GET TO KNOW THE DISTANCE CHALLENGE: MELISSA & SONJA

Melissa is part of Kayleigh’s Club and Sonja is her running partner. They are both registered for the 2017-2018 Distance Challenge and we will be getting updates from them after every race!

How did y’all come to know each other? 

Melissa: Through Kayleigh’s running club and Sandy and Kayleigh.

Sonja: I met Melissa when I at Austin High helping with Kayleigh’s Running Club. She was one of many that I ran with that first time. When she mentioned wanting to try to accomplish the distance challenge, I told her about the Ship of Fools and it turns out she lives right by the track.

What is your running background? 

Melissa: I have run in the Race for the Cure once. I ran with my sister some before she moved to Vermont. I trained on my own. I would go run around the neighborhood about two times a week.   didn’t like training by myself.  

Sonja: I started running track in 5th grade up North in Illinois. I didn’t do well my first year but lucky for me, I was held back and that is when I exploded! I became a sprinter and would run with the older students so I could have a challenge. They almost always beat me but it made me faster and I loved it. I did track for nine years as a sprinter; 100, 200, and 400 were my individual races and the relays, which I anchored. Over time the 400 became my race but I hated practicing it. My high school coach made me run cross country for three years, which I despised, but there was no way I could say no to my coach. So I would jack rabbit at the start and then walk until the very end of the race and run in… usually last. I was just out there to make a complete team not to actually do anything. If she could see me running long distance now she would flip.

Why did you start running? 

Melissa: I had done volleyball, swimming, basketball, bowling, and softball with Special Olympics. I started running more so I stay active when I am not doing those sports. I heard about Kayleigh’s club through Kayleigh and Ms. Sandy, her mom, and I like to train with my friends. I liked the fact that it isn’t Special Olympics. We were training for the Zilker Relays and I got to race with my friends and it didn’t involve Special Olympics. I liked being with just everybody.

Sonja: I actually started with the Ship of Fools because I had a friend visiting from out of state and she wanted to do a 5K, so we did the Camp Ben McCullough 5K and stayed for the awards. Everyone who was winning was from some running club in San Marcos and that made me curious if Austin had one, and I found the Austin Runner’s Club. The workout times agreed with my teaching schedule and I love the track workouts. It is more than just “go run 3 miles today,” it’s actually an evolving workout that changes weekly.

How did you hear about the Distance Challenge? 

Melissa: Sandy had asked me if I wanted to do the Distance Challenge. I said, “yes.” I want to try running races other then Komen Race for the Cure. I find training for the Distance Challenge has made my running more interesting. I am going to run three half marathons because not everyone with special needs is able to run. I am running for the people with special needs who can’t run. I want people to see that no matter what your disability is, you can achieve things that others have said you can’t do. I have been told by others, “You can’t read. You are not smart enough to be in school. I was told I wasn’t fast enough or strong to do sports.” Kayleigh’s Club and the Distance Challenge has helped me to overcome what others have said I couldn’t do.

Sonja: I heard runners talk about the Distance Challenge during workouts and I thought it sounded neat but way above anything I could actually do. I was just getting to where I could run two miles without falling over. I went to a packet pick up and they were also having those who had signed up for the Distance Challenge picking up their shirts and I signed up as a spur of the moment whim. 

Now I’m training for my third Distance Challenge and it surprises me still that I have been able to run the distances I have. I heard about Kayleigh through the running newsletters and I meet her and her mom, Sandy, at the Distance Challenge celebration last year. I friended her mom on Facebook and our friendship has grown from there. When I found out that Kayleigh wanted more of her friends to run with her, I signed up to help with her club.

How are you training for the first race in the Distance Challenge?

Melissa: I have been swimming every Saturday for my Special Olympics meet and that has helped me with my breathing as I run. I run with the Ship of Fools on Tuesday and Thursdays at O’Henry. I like the track workouts on Tuesday because it is different every Tuesday and it is challenging. Thursday workouts are not as fun because of hills. Hills are hard but Sonja taught me to say, “What the Hill!” as I run up each one. That has helped me because when I do the longer races I can get up the hill. I will win the hill by getting up it!

Sonja: I am trying to get back into a 3-day week of running, but with teaching it is a struggle. It seems every other week there is some after school activity that I’m required to be there for that interferes with practice – back to school night, math night, science night, but when I have been able to make practice I have been running with Melissa and if time allows I do the same workout later that evening or the next day at my tempo. Otherwise, I am primarily focused on helping Melissa to accomplish her goals this year. There is so much joy to be had in watching someone do something they didn’t think was possible.

Tell us a little more about yourselves!

Melissa: I’ve worked as a bagger at Randall’s for the last 14 years and walks many miles every day there. I have lived on my own since I was 22 and I live near the O’Henry Track so I can get there quickly. My disability is intellectual disabled which means I need some assistance. I struggle with some areas such as reading and finances so my family helps me in these areas. I graduated from Westlake High school in 2002, where I took combined regular classes and special education classes.  

Sonja: I teach ESL First Grade at Rodriguez Elementary in Dove Springs. I have been there for 12 years and enjoy the students and the challenge though at times it can be overwhelming. I have been with my husband, Michael, since I was a junior at Crockett High, graduated in 1989. We married in 1991 and have two children. Aaron is a senior at A&M in College Station and will marry next year. Samantha is a sophomore at Southern Nazarene University in Bethany, Oklahoma.

Thank you for sharing your story with us! We are thrilled to have you #DareTheDistance with us this year and can’t wait to see you at the 80’s 8K!!

Sleep and Running

Sleep Number is one of this years sponsors for the Distance Challenge, Daisy 5k, and Decker Challenge Half Marathon, and the IT by sleep number was actually designed for runners. It allows you to incorporate your workout times with you sleeping patterns. They have sent us some useful tips that you may want to consider.

Sleep and Running: Sleep is Training™

  • Most of the benefits of a training program are realized during sleep. When you skimp on sleep, you skimp on your training. During peak training, runners need 8 or more hours of quality sleep.
  • Repetitive motor functions (running!) are honed during a good night’s sleep. Sustained coordination and form factors are preserved.
  • Your body produces the human growth hormone 24 hours a day. But 80% of it is released during the first few hours of deep sleep. Perfect your sleep habits and environment.
  • Caffeine after noon interferes with sleep at bedtime. It takes up to seven hours for our bodies to metabolize just half the caffeine we consume. Deep sleep is particularly affected.
  • Excessive alcohol interferes with REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, critical for optimal cognitive and emotional brain function. 
  • The tired brain impairs our “executive functions” including will-power, adherence to a training plan, workout discipline.
  • Muscle mass, bone density and energy balance are directly influenced by the amount and quality of the sleep you get.
  • Sleep deprivation increases the levels of evening cortisol. This interferes with workout recovery.
  • Recovery from both workouts and injuries are enhanced with quality sleep.
  • When physically tired, you tend to lose running form and mechanics which can quickly lead to injury. Repetitive stress is often a result of inadequate sleep.
  • Insufficient sleep activates our body’s inflammatory systems which can limit flexibility and range of motion.
  • When tired, our immune system is weakened.  You’re 3 – 5 times likely to catch a cold or other airborne virus when sleep deprived.
  • Sleep affects how the body stores and retrieves energy, especially crucial in runs over 90 minutes. Poor sleep diminishes glycogen levels, endurance and stamina.  Miles 15 and beyond are tough.
  • Workouts are inefficient when you’re tired. Your perception of exertion is distorted.
  • Sleep enhances our mental readiness, resolve and emotional stability. Being well-rested diminishes race-day jitters and sharpens our race-day planning and strategy.
  • Tired athletes tend to over-train due to lack of progression, often resulting in injuries. Sleep is preventive medicine. 
  • Your pain threshold is lowered when sleep deprived. Everything hurts more. And pain contributes to sleep deprivation—a viscous cycle.
  • Research shows that an extra hour of sleep reduces pain perception equal to a low dose of codeine, an opioid narcotic. Sleep has no negative side effects.
  • The hormones that regulate hunger, appetite and metabolism are highly sleep dependent.  Sleep deprived people are always hungry and never satisfied with meals. Weight management suffers.
  • Time your last meal to be at least two hours before bedtime. Digestion competes with sleep and usually wins.
  • We sleep best when our body temperature is lowest. Avoid meals, strenuous workouts, caffeine, alcohol near bed time.  All increase heartrate and core body temperature.
  • Exposure to screens an hour before bedtime delays the production of melatonin, the hormone responsible for sleep initiation. Resist electronics in the bedroom. If you must, activate the “night modes” on your devices.
  • Sleep quantity, quality and timing are equally important. Maintaining a consistent bed time and wake time seven days per week helps all our internal physiological systems to remain synchronized and efficient.  
  • Not all sleep is created equal. Just as junk food satisfies hunger without nutritional value, a night of junk sleep can leave you unrefreshed and tired the next day.  Routines are important.
  • Optimal sleep conditions: Cool (65 degrees), quiet (or mask unwanted noises with a fan or white noise generator) and pitch dark. 
  • Sleep derived from sleep aids is rarely as restorative as natural sleep. Always consult with your doctor, but most sleep issues are the result of poor sleep habits, routines and/or conditions—issues not solved with medications.

GET TO KNOW THE DISTANCE CHALLENGE: JENN OTTO

In this blog series, we’ll get to know some of our new and veteran Distance Challenge (DC) participants. If you have a story you’d like to share, let us know! Interviews by DC Coordinator, Hannah Kanne dc@austinrunners.org.

I started running a few years ago. I was in the middle of a weight loss journey (55lbs!) and needed to add more exercise. Running seemed to make sense. I did cross country and track in high school, but that was more of a social endeavor. Running helped with the weight loss and provided me with a much needed release. As a stay at home mom to four kids, some quiet time is a must! I usually run in the wee hours of the morning and don’t often run with anyone. I usually don’t even listen to music! I do have a few phrases I repeat to myself. My favorite when it’s really hot is “the slower you run, the hotter the sun!” or on those challenging days, “fast or slow, just go!” Mostly, it is just me and the road.

When I reached my weight loss goal, I completed my first 5K with my sister in Maine. The plan was to run together. However, the moment the gun went off and those heads started bobbing, the wildebeest instinct took over and off I went! I was hooked. My sister eventually forgave me and I quickly looked for another 5K to sign up for. Fate brought me to the Brain Power 5K. I am an 18-year brain tumor survivor and still struggle with an uncoordinated right side and balance issues. For some reason, the forward momentum from running keeps me somewhat stable.

Since that first Brain Power 5K, I have participated in many races from 5K to marathon. My first half marathon was Moe’s Better Half in San Marcos (pictured). Since then, I have learned how important elevations maps are! In the next few years, I completed two marathons and was ready for a break when I heard about the Distance Challenge. I signed up the following year and was on schedule to complete it, until I was injured. Being a stubborn runner, I was determined to walk the Rogue Distance Festival (30K). After a mile of walking, I thought I would try running. It felt okay at the time, but at the finish, I could barely walk. I planned to walk the 3M, but still couldn’t even walk to my car. Thanks to Dr. Tuggle (The Tri Doc) I recovered. I did walk the Austin Half Marathon, but I did not complete the Distance Challenge. Incomplete goals don’t fly with me…

Unfortunately, it was just the start of injuries. I was back to running in March and registered for the Bay of Fundy International Marathon in June; a marathon that starts in Maine, runs into Canada and ends in Maine. The trip of a lifetime! I racked up the miles too quick and suffered a stress fracture a week before the marathon. Again, I managed to walk the half marathon. I signed up for the next Distance Challenge on the first day I could. I was going to get better and I was going to run again. I signed up for the Austin Marathon too. But injuries would plague me again. After the first race of the Challenge, my back was sore. A week later, I could barely function. It took a very long time with a lot of stretching, rolling and chiropractic care (thanks Dr. Tuggle!), but I didn’t miss any races! I was even able to complete the Austin Marathon!

Now, here we are at the start of another racing season. I completed Vern’s No Frills 5K in August with my 13-year-old daughter, and my kids will all be running in the Brain Power 5K. We have made running a family event! They wake up most Sunday mornings to find that Mommy is already on a run or sometimes even back already. Now, they want to be a part of it too. Two years ago, I left at 3:30 am to get 20 miles in before the Brain Power 5K. I met my family at the race and ran the 5K with them. I earned an ice cream that day! They have enjoyed visiting Dallas, Taylor, Texas, and the Bay of Fundy, Maine for Mommy’s races. In November, they get to go to Tulsa, Oklahoma to watch my next marathon, the Route 66 Marathon. I’ve done several races in Colorado, where I have family as well. I always try to schedule a race when I go on “vacation.” I run for my health and racing on vacation keeps it fresh on my mind.

My goal with the Distance Challenge is to stay healthy. I want to show my kids that there are healthy choices in what we eat and what we do with our time. I am selfish in that I honestly enjoy the alone time. I love the feeling of completing a goal that only I can achieve for myself. I hope to show my kids that hard work pays off.

My family will be on the 80s 8K course cheering everyone on. Eventually, they will be running the Distance Challenge with me, too.

Thank you for sharing your story with us, Jenn! We can’t wait to see your family cheering you on as you #darethedistance injury-free this year!

Get to know the Distance Challenge: Greg Leitich

In this blog series, we’ll get to know some of our new and veteran Distance Challenge (DC) participants. If you have a story you’d like to share, let us know! Interviews by DC Coordinator, Hannah Kanne dc@austinrunners.org.

I was born and raised in Chicago (North Side, so I’m a Cubs fan), came to Austin for graduate school in electrical engineering and fell in love with the city. After law school, more time in Chicago, and the second worst blizzard in Chicago’s history, I decided that Austin was looking better and better, so I came back.  

In high school, I was fairly sedentary — I spent most of my time reading and going to movies with friends. I also have terrible hand-eye coordination, so anything involving throwing or hitting or catching with accuracy was out! During my senior year, I decided I was tired of sweating and breathing heavy from going up a flight of stairs, so I started running and lifting weights and tried to get in shape. Through college and grad school, I added biking and swimming, and by my mid-twenties I was doing marathons and Olympic-distance triathlons.

In my late-thirties, I found managing the day job and all that real life stuff hard to juggle with seriously working out, so I didn’t do anything serious again from my mid-thirties to mid-forties. My last marathon had been the 2000 Austin Marathon. Periodically, I thought about doing one again and, in fact, signed up for one or two, but never found time to do the training. I had gained weight and running the longer distances was hard on my knees.

About five years ago, I discovered I was tired of sweating and having to breathe hard merely from walking up the hill to my house. Also around that time, I needed to buy some new jeans and was aggrieved to discover that I was going to have to go up to a size I’d never worn before.  

I decided this time I would actually run the Austin Marathon again and began training in earnest. I ran the 2013 marathon and finished with a personal worst. But, I’d lost 35 pounds along the way and no longer qualified for the Clydesdale division so I didn’t care. Much.

I sort of fell off the wagon the following year but decided that I should take advantage of the stuff that had attracted me to Austin in the first place: the active outdoors community and, yes, the weirdness. I decided that just one race a year was not the right approach. I’d done the 3M Half Marathon and the Decker Challenge back in the 90’s so I looked them up and discovered they were now part of this thing called the Austin Distance Challenge, which culminated in the Austin Marathon. So, I signed up…

What are your running goals? At the moment, my goal is to run a PB in a marathon. My best of the century (2015) is just under 4 hours but I’d like to bring that down. My PB of all time is around 3:45 but that was all downhill (and twenty years ago!). I would love to qualify for Boston but haven’t yet decided if it would be more efficient to try to improve my running times or simply live long and gracefully enough to let qualifying times catch up with me…

What do you do outside of running? Well, along with the running, I’ve taken up triathlons again and recently completed the Capital of Texas Tri and Jack’s Generic Tri. I’m more comfortable on the swim than I used to be but the running leg is more painful than I remember it. I have signed up for the Austin Ironman 70.3 and I’ve never done that distance before. The training is taking up a lot of time!

I enjoy cooking, largely because I enjoy eating — everything from sushi to pizza to steak to stir fry to chili to goulash. I also still spend plenty of time reading. I’m a recovering lawyer and a full-time children’s book author these days. I write mostly comedic and/or science fiction novels for middle grade readers, although my agent is shopping a couple picture books and nonfiction works as well. 

I also teach workshops and do school visits, encouraging literacy and reading. You can find out about my books at my web site http://www.gregleitichsmith.com

Have you participated in a Distance Challenge before? This will be my third consecutive Distance Challenge. I like the DC as a build-up to the Austin Marathon, and the other races are fun as well. The 80’s 8K isn’t the most picturesque but the music at start and finish is a riot. The Run for the Water has a great downtown route and the Decker Challenge and 3M Half Marathons are just iconic Austin races. 

This year, my goal is to beat all of my last year’s times…except maybe the 3M because the 2017 version featured a near-hurricane-level tailwind (it’s entirely possible I went airborne running past Darrell K. Royall-Memorial Stadium!).

Favorite type of food? Periodically I spend a couple weeks and do a Pizza-a-fay diet where I have a pizza from a different place each day. My favorite is the Chicago-style pizza with the cracker-thin crust and a tavern cut. Unfortunately, you can’t get it in Austin so I have to make my own. On event days, the banana is the perfect food. 

Do you like to listen to music while you run? I do not. I sweat more than most human beings and don’t like the sensation of ear buds floating in my ears. Also, I tend to zone out a bit when I run as it is, so I don’t want to risk missing car horns, the screech of tires, sirens, and the like. I also find that long runs are good for working out plot points in my novels-in-progress.

Thanks for sharing your story, Greg! We can’t wait to follow along as you #darethedistance and get that personal best this season.

 

 

Get to know the Distance Challenge: First Time Participant, Kevin Boyd

In this blog series, we’ll get to know some of our new and veteran Distance Challenge (DC) participants. If you have a story you’d like to share, let us know! Interviews by DC Coordinator, Hannah Kanne dc@austinrunners.org.

 

After years of perfecting my couch potato body, I decided enough was enough. Five years ago I decided to sign up for my first race, an Olympic distance triathlon. For those of you who don’t know, that’s a 1-mile swim, 25-mile bike and 10K run. At the time, running two blocks would leave me gasping for breath. After 8 months of training I finished… almost last in my age group but I finished. It was a proud moment. I celebrated by getting my victory turtle tattoo.

A year later, I ran my first half marathon in just over 2 hours. When I moved to Austin 2-1/2 years ago, I ended up living right along the race route for the Austin Marathon. We spent all morning cheering on thousands of runners and being amazed that the people were all sizes, ages and shapes. I made it a goal that day to run a marathon, and this is the year it’s going to happen. Prior to moving to Austin I lived in Chicago and loved running the lake shore trail. Its 18.5 beautiful miles. But I have to say, Austin’s Town Lake Trail and Greenbelt are just as great (except in July). 

Since I’ve committed to running the Austin Marathon (and farthest I’ve ever ran in a race is 12.2 miles), I was looking for a way to stay focused and progressively train. The Austin Distance Challenge is perfect. With a race every month, each new challenge will come along just when I need it. I’m hoping to finish at least one half marathon in under 2 hours, and my goal for the marathon is to finish. I’m also looking forward to meeting other runners in the community, as it’s always more fun to run with friends. 

I enjoy running with the Austin Beer Run group that meets on Wednesday evenings at Uncle Billy’s. It pairs running with my favorite beverage, which is a good cold beer. I manage the Total Wine in Sunset Valley, so yes, I sell wine and beer and liquor. I am partial to stouts, Spanish red wine and good bourbon. I have a fun job.

Do you run to music? NO. I know lots of people do but when I am running by myself, I listen to nature and my thoughts. If I am doing an easy run with someone else, a good chat is fun. I will sometimes listen to my Map My Run app if I am trying for a specific time goal. 

What shoes do you run in? I mostly run in Mizuno. Currently using the Wave Rider 20’s. I think they are great shoes. But if you’re going to run the Green Belt get some good trail shoes. They are well worth the expense.

What is your favorite running accessory? Two in one running shorts. They are great at preventing chaffing on long runs. Fun tip: coconut oil helps a great deal, too. 

Tell us about your family: My wife runs with me sometimes. She thinks I am too serious but she has done her own 1/2 marathon and did this year’s Cap10K. We have three sons, two in college in Florida (Go Noles) and one is in the Air Force.

 

Thanks for sharing your story, Kevin! We can’t wait to follow along as you #darethedistance and crush your goals this season.

 

When is it okay to push through the pain?

Select Physical Therapy is once again joining the Austin Runners Club as our Presenting Sponsor for the 2017-18 Austin Distance Challenge. For us, they are more than just a sponsor; they are a trusted and valued resource providing invaluable knowledge and support to our runners. We want to thank them and highlight their great work, while sharing some great information with you about common injuries that runners may face during training.

When is it okay to push through pain?

Most athletes accept a certain level of pain and muscle soreness as part of training for particular events. Often times many people will push through a certain pain in hopes it will resolve itself. Some pains are worth being concerned about and should be addressed before it advances to a more serious injury. Signs to look for include:

  • Pain that continues to persist hours after running
  • Pain greater than a 3/10 while running
  • Pain that gets worse the longer you run
  • Pain that wakes you at night

If experiencing these symptoms it is good to reassess your training regimen. Are you running too long or too frequently? Are your running shoes too old? Has your running form changed recently? If you are still unable to resolve these “bad” pains, it is a good idea to consult a physical therapist or running specialist for treatment. The sooner you get treated the faster the recovery process!

Identifying stress fracture versus shin splints

Lower leg stress fractures are a common injury in runners that form after repetitive stress to the bone. When there is not enough rest time for bone remodeling to occur, it causes a stress reaction to the area of the bone taking the most stress. This stress reaction eventually turns into a stress fracture. Drastic increase in amount of activity is the greatest risk factor to developing stress fractures.

Signs to watch for include:

  • Tenderness to palpation at the site of pain
  • Pain will be local to site of pain, and will not be tender above or below fracture site
  • Swelling is associated with this change
  • Symptoms will subside with rest

The greatest difference between stress fracture and shin splints is that shin splints will be tender to the touch above and below the tender point. Swelling is usually not associated with shin splints. If a stress fracture is suspected, it’s important to stop training and see a medical professional. X-ray or bone scan can determine if there is a stress reaction or fracture. Treatment usually includes temporary non-weight bearing with crutches and waiting for fracture to heal which can take anywhere from 4-12 weeks.

Hip Flexor Tightness

For many distance runners, hip flexor tightness and pain can be a problem when building mileage. Hip flexors get tight when sitting for too long. When the hip flexors get tight it will lengthen and weaken the glutes, making them less engaged during the gait cycle. The glutes are powerful muscles that are important for propulsion and shock absorption. If they do not engage as they should, other muscles throughout the lower body take on more force, leading to potential injury. Hip flexor static stretching throughout the day is a good way to maintain mobility. Dynamic warm up of the hip flexors prior to a run will ensure the hip flexor is open in order to allow for more glute activity. The following stretches are great to add to a training regimen.

Static stretching:                                                               

Dynamic stretching:

About the Author: Lauren Queenan, PT, DPT, OCS, CSCS

Lauren is a physical therapist currently working out of Select Physical Therapy’s Cedar Park clinic. Prior to moving to the Austin area, Lauren received her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Northeastern University in Boston, MA. While living and working in Boston, Lauren was very involved with local run clubs and running events, particularly the Boston Marathon. She treated many runners who were training for the marathon and volunteered as a therapist every year in the medical tent at the marathon’s finish line. Administering comprehensive therapy and exercise plans that enable her patients to recover from their injuries to reach their goals, whether the goal is to finish a marathon or simply get back to running is what has always fueled Lauren’s passion for running rehabilitation.

Outside of work, Lauren enjoys staying active through outdoor activities such as running, swimming, and hiking. Lauren has trained and participated in countless road races and track events throughout her lifetime. Through her own training errors and injuries, she has gained a stronger appreciation for how the body works as a whole. The human body is an amazing machine, but the smallest error in mechanics can start to affect other areas of the body in an instant. Over time, the growing number of symptoms from poor mechanics can make it difficult to diagnose the root cause of the problem. To find this root cause, Lauren relies heavily on functional movement screens and gait analysis. This helps Lauren pinpoint the source of a problem to not only reduce current symptoms and get her patients back on track, but to ensure that they have the knowledge and mechanics to stay injury free in the future. 

Select Physical Therapy is a leading provider of physical therapy, hand/occupational therapy, sports medicine and work health services.  Our highly trained team of physical therapists and athletic trainers is available to serve all of your sports injury prevention, recovery and performance needs. 

Whether you are a weekend warrior or dedicated athlete, Select Physical Therapy is committed to working collaboratively with each patient to develop an evidence-based plan of care that achieves individual goals in a safe, compassionate and efficient manner. We offer running assessments, functional movement screens, the AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill, care for orthopaedic injuries (including sprains and strains!) and so much more.

Select Physical Therapy has 20 convenient locations throughout Central Texas, 10 of which have provided specialty running programs in partnership with the Austin Runners Club since 2014. For more information or to request an appointment, please visit selectphysicaltherapy.com

#SportsBraSquadATX

Last month several members of the ARC board joined the #SportsBraSquadATX for their global running day and felt so inspired that Amber Wadey caught up with Jessie Barnes to learn more about this movement.

  

Tell us a little bit about yourself. When did you start running and what are your running goals?

I started running three and a half years ago. I had never been very active, but a few life changes had me feeling lost and I needed an outlet, and even though I couldn’t run even a mile at first, running was exactly what I needed. In the beginning it really helped me work through some emotion that no amount of wine or talking could process. Something about getting out there and sweating and pushing through physical barriers was what my mind needed. I’ve found it to be so empowering and freeing, and over time as I’ve tapped into the running community locally and online I’ve really loved the connection that can be found with fellow runners.

I’m currently training for the Chicago Marathon. It will be my fourth marathon and I’m really excited to see what I’m capable of this time around. Long term I just want to be that lady who’s still running when she’s 80.

How did the Sports Bra Squad movement get started?

Last summer my friends and I saw Kelly Roberts post on Instagram about running in her sports bra for the first time and it came up during a girls night. As we talked we realized we all wanted to be brave enough to run in our sports bras on hot days–and we all know there are plenty of those in Austin–but we all had some anxiety and fear about showing the world our stomachs while we ran. I think we all have this idea of what we’re “supposed” to look like to run that confidently and we didn’t feel like we met that standard. But as we talked we started encouraging each other to give it a try and then we started actually running in our sports bras with each other. I think we all felt pretty self conscious at first but together we created this really supportive, encouraging environment and we wanted to share that with other ladies. We were already putting together group runs pretty regularly so we decided to make a local sports bra squad run last summer where we encouraged everyone to come and run in their sports bras. We thought the group would probably be comprised of our friends and that’s it so we were so happy when word started to spread beyond that group! We had about 35 people at that first run and it was so exciting! Just so amazing to look around at this group of 35 women with all different body types and different running abilities all coming together. It was pretty clear this message really resonated with a lot of people! This year there were even more.

At the #SportsBraSquadATX group run you said you never thought you’d be running in a sports bra, let alone addressing a group in a sports bra. How did you find that confidence?

The whole sports bra squad experience since last summer has been transformative. There have been a few key moments that stand out. First was that initial conversation I had with my friends where we all expressed wanting to run in a sports bra but not feeling brave enough to do so. When I thought of running in my sports bra I thought of all the reasons why it wasn’t for me–all the physical “flaws” I had ran through my mind. But then I was looking at my friends–friends that I didn’t think should be insecure in the least–and they were expressing all the same insecurities I was. So I realized if I could look at them and tell them with sincerity that they should run in a sports bra if that’s what they want to do regardless of what they look like, I had to direct that message to myself as well. Secondly, in February of this year I had a moment early one morning where I was scared to weigh myself because I worried I had gained a couple pounds. Standing there in my bathroom at 6am I realized how ridiculous it was to wrap so much of my personal value up in the number on the scale because this was three days after I ran the Austin marathon. How could I be worried about a couple pounds when I had this incredibly strong body and mind that was capable of carrying me through a marathon? I made an instagram post about that moment and the response was so positive! It was a vulnerable moment to share, but I’m so glad I did because the response told me that this is a big issue for a lot of people and I was determined to share this feeling of empowerment with as many people as I can. We have to change the idea that our appearance is our value. Ultimately I just keep thinking of what I would tell other women who are insecure about their bodies and running in their sports bra and it gets me so fired up.  

When is the next Sports Bra Squad run?

Sunday, August 6th. Meet at 6:45am at the Capitol, running at 7am. It will be a 3-4 mile run, route TBD. Invite anyone and everyone! Running in a sports bra isn’t required, just show up and I guarantee you’ll be inspired! Men are also welcome to join, shirt or no shirts. All paces and abilities are welcome! Here is the link to the Facebook event.

Is there anything else we should know?

Regardless of whether you run or whether you run in a sports bra, I think the message of celebrating our strength rather than focusing on appearances can apply to everyone. Work on building yourself and your friends up and you can build an empowering community.  

Also, if anyone would like to hear more about our local Sports Bra Squad, how it got started, and what it means to us they can listen to our episode of the Runified podcast! Runified also did a follow up episode that includes what Teresa and I spoke about before the run along with some brief interview with others who were at the run.

  • Interview by Amber Wadey.

2017 Board of Directors Elections

It’s that time of the year again–for ARC Members to weigh in on who they’d like to represent them on the Board of Directors. Read below for brief candidate bios, and start thinking about who you’d like to see on next year’s board. (You can descriptions of each Board Member role here.)

A few quick notes on the election rules:

  • Nominations can still be accepted throughout the month of April (email volunteer@austinrunners.org)
  • In addition to the candidates listed below, members will also have the option to write-in their preferred candidates on the ballot.
  • Online elections will be held from Sunday April 23rd through Tuesday, May 2nd.
  • There will be two chances to cast your ballot in-person: on Monday, May 1st at a special edition of our weekly Monday run, held at Ready to Run at 6:30PM, and Tuesday, May 2nd at the Ship workout, held at O Henry Middle School at 5:55PM.

Winners will be announced on social media and in our weekly member newsletter once they are determined.

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Austin Half Marathon – Race Report from a Distance Challenge Finisher!

Amber at the Distance Challenge tent

Photo courtesy Amber Wadey

Two years ago I ran my first half marathon right here in Austin. I joined Team LIVESTRONG, created my own training plan, and did everything I could do to prepare, but I remember worrying about everything that was out of my control. What if it’s freezing or pouring rain? What if traffic or road closures make it too hard to park? What if I’m not feeling well, or my alarm doesn’t go off? The beauty of running your 2nd or 3rd (or 7th) half marathon is that eventually those details don’t bother you anymore. I know I can go the distance and I’ve logged miles in every kind of weather. I’ve learned that with a little planning, the logistics always seem to work out.

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Kayleigh’s Distance Challenge

Just over a year ago, Distance Challenge alumni Sandy Williamson submitted her story through our “September to Remember” contest and won two free entries into the Decker Challenge. When Sandy and her daughter Kayleigh decided to Dare the Distance together, nobody could’ve predicted where the journey would take them. With one race to go, Sandy shares their remarkable story with the ARC.

Sandy and Kayleigh

Sandy and Kayleigh
Photo courtesy Sandy Williamson

In April, my daughter and I travelled to Galveston for the Diva 5K. It was our first test to see how Kayleigh would handle a race with a strict cut-off time. She finished under the required time and the next week we started training for her first half marathon. Kayleigh has ITP and Graves’ Disease, and two weeks later her platelets hit a critical low of 15. It was a life threatening level. Even with steroids and a platelet transfusion, they did not increase so the decision was made to remove her spleen. The surgery normally takes 45 minutes to an hour, but in Kayleigh’s case it only took 20 minutes. Normally, they keep a patient for 24 hours, but she was released 5 hours later. That’s when I knew I had Wonder Woman for a daughter.

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