Smart Athlete Podcast Ep. 148 - Sara Manderscheid - Elevate Your Run

I was in financial services marketing for 14 years. I worked with a firm in Denver for ten of those years, and it just got to a point where I wasn’t loving what I was doing and it was taking up obviously the good majority of every day or most of my days.
Smart Athlete Podcast Ep. 148 - Sara Manderscheid  - Elevate Your Run

[00:00:00] I was in financial services marketing for 14 years. I worked with a firm in Denver for ten of those years, and it just got to a point where I wasn’t loving what I was doing and it was taking up obviously the good majority of every day or most of my days. I worked for a pretty it was a boutique company, but it was also all about the client experience, which meant that we got to be on 24/7 and connected to our phones 24/7. And anyone who goes through that knows that there is a breaking point. And I just had my breaking point.

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Jesse: [00:01:21] Welcome to the Smart Athlete Podcast. I’m your host Jesse Funk. My guest today is a Boston qualifier. She is the founder of Elevate Your Running Run Coaching. Also the host of the Elevate Your Running podcast. If you’re interested in podcasts, clearly you are because you’re listening to this one. You can find her on Instagram @sayrahrunshappy. That will be in the description below. And if you’re on YouTube, that’ll be on the screen. You can also find Welcome to the show, Sara Manderscheid.

Sara: [00:01:54] Thank you so much for having me.

Jesse: [00:01:56] Thanks for joining me, Sara. For you listening, you don’t know. I had a dog crisis last week that Sarah graciously moved our episode. I was like she was trying to call in. It was last minute. I was like, in the car trying to tell her I had to take my dog to the vet. So just off the bat, she already gets kudos points for being a great person and being flexible when dog crises occur.

Sara: [00:02:25] Yeah. No problem, Jesse. I’m glad that we were able to connect and make this happen.

Jesse: [00:02:30] Yeah, so I know we were talking before. You also have a dog. And mine, as we mentioned, is both small Jack Russell terrier and old, going to be 14 this summer. So he’s not really the best dog for running. And I’ve never run with the dog, but I know some people do. Is is that something you take? Do you take your dog out for runs with you?

Sara: [00:02:57] So I have a black lab. Her name is Kenzie. She’s six years old. She’s amazing. And when I first got her, I brought her home and she was still a puppy. Like, we would run a little bit together. And then over time, she decided, I don’t really like running with mom. I like chasing the ball and swimming and doing all the things. So for the last few years, she has not run with me. And at the same time, like over these past few months, she has found her love of running again with me.

[00:03:30] So if we are off leash, we live in Boulder, Colorado, so it’s a dog-friendly place to live and there’s a lot of trails that she can be off-leash on. She’s having the time of her life and it’s so great and she’s at a great age too, because she listens to me most of the time and she has a lot of fun.

Jesse: [00:03:49] I was just I see sometimes where I live, there’s kind of a trail of common trail that a lot of people run on because it’s like gravel at crushed gravel and really finely crushed gravel, which is nicer than running on a sidewalk. We don’t have quite as quite as nice anywhere near as nice a setup and trail system as Boulder does. But I’ll see people with their like their belts on that has their leash attached to it and it’s attached to their dog and they’re running and the dog’s just running with them.

[00:04:21] And I’m like, I don’t know how I get a dog that can do that or how to train a dog to do that. But I’m always trying to find somebody that already knows how to do that because I know I’ve had people ask about “How do you do that?” To me, being a runner and I’m like, I don’t know, I need to find an expert.

Sara: [00:04:40] Now you feel like I’ve seen that as well. And I every time I look at that setup, I think, gosh, if I did that, I feel like I would fall. And that’s like one of my things, too. I’m a very klutzy runner. Yes, I have BQd and I fall a lot well while running. So the idea of having my 55 pound dog attached to my waist, I don’t know, just kind of scares me a little bit.

Jesse: [00:05:06] Yeah, I think the only concern is just how well they listen or how well they’re able to follow your own pace. We got our dog when he was ten. They’re an odd series of events, and because he’s old, he doesn’t require that much walking. But when he does walk, he sometimes just like will pull. And we haven’t trained that out of them. So we’re bad dog owners.

I know people are wagging their fingers at me right now for not having fixed that, but I just imagined like trying to run with him and him, like speeding up, slowing down and speeding up and slowing down. And just that would be a terrible situation, especially if you increase the weight and have like a heavier dog like you do, comparatively speaking. Just yeah. And then tripping over the tether and all that kind of stuff.

Sara: [00:05:56] I could totally see myself doing that. I mean, I fell yesterday in Boulder running like just straight up, tripped over a rock. So I feel like, you know, maybe I’ll just have my dog off leash and she can run happy next to me.

Jesse: [00:06:13] Is that? Do you just get up, dust yourself off and keep going? Do you look around like? Because I’ll say I fell yesterday, but I was doing like single leg block jumps at the gym and I like my toe just like hit the box. I just fell over. I was like, still got six more to do. I got I got to keep jumping. Like, I just don’t I don’t know if there’s any better way to approach that.

Sara: [00:06:37] Well. So here’s the thing. I have fallen a few times last summer, so I tend to follow the exact same way my right foot hits something, whether it’s an uneven sidewalk or a rock. Like yesterday it was a rock. I was actually running with one of my athletes yesterday. So like, you know, it was a little embarrassing, definitely fell.

But at the same time, we’re all human, we all do things like that. And thankfully he was there because I scraped up both my knees and my hip and I was bleeding a lot. So it was nice to have someone else there. So I told them I just needed them in it and like regrouped myself.

[00:07:15] We walked for a little bit and then we were able to finish the run, which was amazing. And I ran this morning. I felt good this morning. But yeah, typically it’s, you know, look around, assess the damage on my body and then get up and keep going.

Jesse: [00:07:31] Now maybe that begs the question of like I come from, I guess I’ll say a Boy Scout background or wherever. So if anybody has been in scouts, you know, this phrase comes from the idea of be prepared, basically bring all the things that you might need even though you might not need them. Does that mean that now on runs, the longer runs you have like a fanny pack with you, it’s got like a first aid kit and you’re just like, I’m going to try not to fall, but like I’m going to make sure I’m good or you just, like, I’ll tough it out till I get home.

Sara: [00:08:04] I think that after yesterday’s fall, I need to do that because this is now the fourth time in like a year this has happened. It’s definitely going to be in my car. Like my athlete who is with me was awesome. He’s a father of four and he had the first aid kit in his car to help me out, which was amazing. And it’s just a great reminder, one, that I should have that stuff in my car, if not on me. And then also to just slow down a little bit, look around, take it all in.

Jesse: [00:08:36] Yeah.

Sara: [00:08:37] Watch for the rocks.

Jesse: [00:08:39] Yeah. Enjoy yourself a little bit more. Which, which makes me wonder I want to ask you about before we got going, you mentioned you used your previous life. Your previous career was in marketing and you’ve kind of made this switch over to run coaching that’s hopefully a little bit more filling. I think you said something that fills your cup a little bit more.

Sara: [00:09:02] Yeah. Yeah.

Jesse: [00:09:04] So can you talk to me about? Why would you leave marketing to be a running coach, which in my opinion seems like a notoriously difficult job to do well and make a living at versus marketing? If you’re good at marketing, you can work anywhere pretty much so.

Sara: [00:09:24] Yeah. Yeah, that’s a great question. So I was in financial services marketing for 14 years. I worked with a firm in Denver for ten of those years, and it just got to a point where I wasn’t loving what I was doing and it was taking up obviously the good majority of every day or most of my days. I worked for a pretty it was a boutique company, but it was also all about the client experience, which meant that we got to be on 24/7 and connected to our phones, 24/7.

And anyone who goes through that knows that there is a breaking point. And I just had my breaking point and that was in 2019. And I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do, but I just knew that what I was doing was not making me happy and I could make a better or a different difference in the world, but I wasn’t sure what that was.

[00:10:16] And my degree was in finance and marketing, and that’s the only thing I knew. But I also knew that I really loved running. And that was always I mean, that has always been a staple in my life for, well, the last 15 years I started recreational or endurance running after college, ran track in high school, but I was in high school and I didn’t take it seriously.

So I took the summer of 2019 off to travel and spend time with my dog and to sleep and do all these things. And I ended up going to a running camp in North Carolina, and it was there where the coaches said, “Hey, this would be really great if you brought this camp or run retreat to Boulder.” And it kind of just went one ear and out the other. And I continued on with my way.

[00:11:04] And at the end of the summer, I ended up contracting with another financial company for six months just to do a very specialized piece of the marketing system. And it was really like, looking back, the most perfect Segway because my contract ended two weeks before the pandemic started. It was my goal. Like I already had run retreats in Boulder lined up for the summer of 2020 and when the pandemic hit and it was very clear very, very early on that these retreats were not happening. 

[00:11:38] I thought now is the time to get certified, to be a run coach. I’ve been running for at that point 13 years. I have a lot of my own experience. I have my own coach. I love running. It fills my soul. I host community group runs in Denver and Boulder, so I love bringing people together to experience those endorphins. And I also just love, love, love coaching other people who get to see how they can transform when they show up and commit to the process.

Jesse: [00:12:14] The simple joy of running, I think, never ceases to amaze me. Just like. It seems so fundamental, right? That there’s not a whole lot to it. It’s not. Well, I’ll say there is a lot to it, and there’s also not a lot to it. And that it can be very deep. But it’s also put one foot in front of the other. You need to leave the ground at some point in time.

Do that. Rinse and repeat like but there’s some there’s something I find enjoyable about it. I was having a conversation on the previous podcast earlier this week with Dr. Bradford Cooper, who kind of specializes in helping people suss out their motivation and build that up in their ability to thrive in difficult environments. Kind of performance psychology —

Sara: [00:13:12] Their why, right? 

Jesse: [00:13:14] Right. And we kind of went through an exercise. He’s asking me about things and, you know, like my current goals and even though after we went through that, I still just went. Like I’ve got these goals and I think that helps me structure my training. But even if I didn’t have the goals, I think I would still be out running or wanting to go to the track or whatever, because I just like doing it. Like I like training more and more, way more than I like racing. I race —

Sara: [00:13:45] Yeah, same.

Jesse: [00:13:46] You know, I race because it seems like you should. And I do think there are there are races where it’s like everything comes together and you have this magical day. There are few and far between for whatever reason. So maybe it’s like chasing that high. But I just, you know, there’s something so nice about just. Go out for a run and then you’re like just the simple joy of it. I don’t know. It’s hard to communicate. It seems like —

Sara: [00:14:16] It’s amazing. 

Jesse: [00:14:18] you do better job at it than I do.

Sara: [00:14:19] Well, it’s amazing. It’s like you can go out there and have maybe you’re running in the morning, afternoon, evening, whenever is like your time to run and you could just be having a crappy day. Or maybe work has been really stressful or you’re feeling stress in other areas of your life, but that time that you are running is so special and can be so special because you can turn everything off.

[00:14:44] You don’t even need to listen to music. You can turn your phone off, you can turn your watch off. It’s like you time, right? And I think that is so special. And just being able to, like you said, put one foot in front of the other to get out there. I think it’s really important to establish your why as an athlete, to know why you’re showing up to train or why you want to be consistent. What is the goal and also what’s underneath that goal? You know, I have a goal to run a sub three marathon and I’m also digging in underneath that to figure out, well, why is that goal so important to me? You know, why? Why do I want to do that?

[00:15:27] But I also love training. I love running. Everyone who knows me knows that, like I have a running coach and he is there designed to hold me back from myself because I will do way too much. And and that feels really good. Like I run six days a week. Some days I or some weeks I run eight runs, which means I get two doubles and it feels really good. But it’s also important that everyone shows up the way that they need to show up.

So some people love running four days a week. Some people love five, some really love track workouts, some really love like longer interval workouts, whatever that is. And just creating a plan for yourself or working with a coach to create a plan that’s going to set you up for success. So your cup is being filled in the running space.

Jesse: [00:16:20] That’s something I think a lot of people miss out on. I see not necessarily younger, but beginner or more inexperienced athletes that maybe you want to get more serious and they’ll go, well, so-and-so is doing such and such workouts, so I should do that workout. And it’s like. Yeah.

But number one, is that the right workout for your current skill and fitness level? Is that the right workout that fits with your goals? Is it conducive to your schedule, like the whole thing as a personal example? I live in an area that unfortunately many of the tracks are just not available to attract a university.

[00:17:03] There’s private high schools that you can’t use those tracks. So I have to get to is a high school that in session most of the year. Thus I don’t want to be on it during school day so I have to be there early in the morning and it has been some time since I’ve been to the track. So when I was finally several weeks ago, maybe a month ago now, my coach and I were discussing speedwork should we do it on the trail I mentioned or go to the track? And I was like, “Well, I’ll have to get up at quarter to five to go to the track to do it.”

[00:17:40] He’s like, “Oh, I can make it for the trail.” And I said, I said, “No, please, for the love of God, I just I want to go to the track.” Like I would much rather be at the track where I can really just dial in what I’m doing because somehow, despite hating track in high school, I found a love for it in college. And I thrive on those things. Like I thrive on the track workouts and just being able to really dial in that consistency and like rep after rep trying to go like just like a half second, faster, a second, faster, whatever it is.

Sara: [00:18:16] Yeah.

Jesse: [00:18:16] Just really, really trying to get your speed down incrementally where it’s much harder to do that on a trail that’s going to have indeterminate surfaces. And you get street crossings and you got people and dogs and people with strollers and all the kinds of things. So yeah, just finding that thing is, is I think so crucial to consistency over the long term.

Sara: [00:18:38] Yeah, absolutely. And I think there’s benefits to both, right? Like I have athletes who have track workouts and they use a track and I think that’s super great because like you said, they get to build into their reps and feel like they are getting just a little bit faster with each one, which is what I love to see. And then sometimes I, you know, in Boulder, the tracks are open to the public most of the time, which is really great.

[00:19:04] But there’s also this really great road in South Boulder that I love sometimes to do either mile repeats on maybe some threshold work. I think maybe next week I have like. You know, six by 3 minutes harder, something like that. So I might go to this road and there’s definitely it’s not flat, but it’s pretty flat. It’s like maybe 20, 30 feet of gain. And so I could argue that like if I can still hit my pace or the effort is there on a road, it could potentially be a really great workout because I’m not running on a flat track, which makes it just a tad easier, right?

Jesse: [00:19:43] Right.

Sara: [00:19:44] Yeah. But to each their own. And sometimes it’s nice to, like, mix it up, right? You don’t always have to stick to a track or always stick to a trail, like you can kind of flip flop back and forth. But I think at the end of the day, if the training is if you don’t love the training, then what are you doing right? Like because we can all train and train hard and train for races and we can also set it up to make it super successful for our lives and to fill our cup.

Jesse: [00:20:12] I don’t know what your opinion is on this. I think so. I really like to track workouts. There was also I don’t live anywhere near there, so I can’t use it. But in college there was like like an abandoned highway basically. They had made a new highway and rerouted. So this road wasn’t really used anymore, relatively flat. It had, you know, a couple thing, a little bit bits of movement in it. You had to watch out for potholes and see like, as I mentioned, but we could do like, like a six mile tempo workout on that and have nearly no car traffic. And it’s a whole different ballgame doing that versus being on the track.

[00:20:54] I like being on the track because of that kind of like a type personality thing. I can do a bit with the watch, although I don’t clock watch, I just start and stop it. It reps. But I think. For people that have difficulty, at least initially, figuring out what their pacing is. What is it actually like, what a different tempo is feel like? Because I think that’s a skill. Maybe you, I take for granted sometimes I can’t speak for you —

Sara: [00:21:26] That is true. 

Jesse: [00:21:26] For granted. But I know some people just have a lot of difficulty. If you say like if you tell me go run tempo, I’m going to hit that pace because I’ve been at it so long or so. Same with you. But like somebody who’s not been running before, they may go too easy or too hard. I like the track is like, almost like a training tool of “OK. Let’s, let’s help teach you what tempo actually feels like.” So then when your fitness increases, like tempo naturally is going to increase because you’re working more on your physiological zone than strictly like “Sara said, I had to come in at this time today or whatever it is.” I like it as a teaching tool. I don’t know what your thoughts are on that.

Sara: [00:22:12] Yeah, it’s an excellent point because as as new runners get into training, there’s so many I mean, everything’s new, right? And they get to figure out their bodies. They get to figure out what feels like an easy run and what feels like a tempo or threshold and what feels like an all out how to do strides. Like all these things that you’re right. Like as an athlete and as an athlete, I definitely take it for granted because I’ve been running for so long and I have the ability to lock in a pace for a certain duration of time. I have the ability to run negative splits if I want to, and knowing how that feels and how to do it successfully.

[00:22:57] But the track is it just kind of like is a nice foundation of flat running where new beginner or beginner runners can find their flow and figure out and learn their body along the way. I love to coach based on effort and time, so most of my athletes get time, but then I also it’s like abstract. If you can’t hit this time, it’s okay. But on a scale of 1 to 10, if you can find like that seven or that eight, that’s what we’re looking for. Because some days our bodies don’t want to show up and run hard to hundreds. It just doesn’t. And that’s okay too. But if the effort is there, that’s great.

Jesse: [00:23:42] I think maybe that’s one of the most difficult things about self-coaching is you live that rate of perceived exertion. I just I talk about RPE all the time and sometimes it’s like you get stuck between I just say, let’s go for the 200, as you just mentioned. So you’re supposed to be doing 200s, which if you’re listening and you’re a distance runner, there is a place for two hundreds in your lives, almost regardless of your distance, by the way.

Sara: [00:24:19] Okay. So I brought up two hundreds because I did two hundreds last week and I’m training for 5Ks so we could talk about 1k —

Jesse: [00:24:28] I would suggest. You could probably still do 200s even if you’re doing marathon. For if you’re talking about working on like increasing max strength, like I think it has a place there. Obviously, it’s going to play a bigger role in like I like to focus on 5K, 10K, I like to go fast and short, but just like we kind of neglect the faster stuff, the longer we go. It’s usually just like, oh, just we’re going out forever. So forget the faster stuff. It’s like, it depends on whether you’re trying to maximize your time, but.

[00:25:03] So thinking about just the idea of self-coaching and kind of the drawbacks of it. The way I see it, I guess, is. So let’s say you’re doing the two hundreds. You don’t hit your times, but like you were flat out gassed every single time you did them. Well, then you don’t need to be disappointed about your time. Like maybe you had an off day. You were up late last night. Has happened to me earlier in the week. Your cat threw up a quarter till four. And then you getting up early like, you know, something happened and you just had a bad day, you know? And it’s fine.

Sara: [00:25:43] It happens. Right.

Jesse: [00:25:44] You don’t have that coach to, like, try to reassure you. Sometimes you live inside your own head and you’re just like. Does that negative self-talk that’s so common among athletes, you just go down the slow.

Sara: [00:25:56] Oh! Yeah. It’s so, so, so common. And if anyone’s having trouble hitting pieces, there’s so many things to look at time of day. So like, it’s starting to get warmer out. Your heart rate’s going to be higher. It’s going to be difficult to hit track workouts if you’re running in the heat of the day. That’s just how it is.

So if you’re doing track workouts, I guess you run in the morning or late at night trying to avoid, you know, midday sessions. Sleep is going to impact that. How you show up to training. Did you take your easy day the day before, easy enough or were you in that gray zone that so many athletes fall into of like, I’m going to push the pace.

[00:26:40] It all plays a factor. And and we’ve all been there. We’ve all had days where we haven’t hit pieces. And that’s okay too. Like, what I say to my athletes is training is not linear. So you can show up and you can have some amazing track workouts or some speed days, and then there’s going to be a day where maybe you don’t hit it. That’s okay. But let’s just dial things in and make sure that we’re doing everything that we can do to set you up for success. And then we’re going to go back next week or do it again next week and see how you show up.

[00:27:15] Now, if the athlete is continuing to struggle to hit paces, there’s probably something else going on. Nutrition plays a huge piece to this as well. Like how much are you drinking before your track workout? How many ounces of water? Are you drinking electrolytes? What are you eating during the day?

And if you’re are you eating a snack that’s stomach-friendly before the track workout? So I love like bananas great. If you’re doing this outside of like first thing in the morning and even first thing in the morning, you should be eating something. But a honey stinger waffle is great too, if your stomach will allow like oatmeal with some honey nut butter or something like that.

Jesse: [00:27:59] You mentioned that results are non-linear. And I think, again, that’s another thing. I like to think about understanding something in several phases so we can hear something, and then we kind of understand that there’s this concept, and then we can understand the concept by saying, okay, let’s let’s say you graph your athletes results and you get this jagged chart, but it shouldn’t really trending upwards or downwards, depending on how you’re looking at it, whichever way you want it to go.

[00:28:33] So obviously it’s non-linear because it’s moving around so that we can understand it from that logical standpoint. But then I feel like the deeper understanding is like knowing it inherently where you don’t have to look at the numbers for reassurance, you just go, results are not linear and then you move on to the next day. I’m going to assume that you’re probably there.

[00:29:01] And so I want to ask you about how long did it take you to get to that place? Because I know it took me, you know, I don’t know, maybe I started running when I was 12, so I’ll say like 8 to 10 years maybe of running before I really got to a more comfortable place of like if there’s a bad workout, just letting it go instead of having to overanalyze it.

Sara: [00:29:26] Yeah, it definitely comes over time for sure. And I think the more mature we are as athletes, the more that we can recognize that, hey, we’re going to have off days, especially as we get older.

[00:29:36] Like, I am very lenient on myself now. I’m like, “Well, the recovery just takes a little bit longer than it used to”, and that’s okay too. But yeah, when I first started running, I started running at 24 and I would run every single run so hard. And I’m sure you can relate to that, right?

Jesse: [00:29:57] Yeah.

Sara: [00:29:57] And then it’s finding that balance of like, oh, I can actually do this and stay healthy because I’m, I was always injured. So it really actually took working with a coach. So I worked with Nell Rojas, first American woman at Boston in 21 and 22. She’s awesome. So I first worked with her to run my first marathon at CIM, the California International Marathon, and she would tell me like, Oh, you’re very mature as an athlete. Like you just know your body and you know how, how it goes, how training goes. I’m using your quotes right now.

[00:30:35] But at the same time, you know, if I really, really tried hard to nail each workout and there was a lot going on in my world during that training cycle, and I remember there were a few, like not so great training days and it was really, really nice to have a coach there to say, “Hey, that’s okay, this is going to be fine because X, Y, Z”, and also having that person there to help make you see like maybe you’re doing something wrong or I hate saying the word wrong, but like you could be doing something better to help you get those to help you nail that workout.

[00:31:17] For me, it was nutrition, so I was kind of stumbling through first-time marathon cycle. It’s tough to keep in or eat enough or eat the right things at the right time and all the things. So, so it definitely helped having someone there to help me and guide me through it. But then I also feel like a lot of confidence has come through my race results and my times. And knowing that what I say to my athletes and I say this to myself on the track too, is you are not your results.

[00:31:47] So if there is a bad day like who I am as a human and as a person, has nothing to do with the times that are on my Garmin watch. And it’s a bad day and it’s okay. And it actually makes me go into the next workout, like with a little bit more fire, a little bit more zip, and I’m like, I’m going to dial that said. So maybe it means I’m going to bed a little bit earlier, I’m eating a better dinner, I’m eating a better breakfast, whatever that is. I create a new playlist to like pump up the energy. I roll someone to run with me, something like that.

Jesse: [00:32:24] I had a thought, and then I lost it.

Sara: [00:32:28] So you were not your results, Jesse. You are not your results.

Jesse: [00:32:31] That’s exactly what I was. I actually I wanted to ask you about. No, that’s. That was that was actually my thought. Because that comes up from time to time, especially when I talk to, like, Olympians and, you know, they eventually have to make this transition. That’s another thing I talked about with Dr. Bradford Cooper earlier this week, or I guess as this comes out, it’s the previous week’s podcast, but for me, recording it was literally this week for me.

[00:32:54] But just like the idea of identity, how it’s tied to us as runners, and then finding a place where you have the ability to not be so attached to that identity because the more attached you are to it, the more it is the like. If you don’t get a run in or you don’t have the results you want or what, again, results —

Sara: [00:33:20] Maybe injured.

Jesse: [00:33:21] you’re injured. Then you go through this period of like existential crisis of who am I? You know, and. I mean, we can go down a really big philosophical rabbit hole and say Each of us is nothing. But that’s a different conversation for another time. We’re just the stories we tell ourselves. But just like it’s so tough. I think when you dedicate so much time to something not to be tied to the results to be have this non-attachment because because that’s why you put the time right you want the results.

[00:34:00] Thus you put in the time. And if it doesn’t come, then it’s like it’s this letdown. I think it’s. I think it’s. It takes some time to get to a place of maturity to go. You know, it’s just how it goes some days.

Sara: [00:34:14] Yeah, definitely. It can be really tough. I think any time we’re training hard and we don’t see the outcome in a race, it’s it’s super tough. And what I talk to my athletes about when we have race strategy calls before they before they race and we talk about all the things that we can control and then there’s uncontrollable things, right? Like the weather is one of them. How our bodies are going to show up, how our legs are going to show up on race day.

[00:34:40] So let’s control everything that we can control. And if the outcome still isn’t there, like let’s look at the uncontrollable things, like was was it windy? Was the weather a little bit warmer than you wanted? Was the route maybe earlier than we anticipated. Although as a coach, I always look at that stuff and try and train my athletes accordingly.

And if maybe there’s something missing in the controllable bucket, like that’s an area to improve and it’s just a way to grow as an athlete, it’s a way to grow as a coach, and it’s something that we can work on together in the next training cycle, I feel like with racing or let’s say, a track workout there are always whether it goes great or doesn’t go great, there are always ways that you can find to grow from it.

[00:35:33] And, you know, using it as a tool to say, okay, this actually didn’t go well. What am I learning from this? How can I be a better athlete next time? And then applying it next time, I think is actually a really great win and something that any athlete should be proud of.

Jesse: [00:35:52] Thinking about, talking about making adjustments, learning for next time. And then you mentioned courses being a little bit earlier than anticipating. It doesn’t help you as far as fitness is concerned. But my tip for people always is do that course preview and you can through your course preview whether that’s you’re getting in a car, whether you can run it, whether you can get on like Google Maps and you’re like clicking through to know whatever it is –. 

Sara: [00:36:22] And I’m laughing. 

Jesse: [00:36:23] With the course.

Sara: [00:36:25] It’s so true. So any time I race or I travel to race, which is nine times out of ten, I don’t actually like racing in Colorado. Shocker. I will drive the course the day before for sure. Now I have a lot of athletes racing the Fort Collins Marathon. It’s called the Colorado Marathon on May 1st. And I said this on my podcast this week. I said, I gave the invitation to all the athletes to go up there. I mean, I have some like mega athletes looking to BQ and I’m so excited for them. They’re all in super great shape.

[00:37:01] You know, we’re going to control everything that we can control on race day. The one thing that all of them said no to was controlling, going up there and doing a long run on the course or driving the course. So I’m hoping we can drive the course the day before the race. But it is so true. Like, you know. I ran the Mesa Marathon in February and I drove the course the day before. It was awesome because there was a two-mile hill for miles 4 to 6, and I knew the hill was there, but it was so nice to see it the day before the race to visualize it and to tell myself, it’s not really that bad. Don’t look at your watch when you’re running. Just get to the top of the hill and then it’s basically downhill or flat for the rest of the way and you’ll be fine.

[00:37:49] You know, the Boston course is a lot hillier than anyone says it is. And but yeah, it’s just really great to go out there, preview the course, start to visualize. You should be doing that in training anyways, whether you’re in an easy run or a hard workout or maybe a goal pace in a long run, starting to visualize how you’re going to push through the uncomfortable. But then also looking at the course and maybe combing the nerves the day before race.

Jesse: [00:38:18] Well, I think about it and just like. You think about the difference between a route that you’ve run 100 times. Your brain goes on autopilot. You’re not putting as much mental effort into paying attention to where you’re running it versus like a brand new route. Like your brain’s on high alert, like the whole time and you can’t completely get rid of it. But the course preview helps bring that back a little bit. And then you use that mental energy for pacing rather than for like, What is this my turn? Is it coming? Like, what is that? Where is this? Is this the hill? Is it coming up now? Is this like got all that stuff? And then you can just chill and focus on what you’re doing so.

Sara: [00:39:05] Yeah, I mean, I obviously did this for my first marathon too. We drove the course, we actually drove it backwards, which was whatever. It’s fine.

Jesse: [00:39:14] Better than nothing.

Sara: [00:39:15] I remember turning — better than nothing, right? And I remember turning to my boyfriend at the time he was driving it and I’m like, okay, so like what? You know, we reset like the mileage tracker in the car and I’m like, all right, so like, where are we on the course? Because it feels like we’ve been driving for a really long time and he’s like, “Oh, we’re like mile 13.” I’m like, “Oh, okay, you know, this is my first marathon, right? I’ve only run a half before” and I’m like, “Oh, okay so that was like a little bit in my head going into my first marathon.”

But it’s just I think it also kind of puts it into a unique perspective of, you know, if you’re a marathoner or if you’re a half marathoner or even a 10K, 5K, like you’re still doing something incredible because that is a long time to be out there on the road, doing your thing, pushing hard and creating something fun out of it.

Jesse: [00:40:04] Yeah. Sara we’re starting to rundown on time. I’m going to ask you my seasonal question. For long time listeners, they know every season I have a new question and I ask everybody for that particular year. I’m hoping this is going to be up to your alley I feel like it will be. This year’s question because I’m bad at it and so many people are bad at it is, how do you celebrate your wins?

Sara: [00:40:28] Oh, my gosh! I love celebrating my wins. It depends on like what when we’re talking about. So what I do with my athletes, I call them elevated moments. So I will do those on coaching calls with my athletes. Me, personally, as an athlete, if I raise a PR, there’s definitely a margarita happening after the race, literally still in my clothes. After the Boston Marathon, I pulled a little over a minute, which I will take. We were at a Mexican restaurant downtown Boston with a margarita.

[00:41:05] And so that’s like tried and true. I think that’s so much fun. And then it’s also acknowledging the hard work. I think that’s important to not taking it for granted and then celebrating with friends and other runners who I run with and just making it fun. We get to do that. We get to we get to celebrate our elevated moments in training. I will do that with athletes over the course of a week. Let’s celebrate something that you’re really proud of. And then also when we’re going into taper, let’s celebrate something in taper and then also on race day. It’s a lot of fun.

Jesse: [00:41:42] Yeah. I knew you’d be the right person to ask for that question, so. Nailed it, Nailed it.

Sara: [00:41:48] Did I nail it? Okay, great. So, I mean, it’s subjective, but.

Jesse: [00:41:52] Right, right. But that’s okay. Sara if people want to get in touch with you, see what you’re up to, where can they find you?

Sara: [00:41:59] Yeah. So I am on Instagram and Twitter @sayrahrunshappy. That’s S-A-Y-R-A-H runhappy. My website is Instagram and Twitter for my coaching company is also elevate your running. I have a podcast also called Elevate Your Running, so if you just Google Elevate Your Running and you’ll find me. But I look forward to connecting with all of you online.

Jesse: [00:42:24] Awesome. Thanks for hanging out with me today, Sara.

Sara: [00:42:26] Yeah, yeah. Thank you so much for the conversation. It was great to chat.

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