Monday, September 16, 2013


Some days I sit in front of my computer, click over to this blog and start to type.  And then I feel paralyzed. I wonder, does anyone care what I have to say; do they really want to see what I've sewn, or what I cooked for dinner? Does anyone have to care, or can I journal it just for me? The minutes, hours, days, and years are slipping by and I do enjoy having a record of them.

Sometimes, people email me and ask me questions, and I still feel paralyzed. I'm not an expert on anything, to be sure. I dabble in LOTS of things! When it comes to running I feel especially under-qualified to answer questions, and yet, I've been asked... by several people. And then it occurred to me. Maybe I'm being asked because I'm not an expert... maybe I'm being asked because it's less intimidating  than approaching someone who seems to have it all together. So, finally, here we are. To those of you whom have been anticipating this post, please accept my apology in delaying for such a long time.

I've been often asked how I got started running. Or more importantly, how someone else should start. My answer? Start slowly. Really slowly. As a matter of fact, if you're new to exercise I'd start with walking. That's exactly what I did. But a word of advice? Build your mileage much slower than I did. The first month I walked I covered 203 miles. That's way too much. Aim for 60-90 miles at a brisk pace. I know even that can seem daunting to a beginner, but it's doable. And it does get easier pretty quickly.

You can read more about the start of my walking career here.

Once I'd been walking for 4 months I set out for my first run. Because I'd been so diligent about my daily walks, and because I'd pushed myself to walk briskly, I was able to transition to running with no problems. Depending on your age, I'd say the same would happen for most people. You can read a little more about my transition from walking to running here.

 Us, at 5:30 am, after we've already run 6 miles. 

Another question I've been asked- do I follow a plan, or listen to my body? Well, I've done both. Personally, I think listening to your body is the best way to go, but you have to really listen. In the beginning of my running career I definitely listened to my body. If I really felt too tired, and didn't just feel like being lazy, I'd take the day off. If I went out for a run and felt great I'd go farther than I intended. If I set out to do a longer run but grew too tired or wasn't feeling well I'd cut my run short. I trained for my first half marathon this way, and ran the full distance that the race would cover seven times before the actual race. I didn't wear myself out, or become injured. It's important to note here that I wasn't afraid to take a day off during those weeks, or to run just two or three miles on some days.

Verne and I began training for a full marathon last January, and when I started following the schedule more strictly, and switched to a different surface, I did injure myself. We put the marathon aside and I had to stop running for eight weeks. Now you might see why I think listening to your body is so important.

How have I gotten faster? Well, fast is a relative term. I'm faster than I was when I first started, to be sure, but I'm slower than I was at this time last year.

After my first half marathon, the days grew warmer and I decided to try speed work one day a week. I figured the faster running would make up for the fewer miles I was running when I was too hot to be comfortable on a long run. It worked. My times got faster last summer despite the heat and shorter runs. I searched out hills, and would sprint up them. I'd often do fartleks on shorter runs. These strategies all led to faster miles. 

Oh! And I raced. Competition is great for increasing your time if you're competitive. I raced a lot last year. Competition isn't just about beating the person in front of you, it's about beating yourself. This year, because of my injury, I've only raced twice. 

Our 24th anniversary- we ran several miles together early that morning. 

To be honest, the injury isn't the only thing that's kept me from competing this year. Last summer, running was new to me. I loved growing faster, and pushing my body to see what I could do. This year, my goals are a bit different.

After I recovered from my injury and picked my mileage back up, Verne and I started to discuss a marathon again. He's wanted to run a marathon for years, and put his dreams on hold when I became injured so that we could run together. Though it would be hard to train through the hot summer months, we picked a race in the fall to aim for.

We're back to following a schedule, and we're 12 weeks in to an 18 week training plan. There's no speed work on my calendar. No races. When I'm running 40+ miles a week in the heat I find I'm too drained to add those things in.

Rain or shine, light or dark, we're out there, day after day. The blessing is that we're in this together. We encourage one another when one of us is having a hard time carrying on.

I've never seen so many beautiful sunrises in my entire life as I have this summer.

I'm so thankful for all of these miles with my husband.

This training has been tough. Some days are easier than others, to be sure, but some days I just pray silently that the LORD would give me His strength to get through the run.

As I run up the hills I recite Psalm 121 in my mind. And once I reach the top, Philippians 4:13 fills my thoughts. Praying for others fills the moments that I find difficult, and takes my mind off of myself. 

We may have to postpone again, this time because Verne is feeling some pain. We're allowing him to listen to his body, which is by far the better way to train. It's never good to become a slave to a program.
I'll leave you with a little motivation. What if, by heading out the door each morning you could take in sights like this. They're there for the viewing. What are you waiting for?

If you have any questions, I'm happy to answer in the comments. Ask away!


Terri said...

Tracy, thank you for sharing this! I'm determined that I'm going to start getting into shape because I am listening to my body and it's saying, "You are UNhealthy and feeling sick!" I know it's lack of any sort of exercise.

Anyway, you are doing fantastic! Thanks again for sharing.

sherry said...

you run? ;)
what a wonderful post, tracy. there are so many truths to be embraced in your story. thank you for taking time to bring sweet blessings to your readers. for me it is a reminder of His strength (needful every moment of every day, right?) and perseverance in even the simplest of exercise. i walk 2-3 miles a day. while not much in some folks eyes, it's more than my once upon a time couch potato self! :) and thank you for the encouragement to continue on continuing on. {{hug}}

p.s. the 2 of you are adorable.

rebecca said...


Just for the record I do enjoy reading what you have to say on any variety of topics because I learn so much from you.

I have fallen off the diet/exercise wagon for far too long and I find you to be such a great source of encouragement.

I did want to ask how did you "stick" to your WW plan, balancing that with exercise along with family life? I find that for me I become so discouraged and put everyone else's needs ahead of my own, that I simply give up. What changes have you seen not only physically but emotionally and spiritually as well? Also, are you still eating mostly a vegan diet or has that become relaxed?

Have a great day,

Tracy said...


Don't be discouraged; just pick yourself up and start fresh. ;-)

As a mom and a wife, I know all about placing everyone else ahead of yourself. But you know, after years of thinking that was the godly thing to do, I've come to realize that while I have no excuse to be selfish, I MUST take good care of myself in order to be at my best to take good care of my family.

For example, instead of cooking what everyone else loves, I've started cooking more for nourishment for ALL of us. Thankfully, I've been able to find recipes that please my family as well. In fact, by cooking this way you're taking better care of them!

I measure or weigh my portions still, even though I've kept the weight off for two years. And I still track everything I eat. This isn't only to make sure I don't overeat. These days, it's just as much about making sure I get all of the calories and nutrients I need because I do exercise so much.

Tight on cash and can't afford Weight Watchers? My Fitness Pal is free and can help you track your daily food intake as well as your exercise.

I am a well rounded eater. ;-) We only have meat about once a week, but we eat lots of eggs, nuts, beans, etc. When I do serve meat, the portions are fairly small. Verne, Abigail, and I are the only ones left at home, and we all feel better eating this way, not to mention that it's easier on the wallet. So, vegan, no- but we definitely lean toward a more plant-based diet. We do use butter, cream, honey, and the like, too. I love to cook my spinach in bacon grease!

Obviously, there are great physically benefits from eating well and exercising. My blood pressure is great, my cholesterol is amazing, and I'm nearly headache free, only getting maybe one a month around my cycle. For a person that has suffered from migraines almost daily since childhood, this is great news!

I've never been in a better place emotionally. Exercise definitely lifts my mood. I think a great part of that is the fresh air and sunlight. I'm not one to avoid running outside because of rain or even snow. Before I started walking/running, though, there were weeks when I'd go 3-4 days without taking a step outside. I don't get depressed easily any longer, and I am kinder with myself and those around me.

I've also gained a great deal spiritually. "Be still and know that I am God" has taken on a whole new meaning for me. See, I'm not a good sitter. My mind is always going. I'm always thinking. In fact, if you approach me when I'm alone, and present me with a question I often have to wait a minute to answer you. Not because I'm ignoring you, but because my mind has to finish the thought I was thinking before I can turn my thoughts to your question. When I'm running (or walking), nothing else is fighting for my attention, and I find myself praying or reflecting upon Scripture. I also find myself praising God as I take in a sunrise, or see the deer jump right out in front of me. Being OUT in God's creation on a daily basis, rather than being in my home which is filled with man's creations, or distractions if you will, has been wonderful for my soul.

I feel NO guilt over the time I spend walking or running. Even Jesus withdrew to seek His Father. I think it's important that we do the same.

I hope that has helped answer a few of your questions. Feel free to ask more!

rebecca said...

Good Morning Tracy,

Thank you so very much for answering my multitude of questions, I really appreciate it.

After reading your answers, I have committed to rejoining WW as well as exercising because I've come to realize that if I don't take care of me, then who will. This path will take time but there is so much to learn about myself that I'm prepared to be in it for the long haul.

God Bless,

Tracy said...

Rebecca, I'm thrilled that you're committed to taking care of YOU. Be gentle with yourself. Allow yourself treats here and there. Best wishes!

Bonnie said...

Thanks for letting us into your running world. I totally agree with your comment about exercise lifting your mood. Being outside in all kinds of weather is so invigorating and makes me feel so alive. And yes, such peace and quiet-I think it makes it so natural to fellowship with God and be contemplative. Keep us the good work-.

Marilene said...

Dear Tracy,
we do care.

farmhousequilter8 said...

Tracy, really enjoyed reading this and thinking of all you have said. You know I will be hear to see what you are doing. lol

farmhousequilter8 said...

goodness, HERE

Bonnie said...

Thought of a few more questions. How long do your running shoes last you? Do you throw them after like 500 miles- or change them if they feel worn out? Also, I see from your sunrises that you must start early-do you always run early morning? Do you find you need more rest when you increase your mileage? Thanks for letting me be nosy. And in my earlier post-I meant keep up the good work.

Tracy said...

Bonnie- I track every mile I put on my shoes. The first time I put over 700 miles on them. My feet and legs were killing me. From then on I've replaced my shoes about every 400 miles. I notice my shins really hurt if I'm not faithful to do that. Because the long runs for marathon training can take close to three hours, I ran early most of the summer so as to not be out in the heat. For safety reasons I never run alone that early. If Verne can't run with me then I meet a group of girlfriends and run with them. As the days get cooler I don't worry about getting going quite so early. In the winter I sometimes wait until around 10 or 11 am to run. I have run in the evenings, but it isn't my preference. And YES, I most definitely need more rest, as in sleep, as my mileage increases.

Mrs. Anna T said...

Thank you for sharing all this; I don't visit as often as I would like, but I always enjoy my visits when I do!! And I always like seeing pictures of you and Verne. You are such a sweet couple and look so happy! I wish I could be this way after almost a quarter of a century of marriage...

Sharon said...

Tracy, I read your post and also the comments and was surprised how much alike we are. I've been troubled with migraines and sinus headaches all my life and fight depression, though many times I have no reason to be depressed. And yes, I have a one-track mind as well. ;-) The past several years I've been slowly making changes in my diet and recently did an elimination diet and have found that I am intolerant to gluten and have not had one single headache since going gluten-free. I have also felt happier. When I was younger I ran some, but not to the extent you have, and I loved it. Though I cannot run anymore due to back surgery, I can walk. I have some other health issues that I'm researching and may have to adjust my diet for those, but feel that what we put into our bodies is what makes us feel better or worse. Your post was very encouraging and though I rarely pour my heart out online, I felt compelled to at least share this and wanted to thank you for the motivation to at least start walking/biking again. So, yes, you never know whose life you'll touch in a post. :)

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