How I Run: Boston-bound Amy “The Punisher” Leedham

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Contrary her nickname, Amy “The Punisher” Leedham doesn’t actually enjoy inflicting pain on others. Well, at least not on purpose. She does, however, regularly push herself to her limits…and tends to do the same for her workout buddies, which they usually thank her for later (after they catch their breaths, that is).

I first met Amy through November Project in San Francisco — we hit it off over a mutual love for running, Boston and Shalane Flanagan — but it wasn’t until she took me up on an invite for my first-ever clipped-in bike ride with the Coeur Sports ladies that we truly bonded: Powering through a few thousand feet of elevation in the Bay Area foothills after getting lost and trouble-shooting a flat tire together will tend to do that to people!

Amy’s now about to embark on her annual Bostom Marathon training cycle, so I thought it’d be fun to check in and see how she’s faring.

1. What’s your favorite route? My favorite running experience thus far has to be the descent from Skeleton point to the Colorado River on the South Kaibab Trail in the Grand Canyon. However, that is hardly my go-to route. I would have to say my favorite place to run is in Redwood Regional Park in Oakland, Calif. I had never really run on trails until I moved to California, and the first time I attempted it I was seriously humbled, but now that park is my go-to on the weekends. Its large enough to have tons of variety, but small enough to feel like its in my backyard.

2. What shoes do you wear? For trails I am rocking the Brooks Pureflow, and I love them. On the road I am pretty minimal and am loving my Merrell Gloves. I have about 12 other pairs of running shoes in my closet, though, because I can’t bring myself to throw them away. I even still have my college XC racing flats.

3. What other run gear can’t you live without? I absolutely love my Jaybird wireless headphones. I fully support listening to music while you run if it makes you happy or run better, and the lack of an annoying cord makes a huge difference in the comfort of running with headphones. I also love my Garmin because I am huge data nerd.

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4. What’s your best time-saver or “runhack?” If I am pressed for time after a run I stretch in the shower. Its kind of awkward, but you get get in some really good stretches while washing your hair and shaving your legs.

5. What running-related thing are you better at than anyone else? Not running. Actually I suck at this, as my husband says, but sometimes you must adapt. My agonizingly-slow recovery from what was supposed to be minor knee surgery in April has caused me to appreciate and dominate pretty much every physical thing one can do that’s not running.

6. What do you listen to while running? For faster runs, I am somewhat ashamed to admit that I have several playlists with awful music by the likes of Pitbull, but damn is it so good for running. When I head out to the trails for some R&R I usually leave my music behind and listen out for this one eagle that lives in Redwood Regional Park.

7. What are you currently training for? Boston 2015. I have a problem. I keep re-qualifying and can’t let myself not register. Boston is the first city I lived in after leaving my childhood home, and it was my home for (a very formative) 6.5 years.

I ran the Boston Marathon in 2013 and, even though I was not physically impacted by what happened, that day will stay with me for the rest of my life, as will the experience of running it the year after. More importantly, though, I am training to be able to keep running for the rest of my life.

8. What are your recovery & sleep routines like? I’m admittedly not great at maintaining a good sleep routine, but when I get into proper training my body kind of makes the decision on when to go to sleep for me. Usually I’ll be in bed at 9:30 p.m. and get up for a run at 5:30 a.m. or so.

As for recovery, I recently wrote a blog post about it. I also love compression tights and Epsom salt baths. A good sports massage is just the right kind of pain, and is totally worth the financial investment.

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9. What’s the best running advice you’ve ever received? It’s not advice as much as finally letting a certain lesson sink in: Not every run needs to be (or should be) a full-out hard run. Those days of easy running are essential to maintaining a healthy body and building fitness.

10. What’s your favorite running-related memory? It’s a cliche, but it’s got to be running Boston last year. The combination of the unbelievable emotional energy pulsing throughout the city, the camaraderie of running with a friend who I knew was feeling all the same things I was feeling (I had never run any race with someone before) and the burst of energy and love from the mile 18 November Project cheer station all combined to be pretty unbeatable as far as running experiences go. Oh, and PR-ing doesn’t hurt either.

11. Fill in the blank: I’d love to go on a run with __________. Shalane Flanagan. I am not ashamed to admit that my fandom of Shalane rivals that of a 13-year-old girl for One Direction. When she ran past our cheer section at the Nike Women’s Half Marathon, I freaked out and sprinted up the hill after her only to realize I had no idea what I wanted to say and that I looked a little crazy. As my husband pointed out later, “I would have thought you would have had a plan in place knowing you were going to see her on the course!”

Thanks for playing, Amy! I miss our weekly workouts, but hope to cheer you on in Boston in 2015. Keep on punishing in the meantime!

Runner friends of all levels, please email me — info (at) kineticfix.com — if you’d like to be featured.

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