I had the pleasure of meeting an exceptional athlete and professional, Heather, in person earlier this year at The Healthy Living Summit. I had followed Heather at her home away from home, Dietitian on the Run . She’s amazing to follow, considering I need all the nutritional help I can get, plus Heather and I actually have a very similar training ethic and running style. I have total faith that if when we have a chance to run we’ll make a perfect combo.
Her B.S. in Nutritional Sciences from Penn State University and Dietetic Internship through the University of Maryland is a weapon. Heather has found a fantastic harmony between her love of nutrition/health with running. She also talks about proper fuel in a way that you understand and grasp the information.
Hi! Heather: Makes “long runs” of 20 miles seem easy. Registered Dietitian (RD), marathoner, and self-proclaimed Foodie.
Likes: Moving across the country. Lululemon. Biking with her semi-pro beau. Running, a lot. Teaching others the importance of balanced nutrition.
Dislikes: When Penn State loses. Drivers that don’t understand bike lanes.
WARNING: She trains hard and plays harder. How Heather got into running is truly inspirational.
I remember the day the light-bulb went off – If she can do it, I can at least try. One of my best friends ran a marathon during the fall of our senior year. I was in awe of the training, dedication, especially during a Penn State Football Season. She was spending Saturday mornings running endless miles in heat and humidity without any formal plan, guidance, or idea of where to go. She just ran. Simple.
I convinced her to sign up for a half-marathon with me. 26 miles? No thank you. 13.1? On. Board. The day we signed up I went down to our apartment gym and ran for longer than I ever had before. My normal stopping point was 30 minutes – no distance or pace, it was just my routine. I soon ran outside for an hour. And I felt like I was on top of the world.
5 weeks later it was race day, and my training consisted of adding 15 minutes to every “Long Run” on Sunday afternoon. I had one of my best races, reaching the 10-mile mark and thinking “only a 5K left? I got this!” My goal was to finish under 2 hours, and I came in at 1:49:50, completely elated and astonished at what my legs were capable of! The seed was planted.
Grad school took me to the suburbs in Maryland, directly in between Baltimore & DC. The only perk of that being there was honestly nothing to distract me, a lot of time was spent working, studying and running. A friend from State registered for a small half-marathon in Alexandria, VA. I promised to run with her, not having any idea what I was signing up for. It would be my second ½ that spring, and the race that changed my life. I realized I could run for fun (no time goal), run in the rain, have a glass of wine before a race and be fine, and take walk breaks without destroying my pace or overall time. It was actually the worst organized race I’ve ever been a part of – the start line was shut down by park rangers because the director was stupid enough to register over 700+ runners more than he had a permit for (brilliant). So, technically it wasn’t even a race…
I posted my recap on my site, and received a comment from a fellow-runner, it was his first race and he sympathized with the conditions and the idiocracy of the event planning. We e-mailed back and forth; I found out he usually ran with a group of friends, and he invited me to their next race. It would be my first 10K and race in DC. Of course I’m in! Without knowing anyone I was about to meet/run with, I took the chance. They turned out to be awesome people, and I had a great race!
That group ended up being my sanity, my core, and my roots in DC. Together we ran more than 10 races in a year, found a running group that we frequented (and met many more crazies that joined that core), trained for and ran our first marathon through our city, planned happy hours, volunteered, and found every opportunity we could to Run.
The best advice I can give: find people who share your passions, and let them in. Let them speed you up on tempo runs, join you for long miles, talk endlessly over brunch or beer, show you things you’d never try (hello, cycling & yoga), have dance parties with Lady Gaga, and balance your life.
Motivators: a race, a training plan, a goal, or a group I can’t resist running with, a trail I can’t resist running on, sunshine, good music, the sense of accomplishment that comes from every Finish line, a healthy meal that fuels a good solid workout, an education that engages my interests in every aspect of health and fitness, and the promise of that endorphin rush no matter what the activity.
I eventually moved cross country to Colorado for a host of life reasons, and I took my amazing boyfriend with me. This move happened to fall right in the middle of my most recent training, for the Denver Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon. I battled the acclimation to running at a mile-high, and the frustration of not knowing where a sidewalk led or where to go for a 20-mile jog.
Here we are – Colorado residents living life by the day! I wouldn’t change a thing – unless I could bring that DC running group to Denver. Mountains replaced historical monuments, staring into the sun almost every day replaced that East-Coast consistent cloud, a care-free job with a progressive and unique company replaced stagnant government work, and high-altitude training replaced summer humidity and my lung capacity. Career goals are set and being focused on as I enter the world for Sports Nutrition & Athletic achievement. Personal goals continue to revolve around acting, thinking and living outside my safe zone. Training goals are taking a break as I bask in the marathon-day-glory and set my sights on a Spring race…in DC!
It’s her charisma, bubbly attitude that makes her both smart and hysterical. She’s a true joy.
Many, many thanks to Heather for taking time to share her amazing journey with us. Keep an eye on this one kids. Her marathon time in her first race in Denver was ridiculous and absolutely solidifies how amazing she is!