We have such a great community of masters runners. Living in the Pacific Northwest we have witnessed first hand two of our team members be the leaders in our racing community for years: Regina Joyce, a standout distance runner at the University of Washington, a national leader for years and then a dominant figure in our local runnning scene as well. Along with Regina we have watched Susan Empey win hundreds of road races around the PNW and throughout the country. As our team has grown over the last several years we have found inspiration from all of you. Thinking of all those years of experience between our masters women we knew that we needed to start collecting and sharing their expertise! This is our first round of “Ask a Master” and if you want in on a future round email firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve found training as a master?
Susan: Striking the balance between the time it takes for my body to recover between hard efforts and my desire to do more and toe that invisible line.
Jenny: Recovery time. I just don't bounce back like I used to. Injuries and aches and pains just don't heal up as fast as they used to.
Lesko: Figuring out how to go hard enough to improve but not overdo it. I find I have to hold myself back when I feel good, and hold myself back even more when I feel crappy. On good days, I don't feel that different running from when I was in college, but the 2-4 days (to 3 months) that follow are way different.
Allie: being patient and waiting (and waiting and waiting) to see fitness gains. Holy cow, it seems like it takes forever to see a jump in fitness these days!
Regina: I definitely noticed my body needing more time to recover, not just from harder workouts, but in general.
Marti: It is challenging to race my own race as opposed to racing other athletes. When I am at an “A” race I often want to go for a place as opposed to a time. This can be self-defeating, depending on who shows up for the race. I am working on focusing on my personal time goals and not my competition.
Jen: Expectation management! It's hard to put the past in the past and realize you can't train like your 20 year old self. Setting new goals and being happy with changing-lowering expectations can be oddly gratifying. Thank God for the age-grade calculator. It keeps me sane!
Kristin: Fitting in strength training and core work into my routine.
Sally: Body tightness and less time to address it.
What motivates you most as a masters athlete?
Susan: Age group stuff aside, what really motivates me is being strong and healthy so that I can continue doing what I love for as long as it feels good.
Jenny: I'm motivated by trying to stay fast for my age; to be an inspiration. To defy age in some capacity.
Lesko: I'm curious to see how fast I can make this bod run! Running with amazing women. And, I want to keep showing my middle school teams how it's done, and maybe make them turn their heads a bit when I sprint.
Allie: Two things: running lifetime PR's and just the whole racing scene. I was a truly mediocre open runner and it has been incredibly energizing to be able to race, and race well, at the national level as a masters runner.
Regina: I love to run, love to train, love to race! But as I age I realize how much I love the social aspect of running and training. Sharing this wonderful activity with like-minded women.
Marti: The feeling I get after a hard workout. I crave that feeling and it keeps me motivated and wanting that feeling more and more. I am motivated to continue running as it is the best stress reliever and mood enhancer I have ever experienced. I really feel my best when I am fit and strong.
Jen: My bad-ass masters' friends keep me motivated as well as my overwhelming desire to be the best I can be no matter what my age. My love and passion for running is a huge self-motivator too.
Kristin: What motivates me the most at this point in my life is the feeling that I get from being fit, the satisfaction of training toward a goal and then racing hard, the comraderie of running with my running girlfriends, and the reality that I am a role model of what healthy looks like to my daughter.
Sally: Running with friends. Racing somewhere new. Oiselle apparel. Still beating some college girls from time to time! Staying healthy, sharp, and happy.
Give one specific piece of advice for other masters runners.
Susan: Dynamic stretches after every run, and regularly scheduled body work during heavy volume and/or peak race season.
Jenny: Balance. Balance your running, career, family and other joys. Make running an important part of your life, but not your life.
Lesko: After a hard effort, recover 3-4 days to absorb the work. Don't race more than once per month, even short distances.
Allie: Cross train. Don't wait until injury to take out the junk miles...do it now. Your body will thank you. And do balance work!
Regina: Enjoy the journey; have fun with it; a bad race or crappy workout is not the end of the world; be healthy in body and mind.
Kristin: Make it a priority to get together with other runners at least one time a week.
Sally: All the reasons you fell in love with running are still there. Find a group, laugh, don't take yourself too seriously EVEN IF you're a masters badass.
If you’ve gone through menopause, how did this affect your running?
*I am starting to go through it, but not there yet. I have no idea what to expect once I do go through menopause. Female runners don't really talk about it, and it doesn't help that I run with a lot of women 40 and under!! They have no idea. I do know certain months I'm more fatigued, moody or can't sleep well, and this affects my motivation. I just feel blah. So far, it's more mental than physical. But we'll see if that changes.
*I didn't realize how it affected me emotionally until I was well into it. Interrupted sleep accounted for a big part of feeling I was slowing down. My advice on this one is just try to train through it - be gentle with yourself.
Describe one time in the last year you felt most powerful as an athlete.
Susan: I am undoubtedly most satisfied with completing 2 major marathons in one year, but I honestly felt like a powerful athlete competing in the Cd'A Olympic Distance triathlon this summer. I was good out of the water, stinky on the bike (but held my own and didn't get passed by other ladies), and then had a really strong run where I was able to pass several young, fit men. It was then that I was super proud to be a solid, strong, female masters runner!
Jenny: Though I ran a 2:52 in Eugene in July, I think I felt happier and more pumped about getting the coveted crystal bowl at Boston Marathon in April for my 2nd place in age group (so many women, from so many countries and states).
Lesko: Workout with Littlewing in the Dempsey, I ran 1k in 3:05 and then 4x300m, the first one in 49 thanks to Fleshman. I felt like I could do anything! Also, Sally and I had a couple killer workouts.
Allie: Honestly, it was after I finished second at USATF Masters Outdoor T&F Champs in the 5k. But it had nothing to do with finishing second or with the time I ran and everything to do with the fact that I (inadvertently) ran a perfectly executed 5k. I was patient and calm but also more confident and in tune with my body than I have ever been in a race. There is absolutely no coincidence that this happened at 41 and not 31 or 21. All the highs and lows of my 20 years of running came together in that race and it felt amazing.
Kristin: Last spring I had a 12 week training cycle where I hit most of my workouts, kept up on the Dirty Dozen, and then raced to a "masters personal best" in the 5k.
Marti: Racing the Lake Stevens Olympic Triathlon, everything seemed to click and I had a solid swim, bike and run. It was a great feeling to put all three together and feel strong in all three disciplines.
Sally: Beat the Bridge 8K in May. Felt strong, got faster as race went on, had lots of runfamily around me, and beat up on that bridge.
What is a stretch goal for you in the coming 12 months?
Susan: Sub 1:20 for a 1/2 and/or sub 60:00 for a 10 miler
Jenny: Breaking 2:50 at California International Marathon.
Lesko: Is it possible for me to break 5 in the mile at this age? I don't know. I feel like I might be capable, but I don't know if I can keep my body healthy enough to do the training.
Allie: 17:59 5k. On paper this isn't a stretch goal, and I have an amazing Oiselle Volée teammate (Andie Cozzarelli, who is just over half my age and a badass 1:13 half marathoner) who has offered to pace me, but it's been a monkey on my back for 8 years so it's a big deal.
Jen: Race well at USATF Club XC Nationals and attempt to lower my old lady 5k pr on the track this spring.
Regina: Get back to racing again.
Kristin: Run under 19:30 for a 5k again.
Sally: Sub 1:25 half…or something else TBD!
Thank you, great ladies and stay tuned for our next "Ask A Master" column with specific training details.