On today’s episode of the podcast, I’m joining 3 time Olympic Trials qualifier Becki Spellman for a few easy miles!
In addition to being an elite distance runner, Becki is also a wife and mother of twins that runs as part of the Oiselle Haute Volee team.
Even though she has seen most of her professional success as a pro at the marathon distance, her favorite race distance is actually quite a bit shorter: 3,000 meters.
Her love of the shorter distance goes back to her college days of racing the mile and the steeple chase, and even though she doesn’t get to race that type of distance much anymore, she still loves running the “shorter” stuff.
Exercise physiologist Matt Woods talked with her while she was working in a running store, and after running some tests on her (including a VO2max test), he was able to convince her to start running some longer distances events.
It’s easy to see that she made the right choice in going long.
Today’s Episode is Sponsored By: Running With the Bears
As with many of us, running the longer races has almost been as much of a struggle mentally as it has been physically for Becki.
I know that the mental side of running is my biggest weakness, so I had to ask Becki how she has worked to improve her mental strength for distance racing.
She said she definitely relies on the mileage accumulated during training to get stronger both mentally and physically over time.
But then she said something that caught me off guard.
She said that she spends several hours in the couple of weeks prior to a marathon visualizing the race. She started visualizing at the recommendation of a sports psychologist, and she’s had no doubt about the positive impact that visualizations have had on her race performance.
Becki admits that the visualization process is awkward at first, but the more she’s done it the more benefit she’s seen. And listening to her talk about the process has convinced me that I definitely need to incorporate visualizations into the preparations for my next race.
(If you’d like some more information about getting started with visualizations before a race, Teal Burrell (Episode 94 and Episode 240) recently wrote a great post on her blog about how she practiced visualizations before running the 2016 Olympic Trials.)
Shifting Gears and Talking Family
Becki had twins in July of 2014, and the process of coming back has been harder for her than she thought that it would be.
She attempted to qualify for the Olympic trials at the Columbus marathon and missed the qualifying mark by a minute and forty seconds.
Fast forward a little bit, and the standards for the Olympic trials were changed and her time from Columbus was fast enough for her to qualify.
I asked Becki about her range of emotions from thinking that she had just missed the mark and then finding out that she had in fact made the trials. Obviously she was happy when she found out she’d be competing in Los Angeles, but it was still a roller coaster of being bummed, being jealous of some friends that made it, feeling like she needed to be there, and finally finding out that she made it to the trials for the third time!
As this was Becki’s third Olympic Trials, I asked her about the experience of the 2016 event compared to her previous 2 experiences.
From a race perspective, she had some complaints about the logistics of the race (that have been well documented) that she didn’t experience previously.
We also talked about her experience coming back to running competitively after having kids.
Her recommendation for new mothers, no matter how the baby is delivered or how competitive of a runner you are, is to ask for physical therapy after the baby’s arrival.
Becki’s transverse abdominus (major muscle of the core) wasn’t firing correctly after her kids were born, and that definitely hampered her training and led to some injuries.
Now that she’s recognized the issue, she’s working to address it and seeing the results already.
We also talked about the struggle that many new parents, and especially moms, can have with taking time for themselves. Becki has found that taking time to go run definitely makes her a better mom, even though it can be difficult to leave the babies at times.
Looking forward to the future, Becki is looking at some fall half marathons for races in the fall.
As she continues to rehab and reactivate her transverse abdominus, staying patient is difficult but necessary.
She would also like to run the NYC marathon at some point, though no definite plans or timetables are in place at the moment.
Even farther out, she has the goal of qualifying for 5 Olympic Trials. So far, 3 down and 2 to go!
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