Monday, November 28, 2022

Creating More Time to Run (or Write)

I always hated when people would say, “We all have the same 24 hours a day.” While that may be true, it lacks sympathy for those who struggle with time management.

Living in today’s world implies that we are all busy. Very busy. Some of us are so busy, we’re overwhelmed, stressed, or filled with anxiety. Is that you?

As far as finding more time to write or run, it really comes down to priorities. Your characters need to have values and you need to know what they value so you can create amazing conflict for them.

But when it comes to real life – your life – we don’t need more conflict. We want more time. Time to write. Time to run. Even time (dare I say it?) to relax.

Analyze Your Time

To analyze your priorities, you need to analyze your time. Once, I wrote down EVERYTHING I did for a month – at work. As I tracked my time and what I did with it, I kept tabs in a chart on a spreadsheet. When I analyzed how I was spending my time, it was eye-opening! There were certain things I did too much of. Others I took too long to complete. Lots of distractions. I categorized my actions and revamped my day to reclaim two extra hours each day in productivity!

You can do the same thing. I wouldn’t do it for a whole month though, one to two weeks is plenty. The main purpose here is to not only analyze your time but also your priorities.
If you find that you are watching 3 hours of TV 4 days a week, but you are running for 30 minutes 2 days a week, then that sadly says you actually value entertainment (or at least watching TV or movies, even if educational) more than you value your running time.
If you go out to lunch or dinner with your spouse 3 times a week, maybe opt to make one of them a running date instead. Celebrate with a smoothie afterward!

You can make simple changes to get more running (and writing time).

Make Your Running a Habit

A lot of what I share with you relates not only to running, but also to your writing, especially when it comes to time, productivity, mindset, consistency, distractions, and so much more.

Here are a few tips to get you started: 
  1. Run (or write) first thing in the morning - it’s often easier to do before the rest of the day crowds out your time. 
  2. Try to do it at the same time every day - it’s easier to become a habit when it’s based on the same triggers each day. 
  3. Do it daily. Or at least regularly. Maybe you write on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and you run Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Whatever schedule you choose for yourself, be consistent. 
  4. Include other people. This helps you be more accountable. Have a training partner or a writing buddy. Go for runs together. Have Zoom writing sessions together - in silence. You may need more than one person - a running buddy and a different writing partner. 
  5. Be flexible when adding the activities you want to become a habit on your calendar. Leaving gaps on your calendar can account for all the unplanned life interruptions that naturally happen and we never save any space for them. 
 Lastly, read Atomic Habits by James Clear

Attend a Writing (and Running) Retreat

Since we’re talking about finding more time to run, attend a writing AND RUNNING retreat, such as the Writers Who Run Retreat. Honestly, this is one of the BEST ways to find more time to write and run.

We run every morning TOGETHER. Lots of accountability buddies! And every afternoon, there is time scheduled into your day for writing. While you may not be able to achieve this in your day to day life, the retreat is the perfect time and place to get motivated, strengthen (or begin) daily habits, and create real momentum in your writing and running life. Hope to see you there!

Keep writing, keep running.

XO, Christie :)

What’s one of your priorities? Share in the comments.

Keep writing, keep running.

Christie :)


Monday, November 21, 2022

How to Become a Faster Runner

So you want to be a faster runner? There are things you can do and all kinds of workouts you can incorporate into your regular running routine to help. But first, here’s the running formula for speed and pace, as it relates to time and distance.

  • Speed = distance / time (6 mph)
  • Pace = time / distance (10 min. miles)
Here are the two formulas for time, if that’s the unknown variable you want to find.
  • Time = distance / speed 
  • Time = distance x pace
And there are two formulas for distance, if that’s what you’re trying to calculate.
  • Distance = time / pace
  • Distance = time x speed
It really just depends on if you’re a pace person or a speed person. But either way, if you know the pace, you can figure out the speed and if you know the speed, you can figure out the pace.

SPEED (dist./time)

PACE (time/dist.)

5 mph

12 minute mile

5.5 mph

11 min. mile

6 mph

10 min. mile

6.5 mph

9 min. mile

7 mph

8.5 min. mile

7.5 mph

8 min. mile

8 mph

7.5 min. mile

8.5 mph

7 min. mile

9 mph

6.7 min. mile

9.5 mph

6.3 min. mile

10 mph

6 min. mile

Of course you can get even faster than the numbers on this chart. So let’s find out how.

3 Types of Runs to Make You a Faster Runner

The three types of runs that will make runners faster are:
  1. Speed workouts
  2. Long runs
  3. Hill repeats

The most obvious type of workout runners need to utilize to get faster is speed work. Speed workouts come in many forms and varieties. You can do fartleks (Swedish for “speed play”) where you decide to run to a tree, a mailbox, or a street sign as fast as you want, then you go at your normal pace, then you’ll do another fartlek, as many as you want. It’s interval training without strict intervals or speeds. Or you can find hundreds of speed workouts online with pre-defined speed intervals.

Adding longer runs to your repertoire can be as simple as a 6-miler once a week, or you can work up to 10-15 mile runs. You can certainly work it into your plans for training for longer races and even create an off-season where you don’t include long runs.

Hill workouts can be done on a treadmill set to an incline or outside. If done outside, find a location where there’s a significant hill. Then you run up and down it over and over again. Hill repeats strengthen your legs while giving you an opportunity to practice your form. Speed is NOT the goal on the hill workouts. It’s the act of running up the hill that will make you faster on flat workouts. 

The Essential Workout Runners Need

One essential workout runners need to get faster is strength training, or weight training. Strengthening your muscles as well as stretching them will keep you balanced and ultimately make you faster. Running requires lots of work, effort, and energy expenditure in your calves, quads, hams, and glutes. So be sure to do a lower body workout at least once a week, followed by adequate time to S-T-R-E-T-C-H those all-important muscles for your favorite cardio activity: running. 

Two Things Most Runners Don’t Think About

Two things most runners don’t think about that will improve your speed is to focus on your form and to incorporate recovery days. I can’t go into all the specifics of proper form here because it can get pretty nuanced, but it includes landing on the balls of your feet (not your heels), leaning forward from your ankles (not your waist), and loose arms with relaxed shoulders. 

Lastly, definitely remember to include recovery days. YOU NEED DAYS OFF! Even if it’s only one day a week. You don’t need to be completely immobile on your days off. You can walk a mile or two at a leisurely pace. Or do yoga. Or a simple 20-minute stretch routine. Just don’t run at least one or two days a week. It helps your muscles recover and come back stronger. It also helps prevent injuries. Because who wants to show up race day morning and get an overuse injury during your warmup? Rest days are for recovery. Just imagine your muscles getting stronger and it will help you “stay still” for a couple days.

Keep writing, keep running.

Christie :)

What’s your favorite speed workout? Share in the comments.

Keep on keepin' on...


Monday, November 14, 2022

Training for Your First 5k

I started running in college. There was a jogging class taught by the same professor whose group I was in for my Freshman orientation. He also taught my health class, which was a required elective. He had lost almost 200 pounds when he was in college – by running. And now he was a lean, mean, fitness machine. So I signed up. (I also took a weight training class and an aerobics class with him.)

At the end of my jogging class, there was a race. People were walking faster than me. As a 20-something year-old, it was embarrassing. But I did it. If you’re gearing up to run a 5k race, here’s a few tips to remember.

Why Train for a 5k

After having severely sprained my ankle earlier this year, I feel like I’m starting over from scratch. Ever since I decided which ultramarathon to run four years from now, I feel like I need a fresh start to build up my stamina again. Thankfully the body has muscle memory, so it hopefully won’t be as hard training to build back up to running three miles as it was the very first time I ever ran that distance.

So why should you train for a 5k race? Three big reasons come to mind.
  1. If you’ve never run a 5k race before, you should train.
  2. If you haven’t run 3 miles in a very long time, you should train.
  3. If you want to get faster and win the race (or try to place in your age bracket), you should train.
Training for a race, no matter what the distance, is the smart thing to do to help prevent injuries. Injuries happen from underuse, from overuse, and from accidental missteps (we won’t talk about jumping off escalators - even though it was just a small hop and I was already at the bottom).

Build Up Your Stamina

You may have heard of the Couch to 5k program. They take people who don’t run and get them off the couch to run their first 5k. The main benefit of training for a race no matter what the reason (first time, not run in a long time, or want to win), is to build up your stamina so you can feel good about completing the race no matter what your time ends up being.

There are 7 ways to build up your running strength and stamina while training.
  1. Increase time (run 30 minutes instead of 20)
  2. Increase distance (run 3 miles instead of 2)
  3. Increase hills (add hill training once a week)
  4. Interval training (run 5.0 for 4 min., run 7.0 for 1 min.)
  5. Increase speed or pace (run 6.0 mph instead of 5.5 mph)
  6. Cross training (basketball, swimming, yoga, cycling, etc)
  7. Strength training (muscle strength is important even for runners)
All good training schedules basically use a combination of the above methods to increase your running stamina and prepare you for a good race result.

Create a Training Schedule

Even if you’re not training for a race, your running routine is, in essence, also a training routine, right? Two factors come to mind when creating a training schedule for your running routine. 
  1. What is your goal?
  2. How often do you run each week?
If your goal is to go from 0 to 5k, that training schedule is going to be hugely different from one that is for someone with a goal of running an ultramarathon. However, if the person who wants to run an ultra hasn’t run very far or very often in quite some time, then they should start off with the goal of going from 0 to 5k first.

The further the race distance you’re training for, the more important it is to create a strong base. If you run 5 or 6 miles a day 4 or 5 days a week, then you have a very strong running base already. When I was training for my very first marathon, I ran 3 to 4 days a week (including the long run), and averaged 2-4 miles per run (excluding the long run - obviously I built up to longer distances each week for that).

You can easily create your own training plan for any distance when you consider your base mileage and your goal mileage. There are lots and lots of plans online to help you if you’ve never run a race before, but if you have, then you don’t really need someone else’s chart because you have experience on your side. Unless you want to get faster and win. In that case, yes, find a training plan (and maybe a few running partners) to help push you.

Here’s one simple option for training for your first (or next) 5k race. I recommend building up the base first in case you have to adjust things, and then find a race to run because you’ll already be ready and won’t have the added stress of a time limit (or the ticking time bomb as we writers like to say).

A 6-week training chart to build up to 3 miles of running, with a run/walk combo. My goal is to run for 9 minutes, followed by 1 minute of walking (a strategy from Jeff Galloway) for 3 miles. So here you go. And of course – ALWAYS LISTEN TO YOUR BODY.

*R2 = run for 2 minutes. W3 = walk for 3 minutes.








*R2, W3

1 mile

R2, W3

2 miles

R2, W3

2 miles

R3, W3

2 miles

R3, W3

2 miles

R3, W2

2 miles

R3, W2

2 miles

R3, W1

2 miles

R4, W1

2 miles

R4, W1

2 miles

R5, W2

2 miles

R5, W3

3 miles

R6, W3

3 miles

R6, W3

3 miles

R6, W2

3 miles

R7, W2

3 miles

R8, W2

3 miles

R9, W1

3 miles

From there, I can increase distance, increase time spent running, or increase my speed. I can also throw in interval training and hill training. All of which I plan to do to train for my crazy Wild Things Race 50k ultra in January 2027.

Keep writing, keep running.

Christie :)

How many 5k races have you run? Zero? Forty or more? Share in the comments!

Keep on keepin' on...


Monday, November 7, 2022

Choosing an Ultra Marathon

Earlier this year, probably around the time I turned 46, I suddenly decided I wanted to run an ultra marathon. Say whaaaat?!?! Yeah, call me crazy, but I had already done two marathons in the past. Anchorage Alaska Midnight Mayor Sun Marathon in June 2000 [finish time → 8:26:14] and the Myrtle Beach Marathon in February 2002 [finish time → 6:32:23]. I know I’m slow, but that’s not the point.

The point is that when I decided to look up just how long an ultra marathon was, I discovered that it was any race distance longer than a marathon rather than a set 100-mile race, which is what I thought it was. Because that will probably NEVER happen. So I set out to find the shortest possible ultra I could find, and as it turns out a 50k is a popular ultra distance because it’s only 31 miles.

That’s only 4.8 miles longer than a marathon. I could totally do that, right?

And what I thought was a cool idea would be to run a 50k when I’m 50 years old. That’s only 4 years away, so I guess the next step is to find the race I want to participate in. But how do I decide on the best ultra-marathon race to run in?

Once I chose my distance (50k), I considered six other factors to help me choose.
  1. Location 
  2. Type
  3. Time Limit
  4. Weather
  5. Day and time
  6. Coolness Factor


The first question to ask yourself is where you want to run the race. In a big city? At the beach? An exotic location? How far do you want to travel to get there? Drive or take a plane? In the US or somewhere else in the world. I happen to know of an amazing race-finding resource and if you haven’t heard of yet, you’re missing out. You have to check it out. Stat. You can factor in distances, regions of the US, what month the race is in and so much more. Works great on mobile too! 

I decided I didn’t want to fly and that I wanted a race in the southeast, near the coast, that wasn’t too far to drive to. About 50 results popped up for 50k races in the southeast.


Next, decide if you want a road race or a trail race. A lot of trail races were popping up, so I took that out of the equation because that meant lots of hills and I wanted the easiest race possible and as flat as possible. Florida has lots of flat land, so things were looking in that direction. 

Types of races:
  • Trail races (usually means hills or mountains)
  • Road races (usually less rigorous)
  • Hilly vs. flat


Some people love to race to win. But lots of us middle-of-the-packers and especially us back-of-the-packers don’t care about winning or even necessarily making a certain time. That being said, time is still an important factor to consider. Are you going to run the race, walk the race, or do a combo? Honestly, most people do a combo. Jeff Galloway even says that 9-10 minutes of running followed by 1-2 minutes of walking can make you have a better race time. 

If you know your average pace time and you know your race distance, you’ll need to calculate how long it will take you to finish the race. Maybe even factor in if you get injured and have to walk the entire distance. Since a 50k is 31 miles and the average walking speed is around, let’s say 3.1 mph, then a 50k could take a slow “racer” about 10 hours to complete. 

Lots of marathons have an 8-hour cut-off time. My Alaska marathon had 8.5 hours. I was so thankful. Even still, that gives someone roughly 3 mph to finish the race. And I found a 50k with a 12-hour time limit! Although it might actually be 16 hours (they had both times listed and I don’t know which was the accurate number). 

The last thing to consider about a time limit is if you want it to be a qualifying race or not. This is really important to a lot of serious runners, so be sure to check the race website to find out for sure. Personally, for this race, it didn’t matter to me a bit. Although the race I found did have the distance certified by USTAF. So that’s always nice.


The weather definitely plays into the location you choose. Time of year as well. I guess that could technically be another factor. I didn’t want to run a big race in the middle of the summer because that’s when I host my own race, the Writers Who Run 5k & 10k Race for Literacy in July - in North Carolina. 

So weather, location, and time of year kind of all go together. I didn’t want it to be super hot or super cold. Florida in the dead of winter is not considered cold to someone who’s used to a snowy winter in January. With a low of 45 and a high of 70, Florida was looking better and better for my 50k race location. One race I found was in January and that seemed a good time for a race in Florida since hurricane season is over by then and it’s not very rainy.


This might be the least important contributing factor. Most races are held on a Saturday or Sunday. I prefer to race on Saturdays so my Sundays are free to worship, rest, and relax. But I have run races on Sundays in the past. Time of day can be important too. Some races are actually run at night, which is part of that particular race’s coolness factor. I’ve done one. The Maggie Valley Moonlight Race in western North Carolina. It starts at 8:00 pm and was a great race! But for a 50k? I definitely need it to be a daytime thing.


Lastly, you want to feel like the race is going to be fun. The coolness factor can be time of day, location can also play into it, the medal, the race’s purpose like a charity of some kind, or a fun theme like donuts, hot chocolate, the popular Color Runs, or something else. When I saw the title of this race – WILD THINGS RACES – I had to check it out. I mean, my last name is Wild after all. So… this race is in mid-Florida on a flat, paved surface, with a 12-hour time limit, and it’s based on the book, Where the Wild Things Are by the late Maurice Sendak. (I have address labels with that theme!) The race takes place on a Saturday and it’s a 5k loop repeated 10x so that everyone feels like they’re at a party during the entire race and nobody is “left behind” and feeling alone. Perfect! I’m all in!

When you find a race that checks all the boxes, it’ll be a good one for you! For me, that ended up being a 50k in the southeast (specifically Florida), on a paved, flat surface, with a really long time limit of 12 hours, on a Saturday, with low chance of rain (hurricane season was over) and temps between 45-70 degrees, and a cool theme of Where the Wild Things Are. 

The last question I had to ask myself was if I wanted to run the race the YEAR I turned 50 (2026), or when I actually WOULD BE 50 (2027). Because the race is in January and my birthday is in April. I asked my husband and he said, “When you’re 50.” So that means in 4 years and 2 months (January 2027), I’ll be running in the Wild Things Races in Ocala, Florida to celebrate turning 50. Wish me luck! And feel free to join me!

Keep writing, keep running.


Christie :)

What's the longest race you've ever run in? Share in the comments.



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