Successes and Failures Exercise. 2017 in a nutshell.

After reading Sasha Gollish's prologue on Oiselle's blog last week, I was inspired to write out my own thoughts, too. This exercise was so great in thinking through the last year, and I encourage you to take some time to do the same! 

Where did I meet success and where did I not?. 

It’s important first to ask, “What is success?” To me, it’s running to my best ability during a race after working hard during practice. (Read: being prepared and executing the race plan without freaking out [being chill about it], running with joy and gratitude);

My 2017 races and how i met success and failure:  

after DNF at Houston 1/2 . I learned so much that day.

after DNF at Houston 1/2 . I learned so much that day.

-Houston 1/2 marathon (January) : Don’t bring a baby to a race and expect to be able to do it all and maintain sanity (ask for help); be honest about the humidity (knowing i don’t race particularly well in the heat/humidity); use this chart to adjust my paces, and don’t assume i can just power through. Don’t be glued to my watch. I realized I race better without looking at the time after the first few miles.

-Off-Road 10k (February) : I pushed it from the beginning, had an awesome time, made the most of the situation with the hills, powered up the hills. Overall great experience. Weather was perfect.

Post win at off road 10k. fun!!

Post win at off road 10k. fun!!

-Germantown 1/2 marathon (March) : I started conservatively, stayed positive, fueled appropriately, and stayed somewhat in it the last 3 miles, even when it got super tough.  takeaways from that race include being stronger on the hills the last 3 miles. 

-5k in Nashville (June) :  Still not sure what happened. I think maybe I just expected too much? i tried my best, and was disappointed by how terrible i felt, but probably wasn’t running enough mileage to be honest. should have come up with more process goals.

-1 mile on the track (June). Race of the year!! Wow. my mental game was “zero expectations.” I ran very smart and wasn’t going to be disappointed if i didn’t perform well. I was super relaxed. I always perform best when I am relaxed and don’t care too much. 

After falling a ton my first trail race, I learned to pay attention lol

After falling a ton my first trail race, I learned to pay attention lol

-Bar Dog 5k (August) : Started wayyyy too fast. Should have been smarter with the conditions (again. so humid and hot). I let the first mile get away from me by running it too hard and then it was all a pain cave beyond pain cave after that. Be smarter.

-Trail 1/2 Marathon at Stanky Creek: Such a fun race! The newness of trail running. I ran strong from start to finish, and really think i negative split the race, which i’m proud of. Again, I was super chill, and just went into it with an open mind and was just hoping to be competitive. I expected to win, but when Ashley was in front I didn’t freak out. i just went with the flow! 


-GA Jewel 19 miler on trail: What i did well: competed and went with the flow. worked the downhills. My nutrition was good. What i could work on.:def the uphills and climbing. Staying positive when it gets hard.

-Bell Ringer 50k: No time goal, wanted to win and would have loved to set the record if possible, but didn’t expect that. Just went with the flow, started conservatively, had my mantras and “process goals” for when it got hard. And stayed present in the race. Really focused on gratitude the entire time.

overall takeaways from successes and failures:

-Learning i race best without outcome expectations. Setting process goals for each race was really helpful for me. Letting go of time goals and course record goals. Just showing up and saying, “Okay, who knows how this will go!” being light and fun at the start line seems to work well for me. Also, funny how many times above I typed, "just went with the flow" when the races went well. That's funny. 

-Give more respect to heat and humidity. I struggle with heat and humidity, so I need to use the chart to see how i need to adjust pace before expecting to be a hero.

-Love the process of training and smile!

-Be chill. Don't be so hard core. This doesn’t mean you can’t work hard (you can and should!) but don’t take yourself so seriously. Everyone loves a fun katie anyway ;) 

What would I choose to keep and what will I leave behind?

I'm leaving behind the fear of failure, knowing putting myself out there (this doesn’t mean being a crazy worry wart or setting a bunch of lofty goals), but more just trying my best and not being disappointed with failures. Seeing failures as an opportunity to grow and learn! There's nothing wrong with failing. The fastest people in the world fail the most. 

i’m keeping process goals front and center. I'm keeping strength training a priority.  


When did the stars align and when did I try to do too much? How will I learn from my successes and failures of 2017?

The stars definitely aligned at my mile on the track in the summer, my 1/2 marathon last march, and my first 50k. I really didn’t have a singular workout in 2017 that made me confident in my fitness. Training was hard in 2017. I had to let go of pace goals in workouts and i think that served me well. I can get bogged down by paces, and it doesn’t serve me when i’m so rigid. I think this is why I did so well on the trails. I started just trying my best in my workouts and races, and while that doesn’t make for anything amazing on paper or on Strava, it put me in a great place mentally and i really think i did a good job competing and enjoying the journey towards the end of 2017. 

Now your turn! Here are the Q's:

Where did I meet success and where did I not?

What would I choose to keep and what will I leave behind?

When did the stars align and when did I try to do too much?

How will I learn from my successes and failures of 2017?

Becoming an Ultramarathoner: Transitioning from road to trails

Why I got into trail running:

Last year, sometime during the smoldering heat of summer, I decided racing on the roads was no longer giving me the same joy it once did. Looking back, I'm sure it was in part due to how miserable the humidity was and the defeating feeling of adjusting workouts to accommodate for altitude-like conditions. It wasn't until I ran a miserable 5k in August that left me totally spent and tired of constantly monitoring interval splits and tempo runs, that I decided I needed a break from road racing. It also worked out that my husband was returning to school that same month, and I became official "runner of the dogs" since his time would be limited due to classes. (We have 2 awesome large-breed dogs that require around an hour of exercise daily). It just made sense for me to start running more on trails. I could ditch my watch and run by effort without much of an agenda, and the dogs could tag along. Initially, that was my why and what got me started.

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What it felt like:


Even though I was struggling with running on the roads, exploring the trails was love at first step. Like a kid in a candy store, I couldn't get enough of that cathartic high from being surrounded by nature and away from society. Also, with it being so hot, I so enjoyed the shade and cooling the trees provided. It was healing in a lot of ways; I felt such a freedom from no longer having to pay attention to my splits during workouts. Also, this will make sense to some of you. I'm a 3 on the enneagram, which means I definitely struggle with fear of failure, so because it was all new, I had no way of comparing myself or judging my times based on previous personal bests. (That's something I'm really trying to work on.) As I imagined myself going faster and running farther, I began to dream about my first race on the trails. 

Planning for my first ultra:

Typically, I have been a pretty low mileage runner. Even during college when I ran cross country at the division 2 level, I averaged no more than 40 miles per week. This has always worked fine for me, and I've been able to continually improve off of a "less is more" approach. Moving into the trail and ultra world, though, when I started working with Meridith (@runninggwithcadence on instagram), we decided it would be beneficial for me to use fall of 2017 to build a really strong base, with lots of easy miles and a few unstructured workouts just to keep my wheels moving, but not many crazy hard workouts. Basically a lot of miles ;) This sounded fun! I dove straight in, and oh, picked out my goal race! 

You can see from Strava the consistency of the fall compared with last spring and summer. Building miles and loving it!

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I decided on the Bell Ringer 50k just outside of Nashville, TN on December 9, 2017. About 3,500 feet of elevation gain over 50k (~31 miles), which is pretty reasonable for most ultras. Sounded challenging but doable! Bring it on! 

What my training looked like:

I'll show you a typical week during my build up, then I'll go into details: 

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Monday: easy stroller run; around 6 miles; finish with strides

Tuesday: 1 hour strength training in AM; 30 min-1 hour incline "hike" on the treadmill during heavy weeks at night after Emerson went to bed; 1 hour easy trail run during mothers day out

Wednesday: yoga in AM; workout of generally a fartlek or longer intervals with the stroller if I slept in

Thursday: 1 hour strength training in AM; 1 hour easy trail run during mothers day out

Friday: off or easy elliptigo ride in the wee morning hours

Saturday: long run between 15-26 miles on the trails or some road/some trails early in the AM

Sunday: easy 6 mile stroller run 

The difference between road training vs trail training

The main differences I've experienced are the additional "hikes" Meridith added into my schedule as well as more time on the trails of course. The hikes have been really great for helping develop my glutes for climbing (helloooo burning bum!!). I would bring a good book or podcast to listen to, put the incline at 12-15%, and I would walk at around a 15-17 min pace/mile while carrying a backpack full of books or water. Ha it sounds intense, and it was. But also I really enjoyed these! They were a nice change of pace, and I can't generally read while running on the treadmill, but I could read while walking, so that was fun. These really helped give me confidence in my climbing and hiking abilities, too!  

The other obvious difference in training were the long trail runs. Running 20 miles on the road takes a lot less time than 20 miles on the trails. Really, it comes down to time on your feet, but I liked knowing I had "hit" a certain number of miles, so I generally went by miles, but sometimes would cut it short if I had been out there for a long time and family came first, so I was fine doing this. Training on the trails takes more time, period. Gathering your pack, loading up your gear and fuel, driving to the trail (generally at least 20 min away), and driving back home. I tried to be really strategic with these long runs. Oftentimes I would start very very early (leave my house at 4:30 to be on the trail by 5 with a headlamp), and to be honest, I'm still not comfortable running solo by headlamp on the trails. It just freaks me out lol. But sometimes I would meet friends out there and that was fun! Other times, I would split my long run up, doing part on the trail, part later in the day during my daughter's nap time. To me, time on my feet was most important, so I didn't stress about my training being perfect. Besides, I started trail running because I wanted some flexibility in my training anyway! Why stress? 

My favorite training gear: 

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Salomon Sense Marin. I trained and raced exclusively in these guys and loved them so much!! 

Ultimate Direction Jenny Pack. Great vest!! I've gotten tons of miles out of this. (i'm wearing it in the photo above)

Clif Bar mocha gels (I trained only with this fuel and I loved it but now I'm very tired of the flavor lol)

Oiselle Toolbelt Roga shorts. Love all the pockets! No chafing ever. 

Next post I'll write about my first ultra race and all the details! 

Meet Chelsea! Coach, Talented Runner, New MsKatieBlaze Contributor!

Chelsea! Welcome. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your running background. (Guys! She is super fast. )

I’ve been running since 7th grade, so for about 15 years now. I played a lot of different sports but noticed in all of them that I was pretty great at running and I never despised it like most of my teammates. I also really needed to feel like I was needed somewhere when I was in junior high, so I put all of my heart into running, and with that determination and talent, I had some early success. There were five of us girls on my xc team in high school and about 13 on my track team, and we were state runners-up four years in a row despite our small numbers. From there I went to Arkansas State for track and cross country and excelled in the steeplechase, where I held the school record for about six years. I ran anything from the 1500-5K. I now coach a pretty large team and have been coaching for about four years now.

So, you’re a high school English teacher, (currently working on a novel!), but also a really talented runner. How do you marry those two worlds? (ie. left brain vs right brain)

Part of my job as a teacher is also being a coach. My kids kind of motivated me to keep running and keep running seriously. I’m always teaching kids how to write and how to be intrinsically motivated, and they push me to do the same. Running does a few things for me. One, it helps me destress. After a long day teaching, I can go out with my athletes and run some miles or really hit it hard in a workout and go home feeling like I got everything out of my day that I possibly could. Two, when I run I allow myself to kind of zone out and my mind just gets working. That coupled with the fact I don’t feel stressed out when I get home allows me to really release my inner creativity.

As a book nerd, any running book recommendations?

Haruki Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is one that isn’t on a lot of shelves but is perfect for me. It’s just a memoir about Murakami, who runs several marathons a year, but it perfectly marries two of my favorite interests, running and writing. It’s really nothing special and it’s not a typical go-to running book, but it inspires me to do both of things I love to do.

I’m excited for you to become a contributor, for many reasons, but a large one is because of your experience working with high school runners. What is your favorite part about coaching high school/up-and-coming runners?

I get a lot of strange looks when I tell people I run for fun, but I know there are plenty of kids who were just like me: kids who need something they can call their own who may not fit into other team sports as well. Running is for both the introverted and extroverted, and I just like how everyone can define their own success within running. I think it also gives kids an outlet for their energy as well as something they can continue for the rest of their lives. I guess my favorite part is seeing a kid who wasn’t necessarily popular or “good” at something before have a team rally around them when they run a new personal best or come through in a big way. My team is competitive but ultimately so supportive of one another.

If you could tell all high school girls reading this one thing, what would it be?

You are capable of anything you set your mind to. The most important thing to remember as a female runner is that we were not always allowed to run these long distances and we haven’t always had people telling us we could do it. If you want to beat the guys on your team, do it. If you want to set records, do it. Running is a place where you don’t have to worry about your image or anything else society tells you to worry about. It’s a safe space where you can grit your teeth and push your body to its limits. You can spit and fight and challenge yourself without judgment here.

Since you ran division 1 cross country/track and field, I’d love to hear that perspective. Do you have any advice for college runners? Anything you regret or wish you had done differently?

It is so hard to balance running with being social. A large part of college is meeting new people, and sometimes when I’d have to get to bed early or miss football games for meets, I’d feel like I was really missing out. My biggest piece of advice is absolutely find that balance. There were times when I wondered if doing my elliptical workout or core was worth an hour away from my friends, and the answer is that sometimes it is and sometimes it’s not. You really have to define that on your own. I have two big regrets. The first was not feeling like I was good enough as a freshman. What you have to remember when moving from high school to college is that everyone was the “big dog” in their high school or state. Your college teammates may seem like competition at first, but ultimately they will become your best friends. Learn from them and use them as motivation, but never envy them. Running and “getting fast” is a personal journey. Enjoy the ride. Secondly, do those workouts when no one’s looking. I had trouble staying motivated during the summers and only completed my summer mileage before my senior year. The previous years I ran, but not always everything that was on my schedule. There’s no telling how much success I could have seen if I’d just had the motivation to get up early and get those miles in each day. The year I did my mileage, I had so much success and confidence because I knew I’d done the work.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years with running and coaching?

I think I’ll still be running and still loving it, and with coaching, I hope I’ve expanded our community here in Marion more than I already have. When I got to Marion, there were four kids on the cross country team, and since then, I’ve opened it up to 7th and 8th grade, and I’ve had about 80 kids running on the team at once.  I hope by then I’ve coached my kids to a few conference championships and inspired them to stay motivated, which is something we’ve struggled with in the past.  

Your go-to workout for getting in shape to run a fast 5k? (Her PR is 17:50!)

VO2’s baby! 4 or 5x800 meters (or 1K’s if you’re faster) with a finishing 400. These are definitely the meat and potatoes of my training.

I know you love Mizuno, so tell us your favorite shoes of theirs that they make!

My current favorites are the Inspires. I have a neutral gait, but sometimes I pronate, so the Mizuno Inspires offer me the mild stability I need. I’ve had four pairs of them, and they’ve eliminated my shin splints almost completely. They give me the flexible rigidity I prefer. I would recommend them for anyone who has a narrow foot, too.


Should you get cryotherapy? What to know before you go.

Cryotherapy is a relatively new, albeit rapidly growing in popularity, recovery technique for endurance athletes. This week, I visited a local cryotherapy facility in Memphis, Peak Cryotherapy Spa, and I can’t wait to share with you guys my thoughts on the experience. While Peak did give me a complimentary visit, all opinions are of course my own.

cryotherapy | running | marathon training | running plan | recover from running
cryotherapy | running | marathon training | running plan | recover from running

I’m going to walk you through the different components I experienced while at Peak, and will share the ins and outs of cryotherapy!

I walked into Peak, and was immediately greeted by the smell of peppermint.

Peppermint essential oil is commonly diffused at my house, so I felt right at home :) The ambiance was clean, modern and calming. Just what I want before I get into an ice chamber ha! First, they had me fill out a brief waiver to make sure I was medically able to use cryotherapy. Some of the contraindications for cryotherapy include pregnancy, hypertension, heart complications, recent stroke, fever, lung disorders, bleeding, and Raynaud's disease.

Some things to note about cryotherapy:

  • Your body burns 800 calories in just 3 minutes (insane!)
  • Some experience restlessness after the therapy because of increased energy levels (I actually felt super energized for a few hours after!)
  • Many cryotherapy chambers have multiple ‘cold’ levels, ranging from -230 F to -300 F (I opted for level I, the least cold.)
  • The therapy is great for collagen production and regaining elasticity, too. Win!
cryotherapy | running | marathon training | running plan | recover from running
cryotherapy | running | marathon training | running plan | recover from running

Susan at Peak Cryotherapy was really great with answering any questions I had about the therapy, and explained everything to me beforehand. We decided since it was my first time using it, and I wasn’t a huge fan of ice baths, that I would opt for level I (just a meager -230 degrees F). I went into the changing room, stripped down, put on the soft robe they provided, slipped on a pair of wool socks and slippers, put on gloves and was all set to go.

cryotherapy | running | marathon training | running plan | recover from running
cryotherapy | running | marathon training | running plan | recover from running

I was trying to talk, and literally the cold took my breath away.

Susan had me step into the chamber, and told me when she was starting the nitrogen. She set the timer for 3 minutes, and I immediately felt this huge rush of cold air! Yikes! I was trying to talk, and literally the cold took my breath away. I was standing in this chamber, naked, at -230 degrees. Holy moly! “Okay how long has it been?” Susan laughed: “ You’ve been in there for 45 seconds.” I took a deep breath. I would say it’s similar to the pain you feel during an 800 meter repeat. You know it’s going to end soon, but man it hurts! My friend, Erica, helpeddistract me by asking how my workout had gone earlier in the day. Lol! With my teeth chattering, I spouted off, “3 mile warm up, uhh uhh 3x1 mile at 6 minute pace, 3x30 second at 90%, uhhh hold on GOSH THIS IS COLD! HOW MUCH LONGER, SUSAN?” “30 seconds.” “Ahh, then I did a 3 mile cool down,” I said. “Okay you’re done!” “That was a long 3 minutes!” I said. But wow, I totally felt like a ice princess badass when I was done ;)

cryotherapy | running | marathon training | running plan | recover from running
cryotherapy | running | marathon training | running plan | recover from running

I wrapped the robe on as soon as Susan said “You’re done!” and stepped out of the chamber. Whew!

After the cryotherapy session, we went into another room, for my favorite part of the session. Peak Cryotherapy Spa also has NormaTec Boots you can use. There are giant relaxing chairs, a TV, and the lights are dimmed low so you can totally just veg out while using the NormaTec. Susan got me a bottle of water, set up my boots, and turned on the machine while I totally just relaxed. I have experienced NormaTec before, and knew I’d love it. It was the perfect end to my first time at Peak Cryotherapy Spa!

cryotherapy | running | marathon training | running plan | recover from running
cryotherapy | running | marathon training | running plan | recover from running

Interested in Cryotherapy? Here are my key takeaways:

On the day I used cryotherapy, I had a very tough workout beforehand, so I was curious how I’d feel the next day compared to how I generally feel post-workout day. During my workout, I actually felt a little high-hamstring tightness, and I was so happy when I woke up the next day after Cryotherapy and had no more tightness! Do I think Cryotherapy is a fix-it-all for any injury? No, but I had a little niggle and it’s no longer there, so I definitely think it helped!

I think Cryotherapy is probably best to use after a hard workout or race. It’s not something I plan to use weekly, but I do plan on taking advantage of Peak Cryotherapy Spa occasionally after a race or hard workout.Before a race? I like the Normatec Boots or a massage. After a race? For sure Cryotherapy. It’s a fantastic recovery tool!

cryotherapy | running | marathon training | running plan | recover from running
cryotherapy | running | marathon training | running plan | recover from running

Winter Running Gear: what to wear when it gets cold!

While it's been a mild fall, the temperatures are dropping quickly, and having the right winter running gear can make getting out the door in the early morning much easier! There's nothing worse than stepping outside and feeling unprepared for the windchill. I've gone through my closet and gathered my all-time favorite winter running gear. Let's take a look!

For your head, face and ears

Question for those I've been friends with for a while: who remembers these photos? ;) One of my favorite days ever. Jon proposed at the end of my long run in the snow. That North Face beanie, though! I've seriously had it for 7 years. And I appreciate that it isn't so sporty so I can wear it with regular clothes as well.  Get a similar beanie to mine here.

While it's been a mild fall, the temperatures are dropping quickly, and having the right winter running gear can make getting out the door in the early morning much easier!On days when I also need to either cover my face, too, or I just want an ear cover, I opt for my Buff. This is probably my favorite piece of winter running gear! It can be worn so many different ways, including over your face when it's suuuuper cold. And they have a million patterns and colors. This isn't my favorite pattern but it was on sale haha so whatever. I seriously love it, though! While it's been a mild fall, the temperatures are dropping quickly, and having the right winter running gear can make getting out the door in the early morning much easier!

Best jackets, vests, and gloves

The photo of me above is actually a pretty accurate display of some of my favorite winter running gear! A warm jacket and a pair of waterproof mittens, and I am set. That Nike zip up is awesome (get a similar one here), and has held up for 5 years. I also have a super cute black Lululemon jacket that I wear for even colder runs. I also swear by my Saucony mittens!

While it's been a mild fall, the temperatures are dropping quickly, and having the right winter running gear can make getting out the door in the early morning much easier!

Looking for a lightweight and breathable vest? I LOOOOVE my Oiselle vest in the photo above!

Running tights are worth the investment. I promise!

Yes, running tights are expensive. I have tried buying cheaper ones in hopes they would still do the trick. Nope. Chafing, sagging, and general discomfort. Just not worth it. Buy one or two pairs and they will last you for years! I have 3 pairs of tights from Lululemon. I'm definitely open to other brands, I've just found they are always reliable and very high quality. I've worn them for 4 winters now! While it's been a mild fall, the temperatures are dropping quickly, and having the right winter running gear can make getting out the door in the early morning much easier!

I have these for super cold runs, and these half capri tights for less cold runs. I also have a pair of Oiselle knickers that are newish, and I'm excited to test them out this winter!

Keep your feet warm!

I am a fan of wearing compression socks WITH running tights. On super cold days, it's an extra layer, and it also works with capri tights. My favorite brand of wool socks is Smart Wool. So comfy and my feet never sweat! While it's been a mild fall, the temperatures are dropping quickly, and having the right winter running gear can make getting out the door in the early morning much easier!.

I believe that's it! What are your favorite winter running gear essentials? While it's been a mild fall, the temperatures are dropping quickly, and having the right winter running gear can make getting out the door in the early morning much easier!

How to STOP sleeping in and finally become a morning runner!

Running in the morning used to sound terrible to me. I loathed the idea. Now, it's second nature. For the last four years, I've been a 5/6am runner. AND? I LOVE it! If you skip over this entire post and just want the cliff notes version, the biggest takeaway is to set a goal, find a morning routine that works, and try to stick to it for 2 weeks (get my goal setting guide for free HERE!). 

There are so many benefits when you become a morning runner (duh!)

The feeling of satisfaction when it's 8 am and your workout is done for the day. #bosstatus There's nothing better! Your metabolism is going, you feel energized, and you know you have the ENTIRE rest of the day to relax and do other important things. It's the best feeling!

And, then there's the cherry on top. Views like this. #allthehearteyes how-to-become-a-morning-runner-1-1-of-1

How I became a morning runner, and you can, too. 

Find a friend/group/workout buddy willing to wake up early.

Hands down, this is the biggest game changer for me in becoming a morning runner. Knowing I don't have to run at zero dark thirty by myself helps me get out of bed when I don't want to. I wrote an entire post on how to find a running partner, so definitely check that one out!

Prep as much as possible the night before. (Do this every night!)

Lay out running clothes the night before. I put mine in the bathroom, as I know I'll go there first in the morning. This makes it so much easier to just put them on and go! Also, prepare any pre-run fuel you may need. For hard workout days, I always eat a peanut butter sandwich. When made the night prior, I can just grab and go. Coffee drinker? Set the coffee maker to automatically start brewing, or put your Keurig cup in the machine!

The feeling of satisfaction when it's 8 am and your workout is done for the day. There's nothing better! Learn how to finally become a morning runner!

Preparing the night before allows for an extra five minutes of sleep! This one is such an easy fix, and it helps immensely when trying to become a morning runner!

Be reminded of the long term goal every day.

This is huge for setting a routine and trying to become a morning runner. Whether we like to admit it or not, having a carrot dangling in front of us is just motivating. When I was first chasing my 1:30 half marathon, I had a sticky note on my computer screen that I saw every day. The goal was never ambiguous. Saying and writing down goals is incredibly powerful, as is seeing them. Having your goal in front of you makes it so much easier to get up and get the run done! The feeling of satisfaction when it's 8 am and your workout is done for the day. There's nothing better! Learn how to finally become a morning runner!Need help setting realistic goals? Get my free goal-setting guide

Set 4 alarms, then get off the phone and go to bed.

Laying in bed until midnight scrolling through Instagram is a terrible habit (I'm guilty of it!). My husband and I try to stay off our phones an hour before bed, as looking at a screen actually makes it difficult to fall asleep, and even harder to get up! Additionally, go ahead and set multiple alarms. I am so bad about snoozing my alarm and going back to sleep, so I always set 2 alarms. Another easy fix is putting the phone in the other room during the night, which forces you to get out of bed in the morning to turn off the alarm. Brutal, yes, but it works!

Let's recap.

Write down your goals (make it easy by using this goal-setting guide)

Build your morning routine using the suggestions above.

Stick to it for 2 weeks, and watch your habits form as you become a morning runner!The feeling of satisfaction when it's 8 am and your workout is done for the day. There's nothing better! Learn how to finally become a morning runner!

Fast Running Workout: The Michigan

One key to being a fast runner is doing fast running workouts. Sounds simple, right? While there are a lot of other factors that play into running a personal best during a race, a huge component of it is doing fast running workouts during training.

Okay, how fast?

This largely depends on the distance of the goal race (i.e. 5k, 10k, 1/2 marathon, marathon).  The fast running workouts for running a fast marathon will be a little different than the fast running workouts for a 5k. As a coach, I give my runners workouts ranging from 100% effort (all out sprinting as fast as possible) to “threshold runs” (a little harder than an easy run), depending on their goal race and current fitness levels. One key to being a fast runner is doing fast running workouts. This speed workout will get you prepared for a big goal race!

Why it’s important to have fast running workouts

My track coach in high school used to tell me, “If you want to be a slow runner, run a lot of slow miles. If you want to be a fast runner, you need to run FAST!” This is an oversimplification of the concept, but it’s true. What he was NOT talking about was running every single mile in training as fast as possible, which will cause injuries. Simply put, there needs to be structured fast running workouts in a training plan.

What type of fast running workouts?

This depends on the goal race. For those training to run a fast 5k, 10k, or even 1/2 marathon, the workout I’m giving today is the perfect preparation! This is a great workout to do a couple times a year to compare gains in fitness. Lauren Fleshman said she has done this workout nearly every year since high school, and it’s fun for her to look back and see how certain years compare to others. If you give an honest effort, and really try your best, this workout is definitely a good gauge of how well your goal race will go!

The Michigan. Sounds scary, right?

This is called the Michigan because it’s a workout created by the coach for the University of Michigan XC team. Ha, it’s a doozy, but honestly, my training partner, Erica, and I had a lot of fun with this one. I’m going to take you through the whole workout, and share what we did, and how you, too, can run the Michigan, and implement this fast running workout into your routine!

One key to being a fast runner is doing fast running workouts. This speed workout will get you prepared for a big goal race!

The warm up

Begin with a dynamic stretching warm up, then run easy for 12-15 minutes. Run three 20 second “strides” (short, fast runs) with 1 minute rest between each. Grab a quick sip of water, and get ready to go!

The Meat of the Michigan

2 miles at tempo effort

1 hard 1200 meters (your effort should be about 5k race pace)

1 mile at tempo effort

1 hard 800 meters (your effort should be about 2 mile race pace)

1 mile at tempo effort

1 hard 400 (your effort should be about 1 mile race pace)

*The recovery between each is 30 seconds-1 minute of walking (I did 1 minute because #couldntbreathe ha)

My paces, and how it went

Changing speeds and having the fast sections broken up with a few short recovery walks made it manageable. Hard? Definitely. But, doable. And! Erica and I felt like total #MOMBOSSES when we finished! #winning . Below are my garmin splits. Take a look at the overall time for each interval rather than the "Avg Pace" which is a little off. I ran on a track. You can see my last 400 I really went for it! (The pace for that one should say 5:20 not 6:10...)

One key to being a fast runner is doing fast running workouts. This speed workout will get you prepared for a big goal race!

How to figure out YOUR paces for the Michigan.

Lucky for you, I’ve created a free PDF to help you determine your own paces for this workout. Makes it super easy!


First, find your 5k goal time on the right, and follow the line to the left to get paces for the tempo, 400, 800 and 1200 meter reps for the Michigan. If your 5k goal time is way off your current fitness level, pick paces somewhere in between the two. Easy!

Let me know how it goes!

I can’t wait to hear about you all crushing this workout. Tag me on instagram or hashtag #mskatieblazecraze (ha, you like that ?! ;) )

One key to being a fast runner is doing fast running workouts. This speed workout will get you prepared for a big goal race!

How to have a healthy marriage when both people don't run

I asked nearly 20 friends,  "What would be your relationship advice for the following statement: How to have a loving marriage (or serious relationship) when both people aren't runners." Based on my experience + all of the marriage tips I gathered, here are the top 4 most important insights:how to have a healthy marHow to have a healthy marriage when both people don't run. Is running causing relationship problems? This article gives 4 ways to have a healthy relationship with your partner, who perhaps isn't a runner!riage You're not just a runner (hashtagbalance ;) ) I'm putting this first because if you find yourself becoming upset or obsessive about your running, getting into fights with your spouse because of your [over]commitment to running, etc, then I suggest taking a step back before pointing a finger at your unsupportive partner. It is always a good idea to ask yourself, "Is too much of my identity found in my running/how fast I run/how far I run/etc?" I know this is a fine line. As runners we can get a little intense, and to be successful at anything, you must have dedication, but this should not come before your spouse or family. When I find myself getting out of balance, my husband will ask me this question in a loving way:

"Katie, if you had to give up running for the rest of your life starting tomorrow, could you do it?" If that answer is no, then I need to do some self-evaluating. We shouldn't be so attached to something that we couldn't live without it. My running does not define my self-worth.

How to have a healthy marriage when both people don't run. Is running causing relationship problems? This article gives 4 ways to have a healthy relationship with your partner, who perhaps isn't a runner!

Communicate your goals While the point above is primarily for the runner of the relationship, this one is for both partners. What are your passions? Your goals? What keeps you up at night? For my husband, he loves making furniture, going fly fishing, and he has a goal to have a career in the medical field. Make sure you and your partner communicate what it is you want to do with this passion of yours. Jon and I sit down twice a year and talk about what we want to do with our passions, from things as small as "I need to wake up early to run," to "this is what I want to accomplish in 5 years with my running." There are no gray areas. He is totally in the loop with me, and I am aware of his goals, too.How to have a healthy marriage when both people don't run. Is running causing relationship problems? This article gives 4 ways to have a healthy relationship with your partner, who perhaps isn't a runner!

Support each other's respective goals So you know each other's goals, now what? You become their biggest cheerleader! No, but really. This is where you can grow a strong marriage, or relationship problems can emerge. Your spouse has a big race coming up? Be there! I promise it means the world to them. One time Jon came straight from a 12 hour overnight hospital shift to watch me run a race. He was so sleep deprived, but he said he didn't want to miss it, and I so appreciated that. It can also be something small. He really wanted to attend a local fly-fishing class recently, and it was just half a day on a Saturday. Would I have preferred for us to hang out, go to brunch, and he be around to help with Emerson? Of course. But this was important to him, so I made sure to let him know, "Hey, I want you to be able to go to this class. I'll take care of Emerson, you go and have fun!"

How to have a healthy marriage when both people don't run. Is running causing relationship problems? This article gives 4 ways to have a healthy relationship with your partner, who perhaps isn't a runner!

Find common ground For Jon and I, we love camping and trying new restaurants! We also enjoy going on trips. He is understanding that I love to race while traveling, so I make sure to let him know I'm thinking of a race in a particular city (like our Los Angeles trip!), and then we will go travel, I'll get my race fix, and we both get to experience a new place! It can also be something as simple as having coffee together in the mornings. We both enjoy this, so I try to make a point to do this a few times a week. It means I need to run at night rather than the morning, or I need to get up earlier and be back at the house before he starts getting ready for work. It's worth the sacrifice, though! It's the little things :)

Is there something I didn't mention that you find important? What have you found to be the key to a solid relationship?healthy marriage running

4 Quick Steps to Finding a Running Partner

When I decided to get serious about my running, and had the crazy idea to run on scholarship during graduate school, my running partners (3 of them)helped me believe I could make it happen. I ran with them nearly every day for two years. We all came from different backgrounds, we were different ages and genders, and even at different stages in life. But, they completely changed the trajectory of my life and my running. I don't say that to be dramatic. It's totally true. We saw nearly 600 sunrises together, we all got faster, and now they are some of my closest friends. If you find the right running partner(s), your running can take off like never before. It did for me. Below are 4 easy steps to making that happen.



1. Know your level, your goals, and your schedule (define your running). Be honest with yourself about where you are in your running journey and what times of the day you need to run. I often see people running way too fast on easy runs because they feel bad for asking the other person to slow down. Then, on hard days, they can't go as fast as they'd like because their body is not recovered. That used to be me, but I realized if I want to get faster, I need to find people that are closer to my easy day pace of 8-9 minute miles rather than 7-8 minute miles.  So, how did I find people? Below are two crucial resources that helped me find quality training partners.


2. Get on social media (instagram, strava, etc).  I was heading to Atlanta for a work trip, and in the planning process, realized I'd need to run while there. I knew no one in Atlanta! I follow @runningwithcadence on Instagram, and knew she lived somewhere in Georgia (lol long shot I know), so decided to reach out to her to see if she could give me a name of a park that would be safe for running and testing an Elliptigo I was planning to buy off Craigslist. Not only did she give me some great parks, she said she'd join me on my run and Craigslist adventure if I wanted!

img_33863.Plug into the local community Local running stores and clubs have a finger on the pulse of who's running what and what's coming up, and best of all, this info is normally free! Do a simple google search of running clubs and stores in your city, and either check out their websites or give them a call.


4. Be flexible  This isn't so much a step as it is a gentle reminder. Treat your running buds like you would any other relationship you want to develop and grow. Just normal interpersonal communication type stuff! You know, discuss expectations of the run beforehand, be on time, offer to meet at their place if you can, and sounds obvious, but maybe don't wear ear buds. Oh! And bring beer for after the run! Everyone loves a good post-run beer ;)

To recap, here are 4 ways to find a running buddy: 

  1. Know your level
  2. Get on social media
  3. Plug into your local community
  4. Be flexible 

find a running partner

Tell me! How did you find your running partners?! 

How to stay motivated and prevent runner burnout

prevent runner burnoutFalling off the fitness bandwagon  I have had this conversation with a few different lady friends recently, and I know it's something so many of us deal with, maybe on the daily. For me, personally, I am in this running/healthy living thing for the long haul. I'm not here to crash diet or run one race and be done. I think most of you all would agree those are your goals, too. But what happens when we find ourselves in a rut, or even worse, just fall off the bandwagon?

What makes us unmotivated? 

I had a friend tell me recently, "I quit all the things! I've never been able to work out consistently for this long! I love this new me!" I was so happy to hear that. But still, even for those of us who looove this lifestyle, there will always be some days when we don't want to run, don't want to eat healthy, etc. What do we do when our motivation has dwindled?

Making sustainable choices

I am in the camp of sustainability. I don't think it's healthy or sustainable to operate in extremes, so I say eat the piece of pie, and take a day off. Whatever you need to do to get your mind straight. There's no need to punish yourself, or worse, deprive yourself and then fall off the course entirely because you tried to be a perfect robot who never makes mistakes or never needs a day to just let your mind and body REST. There's just only so long you can operate in extremes or deprivation.

Let's focus on SUSTAINABILITY. What can I do NOW to make sure I am happily and healthily thriving at 85, and still running races? What can I do NOW to show my daughter that it's not about losing 20 lbs in 1 month to be able to look good in a bikini? It's about loving the skin I'm in, and living, while simultaneously going after big goals, and not stopping until I reach them. Does that require a little self-discipline and a pep-talk every now and then? Of course. But it also requires something I did not come up with called "grace." Relentlessly pursuing goals, while also giving yourself grace along the way. That's sustainability and healthy living all wrapped up in one.

How to stay motivated and prevent burnout 

Let's show our kids the importance of setting goals while also living a balanced life. I truly believe we can change future generations for the better! To recap, here's what I see as the three main components to staying motivated and preventing burnout with running and healthy living:

  1. Set reasonable yet tough goals, and then go after them. Don't waste time. Use your time wisely, and as I like to nicely tell the girls I coach when they text me and tell me they're dreading their workout and don't want to do it, "Just buck up and get it done." :)
  2. Give it your best shot (and I mean REALLY give it your best shot.), and then at the end of the day, walk away. Be done, and don't dwell. Messed up today or got off track or overslept? It's okay! You're human. Move on, and forgive yourself.
  3. Don't operate in extremes. Long term sustainability, which means resting when you need to, having a piece of pie, and staying balanced with your life.


The top 5 running shoes I'm wearing now

My training partners during college used to tease me because I was religious about replacing my running shoes. Every 4-5 months, no questions asked, even if the tread was still in tact, Katie would be getting new shoes. Ha. I think part of it stemmed from this fear of getting injured from running in old shoes, but if I'm honest, most of it was the allure of a fresh new pair of trainers. blogpostshoes (1 of 1)

Still to this day I love browsing our local running store when I'm bored ha. I'm not quite as fanatic as I used to be, mostly because we're on a pretty tight budget, but I still rotate my shoes between 3-4 pairs, and try to replace them after I put sufficient mileage on them. Needless to say, I have tried nearly every running shoe on the market, and friends often ask my opinion on which shoes they should get. Which brings me to my next point: which running shoes really are best? Ask any expert, and they will tell you, it totally depends on your training, your foot contact with the ground (ie pronation vs supination vs neutral), and ultimately how the shoe feels. I like to rotate between 3 different types: an everyday heavier trainer, a lightweight trainer, and a super lightweight racing flat. I thought it might help to break it down by what I'm currently wearing. Maybe this will help next time you're in the market for a new pair!

Currently wearing: Saucony Triumph ISO 2blogpostshoes (3 of 5)Purpose: every day, well-cushioned trainer. This has been a phenomenal shoe that I've worn primarily for walking, easy miles, long runs, and also running up and down the street  w/ the baby monitor during nap time ha.

Similar shoe to this that I've tried and liked: Saucony Guide, Brooks Ghost, Brooks Glycerin, Hoka One One BondiPearl Izumi N3

Currently wearing: Saucony Triumph ISO 1 

blogpostshoes (5 of 5)Purpose: this is the same shoe as above, but an older model . Love!

Currently wearing: Nike Pegasus+29

blogpostshoes (1 of 5)Purpose: again, every day trainer. This is a super old model, but newer-to-me shoe. I had a gift card to a running store and found these on the sale rack in my size, so snagged them for free! They are a little narrower than I prefer, and a little lighter and more responsive than the Triumph, so I'll wear them for tempos on occasion, as well as easy miles.

Similar shoe to this that I've tried and liked: Pearl Izumi N2, Hoka One One Clifton, Saucony Breakthru

Currently wearing: Saucony Kinvara 5

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetPurpose: tempo, fast workout, lighter shoe with less stability. I wish I could get away with wearing this shoe for every run, because I love it that much. Just not enough cushion for everyday running in my opinion. Probably on my 7th pair of these! They don't last as long as a more substantial shoe like the Triumph or Pegasus above, but they are so light, yet still supportive for longer runs. I replace these about every 200 miles.

Similar shoe to this that I've tried and liked: Brooks Launch, Pearl Izumi N2

Currently wearing: Pearl Izumi N0

blogpostshoes (4 of 5)Purpose: uber lightweight, ideal racing flat. Straightforward with this one. This is a no frills racing flat with pretty much zero stability or cushion. I wear these in races from 1 mile to about 10k. For half marathons and longer, I'll jump up to the Saucony Kinvara.

Similar shoe to this that I've tried and liked: Adidas adios boost

best pairs of running shoes

Side stitch while running? Here's exactly how to get rid of it!

Hi, my name is Katie and I'm a professional side stitch runner.  Every runner I know has at some point experienced this terrible, awful, no good, "Please just go away!" side ache pain. For me, personally, it has gotten to the point where I have finally thrown up my hands and said, "We are going to figure this out if it's the last thing we do. (add in a little ,"damnit" at the end of that and it really drives home my point :) .)

What exactly is a side stitch, and what is the cause of this monster?

The sharp side stitch pain develops under the rib-cage of either side of the stomach. For me, it's always guaranteed to be on the right side, and sometimes it's coupled with a cramp along my collar-bone shoulder area. Although it doesn't help, I usually end up intensely grabbing my side with my hand to try and make it go away. I have been known to grab my side a lot. During last weekend's side-stitch marathon 1/2 marathon, I held my side so tight, it ended up bleeding during the race. OKAY THAT'S NOT NORMAL. See the picture below for the spot after it healed a couple days later.

Side stitch while running? Here's exactly how to get rid of it!

Most agree the side stitch is caused by one of the following:

  • "Shallow breathing", causing a lack of blood flow to the diaphragm
  • Weak core muscles
  • Dehydration
  • Foods high in glucose (sugar) too soon before running

I'm going to break down each bullet point and provide a solution for you! Hooray!

For me, shallow breathing is the biggest cause of my side stich. I am self-admittedly a high-strung person. My mind runs about a million miles a minute, and I have a very hard time sitting still without feeling like I need to be doing something. It's a flaw, I know! But I know that things like meditating, yoga, and just taking a moment to relax every now and then is good. I notice if I'm nervous, I have the tendency to do a  style of "chest breathing" rather than "stomach breathing". This is called shallow breathing, and greatly affects the blood flow to your diaphragm, which can cause a side stitch when you run. So, to all my fellow ladies who like to get sh*t done, let's try to relax a little, and take some deep breaths! It will do wonders!

Practical application for shallow breathing

Before a race, try doing this quick yoga video to help calm your mind and get your breath in order! It has done wonders for me. I also remind myself that running is fun, I shouldn't feel pressure. Remember I do this sport because I love it! This quote sums it up:

"Make your race your playground, not your proving ground." -Lauren Fleshman

When you get a side stitch during a race, try to take some deep breaths, relax your shoulders, and think about how much fun you're having, not about false expectations or pressure you may feel. Smile!Lauren Fleshman said it best when she talked about running a race.

There are a million core exercises you can do, so just pick one.

Don't get bogged down by all the options of core or ab exercises. Just pick one, and when you're tired of that one, move onto another one! A simple core routine lasting 10-15 minutes twice a week will do wonders for preventing a side stitch. Here is my Pinterest strength training board where you'll find lots of options! The importance here is just consistency.

Are you drinking enough water? 

We all know it's important to drink enough water, especially as a runner. The worst feeling is knowing you are fit and ready to PR, and you have a bad race because of dehydration. Make sure you are plenty hydrated! Are you drinking enough water? Your side stitch could be caused by dehydration!

Are you eating the wrong thing before you run?

Many people complain about having a side stitch after eating something high in sugar. Fruit drinks, Gus, citrus fruits, etc. This has been a huge game changer for me. I have come to realize I just have a really hard time eating something high in sugar before I run. Even a banana or honey doesn't work for me. Something moderately high in carbs and fat works great. Another excuse to eat peanut butter? Don't mind if I doooo.peanut butter is a great pre-race fuel to ensure you race well and you don't have a side stitch!

If you do these things, I assure you your side stitch occurrences will decrease.

Happy Running!

Side stitch while running? Here's exactly how to get rid of it!

Ever had a side stitch? What have you found helps it?