It’s my favorite blog post of the month – Running Inspiration Interview!
Today’s Feature Friday guest star is Courtney. She is not only an awesome runner but she’s a fellow Hoosier and IU alumni, incredibly funny and you should check out her blog Notably Neurotic.
Tell me a little about yourself.
I turned 30 this past October (eeek!), but luckily this milestone birthday passed with minimal weeping and gnashing of teeth. I studied Journalism and Gender Studies at Indiana University Bloomington, and I currently work on the corporate marketing team for one of the biggest medical manufacturing companies in the world.
How long have you been running?
I occasionally ran laps around my neighborhood in high school because it was nice to get outside and blast the Backstreet Boys on my Discman (Oh, 2003!), but I never bought a legit pair of shoes or started training for distance until the summer of 2010 when I was 25.
What made you decide to start running?
I was pretty thin in high school, but the never-ending supply of junk food in college was not kind to my waistline. After I got married, I started feeling pretty motivated to lose the extra weight and one Sunday morning at church our pastor announced that he was going to train for a half marathon. I remember leaning over to my husband and whispering, “Maybe I should try that, too?”
That very same week, I started running down to the end of our street and back. Gosh, the entire distance was probably no more than 2 miles, but it was tough. I just remember hating the run back because I had to climb up a massive hill. But you know what? Each time I laced up my shoes and ran down to the end of the street, it got easier and easier! I eventually started running past the end of our street and a few months later, I was standing at the start line of my very first half marathon. 2 years after that, I finished my first full marathon.
What is your favorite thing about running?
I think it might actually be easier to come up with my least favorite things about running (the chafing) because there are so many things to love about it. I love that running is just about me. That sounds totally selfish, but running really is a solo sport and you alone are responsible for your success. Sure, you can train with a group or hire a running coach, but when it comes right down to it, you’re the only one who can move your feet. I love the feeling of accomplishment when I finish a workout or a race, no matter how large or small. I love feeling out of breath and sweaty from intense speed drills. I love seeing the mileage climb on my Garmin. I love the happy exhaustion that comes at the end of a long run. I love feeling strong.
Seriously, what’s not to love? Besides the chafing …
How many races have you done?
I’ve competed over 30 races. The distances have ranged from 5k all the way to a marathon.
What was your favorite race and why?
The Indianapolis Monumental Marathon and Half Marathon is my favorite race for several reasons. Firstly, this race was my first sub-2 hour half marathon. It was also the race I chose for my very first full marathon and that will forever be one of the greatest days of my life. The race is in November, so the temperatures usually vary from crisp to downright freezing (I love running in the cold!). Plus, it just has an incredible atmosphere and is a well-organized race. My sister and I also have a yearly tradition of competing in the Warrior Dash together. It’s an amazing opportunity to bond with my lifetime bestie and get muddy!
What is your most memorable race/running experience?
I carry memories from all of my big races (and they’re not all good memories, unfortunately), but the one that stands out the most is my very first half marathon in October of 2010. My first half marathon was also my very first race PERIOD and I had absolutely no idea what to expect. The course was gorgeous, quite challenging (so. many. hills!), and I just remember feeling ecstatic from start-to-finish. Just a few months prior I could barely run down my street without wanting to collapse and now here I was, running 13.1 miles! I’ll never forget the pure, unbridled joy of just being there and just being able to run that far. This was well before I started monitoring my pace and obsessing over the numbers on a GPS watch. It’s cliche, but it was the most innocent part of my running career and I kind of miss it sometimes.
What is your favorite race distance and why?
My favorite race distance is the half marathon. I love it because the distance still requires a fair amount of training, but not so much that I can’t have a life outside of running. I also have a huge fondness for the 5k distance because sometimes you just wanna go fast!
Do you have any running goals?
My long-standing running goal is to just continue improving. I used to only apply that to speed and PRs, but as I’ve gotten older and a little bit wiser about the sport, I’ve discovered that running improvement can come in many forms. I’m currently focusing a lot on muscle strength and combating my negative thoughts when I’m having a bad run.
Are you currently training for any races?
I’m not currently training for a specific race, but I am taking the next few months to keep up my running fitness while focusing more on cross-training. I won’t start training for my next half marathon until late February, so I’m enjoying being able to run without the stress of pace, goal times, and the like.
How has running made an impact on your life?
Running has made me both physically and mentally stronger. After I dropped the weight I wanted to, I kept running simply because it brightens my day. It’s my number one de-stressor, it’s my therapy. When I’m happy, I go for a run. When I’m sad, I go for a run. When running is the absolute last thing I want to do, I go for a run.
How has running helped with weight loss/maintenance?
Running definitely helps me maintain my current weight. I have somewhat of a sweet tooth (and a wine tooth), so running keeps it all in check. I don’t believe in depriving yourself (I did it for quite a while and it sucks), but having a good workout regime in place (whether it’s running or not) can keep the extra pounds from creeping up if you overindulge. My philosophy: It’s okay to occasionally say “yes” to a doughnut, but make sure you say “yes” to running more.
What kind of nutrition strategies do you use to facilitate performance and recovery?
I try to incorporate a lot of lean protein in my diet, so dinner at our house is usually chicken or fish. I add avocado and chickpeas to my salads at lunch and one of my favorite snacks is hard-boiled eggs or 100-calorie packs of almonds. I have to admit, proper nutrition was never a huge priority for me, but I saw a huge improvement in my running performance when I started to be more mindful of what I was shoving in my face. The morning of a long run or a big race, I’ll typically eat a bagel with peanut butter. And water. Water is a runner’s best friend. You’ll feel better before, during, and after a workout!
What do you want other people to know about you/your running/running in general?
I don’t have a personal message or take-away from my personal experiences with running because it’s just something I love to do for me. But I will say this: For as many people that love to run, there are just as many (if not more) that absolutely detest the idea of “running for fun”. Whether you become a runner or not, I hope that everyone has the opportunity to discover their passion and find that thing that they absolutely love to do.
Don’t forget to check out Courtney’s blog Notably Neurotic.
Who is your running inspiration?