Training for a half marathon is not something I thought I’d do in my lifetime. I’ve never been a runner. But last fall I spontaneously signed up for a 5k. I’ll admit, my biggest motivator was a chance to spend time in one of my favorite places in the city. The course was in Golden Gate Park and as a recent transplant to San Francisco I couldn’t get enough of the urban oasis. I ran the 5k on a cold, drizzly February morning and it felt incredible. I couldn’t stop smiling. My first attempt to complete a race was successful and I didn’t want to stop.
Lauren started running in college, had recently completed a half marathon, and she was training for her first marathon. She was the perfect person to pump me up and push me to go further. We ran a 10k together this past spring, and it motivated me to run a half marathon by the end of the year.
I still don’t consider myself to be a runner. I’m slow and often “forget” to run for a few weeks at a time. But I know the amazing feeling that comes with sticking to a running schedule. Before I started training for the half, I asked Lauren about her motivation to run, how she overcomes setbacks, how she trains, and what she loves about hitting the pavement. Hearing Lauren answer these questions, and seeing how running has such a positive impact on her life has me really excited about running the half this fall and wanting to keep pushing myself. I know it will be worth it.
Lauren answers my questions on running below.
M: You didn’t start running seriously until college. What motivated you to start running?
L: Eugene is a great place to run. I started running every once in a while when I felt like I needed some exercise, or a quiet moment alone, or some fresh air. It also became a way to explore the city beyond campus—though I had visited Eugene frequently before going to college there, I was still unfamiliar with much of the area. Pre’s trail and the Amazon and Rexius trails became my sweet spots that I would come back to again and again.
Additionally, I think the people that I spent time with were motivational. My friends in Eugene were all very active; we would go hiking together or meet up for an hour every week to go swimming at the rec center. Being around people who value the fun and challenge that come with exercise is definitely encouraging.
M: Did you face any challenges or setbacks when you first started? If so, how did you overcome them?
L: Running is hard. Especially in the beginning, I think it’s easy to lose patience with yourself if you’re not progressing the way you thought you would. I remember the first time I ran for thirty minutes without stopping—it was such a breakthrough! Setting small goals and keeping with it really helps. The mindset of, “if I can run for half an hour then I can run for forty minutes…if I can run for forty minutes I can run for sixty” was useful for me. Also, being ok with having an off day is really important. Learning that it’s normal to feel unusually slow some days, or to have trouble finishing four miles when you just ran seven last week.
M: What are your goals for running? How have they changed over time?
L: My goal right now is just to keep running, because I know I feel the best when I do. My goal this year was to finish a marathon, my goal in 2012 was to finish a half marathon. Goals are great! It helps that the races I’ve done have been in really fun spots, and are non-refundable :)
M: What kind of training plan have you found works best?
L: I usually find a training plan I like online (from Hal Higdon or Runner’s World) and then adapt it to my work/life schedule. I’ve used 12 week plans for the half marathons I’ve done, and a 16 week one for the full marathon.
M: At what point did you know you wanted to run a ½ marathon and eventually a full marathon?
L: I decided I wanted to do a half marathon after I got home from a great run in Eugene my senior year. I think it was the first time I had run six miles in a while, and I was probably on a running in the rain/Lady Gaga-induced high. I found a half that was happening in Bend a few months out and signed up that night (If I can run six miles, I can run 13.1! Ha).
Last August, I was in Eugene after a friends wedding, and brought the idea of the Vancouver, BC marathon up to my friend Chloe. Chloe had done the Eugene marathon a few months prior and was down to do another one, and I was ready for a new challenge and an excuse to go to Vancouver. We signed up in September.
M: How did you train for the Vancouver marathon? How was the race?
L: I started training for the marathon in January. I had just done the Holiday Half in December, so it was an easy transition. The first few months kind of breezed by, and the hard part didn’t start until mid-march when I took a mini vacation that derailed my training a bit. I took about a week and a half off of running and tried to catch up by running more during the week towards the end of my training. I completed my last long run of twenty miles and was feeling pretty good until the week before the race, when I was doing shorter, “easy” runs that didn’t feel so easy. I was feeling stiff and my hips were out of whack, so I went to a few yoga classes and that seemed to help.
The race itself was great. I felt strong and refreshed, and SO inspired by all of the thousands of people running along side me. We had a few friends join us for the weekend in Vancouver, and seeing them on the course at mile 19 was perfect. At first, my only goal was to finish the marathon, and never stop running (I cheated a bit with this one at the water stations once I realized I could only get about 5% of the water in my mouth while running). As the race went on, I started thinking about my time, and set a goal to finish with an average pace of less than 10 minutes—which I did, but only by fractions of a second!
Overall, such an amazing experience. Really cool to see what your body can do when you put the work in.
M: What do you love about running?
L: I love the feeling that you get during and after a run, satisfied and exhausted at the same time. I love how it makes me feel mentally and physically, and how it can be shared with friends or done alone. I think running has taught me a lot about patience and time management. It’s just cool to think about running and doing races in the years to come, all the memories that will come from them. Excited for the Big Sur half in November!
I am thrilled to share one of my favorite places on earth with Lauren in November, and so happy she is joining me for another race!
Photo from a recent trip to Big Sur in August.