I get asked a lot of questions about running, but a few pop up more than others. Running is learned and improved by personal experiences and the experiences of others. With that said here are the 5 questions I get asked most often.
How/when did you get into running?
Running was not something I took very seriously until college, honestly. I worked hard and gave it my best, but it wasn’t until I was recruited to run in college that I identified myself as a “runner”. I saw myself as a multi-sport athlete, not runner. I signed up for track in 6th grade and only did so because my older siblings did it. I idolized them and wanted more opportunities to hang out with them, so I signed up. I participated in 4 sports in high school – cross country, volleyball, basketball, and track. I also skied, snowboarded, hiked, biked and overall lead a really active lifestyle growing up. Running wasn’t something I particularly enjoyed until later. I think trying out all kinds of things and being really well-balanced early on has played a huge part in any running success I have today.
What diet tips do you have?
I don’t like the word “diet”. It’s constricting, it’s limiting, it means you can or cannot do something. I live by the old cliché, everything in moderation. The bulk of what I eat comes from vegetables and fruits, when I eat meat it’s almost always red meat (important for iron content). I eat whole grains, eggs, and dairy. I don’t count calories. What I do in training on a given day will often decide how much I eat. The difference between an 8 mile day and a 16+ mile day is an extra meal or serving. I can’t go without something sweet most days, so if I want a cookie after I am done eating dinner, I have a cookie. I certainly don’t go to bed hungry. Don’t be too strict on yourself!
How do you stay healthy?
Good nutrition, sleep, massage, physical therapy, and weight room work. It’s a rare night that I don’t get 8-10 hours of sleep. I suck at napping but I do make sure I relax for a few hours a day even if I’m not sleeping. I get two sports massages a week. I also lift weights 2 hours a week and do at least 30 minutes of rehab a day. Making sure my body is strong, flexible, and in balance is key to my health.
Really, you have to learn to listen to your body. It will tell you when something is wrong if you are willing to listen. Runner’s like to be tough and you have to be tough to get better at running. However, there is a difference between being smart tough and stubborn tough. Stubborn tough will lead to injuries. Don’t live through your running log. It doesn’t mean much. Running is cumulative. It’s all about the accumulation of what you do over months and years of consistent running. So take it easy when your body is telling you it needs a break!
What do you do during an injury?
At the end of my senior year of college I was diagnosed with a stress fracture in my sacrum and it was the first time in my career that I had to take a big break due to injury. My advice is to really relax. Take the time to let your body recover. When you get injured you generally overdid something. I didn’t cross train for 10 weeks, until after I knew the injury was healed. Now part of this was because I had a long time before I needed to be ready to race again. If I only had a few months to get ready for the Olympic Trials or something like that I would have cross trained sooner and harder.
However, I’ve heard over and over from people that they rushed too soon into training after injury and then they just get set back again. Take your time! In the grand scheme of things, what is another few weeks of recovering? Use your downtime to focus on other aspects of your life. Spend time with family and friends you don’t see enough when in training mode. Go on a trip you have put off. Also, use the time you are injured to assess why you got injured. Learn from mistakes and fix them. Do you have a muscle imbalance or weakness? Get in the gym and fix it while you aren’t running. Be productive and don’t dwell on the negatives.
What was it like being in the Olympics?
As crazy and awesome as you can imagine. The Opening Ceremony was my favorite moment out of competition. I had chills when I entered the stadium. I lost my breath. I was overwhelmed. So much pride. Representing my country in this incredible, historic event, was something that I never dreamt of doing.
The athlete village is really just that – a little city of 10,000+ athletes. You can get groceries, go shopping, get your hair cut and your nails done. The highlight of the village though is definitely the dining hall. In London the dining hall was a Super Wal-Mart sized building with food stations serving local specialties from around the world. It was really set up to help athletes feel like they were eating what they normally do at home. The most popular station in the dining hall? McDonald’s! There was always a really long line to order…go figure.
As far as actually racing it was a lot like other places I’ve run. On the Diamond League circuit throughout Europe stadiums are often full – 40,000 people at times. Track is big in Europe, it’s totally different from the U.S.. Now, in London there were 80,000 people, but the sheer volume of people wasn’t overwhelming. The most difficult part to manage was the amount of time I had to sit around between warming up and actually competing. We got called into the stadium about an hour before the race went off. All you could really do is sit around and relax in a room full of nervous tension. A lot of big meets are this way and every athlete has to deal with it, but it’s tough to time out everything to feel your best at the starting line.
I always appreciate everyone’s support, the running community is an incredible thing to be a part of. We all have a commonality that connects us, which is really cool. Here’s to happy and healthy running!
More questions? Comment below.
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