the running page

October 26, 2010

my running story
sit back and make yourself comfortable, because this “summarized version” is still ridiculously long (sorry!). when i set out to write out my journey from high school cheerleader to die-hard marathon runner (or something like that), it didn’t seem like such a big undertaking. however, i finished six installments and still found myself only up to 2005. today, i will put it all together — and fast forward a bit in hopes of finally reaching the ending!

the only good in-motion running photo taken of me, ever.
part 1: the high school years. former cross-country stars love to ask, “did you run in high school?”. only from stunt to stunt during one of our competitive cheer routines! (go haverford FORDS!)

part 2: college running in beautiful, scenic williamstown . . . on the treadmill. yeah, i know.

part 3: taking it outside (finally) with lab buddy emily and my shiny new pre-iPod RIO mp3 player.

part 4: really catching the bug, or what happened when i fell in love with this guy:

clearly i would never keep pace, but i could try!
part 5: my first 26.2 which went miraculously well in spite of potentially poor choices. oh, and here’s a race report from my vintage running blog!

part 6: pfitzing my way to philly. see more about what “pfitz” means in the training plan section below!

and apparently, i left the story off there! honestly, i feel like most of my running career/experience happened after this point, but this is getting rather long, so i will summarize (with links, of course, in case you’d like to read more).

marathon #3 was in cincinnati (flying pig) in 2006, just weeks before getting married. apparently, 26.2 mile races were such old hat by that point that my entire race report just shows the graph below and reads “race was fun. legs hurt now. more later!” or perhaps i was just too busy finalizing our wedding’s seating chart and the centerpieces.

steady as she goes . . .
■ it was after this race that i got it in my head that i wanted to try to qualify for the boston marathon. still 13 minutes too slow, i knew i would have to amp up my training, so amp i did.

i set my sights on the 2007 miami marathon, and dove into pfitzinger’s up-to-70-miles-per-week training plan with a vigor that my workouts haven’t seen since . . .well, pre-residency, i suppose. i was in the lab with plenty of time on my hands, and i think that putting my all into running was a way of coping with the fact that i felt a little bit lost in the science half of my life.

things were going well! i still remember this one 17 mile run i did with 14 miles at average 8:06 pace that truly felt like a breakthrough. clearly, the plan worked — I HAVE NOT HAD A RUN THIS WONDERFUL SINCE. however, i did not listen to my body when it cried, “too much!” and my reward was a searing case of achilles tendonitis that rendered me unable to walk properly, much less run. it took months of recovery (see the injury recovery plan i like, also below!) before i finally was able to run again.

■ unfortunately, after a gradual build up to real running again, injury #2 reared its ugly head during the next two marathon training cycles that i attempted (i know, who would keep going back for more with all of these issues? me, apparently).

i developed pain in my right hip (hip/groin area, really), which intensified and escalated until i finally saw a sports medicine doctor who did an MRI. the result? a labral tear, a diagnosis with an uncertain prognosis. it was possible that i would never run pain-free again.

to put it mildly, i did not take it well.

■ to make a long story short, i eventually DID get better, labral tear be damned! i went to a chiropractor who specialized in active release technique at jess‘s suggestion, and i really believe that this helped a lot. that, and reducing my mileage significantly. at this point, i don’t think i have run a 50 mile week for years.

in event of re-injury, i would go back to ART again in a heartbeat
one silver lining of this experience was that it did help me to learn that with the right training, improvement is possible without mega-milage! skipping ahead, i was finally able to train pain-free and completed my 4th marathon in december of 2009 in charlotte.

it really did feel like a triumph!
i used the much more minimal FIRST training program (this features 3 runs/week) and it went well! in fact, on the fewest miles, i had run my best race, finishing in 3:48, a 5 minute PR on a fairly hilly course.

graphs like these tell the story of a marathon so well!
and that brings this tale pretty much up to date. what can i say, other than a 5K PR (i finally met my sub-23 goal this march!), 2010 hasn’t been a big year for running.

post-race with meg in unflattering race attire
in the more recent months, i have dialed down my workouts in hopes that this project will come into fruition. writing this post reminded me of just how much i really do miss training plans and speedwork and real long runs. i am hopeful that my patience will pay off and someday i will be back and READY to meet that 3:40 marathon goal head-on (hopefully boston won’t raise their standards on me first!).

more running odds ‘n’ ends
✔ my brief brush with running fame: 2009 magazine cameo

scan of my page from the 2009 sept/oct issue
✔ thoughts on eating while marathon training

my favorite training plans (list within a list? why not?)
runner’s world ultimate plans (i have used these for half and full marathons)
pfitzinger training plans: not for the faint of heart or injury prone! but they do work beautifully.
daniels running formula has excellent templates to use to create plans for shorter races
— the 3/week FIRST plans are in this book, but some are still to be found online: full & half
pfitzinger recovery plan for after an injury — a lifesaver for those like me often tempted to do too much, too fast.

so there you have it! as you may gather from the above novel, i LOVE to talk workouts, races and training plans, so feel free to email me if you ever have any questions or comments. happy running!


  • Reply stompthrupuddles March 10, 2019 at 7:25 pm

    That is awesome! Any advice on crosstraining and weights (ie a regiment?). This is what I am BAD at.

  • Reply Anonymous March 10, 2019 at 7:25 pm

    i LOVED reading this. i love seeing how people have become the runners that they are. and i&#39m still in awe of your magazine debut 🙂

  • Reply Valerie @ City|Life|Eats March 10, 2019 at 7:25 pm

    I had not read your past running posts, so I really enjoyed this recap 🙂 Thank you!

  • Reply Anonymous March 10, 2019 at 7:25 pm

    Really enjoyed this post. Its interesting to see how you got into running, the highs and lows of it, etc. Do you think you will do a marathon next year?


  • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger March 10, 2019 at 7:25 pm

    stompthrupuddles: ohh, i wish i had this expertise! most of the time i just do elliptical + basic weights. for lots of great cross-training ideas, check out the fitnessista site.

    alicia: hi! thank you and welcome!

    kim: probably not in the next year given i really am hoping a pregnancy will make that impossible! but at some point again, DEFINITELY.

    rachel: aww, you are making me miss you + meredith + emily — we need a bachelorette party part deux.

  • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger March 10, 2019 at 7:25 pm

    oh, and kristina – i want to read that book – thanks for reminding me!

  • Reply atilla March 10, 2019 at 7:25 pm

    Part of your running archive has to include getting lost on your first trip to Miami generating an APB and BOL

  • Reply Angeliki Bogosian March 10, 2019 at 7:25 pm

    Nice post, it reminds me of the book "What I talk about when I talk about running". You should write a book too 🙂

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