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 FitBottomedGirls.com, 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 FitBottomedGirls.com 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!

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