Why you should become a runner, and how

Running is awesome! I am sure it is no surprise, to anyone that I meet, that I think running is pretty great.  I am not the only one, however. Running is growing in popularity, it is definitely having a moment.  There is a reason why, running really is for everyone

Why everyone should become a runner?

  • Running is not one size fits all. Training and goals are all specific to the individual.  Unlike many other sports, your biggest competitor is yourself and the clock.  It’s an amazing feeling to run your first race, and complete it.  It’s an even better feeling when you set a goal and watch yourself break new PRs (personal records), after putting in the work. You EARNED that.  There are so many new types of races and distances available.  Really, there is a race out there for every type of person; casual, competitive, destination, fun, obstacle, dog races, trail, road, holiday and so much more.
    • You can check out my post on picking goal races here
  • Running is a great way to meet new people! The running community is full of awesome, uplifting and motivated individuals. As a collective whole, I haven’t met a more supportive and goal oriented group of people. My running friends go out of their way to meet up for runs, push you through difficult workouts and cheer you on to new PRs. You know you have made a great new friend, when they agree to get up a zero-dark-thirty, put on a headlamp and run with you.  It’s always worth it! Bonus, are you single?  Running is full of other goal oriented, active singles.
  • Health– I am sure I don’t have to tell you, that running is good for you. There are so many health benefits to beginning a consistent running routine.  This doesn’t include diving head first into a high-mileage marathon program.  Running at least 30 minutes a week, 3 times a week has great health benefits.  Regular running raises your HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) and boosts your immune system. Running can lower your risk of many diseases; including some types of cancer, diabetes and osteoporosis.  Running may help by reducing high blood pressure and lowering your risk of heart attacks.  Running tops the charts as one of the best way to burn calories.  The best part is, it can be done almost anywhere at any time!
  • Mental Health-running is a great stress reliever. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins (a natural hormone that acts similar to a drug that improves mood and increases energy). These hormones are also great in decreasing your risk for depression. Ask a runner, friend. They usually are in a better mood on days they get to run.

Steps to successfully becoming a runner

               Many people want to start out the new year with awesome New Year’s Resolutions.  The problem is many of them don’t make it to spring break.  Let’s not become another failed resolution, and instead, become a success. Making 2017 the year you became a runner.

  1. Running doesn’t have to be expensive, to get started. One thing I do recommend before diving into a running program, is investing in some good running shoes.  Go to a local running store, one that will watch you run and help you select the correct pair of running shoes for your stride.  This is very important to a new runner.  You are going to work new muscles and may have some soreness. Prevent injuries and get the right kind of running shoes, to give you the best chance for success.
  2. Set a goal, or a few goals. Set goals that are realistic and measurable.  Don’t try to go all in, the first day. All or nothing plans, almost always fail.  Start with smaller goals that lead to a larger goal.  Try signing up for a 5k next month.  Promise to build up to 30 minutes of running 3 times per week until you reach that 5k.  Reaching this goal will help motivate you to move onto bigger goals. Once you have run a race, set a new goal, rinse and repeat. Be careful, there is a natural high that comes from completing these goals, and it can become quite addicting.
  3. Train with friends. Find some friends to train with. This will make the miles more fun, and help keep you accountable. If you aren’t sure who to run with, join a local running group. Running groups have become a big part of my social life. I am super bummed when I miss out on our Wednesday night group runs at the KC running Company store, or Saturday mornings with KC track club-Lee’s Summit group.  There are runners and groups for every speed and distance.
  4. Make back up plans. Sometimes things are going to happen, so you need to be proactive and have back up plans. It’s easy to find reasons NOT to run.  When things don’t go as planned, what is your back up plan?
  5. It’s okay to slow down. Many new runners, try to run too fast.  This causes a lot of strain on the body.  You need to work up to those fast speeds, only once you have built an endurance base. Try the talk test, if you can’t hold the pace and carry on a conversation, you need to slow down.  I wrote a previous post here, about slowing down your easy run.
  6. Consider a running coach or a plan. There are a lot of couch to 5k, 10k or half marathon plans. Consider your fitness level before choosing. Some may start out easy and increase in difficulty too quickly, some may start out too conservative for your current ability leaving your bored, while some may start out too difficult putting you at a high injury risk.  Getting a running coach can be a lot of help in ensuring you are successful in your running goals. I have decided to work with a running coach, this year. You can read about my decision, to hire a coach here.

The first step is to get out there and run.  Take it one day or one mile at a time.  You will have tough days.  You will have days that you are feeling unmotivated, but I promise it will be worth it.  Taking on a more active lifestyle will have a rippling effect on many other life choices.  You will feel great!   


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RUNspiration: Motivating your run

A single step….

Planning my 2017 Race Calendar


Not all races are created equally, and choosing the right race could have a huge impact on your racing experience and goals.  There are as many different types of races as there are types of runners. Each one unique. 

               Before you can begin planning your next race, or filling out your 2017 calendar you need to start with goals.  What are your short and long term goals?  What are you looking for in a race experience? The answer to these questions, will be the driving force behind picking the right race for you.  This year when I set up my calendar I have two big goals that my race calendar will be centered around; running the Boston Marathon and running a big half marathon PR. 


               Timing is the first factor I look at when setting up my race calendar.   I want to run all the races, but I can’t.  I need to give myself adequate training time, and recovery time between goal races.  I suggest picking your goal races first.  The longer your goal races are, the more time you need between them.  Once you have those set, you can sprinkle in shorter races that are great for gauging your progress. I like to mix in shorter, non-goal races in about 4-6 weeks.

Another important timing factor is the time that your training will take place.  For me, as a teacher and a track coach, the Boston Marathon is great timing for training. A majority of my training will take place before my kiddoes track season starts.  Our track meets start in April and that will be when my taper will begin.  When I return from Boston I can focus on the kiddos track season and state testing, while running goes into easy mode for a few weeks.  I also like to increase my mileage and focus on strength in the summer when school is out.  It also helps that I enjoy hot weather running.

Type of course 

There are many course factors that you should consider.  Type of race, elevation and design are all important.

The type of race includes road, trail and “experience” type races. Road races are typically faster, larger more competitive fields, more volunteers and spectators along the route.  Trail races usually have a more relaxed atmosphere, more inviting and will have a larger variety of distances.  Experience races would include the obstacle course style races like “Tough Mudder” and “Warrior Dash,” Color runs, Glow runs and other odd races that may have you doing other stuff outside of just running.  These can be very fun races, but I am guessing most people don’t include these as goal races.

Course Elevation can be very important if you are trying to take down a PR.  Don’t be fooled though, sometimes overly flat or extreme downhill races can become problem.  You’ve heard the phrase, “too much of a good thing” and that definitely applies to race courses.

How the course designer set up the course is important too.  There are single loop courses, multi-loop courses, point to point and out and back courses. I think these are more about personal preference.  I know I considered a multi-loop marathon course and people constantly said how horrible it sounded. To me, it sounded like a benefit.  I liked the idea of knowing the course and being able to see my cheer section every couple miles.  However multi-loop course with different distances are my nightmare.  One of my first 10k races include a two loop course with a 5k race. I spend so much time weaving and I tripped over a stroller busting up my knee. I ended up missing a PR by 4 seconds.

Size of the field

               Do you prefer large races or smaller races?  Both choices have their pros and cons.  I like large races because I am less likely to catch myself running alone. This is especially important if I am needing that extra push to reach a new PR or keeping me motivated in longer races.  Bigger races also tend to be well organized machines.  There is also an amazing energy at those large races. I can’t wait to experience that energy, I have heard so much about, for the first time at Boston.  Smaller Races seem to be less hectic on race day.  The bathroom lines are more manageable and you can usually park close to the start/finish line.


               Up until now, I have only run local races.  This year, I will begin to look for more destination races.  Boston will be my first out of town race. As I look for other races, location will be a big factor because I want my family to be a part of my journey.  Places that can double as a vacation and offer experiences outside of race day will be important to me.  Finding races within driving distance of out of town family members is a nice perk, also.

I like to race about once a month, it keeps me motivated and helps me target my training paces. Some of my best races have been these lead up races, including many of my PRs. I like to run shorter races in my training for longer races.

Some of my favorite websites that I use when comparing courses;

Find my marathon


Running in the usa

KC/Local races-KC Running Company

What do you look for when picking a race? What are the most important factors to you?

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Why I have decided to work with a running coach

I’m shaking things up a bit. Trying some new things out. My last blog post, I posted Why I love New Years Eve and shared a bit about my goals.  I have big goals in mind.  I want to be proactive in working toward these goals.  Starting my blog was one way to shake things up, and work toward my goals.  The other? I have decided to work with a running coach.


For me, I want some clarity and outside perspective.  I want to work hard and have someone in my corner.  I respect the experience and knowledge of the coach I have chosen.  Working with my coach will, hopefully, add some structure. I have a habit of running totally by feel and emotion.  This has led to over training, fatigue and burn out.  It also allows me to let go of control and enjoy running.  We all have enough stress.  I struggle with a lot of anxiety, in training, and on race day. I second guess everything and worry about all the minor details.  I am going to do the work, and trust in someone else to help lead me in the right direction.

Have you thought about hiring a coach?  When making my decision I created a pros and cons list.


  • Goal Setting- A good coach will help you develop strong attainable goals. Something that will be difficult but realistic. Your goals will be the driving force to your workouts.
  • Knowledge- A good coach brings in a wealth of knowledge to help support your running goals. More importantly, a coach becomes more than a plan designer. Your coach will become a teacher of the sport. You learn the whys behind every run.  Every workout has a purpose, otherwise it becomes junk mileage, and you lose focus of your goals.
  • Keep you on track- A good coach will kick you in the pants when you need it. For me, I need a coach to reign in the crazy, at times. I run on emotions, getting home from a difficult day.  I turn a short 6 mile easy run into a 10 miler at half marathon pace.  It feels great and therapeutic at the time.  In the end, however, I have just trashed my legs for a whole week and I can’t really complete my other workouts as I should.  Just knowing that someone will be checking up on you can help keep you accountable.


  • Cost-Coaches cost money, some of them are down-right expensive. Running cost can really add up.  Race entries, clothes, shoes, gadgets it can feel like you’re going down the rabbit hole.
  • You are giving up control- This can be hard, and scary. If you are going to use a running coach, you need to pick someone that you trust and you need to let them lead.  If the program they set for you is going to work, you need to do your best to follow it.  If you can’t, you need to be able to communicate the issue with your coach so they can develop a plan that does work for you.
  • Coaching styles/running styles don’t match up- If you hate the track, and find yourself getting injured on the track, and your coach insists on pounding out weekly high intensity intervals that leave you hobbling.  That is a problem.   Some coaches, just like runners, get stuck in the mentality that there is one right way to do things.  This can lead to disaster for the runner. This is why it’s important to find the right coach, and not just any coach.  Doing a little homework ahead of time can save you a lot of frustration, and possibly injury, in the long run.

I am really excited about my new partnership.  I took a long time thinking it over, almost a year.  I went back and forth many times.  I also went back and forth on picking the right coach, for me.  What was the biggest factor for me deciding to work with a coach?  I feel like I am on the verge of a plateau. I don’t know why. It’s just constantly bothering me.

The next question, then, becomes who. Ironically, it’s like the world was hinting at in the last couple weeks.  I had multiple conversations with runners whose opinions I value, very much.  The same recommendation kept coming up.  I had thought about what qualities and coaching style I was looking for. I looked up the many, many coaches available in my area.  I kept coming back to the same name.  Well guess who joined in our group long run that Saturday morning? I had a 22 mile run that morning, and the group joined in about 8 miles in. I asked lots of questions and got a really good feel on what type of coach I could be working with.  A few days later, I sent him a message and I am really excited to begin working with Coach Jeremy, owner of KC Endurance.

Who would benefit from a running coach?

A running coach can help runners at all levels. They are wonderful tool for new runners who want to be more consistent and build mileage safely. A running coach will help a new runner complete new distances and train smarter.  A coach will bring a vast amount of knowledge and work within the runners limits to help them be successful.  For a more experienced or competitive runner, a coach can help improve efficiency and give them needed outside perspective.  They can help you narrow your focus and build on your goals.  When looking for a coach, look for running coaches that have completed a certification and can share numerous recommendations from clients that have similar goals and backgrounds as yourself.

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Running in 2017- I love New Years

I am a total nerd when it comes to New Years.  Not because of the fancy parties and large amounts of alcohol.  Those are great, but realistically staying up until midnight is becoming increasingly difficult.  I love the excitement and the idea of starting fresh. New Years is a great time for reflection and introspection which leads to personal growth and guides my running goals for the following year.

Reflection of 2016

Sometimes we forget how much we have improved. I have been a tad frustrated because I haven’t had much growth or a fancy new PR this fall season.  It’s hard to imagine that this time last year, my 5k PR was over a minute slower, 10k PR over 2.5 minutes slower and my half marathon time was over 5 minutes slower.  From my first 5k in 2015 to my first 5k in 2016 I dropped 2 minutes.  It was the exact same course.  These are all reasons for me to celebrate 2016.

I like looking over training logs, and the comments I wrote for each of the workouts.  It’s easy to forget all of the ups and downs throughout a training cycle.  With a bit of time and space between the training cycles, I can take a more objective look at my training logs to get an idea of what went right and what went wrong.

In 2016, I was very careful to watch my growth each week.  I would look at each week to make sure I balanced out the speed and the distance. I did a much better job keeping my weeks balanced. I overlooked the bigger picture.  I kept growing and maintaining, refusing to back off and allow time for recovery, until my body forced me to take a break.

Personal Records (best) in 2016

5k- 17:56 February 2016 @ Kickoff 5k

10k-37:33 March 2016 @ Great Plains Kansas City

Half Marathon-1:22:50  April 2016@ Rock the Parkway

Didn’t complete a full Marathon in 2016

Looking ahead to 2017…

So now I am looking ahead to 2017 and setting some BIG goals.  I recognize that things don’t always go as planned, so I give myself short term and long term goals. I like to start with my biggest goal and work backwards. Sprinkling in smaller, more attainable goals along the way.

The teacher in me comes out when I am thinking about my goals.  Come on teachers, you know you just love writing SMART goals (sarcasm).  If you not lucky enough to write SMART goals at you employment. SMART stands for; specific, measureable, attainable, realistic and time-based.  These are great for setting up your running goals, also.  Just imagine all the fun teachers, “In 2017, the runner will…” (Sarcasm, again)

I have two big goals for myself this year; set a PR at the Boston Marathon, and set a new PR in the half marathon.  I use those two goals, as a foundation, when planing my short term goals. Getting a PR in a 5k and 10k are usually good indicators towards improving my half marathon time.  My short term goals are more about an action plan to support my big goals.

Setting goals is fun, but many New Year’s resolutions stop there.  They don’t have a plan to make sure they succeed.  The goals set are big changes and they try to tackle them all at once.  Instead, I encourage runners to make and think of smaller steps that would help you reach your goals. If you want to start working out, be realistic.  You’re not going to stick with a plan going zero to sixty overnight.  Start with small goals, I will work out 30 minutes a day 3 times a week for the first month.  When you get to the end of the month you will be able to check off one goal.  Making your goals more manageable.

For me, I have set up an action plan to reach my goals.  Here are some of my action plan steps.  This spring, I plan on working with a running coach.  This will help me with one of my weaknesses from 2016, looking at the bigger picture.  Marathon training is hard on the body, so I plan on staying on top of my aches and pains that pop up.  I want to do a better job of foam rolling every day before I begin my run.  I was very good about doing this before hard days but neglected this element on my easy days in 2016.  Toward the end of 2016 I was doing a lot better with getting in an actual warm up and stopping about a mile into most runs for 3-5 minutes and getting in some ballistic stretching.  This helped me so much with those constant overuse injuries that keep popping up. I also have a physical therapist that I love working with, and a massage therapist that magically makes the pain melt away.  I plan to work with them at least once a month.  Another part of my action plan, is setting up my 2017 race calendar to support my two main goals.  Running Boston marathon is a pretty easy schedule, so I will need to find a half marathon that will give me plenty of time to recover and train. I also will consider traveling for a fast, competitive half marathon to give me that extra push.

Those are just a few of my goals, and what I plan to do to reach my goals.  How was your 2016?  Have you started making goals for 2017, if so, what do you plan to do to reach them?

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A single step….

RUNspiration: Motivating your run

Slow Down! Running Your Easy Run, Easier.

RUNspiration: Motivating your run

Making the most of the 15 minute rule

You know the feeling. Its 5 am and the alarm is going off.  Time for your morning run, yawn. You may be getting off a long day at work and didn’t get much sleep, the house is a mess and you still need to get your run in today.  UGH! We all have that feeling.  Even the most dedicated runner has that feeling sometimes.

Many runners use the 15 minute rule (sometimes called the one mile rule).  If you are struggling for motivation, promise yourself to at least get in 15 minutes (or one mile).  After that point, if you are still struggling you can call it quits.  However, after 15 minutes you feel fine you have hit your groove and you’re ready to tackle your run.  It’s a simple mind trick.

I like to take the 15 minute rule a step further.  I am deliberate in my thoughts as I go on this “15 minute run.”  I think of the people in the running community, who inspire me.  Sure, it’s easy to think of my secret cross town nemesis. I bet SHE isn’t taking it easy today and doesn’t get into running ruts.  It’s too easy to start comparing myself, and too easy to forget that my training is about my goals.  Instead, I think of people I see in the running community everyday, who embody the running community spirit, and give me a positive lift in my own running. These runners can be found in all running communities.  They may go by different names, but the spirit is the same. These are some of my “runspiration.”

  1. The come-back kid

The comeback kid works so hard to continue to run.  Due to reoccurring injuries and bad luck, she understands how lucky she is to be a runner.  She makes me remember. I don’t have to run, I get to. When you see your friend work so hard to do something she loves.  She falls down and gets back up, time and time again.  That is the true runner’s spirit.  We are all hoping when mile 25 of that marathon comes around, the monkey is on your back that we will find one more push.  One more reason to get back up.  To me that inspiration comes from the come-back kid.

  1. The doctors

When I think of people that represent our running community, these two are always at the top of the list. The first ones to agree to meet you at stupid o’clock in the morning with their headlamps on and coffee after.  Hardworking, goal oriented women. They have offered advice to so many runners along the way. They are always one of the first ones to congratulate a fellow runner who has reached their goal.  Most importantly, they enjoy it.  They enjoy getting up and joining the group runs, they enjoy helping others, they enjoy cheering and sharing others success.  I look up to them, I want to impact runners like their spirit has lifted me.


  1. Positively Radiant Friend

My friend is amazing.  She is one of the main reasons I decided to run.  She was training for the Chicago marathon and sharing her journey. My initial thought was, “A marathon? Gross, who is crazy enough to run that far!?”  She kept posting and making it look like such an adventure.  When it finally came race day, I know she was a ball of nerves. She completed her marathon and you could see the excitement all over her face.  The sense of accomplishment was clear to anyone looking at her picture.  Really, my friend inspires me daily. The way she approaches life is awesome.  She has a way of always being so positive and in the moment.  She has a magical way of appreciating the world.  She approaches everything with a quiet confidence that is so peaceful and Zen-like.  She manages this through everything, even when the world seems to turn her life upside down.


There are so many others in our running community that lift me up daily.  Find your motivation.  Get up and get out on your run, because you never know who YOU are inspiring today.  Who motivates you?


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A single step….

“A Journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”- Lao Tzu’s expression of how great things start from humble beginnings.  That is how I like to imagine every run and race.  One, single step. I have struggled with what awesome, meaningful and engaging information I could pack into my first blog post. In the end, I think it was more important to take a leap of faith, and just begin.

About me (Janell)

I am a mother to a wonderful little girl with the most supportive husband a women could ask for.  I teach middle school science, coach cross-country and track and, of course, I am an avid runner.  I competed in cross country, track and soccer in high school and college.  Like many runners, after college I was a bit burnt out and I wasn’t a strong enough runner to compete at the next level, I sort of fizzled out after graduation.

Fast forwarding 7 years, an emerging teaching career and growing family. I decided to start running again after I had my daughter. I had no idea my world was about to change.  I love running, but more than running, I love the running community.  It’s been over two years and thousands of miles. I am super grateful for the life-long friends I have made and through the support so many have shown me.

Why Blogging?

  • I love the running community, I am excited to find another way to engage with this community
  • I want to remember where I came from. A piece of me wishes I started my blog when I started running.  I may not have any followers, though.  I made a ton of mistakes, and I had to learn the hard way. I am sure I will make plenty more along the way.
  • Advocacy I am not on this journey alone. I have paired up with a wonderful buddy though the web page “I run for Michael” I want to share the stories and advocate for more buddies and runners.  I want to share my buddy’s story.  (Pending Permission)
  • Reviews I want to write reviews and share products that I love. Let’s face it, running cloths, accessories, gadgets and race entries can add up.  I want to share products that work for me.  I already have some items I love and can’t wait to share
  • Race reports I love reading race reports and I feel like a lot can be gained by writing and reading my own as I continue to grow as a runner. I’d love to share to roller coaster ride that goes on inside my, crazy and sometimes unstable, head.
  • Inform I am a student of running and I have become a sponge.  I love to read and learn about all things running and I want to share that with other runners. I look forward to comments and engaging conversations mostly about these topics.
  • Because I love running, and when I am not running, I think about all things running.

I don’t plan on writing to many post like this, all about me.  I plan on topics coming up organically through my running experiences which can lead to my readers getting to know me.

So please, pretty please! Join in discussions, share subscribe and most importantly come back!


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