From Trials to Trails: A Q&A with Alicia Shay - Page 3
You said in a recent Q&A during a Run S.M.A.R.T. retreat, “We know so much from science but we forget to listen to our bodies.” How do you find and maintain this balance?
I am a research junkie. I love reading the latest studies, articles and books. The downside of all this information is that is can lead to detachment from the pure simplicity of running. A fine balance exists between applying what we know from science to training by staying in touch with your own body.
I do not believe that a "one-size-fits-all" approach to training will be successful. It is important for coaches and athletes to listen to their bodies, as well as their mental states, and to adjust training accordingly.
Do you seek some sort of balance between roads and trails?
If left to my own devices, I would run every single step on forest-service roads and trails. I just love trail running and my body seems to respond much better to soft surfaces than pavement or the track. However, since I do love racing on the roads, I have to at least do harder workouts on the road to get my legs used to the extra pounding of pavement.
Competing in the Transrockies RUN3 was a spontaneous decision for you. What inspired it?
This past summer I really wasn't sure if I was going to be able to continue running. I had tried to get in shape for track season, but every time I worked out on the track I could barely run for a few weeks afterward. I finally decided to stop training and get some testing done on my biomechanics per Dr. Ball's recommendation. The testing was incredibly helpful and revealed that the orthotics I was wearing were creating a slight rotation of my femur and in turn creating tension in my hip. So I tossed out my orthotics and added in strength exercises for a few weeks. During that time I could only jog really easy to allow for my hip to heal. I decided that since I couldn't run fast or work out, I might as well head to higher altitudes and get some sort of cardiovascular benefit while I eased up on training.
The first week of August everything seemed to come together. My stride felt normal and the pain in my hip dissipated. It was incredible! It was like someone flipped a switch in my body . I was running with my coach, Mike Smith, one day about a week before TransRockies, and I jokingly suggested that I should have signed up for the race because the only training I had done for a couple months was easy trail running at high altitudes.
He took my joke and ran with it. Before I knew it I was entered in the race! I was nervous because I still wasn't sure if my hip was 100-percent healthy, I hadn't raced in over four yeas, I had never done a trail race or a race at altitude or a stage race or run over 21 miles or done a workout in months. There were a lot of unknowns, but thankfully I felt great throughout the race.
Any non-trail races?
I have a handful of road races that I would like to do including a few half marathons, some shorter road races and a marathon. At this point, after so many years away from racing, I simply need to get into as many races as possible and work on competing again.
You’ve said running the New York City Marathon would be your dream. Is that because New York is a kind of symbolic competition for you? Do you feel it would bring some kind of closure to your healing process?
The NYC Marathon is several things to me: Racing there would certainly put me face to face with so many different and difficult emotions, but I am ready to face them? For several years, the thought of New York—the race, the streets, the smells and sounds—it all made me tremble inside. I just couldn't tolerate more than a few seconds of those memories before I was spiraling downward. However, something has changed in the past few months and what used to crush me is now something that gives me resolve and excitement.
I do not think that racing in NYC will give me closure because I am not sure that I will ever completely heal from the loss of Ryan, but I do think that it will be my own personal victory at the end of a tumultuous several years. In a way, it is my testament of what God can do with a totally broken heart. Similar to the reason I run, racing in NYC would be an expression of gratitude for making it through the darkest period of my life ... a celebration of the life that Ryan lived and a celebration of the life that I still have ahead of me.