How I Run: Portland Women’s Run Club’s Debbie Koski

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In honor of our inaugural Portland Women’s Run Club season, I’ll be introducing our new team members via this interview series throughout the next few months. Get to know these impressive ladies, and come join us for FREE workouts Monday nights from 6:30-7:30 pm in Portland!

First up is Debbie Koski, one of our former community members who has stepped into her captain’s role seamlessly this season.

As a new mom (you may remember her sporting a baby bump last season), Debbie’s one of those women who juggles a busy schedule with ease. She balances work with family life and motherhood and still has time to train for a half marathon each year – talk about #goals!

We chat about her running habits below, but feel free to hit Debbie up for postpartum workout advice or ask to see some pics of her adorable son if you’re in need of a baby fix at an upcoming workout.

1. What’s your favorite route? My favorite route is along the Portland waterfront — mainly over the Tillicum crossing because I love the view!

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2. What shoes do you wear? I love my Asics; I’ve always been a fan of the Nimbus.

3. What other run gear can’t you live without? My Flipbelt! It’s the only running belt I have ever owned that doesn’t bounce AT ALL! Worth every penny.

4. What’s your best time-saver or “runhack?” If I want to run early in the morning I will sleep in my running clothes. Then I have no excuses!

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5. What running-related thing are you better at than anyone else? Not sure on this one; I might have to get back to you guys!

6. What do you listen to while running? I love my Walk off the Moon Pandora station.

7. What are you currently training for? Hood to Coast!!

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Celebrating a previous Hood to Coast finish

8. What are your recovery & sleep routines like? I always try to go to bed as early as possible the night before a run, and I love to eat bananas after a run. It’s just enough food to hold me over especially if I have an uneasy stomach after a long run.

9. What’s the best running advice you’ve ever received? Just get the distance in even if you have to walk some! I was told that when I trained for my half marathon and didn’t think I could go far enough. And I always that to people when they tell me they can’t run with me because they aren’t in good enough shape. There is NO SHAME in walking some if you need to. Just get the miles in.

10. What’s your favorite running-related memory? Hood to Coast was the best run I’ve ever done. I got put in a van where nobody knew each other, and we had the best time ever. When you’re that exhausted, sweaty and gross together you somehow become instant friends.

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11. Fill in the blank: I’d love to go on a run with __________. I would love to go for a run with Sarah Brown. Even though she didn’t make it to the Olympics, she trained all through her pregnancy and is a huge inspiration. Anyone who has been pregnant knows that this is not something easily done. She is a great athlete who probably has some amazing mom advice.

Thanks, Debbie! Not only do you inspire us as an active mama, but we also look forward to hearing about your Hood to Coast adventures again this year.

Friends, if you’re interested in being featured here (all levels & abilities welcome), please drop me a line at info(at)kineticfix(dot)com.

Top 5 Things to Look for in a Running Coach

In my previous post, I talked about the fact that I’m now a running coach convert. It covered why, but now we’re talking about how — as in, what exactly does it take to find someone who’s a going to be a good fit?

After all, there’s more to running than just…well, running. It’s as much a mental sport as it is physical, so here are the top five things I considered when shopping around for a running coach:

  1. Credentials – Look for someone with at least one type of professional certification (e.g. RRCA, USTAF, Revo2lution Running) under their belt that covers the fundamentals and mechanics of the sport. Continuing education is also important to they stay on top of the latest industry news, research and trends.
  2. Experience – While not completely necessary, I like working with someone who has firsthand experience and can speak from the athlete’s perspective; it’s especially helpful when explaining abstract concepts and working on the mental game.
  3. Personality – Consider what kind of relationship you want with your coach and what motivates you. Do you need a nurturer or someone no-nonsense, a cheerleader or more of a pragmatist?
  4. Philosophy – Ask about their approach to training to see if it jives with your schedule and lifestyle. Are you heavy into cross-training but working with a coach who believes it takes six solid days of running per week to get you to your goal? If so, you may want to reconsider.
  5. Budget – There can be quite a range here depending on how much access you want to your coach or how much direction and feedback you need along the way. A tip: more hands-on means more expensive, so think about how you work and what makes sense to keep it cost-effective.

Bottom line: There is no formula for a perfect running coach; the best one is simply someone who meets your specific needs, gets you fired up to put in the work and helps guide you safely toward your goals.

And if you decide that a coach isn’t in the cards for you? That’s totally fine, too!

There’s always the option of working out with a group under the guidance of a coach — like Portland Women’s Run Club, for example, if you happen to be in the PDX area 😉

What’s your best tip for meeting your match when it comes to running coaches?

8 Reasons to Hire a Running Coach

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Anyone who knows me knows that I’ve always been an advocate for running. But it wasn’t until recently that I also became a believer in the wonders of a running coach.

I’d soured to the idea after a negative experience back in high school, but fast forward to post-baby, and I needed help busting though a plateau of irregular workouts, fits and spurts of mileage and an overall lack of direction.

Who knew that after 20+ years in the sport, sometimes the answer is as simple as getting out of your own way? So I happily handed the reins over to my coach, who ultimately helped me find my mojo again.

Now I’ve change my tune: Hiring a running coach is totally worth it. And here’s why:

  1. Accountability – No more lame excuses for skipping workouts; you’ve got someone to answer to now, plus they can provide valuable motivation and feedback to help keep you on track.
  2. Health – Not only will a coach keep you in check to help avoid injury, but s/he can also provide tips for better nutrition and fueling (or at least keep you honest about it).
  3. Performance – Instead of relying on trial and error with your training, why not go with a tried-and-true methodology for results? A coach can help you decrease race times, train more efficiently, define realistic goals and keep expectations in check.
  4. Training – Learning the correct cadence of a good training plan (here’s a hint: more ≠ more) is invaluable, plus a coach can help you achieve consistency and push you safely within your limits.
  5. Support – Whether you’re coming back from an injury or just processing a poor workout, it’s always good to have an outside perspective. A coach can offer encouragement, boost confidence and be a sounding board.
  6. Personalization – Because they know where you need to grow, a coach can purposefully schedule in ways to help strengthen your weaknesses.
  7. Restraint – One of a coach’s jobs is protect clients from their worst enemies: themselves. If you have a tendency to get overzealous, caught up in numbers or take on too much too fast, this is critical.
  8. FUN – One of the best parts of having a coach? They do the hard part (thinking), while you get to do the “easy” part (running)! Turn your brain off, focus on the task at hand, and you just might find that elusive runner’s high as you nail that next workout.

Do you work with a running coach? If so, why do you think it’s worth the investment?

 

September Goal Check-In

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Last month’s check-in was about re-prioritizing and not beating myself up about it. So in September I committed to following through on that — not just in words but with action.

So here’s how the past 30 days panned out:

1. Health & Fitness: Ah, glorious sleep. Not that we’re getting a full night’s rest yet by any means, but the fact that I’m only having to get up once or twice is a game-changer. Which is why regular workouts are slowly making a reappearance; more zzz’s means actually having energy again!

2. Training: There’s no competitive racing on the horizon just yet — but that doesn’t mean I can’t scratch the itch just a bit in the meantime. I’m officially on the lookout for some shorter distances (5k/10k) to start testing my legs after the whole having-a-baby hiatus.

3. Community: It’s that time already; we’re winding down our 2016 Team LUNA Chix Portland Run season — but not before celebrating at our last practice on October 24th! We’re also planning ahead to next season and talking about how we can get even better and make a bigger impact.

4. Career: Figuring out my roles as “entrepreneur” and “mom” continues to be a balancing act. I did, however, get some great advice from a colleague: Be the best at what you’re doing in that moment. When doing it all isn’t an option, you do what you can when you can.

5. Life: An infant’s schedule is a moving target. But Wyatt and I have gotten into a pretty good daily routine, and having just that little bit of predictability feels wonderful. Next up, sleep training to nail our nap time routine and middle-of-the-night wake-ups!

In the process of mulling things over this month, I also came to a few realizations about the intersection of endurance athletics and motherhood (which is also, arguably, an endurance event in and of itself!):

#1 – It’s not about you. Whereas my old training days were divided into two segments (Before the Long Run & After the Long Run) there’s no longer time to prep and wait for the perfect moment, let alone take an ice bath and chill on the couch with a protein shake and legs up after. The opportune time for running is whenever you can — and you’re grateful to be able to make the most of any amount of mileage.

#2 – Celebrate consistency. I used to need something to be training for, building toward and looking forward to…but now I recognize the sense of accomplishment in just getting out there and moving regularly. In fact, sometimes that’s even tougher because there’s much less accountability and motivation without a race-day deadline looming.

#3 – Go with the flow. ‘Nuff said. This is pretty much the mantra of any parent because you’ve always gotta be ready to change course and problem-solve on the fly.

#4 – Throw expectations out the window. Again, pretty self-explanatory. Some days you’re on your game, others you feel like a total failure, but it’s the effort that counts most when you’re looking at the bigger picture.

#5 – Define ‘success’ in your own terms. Run your own race, whether it’s completing a marathon or chasing after your kiddo. We’re all here just trying to do the best we can and feel good about it at the end of the day. So cut yourself some slack, and remind those around you to do the same!

Is there anything you’d add to the list?

How I Run: Team LUNA Chix PDX’s Ashly Robinson

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In honor of our second Team LUNA Chix Portland Run season, I’ll be introducing our new team members via this interview series throughout the next few months…get to know these impressive ladies, and come join us for a run Monday nights from 6:30-7:30 pm in Portland! 

Last, but certainly not least, is Ashly Robinson! As one of our most loyal community members last year, it made perfect sense that she’d be joining the ranks of the team leaders this year.

Although Ashly freely admits she’s “not the fastest or the strongest runner out there” (I’d beg to differ; she’s an avid racer who has since taken to the trails and has also been dropping her pace-per-mile like nobody’s business, thanks to interval training), she said what attracted her to our group what that she never once felt like she didn’t belong. And now she wants to share that same welcoming spirit with our new community members as the team continues to grow.

Ashly’s also particularly passionate about raising money for our charity, Breast Cancer Fund, because it’s a cause that has taken too many lives of those she’s known and loved. In fact, she’s spearheading one of our main events for the season, a fundraiser with Orange Theory Fitness — check out our Facebook page for details!

So, without further ado, we’re rounding out this interview series by finding out what makes this all-around fabulous lady tick…

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1. What’s your favorite route? My favorite route really depends on the season. In the warmer months I’m a sucker for the trails, mostly Forest Park, but I don’t discriminate! In the cooler months, I love making a loop on the waterfront paths and enjoying all the city views.

2. What shoes do you wear? I’m currently wearing Nike’s LunarGlide 7.

3. What other run gear can’t you live without? My FlipBelt! I don’t always wear tights that have a zippered pocket, so this helps me carry my iPod/phone and keys without having to carry everything.

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4. What’s your best time-saver or “runhack?” I would have to say getting things ready the day before. Whether it’s a run after work or an early morning race, getting my gear ready just eliminates the “do I have everything?” stress.

5. What running-related thing are you better at than anyone else? I wouldn’t say I’m really better at anything running-related than anyone else, but I do a pretty good job of keeping a good attitude. I’m not the fastest girl on the block, I’ve even finished dead last in a race before, but I don’t let that stop me from getting out there and doing something I enjoy.

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6. What do you listen to while running? If I’m going out for a long run I like to listen to slower paced music to help me not run too fast too soon. This is usually something like Phantogram or Glass Animals, mixed in with some Eminem for motivation. For shorter runs I’m all about upbeat, “top hits” and some more Eminem.

7. What are you currently training for? Right now? Nothing. But I do have my sights set on a half marathon in December, so I guess I better get planning that!

8. What are your recovery & sleep routines like? Recovery isn’t my strong suit. That usually consists of some calf stretching and water/electrolyte intake. Definitely room for improvement there! Sleep, on the other hand, I’ve got that down. I’m an eight hours per night kinda gal.

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9. What’s the best running advice you’ve ever received? It doesn’t matter how fast or slow you are, it just matters that you’re out there trying.

10. What’s your favorite running-related memory? This has to be from my first half marathon. A good friend of mine talked me into running this with her for her birthday, but I was never a runner. At the last minute, my dad decided to do it with me. Not only did I get to complete my first half with my dad by my side, but I also had great friends at the finish to cheer me on! Not to mention this was in Moab, Utah so the scenery itself was incredible.

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11. Fill in the blank: I’d love to go on a run with __________. There are so many people that I would love to run with. For right now, I’d have to say my husband, Sean. He’s done so much to help me achieve my goals and running with him (at his pace) would mean I’ve improved more than I ever thought possible.

12. Anything else you want to add? My dad always told me “we’re burnin’ daylight” when I would lolly-gag in the mornings. So in his wise words, get out there and quit burnin’ the daylight!

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Thanks, Ashly! Thank you for pitching in as a team leader this year; you continue to inspire those around you, and we’re excited to watch you crush yet another 13.1 come December! 

Friends, if you’re interested in being featured here (all levels & abilities welcome), please drop me a line at info(at)kineticfix(dot)com. 

How I Run: Team LUNA Chix PDX’s Vanessa Peterson

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In honor of our second Team LUNA Chix Portland Run season, I’ll be introducing our new team members via this interview series throughout the next few months…get to know these impressive ladies, and come join us for a run Monday nights from 6:30-7:30 pm in Portland! 

Next up, meet Vanessa Peterson! During the week you can find her helping to straighten people’s teeth as an orthodontist…but when the weekend rolls around, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to find our team’s resident speed demon heading out on some kind of great adventure.

Case in point: With her 30th birthday approaching soon, Vanessa’s made it a goal to run the length of the Wildwood Trail — all 30 miles of it. So for practice, she and her husband ran up Mt. St. Helens — that’s 19 miles with 4,300 feet of climbing over six hours, folks.

What I love most about Vanessa is that you’ll never met anyone with a softer heart and a stronger mental game. Seriously, this woman is one of the kindest and most genuine people you’ll meet, but when it comes to competing in races, the gloves come off — she’s just puts that much heart and soul into everything she does.

Needless to say, we’re thrilled to have her leading the pack with this year’s team, both literally and figuratively, so here’s a little peek into how she makes it happen…

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1. What’s your favorite route? I love running from the OHSU/Marquam Hill through Wildwood Trail to Pittock Mansion down into Forest Park and back. It’s a 12 mile loop that is perfect for a summer Sunday morning jaunt!

2. What shoes do you wear? I’ve worn Nike Pegasus running shoes for 15 years. I’m superstitious and nervous that if I switch I’ll get injured. However, this year is the first year I don’t have any crazy races that I’ve signed up for, so maybe its finally time to branch out and try something new…stay tuned!

3. What other run gear can’t you live without? I can’t live without my sunglasses and my phone. I love listening to Pandora or putting on a podcast when I run.

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4. What’s your best time-saver or “runhack?” I keep an old pair of running shoes and a run outfit in the trunk of my car. That way, if a running opportunity presents itself or the rainy clouds open up, I’m ready to go and don’t have to fight traffic to go home and change.

5. What running-related thing are you better at than anyone else? I LOVE track workouts –tempo, fartleks, ladders, speed, you name it! I was a NCAA Track & Field Div 1 800-meter runner in college, and I’m also a rule follower. When a track workout says you must hit this time and you have this much rest, it doesn’t matter how tired I am, I’ll do anything to hit that split!

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6. What do you listen to while running? Lately I listen to wellness podcasts. They are so inspiring, and are especially helpful when I’m running the waterfront on my lunch hour during a stressful day at work.

7. What are you currently training for? I am turning 30 this year and I’ve decided that, to celebrate, I want to run all 30 miles of the Wildwood trail in August. It’s not an official race, but I can’t wait! I’m hoping to get a big group of people to join me at least for parts of it!

8. What are your recovery & sleep routines like? I do a ton of yoga — like 4-6 hours a week. I’ve found that flexibility equals speed, and good posture and a strong core leads to a long-term running career. Following a long run with yoga is almost like getting a massage; it feels so good!

I also am a very healthy eater. I eat 95% plant-based, which I think is essential to optimal athletic performance. Finally, I usually get eight hours of sleep and I’m up by 5 am. It was hard to get into a morning routine, but I’ve found the early morning is my favorite part of the day.

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9. What’s the best running advice you’ve ever received? I tend to run like a Tyrannosaurus Rex with my arms clenched up by my armpits and my shoulders super tense. One of my coaches taught me to run with a penny in each hand between my fingers; it reminds you to relax your arms and drop your shoulders!

10. What’s your favorite running-related memory? I got food poisoning the night before my first Ironman Triathlon (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run). I decided to still do the race, but it was a very long day where I felt sick to my stomach.

During the marathon portion of the event, I was struggling and ended up running three miles with an 82-year-old man before he left me in the dust! It was so inspiring to see what great shape he was in for his age!

11. Fill in the blank: I’d love to go on a run with ______. My Friends! Running is way more fun to me when its a social event! I love that so many people in Portland are active and love the outdoors. It’s great to have friends who inspire and motivate you!

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12. Anything else you want to add? I’ve gone through many phases with running and triathlon. From running competitively in college to being on a sponsored triathlon team, I’ve run six marathons, including the Boston Marathon, and have done more than 30 triathlons, including two Ironman distances. I used to have a much more competitive spirit, but these days training outside is simply my zen.

There is nothing better than being on the trails with a great group of people. I developed such great relationships with so many Luna Chix last year. My goal this year is to have a blast getting healthy and training with an incredible group of women!

Thanks, Vanessa! We love having you as a team leader this season — and enjoy the challenge of trying to keep up with you each week 😉

Friends, if you’re interested in being featured here (all levels & abilities welcome), please drop me a line at info(at)kineticfix(dot)com. 

July Goal Check-In

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Ever look back and marvel at how far you’ve come — yet realize how much you’ve veered off course?

That’s pretty much how I feel about this year’s goals at this point, but that’s the name of the game now: learning how to roll with the punches and adjust (and re-adjust) expectations. Chalk that up to another lesson of parenthood.

Regardless, one day at a time and one foot in front of the other, the important part is that we’re making progress, right?

Read more about the five goals toward which I’m working in 2016.

Here’s where things stand currently:

1. Health & Fitness

We’re still working on getting a daily routine down (naps, anyone?), but I have gotten good at making little workouts happen in the nooks and crannies of our days. Even if it’s just a walk with the stroller, a stroll with the baby carrier or some at-home body weight exercises designed by one of my favorite trainers, I try to get at least 30 minutes of activity on the regular.

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In the absence of a regular fitness schedule, however, I’ve realized it’s also come high time to revamp my eating habits. Up until now, I’ve been using breastfeeding as an excuse reason to be more lax than usual…

But now that Wyatt’s getting more mobile, energy is the focus so I’ve been supplementing with Forelle, a new meal delivery service here in Portland that specializes in raw, plant-based meals  using whole, organic and seasonal ingredients that are sourced from local suppliers. Clean eating feels good again, even if it’s only for a few meals a week!

2. Training

Now that we’re creeping up on six months where I have yet to get a full night’s sleep, I’m starting to re-think the plan for this fall’s marathon. Although mileage is now up to double-digits on weekend runs, operating in a state of chronic sleep deprivation is hardly conducive to smart training — i.e. the last thing I want to do is get injured in the process.

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The good news is that my average pace per mile has been dropping steadily as I’ve been increasing distance each week. The bad news is that I’m nowhere near the kind of mileage that’s considered preparation for 26.2.

Walk/jogging is an option, for sure, but there’s something to be said for training properly for a race so you can enjoy the whole experience. Needless to say, I’ve been mulling over my options, so stay tuned.

3. Community

This month we switched things up at one  of our weekly Team LUNA Chix Portland Run practices and held a scavenger hunt with some of our favorite fitness stores and studios in the area (shout out to Bar Method, Barre3, Burncycle, Lucy, MUV, Revocycle, Title Nine, YAS, YoYoYogi and Zest Nutrition). Between bags of bars, coupons for free classes and all kinds of raffle prizes, everyone walked away a winner!

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But what I really want to address this month in terms of community is the fitness scene here in Portland. What I love about it is that there’s much more camaraderie than competition — to each his own with workouts, so there can (and should) be room for everyone to play.

However, this past month I witnessed something happen to one of my favorite studio owners that made my blood boil. Rather than go into a rant here, though, I’d just like to take the opportunity to commend the people and places who pitched in and redeemed our faith in the Portland fitness community — namely Industrial Barre and PureBarre Bend — as well as those who stepped forward and asked how they could lend a hand to a fellow small business owner in need.

That’s how it should be, folks!

4. Career

My consulting work with Pulse Creative continues to be a juggling act, schedule-wise, but is so worth it. Aside from working out, it’s the other small piece of my day where I can feel like the old ‘me.’

And what’s nice, I’ve learned, from having less time is that you get to prioritize projects — i.e. partner with great people and do only work that you love. Which makes the time spent doubly enjoyable!

5. Life

Finally, as I mentioned last month and the previous month, life hasn’t been without its lessons since Wyatt came along. The latest of which is:

It’s no longer about you. 

Well, duh, you’re probably saying. Anyone over the age of five knows this. 

But after years of being able to do what you want, when you want and how you want — from things as simple as setting sleep hours and eating regular meals to more complicated things such as work/life balance, training for events or, heck, even a date night with my husband — it can be a hard pill to swallow in the adjustment as a first-time parent.

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And what initially felt like a tug-of-war to not forget about what makes me ‘me’ or what makes Ben and me ‘us’ has become, well, a more comfortable shade of normal. It may have taken a handful of months and some newfound perspective — or maybe it’s just that there’s a flicker of light ahead at the end of the newborn tunnel — but I see now that it’s less about losing something and more about adding pieces to the puzzle.

What that bigger picture is, we don’t know yet; we’re still very much in the thick of it. But the prospect of creating it together, all three of us, is pretty exciting.

How are your 2016 goals coming along?