I learned A LOT about Lauren through these interview questions! She’s well versed in fitness and personal training, a mom to four children whom she raised to be runners, and she started running in one of my favorite places on Earth, New York City. She always has a smile on her face and a crowd of participants around her. Lauren mentors at the North Raleigh store. Read on to find out more about Lauren.
Where are you from?
Grew up in Washington, DC, college in Charlottesville (wahoowa!), then moved back to the DC area.
Where do you live now?
What’s your day job?
Semi-retired mom of 4 young adults, freelance health & fitness coach. I’m a Certified Personal Trainer with Specialties in Fitness Nutrition and Functional Training (postural assessments, corrective exercise, that sort of thing).
For how long have you been a runner?
I started running 7 years ago, at 47.
Why did you start?
After struggling with chronic health issues for years, “sick and tired of being sick and tired”, I hit 200 lbs and my blood pressure was creeping up. My BP had always been low, and that scared me. I started with walking a mile every day in 2012. I continued to gain weight, but that started the habit that a few months later led to me getting into the gym every day, and a few months after that, I was driving my daughter back to school in NYC where I’d have no access to a gym. A friend suggested I go for a run in Central Park and I laughed. “I’m not a runner! I don’t even want to run!” But I had no other ideas, so I gave it a shot. I don’t even know for sure how far I ran, because I didn’t have an app then. My goal was to replace my 1-hour gym workout, so just mapped out a roughly 4-mile route on an old school paper map of Central Park and then ran it from memory (which, if you know me, is hilarious for a number of reasons) and somehow I found my way back to my daughter’s dorm. After that first run, I was hooked. I ran in the park the next day, drove back home the day after that and sat down with a friend to map out a training plan.
When did you start mentoring and why?
When I first started running, I ran solo for over a year. I ran a bunch of races and even my first half marathon before I worked up the courage to even go for a social run with a group. Now I can’t imagine not having a weekly run group, but I clearly remember how intimidating it can be just starting out. And I was so happy to find Fleet Feet because the program is great for experienced runners who really want to push themselves and chase big goals, but it’s also perfect for anyone who knows nothing other than they want to give running a try. I love the fact that all these people get together every week to run and support each other!
What is your favorite race distance?
10K. The first few miles of any run are always wonky, so to me a 5K is always the hardest part. But a 10K gives me enough time to really warm up, and it’s still a short enough race that I can push myself right in to the finish.
What is your favorite race?
My first full, Outer Banks Marathon. There’s plenty not to like, including 4 miles in the middle I’d rather not think about, but over all, one of my all-time favorites for the views and the people. It’s a small town, and in November it’s extra quiet, but people were out on their driveways cheering, offering us snacks, bacon, mimosas, thanking us for coming to town to run! A local pancake house had set up a station along the greenway and was serving up WARM banana bread! The finish in Manteo was sweet! And I’ll never not love being that close to the ocean!
What is your favorite training run (speedwork, tempo, hills, Totem Pole, long, easy, etc.)?
I have learned to love shorter weekday workouts, but I’m really wired for distance. I love to get past mile 4, that’s where all the magic happens.
What is your running shoe of choice?
Brooks, pretty much since day one. Ghost for shorter runs, Glycerin for distance.
What is your favorite running accessory–you don’t leave home without it?
Foam roller, no question. I’ve packed in in my suitcase, carried it on a plane… I foam roll just about every day. I swear by it.
What is your favorite running weather?
Hot and humid! summer in NC is my favorite!!
What is your favorite local place to run?
Along the Neuse River Greenway. It’s close, but it feels like it’s far away.
Do you have a favorite place of all places, near or far, to run?
Central Park, where it all began. I run there with my girls every chance I get! (they all 3 live in the city)
Favorite running experience/memory?
The inaugural Dopey Challenge. I ran the 5K with my youngest daughter, and all 4 of my kids ran the half with me (which was crazy and stressful, but also fun), and it was just a huge goal for me, something that I spent a whole year training for. It was all 4 kids’ first half, and 2 were away at college, so just getting all of them through their “proof of time” races was a logistics challenge. I ran those with them, 4 separate races in 4 states. Before running, I had been pretty much full time raising kids for 20 years, so to be able to accomplish that 48.6 miles in 4 days, all those hours and miles of training for my own goal, and to have my kids be a part of it, it was a really big deal!
The last race you ran?
Wilmington Historic Half, which was such a fun experience, going with friends from Fleet Feet!
What was your worst race?
This was the toughest question, because I hate to jinx myself, but I’ve never really had a bad race. The only “bad” thing I can think of is weather, and after a really long stretch of great race day weather, I ran the Race 13.1 half during the Hurricane Matthew deluge, but even that was kind of cool honestly! I’ve also been coaching Girls on the Run for 6 years, and for last year’s December race the weather was horrific! But again, it was fun and inspiring to see how many families showed up to run and stand in sleet and rain to cheer for their girls!!
If you could run any race, which would it be?
NYC Marathon! I’ve tried to get in every year since 2013 with no luck. My oldest daughter ran it last year, and I was excited to go cheer her on, but I really want to run that one with her. Neither of us got in this year, and she’s kind of relieved, but we’re looking at 2020!
What is your most frustrating running injury?
A few months after I started running, 7 weeks before my first half, I was crossing the street and ran into an SUV. (not a typo) You know how they teach you in second grade to look left, look right, then look left again? I forgot that last part. First ride in an ambulance, broke my toe, turned my knee, and really banged up my face, but I know I was lucky that it wasn’t a lot worse. I was completely off my feet for 10 days, then did a lot of pool running, and it was a few weeks before I was confident and able to walk on pavement without a boot (happened to be in Central Park). So, after decades of inactivity, I had just gotten myself into running and now here I was sidelined. I had run as far as 10 miles before the accident, but it wasn’t until about a week before my race that I could go out for a long run. I’m not patient by nature, and that was not a fun time to be around me. I think being so new to running saved me, though, because I didn’t dare go out a moment before I was sure. And when I did, it was fine. A little stiff and slow, but nothing was painful, and the next week, in Disney World, the Princess Half was awesome!
How many days a week do you run?
Usually 3. I’ll run an extra day if I have a client or if a friend wants to go for a short one, but I really try to take a day off between running days most of the time. I still walk at least one mile every day. Usually I walk 5-6 miles on my non-running days.
How many miles a week do you run?
10-20, depending on what I’m training for.
What is your biggest running accomplishment?
As races go, the Dopey Challenge. I don’t know if I’ll ever top that. In more general terms, getting all of my kids out running. They were 13, 15, 17, and 19 when I started, and the Disney races piqued their interest. They’re young and busy, and they don’t run super consistently, but they’ve all found enjoyment in it, and we usually find a race when they’re home or I’m where they are. I hope it’s something we’ll continue to enjoy together for a very long time.
What do you like most about mentoring?
Aside from the obvious, running changed my life, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to pay it forward. But specific to Fleet Feet, it’s a unique sense of community. I remember my first day mentoring NoBo, BB said “More than anything, we really want this to feel like a family, so when you finish, we ask that you hang around and cheer everyone on as they come in.” And from step one, everyone made an effort to get to know one another, not just within pace groups, but as a whole group. I love meeting runners from other stores on Saturdays, too! In fact, I reconnected with a friend from college who runs with the Wade Avenue store!
What is one thing you are still working on improving upon in running?
Doing more consistent strength training! I did the Summer Speed training last summer and saw so much improvement in my form and pace from the body weight exercises we did. I’ve been trying to do more on my own, but honestly can’t wait for Core Running to start because I’m always more consistent with a group!
What are your favorite non-running hobbies?
I love to read and write and build jigsaw puzzles.