A Runner’s Story: Lora Johnson
Posted by Jenn F. on Friday, August 3rd, 2012
Today we have a fantastic interview with Lora Johnson, a Wisconsin native, current Brooklyn resident, and veteran marathoner who writes the fun, super informative blog Crazy Runner Girl. Let’s find out how she runs!
Healing Feet: How long have you been running? What got you started?
Lora Johnson: I have been running for more than 15 years now – wow, it feels crazy to say that! I started when I was at the end of middle school because I was a little overweight. I started eating healthier and working out (including running) and lost 20 pounds before I went into high school. I signed up for cross country and track which helped me see that distance was my thing. After graduating from college, I ran my first marathon. Six years later, I’ve now run 8, including Boston twice as well as the ING NYC Marathon.
HF: Do you have a favorite run or running experience? What’s a great day of running for you?
LJ: There are so many great runs, it’s hard to pick just one! Running the Boston Marathon was absolutely amazing because I trained so hard to get there. The ING NYC Marathon was incredible – it gave me a personal tour of my favorite city. I also loved running the Madison Marathon (where I first qualified for Boston) for different reasons – since it was a smaller marathon, I was able to focus on my pace. The race also gave me a new appreciation for my home state and the marathon.
A great day of running for me is when I’m able to get into the zone. I love having the feeling that I could run for miles upon miles and never get tired. The weather also has a big impact on my running for the day – I am a baby when it comes to the heat. A day that has brisk temperatures (think October in Wisconsin) is ideal for me and helps me get into the zone and excited to run.
HF: Have you had to deal with any injuries? If so, how did you handle them?
LJ: Only recently have I had to deal with any major injuries, both because of switching shoes (Runner’s World Shoe Advisor is the best resource you can have to make sure you are finding the best shoe for you!). I had shin splints a few years ago that wouldn’t have been so bad but I was stubborn and kept running through the pain. I ended up being sidelined for nearly two months! Most recently, I had IT band issues, which was really scary since I know once a lot of runners get the issue, it never goes away. My fiancé is a physical therapist so he was able to help me start doing the right exercises and get on the right path to move forward. I had learned from my last injury to listen to my body. As hard as it was to rest and not run, it was probably the best decision that I made.
HF: We’re all about healthy and happy feet here. Do you have any tips for keeping your feet in good condition? What do you look for in running shoes?
LJ: After my recent IT band issue, I’ve learned that my shoes need to be extremely cushioned throughout. I think it’s because I run on hard surfaces and do a lot of longer runs. It’s important to find the shoe that works best for you and if you are switching shoes because you want to try something new (not because of injury), make sure they match up to what you were running in before, such as cushioning, flexibility, stability, etc. It’s also smart to go up a half size because tight shoes will give you more blisters, especially if you run long distances. As simple as it sounds, make sure you keep your toenails clipped (they can cut into your skin) and invest in quality and cushioned socks – it makes a world of difference!
HF: You recently switched to a gluten-free diet? How has that affected your training? Do you have any suggestions for people who want to go gluten-free?
LJ: Yes, I self-diagnosed myself with a gluten allergy this past March and cut all gluten out of my diet. It’s been great! I was really nervous to do it because I thought it was going to be really hard in that I would want to sneak it or be sad when I couldn’t eat certain foods. But, gluten made me feel really icky – I won’t go into the details, but it actually had a negative impact on my runs for several months. Those issues have disappeared now that I don’t eat gluten and because of this, it’s easy to avoid it. Plus, there are a lot of gluten-free products out there that work as great substitutes. If you want to go gluten-free, make sure you are doing it for the right reasons and that your family understands your diet change and that just because you say no to the free bread at the restaurant doesn’t mean they have to, too.
HF: What’s the one piece of advice you would give any runner?
LJ: You are a runner. If you’ve run a 5k or a marathon, or if you just went on your first run or just hit 1,000 miles for the year, you are a runner. It sounds so silly, but I find that so many runners start a conversation by saying, “I run but I’m not that fast” or “I’m not really a runner, I just run here and there”… in the running community, true runners don’t care how far you run or how long it takes you – we just love that you’re part of the sport and understand how amazing it is.
If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine. Dr. Josef J. Geldwert, Dr. 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.