When your running took a new direction

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This topic contains 19 replies, has 15 voices, and was last updated by  Anne 13 years, 6 months ago.

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  • #4702


    Do you remember a moment in your running career when you made the decision to take running to a different level? Did it come internally or from others, a coach, training partner or teammate? After or in preparation for a particular race?

    Saturday marked the one year anniversary of when I made that decision so it’s something that’s been on my mind as I go through this past year and review what I’ve done and how I’ve changed as a runner.

    For me it was an internal pressure to change, I had to get frustrated enough with myself though before I was willing to take on some of those demons I faced.

    It’s been a good but tough journey, you sure learn a lot about yourself and running in the process. I still have much to learn. 🙂

  • #19810


    I was a very contented recreational jogger for a bunch of years, an occasional 5k or 10 with the kids… husband left, got a treadmill so I could run without leaving the kids alone… found it was more fun to run longer, more stress reduction… ran the MCM, had met a wonderful guy who thought it was GREAT that I ran, we married, I ran a few more marathons…

    husband suggested that I had better find a group to work with if I wanted to improve… YES… tried two different ones, not right… ran a few more marathons…started reading BBs, never posted till I found a comfortable one, knowledgeable, supportive, no flamers… guess I’m really a mid-westerner…

    after asking for opinions I went with a group of coaches that have helped me to find that new direction… ask me next week if I’m there yet, heck if I get there I’ll be shouting from the roof tops…but the journey has become more fun, more REAL, more focused… so it isn’t really a new direction for me, it’s more like a gradual building of a pyramid, shaping as I go along… it’s certainly not symetrical and still very much under construction…

    but I guess it was last April when I made the decision… the last 2 marathons saw improvements of 22 minutes and then 8 minutes… only need another 8:26, this Saturday…


  • #19811


    i got a royal kick in the rear from a friend (who used to post here regularly as PSKI) in 2001 to get qualified for BOSTON after 8 marathons that fell short of the goal. regardless, i mustered a 3:08 and change at the 2001 Lakefront Marathon. i ended up running BOSTON in 2002…and ran like a “nag” in a pedestrian 3:24 and change.

    i requalified in 2004 with a 3:09 and am working on the motivation to address some unfinished business with BOSTON in 2006. i’m headed to Boston next week for work and am intending on running through the finish on Bolyston street in the early morning hours. i’m aiming to “fire up” to drop the extra 10 lbs i’m carrying and do what’s necessary to get fit for April 17th, 2006.

  • #19812


    I think it’s all a bit of a gradual transition for most of us. After all, life is all about constant change.

    That said, I can in fact think of one precise moment where my running life changed forever and I went from wanting to be a good runner to wanting to do whatever it takes to be a good runner, which of course is an important step to take.

    When I began running in 7th grade, it was because I got talked into going out for track by a couple of friends. I didn’t really care about being there, peer pressure got me there. However, the running bug bit me pretty quickly and I got to like running. From that point into my sophomore year track season, my competitive flame was burning and slowly growing as I gained experiences and realized I liked competing and improving. However, nothing really made me take off and really commit to running.

    Then came that fateful April day in 1993. It was a not so atypical April day in northwest Wisconsin. Cool, maybe in the high 40s or low 50s, light rain, and a bit windy. We had a home track meet with two or three other teams. The weather wasn’t bad enough to cancel or postpone the meet but it sure didn’t add to the joy of sitting out there waiting for your event to come.

    I was running only one event that day, the 3200, which was the final event before the 4×400 relay, which of course always closes the meet. Early in the meet, our top runners were doing the 1600. I took a seat on the track right in front of the press box in the middle of the front straight to watch the race and cheer on my teammates. As the race was going on, I took a look at who was running and came to a realization. The only distance runners on the team who were faster than me were the seniors who were in that race. At a school with a strong distance running tradition, this struck me. While I would not be the top returning runner on the cross-country team, the guys who were faster than me did not run track. Next year, I was going to be it. I was going to be the top returning distance runner on this team with a long tradition of strong distance running. The guys running that race were passing the torch to me and I didn’t want to drop it. I could not continue as a 5:30 miler/11:30 2 miler, I had to get serious and get some more respectable times.

    This was my moment. On that April evening in 1993, sitting in lane 8 of my high school’s track about 50 meters from the finish line, I made the decision to take my running to the next level. That moment, I took the biggest step of my running life even though I wasn’t even running. I took things more serious the rest of that season and then got real serious over the summer. I ran 500 miles in 10 weeks over the summer, I took over a minute off my best cross-country time and transformed myself from someone just hanging onto varsity on a good but not great cross-country team to consistently second or third man on a team that surprised a lot of people by qualifying for the state meet. The following track season, I broke 5:00 in the 1600 and ran 10:48 and 10:24 in the 3200 in my first two races of the season at that distance, lowering my 11:21 PR from the previous season by almost a full minute.

    The rest, as they say, is history (although, in this case, I sure hope history is still being written).

    So what was it? Well, even though the main influencing factor was a team factor, I think as with any major life changing moment like this, it was really an internal change. I had made the decision that I wanted to be the guy to continue the tradition or at least do everything I could to do so. Nobody told me that I had to do it or asked me to do it, I just looked around and said it’s up to me.

    Anne, you bring up what could turn into a very interesting topic, tease us with the 1 year anniversary of your turning point, then don’t even tell us what the turning point was for you?

  • #19813


    Chris gets all the credit for flipping my switch. I ran on and off for the last couple years without any structure or goals. Then he introduced me to Jack Daniels and all of a sudden my training had purpose and direction. It helped to train side by side with an individual with a similar level of dedication and desire for improvement. All these factors came together two years ago, and ever since we’ve been making wonderful gains in ourperformances. With the introduction of nutritional structure this summer, both Chris and I saw tremendous gains.

  • #19814


    I think I have had two transitions( at least ) with my running.

    I ran in high school….never made it to state.

    I then waited three years to go to college……..ran road races before college. I then started track at UW-Eau Claire….one season and 2 school records that still stand and a national 10k championship.

    I decided school wasn’t for me…..but running was.

    Back on the roads..did my first marathon….2:56….very painfully.

    Race and raced and raced and over raced!!! Got hurt……1986…got a coach….Sean Hartnett of UWEC fame…..qualified for the 1988 marathon trials(2:46) after working with Sean for about 4 months……….ran competively for about two more years….then real life set in. I ran Twin Cities in 1990….3:02..gosh I was disappointed….. 😡

    I then became a recreational runner…gained about 20 pounds…

    I’m 5’2″…not alot of place for extra pounds.

    Fast forward to 2000…..I jumped into a 10K benefit race for a runner friend who was almost killed in a farm accident. I did something like 45 minutes for the 10k..when I crossed the line Al( who the benefit was for) was there in his wheelchair and said it just takes longer these days doesn’t it. That really struck something in me.

    I then ran Grandma’s half in 2001….still 20 pounds overweight.

    40 years old was looming and I said hey…I am going to run Grandma’s in 2002….I will be 40…

    Well i ran it…….in 3:28. I don’t know just what it was about this race…..but it launched me into my own personal transition back into shape.

    Fall of 2002..Whistlestop 1/2……lost 20 pounds and ran 1:25….gosh that was fun…..Grandma’s 2004….three hour mark on my mind…..3:03…okay it was windy……….Grandma’s 2005 3:02……well there is a wall in this race!!! Mine was at 24 miles.

    I think this time around I enjoy the races differently and in a better way. Much of my running when I was younger was running away….from bad relationships etc…Now I just love to run!

    I don’t think I have posted much, but on my Saturday run..(all of us Master’s runner’s ) were just talking about this topic.

    Well what a ramble.

    Hopefully next year Chicago = under 3 hours!!! LOL

    Love this forum..


  • #19815


    well, my epiphany went something like this.

    me: Mum, I wanna play football in high school next year.

    Dad: begins to cry he’s laughing so hard

    Mum: uh. sweetie, you weigh 110 pounds…..but if you get up to 130. you can play. In the meantime, why dont you try running.

    I am 28 years old, and have yet to see 130. But Dammit, its gonna happen, and I’m gonna be the Billy Madison of high school football!!

  • #19816


    But, the story keeps evolving…

    6th grade, ran 1st race, summer mile series in 6:11, beating best friend by 1 second

    Summer before 9th grade, 1st real road race – 6 mile that I ran in track shoes without the spikes

    10th grade, winning first varsity track race (1600m) by kicking by two runners in final straight.

    Age 33 – moved back to Wisconsin, and deciding I wanted to run for the rest of my life after 16 years of on again-off again training.

    Age 39 – running 1st marathon

    Age 41 – 2nd marathon, 7.5 minute improvement and running sub 3:00

    Currently at age 42, I need to decide what my ultimate goals are, to continue to try and improve or to just maintain. Feel I already know the answer to that Q. This winter will be mostly base building easy miles.

    -Good topic…

  • #19817


    For me the turning point was two fold.

    I knew that I had to lose weight & lower my cholesterol or die. An extra 60+ pounds, a history of heart disease in the family and the high cholesterol should have been enough. It wasn’t.

    I had been planning on starting to run for a couple of years. If only planning could help you lose weight and get in shape, I would have been set.

    Second fold came when friends of mine needed a fourth team mate in the local mud run. With only six months to train I started the only way I knew how. I went to the local middle school track and started to run. When I was in my 20’s I was fast. I should still be fast at 42 shouldn’t I. Half way around the first lap I thought I might pass out. I decided to walk some.

    Over the next 6 months I ran as much as I could and lost 10 pounds. Race day came and we finished. I was the slowest one on our team.

    After this I started reading about running and finally found this forum. Since then I have improved greatly (still a long way to go). Ran the mud run again this past October and finished easily. I am no longer the slowest runner but the fastest on our team.

    In one year I went from a 9:44 average mile in a 5K to a 7:44 average mile in the same 5K.

    This improvement is mostly due to two things:

    1) A desire to improve my running.

    2) Seeking and getting good advise and then following it.


  • #19818


    It’s been interesting and inspiring reading about where your running has taken each of you.

    Like others here there have been several different stages that I’ve gone through, starting out in my early 20’s as a “fun” runner, very happy at my 10:00/mile pace.

    Later, like Rita, running local races with my girls to get them interested in running.

    Eventually training for my first marathon and learning so much through that process, gaining something from each one since then.

    While I felt good about my longer distance races I failed miserably at shorter distances. I could never push myself when the going got tough, I’d always pull back and finish the race kicking myself for not staying strong. I was afraid of the pain, being uncomfortable, that inner voice would tell me to stop & I’d listen. It was very frustrating.

    I talked with a friend who suggested that I needed to change my mental attitude about the discomfort of running hard, accept the fact that a 5K race is going to be tough and prepare myself to deal with it. Don’t try to mask the discomfort, acknowledge it, accept it.

    I picked the Buck Rut 5K in Minocqua as the race to test out that theory. I had never run a cross country race on trails before , I also had never run a course as hilly as this, two new things for me.

    My approach to that race was different then any other, I was serious, I did lots of mental prep beforehand, prepared myself for what was ahead of me. I remember I had Tom Petty’s “Won’t Back Down” on my MP3 as I was warming up so I made that my mantra.

    Let me tell you, that was one tough race but I kept pushing through up the hills, it hurt, it was hard but I made it. It felt so good to cross the finish line knowing that I gave it everything I had, for the first time I didn’t hold back. It was a huge confidence booster.

    In addition to the mental break through I also beat my running partner for the first time. I had always taken 2nd to her 1st, 3rd to her 2nd, etc. It was a role that I felt I had slipped into and that’s not healthy. I knew I was capable of staying with her or running ahead but it was that mental game of thinking she’s the better runner, she should be ahead.

    Since then my shorter races have been much more rewarding, I know I can push myself & I’ll be o.k. There was another post where I mentioned this was my best running year ever, it’s not just about the mileage, for me it was overcoming a big mental barrier that was holding me back.

    That mental toughness is as important to me as the physical.

    I also found that confidence brings about a more competitive edge or maybe it’s competition brings about confidence. Either way it’s been a good year.

    Thanks for reading and thanks for sharing.

  • #19819


    First off, welcome Karen. I ran at UW-Eau Claire from 1992-1996 and was coached by Sean too. I still try to make it back every year for Buckshot. I ran 30:04 this year, so it looks like I was about a minute ahead of you.

    As others have also mentioned, my running has taken a new direction numerous times.

    I started running when I was 10. In 6th grade we had to run sprints in gym class and I was the slowest. That spring I won the 800 meter “dash” on track day in 3:08.

    Throughout high school I was always a decent runner, not awesome, but I made varsity 3 of 4 years for a solid team – state qualifiers my sophomore year.

    After high school, I took 4 years “off” while in the service. I decided to run cross country in college mainly so I could meet people. I never broke 6:00-pace for 8K during my first season. Then in my first 10K on the track I ran 35:08 which was a PR by 2:36 (set on a downhill course). Again, not awesome by college standards, but not bad either.

    After college I “attempted” 3 marathons in the 3:17-3:26 range before taking time “off” for grad school. 3 years later I got “serious” again and followed Daniels program to PR by 14 minutes with a 3:03. That has since dropped to 2:58. Not great when you consider I ran sub-35 for 10K, but that was also 9 years ago.

  • #19820


    I started for health and discovered I loved the challenge.

    Five years ago, at age 43, I had high blood pressure, high cholestoral, asthma, back pain and was 45 pounds overweight. On top of that I had been smoking for 28 years!

    After consulting with my doctor I decided it was time for a change. I quit smoking and went vegatarian; and I began walking.

    Walking was all I could do; even using my inhaler it was tough to walk a mile in 20 minutes. But I was persistant. Every day I went a little faster or a little further.

    By the end of 8 months I had dropped 45 pounds (140 pounds at 5’9″), lowered my cholestoral and blood pressure to a healthy range, my back pain was gone and my asthma was in remission (only had exercise induced asthma).

    By then I was walking 5 miles a day at 10:00-10:30 pace; every day; every week. No longer satisfied with walking for health I wanted to explore the athelete inside.

    I never participated in sports neither in school or after; and I never ran before. But 4 years ago I ran my first mile. And like walking before; went a little further every day (even gallo-walked for the first couple of months).

    By the end of 4 months (1 year total including the 8 months walking) I ran my first marathon. Since then I have been running 7 days a week; maybe taking 2-3 days off a year. And every year I run 2 marathons; 6 months apart; one in the spring and one in the fall. The consistancy and persistance has paid off with a steady, if somewhat slow, improvement each year.

    My progress, as measured by my spring race (which is always the Long Island marathon) is as follows:

    2002 – 4:29 – 45 mpw (after only 4 months of running)

    2003 – 3:37 – 55 mpw

    2004 – 3:29 – 65 mpw

    2005 – 3:24 – 75 mpw

    Next spring, on 85 mpw I hope to go under 3:20 (including the fall races I ran 4 consecutive BQs of sub 3:30, my next goal is 3:20). Last month I ran Mystic in 3:29 off 80 mpw but it was a tough, hilly course and it was a 9 minute course record for me).

    A latent desire to discover my performance potential was ignited when I first began walking. My only regret is I didn’t start earlier; nearing age 50 my potential will never be what it might have been earlier.

    I have dreams of going under 3 someday but am satisfied with taking 5 minute chunks off my pb every year. In effect I am making up for lost time by accumulating tons of miles.

    This year I will run almost 4000 miles. I will train an average of 85 mpw until my spring race. Will it be enough to reach the next goal? I don’t know but I will love every mile of the journey (as a bonus I may live to see my children grow up).


  • #19821

    RandyS wrote:
    Last month I ran Mystic in 3:29.

    Did you ever tell us about this?

  • #19822


    Wow, so many interesting stories. Not only is this giving me insight into what brought us where we did in our running but also in how we got started running and much more about who we are and who we have been in the past as runners. Very interesting to see.

    Karen, welcome to the forum and I’m glad to see that you like it. It’s always great to see a member with such wide ranging experience.

    RandyS wrote:
    Will it be enough to reach the next goal? I don’t know but I will love every mile of the journey (as a bonus I may live to see my children grow up).

    Randy, what a great statement. That, after all, is what it is all about. If you love what you are doing, while of course you want to reach your goals, it doesn’t really matter whether you do or not. What matters is that you can look back on what you did and say you truly enjoyed the ride, no matter where it took you.

  • #19823



    No, I posted during the training but not after the race. Three weeks later I feel a little better but at the time I felt like a failure and didn’t want to talk about it.

    I wanted a sub 3:20 so bad and trained hard for it. In training I was running 24 mile long runs at sub 3:30 pace (8:00) with ease. Never missed a day of running and averaged over 80 miles a week for 5 month straight. And all this was immediatelly after running the 3:24 in May (a 6 minute pb). I felt it was going to happen in spite of the tougher course.

    But the hills wore me down.

    I did hill training on a mill (I have no real hills anywhere nearby). That prepared me fairly well for the uphlls but I think I suffered on the downhills.

    When I knew the pb was out of the question (at about 16 miles) I calculated a pace to finish under 3:30. I figured if I can’t run the pb why beat myself up. I did good job of sticking to my new goal.

    Afterwards my legs felt good; only the quads felt sore (and they never do in training so I think it was the downhills). I was back on the road the next day so I am none the worst for wear. By the 3rd day my quads felt normal again. My mileage is already over 60 mpw in the 3rd week post race.

    So now I look forward to another shot in the spring. Meanwhile in retrospect my time at Mytic is a big course best. Ran a 3:38 at Mystic 2 years ago so almost 9 minutes faster is pretty good I guess.

    And I have another bq but I want to hold off on Boston until I can reach an ‘open’ qualifying time. Not sure that will ever happen but it would be a nice 50th birhtday present in 2 more years.


  • #19824


    Please forgive the long reply, but here’s a basic background of my running history.

    I grew up very active. In high school I was on the football, basketball and baseball teams. I loved sports but did not run (except as required by other sports). After high school, I joined the military. I still played basketball and played softball, but rarely ran. I ended up getting out of the military. In 1996 I was working at Arizona State University when Buddy Ryan was the coach of the Arizona Cardinals. That year Buddy Ryan required all the Cardinal players to be able to run a half mile in under 3:45 (I think that was the time). A buddy of mine from work and I were saying that even though we don’t run, we could beat that time. We ended up meeting on a Saturday morning to see if we could do it. As it turned out my buddy had decided to run a 10K a couple of months down the road, so instead of running a timed half mile. We ran an easy mile. We ended up increasing the distance by a mile a week until we got to four miles. We continued to run four miles almost every week for over a year. During this time we also ran a couple of times on our own during the week. I ended up moving to San Diego in the summer of 1997. I kept in touch with my friend. In December 2000 he called me and said he was going to run the Rock and Roll Marathon and asked if I wanted to join him. I said I’d do it. I built my long run up to 16 miles and wanted to die at mile 22 on race day. I ended up finishing in a time of 4:35:?? After that race I didn’t run for a month and at the time I felt like I never wanted to run again. Eventually, I started running approximately 15 miles a week just to stay in shape.

    I ended up going back into the military and was transferred to Louisiana. I didn’t really have much to do there, so I decided to run the 2003 Mardi Gras Marathon. While training for the marathon, I discovered the Runner’s World Forums. I ended up following Ryan over here. Since then I’ve learned a ton about running and have been much more motivated to improve.


  • #19825


    Ryan, I know you will appreciate this story.

    I started running the year after I graduated from college…The reason: to quit a nasty pack-a-day smoking habit. My first run lasted about ten minutes, and I laid down on the couch hoping to die. That was in September. In june, without ever having run a race, I ran grandmas marathon in 3:37 (I think).

    My mom went to high school with coach conway, and they remain good friends to this day. I always remember her driving up from mpls. to watch him run in grandmas, but I don’t recall ever going along. One night, about a year after I started running, I went out to dinner with my parents and Sam (as my mother called him) Conway. We chatted a bit about running, and he suggested we meet the following day for an 8 miler.

    It snowed about a foot that night, and the next day we had to run in the tire treads of the few cars that had already been on the road (the roads weren’t plowed yet). Conway ran me into the ground! I literally got sick the day after running with him and didn’t run another step for the next two weeks…

    That spring we were running a few times a week together, and one day we met up with a group of guys to run kilometer repeats on the road. I ran so hard I thought I was going to die, and got dusted by all of them!

    After that workout, conway said to me, ‘you are becoming a runner.’ I realized that it took hard work, and a fair amount of pain, to improve.

    We continued our weekly speed session, and before to long Sam and I were running pretty much the same pace–he was probably 60 years old at the time.

    We ran the fitgers 5k, my first 5k ever…when the gun went off sam was gone! the course is out and back and I remember that he had reached the turnaround and had about a 30 yard lead on me…he gave me a kind of odd look, like, ‘why are you way back there.’ I realized then that I should be up there, since we’d run almost all of our workouts together…so I put my head down and gave chase…I ended up catching up to him about 50 yards from the finsh. He tucked in behind me and I thought he was going to beat me to the line so I ran as hard as i possibly could. I finished a step ahead of him, and we both clocked 17:58.

    Afterward he gave me all sorts of crap about how he blocked the wind for me the entire race and how I snuck up on him at the end. He said, jokingly, ‘i’m not giving you anymore of my secrets.’. But, without him, I would have run about 30 seconds slower and felt as though I gave it a good effort. He taught me how to push, and to run up to my potential on a given day…

    sorry for the rambling post…


  • #19826


    For me, there were a few events — positive and negative that have changed my running direction.

    In the Fall of 1985, I placed 6th at the state cross country meet. That night, lying in bed, I realized then that I could run with anyone in the state. The guy who won was from my league and I could sometimes beat him on the track. That night I began to dream of winning a state championship the following spring on the track. An injury that spring delayed my dream for a year.

    In 1991, after suffering a stress fracture for the second consecutive year and struggling through another mediocre year of running, I quit running at the college level and did not run consistently again for 10 years.

    In July of 2000, weighing in at 225 lbs, I married my wife and adopted her healthy diet. (Fortunately, she met me 5 years before and she found that she still loved me when I was fat.) In January 2001, my weight was 190 or less and I was running 2-3 times per week. I twisted my ankle on a chunk of ice on the edge of the road. While recovering from the twisted ankle, I was working out on an elliptical trainer in the fitness center at work. While I was there, I saw a posting on the bulletin board looking for participants for corporate challenge. My competitive nature was suddenly engaged. I went about training all wrong that year, but that was when the desire to run fast was reborn within me. I am more passionate about running now than when I ran in college. Racing in various corporate challenge running events has become one of the high points of each year’s racing schedule.

  • #19827


    Well for me, it was a pretty drastic event that got me to become more serious about my running. About 3 yrs ago I was diagnosed with a brain tumor and had surgery to have it removed. It turned out to be benign. Apparently if you must have a brain tumor, you want the one I had. During my breif recovery, I just felt like I was going crazy, couldnt go for a walk by myself, no bike, no car, no running. So after sitting on the couch for 2 weeks, I decided to train for a marathon and BQ. Both would be firsts. I had been a decent runner in HS, and had a great coach, so I was familiar with the training routine. But I wasnt familiar with coming up with the plan myself. So after a year of training (read “overtraining”), I had to pull out of my first marathon after 15 due to severe ITB issues. This was in 2004. After a lengthy recovery, like 8 weeks, I got back on the horse, stronger and a bit smarter. One year later, about 2 years after setting my initial gaol, I BQed this past spring. Long story huh?


  • #19828


    It’s already been said, but “Wow!”

    Some incredible background on where you’ve been and how you got where you are now.

    For those of you who overcame health & weight issues through running, special kudos.

    Pretty neat to read about the effect running has in our lives, plenty of positive messages.

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