I love when people ask me how I know my friend, Lulu - my response is the following: "I met her playing in the sand naked at age 3." Lulu often says "we conversed while eating sand naked." Both are stellar responses in my book.
It's true. Lulu and I met at Laurelhurst Beach Club in Seattle at the ripe age of 3 years old, after my family moved from Dallas to Seattle. We quickly became best friends, and have remained close ever since.
Lulu has always been family to me. Her parents are my brother's godparents. When we see each other, we pick up where we left off, and have a great time. We are both close with our moms, and since our moms are great friends as well, it always is pure entertainment when we hang out as a group (just ask about the time my mom experienced "hot yoga" for the first time with "Instructor Fabio," or the "special D&G purse" we gave Lulu's sister for graduation).
Lulu during college with her teammates from the UC Davis XC Team!
Enough details - let's hear from Lu...
1. When did you first start running (competitively)? How did you develop your interest in running?
I started running my freshman year of high school. I wanted to try running competitively because many of my family members (on both sides) had careers as track athletes. So, I thought I might enjoy it and be good at it.
2. Why do you enjoy running, on both a competitive and personal level?
This might sound a little corny, but, I really think I was born to run. My body just craves that motion! Oftentimes the run itself feels amazing. Sometimes, though, it feels tough to get my legs moving. Regardless, I always feel refreshed afterwards.
I've never been a terribly competitive person. When I was competing at the college level, my motivation stemmed mostly from my love for the euphoric feeling of running fast and the total exhaustion and satisfaction that I felt after knowing I gave everything I physically had to a race.
3. How do you feel running contributes to your overall wellness (mental, emotional, physical, etc)?
I think that running has provided a great amount of structure and clarity in my life. Going for a run resets my physical, emotional and thinking body. Often, I feel more capable in other areas in my life after completing a run. Running also gives me good alone-time to think about things. Sometimes a great idea will just pop into my head during a run!
4. Do you have any advice for people who are interested in taking up running but don't know where to start?
If you are really starting from scratch, Begin with running a half mile, 3 days a week, at an easy pace. Most people have a little running experience, in that case, you could start out with 1 or 2 miles for your first runs and build up from there.
After a week or so, add a 1/2 mile to your runs. Every week increase the length of your run by 1/2 mile. Once you're up to 5 miles a day you can play with distance a little more, running anywhere from 3-6 miles a day. If you want to run longer just keep building up your mileage slowly, week by week.
If your goal is to run 3 days/wk, commit to that from the beginning. Even if you feel low on time or energy, run at least a mile that day so you can stay consistent with your goal.
As for playing with speed, once you feel you have a solid base (5 mile runs are easy) you could start throwing in some speed work such as farleks, tempo work, and strides.
And, one more thing, try to run on soft surfaces as much as possible! Running on the grass or dirt rather than pavement when you can find it. In Seattle, the outside trail at Greenlake is a good option, or any other park trails you can find. The Arboretum has great, soft trails and it is a beautiful place to run.
5. Do you do any other (fitness) activities to enhance your running or help you stay injury free? Do you recommend complimenting running with another practice?
I don't know how I ever existed before I started doing yoga. It's a great balance to running! Practicing yoga has complemented my running on both physical and metal levels. I think it has helped me avoid injury as well. Running can be very tough on the body. Muscles get tight and pounding the pavement can be really hard on the joints. Yoga counteracts those issues beautifully. Practicing yoga has also definitely improved my mental clarity and focus and has given me a more positive self-image.
6. Anything else you'd like to add?
Thanks for being interested in running and my experience!
Lulu - you are a superstar!