The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

A Runner’s Story: Beth Risdon

Posted by on Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

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We’re thrilled to bring you an interview with Beth Risdon, a busy mom and super long-distance runner who writes the hilarious and irreverent blog Shut Up and Run. Here’s how she runs!

Healing Feet: You’ve only been seriously running for about 3.5 years. What the heck prompted you to jump from occasional jogger to hardcore distance runner?
Beth Risdon:
3.5 years ago, running wasn’t even on my radar. In fact, I kind of hated it. One day I got a postcard in the mail from an organization called Team in Training inviting me to train for my first marathon. Team in Training provides coaching, training and race registration/travel fees for endurance events. In exchange, the participate raises money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I decided to give it a go and train for my first marathon. Up to that point I had only done two 10K races in my life. Once I realized that running was actually fun and fulfilling when I paced myself (and didn’t feel like throwing up constantly), I fell in love! After my first marathon in 2009, I set my sights on qualifying for Boston and did that a year later during my second marathon, running a 3:42. (Colorado Marathon).

HF: What is your race day preparation like?
BR: A few days before a race I cut out dairy and high fiber foods so that my stomach behaves during the race itself. I am careful to hydrate more than normal and to get a few extra hours of sleep. I also try to stay off my feet as much as possible. My go-to meal the night before a marathon is grilled chicken with linguine in a very light vinaigrette. I also have a glass of chardonnay to calm the nerves. I lay out my clothes the night before, pin on my race bib and put my timing chip on my shoe. Being prepared puts my mind at ease so I can get a good night’s sleep. On race day I always give myself plenty of time. There is nothing worse than feeling rushed. I get up early, have a small breakfast (too much in my stomach is no good for me), and drink coffee to get stuff moving through the pipes.

HF: We’re all about feet and shoes here. What is the most important thing you look for in a running shoe? How do you take care of your feet?
BR: The most important thing in a running shoe is that it is appropriate for the type of running I do. For road running I use a stability shoe. After I pinpoint the type of shoe that I need (stability, neutral, etc), then I look for the most comfortable fit. I like a shoe with some cushioning, but not one that feels like marshmallows. Lastly, and only if the first two requirements have been met, do I choose based on color, design, etc. I do a lot of trail running here in Colorado, so on the trails I like a more substantial shoe that protects my feet like the Brooks Cascadia.

Due to my injuries, I am now transitioning to a lower heel drop shoe. I think in conjunction with some changes to my form I can become a more injury-resistant runner.

In all honesty, my feet are a mess. I have bunions, blisters, black toenails and Morton’s toes. When I go to get a pedicure, I have to pay double and wear a mask. Despite their ugliness, I see my feet as my badge of honor for being a distance runner! I try to give them as much TLC as possible. One of my favorite things in the world is a good food massage with peppermint lotion.

HF: Most runners will run until their legs fall off rather than skip a day because of an injury. How do you deal with injuries?
BR: I have had my share of injuries already and am currently dealing with hamstring issues that are limiting my training. Injury is a four letter word to runners. We HATE anything that limits us, especially anything that makes us drop out of races. I have learned so much over the past three years about this issue. The best way to deal with injuries is to not get them in the first place. Recovery days, easy runs, rest, nutrition, gradual addition of volume and intensity with running, and cross training are essential to prevent injury. If I do get injured, I pull back from running and find other things to do that make me still feel like an athlete. Last year I had a hip stress fracture and could not run for 10 weeks. I knew I wanted to do the Boston Marathon, and had to find a way to keep myself in shape. Every day I clipped on iPod to my visor, got in the deep end of the pool and I ran in the water. This is actually a very good workout and closely simulates land running. I am convinced this is what kept me in shape until I could start training for Boston.

HF: Do you have any health/nutrition tips to share?
BR: I am a pretty balanced person. I have a healthy and clean diet, but there is nothing I won’t eat. I drink wine regularly and eat donuts on Sunday mornings. I pay attention to my fueling and make sure I get the correct amount of carbs before and during workouts. I always refuel with protein after a run of an hour or longer, usually in the form of chocolate milk or a protein shake. It’s very important to get protein in the first 30 minutes after a tough workout because that’s when your body can best receive the protein and begin to rebuild and repair muscle.

HF: You’re also a running coach. What advice do you have for beginning runners or someone who is aiming for their first half marathon or marathon (other than “Shut up and run,” of course)?
BR: Take it slow, do not compare yourself to others. The worst thing a new runner can do is to do too much too soon. In my training plans for clients, I incorporate two very important elements. First,every fourth week is a recovery week. Mileage is decreased to allow the runner’s body to adapt to the previous three weeks. Secondly, I go by the ten percent rule. I never increase a runner’s mileage by more than ten percent per week. Also, distance and speed are never increased at the same time.

HF: What is the #1 secret that you feel every runner should know?
BR: No distance is off limits. If you are patient and train carefully and consistently, you can reach whatever goal you set your mind to. The key is to not compare yourself to others. You will never be the fastest out there, but you will likely not be the slowest either. Believe in yourself and you can do amazing things.

I hope you’re all paying attention to that–you, too, can do amazing things. You can get more great tips and stories from Beth at Shut Up and Run and follow her on Twitter @ShutUpRun.

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If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.