Endure Run Conquer

Patience. Persistence. Perseverance.

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Fit Pregnancy – Weeks 31-34

Again, my updates have not have been as frequent as I would have liked. Sometimes life just takes over!

These last few weeks have been primarily focused on preparing for Isabella’s arrival. Lots of baby showers (one at work, one with family, one at husband’s work) and organizing. I have been so overwhelmed with gratitude towards those around us. The kindness and supportiveness that we have experienced has been beyond words. My mom and mother in law put together the cutest running themed baby shower for me which is perfectly appropriate considering how many miles this little girl has already run!

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Finish Line – Isabella Grace Arrives!

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Onesies complete with race bibs (with her name and due date)!

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Water Station

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Cake with baby running shoe!

img_1217Running has been unpredictable (which has been par for the course). My average pace during the week has been in the 9:30+ range. The funny thing is some days feel really difficult and others I surprise myself with how (relatively) normal I feel.

Week 30/31          42.38 weekly miles     (long run 13.45 miles)

Week 30/32           40.04 weekly miles     (long run 12.86 miles)

Week 32/33           45.93 weekly miles       (long run 12.71 miles)

Week 33/34           43.92 weekly miles       (long run split – 12.7 miles)

(I still have to see how tomorrow goes before I have my Week 33/34 data)!

Today my big accomplishment was running a 5k. This was mentally tough for me knowing that I needed to keep my ego in check and not actually race (keeping the pace comfortable). Secretly, I was really hoping for an age group award but decided I was just going to go out and take it at a slightly-quicker than normal run pace and see what happened.

As the race started, I was hyper conscious to keep my pace in check and my breathing well controlled (which is not the case normally in a 5k for me)! As I passed the one-mile mark I was shocked that my first mile was slightly over 7:40 pace. I decided that so long as I continued to feel good I would try to keep my pace around there. By mile two I was still in the same pace range so I decided just to hold steady. The hardest thing was holding myself back at mile three when I was still feeling good and I saw two girls about 20 seconds ahead of me. I had plenty of fuel in the tank and had to fight my ego to remind myself I wasn’t racing and to  just hold myself at pace. I ended up finishing slightly under 24 minutes (which was much quicker than I expected) but I was completely bummed about missing an age group award (apparently those two girls in front of me were also 30-34)! Such a bummer when third in age group and fourth female overall doesn’t bring home any bling!

 

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Fit Pregnancy – Weeks 28-30

 

Fit Pregnancy

The third trimester is well underway and I am definitely starting to feel pregnant! Running while pregnant hasn’t been easy by any means, but my body did seem to settle into a “okay, this is the ‘new normal’ pregnancy” state of being for the majority of the second trimester and into the beginning of the third. While each day has been an adventure and certain weeks have been more challenging than others, overall I’d say that I have been able to maintain a solid base and a not-too much slower than normal pace for the majority of the pregnancy. (I realize that I am extremely lucky in this regard).

Now it’s starting to catch up with me. The added weight is noticeable now (making for extra achy shins) and my feet are starting to swell a bit where my already borderline tight shoes are feeling awfully cozy. My pace got slower (literally) overnight by about 30 seconds/mile. Some days I just look in the mirror and wonder how I am possibly going to keep getting bigger (if my due date is right, I still have a little over 9 weeks)!

The funny thing is – despite these aches my body still feels its strongest when I am running. Walking fast feels more like a waddle (I am constantly yelling at Mike to slow down). Sleep and sitting can be almost impossible (I can’t stay in one position too long before my back starts acting up). But somehow – my body is more or less okay with me plugging away with the mileage. It doesn’t feel effortless the way that it used to – but it is the closest to normal that I feel on some days.

One of my biggest complaints has been the chafing. My sports bras don’t fit and have left a deep gash-like wound across my chest (despite having sized up substantially and tried all different brands). Now that I have given in to the belly band, I have chafing all across my lower back and onto my hip. I finish every run looking like I have gone into battle.

I have still been trying to keep my weekday runs around an hour and get in a two hour run on the weekend. I have already been able to maintain this much longer than I ever expected, so I’m just taking it on a day-by-day basis.

Week 28/29     39.46 miles     (long run 13.23 miles)

Week 29/30     47.41 miles      (long run 13.25 miles)

Pregnancy Miles to Date:         1120.4 miles

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Selfie from post-run on the hotel treadmill. Not so sure about the awkward angle!

 

How to Tuesday – How to Stay Motivated

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Staying motivated can be tough. It’s easy to be excited when everything is going according to plan, but that feeling often fades quickly as soon as the novelty of training wears off or injuries start creeping up.

Personally, I know that my motivation levels also seem to correspond with the hours of daylight. During spring and early summer I pop out of bed as soon as the sun starts peaking through my windows and I (usually) have no problem getting myself out the door in the morning. As it starts getting lighter later and darker earlier, my willingness to get out of bed (or maintain productivity later in the day) becomes much more short lived. The weather also plays a major factor for me. In the spring and early summer the warm days are a welcome break from the never ending winter that we experience here in Chicago. However, by late August my ability to tolerate the constant 95% humidity levels has also started to wane.

I think that this year has been a *little* easier to stay motivated because of the Olympics (because seriously, how can someone not be inspired by Meb’s finish line push ups). But now that the Olympics are over and fall racing season is upon us, it’s time to start thinking about other ways to keep the motivation levels up.

  1. Change Up Your Routine – This is one of the easiest ways to stay motivated but often times is the hardest to execute. Are you running the same routes (at the same time) every day?  Are you running the same mileage and workouts week after week? Most of us are, so it’s no wonder that running is going to get boring (there are only so many loops that one can do around their neighborhood). Stop making excuses and change it up (and don’t overthink it)! If your schedule isn’t flexible enough to change the time of day you run an921aa5ea5e9ab43a80001a79b131b666d you don’t have time to run anywhere but your neighborhood – run your route in the opposite direction. Run randomly down different streets. Instead of running the same distance every day, split up runs or break up the mileage differently across the week. Little changes will go a long way to breaking up the monotony.
  2. Join a Running Club – I’ve said this many times, but joining a running club is one of the best ways to keep motivated. Not only does meeting with other runners provide great conversation (all normal societal standards are off when it comes to conversations during runs) but also helps you to share in the goals and accomplishments of like-minded people. Find a running club near you by checking out the RRCA Website.
  3. Experiment With New Gear – I am addicted to running gear. I own more running clothing than I do regular clothing (and still seem to always be needing more). While I don’t advocate buying a whole new running wardrobe every time you don’t feel like going for a run, sometimes a new top or pair of headphones is enough to make you want to get out the door.
  4. Read Inspirational Books or Watch Motivating Videos. You don’t have time? (Dare I ask how much time have you spent on Facebook today?!?) Personally, the book Born to Run always gives me a spark of renewed energy whenever I start feeling like I am in a rut. Don’t want to read a book? Check out Runner’s World’s 101 Kicks in the Butt or Aimages-1rnold’s Six Secrets to Success
  5. Set a New Goal. If you aren’t training for a race, think about adding one to your schedule. If you’re burned out from racing (or constantly training) challenge yourself to try something different. If you’re always running marathons – think about doing a relay or an obstacle  course run (or think about working with someone else to help them meet their goals!)

What do you do to stay motivated? 

RRCA Certification and Running Coach Training

I am a little late with this post (which seems to be the theme here lately), but I wanted to post a recap of my experience taking the Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) Level 1 Running Coach Seminar in Ann Arbor a few weeks ago.

 

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Becoming a certified running coach has been on my to-do list for quite some time. A few years ago, I served as an assistant running coach/volunteer for the girls’ cross county and track teams back at the high school that I had previously attended. It was during that time that I realized my passion for helping others meet their goals. Now that I have gained more experience in long distance running (with a number of marathons under my belt) and having developed a passion for learning more about and experimenting with different training philosophies – I decided to take the plunge and move forward with obtaining my “official” certification.

The RRCA classes are fairly well sought after and there are only a limited number of openings per year. Unfortunaly, I missed the course that was held in Chicago this spring and the only remaining course in the region on the 2016 schedule was located in Ann Arbor. Luckily, my younger sister is a University of Michigan alum so I was able to convince her to make the trek with me. (At this stage in my pregnancy, I don’t know if it would have been possible without her company/keeping me awake on the drive there and back)! The course was two days long and was held from 8:0
-5:00 (eastern time) each day (meaning that it really felt like being there at 7:00 for my central timezone adjusted body.
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I’ll have to admit – I wasn’t sure what to expect and I was pleasantly surprised with how much I ended up enjoying the course. Our instructor was Randy Accetta who is the RRCA’s Director of Coaching Education (and a 2:19 marathoner). He was an extremely engaging speaker and did a great job of covering the material and incorporating personal antecdotes. On the first day of the course we reviewed different training philosophies and learned how to program schedules for different types of runners. On the second day, we learned more about coaching as a business, injury prevention, form, nutrition, and sports psychology. Even though I went into the class confident in my own knowledge and abilities I felt like I gained a lot of new information (and a new perspective on many of the topics). The people in the class were awesome as well. Because everyone came from different backgrounds, it was really interesting to hear other people’s take on things (and to see how much your own background and experiences shapes your coaching philosophies).

Following the class, all coaching candidates have to take a 100-question exam and obtain their first aid and CPR certifications. I took (and passed) the test within the first few days after (once I caught up on my sleep from being gone all weekend) and took both certification classes at a local hospital. Now I am just waiting on final confirmation back from RRCA that they have received all of my documents and to be added to the online system!

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From Preparing for the Marathon to Preparing for Baby

In my mind, fall is inextricably linked with marathon training. This is usually the time of year where all of the summer miles start paying dividends and my body starts feeling more prepared for the challenge ahead. This year is different (but somewhat the same in a strange way). Obviously, there will be no fall marathon this year (especially given the fact that my originally-planned fall marathon is the same week as my due date)! As summer comes to a close I am getting slower, not faster. However, throughout this pregnancy I have realized that many of my marathon training habits have now been converted into preparing for baby habits.

For example…

This time last year I was frantically searching online for the perfect marathon outfit (because isn’t preemptively rewarding yourself with new clothes the best part of making it through a training cycle?!?) For me, this means online shopping, over ordering, receiving an embarrassing number of packages, returning things that don’t fit, finding something I like better, and ordering again. I now have fallen into the same pattern looking for a dress to wear to my baby shower (I have already ordered four and have another four pending in my cart).

sports-1050966__340Instead of making a list of what I need to pack in my pre-race bag, I am making a list of all of the things I need to make sure to have in my hospital bag.

Instead of joining my running club for a long training run tomorrow, I will be attending the hospital’s 9-hour  training-for-baby marathon session.

Pfitzinger’s Advanced Marathon Training has been replaced by What to Expect When Your Expecting. I still find myself reading along and wondering if I am ever going to be    prepared enough.

My body has changed since “training” has started. I am hungry all the time because of this. It also starts doing weir
d stuff (enough said). Things that used to seem so gross no longer are.

My countdown is no longer to race day, but to my due date. Like training for a marathopregnant-163611__340n, my body has been asked to go into overdrive to prepare itself for the big event.

Similarly, both events will also culminate by pushing through pain and coming out of it having achieved something that previously seemed unimaginable.

 

 

Fit Pregnancy – Weeks 24-27

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I’ve been slacking on my pregnancy posts! The last few weeks have been really hectic (return of some pregnancy sickness two weeks ago and a really rough work week last week) and I am still playing catch-up.I officially started my third trimester this week and am still feeling strong (most of the time). While the second trimester started out a bit tough, after a few weeks I finally found my groove and found myself able to continue running much more than I anticipated. While there have certainly been bad days (and bad weeks) I have been really happy with the amount of running that I have been able to do. Although my pace is much slower than “normal,” it seems to have tapered off and my new “pregnancy pace” has been pretty consistent throughout my pregnancy thus far.

Here is what my training has looked like for the last few weeks:

Week 24     25.7       (no long run) –     This was a week I really wasn’t feeling very good 
Week 25     46.54     (long run 10 miles)
Week 26     44.18     (long run 13.63 miles)
Week 27     49.55     (long run 13.1 miles)

Second Trimester Total: 612.15
Avg. Weekly Miles:  40-50/week

I think the most difficult change over these last few weeks has been the increasing need to use the bathroom during runs! This becomes extra difficult when I am also trying to make an effort to hydrate more. Yet another unpredictable element of pregnancy. Some days I have been able to get through my runs with no breaks and others I find myself stopping after just a mile or two!

The temperature is finally starting to cool off a bit as well which should make things a little bit easier. The humidity has been rough lately and even though I am not wishing summer away, the slightly lower overnight lows make a huge difference in the humidity levels.

How-To Tuesday – How to Choose the Perfect Running Shoe

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I have decided to start a new series on my blog called “How-To Tuesdays.” The purpose of this series will be to address those daunting questions that you may have but are afraid to ask. This week will be all about shoes!

Truly, running only requires one piece of equipment (unless of course you subscribe to the barefoot movement – in which case you are good to go!) While there are certainly a number of other “essentials” made for running, having a good pair of shoes (read: running shoes) is all that you really need to get started.

What makes a running shoe different than other types of athletic shoe? To being with, running shoes are constructed to be able to absorb impact and therefore will provide greater cushioning and stability than many other types of shoes. They are also built for forward movement (as opposed to shoes constructed for other sports, such as tennis, where the athlete may often move laterally). Having a proper pair of shoes is essential for injury prevention. It is also important that these shoes are only worn for running and not for walking around and running errands. Running shoes have a finite amount of miles in them before they start breaking down (usually 300-500 depending on the brand and specific type of shoe).

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So how should you select a shoe? (Hint: it’s not by color or because they look cool, no matter how tempting that may be). To begin, there are a few questions that you should ask:

1. Do you pronate? Pronation is the way in which your foot moves when you run and nearly everyone will pronate to some degree. A “normal” pronator rolls their foot inward at about 10-15% and their body weight will be distributed evenly. An “over pronator” (such as myself) rolls their foot inward to a much greater degree. As a result, the runner’s body weight doesn’t distribute evenly. In contrast, an “under pronator” doesn’t roll their foot in enough, which also results in uneven weight distribution. Pronators generally will look to “motion controlled” shoes while regular pronators will typically look to “neutral” shoes.

There are a few different ways to learn whether or not you pronate. The easiest option is going to your local running store where the workers are regularly accustom to observing people walk and run. Many stores even have a treadmill that they will observe you on – just make sure to wear comfy clothes!

2. What type of running will you be doing? Factors such as your volume of mileage, the surface that you will be running on, and whether or not you will be doing speed work and/or racing should also be considered. Someone who has just started running will have different shoe needs than someone who is training for a marathon. Similarly, someone who is planning on running on trails may look toward a more technical shoe than someone who will be running primarily on asphalt and concrete. People who do a lot of speed training and racing may look toward a lighter weight shoe while those who are just logging miles may opt for something with more cushioning and support. Your running shoes should be tailored to fit your specific training needs. Newer runners will typically be fine with a standard daily trainer (either a road shoe or a trail shoe) while more seasoned runners may opt for something more specific to their goals.

3. Where should you go? Your local running store is a great place to start. While department stores also carry running shoes, a running specific store will have the widest selection (which means a greater probability of finding the “perfect” match). The employees at your local running store will also be well versed in the specific needs of runners and will most likely ask to perform a gait analysis in order to help you select a shoe (I have never been to a department store where I have had that level of knowledge or attention).

If you’re interested in learning more about different types of shoes, websites such as RunningWarehouse and RoadRunnerSport have shoe finder functions that allow you to search many different brands for comparable shoes. While both of these sites are great – they certainly can’t provide the same level of attention and detail that an in-person visit to a running store can provide (which may be especially beneficial for the newer runner).

What is your go-to shoe? Admit it – how many pairs do you own? What tips would you add to the list?

Behind the Blogger – 20 Fun Running Facts About Me!

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This survey was circulating with my Oiselle Volle ladies and I thought it would be fun to share here as well!

1. Favorite distance– I am in love with the marathon. People think I’m crazy, but I would rather run a marathon than a 5k any day (based upon the theory that during a marathon you usually feel good for at least part of the time, whereas during a 5k I never feel comfortable). I also love the structure of marathon training and will follow a training plan even if I have no goal race just to keep myself accountable. 

2. Favorite shoe– It changes overtime the manufacturer “upgrades” their model! Currently I am in AsicsGT-2000. I have also been known to run in the Brooks Adrenaline, Saucony Guide, and Mizuno Inspire. I still have yet to find a shoe I *love* (I swear, I have feet that don’t work with any shoe without blistering regardless of sizing up and varying widths). 
3. Equipment you can’t live without– I don’t leave home without my iPod nano or my Nathan handheld water bottle. 
4. Favorite race– I love the Madison Marathon, despite the difficulty of the course (super hilly for this flatlander)! The race is incredibly well organized, everything was easy and stress free, the course is beautiful, and it is in one of my favorite cities (and in the greatest college town) ever! 
5. Best result – The race that I am most proud of is Chicago Marathon 2013 (my marathon PR race and 11 minute BQ time). I also ran the race with a perfectly even splits (meaning my first half and second half were within one second). This was the one race where I finally felt like everything clicked into place and my running reflected my training. 
6. Why you run – I run for so many reasons, I don’t even know where to start! I run because I love training for something and being on a schedule. I run because it keeps me sane. I run because I love the company of my running friends. I run because I love pancakes and coffee (my favorite post-run treat). I run because it makes me feel strong.
7. How long have you been running? I first started running in 1998 and continued until 2003 (middle school and high school). I stopped running my senior year of high school and only ran extremely infrequently (if at all) until 2011 when I started training for my first marathon. 
8. Have you been injured? Yes – I had hip surgery in 2014 for a detached labrum and FAI impingement (and no, it wasn’t caused by running)! In 2011 and 2012 I also dealt with IT band issues. However, since I have started cross-training (CrossFit) and seeing a chiropractor regularly I have (*knock on wood*) managed to stay injury free!
9. Have you gone a year without injury? Yes! I stayed injury free all of 2013 when training for Chicago. I have also been injury free since 2015 (once I recovered from my surgery).
10. Run streak? Personally, I am not a big fan of run streaks (I believe in regular rest days – even when high mileage training).
11. Have you run in another country? Yes – I ran in Puerto Rico during our vacation there in 2013. 
12. U.S. states have you raced in? 2 (Illinois and Wisconsin)
13. The most important thing running has taught you? Patience and perseverance. 
14. How many pairs of shoes do you own? I usually only have 1-2 pairs of running shoes in my “active” rotation. 
15. Training partners? I alternate between running alone and running with training groups. I love my running buddies!
16. Favorite energy product? My body doesn’t tolerate a lot of gels, but I am a huge fan of Honey Stinger, Chia Gel, and Hammer Gel.
17. Cross training activity? CrossFit and Cycling 
18. Runs during week? Usually 6, unless I need an extra rest day 
19. Water or sports drink? Nuun! It’s the best of both worlds. 
20. Most unusual running experience? Unusual, I’m not sure. But running my first Ragnar Relay on an ultra team was certainly a unique experience and much different than any other running that I have done

Now it’s your turn to answer some (or all) of these questions about YOU! 

Oatmeal Obsession – Five Fun Ways to Spice Up Your Morning Bowl

Oatmeal Obsession

I love oatmeal. It is one of the only things that keeps me full throughout the morning (I am definitely an “I need a carb with my breakfast” type person). Oatmeal is also great fuel for runners in that it is carbohydrate rich and it provides a lot of options for doctoring it up to meet your own nutritional needs.

My obsession with oatmeal started when I was younger, living at home, and still able to convince my mom to make be breakfast the day of a big race. She would add anything and everything that could be found in the pantry to give the dish a little extra nutritional boost. To this day, I still love getting creative with my breakfast and trying different combinations of toppings. Below, I have compiled a list of some of my favorites (note: I try to only use slow cook oats rather than instant oatmeal unless I am in a pinch or am running late and need to be able to quickly made breakfast at work).

1. Honey toasted almonds, dried cranberries, cinnamon, and almond milk

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This combination was actually the result of left over salad toppings from dinner the night before.

I always try to add some sort of protein (usually in the form of nuts) to add some nutritional balance (and to help keep me full)! The dried cranberries also add a little hint of sweetness to the meal without making it overly sweet. The almond milk also adds slight flavoring, making the overall combination taste more interesting.


2. Peanut butter, banana and strawberries

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Who doesn’t love peanut butter?!? I have found that stirring a spoonful (or two) into oatmeal not  only gives it a heartier texture but also adds some protein. Peanut butter also goes well with banana and strawberries. This combo is my usual go-to (since the ingredients are simple and almost always stocked in the pantry).

3. Strawberries, blueberries, honey, and gluten free granola 


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This combination is perfect for a hot summer morning! The strawberry/blueberry combo just screams “summer” to me, while the honey provides just a little touch of sweetness. I added a little bit of granola on top just for texture (and because I like the added crunch). I found a great gluten free granola at Aldi for only about $3.50/ bag (as opposed to my normal go-tos which run closer to $7.00 a bag). Side note: Aldi has a really great gluten free section generally and I have found that I like the Aldi gluten free brand better than some of the more well known brands.

4. Almonds, brown sugar, and raisins 

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Easy, yet delicious. Again, I love adding nuts into my oatmeal for some protein. Almond slivers are a great choice because they are not too overwhelming. Raisins and brown sugar are always a solid go-to for me (and something that I almost always have in my cabinet). Sometimes there’s something to be said for simplicity!
5. Banana, blueberries, almonds, brown sugar

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The key when using bananas in your oatmeal is to put them in the bowl first and to allow the oatmeal to partially cook them (reminds me of banana bread)! The blueberries add a little tartness as contrast. I know that the brown sugar isn’t necessary – but I love it. However, it could easily be cut out (or substituted with honey) and it would be just as tasty!

What is your go-to for breakfast? Do you eat oatmeal? What combinations are you loving?

Overcoming Setbacks

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This week has been hard for me.
I don’t say this because I want to complain and I fully understand that taking care of myself these days is far more important than logging miles. But that doesn’t mitigate the fact that it is hard when your body doesn’t want to seem to cooperate with you. It’s hard physically, but even harder mentally. I have ended three of my four runs this week early due to feeling nauseous (this morning I even stopped mid run and walked the rest of the way home). My doctor thinks it is because baby has just had a huge growth spurt and I have such a small torso that everything is getting cramped/pushed around. I am not training for anything (aside from being a mom). I don’t have a goal other than staying healthy for baby. So why do I let this bother me so much? Why do I care when I know in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t really matter? I think more than anything else it’s the fact that I have an expectation in my head of how I want things to be (or think they should be) and get frustrated when things don’t go as planned.Listening to your body is harder than it sounds. As runners,  we are innately wired to push through things and to ignore pain. If we didn’t we probably wouldn’t be out there at all- because running is not an easy sport. Learning to “toughen it out” and “run through it” is what gets you PRs when racing and allows you to push past that voice in your head that says you can’t do something. Most of my training and racing success has been because I learned to push past discomfort and keep going when things get tough. So how do you draw the distinction between that little voice you learn to overcome (telling you your tired or you can’t do something) vs. that little voice that you need to listen to (telling you your injured or need to back off?) Anyone can log miles – learning your body (and when and how to listen to it) is where I think real athletes are made.

In some ways, my hip injury trained me for pregnancy. Prior to having to deal with a serious injury I was far more reckless in what I was willing to put my body through and how hard I was willing to push. Dealing with my FAI impingement and labral tear has shaped me into the runner that I am today. It taught me how to be patient and how to take things slowly. It taught me that I can’t take running for granted. It taught me how to deal with disappointment (not being able to run my first Boston Marathon) and how to keep going regardless. It taught me the importance of being my own advocate when it comes to my healthcare and to keep asking questions.

No matter what the challenge is – I am fully convinced in an “everything happens for a reason” sort of way that dealing with these struggles and setbacks and challenges are necessary to make us stronger athletes. Isn’t it the challenge of it all that draws us to the sport anyways?

What challenges are you dealing with lately? What setbacks have you turned into comebacks?

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