Introducing RCR's newest badass runner. Young Stephana moved to Edmonton in August and tracked us down via social media. She first joined us on an early Saturday long run, and stuck it out for a good 30k or something crazy. Right away we knew she'd be a good fit! I guess she took it pretty seriously when we told her she'd have to earn her shirt, because every morning at 6am, Stephana is geared up to run hard with a big smile on her face. As a crew, we're thrilled that Stephana will run the NYC Marathon (her first!) wearing her RCR race kit!
Hi RCR Blog readers! My name is Stephana Cherak, and I love to run! I am the newest addition to this seriously badass running crew. I was born and raised in Calgary but I recently moved to Edmonton in August 2015 to begin graduate studies in Pharmacology. I began running in 2011 when I retired from competitive Irish Dance, and my love has never wavered. I most enjoy the half marathon, but am trying my luck at the full marathon in NYC this fall. Running keeps me healthy and strong. It satisfies my competitive side, and empowers me on many levels. Over the 2015 training and racing season, I’ve learned a thing or two, and I’d love to share them with you.
1.) Wine counts as carbo-loading.
Okay, so the science behind this claim has yet to be validated, but what I DO know for certain is that no matter the training cycle, workout, or upcoming race, it is so important not to loose your love of life. Running is a sport where routine and consistency are very impactful on your success, thus it is exceptionally easy to forget about those small, little things in life that can make a big difference. So go ahead- pour that extra glass of wine or grab that second cookie. And then go out and nail that run. I promise you, you’ll be better for it.
2.) Sleep actually does matter.
How typical of me, get more sleep. I bet you haven’t heard this one before, right?! Throughout my undergrad I was in a routine of surviving off of minimal sleep, and boy did I ever hit a wall. Sleep is important for so many reasons, from hormonal cycles, to regeneration of key metabolic enzymes. In terms of running, it really can make the difference between a killer workout and one which flopped. It is not, however, realistic to aim for 8-10 hours of sleep, if you currently only log 6. So, I challenge you to make a 30 minute adjustment every night. Log off of Facebook, close down the Instagram and make it goal to get to bed just half an hour earlier than normal. Your body will reap the benefits.
3.) Run, recover, repeat.
Unfortunately, I learned this one the hard way. Too much consistent effort and not enough rest was the perfect storm for a very, very upset IT band, groin and glute (all on my right side, I was really popular walking down the hallways). With my two months of strict rest & recovery, I reflected on just how important it is to keep you body functioning smoothly. Really, you are only as strong as how you recover, and it is within the resting process that you truly acquire the hard work you put in prior. After that hard run or workout, come home, put your feet up on the couch and turn on the Netflix. I give you permission.
4.) Invest in a pre-made training plan or a coach.
Yes, this involves spending some extra $$$. And yes, this is 100% worth it. If you are goal-oriented and thrive off of planning for a specific or measurable running related goal, then this usually means you need a game plan to effectively and safely get you through the training. I have found the use of both a coach and a pre-made training plan to be highly effective in many ways. First, a training plan will consist of a variety of speed and endurance work, and easy runs. So no matter what, you’ll typically always be doing something different day in and day out, which is great for breaking up the sometime monotonous activity of running. Secondly, this puts things into perspective and keeps your motivation elevated. If you don’t perform during a tempo run, for example, you know you have another workout coming up in which you can redeem yourself. This prevents loosing enthusiasm and re-evaluating your goal after a single/few not-so-awesome workouts. Finally, looking back over your training cycle, and having a coach to discuss things with is a HUGE confidence booster. It’s an amazing feeling to have someone investing in your training and supporting you (who isn’t your mom).
5.) Stick with what works.
This is so self-explanatory, and honestly, would probably make it into my top five every single year. Every runner is different! This means different shoe preferences, different trails, routes, times, food, and even GU preference (salted caramel, yum). If it works for you, you stick with it. End of story.
6.) Friends are the family you choose.
This one goes out to my amazing/supportive/encouraging/hilarious RCR family. You guys have truly welcomed me into my new city. In saying this, I encourage all runners to find a group of their own! The stories and conversations on the easy days are always fascinating, and the support on the hard days is bar-none. A running family is one to cherish, and I am loving every second of it.
7.) Get fitted for proper running shoes! (!!!!!!!)
After working at multiple running shoe stores, I cannot stress this one enough. Just as I mentioned every runner is different, this also means every stride and foot strike is different. Please please please don’t buy new running shoes for the brand name/the color/the price. If you really want to enjoy the beautiful sport of running, please get a proper shoe fitting for a pair that your toe-sies will adore, every single mile.