Happy Global Running Day!

Happy Global Running Day!  I like to think that every day offers the opportunity and possibilities for a run, but it’s always fun to celebrate.

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I’ve been running for nine years now!  On one hand that seems like a long time, but it’s also hard to remember a time when I didn’t really exercise and didn’t even own a pair of running shoes.  I got started with running as a means to lose some additional weight I’d gained in my early 20’s.  I started with walking, and eventually decided to speed up because walking took such a big chunk of time out of my day!

I ran my first full marathon in 2008.  I’m not making any promises, but I’d still love to do a 10th anniversary re-run of my very first marathon (Cincinnati’s Flying Pig) in 2018.  I have plenty of time to psych myself up for that – right? 

In the past nine years, I’ve run five full marathons (many moons and tow kids ago though) and countless half marathons and smaller races.  Some of my best fitness memories are of nervously towing starting lines, and of embracing family at finish lines.  Running has brought me the reflection, friendship, confidence, travel, and so much more. 

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These days I’m trying to focus more on the quality of my runs, and less on the quantity of miles.  Most recently, I just finished my big goal race of the summer – the Brooks Trailhead 15K.  The race went really well, given where I am with my training this year, and I left wondering if I shouldn’t just push a bit more and run the Seattle Rock N Roll 13.1 in a few weeks.  My fear is that race day morning will come and I will kick myself for not being at the start!

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This weekend, I went for a run in my neighborhood on the most beautiful and sunny Memorial Day.  I didn’t set a mileage plan or goal, and figured I’d test my legs and my training to see what felt like a good next step.  My right hamstring has bothered me for the past month or two of training, and it was evident on this weekend’s run too.  I ran five miles and imagined running more, but I didn’t want to.  And there was my answer.

I’m not going to run Rock N Roll this year, because I don’t think that I need to.  The only pressure to run it is coming from myself, and while I might still feel slightly sad on race day, I’d really like to spend this summer working on my speed.  For many years now, I’ve been knocking out this 13.1 distance, but not really getting any faster (and actually even getting slightly slower!).  So I’d like to mix it up a bit and keep my runs more manageable and focused.  And while many places are too hot for summer running, Seattle is perfection right now.  I feel so lucky to live in a neighborhood that provides views like this on my five mile loop!

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As part of my celebration of Global Running Day, I wanted to share some other running awesome-ness with you guys.  I don’t think I’ve mentioned this here yet, but as part of the Brooks Blogger Ambassador program, we do an annual group trip.  Last year’s was Seattle, so it was on my home turf (as Brooks is based here, just a few miles from my house!).  This year we are headed to Eugene, Oregon for the OLYMPIC TRACK AND FIELD TRIALS!!!!  Can you hear my excitement??  I am one hundred percent obsessed with the Olympics, and I am counting down until Rio, so this opportunity is a dream come true.  I cannot wait to see some of my favorite running blogger buddies, and cheer on America’s best as they – quite literally – race toward their dreams. 

We will be cheering on all the runners, but particularly Brooks’ Elite Runner Club – the Brooks Beasts!  Each of us got an opportunity to interview one of the Brooks Beasts, and they kindly took a quick break from training and running to answer a few of our questions.

I chose Garrett Heath for my interview, because he has a brother who is also an elite runner.  I really wanted to hear about the dynamic between them, as I have two competitive little boys of my own!  Say hi to Garrett!

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Here is what I had to ask him (in bold), and his replies underneath.

How has your running changed since you joined the Beasts and moved to Seattle?

The biggest change has been being on a team again! By the end of my time in the Bay Area most of the guys I had been training with previously at Stanford had moved away, so I was doing the vast majority of my training alone (which can be especially lonely when you go to altitude camp in the mountains alone for months at a time). The setup there had worked well efficiency-wise while I was balancing running professionally with either still being in school, working part-time for a start-up in San Francisco, or coaching there, but after 2013, it was hard for me to imagine three more years of training alone if I was going to make a push for the 2016 Olympic Trials. With that, it’s been nice to transition back to the team environment where every day we have a great group to workout with, go to the mountains with, and to fall back on for support when you need it. Beyond just the daily running, the team setup has also really helped keep me accountable for all of the other little things (i.e. extra drills, core, and nutrition) that are always easy to skip out on when your training alone but contribute to gaining that last couple percentage points of fitness.

What are you favorite Seattle running spots? And how do you get motivated to run through the rainy winter (I live here too!)?

My two favorite place in the city are the Arboretum and around Green Lake. We also tend to drive outside the city for some of our longer runs, so I love going to both Rattlesnake Lake (to run the Ironhorse Trail), the new Kirkland trail, or to the Lake Sammamish trail for those. All of these offer some great views and soft surfaces for running!

As far as the rainy Seattle winters, it can definitely be hard to get out the door some days, but it usually helps to get motivated if I look up what the weather is back in Minnesota where I’m from — especially when they get hit with a Polar Vortex like they did a couple years ago and temps were 30 below zero. I also feel like everyone in Seattle is pretty tough when it comes to the weather and is still outside doing their thing on the trails rain or shine, so you never really feel like you’re braving the storm alone. There’s at least some solace in that.

You kicked off your year with an incredible win over Mo Farah in Edinburgh. How has that win affected your training for the Olympic Trials?

I wouldn’t say the win necessarily affected my training a ton, but beating Mo definitely strengthened my confidence heading into the Olympic year that I could compete with anyone on any given day. It also re-solidified in my mind that we were doing the right things in training and that I didn’t need to do anything crazy or new in the Olympic year to be in the mix again come the Olympic Trials in July.

What is it like to have your brother racing at the elite level too? How do you balance the competitive element in your relationship?

It’s been amazing both training and competing with Elliott over the years. When we were in high school, the age difference (three years) was too big to really do much together running-wise, but since going to college where the age gap starts to mean less, he’s been one of my best training partners and the guy that I always lean on for support when I need it. We are definitely both competitive when we toe the line, but we’re also each other’s biggest fans and have had some of our best times racing together, even though he’s occasionally upset the age hierarchy and beaten me.

What would going to Rio mean for you?

Making the Olympic team has always been one of those big goals that I thought about growing up, but it’s something that has really come to mean more to me as achieving it starts to become more of a real possibility. It may not have been the most immediate goal on the horizon throughout my career, but it’s the one that’s always been looming there in the background as the ultimate carrot for achievement over the last 16 years of training. Seeing that dream come true would mean everything.

Thanks so much to Garrett and to Brooks for the awesome opportunity!  And with that, I’m off to meet my running buddy for four morning miles.  Happy running day to you!!