Treading Lightly
Treading Lightly

Run Strong Challenge

I am so close to being able to run. And I don’t mean the 100-200 steps I’m able to “run” right now. To prepare for when I get to really run and to speed my progress toward running, I have been doing Kinetic Revolution‘s Run Strong Challenge.

While it was intended to be done each day for 30 days (you know, when it was being posted live a couple months ago), I have been doing it every time I go to the gym. And crying pretty much every time. (That’s the best my face looked during those side plank leg lifts. Killer.)

Kinetic Revolution Run Strong Challenge #RunStrongChallenge

The program is meant to target weaknesses and strengthen core running mechanics. So far it has certainly made me rethink my readiness to run. I’m far shakier than I wish to admit on most of the exercises. My core is pretty strong, but as soon as I have to stand on one leg and do something else it gets ugly.

I’m always surprised by how hard the exercises are. They look so easy and simple when James demonstrates them, but after the first set I’m convinced otherwise. Most of the exercises are things I’ve never done before or are fun variations on old friends/foes.

If nothing else, it’s been a key reminder to me that strong, healthy running starts with the little things. It’s not all about the mileage. Maybe I can’t go out for a run right now, but I can get ready for months of healthy running.

Want to try it for yourself? Here’s day one.

A video posted by James Dunne (@kineticrev) on

Runners to Follow on Instagram

I can’t get enough of inspiring Instagram accounts. These are the runners to follow on Instagram if you want to add a little bit of speed and amazingness to your feed.

As a runner myself, I am comforted by the runners who share their stories of injuries and comebacks, who are first time Olympic trials qualifiers, who set new records. I will likely never get anywhere near them (in real life or in accomplishments), but witnessing their dedication, hard work, setbacks, and triumphs gets me all jazzed up.

Runners to follow on Instagram

Whether you are a runner or you appreciate some healthy, supportive fitspo, these are my go-to Instagram runners. Many of these runners could have been on my list of female athletes to follow, but I set them aside so I could share them with you here.

Runners to follow on Instagram

Shalane Flanagan

I can’t wait to see how she does at the Olympics. (I’m also looking forward to her upcoming cookbook.)

Sarah Brown

A video posted by Sarah Brown (@sarahmb15) on

She ran throughout her entire pregnancy. And was back to training a week later.

David Laney

A photo posted by David Laney (@davidlaney12) on

His trail runs make me swoon. But don’t let that fool you, he also competed at the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials.

Ella Greenwood (AKA Ultra Ellie)

A photo posted by Ellie Greenwood (@ultraellie) on

And I complain when I have to run more than eight miles.

Amelia Boone

A photo posted by Amelia Boone (@arboone11) on

She destroys the entire field at obstacle races. Check out her great interview with Tim Ferriss on his podcast.

Dirtbag Runners 

Every photo is a stunning view with a strong runner. Can’t really ask for too much more.

Andrea Duke

A photo posted by Andrea Duke (@andreaduke1) on

She has been mixing up her training for the 2016 OCR World Championship, and it is really fun to see what she’s up to. She’s also wicked smart and a mom of two.

Lucy Bartholomew

Lucy is an ultra marathoner in Australia. I am endlessly jealous of her trails and beach days.

Little Wing

A photo posted by Littlewing (@runlittlewing) on

For everyone who ever wondered what it would be like to go pro and be young and glamorous and surrounded by best friends. Totally not jealous. These speedy girls are Lauren Fleshman‘s crew.

Anna Frosty

A photo posted by @annafrosty on

Ultra runner and ambassador for SisuGirls.

Emily Halnon

A photo posted by Emily Halnon (@emilysweats) on

This concrete runner turned ultra marathoner shares her killer views (and brews).

Kara Goucher

A photo posted by Kara Goucher (@karagoucher) on

Despite being a professional runner, Kara’s feed feels like one of your friend’s. It’s honest and about her life, not just running. Also, I want to play with her new puppy.

Scott Jurek

A photo posted by Scott Jurek (@scottjurek) on

His feet take him some incredible places.

Stephanie Rothstein Bruce

Professional runner, coach, business woman, mother (of two under two?), Steph makes me feel so lazy.


Who do you follow? Anyone missing from the list?

13 Weeks Later

When I hobbled out of urgent care 13 weeks ago I told myself I still had plenty of time to heal up before my half marathon. I was still dreaming of a fast race and the chance to PR in February.

I finally accepted that I wasn’t going to make it to that race. Now I’m staring down the fact that I won’t even be running at all by then.

At three months, this is officially my worst injury. Sure I’ve had lingering tendonitis, but this takes the cake for my longest, slowest recovery yet. And there really isn’t anything I can do about it.


I’ve accepted that I have a severe ankle injury, and I need to treat it as such. I’ve stopped crying over the fact that I was coming off a huge PR and I was in the best shape I had been in in years. By now that fitness is loooong gone. I’ve also stopped thinking about how I’m going to get back there as soon as I can.

The past and the future are dangerous places. I end up feeling frustrated and hopeless when I dwell on them.

Lately I’ve been trying my best to focus on the present. Not even what I can do today, but what I can do right now. My ankle range of motion comes and goes. The pain hits and fades. I can do squats fine and then suddenly I can’t do them at all.

And it’s all okay. It’s all progress. It’s all something.

I can’t control my recovery. I can’t predict when I will be able to run. I can’t force my body to heal any faster (which isn’t to say I’m not trying everything I can).

I’m still an athlete. I’m still getting stronger. I’m certainly learning a lot. And soon, I will be able to build the base that will let me run and lift until my legs turn to jelly. But right now, I’m still digging the foundation. I’m getting my tendons strong and getting rid of all of the scar tissue in my way.

What comebacks are made of

Comebacks are made of a bunch of little things done right.

I have to keep reminding myself of that. It’s the two minutes I set aside each day to do my ankle strengthening exercises. It’s the 30 minutes I spend each night dipping my ankle in and out of icy and hot water. It’s all of the things I know I can’t do that I don’t do.

I want to run. Desperately. I’m 11 weeks out from a half marathon, a half marathon I signed up for thinking I would come home with a PR. Now I’m questioning if I will even make it to the start line.

But all of the small things add up. I can’t run right now, but I can spend all of the time I would have spent running getting my strength back and helping the healing process. I can’t squat or snatch or clean right now, but that doesn’t mean I can’t get stronger or that I can’t lift.


The last time I was injured I was so focused on all of the things I couldn’t do that I was blindsided by all of the new things I could do. Just like last time, I am focusing on different muscles than I normally do and I am working hard to build a solid, healthy foundation so when my ankle is ready, the rest of my body will be prepared to run again too.

Frustration is still around every corner. I still cry about not being able to do what I want. I worry about how long this injury is taking to heal and about what lasting effects I might have in the future. But each thing I do right gives me a little more hope.

The worst is over. Now it’s just about staying focused and working on the little things.

The prognosis

I’d like to think I’m handling this injury better than my last.

Which is funny given my propensity to lose my mind the minute anyone suggests I can’t run, jump, or do anything fun.

It’s almost easier that this injury has been visually pronounced (my bruise turned a nice shade of green just in time for Halloween. It didn’t hurt that I walked like Frankenstein’s monster) and the pain is violent and consuming.

There’s no ignoring this one.


The good: I didn’t break any bones. The bad: I’m out for 4-6 weeks. The ugly: … well my ankle.

After x-rays and WAY too many doctors painfully poking and prodding my already grotesque, swollen lump of an ankle (MUST you push so hard? I mean really!), I had “sprained ankle” stamped across my chart and I was sent on my merry way.

I finally started PT, which means I now spend 30 minutes or so a day doing weird exercises that seem like a test of patience more than a way of getting back to the things I love. Like going down stairs without pain.

This time there’s no groveling. There’s no trying to run or pushing through nagging pain. I’ve never been so in touch with my painful reality. I’m out for the count.

It doesn’t matter that I was in great shape. It doesn’t matter I had just pulled off a massive 7-minute PR on a difficult course. It doesn’t matter that I have a half in February. It doesn’t matter that I love to run in the rain and it happens to be raining.

On Wed. 10/28 at exactly 12:30ish p.m. I massively sprained my ankle.

Those are the facts. That’s my reality.

I’m out for now, but you damn well better believe I am going to do all of the weird exercises and I am going to fight back and return to running stronger and hungrier than ever before.

Now, can you please pass the ice cream?

Nike Women’s 2015 San Francisco Half Marathon

I went into this race prepared to give it everything. I knew it would hurt. I knew I would have to fight every mile to stick to my goal pace. I knew I had to face hills that made me (and the grown men next to me) want to cry.

I gave this race damn near everything I had.


I went into the race thinking I would aim to run a 10 minute per mile pace throughout the entire race (no easy feat given the amount of killer hills along the course. Over 13.1 miles we did over 1,500 ft. of elevation change). But when I got to my start corral and I saw that a 2:10 was a 9:55 per mile, I went all in on it.

And let me tell you. My legs hated me for it.


I spent most of the run not really seeing what was around me. It was just me, my watch, and my killer playlist against the (hilly) world. (Have a mentioned there were a lot of hills?) It was by far the most mentally challenging race I’ve had. That morning I had written out on my hand what time I should be at when I got to major miles (3, 6, 9, 11, 12). Every time I hit one of those goal times, I would start to freak out and tear up. I could actually do this crazy thing.

Spoiler alert. I made it.


The five a.m. wake-up. The near vomit fest at the finish line (keeping that in was a win in and of itself. They should make medals). The pain of the mile long hill at mile 10. The tears when I saw my family. It was all worth it.


I crossed the finish line in 2:12:19. Nearly three minutes faster than I’d hoped for and seven minutes more than my previous PR.

I’m so happy that I hit my goal. Those hills were hell, but it made me wonder what I can do on a flat course. I’m coming for you 2:00.

Oh, and without further ado, this year’s necklace:
Nike-women's-2015-san-francisco-half-marathon-finishers-necklace-tiffany's-box Nike-women's-2015-san-francisco-half-marathon-finishers-necklace-tiffanys Nike-women's-2015-san-francisco-half-marathon-finishers-necklace-design Nike-women's-2015-san-francisco-half-marathon-finishers-necklace


Taper Troubles

Wait, so tapering isn’t for trying new things and attempting to cross everything off your months-long to-do list?

This week I’ve been throwing all of my energy into everything that’s been nagging me. One more closet clean out? Oh yes. Finally making granola bars? Why not? Riding my bike to work? So fun!

There is a downside. It turns out that tapering is for resting, both mentally and physically, and I’ve been doing a pretty terrible job at both. Cycling to work doesn’t sound like a big deal, but my tendency to go all out and try to keep up with the cars leaves my legs shaky… not rested. Stressing myself out about not getting all of the crazy things on my list done is counterproductive to going into the race relaxed and ready.

After not really understanding how I should be tapering and putting all of my excess energy into everything but resting, I think I’m finally starting to figure it out. Instead of running around trying to clean every inch of my house, I’ve been reading. I put away the list, and I decided that once the race is over I would prioritize a few things on it and finally make them happen. I’ve been eating well, reducing my sugar intake, and being really careful with my diet so I don’t go into the weekend with an irritated stomach.

I’ve struggled with really tapering this time around more so than in the past, and I think it has to do with my nerves about the race. I’m excited and nervous and overwhelmed and feeling totally ready and feeling not ready at all. This is the first time I have a real goal in mind, and I’m planning on giving it everything I have to get it. Which leaves me constantly thinking about what I have to do to get there and the what ifs of 13.1 miles.

But I have two more days to keep doing the right things. More reading and napping. More putting my feet up. More laughing. Less thinking.

Running in Spain

Running in Spain wasn’t quite the leisurely stroll I saw in my dreams. Two of my long runs for my upcoming half marathon were scheduled for the two weeks I was traveling, which put a little extra pressure on making them happen. I didn’t have high expectations performance-wise for these runs – I was off my usual sleep schedule (ha! understatement) and weighed down by ice cream. A lot of ice cream. I was also buzzing with excitement about exploring a new place on my feet. Turns out running on my trip was easier than I expected… and much harder.


Parque del Retiro, Madrid

My mom kept telling me that running would help with jet-lag. I didn’t really get to try out that theory, because the days it was hitting me the hardest, I was nauseated and zombified. But on my second full day in Spain, I headed out to the Parque del Retiro in Madrid.



It felt so good to be outside, enjoying the stunning park that I didn’t care all that much that my “run” was about 60 percent running and 40 percent walking/ “stopping to take a picture” (also known as “I feel like I’m dying and I want to stand here”). And to think that I told myself that if I felt good I might try for a long run. HA! The 4.25 miles I ran were plenty.

Jardí del Túria, Valencia

By the time we got to Valencia, I was ready for a long run. We stayed in a hotel close to the science park/ the Jardí del Túria, an amazing park that used to be a river running through the city. As soon as we digested lunch a bit on the first day, I grabbed my running shoes, convinced my travel companion to join me on the world’s heaviest bike (sorry!), and set off to conquer my first long run in Spain.


I have never run in such an inspiring place before. Sure the Embarcadero in San Francisco is amazing and I love seeing all of the runners, but it’s nothing compared to the amount of people who were out running in Valencia. The park was packed! There is a special runners’ trail that goes straight down the middle of the park for most of it (9km in each direction).

The best part? Constant distraction! I watched ping pong, roller blading, soccer, boot camp workouts, old men chatting while pretending to work out, adorable dogs, near bike collisions… I didn’t even miss listening to music or a podcast.

Camí de Cavalls, Menorca

This was my big run, and I wasn’t quite sure how to go about it. I didn’t want to run alone, which meant I had to find a place to run that was close to a bike rental. I also had to figure out where, on a tiny island, I could 10 run miles without constantly feeling like I was going to be run over on the narrow roads.

I did some research (on Internet from 1998), and I stumbled across the insane ultra marathon that has participants do a loop around the entire island. The race is focused around the Camí de Cavalls, an old trail that was used as a lookout/defense route. I figured if they could run on it for that long, surely I could do a 10 mile run.


And for the most part that was true. I had some trouble finding the trail… and staying on it. I’m pretty sure at one point I was scrambling through people’s backyards, up against a sheer cliff into the ocean. To be honest, I started to get frustrated. I hadn’t been running regularly during the trip, this was way out of my comfort zone, and 10 miles by itself is challenging enough. Ten miles while trying to figure out where the hell you are and how the hell you get back to where you started was maddening. I was constantly having to stop to try to figure out where the trail was, which sucked all of my motivation and energy. On top of that, the trail was incredibly rough and rocky at some points (and on paved streets on others), which exhausted my unprepared feet an ankles.


(I’m making this face because it’s beautiful and I’m on vacation on an incredible island and part of me is having fun… the rest of me thinks I’m going to die right here.)

Camí-de-cavalls-Menorca-minorca-cami-de-cavalls-south-of-Ciutadella-running-waterfront Camí-de-cavalls-Menorca-minorca-cami-de-cavalls-south-of-Ciutadella-running-beach-trail Camí-de-cavalls-Menorca-minorca-cami-de-cavalls-south-of-Ciutadella-running-beach-trail-2

Now that I’m not feeling the pain of the run (or the heat!), I’m so glad I did it. I saw some incredible things (The beaches! The color of the water! All of the food I couldn’t eat!). It wasn’t exactly a confidence booster for running a fast half, but it sure was for the budding explorer inside of me.