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9 Years ago I Began Running

9 Years ago I Began Running

For last the 9 years, the time around St. Patrick’s day has held a more sentimental reason to me than drinking beer, wearing green and pots of gold.

Although if you would like to send me a pot of gold that is fine too!  Nine years ago I ran a 5k in college that would change the path and direction of my life. I started this blog the summer after which means the blog is coming up on 9 years too. Wow, where did my 20s go?

You can read my entire running story here or in the tab above.

When I was a college sophomore, I saw a sign at the gym stating if you completed the annual campus 5k you would get a free long sleeve t-shirt.  As a college student, you can never have enough things to stuff in your dorm room.  My roommate appreciated my hoarding I guess.

I had plenty of short sleeve shirts but long sleeve shirts were something I was always looking for.  All I had to do was sign up for a 5k and complete it?

Okay sign me up.  Sign me up and I didn’t run an ounce beforehand.

My running history previous to March of 2010 was lackluster. I swam competitively through high school and most of college. I failed the mile countless times in both middle and high school…or passed by a couple of seconds (passing was 12:30 and my mile PR was 12:12). Since 10th-grade gym class I had avoided running like the plague.

I ran twice in the first two years of college. Both times were to “impress” upperclassman on the swim team. It wasn’t impressive and I made a fool out of myself.

During the offseason from swimming, I went to the gym and used the elliptical or lifted weights.  It was nice to keep cardio and strength when I wasn’t swimming.  I didn’t run during the offseason at all. The elliptical and I were friends. Long story short I had no idea what I was getting myself into running the 5k, but the phrase “if it’s free, it’s for me” comes to mind with this race.

The race itself is pretty much a blur.  I don’t remember much other than I didn’t really hate it.

I finished the 5k is around 24 minutes.  I don’t remember the exact time but I remember not dying, texting my shocked dad that I had run a 5k and picked up my free long sleeve shirt.

Of course, I didn’t tell my parents I was running this 5k…I didn’t want them to ask if I didn’t finish… My dad has been running far longer than I have. In fact, he had a big marathon the next week (The Shamrock Marathon). I didn’t want the embarrassment that his daughter couldn’t finish a 5k.

I wore that t-shirt all around the following day.  I was going to wear my badge of honor.

After the race, it wasn’t as if I magically became engrossed in running.  I wasn’t “hooked”. I did realize it wasn’t all that bad and I ran occasionally when it was nice out.  I ran 10-20 miles a week depending on the weather. When it was sunny I would run the same 5k loop around campus.  When it wasn’t nice out, I wouldn’t run.  I would just go to the gym.

I mark St. Patrick’s Day as the official day I got my running start because after that point I considered myself someone who didn’t hate running anymore.  When you fail the mile test multiple times in grade school, it’s hard to like it.

I began to consider myself a runner:

I didn’t run every day.

I didn’t run fast.

I didn’t log my mileage.

I didn’t run when it was cold, windy or not perfect weather.

I had no desires to run with anyone or at a certain time…

I didn’t run any more races until July.

But I ran…and when I did I enjoyed it. 

Crazy to think that was almost a decade ago!

Questions for you:

When did you get your (workout) start?

What are you up to this St. Patrick’s Day?

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How to Run with your Significant Other

How to Run with your Significant Other

First, happy Valentines Day! Are you celebrating with a run?  LOL, or maybe not but anyway.

As most people know, my husband and I met through running. It’s a hobby we both share. You read the full story here. We both ran long before we knew each other. We aren’t always running together, and there are months we don’t run at all together, but there are also months we run many easy runs.

He is a faster runner, and there are very few periods that we run the same pace, but it is enjoyable to share that time with him. Running allows us to share uninterrupted time together. During the day, it’s hard to find these uninterrupted moments.

How to Run with your Significant Other

Many readers have asked: How do you run with your significant other? Or Could you share some tips to make running with a partner more enjoyable?

Keep in mind, running together is not always sunshine and butterflies. I can remember a significant moment in our running relationship. It was our first long run together. I’m a very chatty runner and if you’ve run with me (or even raced), you know I’m yapping all the way. My husband, however, is much quieter when he runs. This took us a few runs to figure out.

We started off doing a 15 mile run in San Antonio, Texas (near where we lived). All of a sudden he was running a few steps in front of me and silent. I began getting irrationally upset. Why were even running together? It was just silence. I continued to get more and more upset until finally I snapped and said:

“I’m tired of this dude running. Men just run in a single file straight line don’t talk much. Women don’t do that”.

(Yes, I called it dude running because it’s exactly how men run together. Silent, in a single line, and then they say it’s quality bonding time).

At the time, I didn’t know his life and running habits, and he didn’t fully know mine. Since then, we’ve had no more escalated running arguments, but my point is: it’s important to know any trainer partners habits.  He wasn’t angry, mad, or sad, that’s just how he ran.

So How do We Run Together?

The Short Answer:

We both put on running shoes and move one foot in front of the other.

The Long Answer:

Easy Runs:

More often than not, we run easier mileage together. I’ll speed up my pace 10-15 seconds per mile, and he slows down a bit. We agree to try and meet halfway.  That being said, my husband uses a watch even less than I do so we aren’t that numbers-oriented about paces.

Workouts:

We don’t do hard efforts together because our workout paces are not the same. He is a faster runner and also has different goals. (I like 5k-13.1 while he likes 5k-10k).

Occasionally he will do a tempo run with me, but that is the extent of workouts together.  Has he ever done a 400, mile, or hard track workout with me?  Absolutely not.  I know I go from nice to mean in 10 seconds, and so does he.

Racing:

We both like going to races. This year, my goal for racing a la Des Linden is “just show up.”   The fast, the slow, the good, and the bad, I want to be there.  Races for me, are always better workouts than workouts alone.

For us, going to races is quality time we spend together as well. We sign up for races together but the critical part here is we don’t race together.

We will warm up and cool down together, but when the clock goes off, we race to our own standards and feeling. The majority of the time, we do not stay together.

Racing for you is important because if one person is faster, it will create problems to stay on the course together. Part of being with a fellow runner is that you can’t expect to stay together or feel the same every race.

Does it stink to be dropped by your husband or a training partner during a race?

Of course, but that is the nature of the sport. We support each other, good or bad race.  I think this is important for any group running a race together. Someone will feel better, and someone will feel worse. Let them go and don’t be offended. You would want them to let you go too, and you’re still friends (or married at the finish line).

Don’t Be a Sore Winner or Loser.

There is no point to “racing” your significant other.  I remember one of my husband’s best races in 2017, the Double Bridges 15k. He ran a good amount with me and dropped me like I was standing still. I was so happy for him because he had no business lollygagging with me.  We both crossed the finish, and we were still married.

Running with a significant other can be a fun and pleasant experience. I know my husband, and I are fortunate we get to share that.

Finally, don’t force or guilt them into running with you. Don’t take anything personally; sometimes your spouse doesn’t want to run.  Some days I just want my me time and so does he.  That’s okay too!

Questions for you:

Do you workout with your significant other?

How are you spending Valentine’s Day? 

Steps to Increase Mileage and Stay Healthy

Steps to Increase Mileage and Stay Healthy

As runners, we all want to run more and stay healthy.  I used to have the firm belief of more=better.  Over the last year and a half, my personal life has gotten much busier. I don’t have the time to dedicate for more and more and more. And that’s okay!  Plus, more is not always better.  I’m doing less than many earlier years and I’ve PRed in both the half and full marathon.

When you begin running, it’s important to increase slowly. I’ve increased mileage too fast, only to pay the price with an injury.

After my post about my personal struggles with injury, a few people asked, how can you increase mileage and stay healthy?

Please remember, I’m not the “be all end all” of advice, and it’s important to remember what works for you might not work for everyone.  This is just what has worked for me.

Steps to Increase Mileage and Stay Healthy

How to Increase Mileage and Stay Healthy:

Slow and Steady Wins the Race:

If you increase your mileage too quickly, you will get injured and be sidelined.  Follow the 10% increase in mileage.  If you ran 40 miles last, adding 10% will give you 44.

I wasn’t always great with this, and I believe it’s what led to one of my fractures. After 2016, my mileage dropped, and I’ve stayed more healthy.

Decrease with your Increase

This step has multiple parts

Part 1: Recovery Week:

Every few weeks, it’s important to take a recovery week.  It’s the golden rule, but your body must rest and recover to build muscle, speed, and endurance.  Personally, I like to add 1-2 more rest days and drop 1 or both of my speed workouts.  If you continue to increase all of the time, your body will break from an overuse injury.

Over the last three months of training, I’ve had something pop up at least once a week, sometimes twice.  Sudden events have forced a rest day due to “not enough time”. By that, I mean I chose sleep so I can give 100% in other areas in my life.  Most days, it isn’t worth it to me to get 5 hours of sleep, so I can wake up for a run. I’m miserable for the rest of the day.

Part 2: Decrease Your Speed with Increased Mileage

Reducing speed is an important but overlooked fact.  You can’t run the same speed while running 10 miles a week and running 100.  Sprinting a 100-mile week will result in massive fatigue, exhaustion and ultimately injury.

While I didn’t run 100-mile weeks, too much speed is the reason for my first stress fracture.  I ran all of my runs too fast, and my body broke. I was running about 50 miles a week, and more fatigued than when I used to run 70-80.  Now, I rarely even time my easy days. I run with friends, or on a known route. I’ll run 10-minute miles, or 8…it really doesn’t matter as long as my body feels as though it’s easy.

If you are worried about pace for an easy run, remember, no one cares. Your ego shouldn’t be the deciding factor for running, but it definitely shouldn’t be your deciding factor for an easy run.  For most easy runs, I leave my GPS watch at home. Did I run 3.1 miles or 3.2?  9:04 pace or 9:06?  The world will never know…

Know your Limits

Injuries don’t typically come out of nowhere.  Know your personal weak spots. Running is a lifelong process, and it takes months to build a strong base.

You don’t build fitness in a day, and you don’t lose it either.

Don’t rush the process because you’ll be sidelined with a minor or major injury.  If you feel a small ache or pain, keep a mental note about it. Make sure it doesn’t increase or become worse.

Questions for you:
How many miles do you run weekly?
How do you stay injury free and healthy?

Tips to Get your Workout Done Early

Tips to Get your Workout Done Early

Recently I received a question about running and working out in the morning.   I haven’t always been a “morning runner,” but since graduating college, I’m a morning runner 99% of the time.  There are only a handful of times a year that I run in the afternoon. (In 2019, there were 4..and I count NYCM that started late). If I don’t run before 9 am, chances are I don’t run.  Of course, it doesn’t include races, although I did wish they all started before 9.  Keep in mind, there is no best time to workout. Do what works for you and forget about the rest.

I will be the first to tell you it’s much easier to run in the morning during the summer.  In the summer, it gets light earlier, and it’s warmer.  You don’t feel as though you’re ripping blankets off to go for a run in the dark and cold.  For me, with a constant change of schedule, it’s better for me to get the run done earlier.Tips to Get your Workout Done Early

Here are a Few Ways I Wake Up to Workout:

Turn Off Technology: 

I am known to turn my technology off around 9-9:30 pm.  I might go to bed a little later, but I stop fiddling with the computer, texting, etc.  It allows me to wind down and actually get to bed.  Tweeting at the pillowcase keeps me wide awake.  I started doing that sometime in 2013, and I’ve found it’s much easier to fall asleep. Did I miss your stellar 9 pm Instagram post? Maybe…but I’ll see it in the morning.

Set an Alarm (or 2 or 10):

I’ve adjusted to waking up between 5-5:30 am most mornings.  To be honest, at this point it doesn’t phase me.  However, it didn’t use to be like that, and I needed an alarm to pull me out of bed.  I always recommend setting the alarm.

Check the Weather the Night Before:

Mentally I like to have an idea if I’ll be running inside or outside.  Or if it’s going to be snowing, pouring rain, or windy.  Not all surprises are good ones.

Make Sure. You Have Appropriate Gear Clean:

Many bloggers will tell you to lay your clothing out, and I think that is fantastic advice, however, for me if I have appropriate gear cleaned and findable, I consider it a good day.  My life and gym clothes are not always ever “social media flat lay photo ready”.  Usually, it’s in my drawer, and I’m mindlessly grabbing things to put on. Sorry, I don’t match… I really don’t care.

Phone a Friend:

Meet someone for a workout. There have been several times that I wouldn’t have worked out if I wasn’t meeting a friend. Don’t underestimate the power of numbers.

Consistency is Key:

Sometimes we want to change but aren’t willing to give it time.  Give your new routine for at least 2 weeks.  If after two weeks, it’s not for you, find something that is!

Finally, remember this…there is no right or wrong time to workout. If you prefer a lunch or evening workout, that’s cool!  Don’t stress about it and choose that best time that fits into your needs.

Questions for you:
What time do you like to workout?
Do you have any methods to wake up in the morning?

A History of Injuries

A History of Injuries

One of the most requested posts is about my history with injuries.

I haven’t always stayed injury free, and I have several injuries throughout the years. Before recently, my blog could have alternative names such as fueledbyInjuries or InjuriesNlolz.

Many of my injuries were because I overtrained or ran easy runs too fast.

Over time, I’ve learned that you can’t outrun an injury. Life doesn’t work like that. If you are worried, rest. Resting a few days often saves you from resting a few weeks, months, or even years. You don’t gain fitness in a day and you definitely don’t lose it either.

When I first started running in 2010, I had many years of haphazard running.  It took a lot of trial and error and learning from experience to determine what works best for me. As with anything, I learn best when I do something and make mistakes along the way.

You can read my full running story here (or in one of the headings above).

In summary, I began running in July 2010.  I ran off and on and was still a member of on my collegiate swim team.  Swim season lasted from September until late February, so there was no running during that time.  During the off-season, we were allowed to work out as we pleased, so eventually, I picked up running.

run for the hill of it

Here is my History with Injuries:

My first serious running injury:

Tibial Stress Fracture (July 2011-September 2011)

How it happened:
I ran every day for an hour on the treadmill.  I didn’t know you weren’t supposed to train fast every single day.  I thought to race faster you must train faster.  So every day I made the goal to beat the previous day’s mileage for 1 hour.  I never ran for more than an hour, but I ran seven days a week. I was running between 7-7:15 pace for an hour.

Ultimately I was far more exhausted from running 50 miles then I am now.  My body broke at a road race on my 21st birthday. Midway through a run-swim-run race, my body broke, My tibia fractured and I was done.

I learned more about myself than any other injury.  To be honest, I needed that injury to realize that training was idiotic and not right.  My tibial stress fracture shaped my training to include a lot more easy miles. I don’t time my easy runs anymore, and I don’t GAF whether the pace is 10 minutes or 8 minutes.

Happy 21st birthday to me with my non detected tibia SF

Cyst: August 2012-October 2012:

How it happened:
During September 2012, I developed a cyst in the arch of my foot.  The doctors still don’t know exactly how it formed it could have developed anywhere in my body (I’m so thankful it wasn’t my brain).

They don’t believe it was running related, but it prevented me from running.  I was able to run with minimal pain until the cyst became large enough to rip the muscle from my bone. After tearing the muscle off my metatarsal, it halted running completely.

After recovering for two months and a shot to reduce the swelling, I came back and ran my fastest college cross country race.

 

Fractured Elbow (August 2013):

How it happened: 

While cooling down at a road race in August 2013, I was hit by a cyclist.  I was knocked to the ground, and it fractured my elbow.  I was devastated, but after a week, I was able to run slowly.

I decreased mileage, but it ended up being the most nonserious elbow fracture I could have.  At the time, the decline in mileage was terrifying because I was training for my first marathon, NYCM.

It taught me; you have to roll with the punches. A few days of rest does not impact fitness.

When I got my sling off

Second Metatarsal Fracture (August 2014)

How it happened:
Fast forward to moving to Texas and then New Jersey. In August of 2014, I got a second metatarsal fracture. In hindsight, I believe I upped my mileage too quickly.  Even though I was running easy, I think my mileage went up too fast.  At the time, I was training for my second marathon, Wineglass.  I healed by race day, but it would have been dumb to run a marathon on a newly recovered stress fracture.  To be honest, I don’t think my heart was ready to race another marathon, and it was a good out.

I chose this photo because I think I ran a hard track mile and then the next day ran a 20 miler for the marathon. #dumb

Bum Butt (February 2015-March 2015)

How it happened:
I tweaked something running my second marathon and kept running.  Around mile 18, my butt started to throb.  By the end of the marathon, my whole left side was in pain.  Should I have finished the race?  Probably not…Did I PR? Yes…

I didn’t heal as fast as I should have because I continued to run after the marathon.  I took two weeks off (which helped) but then I ran too hard too fast.  Looking back, I made good progress and then threw it all away running again.  This is something I’m 100% kicking myself for…even though I had an excellent time at Shamrock 2015.  If I had taken a month off, I wouldn’t have had two months to deal with the issues.

Ankle Fracture June 2016:

How it Happened:
This was the only injury I’m not entirely sure what I did. Did I tweak my ankle running on trails? Did I run too much? I don’t know. In June of 2016, something felt off. I couldn’t pinpoint it, and it almost felt like plantar fasciitis on the outside of my foot. An X-ray confirmed I had a minor fracture. The fracture healed with time off but it worried something else was not right. Test results found my calcium, vitamin D, and blood levels were fine.

One thing my ankle fracture taught me was I liked hiking. After healing, I spent a good portion of the summer hiking and enjoying the outdoors that way.

There are many times I look back at my training and think: If I had taken a few more days off, or if I had realized that ache was a minor bone pain….but each is a lesson to move on.  I have learned that running in pain isn’t worth it to me.

You cannot outrun injury, and it will catch up to you.

I tell any runner, new or old; there is no shame in rest and easy days. I am to the point in life and running that it will never be my sole purpose in life. Resting and staying healthy is more important to me than running every day.

Question for you: Have you had a running injury before?

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