I was super spaced out on my run this morning since I was taking it really easy due to my knee – it was feeling better by the end of the day yesterday, with minimal stiffness, but alas! my mere 7 miles have put it back to how it was before. Oh well. Anyway, I thought of some things I’d like to share on here (things people have asked me, mainly), so here goes!
How did you first get into running? Both my parents are runners, as well as a good portion of my extended family, so there’s that. Specifically, when I was in maybe sixth or seventh grade, I went to run of my dad’s races and thought, “Hmm, that looks fun, I want to do that!” So I went home and ran around the subdivision. I ran cross country in high school but was never very fast – my 5k PR was somewhere around 21:30 – and looking back, I could have tried much, much harder and actually done well. Oh well. I did my first half during my senior year, then another that summer. And then I discovered ultras via what else but Born to Run. The very afternoon I finished reading that, I decided to run Far – which, at the time, was 16 miles. It was a fairly miserable run, being a late June afternoon, but I was hooked. Details are fuzzy, but I pretty much just started running longer and longer, and more often. I did my first 50k at the end of April 2012 and did another in June 2012, and I’m attempting my first 50 miler this September. (I kind of skipped marathons.)
What do you like about ultrarunning? Or… why? On a personal level, it’s definitely a matter of pushing myself, seeing how far I can go, how long I can run, how much I can push myself – mentally as well as physically. I’ve found (along with every other ultrarunner) that the mental aspect is a huge part of the sport. If you go into a race with pretty much anything less than 100% enthusiasm and positivity, there’s a strong risk of negativity and a DNF. So that’s appealing to me, training my mind to stay positive and strong in the face of a challenge. And in terms of the community – it’s great. The race atmosphere at ultra events is unlike anything else; the bonding sense of camaraderie, that “We’re all in this together,” “Oh god, what are we doing?”, etc. And out on the trails, everyone supports everyone; we’re all going through the same thing, more or less.
Another thing I like about my running is that it motivates (I hesitate to say “inspire” because that sounds kind of full of myself) people I know to get out there and run. I absolutely love it when my friends come up to me and say things like, “Becca, you’d be so proud, I ran x miles!” or, “I did my first race!” or, most excitingly, “I’ve started running and I like it!” I just love helping people get started running, as well as just encouraging an all-around active and healthy lifestyle. I love it when people catch the running bug from me. 🙂
What kind of training do you do? How much do you run? My typical mileage ranges anywhere from 40 to 60+, with 50 being pretty standard. I usually try to do at least one decently long run per week, with at least one rest day and running about 1.5h+ each day I’m running. (Because of the distances I’ve conditioned myself to, anything shorter than about 1h15 barely counts.) I also try to get on the trails as much as possible, as opposed to roads – I just like them so much better, and that’s what I race on. In terms of structured training, I generally aim for overall weekly mileage and base each run on how I’m feeling that day. Some days you plan on doing 18 and end up doing 7, others you go out and feel great and do an extra 10. I’m pretty flexible with my training.
Other than running, I do core work (abs and some weights) every day, and occasionally I bike. I do love hiking, but we’re sadly lacking in mountains around Ann Arbor.
Not related to running, but what are you studying? As of now, the plan is to get a communications degree; it’s broad enough that I’ll have options in terms of how I was to use it. The goal is (as I’ve mentioned on here before) to work out in Colorado/Northern CA/Oregon for a running gear company or magazine or something. My dream job would be anything that involves me running, writing about running, and taking pictures of running.
What advice do you have for people who want to start running? Hooray! First thing first, get out and run as far as you can, just to see where you’re starting from. If you can do a couple miles, or even one, great! Just do that distance and gradually increase distance and speed. If you’re starting out at less than that, those programs like Couch to 5k – or any of those walk/run programs, that’s the only one I’ve really heard of – seem to work really well for people. It’s the same concept, gradually building up the time spent running (versus walking). But the most important thing is just to get out there and run. Getting out the door is the hardest part, I swear!
So what’s the hardest part of ultrarunning? Waking up at 5:30 on race day (or long training run day), in the dark, and having to will yourself to get up knowing that you’re going to be running for hours and hours and hours. On the other hand – hooray! Running for hours and hours and hours! Honestly, getting out is the hardest part. Once I’m out on the trails, there’s nothing I’d rather be doing… except maybe eating or sleeping.
…and your favorite part? Picturing myself finishing a long, hard race – crossing that finish line to be greeted by my friends and family and strangers alike, who have all supported me throughout the race and my running endeavors.
And, of course, the trails. And the excessive amounts of food I can consume after a long, hard run.
Final thoughts? Everyone should run. The world would be a better place, I think, if everyone ran. I’m just glad I discovered ultrarunning when I did – when I’m still quite young, young enough for it to be an advantage in that (a) I tend to recover/spring back pretty quickly, and (b) I pretty much have my age group on lockdown. 😛 If I couldn’t run, I don’t know what I’d do.
If you ever have a question or just want to talk about running, leave a comment!
peace love and running forever!