Reflecting and Refocusing

Twenty seventeen marks 13 years on this crazy running journey. It’s always fun to take a moment each year and reflect on how far you’ve come, what needs to change and new goals for the coming year. 2016 was a crazy whirlwind: being laid-off, job hunting, acclimating to my new job, traveling every month, getting engaged, getting married, and starting my own side business. Although it was all wonderful (and stressful) I had no rhyme or reason to my training blocks or race schedules. Somehow I managed to walk away with a few solid races I was proud of but only thanks to some great training partners who pushed and paced me every week in workouts and races. This year my running philosophy is 1. build a base, 2. don’t rush 3.  and race strategically.

I just wrapped up week 5 of my 6 week base phase and am feeling stronger and more resilient than ever hitting 70 miles with only one double and 2 light fartlek workouts. My goal was to build a huge aerobic base, something I’ve never really done, before touching any speed workouts. Although I somehow managed to run a sub 3 hour marathon back in 2015, I’ve never trained for long distance races well. My body would always break down with any mileage over 60 and mentally I wasn’t tough enough to complete long training runs. So I’m excited! I’ve tackled my biggest weakness head on. Long runs are getting easier and faster, my body feels fresh and rejuvenated and I’m actually looking forward to grinding out some hefty aerobic speed session starting in February. I’ll be updating you all on my race schedule soon!

Anyways here’s a fun interview with a bit of my running story that always gives me perspective and helps me appreciate the journey and small wins along the way.

When did you start running?

L: I grew up trotting around as an incredibly mediocre soccer player for 12 years which is the root of all my running abilities. I had a massive growth spurt at 8 leaving me with zero ball-handling skills but quite an effective stature for defense and the endurance of an energizer bunny. Coach would essentially put me in to run at people for 90 mins. I started going on actual runs as a 12 year old unfortunately because of body image problems. The first 5 or so years of “training” were not at all healthy and I experienced just about every possible running related ailment you can afflict upon yourself. It wasn’t until I decided to try and walk on to my college cross country team that I really began to learn balance and how to train in a healthy way and that totally changed my perspective on running.

How did college change you as a runner?

L: College was my first exposer to real competition and coaches. I walked on not knowing anything and having never done any type of workout. I hated it my first year. The first 5k I ever ran was at a college meet at KU…no pressure! I ended up walking a few times and generally just wanted to die. I had an incredible coach, though, that saw something I couldn’t see and stuck with me. I became severely anemic my freshman year and didn’t get to compete in track. Everyone thought I wouldn’t be back but I fought to recover in time for sophomore cross county season and finally ran my first  track race in spring of 2011. I didn’t actually turn a corner until my junior year and that’s when I fell in love with competition. I finally didn’t dread it and found the perfect balance of mileage, workouts, and racing. My goal from the beginning was to get a school record and in my last collegiate race I captured that. It was like fairytale ending to an incredibly influential part of my running life.

When did you get into coaching?

L: I started volunteering as a youth track coach the summer of 2011 and knew it was something I was passionate about right away. I continued working with Heartland Youth Track Club the rest of college and started thinking more seriously about coaching as a possible career after school. I casually interviewed with a few head coaches but didn’t want to grad-assistant coach or babysit teams without real input into the development of athletes so I opted out of that route. I went on to pursue my career in graphic design which I love and still do full-time but also met a small running group back in 2013 that called themselves “City of Fountains Athletic Club”. I was the only girl for a while but saw the potential to grow and recruit with the aid of a little social media and a website. I built City of Fountains social and online presence and we quickly gained a women’s team and by summer of 2014 we started consistent weekly practices. By 2015 we had nearly tripled in size and I’ve since taken over writing workouts and leading the group which is the highlight of my week. I only recently got into one-on-one coaching last summer.  I had “mentored” many developing runners but actually mapping out long-term routes to their goals is far more rewarding.

What are your favorite and least favorite workouts?

L: I love 400 meter repeats probably because that’s what we did the most in college and they are a really good fitness indicator. I also like hill workouts. The way we run them isn’t focused on hitting times but rather form so it’s mentally easier. I still struggle with tempo runs. They’re always mentally the toughest workout for me to do well so I always need a buddy or coach to hold me accountable make sure I get it done.

What has been your most memorable race to date?

L: It would be a tie between breaking 3 hours in the marathon last summer and placing 5th at NAIA track nationals and becoming an All-American. Both were goals that took years to finally achieve.

What does this year look like for you race-wise?

L: I’m starting off slow and really focusing on strength and aerobic development the first 3 months so I won’t race until Big 12 in March. It’s 12k and should be a good indicator of how well the base phase has helped me. Next I’ll do Trolley 4 miler, some track 5k TBD on the west coast, and then my training partner and I will be honing in hard on speed development through May for USATF Club Track in June where we hope to double in the 1500m and 5k. After that I’ll rest up, regroup and focus on the fall line-up which will include a 10k and half marathon. As of right now I’m eyeing Houston for my next marathon attempt.

Outside of running what do you enjoy?

L: Mostly eating or anticipating eating by finding exciting ingredients or new recipes. I travel a good deal and enjoy checking out new trails and cities. I’m always down to try a good restaurant or brewery and love farm-to-market style establishments. I have few entrepreneurial pursuits that you can typically find me spending my free-time developing – one of those being this blog 😉  I build IKEA furniture whenever I have a chance (my apartment won’t currently fit anymore). I love designing things. I’m currently brainstorming ways to put on my own race sometime in the next couple years. Beer mile anyone?

What words of running wisdom would you like to leave us with?

L: Always listen to your body. It’s an incredible and capable machine when you optimize its potential. Treat it like a sports car and fuel it regularly and with the finest fuel.