Chatty Feet of "Kerry V"

Hello, who are you and what sports/fitness routine do you play?

Hello! My name is Kerry V. I’m a 38-year-old middle school counselor, mom of two, and an avid runner. I’ve been married to my best friend from middle school for almost 12 years and we reside in Orange County, Ca. I’ve been pretty active my whole life, growing up as a dancer and owning a fitness studio at one point, but running really wasn’t on my radar until I got older. I actually hated running when I was younger and complained any time I had to do it! But after I got married and knew we planned to have kids soon, I got the itch to run a half marathon. I really did it just to say I did it and planned to be one and done. This was confirmed after I ran the race. I loved it but vowed to never do it again because 13.1 miles is just way too far to run. Fast forward 6 years later, I had given birth to both my kids and the idea of running another half marathon came into my head, but I wanted to do it faster than my last one. I wanted to do this to show myself, and other moms, that we can be faster/stronger postpartum. I signed up for a half marathon on Mother’s Day and crossed the finish line 9 minutes faster than my previous race, and I got to see my cute kiddos at the finish. It was at this time that I knew I was hooked.

At that point, I started setting running goals. I signed up for my next half with a “sub-2” goal (run a half under 2 hours, my previous times were 2:16 and 2:07). I hit that goal then decided to run a full marathon and hired a coach to help me train properly and make it to the start line injury-free. I finished my first full marathon at the end of 2018 in 4:26. I knew it was crazy, but I set a goal in my head to try to qualify for Boston and I haven’t stopped working towards that goal since! I’ve gotten my half marathon time down to 1:43 and my marathon time to 3:47, with my 5th full marathon coming up on 11/13 where I’ll attempt to BQ for the first time. The time goal for my age group is under 3:35. It’ll be tough but I figured why not go for it! 

How do you get ready to train for your sport/how do you train?

When training for a race, I run 5 days a week and cross-train/strength train 2-3 days a week. With running, about 80% of my miles are easy-paced miles. The other 20% consists of some type of tempo or speed work. So, just a reminder that you shouldn’t be running all your runs at top speed! That will lead to injury and you won’t improve. I typically have 3-4 easy runs, 1 workout and 1 long run on the weekend.

Strength training is just as important when it comes to running! Not doing any and just running can and will most likely lead to injury. Running uses a lot of different muscles to you got to keep them strong, specifically the quads, glutes, and abs (yes, your core plays a big part in running form). I like to cross-train on my Peloton bike and also do their strength training classes. It’s usually nothing more than a 20-30 minute class, as I typically don’t have a ton of time as a working mom and with all the miles I run. 

After a workout/game, how do you recover your body? What do you do to get your body in shape? What type of diet do you eat? 

Recovery is super important! A big thing for me is sleep. If I don’t get enough sleep, I can feel it in my workouts. I do my best to get in bed as early as I can most nights. I stretch, foam roll, and use my massage gun almost every night to make sure my muscles are fresh for the next day. If I had a really tough workout or race, I will typically take the next day off completely and spend that extra time stretching. If you push your limits, you need to let your body recover.

As far as food goes, I eat MORE than I have in my life! I’m going to admit that I’m not the healthiest eater in the world but I always make sure that I’m eating enough calories to keep up with my workouts. When you’re burning so many calories running, it’s important to eat more throughout the day. I typically have my morning shake, a snack, a good-sized lunch with a lot of carbs, another snack, and of course dinner. I’m actually in the healthiest mindset with food that I’ve ever been in and probably eating more than I did in the past. I struggled as a young dancer with food and body image, but now I think about fueling my body to make it stronger and faster, and don’t worry about those extra treats!

How do you prevent injuries when you’re training? What type of stretches do you normally do? What’s your routine looking like?

As I mentioned before, stretching, foam rolling, and strength training. These three things have been crucial in avoiding injuries, especially with adding so much mileage to my upcoming marathon. You also need to be careful with increasing your mileage. You should slowly increase your mileage each week and throw some cutback weeks in once in a while to give your body a little rest. For example, last month one week I ran 42, then 43, then 45, and cut back to 38 the following week. You never want to just keep adding on mileage with no break. 

As far as stretching, I love the pigeon pose (google it...popular yoga pose). It really stretches out your hips and glutes and just feels good. I’ll use my peloton app to take some of their 5-10 minute stretches as well so I don’t have to think about what to do and just follow along. I also have a little massage gun that I use all over my lower body and just loosen everything up. 

For routine, I don’t have everything set in stone but I will plan out my week on Sunday and stick to it. I either run before work (cue 4:45 alarm which isn’t always fun) or in the early evening if I don’t need to run my kids around to their activities. I run 4 days during the week and 1 long run on the weekend which typically starts early so I’m back in time to bring donuts to my kids. Yes, they expect it now. I do strength on one of my running days, and then do strength/cycle on the 2 days I don’t run. The days I do what can vary based on my work and my kids’ schedule. But once I plan it for the week, I do my best to stick to it. 

If there is someone wanting to get to your level, what type of advice would you give them?

It’s funny to answer this because I feel like I’m totally average at what I do. But I guess I would say set goals, give yourself time and hire a coach. I set my goal of qualifying for Boston almost 3 years ago. I knew it wouldn’t happen quickly because it takes time to gain speed (and take almost an hour off my marathon time). I set little goals along the way and just chipped away at the time of each race. There’s no quick fix so reminding yourself that it will take time but also setting mini-goals along the way will help keep you going. Especially when it comes to running. It takes a lot of time to train for a race (usually 12-16 weeks depending on the distance) so set a different goal for each race and then move on to the next! 

For example, my marathons…

11/18- 1st marathon, 4:26

11/19- the goal was sub 4 hours, ran it 4:24

1/20- got my sub 4 at 3:56

11/20- the goal was sub 3:50, ran it in 3:47

11/21- the goal is to BQ (sub 3:35)- we will see!

My running coach has been a HUGE part of getting me to where I am today. Yes, I run the miles, but I follow her plan each week and go to her regularly with questions or expressing doubt that I can complete certain workouts. She is always there to reassure me and push me beyond what I think I can do. If you are committed and want to see growth, I always encourage a coach/trainer.

How do you structure your day now? What projects are you busy with?

As I’ve mentioned, I work full time as a middle school counselor and I have two kiddos. My son turns 9 in November and my daughter is 6. So between work and their activities, I’m pretty busy every day. My son is obsessed with baseball and has practice or batting lessons a few times a week, in addition to playing other sports, and my daughter is loving dance and soccer. I have a big calendar up in our kitchen that has all practices, games, and appointments so everyone in the family knows what we have coming up. All of this is why I set up my schedule on Sunday for when I’m going to run when I’ll do strength, etc and I stick to it to keep me on track. It would definitely be easier to skip some days but I have always regretted it when I do. Every single time I set that early alarm to get my run in, I am so glad I did when I finish. It really is a great way to start your day. 

How has your journey on social media been? Future plans?

I actually started running Instagram just to keep myself on track. I quickly found that there was a huge, supportive running community out there and have truly enjoyed getting to know so many amazing people. It’s led to real, in-life friendships and a lot of long-distance friendships! It’s so fun to follow along and support other people’s journeys with running and fitness, and congratulate them when they meet their goals. I post my workouts, some successful and others that don’t go well, and always just try to show the reality of training for races. It’s not always uplifting, though I try to be. 

I realized there were a lot of newer runners out there, or people who were thinking about starting to run, that had a lot of questions and would DM me on Instagram. This is where I started my blog, runningisntskerry.com. It’s all in fun and I just post a lot of the running products I use that I think new runners may like and any advice I’ve put together along the way. I also use the site to do race recaps, because I always love reading other runners’ recaps, good or bad. I really enjoy helping others find what they love doing and motivating them to go for it. 

Anything else you would like to share?

I want others to know that if I can do this, you can too. I never thought I’d get to the point that I am now and I’m nowhere near being finished! I know there is more in me and I will continue to add on to my goal list as I accomplish them. My current main goal is to qualify for and run Boston, then I want to focus on running all of the 6 world major marathons. Coming from someone who struggled to run a mile back in middle school, I now willfully run 20 on a random Saturday. You truly can do anything you set your mind to, and if you’re not sure how, then ask someone who does. Most, including myself, are happy to help and support you along the way. 

Knowing what you know now, what do you wish you could tell yourself 10 years ago?

That everything will work out and I will have the family and career that I always wanted. I’m such a worrier and struggle with anxiety at times, so it would be nice to know that things all work out. I’d also tell myself to get out of my head and truly believe in myself. I am great at motivating others and telling them they can do hard things but sometimes struggle with doing that for myself. I doubt my abilities and will have negative thoughts about upcoming races. I’ve gotten a lot better with it more recently and make a conscious effort to only repeat positive phrases while I’m running and racing. It’s taken a lot of work but it would be nice to see where I’d be now back then!

How can our audience find you online? 

The best place to find/follow me is on Instagram and Twitter! My name is @itsmekerryv. My blog is runningisntskerry.com and you can also comment or reach out on there as well. I hope to connect with all of you!

Link to Kerry's Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/itsmekerryv/

Kerry V. is a 38-year-old middle school counselor, mom of two, and an avid runner.

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