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Come for the Gear, Stay for the Advice


Come for the Gear, Stay for the Advice

Beyond the shoes, clothes and fuel that all runners need, is the one element you can’t buy. You can’t find it in just any store and it’s not a one-size fits all piece of gear. It may change depending on the season, the race, and the runner’s experience. Sometimes it changes day to day, and Springfield Running Center always has it in stock.


Should I change my shoe brand now that I’m interested in running longer distances? How can I avoid blisters? What should I wear when the temperature changes? Do I need to eat on a long run? Have I outgrown my beginner’s training plan?

Springfield Running Center has all of the gear that you need whether you’re just starting to run or you’re an experienced runner. The best part, though, is the advice that comes when you shop.

Try it the next time you stop by the store. While you’re trying on a new pair of running shoes, ask the staff what races are on their upcoming calendars and pump Tracy for advice on how she’s preparing for the Indianapolis marathon next month. Stop by on a Thursday evening for a yoga class and ask what you can do to alleviate the hip pain you’ve been experiencing. Wondering why you’re 5K time isn’t improving? Start with a Thursday night fun run, and ask the fellow runners and Springfield Running Center staff how they set up their tempo runs.

If you’re still recovering from the Springfield marathon or your latest long run, Springfield Running Center has recovery tools, too, and can get you back on the road and ready to start working towards your fall training schedule.

Fall is the perfect time to reflect on your summer runs and to reevaluate your running goals. If you’re planning a new challenge for the spring, the training and preparation starts now. While you’re looking for races to add to your calendar and sorting through the hundreds of training plans you’ll find on the internet, run into Springfield Running Center to gather the gear you’ll need to train for those new goals. While you’re there, take advantage of the knowledge Springfield Running Center passes out for free. Add Springfield Running Center to your Facebook and Twitter and share your accomplishments with the community.

Springfield Running Center wants you to be comfortable in your gear and confident in your running and that’s why it has created a community of runners throughout the Springfield area. Come for the shoes and get the advice for free!




I’m so excited to announce that I’m now collaborating with FitClub on a new blog!  I’ve been a member of FitClub for 10 years and I’m looking forward to sharing my experiences, tips and tricks, and FitClub’s exciting programs with Bibs and Blisters and the central Illinois community!

Check out the FitClub blog and be sure to comment, like and share!




Dear Michael Phelps

Normally, I write about running, but without swimming, I wouldn’t be a runner, so tonight, I need to say thank you to Michael Phelps:

Dear Michael,

I was a high school swimmer before we knew your name.  I didn’t know how much I needed swimming until I found it–or it found me–or the universe (or my parents) threw me in the deep end.  Swimming saved me.  It brought me the confidence I lost when I didn’t make the high school basketball team.  It gave me a purpose, friends, a coach would become a mentor–stya a mentor, and then become a friend.

The first time I jumped into the pool as a high school sophomore, I just felt like a kid that couldn’t cut it at basketball–her one true love.  When I climbed out after my last meet as a senior, I had a school record, more confidence than I was probably entitled to, and I felt fearless.

It was 1999 and we still didn’t know your name.

In fact, while I could list my hero Olympic swimmers by then: Janet Evans, Dara Torres, Gary Hall, Jr., none of my friends or family could.  I yelled at a TV rooting for Amy VanDyken, and named a fish Alexander Popov.  But swimming only came into most homes once every four years.  The Wheaties boxes would be collectors’ items for a few weeks, and by Labor Day, the country’s attention for swimming had faded.

“It doesn’t have a ball.”  “Swimming doesn’t make any money.”

I knew I was an athlete.  But in the three years between summer Olympics, no one else did.

Until we met you.

Your country fell in love with your talent, and stayed in love with you because you’re the one guy in this country we all root for.  Our politics, our religion, our bank accounts fade into the background when we gather around a TV and watch you break records, hearts of other competitors, and hold that gold medal up on the podium.

No one questioned for a minute if Michael Phelps was an athlete.

Swimming became cool.

I became an athlete.

I hope that in the years ahead, you learn what those of us that retired a long time ago already know.  All it takes to be a swimmer again when the meets are over is to jump into the deep end.  Even after the attention is gone, the fans have gone home, and your career has ended, the smell of chlorine will always take you back to your best meets, your best race, your best years.  One day you’ll be swimming a couple laps, and get lazy coming off the wall.  Your hands won’t be streamlined enough, but you don’t care, it’s just for fun.  And you’ll hear your coach in your head.  And you’ll snap those hands back together–because at your core, you’re still just a kid trying to win a race.

I’ve often wondered where I would be now if my parents hadn’t encouraged me to try out for the high school swim team when I was 15.  I think I would have continued to struggle with a lack of confidence.  I would have let that childhood grief of not making the basketball team define me.  I wouldn’t have built leadership skills from being a senior captain.  I wouldn’t have known the amazing feeling of breaking a school record in the last meet with a relay team I’ll never forget.  I wouldn’t have met the coach that pushed me because he knew I was better than I knew.

When I needed swimming the most, the days that my anxiety was borderline crippling in law school, swimming wouldn’t have been there for me.  When I needed another life change as an adult, I probably wouldn’t have turned to running.  No 5K’s with my dad and my friends.  No half-marathons “just to see if I could.”  No knowing that I absolutely can.

In two weeks, I’ll finish my second triathlon.  And the best part will still be jumping in the pool.

And when I’m done, and smell like chlorine and sweat and have wet hair, not one person will question whether swimming is a sport.

We won’t forget you, just like we haven’t forgotten you in between Summer Olympics.

And because of you, we will remember Katie Ledecky, Simone Manuel, Ryan Held, and Ryan Murphy, and all of our knew heros we met this summer.  We’ll see them on commercials, we’ll see them at nationally televised Nationals and Worlds.

In an hour, your country and fans will try to say good bye to the one guy this country has always been able to root for.  Your mistakes made you just more like us.  Your return this year proved what we’ve always known–you’re the greatest.

You’re all of us.

Thanks Michael!


These Are A Few of My Favorite (Running) Things…

Running is a solitary sport. That’s why I like it.  As a swimmer in high school, I like the idea that I can practice alone, and anytime I want, and that my biggest competition is myself.  I can train with and against myself, I can beat myself, I can challenge myself.  If I had to depend on another person to run, I don’t know whether I would enjoy it as much.

That said, the running community in Springfield is strong and helpful. In just the few short weeks I’ve been working on this blog, I have felt tremendously supported by the running community.

A few of my local favorite things:

Races: The Travis Manion September 11th 5K in Washington Park is one of my favorite events.  I’ve done this race twice, and not only is Washington Park one of my favorite places to run in Springfield, but I love the patriotism of the event, the meaning of the event, and the community that supports the cause and its runners for this race.  If you’ve never done this race, I recommend giving it a chance this year.  It’s very walker and kid-friendly, so it would make a great race to do with your family regardless of whether you’re interested in running the race.

For Gear: I love Springfield Running Center. I really try to shop local as much as possible and Springfield Running Center makes that so easy.  Springfield Running Center has everything you need to run (and swim…and recover…they really have everything you need period!), but that’s not why they have a loyal customer base.  Springfield Running Center is so quick to give advice, encouragement, and opportunities to expand your running network and you simply don’t get that at a chain outlet.  I have yet to ask a question the staff at Springfield Running Center couldn’t answer, and I always benefit from their advice.

For location: Springfield has great parks, trails and neighborhoods for running.  I love Washington Park—hate the hills, but love the scenery.  The bike trail between Centennial and Stewart Park is my go-to for a long run because it’s a nice flat out-and-back and mostly tree covered with some pretty views of the creeks in the summer.



[I’m sure there’s an artsy, inspirational caption for this picture, and since I was listening to “Eat, Pray, Love” when I took it, I should have one.]

What did I miss? What are your favorites?

For Advice, Go to the Source

When I started training for my first half-marathon, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, so I did what every novice does…I googled.  I googled running advice until it made me crazy.  I was going crazy because for every article that I read suggesting one thing, there was another suggesting the opposite.  That first half-marathon was a lot of trial and error.

Eventually, I narrowed it down to a few websites I liked and felt that I could trust.  I discovered, which became a quick favorite.  I started following FBG on a regular basis for running advice, and stayed for the real-life, everyday fitness, nutrition and life advice.  Two years and two half-marathons later, and agreed to publish my own half-marathon training advice–a little grittier, dirtier, and more honest than most other half-marathon advice essays, I was so excited that FBG liked it!  (So check out FitBottomedGirls now and look for me in August!)

After a few months of running, I felt qualified to start collecting monthly editions of Runner’s World.  And most importantly, I found a training plan–and became a Hal Higdon devotee.

For six months, I treated Hal Higdon’s training plan as if it he and the plan were my running gurus.  I didn’t waiver, I didn’t stray from the plan.  Through snow, a broken wrist, and boredom, I stayed true to the plan.  And it worked.  I finished my first-half marathon, and then my second half-marathon.

But after that second half-marathon, I grew bored of the slow mid-week runs and the even slower long run.  I wanted something new.  Frustrated that I was again doing too much googling for running advice, I tried a novel approach.

When I started running legitimate distances, I went to Springfield Running Center for shoes.  When they asked me what kind of shoes I was interested, I told them my current mileage and my goals, and I fell in love with Asics.  I let them convince me to buy a half-size bigger than I would normally buy, and I fell in love with how honest, helpful, and experienced the staff was.

Why then did it take me a year and a half of running to realize that the answers were right there all along?  Springfield Running Center has become my mecca for answers, shoes, and gear.  I emailed Tracy and asked if I could come in and ask a few questions.

Generally, I had two questions: How can I get better?  And what do you do?

Tracy recommended the Hanson method as a training plan, now that I had used Hal Higdon twice.  Incorporating speed work and an additional day of running has already made me happier, if not faster and stronger just yet.  I’ve devoted Tuesdays to hill work, Thursdays to tempo runs and speed work, and kept Saturdays as my long run.  It’s far more challenging, but also far more engaging and after just more than a week of switching from Hal Higdon to Hanson, I’m already happier.

Tracy also generously shared her own training plan, which included two swims each week, strength-training, particularly core strength and yoga.

Not only does Tracy generously share this advice with a curious customer, but she shares her expertise with the entire Springfield running community.  Springfield Running Center hosts weekly speedwork sessions at SHG on Wednesday evenings, a 5K fun run on Thursday evenings, and hosts Yoga For Runners, taught by the experts at Ahh Yoga on Thursday nights.  This shop also participates and promotes many races throughout Springfield and carries everything you need to finish those races.  (Every 300 miles I stop in for new shoes, but I far more frequently stop in for the gear and the Sport Beans!)

I’m not much of a yogi, although I try hard.  My first experience at yoga for runners, though, made me realize there were tight, strained, sore parts of me that I didn’t know were sore until they felt better.  The poses were easy to learn (for the most part, I may have almost taken a tumble during some), adaptable for everyone’s body, and slow.  I appreciated the slow part, because sometimes I need to be forced to stretch.  I stretched.  I breathed.  I learned and I fell a little in love with yoga.

Springfield really owes Tracy and Springfield Running Center a debt of gratitude, as does this blogger/runner/curious learner.

Check out Springfield Running Center’s Facebook page for upcoming events!

You Think I Can Lift How Much?!

“You think I can lift how much?”

That’s how every Monday night starts for me.  Since last August, I’ve been working with an amazing personal trainer–Alisha Williams-Jackson at Power Works.

I started working out with Alisha because a co-worker (thanks Brenda!) was already seeing great results with her, and I wanted to lose the last five pounds.  I had no idea how that weight-training was also going to improve my running endurance.

Every Monday, Alisha puts us through circuits, gradually increasing the weight and making me do things I didn’t know I could do.  By Tuesday morning, there’s nothing that isn’t a little sore, but after my long run on Saturday, I feel strong and pain-free.

I want to make it seem like it’s all just hard work, but it’s also a good mix of fun and therapy.  Between complaining about Jacob’s Ladder and step-ups, I’m doubled over laughing at my inability to jump rope.

Besides learning how to use free-weights in ways I would have never imagined–not to mention the amount of weight I’m now able to lift–what are the benefits of working with a personal trainer like Alisha?

  1.  After this year’s half-marathon, I was walking without much pain almost immediately.  My running form was also much stronger when I hit the finish line.

2    I have a muscle in my arm that I’m more than a little proud of and happy to post on Facebook.

Arm muscle!

Arm muscle!


3.     2 pant sizes down from a year ago

4.     Three pounds down, but that’s misleading given the amount of muscle I’ve gained in the last year.  I’m more excited about the 2 pant sizes.

5.  Doing things I never would have imagined I’m capable of doing.  Like a handstand!  Well, it was against the wall, but still, it was pretty impressive.

The experts I’ve talked to for the blog so far have unanimously recommended strength-training as an integral part of a running program.  I can attest to that, personally, and try to force myself to repeat Alisha’s Monday night workout on Wednesdays for two sessions of strength-training each week.  It’s much easier to force myself through the last few reps, though, when she’s watching on Mondays.

The only downside…when Alisha sees this blog post, I’m going to have to stop complaining whens he increases the weight!

Advice from the Experts–Fit Club and Tony Maier


For the ten years I’ve lived in Springfield, I’ve been working out at Fit Club.  One obvious factor in making the decision to join Fit Club was the three convenient locations in Springfield, making it easy to stop for a workout either before or after work.  The reason I’ve stayed loyal to Fit Club, though, is because of the excellent staff.

Last week, I reached out to Fit Club asking for a little expertise about building a better running practice that I could share here.  Fit Club could not have been more helpful, and quickly referred me to Tony Maier, Director of Production and Growth at Fit Club.

On Tuesday, armed with a notebook and many questions, I met with Tony.  Tony’s experience as a runner, race producer, and tri-athlete leaves my couple of half-marathons in the dust, but he was eager to share his experiences and wisdom.

Q:  What can runners do in the gym to improve their running?

A:  Strength, core stability and foam roll.  Tony considers lack of strength training to be the most common mistake new runners make.  While lack of strength training may not be noticeable at first, he says that an increase in strength training makes it possible for our bodies to recover from the repetitive, pounding runners’ legs and bodies endure.  Tony also notes that runners don’t take stretching seriously enough.  I know I am guilty of this and have paid for it with sore hips in the past.

Tony also suggests runners foam roll either before or after a run.  Fit Club has foam rollers available and after you get used to the initial tinge, it is a great feeling.

Q:  How often do you run?

A:  Tony generally runs three to four days a week.  Right now, he is training for a triathlon in Utah, and his running routine is five miles on Tuesdays and Thursdays and a long run on Saturday.  This was a great relief, because it is the same training I used for both half-marathons and made me feel like in terms of mileage (definitely not pace), I am moving up in the world of running!

Q:  What classes at Fit Club would you recommend for runners?

A:  Yoga, Ball Zone, and Body Pump.  I have yet to try these classes (although am a big fan of Fit Club’s Cycle Fit Class), but will be adding these to next week’s schedule.

Q:  What do you eat during long runs or triathlons?

A:  Hammer gels and Thrive gels.

If you’re looking for a gym in Springfield, I can tell you that in ten years, Fit Club has never let me down.  Open nearly twenty-four hours, the staff is always helpful, the classes are challenging and creative, and other than the time I fell off the treadmill (twice, in the same workout, through absolutely no fault of Fit Club), I’ve never had anything but great workouts.

Check out Tony’s race production company, Rise Up and Run Productions.  Tony is particularly excited about the River Run, a scenic ten mile run up the river.  This race also has a bike race at the beginning with shuttle service for the ambitious that want to tackle a ten mile bike race before the ten mile run.

Thank you Tony for the advice! I know I will be adding the classes and stretching to my routine right away.


My Ambitious August

There were three races I was really looking forward to registering for this summer: Woodridge Mini-Triathlon, Abe’s Amble, and Memorial Medical Center Dr. Dan Adair Triathlon. Too bad for me, they are on consecutive Sundays in August.

I did the Woodridge Triathlon last summer and loved it! It’s an incredibly well-organized race with great race support and the distances of all three events are enough to be demanding, but short enough to make it a fun morning for competitors and spectators.

It’s an efficient order to train for, though, with the mini-triathlon kicking things off and culminating in a longer sprint triathlon.

Today, I started legitimately training for all three races with a serious strength session–check back Wednesday for details.

The rest of the week will look something (hopefully), like this:
Tuesday: Run 3 miles AM; bike 6 miles PM (thankfully my Mom generously loaned me her bike for the summer);
Wednesday: Repeat of Monday’s strength session
Thursday: Run 3 miles AM; swim 30 minutes PM
Friday: Run 4 miles
Saturday: Rest and enjoy the day with friends.

The key to this training plan is to stay flexible. I’ve been fairly strict about sticking to half-marathon training schedules in the past, but with the three races and three sports to prepare for, flexibility will help me get to August.

Thoughts on consecutive races? Am I crazy or ambitious? Is anyone else running any of these races?

Babysitting the Brain

When I started training for my first half marathon, the mental challenge was at least as difficult as the physical challenge.  I can’t entertain myself with music for an hour plus long run.  Audio books, though, work well for me.

My favorite non-running audio books are ones that distract, entertain, and engage my brain on the long runs.

A few of my favorites:
Yes Please by Amy Poehler

10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works–A True Story by Dan Harris of Good Morning America fame.

Bossypants by Tina Fey.

If you’re running alone and find yourself laughing while listening to these books, it’s completely normal!  Any runner listening to an audio book will understand and won’t assume you’re crazy.

And if you have something that makes you laugh while you’re slogging through the long run, let me know!