Hey friends! Since this is a food and fitness blog, I wanted to share a little bit about my background in fitness and racing. Fitness is something that is very important to me and I hope to share more about workouts, racing, etc. with you all in future posts. Enjoy 🙂
A little backstory: Like most kids, I grew up playing all sorts of sports – soccer, softball, tennis, basketball, cheerleading, track and field…you name it, I probably did it. I always did these activities for fun and was never all that competitive in them. It wasn’t until the end of middle school/beginning of high school that I really became serious about athletics.
When I moved from Charlotte to Nashville the summer before my sophomore year in high school, I decided to quit competitive cheerleading and become a cross country runner. I had always like running, but had never trained and seriously raced before, so I was excited to jump straight into a new sport. I decided to train for a triathlon that summer as part of my preparation for cross country. I did lots of research, bought a new road back, and followed a very basic training plan, adding in a little extra running here and there. The race was at the end of July in downtown Nashville, and it was a high of 75 degrees with no clouds or humidity on race day – perfect conditions. I smiled for every second of that race, and it was that day that I fell permanently in love with training and racing.
Triathlons took a back burner for the next 3 years while cross country took center stage. I fell in love with cross country from the first practice. It was apparent that I had some natural talent, as I was running in the lead pack at our first time trial, and ran varsity in my first ever race. My first season was filled with personal record (PR) after personal record, and I eventually got my 5k time down to a 20:08.
That spring was when the injuries began. My first ever injury from running was a strained quad muscle that required taking two weeks off from running. Two weeks?! I couldn’t imagine two days without running, much less two weeks. At first it was devastating, but I survived and made it back for track season. I still never felt 100% though and didn’t make huge progress that season. Summer came, and I was so ready to train for cross country and break 20 minutes in the 5k. And train I did. I ran so much that in August I sustained an injury to a nerve in my lower back, taking me out of cross country for another 3 weeks. I was heartbroken. There was never a clear diagnosis from a doctor, but with rest and chiropractic care, I made it back to cross country in time to win my first (JV) race back and run with my team in state, where we took first place and I ran negative split to take 11th place in the state.
I was in peak fitness at the end of cross country season, and my team continued to train for the Nike Cross Country Southeast Regionals in Cary, NC. I was feeling amazing during training until a week before the race, I pulled my right adductor and found it hard to even walk around without pain. I was determined to run the race, so thanks to lots of PT, ice, and Advil, I finished with a decent time. After the race, I was out of running for 2+ weeks letting that injury heal. My track season was plagued with similar injuries and amounted to very little. And once again, summer came. I wanted to make this year different. No injuries, no time off, just solid training and good nutrition. Well, the training bug got the best of me, and I found myself over-training once more. I began noticing a strange pain in my right groin area towards the end of the summer whenever I did the pigeon stretch, but didn’t make much of it. I continued to run through the pain since my PT and orthopedic didn’t think I had a stress fracture, but it began to be too much to handle and walking was becoming painful. I finally got an MRI in late August and was diagnosed with a stress fracture in my femoral neck. 7 weeks on crutches, no exercise, no cross country. My worst nightmare had come true. I tried to stay positive, but as the captain of the cross country who couldn’t even run, I was so upset. I made the best of my time off of exercise, but it was still hard. The one silver lining is that I feel as though an injury is a sign for me to take a step back from exercise and competition and spend more time on myself, my friendships, and my faith. I ended up really enjoying my nearly two months of rest, since I had more time to hang out with friends and not stress about racing.
So, by the time November came around and I was allowed to start running in 30 second intervals with 2 minutes of walking in between, I was pretty out of shape. At this point, my only goal was to not get injured ever again, so I came very gradually back into exercise, relying mostly on the spin bike and walking much more than I was running. I decided that foregoing track was the best thing I could do for my femur, so there was no pressure to get back in shape, but I still wanted to get at least a little of my running fitness back.
In the winter and spring, I started doing Kayla Itsine’s Bikini Body Guide, which is an amazing resistance training program that consists of 3 28-minute strength circuits per week and 3 low-intesity steady state (LISS) cardio workouts on alternating days. I mostly walked for LISS, but occasionally running for 10-15 minutes at a time. This, paired with a round of Whole30, got me into much better shape than the fall, and I was feeling very strong. By the end of the semester, I felt ready to jump into harder training and get back to a level of fitness that felt more “normal” for me.
I decided that training for a race would be the best way for me to stay motivated and challenge myself, so I signed up for two sprint triathlons, the Chattanooga Waterfront Triathlon and the Music City Triathlon. I made a loose training plan for myself that included 3 runs, 3 swim, and 3 rides per week, in addition to tumbling practice once a week and the occasional strength session. Getting back into running proved to be very hard, but I found a new love of long-distance swimming and biking. I found a really strong passion in training for the triathlons and ended up beating both of my goal times by almost 5 minutes, something I never would have dreamed of at the beginning of the summer.
Where I am today:
Since my final triathlons, biking and swimming have taken a back seat to running, cross training, and cheerleading. There obviously isn’t as much time in the academic year to train, so I plan to use the next two semesters to focus on improving my running times and strength train. During the school year, I love to use workouts as a way to unwind after or before a long day, so there just isn’t as much structure like there is during triathlon season. I’m really enjoying this mix of workouts right now, but I sure am counting down the days until the summer triathlon season :).