Marathon Training – Week 1!

Last week was my first week of training for the Wrightsville Beach Marathon, which will take place on March 17, 2018! I decided that I would coach myself for this one, and am really just so thankful and excited to be doing so. It has been a long and often bumpy road to get to this point, taking twists and turns I never imagined (both in my running and in my life!), but all of it has been ultimately just what I needed to get myself to a better place – a healthier, stronger and HAPPIER place – especially the hardest parts of the journey. That’s just the way it goes, right? 😊

In March of this year, I had a Tenex procedure on my left foot to remove scarring from a partial tear to my plantar fascia that was the result of a cortisone shot I was given the previous October for some pesky plantar fasciitis, which came on the tail end of a pretty long and rough road of overtraining and adrenal health issues. When I finally got the green light to run again in early April, I decided to enlist the help of my good friend and running coach Mary to guide me on that phase of my journey. Not just to keep me healthy and injury-free, but also to be there as a pillar of support and encouragement. She was awesome and I loved working with her! We began with a run/walk program and gradually over time I was running more and walking less and eventually all-out running and training for a half marathon! In November I ran my half marathon and felt so strong and happy – it was truly amazing and everything I prayed it would be. At that point I decided that I was ready to coach myself again, to trust myself with my own training and fly solo towards my next dream. And here I am, training for what will be my 20th marathon this spring! Continue reading

Pilates for Runners

A regular Pilates practice, much like running, teaches you about yourself and inspires you to believe in yourself. I can’t tell you how many of my students have been amazed by the discoveries they have made about themselves in their lessons – they are so much stronger than they thought they were or than they ever gave themselves credit for! I think we all spend a lot of time criticizing and trying to “fix” our bodies for how they look on the outside, and we don’t necessarily believe it’s possible that there is so much awesomeness waiting to be discovered on the inside. We could all use a little more of that in our lives, right?

Here are my top 5 favorite things about Pilates, and why I think every runner should dedicate time to it every week:

  • Injury Prevention: Pilates is very similar to physical therapy – training proper and efficient movement patterns, encouraging healthy neuromuscular pathways, “waking up” muscles that aren’t getting with the program and doing their job – essentially teaching our bodies optimal ways of moving. The exercises will make you aware of your particular imbalances and give you an opportunity to correct them before you get injured because of them.
  • Two-for-one: Many runners have limited flexibility and mobility, particularly in the hips, ankles and in the rotation of the trunk. We need to work on stretching our muscles and mobilizing our joints so that we have more power when we move and reduce the risk of injury. We also need to dedicate time to our strength work, using muscles that support our running and balance our bodies. One of the most magical things about Pilates is that while it is strengthening you, it is also stretching you! So it’s gentle enough to do every day (unlike other types of strength work where you really need to recover from delayed onset muscle soreness) and gives you the stretching you need so desperately.
  • No more lazy butts: One of the most common issues runners face is that we just aren’t activating our glutes the way we should! Tight hip flexors are common in runners, and when this happens it stretches out our glutes and then makes them less likely to fire how they are designed to. This is made even worse if you sit at a desk for your job all day – shortening your hip flexors and stretching your glutes even more. Our gluteal muscles are the most powerful muscles in our bodies and they aren’t made for just sitting on, though that is what we use them for most of the time. Once you start using your booty in your running, you will not only find that you are MUCH more powerful and faster, but will also discover that your hips and back will feel a whole lot better. Pilates is an amazing way to start working your glutes properly – many of the exercises open the hips and let the booty do what nature intended for it to!
  • Mindfulness: Pilates is a system of exercises that engages the body, the breath and the mind. It teaches us to be self aware and to listen to our bodies, and helps us be more present and able to concentrate on the moment. I take my Pilates practice with me into my running. In the later stages of a long run or a marathon when I feel my posture falling apart, I remember to lift up through my center and breathe. It keeps me calm and connected to my center so I can focus on the task at hand.
  • It’s always there for you: Pilates is something we can do no matter where we are in our running journey – and this is perhaps my favorite thing about it especially at the moment! If you are injured, Pilates is very therapeutic for that. If you are pounding the pavement more than ever and chasing a huge personal best, Pilates will help keep you healthy and connected to yourself. If you are returning from pregnancy or a lay off due to injury, Pilates is fantastic for waking up and nurturing your body. There’s never a bad time to do it, and it’s never too late to start!
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Eve’s Lunge on the Reformer

I highly recommend every runner look into taking a Pilates class – find a good studio in your area and give it a shot! I am teaching at EVOLVE Movement in Raleigh and would love to see you there! Contact me directly or reach out to the studio for scheduling info.

I am over overtraining. ❤️

I have read many articles, and heard what feels like countless stories, about runners who overtrained and never recovered. Runners who never found their love for the sport again, who moved on from it completely. Let it be a part of their history.

I found myself wondering – did they just retire from competing, or really truly did they actually STOP running forever? And if they stopped, were they unable to do run anymore because the damage done was so severe, or was it more of a choice because it was so dang hard or it just didn’t feel good or it made them sad to not be able to do what they once were able to do? And if they didn’t stop, why don’t we hear much about it? What is their relationship to running like now?

What sets apart the people who DO recover from overtraining, from the ones who don’t? I really do want to know. I feel like it doesn’t get talked about much, not enough anyways. So I am going to talk about it more and more here, and share my experience and what I do know.

I will be honest. The thought of that happening to me was a devastating one. I was determined to give myself the best possible chances of not only healing, but of being better than I was before.

I pulled myself back from running when I was beginning to feel overtrained, but I still got hurt (plantar fasciitis reared its ugly head and then a cortisone shot to fix it actually partially tore my fascia…awesome) and then I discovered through blood and urine tests that I was in the early stages of adrenal fatigue. I needed to stop running altogether for what amounted to about 9 months. I got myself help, in the form of a cognitive behavioral therapist who I saw weekly for close to a year and a holistic wellness practitioner who helped me with lifestyle and nutritional healing (Tawnee Prazak Gibson). I saw my chiropractor and physical therapist regularly (at first twice a week, then once a week, and now that I am healthy I see him once a month just to stay on top of things – just as I had with Dr. Wong when I lived in Virginia). I stayed active and in tune with my body by taking up swimming, and returning to both Pilates and yoga while also being dedicated to a strength and muscle activation routine. And when my foot was healed after a Tenex procedure in March, and I had the green light to run again, I hired a good friend to be my coach (Mary Johnson) – who had experience in her own body and also as a running and strength coach with helping runners safely and conservatively build back after injury. I know without a doubt that all of this, and abiding by the guidance and doing the work given to me, was crucial to my recovery. Now that I am better I am flying solo – coaching myself again and applying what I learned as I move forward.

I decided long ago that I would be okay with never running as fast or even as far as I once did. This doesn’t mean that I’m giving up on the possibility that I will improve my times – that is very much still in my heart. But it means that I have new standards. There are things that I am simply not willing to make sacrifices for to get there – my health, my authenticity, my happiness, my relationships – these all take priority over any time goal. Period. And it also means that I define my version of “better” with SO MUCH MORE than a number. My experience of myself as a runner is more EXPANSIVE now. And as such, it is so much more fulfilling. So much more joyful! And there is so much more gratitude and longevity to it than there was before I recognized my unhealthy patterns, before I overtrained and got hurt.

This past weekend I ran a half marathon. My first real endurance race in over two years. My time was 1:41:11, a 7:40 average pace, and right where I estimated I would be after months of careful progression and hard work. This is about 15 minutes slower than the fastest I have ever run that distance. But — MY GOSH. I don’t even really have words to describe accurately how much more amazing and BETTER this race was than the PR I ran in the half three years ago was. What I remember about that race in DC in 2014 is that while I was running fast and was crazy fit, I was racing the clock and checking my watch constantly, I felt depleted of joy in my personal life and in my health, and I was barely hanging on but trying to smile and run through it because that was less painful than actually dealing with it. My gut BLEW UP on me at mile 12 and I literally ducked into an alleyway to poop on a public street before that last mile. Sounds awesome, right?! But hey, I crossed the finish line with impressive stats – 1:26:25 and 11th overall female so I celebrated. This makes me sad now. But it’s okay. It was also an important part of my journey and I have compassion for that.

Looking back, I just want to hug that me from a few years ago. Tell her that yes, it all would get worse before it got better, but that she was SO STRONG and SO GOOD and so full of love and faith — and she would figure out how to heal, she would surround herself with the right people and she would do whatever it took, and it would all be SO much better than she could imagine. It really would.

This past weekend when I ran my 13.1 miles – they were a true celebration — and I was present and HAPPY. I was having fun! I was feeling good. Healthy body and healthy mind. I was doing what I LOVE again. I ran steady and even splits, across the board from start to finish, and when it was over I had happy tears in my eyes, a big smile on my face and gratitude and pride in my heart. And in no way did it feel “over” – it felt like the beginning of something beautiful. I feel like I can exhale here and say, I am over overtraining.

AND I AM SO THANKFUL!

stepping back

Hello running friends! I hope that everyone is doing well and having good start to the week. I cannot believe we are in October’s final stretch. Time is flying.

The week before last was one of the biggest weeks in my running and training that I have had in well over a year. With 53 miles total – including a mid-week speed session done in crazy BLAZING heat and humidity (it was unseasonably hot and humid around here and I had to go at lunch time, under the hot sun, because of my teaching schedule) as well as a 16 mile long run workout – I was spent by the time Sunday night rolled around.

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While I know that 53 miles in a week used to be something that my body and mind would handle pretty easily a couple of years ago, it took YEARS of smart training to get to that point and it is a big deal to me on every level now. Adapting to higher mileage is a gradual process, and one that takes patience and requires listening to your body. For me it also requires stepping back every few weeks to give my body and my brain a chance to recover before it begs me to do so. I went into last week keenly aware that pushing things again after a week like that would not have been in my best interest, and wow was I right. Continue reading

rise and run || breathe and believe

My sister Kamie and I have teamed up to make some fun designs and have created a few products to inspire and hopefully bring a smile to others! We started with these “Rise and Run” and “Breathe and Believe” designs. We hope you like them! You can check out our designs and shop by clicking HERE.

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I am especially excited to share that a portion of all our sales will go towards our fundraising efforts for Team Drea Foundation – a foundation created by my dear friend and Pilates student Andrea, to find a cure for ALS and put an END to this horrible disease. Continue reading

my choice to share

Social media can be a dangerous place for one’s self-esteem, especially when you are on a healing path and putting yourself out there with openness and vulnerability – the way I think many of us do in this community.

The other day, I posted a picture of myself in a bathing suit. It was a happy moment for me, and one I wanted to document and share with all of you. Continue reading

Team Drea – An Introduction

Today is the 179th day of the year! This fact may seem quite insignificant to you, as it would have to me not long ago. But as I sit here to write this … it makes me feel very happy.

Here is why. The number 179 is incredibly meaningful to a new and dear friend of mine, Andrea. It’s her lucky number, and one that has shown up in amazing ways in her life over the years. A wink from the universe, a reminder of a higher power and that everything happens for a reason. Continue reading