friends but I had a lot of stamina. That's when I started running longer distances.

When I hurt my shoulder in the beginning of my junior year of high school and could no longer play tennis competitively, I joined the track team.

My college had an indoor track and harsh winters. I was able to run comfortably inside a few times a week.

It just feels good. I don't feel the need to race.

Best running experience
Running along the C+O Canal early in the morning. It is a peaceful and beautiful place at that hour.

Seeing the sunrise over the dome of the Capital while running on The Mall is a close second.

Unexpected benefit of running
I think it has contributed to my being healthy and not having weight problems. I run for enjoyment so this has been a happy side effect.

Most of the time, I've run alone. Since I married Bev about 12 years, I've had the opportunity to run with my wife. We both look forward to spending this time together.

Running-induced crazy story
Senator Bill Proxmire was my neighbor. One morning in the late 1970s we ran part of the way to the Capitol togehter. He told me about his running to work and running to a pool to go swimming on his way home most days. While we ran, it was remarkable how many people who said hello to him. As a man in his early 60s, it was uncommon at that time for someone of his status and age to be so dedicated to fitness.

Advice for new runners
Don't increase both speed and mileage at the same time. I enjoy running close to my limit. When I train more, I'm able to do more... until I hurt myself. As a result, I started training for a marathon a few times but never stayed healthy long enough to run one.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Sandi, 42 years old

How much do you run?
I don't run as much as I'd like. I tend to be a binge and purge runner. I'll go days, sometimes weeks without running and then crave a run so badly that I do 14 miles. I don't recommend it, but I've run marathons on a binge-whim like that, too. 


How long have you been a runner?
I've been running consistently since 2006 

How did you start running?
I ran in spurts - like when my then relationship was not doing well. Running helped make sense of the thoughts running through my head. In 2006, I found out that I (finally) got in the NYC Marathon lottery and started training. 

Best running experience
Bear Mtn Half and the Knickerbocker 60K both last year. Up until those two experiences, I was a slave to my Garmin and pace.

Feeling humbled by the challenging Bear Mtn course and then becoming a Marathon Maniac by running Knickerbocker (60K / about 37 miles) just weeks after the NYC marathon, made me realize that I was better adept for distance and not speed.

If I never race another road race, I think I will be a happier runner.

Unexpected benefit of running
Better friendships. Some of my most beloved conversations are had with friends that I consistently run with (I even married one!) Plus I have a lot of faith in, and live by the golden rule: "What is said on a run, stays on a run". 

Running-induced crazy story
One winter holiday, friends from my running club and I rented a place in the Hamptons. On the day of our long run, we set off on a picturesque, wintery-white and snowy course that was isolated and scenic. It was a beautiful and desserted (due to it being off season) sight as we ran by the beach and over a bridge and back. We ran 18 miles in what turned out to be very harsh conditions. The sleet came in almost horizontal, slamming into our faces like a thousand tiny needles as we made our way back to the house. In the end, we peeled off frozen layers, crunched ice out of our hair and tried to bring a normal hue back to our bright red faces and feeling back into our toes. 

Whenever I question running in inclement weather, I think about that adventure. It was the most amazing winter run. Not only because I have yet to run in worse conditions, but because the friends were so great under the circumstances. We all had a really great time commiserating together, feeling proud that we just had a pretty bad-ass run. 


Advice for new runners
I think the biggest advice I could give would be to find running partners!

My story is not unique at my running club (Front Runners) or any other. Almost everyone is afraid we can't run far enough, aren't fast enough, or we are not a "real runner"  so we shouldn't join. After coming to a few group runs, I realized how wrong I was. I wish I had joined a club sooner. 

Want to know more about Sandi?
You can find her blog at http://musingsofabarefootultrarunner.wordpress.com

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Beverly, 56 years old

How much do you run?
4 to 5 miles a week.

How long have you been a runner?

More than 40 years.


How did you start running?
I signed up to compete in a 600 yard race during our school's annual Field Day when I was in middle school and again in high school for broad jump and the 50 yard dash. We lived on a farm, so I measured out a route around our house to practice on for a few weeks before the race.

I didn't run much again until I was in graduate school, as my extracurricular athletic activities at that time were focused on tennis.  Running as an adult has always been a social activity. There were 5 of us living in group housing. My roommate Grace and I had a routine of going to the track a few times a week.

Best running experience
The first time I ran in Palisades Park in Santa Monica.  The park is built along a cliff and it has always been a favorite location for my husband to run. There are views of the beach and Pacific Ocean. There are the huge palm trees and several shade trees as well. You feel so charged when the weather is in the 60s and low humidity, few clouds; I felt as though I could run forever. We make it point to go running there whenever we visit LA.

Unexpected benefit of running
When traveling for work or pleasure, going for a run is a great way to become familiar with my surroundings. Using the GPS information from the Nike+ app makes it easy to know where you are. We were in Charlotte, South Carolina recently and before going for a run from the hotel, I had no idea where we were or how the city was laid out. Going out for a run changed all that, and enhanced the enjoyment of the trip.


Running-induced crazy story
I was a postdoc at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Many people on campus were active duty military, and had to pass routine PT tests. As a result, there were lots of social opportunities around staying fit. There were 5 of us who would run in Rock Creek Park (Beach Drive and a weekly trail run) during lunch. 

This is when I participated in the longest run I have ever done - one gorgeous day we ran 7 miles through the park. Every year each of the departments in the medical center would compete against each other in a Field Day race through the woods on and off trails and across streams. I was cajoled into signing up for this event.  Not only did I need to run as fast as I could through the woods, but we also needed to do 50 sit ups and 50 push ups before starting this race. Did I already mention -- most of the other people were in the Army?

Advice for new runners

Only run in shoes that really fit your feet.

Using a running app, with GPS, for your phone is a great way to track the miles you rack up over time, and can help you find your way back when you are running in a new location.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Cathy, 56 years old

How much do you run?
I recently broke my wrist hiking in Minneapolis the day before a half. I'm still coming off that injury but running 2 - 3 times a week. 

During the week, I do 3 - 4 miles and one long run each weekend. 6 - 12 miles is enough to stay ready for a half marathon. 

Texas is really hot this time of year. During the cooler months, I normally run 4 days a week.

After my first half-marathon, I found the Jeff Galloway run-walk method. By running for 5 minutes and then walking for 1 minute, I took minutes off my time and enjoyed myself more the next time around. I adjust the ratio but find it has made the difference between running one race and wanting to complete a half-marathon in every state. I'm up to 18 now but wish that number was19 on account of Minnesota.

How long have you been a runner?

I always had in my head that I wanted to run a marathon before I turned 50. I actually started running when I was 48. 

Around that time, I was visiting a friend in Connecticut for the weekend. We went into a bagel shop and there was a group of four older women who were talking and laughing over bagels and coffee after running together. I thought to myself "That's how I see myself. I don't want to be one of those people who knows more about what is going on in television shows then anything else. I want to be out there enjoying my own life." My kids were teenagers then and I didn't have as much time as I do now but having that life for myself became the goal. Within in a year, I had joined Team in Training to begin the work towards my first half-marathon. Having breakfast with my friends after runs is now part of my routine.

How did you start running?

When my mother was 50 (about 40 years ago), she was diagnosed with leukemia. She passed away at 84.  She was able to live much longer then the doctors originally predicted ( they said less than 10 years after diagnosis) in part because of all the advances in treatments. Team in Training taught me how to run while raising money to finance research that helps people like my mother live longer.

Best running experience

My mother passed away when she was 84 years old-- 34 years after being diagnosed with cancer. That year, I ran a Nike Women's Race in San Francisco in her memory instead of in her honor.  I felt her with me for every step of that race because she had spent some time in that area in the 1940s and loved it. 

Unexpected benefit of running

The goals I've set and accomplished for myself were huge reaches when I came up with them but I put in the work so I can say that, yes, I've done what i set out to do. 

My first marathon was in Alaska and it took me 6.5 hours to completed it. That is such a long tim to be on your feet. It was a cold and wet day so my lips were purple when I crossed the finish line. During ht moments of struggle I kept telling myself to pay more attention to the views, as it was so beautiful. "I'm running in Alaska!" I reminded myself.

More recently, I set a goal to run a 5k under 30 minutes and endup up being closer to 28 and a half minutes.

Running-induced crazy story

I still can't believe I completed the Extraterrestrial half marathon in Area 51in Nevada. It started at midnight with a full moon  and the Perseid meteor shower providing the light.. Well, that and all the green glow-in-the-dark stuff people were wearing.  You could see nothing but outlines of cows and cactus. 

With it being so dark and so late, it was harder and harder for me to stay awake. There were moments where it almost felt out-of-body, because I was walking but I was also sort of sleeping. I had a friend on either side  so if I swayed a bit too much in one direction or another, I'd get propped back up. We finished in just under 4 hours (normal time is about 2.5 hours) so feel we perhaps were abducted during the run.


Advice for new runners

If you can just make it out the door, you've already done it. Just go out and start walking. Maybe run for 30 seconds in the middle of the walk. That's all it takes. Those 30 seconds make you a runner. You will rarely regret going for a run but often regret not going. 

Find some people who already do it so you'll be held accountable. At first, nothing else can make you want to get out of bed at 5:30 or 6am but knowing there is someone else waiting for you. You keep each other in check.


Get good shoes. If your shoes don't fit right, they can create all sorts of pain and can turn anyone off running forever. 

Monday, September 3, 2012

Bangbay, 33 years old

How much do you run?
I haven't run consistently in a couple of years. I've been struggling with Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome and can't run for more than a few minutes at a time. Before, I was running 3-4 times a week.

How long have you been a runner?
I started running around April 2008.

How did you start running?
I needed to make a change in my life. I wanted to lose weight and feel good about myself. I had never run a mile before, so I was going to try out running. I didn't know how serious I would take it. I spent six months working up to running a mile without stopping, then working on running faster. It took a year to get up to three miles. Then, I signed up for the L.A. Marathon and joined a running group. Less than two years after I first started running, I finished a marathon and lost 24 pounds along the way.

Best running experience
I ran the Disneyland Half-Marathon, which was a lot of fun. My favorite part of the route was when we ran through Angel Stadium on the field. There were a lot of high school marching bands and cheerleading squads out there rooting us on.

Unexpected benefit of running
I think I have a better understanding of how far distances are by foot. I'm also more aware of bicycle lanes, uneven sidewalks, and elevation changes.

Running-induced crazy story
My company had our holiday party the night before I was supposed to run 15 miles with my running group. I had planned to be good and be ready for the run, but that didn't happen. I couldn't get up to meet my running group, but I made myself run the 15 miles by myself a few hours later. That was tortuous because: I was hungover, it's much harder to run in the afternoon than the morning (I always ran along the beach), and I was so bored running that far alone.

Advice for new runners
Listen to your body. I don't think my foot problems are necessarily from becoming a runner. It's because I was slow to treat pain I felt after the L.A Marathon (although it was also due to misdiagnoses by doctors) and that I also ran the Disneyland Half-Marathon six months later when I was still in pain. I wouldn't give up the running experiences I've had, but I probably could've taken a better path. I am disappointed to not be able to be running right now.