How I Became A Faster Runner

How I Became A Faster Runner | Kirsten McCayI wanted to share this for those of you who are new to running or struggle with it. It gets easier and you will get faster!!! I started running in 1999 when I decided to try a triathlon. I hated it, it was hard, and I was slow. The worst part was that I was an aerobics instructor so I was actually in good shape, at a normal weight, and in my late 20s. Running should have been easy for me, or so I thought.

After my first tri (the run was 2 miles) I was hooked on triathlon, but still rarely ran because I didn’t enjoy it. In 2001 I decided to sign up for an ironman distance triathlon where I would have to run a marathon. I decided I better start running!!!

After 10 years of racing I still didn’t like running, but I was slowly (emphasis on slowly) getting faster. Some seasons I did a little speed work, some seasons I ran more miles per week, some seasons I did stepmill and hills, some seasons I ran mostly on the treadmill, but all seasons I kept running. Other than a 2 year break, I have been consistently running between 10-60 miles a week. My average I would say is 25 a week over the past 19 seasons of triathlon.

This year I have PRd my 5k, 10k, half marathon, and ironman marathon. And last night I just PRd the mile. Before last night my fastest mile was 6:04 in 2005. Last night, 12 years later at the same race, I ran. 5:52. I am 44 years old and am still getting faster. And I can finally say, after 19 years of running, that I finally like running.

The 4 things in my opinion that have helped me get faster this year are:

1. Last year I lost 10 pounds and this year I lost an additional 5.

2. 3 years ago I became 100% plant based so my body recovers more quickly so I can train longer and harder more consistently. This year I am eating more raw foods which are nutrient dense and low on inflammation.

3. I race as much as possible to learn how hard I can push my body before I crack.

4. I now have confidence as a runner so I can start a race a little harder and with a faster group pushing me to go faster to keep up.

So if you’re struggling, if it’s hard, if you hate it but want to like it, stick with it. Once it’s easier for you, you will enjoy it more. Once you enjoy it more, you will do it more often, and in return get faster!!!

One last thing…

You need a good reason to want to run or you won’t lace up or get out of bed at the crack of dawn or head outside after a long work day. Why do you run? Why do you want to be a runner? Figure it out and make sure it’s a compelling reason, like at least an 8 on a scale from 1-10.

I want to be able to compete at a high level in my age group in triathlon. On a scale from 1-10 that’s a 10 on importance to me. So I get up and get running so that I can accomplish that!!

What is your reason to run????

Hope this helps any of you struggling today!

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TOTALLY AWESOME Transformation: Dawn Ashcraft

TOTALLY AWESOME Transformation: Dawn AshcraftI have worked with so many incredible women over the years, I wanted to show them off and share their experiences since they are all so different than mine. I am hoping I can help and inspire and motivate more and more people by shining the spotlight on these amazing women.

This month’s shining star is Dawn Ashcraft. I met Dawn after the bulk of her weight loss/health journey. She came to me to up her game and run the Bolder Boulder 10K race in Boulder, CO in May. I am so proud to announce she made her goal and finished the race! And now she’s ready to do another one even faster! AWESOME!

Here is Dawn’s story…

In 2012 I lost my 24 year old son to an accidental prescription drug overdose. I spiraled into a deep depression I didn’t know if I would ever come out of. In the process I stopped taking care of myself and used food for emotional support and comfort. I didn’t exercise or even leave the house most days. At my heaviest I weighed about 310 pounds.

In 2015 I was tired of being sad and tired all the time and I was sick of hating who I saw in the mirror. I knew I had to change. I realized my son would have been disappointed in me if I kept on the way I was and he wouldn’t want me to be in this dark place forever.

I met a guy who was a boxer and I started boxing with him. I started boxing 90 minutes a day, 4 days a week and lost 15 pounds in the first month. That kept me motivated to keep going. Not only did I start losing weight, I had more energy, my complexion was clearing up, and I actually wanted to eat better. All the hard work was paying off and I could tell immediately this was a path I wanted to continue.

In changing my eating habits, the first thing I cut out was fast food. Next was soda and cutting down on my alcohol consumption.

Once I was down to pounds in May of 2016, I decided to run my first 5K. It took me 43 minutes. I wanted to challenge myself to get faster and better so I did another in 38 minutes and then another in 35 minutes. I love running because it’s something I can do alone. It’s just me out there with my thoughts. I can reflect on my life and my transformation. Plus my son loved to run and I know he would love that I am a runner now!

When I got down to 190 pounds, I started getting really excited. I could see my muscles and I felt confident in my new clothes I had to buy to fit my new body. I continued boxing at home 3-4 days a week and run 3-4 days a week. My ultimate goal is to get down to 155 pounds.

My advice for the person who feels helpless and hopeless in her weight loss journey: Sit somewhere quiet and talk to yourself. Tell yourself that you love yourself every single day and promise yourself no matter what, you will always want to take care of yourself, because you love yourself.

Unconditionally!

If you have a bad day, let it go. Start over tomorrow, it’s one day out of your whole life!

Keep a journal. Ask yourself why did I eat this, what am I feeling, talk about your journey, tell your story.

Move. Even if it’s walking 2 blocks, just move! And do more than you did yesterday!

What would I tell my old self? You’re worth it. You’re worth it. Fight through it, you’re worth it!! You’re going to get through it and you’re going to be an amazing!!!

What is my favorite part of this journey? I smile more. I have a great smile and I didn’t smile before. I like who I am becoming and I’m not done yet!

THANK YOU DAWN! And you are right…you are NO WHERE NEAR being done! I am grateful to be a part of your life! Keep shining!

See you next time!

How I PRd my Half Marathon

How I PRd My Half Marathon - People always tell me they want to be a runner but they hate running. They ask my advice on how they can like running more. Here is what I say…Last weekend I ran my 83rd half marathon. I ran my first one in 2001 when I decided to train for my first ironman.

At that time I was 29 years old and the longest I had ever run was a 10K…once! And BTW…at that time (and for the following 10 years) I pretty much hated running. I did it because I liked triathlon and if I wanted to be competitive in my age group, I had to run. So I did.

People always tell me they want to be a runner but they hate running. They ask my advice on how they can like running more. Here is what I say…

1. If you truly hate running, find another form of exercise that you love or you will never do it anyway! Or you may do it short term but never stick with it long enough to enjoy it or get the benefits running offers.

2. If you hate it but have a strong “why” you want to do it (my case) then keep running.

3. The more you run, the easier it is.

4. The longer you run, the easier the shorter runs are.

5. The faster you run, the less time you spend running a certain distance, and therefore feels easier.

6. The less you weigh, the easier running is.

7. The more nutritious your meals are (lots of fruits and veggies), the more energy you have, and the more energy you have, the easier it is to run.

In summary: Run more, run longer, run faster, eat better, maintain an ideal weight for you, and running will be fun and easy! Once it is fun and easy, you will like it more, maybe even love it!

No short cuts, no secrets, just do it…like most things in life you are successful with!

So basically that is how I PRd my half marathon. That and it was a flat course at sea level.

Over the past 15 years of my running career, I have had ups and downs: injuries, digestive issues, and a love/hate relationship with running to name a few. I even took 2 FULL years off and didn’t run a single step about 9 years ago.

But in the past 3 years, I have consistently been getting faster and improving my running times following the guidelines I posted in this article. I want to place at the top of my age group in my triathlon races this year and qualify for the Ironman World Championships in Kona, HI (my why).

I am doing a running streak at least a mile a day (I’m on day 57…running more)

I have now done 67 marathons including a series of 7 marathons in 7 days (running longer)

I am incorporating 30-60 second ALL OUT intervals on all my treadmill runs (running faster)

I have lost 5 pounds this year from last year so I weigh less, and I am 100% vegan now and eat more raw fruits and veggies throughout the day so I have more energy and recover more quickly so I can run longer, faster, and more often

So that’s it! The secret is out!

Here are a few other articles that may help you with your run…

Making Running Easier, With Interval Workout!

http://www.foodfitnessfinancefun.com/fitness/making-running-easier-with-interval-workout

I didn’t even really like running…until today!!

http://www.foodfitnessfinancefun.com/fitness/i-didnt-even-really-like-running-until-today

Advice For Your First Marathon

http://www.foodfitnessfinancefun.com/fitness/advice-for-your-first-marathon

How I Trained For 7 Marathons In 7 Days

http://www.foodfitnessfinancefun.com/fitness/how-i-trained-for-7-marathons-in-7-days

I can’t hear about how much you LOVE running at this time next year!

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I AM A Professional Athlete

Kirsten McCay Triathalon Beast!

photo credit SDTriNews.com

My friend and marketing coach, Tara, once asked me why I couldn’t be a professional athlete since I was so in love with every aspect of being an athlete: training, racing, nutrition, and of course sharing it with the world as often as possible. I quickly replied (and quite defensively) that I wasn’t fast enough to be a professional athlete.

I was kind of annoyed that I had to explain to her that to be a professional athlete I had to have some crazy fast genes that I wasn’t given and that although I do well in our local runs and triathlons, I am DEFINITELY not good enough to be a professional.

I think she got brave and mentioned it a few more times, and I quickly gave her the same answer (justification) why I could NEVER be a professional athlete.

This past year I have won a lot of races, not only in my age group, but in the overall women category. So she suggested it again (since I spend 75% of every day centered around triathlon and being a triathlete and my other businesses were suffering financially). And once again, I shut her down, even more quickly this time because she just didn’t understand. Winning a 5K in Johnstown, CO is much different than making money at races and getting noticed by sponsors who want to pay for my races, equipment, training, etc.

Sometimes What The Thing That Is Holding You Back...Is All In Your HeadBut this time she had had enough. She was sick of my defensive and definitive answers and made me dig into WHY I was so opposed to the idea. After all, being a professional doesn’t mean you are FAST, it means you make money doing it.

A professional organizer makes money being an organizer. She isn’t necessarily the world’s best organizer. There are hundreds of professional talk show hosts that aren’t Oprah. I think even William Hung who did a horrible rendition of “She Bangs” on American Idol sold 200,000 albums!! So why couldn’t I be a professional athlete?

So I changed my thinking. I changed my mindset. I decided I can make money as an athlete, therefore, I could be a professional athlete! YAY!

Within the next couple weeks I was approached by 2 sponsors and I started winning gift certificates and even cash doing what I love to do already…race!!

Here is a link to an article about my last big win! The Wildlife Loop Half: South Dakota’s Toughest Tri

I am sharing this because we often are the ones holding ourselves back from getting what we want, doing what we want to do, and being who we want to be. We are the ones limiting our happiness and success. A simple shift in thinking or believing can help you get unstuck in your life.

What do you want to do? Then find a way to do it. Who do you want to be? Make yourself into that person! What do you want to have? Find out how to get it and go for it! One of my all-time favorite quotes says it best: Don’t underestimate yourself. You are capable of more than you can ever imagine.

You have Greatness within you. – Les Brown

And be brave and share your goals, dreams, and desires. If you aren’t ready to share them with the world, or even those close to you, you can always share them with me!

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Race Report: 2016 St George 70.3 Triathlon

 

Race Report: 2016 St. George TriathlonFor those wanting to hear about the SUPER hard day I had in St George on May 7, 2016, here is my race report…

Here are some of the products I used in my race…ALL of which I will use again next race as I felt my nutrition was PERFECT for this race!!!

Breakfast w water 2 hours before race start…

www.MyShakeology.com/RealResultsRock

ProBar Bolt Energy Chews…ate 45 mins and 15 mins before race start…

http://amzn.to/1SVOjCL

Vuka Energy Drink (2 bottles during bike)…

http://amzn.to/1VyQa6y

Bing Cherry Drink (1 can during run)…

http://amzn.to/1YDNfHQ

Salt Stick Caps Plus…took 2 about every hour.

http://amzn.to/1Soq8zn

Other than what is above, I drank 2 bottles of Gatorade from the course in the last 15 miles of the bike and drank a cup (or 2) of Gatorade on the run course at each mile as soon as my Bing was gone (about mile 6)

Any questions? Feel free to contact me at coachsmith@usa.com or join our community at…

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Next up is the Boulder 70.3 in 2 weeks!!

See you then!

Are You Ready For Your Race?

Are You Ready For Your Race?I have been racing everything from 5Ks to Ironman distance triathlons for the past 17 years and the question I always get before a race is “Are you ready for your race?”

I always answer with some LAME response like “I hope so” or “I think so” or with some pre-excuse like “yes but I’ve been sick all week” or “yes but I’ve been having some trouble with my…”. I don’t want to be THAT person!

I have a big race coming up in a couple days (by big I mean it’s important to me) and I have been getting this question a lot and it got me thinking about my answer. There are so many things I have no control over in a race. Mechanical issues, weather, bodily functions, illness, injury, etc are all things that can (and will) happen at some point when the race is long enough or you do as many races as I have.

If you are an athlete, you can relate to this. Looking back we could always have trained more, harder, and faster. We could always have eaten better, cleaner, more for recovery and less for our emotions.

We could always have slept more, rested more, tapered better, etc, etc, etc. But we did the best we could at the time, and that’s all we can ever do.

In reality, we can prepare all we can for all situations, but in the end we can only control one thing…our attitude.

So am I ready for my race? Yes! I am ready to have fun. To do my best. To enjoy the fruits of my labors (however they look on that specific day). To be around 2,000 other athletes who have trained to be better. To be grateful I have the time, energy, ability, and freedom to train and race in a demanding sport. To enjoy being outside regardless of the weather. To test my physical and mental capacity. To push my body to its limits physically and emotionally. To inspire others to become better versions of themselves. And to love myself no matter what the outcome.

So ask me again…

“Are you ready for your race?”

HELL YEAH!! BRING IT!

Check my youtube channel for my race report…

www.youtube.com/FitnessDivaKir

See you out there!

How I Trained For 7 Marathons In 7 Days

How I Trained For 7 Marathons In 7 DaysAbout 3 years ago I decided I wanted to run a marathon in every state. At that time I was 40 years old and had run 24 marathons, but only 7 different states. I decided it would be fun to do it before I turned 50 so that gave me 10 years to run marathons in 43 different states.

4-5 marathons a year in different states seemed pretty realistic to me. So anytime I had a free weekend and there was a marathon within driving distance I went out and did one. That took care of another 7 pretty quickly, but then I had finished all the states within a 12 hour drive so I had to get a little more creative with my time and money.

Earlier this year I happened upon a company called Mainly Marathons (www.MainlyMarathons.com) that does series of marathons for days in a row in different states to help cater to people who are running marathons (or halves) either in all the states or just racking up numbers.

I was coming home to Wyoming where we were parked at the time (a whole other story…we lived in an RV) from California where I was living with my sister for a month, and noticed the timing was perfect to detour and hit Kansas and Oklahoma on my way home. The catch is that they were back to back. As in one on Friday and one on Saturday!!

The only time I had ever run 2 races back to back was New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day…and those were only 5Ks.

So in the normal “Kir” fashion I thought “What the heck…I’ll give it a try. What’s the worst that can happen? Well I woke up the morning after the first marathon barely able to get out of bed (for those of you who have run a marathon, you know exactly what I mean. Full weight on the sink and towel rack just to sit on the toilet RIGHT???). I made it to the start line and managed to run 18 of the 26 miles that day. PRETTY IMPRESSED WITH MYSELF I might add! It was AWESOME to check 2 states off in 2 days (I like checking things off my to-do list) and I learned a lot about how I was going to train and prep for my next series.

And that series JUST wrapped up last week. 7 marathons in 7 states in 7 days. WV, VA, TN, NC, SC, GA, and AL. I still haven’t figured out if that was the “easy” way to get in 7 states, or the “hard” way. EITHER way, I have been getting so many questions about HOW I trained for the series, so I wanted to share my secrets with you!

I actually had an amazing training plan. But 2 months before the series was to start, I developed a very angry sciatic nerve and couldn’t run (could barely walk) for an entire month. Like all I could do that month was walk slowly with my dog and swim easy. I had already registered for a marathon with Mainly Marathons in North Dakota the following month, so I decided to test out my healed injury. I went from no running for a month to running a marathon…again, totally “Kir” fashion!

And I was shocked that I could run the entire thing! However, the lack of training resulted in being more sore than I remember being in the past few years. Barely able to drive home and then the entire rest of the week was slow-going. The following weekend (again I was already registered) I ran a half marathon, and surprised myself by running the entire thing, even “negative-split” the course (that means faster the second half), but like the marathon, I was incredibly sore the next day. And I had 22 days until the series started. I took a week off (swam and walked) and then “started” my training.

My training primarily consisted of recovery. Secondarily of running 10 miles a day for 10 straight days finishing 2 days before we left.

Here’s how it went down…

Each day I would wake up and drink my Shakeology (a super nutrient dense protein shake), take extra turmeric and spirulina supplements and then run 10 miles. I don’t care how much I didn’t feel like running 10 miles, I made myself do it. The first few days were fine, but it got old fast! Same routes, same neighborhood, same number of miles. The hardest part was the time it took each day to get in all the miles. Some of the miles were super slow because I had to build my dog-walking time into the 10 miles to have enough time to do it all. A couple days I had to break it up into 2-3 runs which was even less appealing. But all the “not wanting to run” was the best part of my training. It trained my mind…which is the hardest part of a running series. Running even when you don’t feel like it.

One day I was so busy all day I had to wake up 3:45am to run at 4:00am to get it in. And most of you know…I am NOT a morning person!!

So the most valuable part of my physical training was the mental training and it really came in handy come race day!

It also gave me confidence because on the last few days I felt great! My body was recovering quickly and responding quickly to the training. I did forget to mention that prior to my injury I was training for a 50 miler that I didn’t get to run so I had done a 38 mile run. But in general, my weekly mileage was about 20 miles of running and 20 miles of walking with a few exceptions. I was pretty well trained before the injury, so my body bounced back quickly…PHEW!

After my run I would drink another Shakeology for recovery, eat a clean veggie heavy dinner, and take an ice bath before bed.

I repeated this 10 times, took a day off and then we left to drive 2 days to the series start in WV.

And it worked. I felt awesome during the races, recovered quickly, and kept a strong positive attitude throughout the week.

I have written 2 other posts about the series if you are interested. One is my daily video reports from my ice bath and one is the products I used to get me through.

Reach out if you have other questions or are wanting help training for any running or triathlon races you want to do.

And stay connected with our Happy Hump Day newsletter by texting FFFF to 22828 or going here…

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And thanks AGAIN for all the support and love you gave me during the series! It really helped get me through on the tough days! I knew you wanted to see me succeed and I didn’t want to let you down!

See you soon!

I didn’t even really like running…until today!!

I didn't even like running until todayWhen I was a kid, running was just something I did to keep up if I wanted to play with other kids. Then when I got into team sports, here’s how it went down: I was the goalie for soccer, coach stuck me under the basket in basketball, I was short stop for softball, warmed the bench for volleyball, and I was on JV tennis and we had so many girls that we always just played doubles against each other and no one could complete a serve anyway!

So as you can see, I have done very little running.

I actually did run track in Junior High, I ran the mile, probably because no one else would, but I’m not sure that I ever enjoyed it. My senior year in High School I went out for the Cross Country team. I said it was to “stay in shape for swimming” but it was because I really wanted to lose weight since when I wasn’t swimming I would gain a few pounds.

And I was the slowest one on the team. Running was so hard for me so I hated it. And being the last ranked on the team sucked! If you know how they score Cross Country, my race every week was torturous AND didn’t even count for the team. Double UGH!

And the last time as a youngster I “tried” to be a runner was in college. To avoid the Freshman 15, I started to run. Again, it was so hard that I quit after 2 days and decided to become a speed walker instead.

I was a speed walker until race day of my very first triathlon at the age of 27. I even trained for the 2 mile run with speed walking. The only reason I even ran in the race is because I really wanted to beat this one girl I knew.

And then I decided I wanted to do an Ironman distance triathlon so I figured I better start running since there is a marathon involved. It’s harder to fake your way through 26.2 miles. But even after 10 years of Ironman distance triathlons, I STILL didn’t enjoy running. Running was just something I had to do to finish a triathlon.

In 2013 I decided to do a running streak where I had to run at least 2 miles every single day, unless I was super sore from a race or long run or something then I could walk the 2 miles. After about 90 days I started looking forward to my runs, and it got me wondering what had changed.

Here is what I came up with…

Starting most things in life are hard. A new job, a new habit, a workout program, having a baby, a new diet, etc. When something is hard, it is typically not enjoyable. Since running is hard (it’s one of the highest calorie burning forms of exercise out there), unless you are the 1% out there with natural running talent AND a runner’s build, it will probably not be fun in the beginning.

However, the more you run, the easier it gets, and the easier it is, the more you will enjoy it. It makes sense! I think most people (including me) never did it enough to get to the point where it felt effortless. And only when it feels effortless will you actually love the feeling of running.

So I began to enjoy running, I even considered myself a runner, but I didn’t really love it because it still felt like more work than I wanted it to.

Tonight I decided to go to the gym after a long day of not having time to work out. I was a little anxious and overwhelmed all day (week, month) and ALMOST didn’t go since it was late and I never go to the gym at night, but my sister told me to go because I knew I would feel better after I went (thanks Kara). I walked in and the lights, sounds, smells, and energy made me feel instantly better. I hopped on one of the only open treadmills, turned on my favorite Pandora station (Pink), and pressed start.

The belt started moving, slowly at first, then steadily up to where I typically warm up on a run. It felt like I was floating, barely touching the belt. I wasn’t thinking about my body, it just knew what to do next. I felt relaxed, like I had done this a thousand times before. I increased my speed 2 mph and it still felt easy. I just went with it.

I looked around, smiled, and for the first time in my life, loved the way it felt to be running. The thousands of miles I had put in over the previous 13 years finally paid off.

Clients tell me all the time “I wish I was a runner”. I believe if you WANT to be a runner, you can be a runner. Be patient with yourself, enjoy the process, and have fun. Enjoy the journey. I completely agree with Henry David Thoreau when he said “What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” I am who I am today partly due to the hours I have spent becoming a runner.

Here are more deets on my journey and how I increased my running with no injuries or burnout in my popular e-book “How to PR Your Iron Distance Marathon”…

Happy Running!!

Why I Ran A Marathon On The Treadmill

Why I Ran A Marathon On The TreadmillMy BFF Wendy and I like to do crazy things to celebrate the holidays. Several years ago we started swimming 10,000 on Xmas eve, a couple years ago we starting ringing in the new year with a long swim on New Year’s Eve (this year will be 15,000 for 2015), and then of course there is our birthdays, where we always come up with something fun and interesting.

We had been talking for the past two years about doing a marathon around a track since neither of us had ever done that. About a month ago, we decided to make that our new Thanksgiving tradition. I’m in Southern California this year, but she’s in Colorado, which has been unusually cold so far this Winter.

So a couple days before Thanksgiving, she asked if I wanted to switch our new tradition to a treadmill marathon since neither of us had ever done one of those either. Of course I said yes!

So was born our First Annual Gratitude Treadmill Marathon.

I would love to say I do these challenges to raise money for a great cause, bring awareness to something important, or even inspire others to go big and stretch outside their comfort zone, but the truth is I do these challenges for more selfish reasons.

I like the attention of people calling me crazy, I love pushing myself and proving that at age 42 I can do more than I could at age 22, and let’s be real here, I adore the fact that I start my Thanksgiving weekend with a 4,000 calorie deficit.

However, as with all events in life, there is a silver lining.

I am a health/wellness coach and I love when people say to me “since you did that, I can do this” or “because you didn’t give up, I know I couldn’t either.” So to be able to inspire others to attempt something new, accomplish a goal they never thought possible, to do something purely for the fun or challenge, or to love themselves more is ALWAYS a bonus.

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