Tuesday Testimonial

Guest Post by Sarah Long

A couple of years ago, my life turned upside down and I went through a pretty difficult time. I was lost for a while and was forced to find myself again.  Thankfully, I had a great support system through my family and friends.  My close friend, Lauren King, suggested I join Star Runners and I am so grateful I did. I ran two half marathons several years ago but I put up my running shoes due to my degenerative disc in my lower back. So, the thought of starting over worried me but I knew I just needed to go for it.

         I can’t even begin to describe how much running has changed my life. I started from the couch to three half marathons and now training for the St. Jude full marathon. I feel stronger and haven’t had any problems with my back.  I am so proud of how far I have come this past year.  I went from wondering how I was going to get out of the bed in the morning to looking forward to running all over midtown with a great group of people at 6 am. It has changed my attitude and perspective on so many things. So, thank you Star and Keith and I am looking forward to many more miles!

YES, I am a runner


After reading Jen’s Tuesday Testimonial (https://starrunnersmemphis.com/2012/08/21/tuesday-testimonial-3/), it got me thinking.  When did I start saying, “I am a runner?”  I can’t put my finger on it but it happened.

I’ve written umpteen blogs about not feeling like a runner.  I never understood why I felt this way.  I was walking the walk and talking the talk but it was a while before I was confident enough to say, “I am a runner.”  There’s such a false idea that we have in regards to what a runner looks like.  All runners are tall, beautiful, and skinny.  They never get red-faced, rarely sweat, and they certainly never smell bad.  They’re all super fast and have also run all of their lives.  Right?  No?  Hmmm, that’s what I thought for years 😉

I think it was after I ran my first marathon that I started calling myself a runner.  Looking back, that’s nuts.  I was a runner 11 years ago when I couldn’t run for miles and miles.  I just didn’t realize it yet.  I thought I had to meet all that criteria I listed above.

I wasn’t born a runner.  I’m certainly not tall and skinny.  My face turns the color of a tomato in a nano second.  My asthma makes me sound like I am always on the verge of passing out.  I sweat like a pig.  I’m slow and will never win any races.  But, you know what?  I am a runner!

Are you running?  Have you run this week?  This month?  You, too, are a runner 🙂



Tuesday Testimonial

Guest Post:  Jennifer Wilkinson

First of all let me say that although I’m training for my first marathon, I feel like a poser.  A fake.  A trickster.  I find that I cannot utter the words, ‘I am a runner.’  I’m not sure why – I put in the miles, I ‘hydrate’ instead of drink, I ‘fuel’ instead of eat – surely that must mean I’m worthy!    A few people at work have found out I’m training and said, ‘Wow, I didn’t know you’re a runner!’  I usually respond with ‘oh, not really’ or ‘I’m working on it.’ I have no trouble admitting that I am many things: a mother, a wife, a friend, an accountant, a teacher, a beer and wine lover, a shower-singer, a car-dancer and a goof-ball who is also somewhat of an introvert.   I am also fluent in sarcasm and profanity (run a big hill with me to experience this first hand)!

On the heels of a very enjoyable and uplifting 10 mile run and contemplating the 16/17/18 milers coming up in the next few weeks, I find myself reflecting on the WHY of my journey.  I’ve run a couple of long(ish) distance races, but I really can’t say what made me register for my first marathon. I wish I could say raising money for St. Jude was my primary reason, but sadly I’m more selfish than that.  St. Jude IS a top notch facility that is deserving of every penny raised and I do hope I can contribute in some small way.  The reality is that my motivation was a recent milestone birthday and to prove to myself that I’m not dead yet [I don’t want to go on the cart :-)].  I want to feel strong and alive and vibrant. I want to show my young sons (4 1/2 and 8) that Mom is a badass who can run 26.2.  I want to confront the runner in me and tell her that she is tough, that she deserves this and that I will buy her a beer when it’s over!

Although I’m still struggling to identify with my inner athlete (me? an athlete?) I find that since I’ve joined Star Runners this is becoming easier.  I have literally fallen on the ground and had a team member pick me up (thanks, Craig!) and I’ve enjoyed the banter and laughter that have made the miles just fly by.  I may not join the group for all of my runs (did I mention I’m somewhat of an introvert?),  but the group dynamic makes me feel that I’m part of something stronger and more confident than just a solitary person who is still struggling with understanding WHY this marathon feels so important and personal. I believe the answer lies in the many miles I have yet to run, but I do believe I will find it.  And I will love every sweaty, exhausting minute of it.

Many thanks to Star, Keith and all Star Runners for helping me recognize myself as a runner, mile-by-mile and step-by-step.

Finding the time

“Not enough time” is the number 1 reason people give for not running.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults need no less than 150 minutes of aerobic exercise each week.  We’ve all heard this for years…in order to stay healthy, we must exercise.

Running isn’t just about running.  It’s also about helping to increase strength in our bones to reduce our chances of osteoporosis.  It’s about reducing our bad cholesterol and increasing the good.  It’s about heart health and lung health.  It’s about weight management.  It’s about overall health and happiness!

I’m often amazed at people who just “can’t” find the time.  I can’t help but think, they must not want to find the time.  There are 1,440 minutes in a day so while it might not be “easy” to find 30-45 minutes to go for a run, I do believe it’s possible.

You must schedule your runs and you must make them a priority.  Obviously, joining a running group is one of the easiest ways to make this happen because the runs are scheduled for you but, even if you’re not in a group, schedule your runs as if you were.  Write it on your calendar and stick with the plan.

You must have a reason for running.  Is it because of a race goal?  Is it because of a health issue?  Whatever it is, remember it and when you’re feeling like skipping your run, remind yourself of your reason for getting out there in the first place.

Sit down right now and figure out how to get your runs in this week.  Your body will thank you.



Faith, Focus, Finish


The amazing power of a power word…or three.  “Faith, Focus, FInish, Faith, Focus, Finish” is what Manteo Mitchell kept repeating to himself as he was running on a broken fibula in the mens 4×400 relay last night in the Olympics.

According to an article in the Huffington Post, Manteo Mitchell heard and felt the pop around the 200M mark but said he just did what he figured anyone else in his situation would have done…kept running.

As Keith and I watched, along with the rest of the world, we wondered what was going on. Why in the world is Mitchell falling so far behind?  He sure is making it tough for the next 3 to get us into the finals.  Little did we know, he had broken his leg as we were watching.

As the article states, “He said he slipped on the stairs a few days ago in the athletes village but didn’t think much of it. Training went well and he felt good when he lined up to kick things off for the Americans. He said he was feeling great, as well, when he looked at the clock while approaching the 200-meter mark, somewhere in the high-20 or low-21-second range.  “I was doing my job,” Mitchell said. “But probably at 201 meters, I heard it and I felt it.”

He credited something more than simple adrenaline for pushing him the rest of the way around the track.  “Faith, focus, finish. Faith, focus, finish. That’s the only thing I could say to myself,” he said.”

Wow!  The power of a power word.  The US went on to make the finals and will be competing for the GOLD tonight as Mitchell looks on from the sidelines in his walking boot. His teammates credit his sheer selflessness for their moving forward but he credits 3 little words..Faith, Focus, Finish.

Coaches are human

Part of the territory of being a coach is helping people deal with injuries that may cause a missed goal or a setback.  It’s easy to motivate someone when they’re feeling good and hitting their paces.  It’s a completely different ballgame when you throw in injuries which might cause the athlete to give up their sport, even for a short period of time.  This is when it’s important to watch for signs of sadness, denial, anger, and depression.

Of course, depression is prominent with professional athletes who have had a setback to their career but it’s also much more common with the regular weekender than people realize.  We spend a lot of time as coaches talking and reading about how to work with your injured athlete, from both a physical and mental stance.  One of the things we don’t talk about though, is how to deal with it when you’re the one who is injured.  Nobody spends much time talking about the injured coach.  A lot of coaches are retired athletes so they’re not spending much time “in the field” as before but there are still plenty of us who are still in the field and an injury or setback can be a pretty tough pill to swallow.

I remember feeling really silly when I broke into a full hysterical cry when my doctor told me I had a heart issue and couldn’t run anymore (luckily my cardiologist disagreed with the “no run” ban!).  I remember thinking to myself, “you are not a professional athlete, why are you so upset?”  I was upset because running has become my world.  It’s my job, my hobby, my passion, my thing i do with my friends, my thing i do with my husband, my alone time…..it’s just my thing.  The nurse practitioner (also a runner) took me in her arms to console me and said, “I get it.  It’s like he just told you we have to take your leg.  Once a runner, always a runner and you don’t want to loose that.”

Well, fortunately I got past all of that but now I’ve been sidelined with a bulging disc.  It’s been 72 days and I’ve run a total of 4 painful hours.  That’s certainly not enough to keep me happy or sane but I’m trying my best to stay positive.  I’d be lying if i said i weren’t completely envious of the marathon group, completely bummed that my triathlon season was cut so short, or just plain irritated.  If you had told me in January that I would have been upset I couldn’t race every tri of the season, I would have laughed.  Instead, I was surprised to find that I was completely devastated when learning this news.  I love the challenge of a tri.  I love the camaraderie that comes with these long distance runs.  I love going to bed early on a Friday night because I have to get up early to “get my long run in.”  I love being tired on a Thursday because I’ve run a long run before work.  I miss this stuff.

While I find that my lifestyle is a constant reminder of what I cannot currently do, it’s also a constant reminder of what I’ve done and what I’m capable of.  I plan to be back at it soon enough but in the meantime i just have to remember that coaches are human too.  I will continue to grin at the “oh, i wish i could skip my run today too” comments and I’m sure I’m not free from my occasional meltdown but I’ll forge on with my rehab and continue to plot my next big goal.