The start of a new month means it’s time to feature another amazing runner in today’s edition of Friday Feature Interview: Running Inspiration.
Today’s feature interview highlights Anna. I met Anna when we were both in graduate school at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. She was in the class ahead of me but we were both in the sports nutrition emphasis so we had some classes together and ended up working together in the athletics department my second year there. She is an awesome runner, sports dietitian, and an overall great person! So without further ado…
Tell me a little about yourself.
I am 27 years old and live in Salt Lake City, UT. I was born in Dorr, MI and lived there until moving to SLC for graduate school in 2011. I am married to Todd, who shares my passion for running. I am a sports dietitian at the University of Utah. I enjoy helping college athletes improve their performance and health by improving their nutrition and hydration.
What made you decide to start running?
I started running in junior high. My older sister was running high school cross country, and I liked to follow in her footsteps. I didn’t know exactly where my talents were as a runner, so I tried out many different events in track. In fact, I did the 2 mile, 200m dash, 4x100m relay, and the long jump in most meets. I continued to run cross country and track in high school, and then was a part of Calvin College’s team. I have now been running for 14 years, and have figured out that longer events align with my talents much better!
What is your favorite thing about running?
I LOVE running on vacations! I think the best way to explore new cities/parks/places is to run through them. I’m traveling slowly enough to notice the little things, but going far enough to see something I otherwise would have missed out on. Some of my favorite runs were in Redwood National Park, New Hampshire, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and Newport Beach, California.
What was your favorite race? Why?
My favorite race was the Notre Dame Invitational during my sophomore year of college. The Notre Dame cross country course is known for being flat and fast. I ran my fastest cross country time on that course and remember that race felt effortless. Despite running well over 100 races in my lifetime, I can count on one hand the number of races that felt “awesome” from start to finish. I’ve come to really appreciate those days where everything seems to go just right!
What is your most memorable race/running experience?
My most memorable race was the Boston Marathon in 2014. It was very neat to be a part of the historic race just one year after the Boston Marathon bombing. The crowds were bigger than ever! The continuation of the Boston Marathon meant so much to the people of Boston. As I turned onto Boylston street, I was very emotional. I was SO happy that I was within ½ mile of the finish, but I was also imagining what this street looked like the year before–and what it would have been like to be there. I’m grateful for the resilience of the running community–and the support they provided along the way! I crossed the line with an 8 minute PR.
Are you currently training for any races?
Surprisingly, no. I am pregnant with my first child due in July! I am continuing to run throughout pregnancy, but backing down on intensity and weekly mileage. It feels great to run still, and I’m enjoying the 3-6 miles I’m running daily.
How has running made an impact on your life?
Running has impacted nearly every aspect of my life. Most of my closest friends were high school or college cross country teammates. The bond between cross country teammates is strong–they’ve seen you at your best and worst. Together, you’ve pushed harder in workouts than you imagined possible and struggled through injuries on a bike. I also met my husband through running. He was my teammate at Calvin College.
My high school and college coaches impacted my life by believing in me even when I didn’t believe in myself. They gave me the confidence I needed to achieve goal after goal. But more importantly, they taught me about much more than running. The lessons and work ethic I learned apply to all areas of life…not just the race course.
Besides allowing me to meet my husband and many friends, running has impacted my personal life. It’s shown me that persistence and dedication can allow you to achieve big goals. It’s taught me to keep my head up when things don’t go as planned. I’ve learned to not place limits on myself. Running has made me determined, hard-working, and confident.
What kind of nutrition strategies do you use to facilitate performance and/or recovery?
When I am training for a race, there are several nutrition goals I strive for. First of all, I work hard to get enough energy to fuel my training. When mileage and training intensity is high, inadequate energy intake is going to really hurt my ability to train hard and recover quickly. In addition, I try to eat balanced meals containing whole grains, lean protein, fruits, and vegetables. Aiming for a colorful plate is a must!
As I’ve transitioned from running shorter distances in high school and college to longer distances now, I’m continually trying to figure out hydration and fueling strategies that work best for me during long runs and races. I’m a firm believer in training with the same products that you will use in races–so it’s important to look up ahead of time what will be offered along the race course (and the frequency of water stations) and determine what you will need to carry with you. I aim to get 30-60 grams of carbohydrate per hour, and I begin my fueling early…usually around 35 minutes of running.
What do you want other people to know about you/your running/running in general?
My husband is the head coach for cross country and track at the high school where he teaches. As often as I can, I help him with the coaching. I am thankful to have this opportunity. It is so rewarding to watch high schoolers chase after lofty goals and achieve them! To be honest, they inspire me to continue to chase after my own goals. I hope I am able to instill confidence and build character in these athletes just as my coaches did for me.
Who is your running inspiration?