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Revisiting The Biggest Loser In Our Very Own Backyard

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When something is time-consuming, it tends to be an unpleasant task. Training for a half-marathon is exceptionally time-consuming; however, one runner finds the process to be completely worth the time she must invest. Once again, we meet up with Courtney, the 29-year-old New Yorker, who not only lost a significant amount of weight these last few months but is also training for her first half-marathon. (See our first story on Courtney by clicking on this link). With less than a month away from race day, Courtney shares her thoughts and feelings regarding the training process for the NYC Half-Marathon in the following interview:

courtney-0121How are you feeling about the fast-approaching race date?
I am really excited. What’s most shocking to me is how confident I am in my running. Any self-consciousness that I once had when running is now gone. I’m glad I have another month to train but I’m feeling pretty prepared.

Now that you are well on your way to tackling this goal, is it making other goals seem more attainable?
Absolutely. Depending on how I am feeling after the NYC half, I would like to run the all women’s MORE Magazine half that will take place a month later. If it winds up being too much too soon, I will definitely find another half to run sooner than later. I also just entered the lottery for the 2010 NYC Marathon. The idea of running a full marathon is scary. I think my fear is normal but I no longer want fears to hold me back from attaining my goals. When debating as to whether or not I should even enter the lottery, I realized I had no reason not to do it. I never dreamed I would want to do any of this. In such a short amount of time, running has become life-altering.

What has motivated you to stick to your training schedule throughout the past few months?
I never thought I had a choice to not stick to my schedule. When my friend/coach first gave me my training schedule, I instantly panicked when I saw the long runs. My coach appeased my fears and as the weeks went by, it began to feel doable. I trust the expertise of my friend/coach, who wants to see me cross the finish line. So if the schedule she gave me is what is going to get me there, then that is what I am going to do. I also stuck to the schedule because running is now my main form of exercise. I have gone from working out in a gym 4-5 days a week, to running outside 4 days a week and cross training in the gym 1 day a week.

courtney-in-blueHas the training helped your weight loss?
I have now lost 133 pounds in 10 ½ months. I don‘t think running has sped up my weight loss but when I look at the big picture, I have lost an average of 13 pounds a month. For the first time in my life I feel a personal strength I have never felt before. Could something be tweaked to make me lose faster? Maybe, but I feel so certain that I am going to reach my weight loss goals and new running goals, so why mess with a good thing?

When we first profiled you, you had recently joined the free running club sponsored by Nike, RUN NYC. What has becoming a member of this group been like?
Joining RUN NYC has been an amazing experience and probably the best decision I have made in a long time. The club has runners of all different levels so it helps to eliminate any feelings of intimidation because everyone is welcome to run. I have been lucky in that I have become friends with a group who are also new to running and are also preparing for their first half-marathons. We seem to share the same concerns so it’s nice to have people who can relate to what I am feeling and experiencing. It’s also wonderful because they have been very supportive. I have received support from the Pacers as well. A few of them know I am training and will often ask how I am feeling and where I am in the training process.

courtney-pantsWhat thoughts cross your mind while running?
When I first started the thought that constantly ran through my mind was, “I can’t believe I am running!” While I am far from an experienced runner, I think some of that initial shock has worn off. Now I find myself thinking about the actual race day. Thinking of crossing the finish line while my family and friends cheer me on is great motivation.

Does any aspect of running seem easier to you now?
When I first joined RUN NYC, running 2 miles was a challenge. Just this past weekend I ran 10 miles! Not only did I feel great after running but also I knew that if I had to run another 3.1 to complete a half, I could have.

So the initial fears you had when we last profiled you have subsided?
The fear comes and goes, but I am no longer terrified about running the race. As I continue to train and run miles I never dreamt possible, running 13.1 miles seems completely reasonable. That’s not to say I never get scared anymore. When I do get nervous, it tends to be the evening before my scheduled long run.

Besides feeling less scared, what other changes have you noticed in yourself?
I now actually enjoy exercise. Before running, I hated going to the gym. It was more of an evil necessity of the day. Now I look forward to running outside. I have two rest days per week, which allows my body to recover. A couple of weeks ago on one of my rest days, I found that I was actually wishing I were running. The thought was completely foreign to me because when I was just going to the gym, rest days were what I lived for. In the long run if I want to maintain my weight loss, I will have to remain active. I’m so grateful that I have found running and my Run Club. It will be much easier to remain active when I actually look forward to an activity, rather than dreading what feels like a burden.

It seems that becoming a long-distance runner has taught you important things about yourself. What is the most important thing you have learned so far?
As cheesy as it may sound, [long-distance running] has taught me that there is not much I cannot do. By choice, I have spent most of my life being sedentary and now I am choosing to live a different life, one that I never thought possible. Now that I am living this new life, I can’t go back.

For such a time-consuming endeavor, why is training so important to you?
The training is a process, where each run prepares you for the next run. I’d be uncomfortable skipping a run, because I want to know I did everything I could to be ready come race day. It is a time-consuming process but it’s well worth it. It has allowed me to continue to put my exercise and health first.

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Courtney’s Top 5 Training Tips:

1. Be an all-weather runner: “Train no matter what the weather is like. You never know what it will be like come race day, so you want to be prepared for whatever the weather may be like. I recently ran in the snow which was a little nerve racking as I was afraid of falling. Falling is always a possibility, but if faced with having to run on snow on race day, it will be nice to know that if I did it once before, I can do it again.”

2. Ice, ice, ice: “If you have any pain after a run, make sure you ice that area. I apply the ice for 15 minutes, remove the ice for 15 minutes and then repeat.”

3. Pace yourself: “If you are not concerned with the finishing time of your race, it’s best to start your run at a slower pace. Running slower in the beginning of a run allows my body to warm up and will help ensure that I have enough energy to finish.”

4. Partner up: “Find a running partner. On days when I feel sluggish, a 3 or 4 mile run can seem like a lot. A running partner can help distract me from any soreness I may be feeling and help me complete my run.”

5. Listen to your body: “Use breathing as your guide. During my 10 mile run, I never once felt out of breath. Using breathing as my guide, helps to let me know if I should slow my pace down to ensure I can complete my mileage.”

Woman Around Town wishes Courtney the best of luck! We look forward to profiling her again post-race to hear about her half-marathon experience.

Kenley Ferrara is a certified personal trainer and running coach for Professional Personal Training Systems (PPTS) as well as a Pacer for Nike. Her website is www.pptswellness.com.

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