Maren Elliott

Interview with a Runner - Maren Elliott

This week's runner is Maren Elliott. She's Jessica's cousin, originally from Portland and is one of the fastest women we know. She works at Swift, a digital and PR agency in Portland. When she's not working, you can find her running in Forest Park or biking around on her cruiser bike hitting up fitness classes (we've run into her weekly without planning it!) We love being her new neighbor.

When did you start running?
Growing up the only running I did was around a soccer field.  I loved sprinting after the ball or chasing down opponents but had no interest in going for a run outside of soccer.  My freshman year in high school I was persuaded to join the track team as a way to stay in shape during the off season for soccer.  I ended up being pretty good at it and got hooked. 

What inspires you to run?


While my entry into the sport was a fluke, my dad inspired me to keep with it and is the reason I became a runner. While I was in high school we had a ritual of running together every weekend and that continued on through college whenever I was home.  As I got faster and he got slower, we'd chose routes that started uphill and ended downhill so he could work "his advantage" on the downhill stretch, which meant leaning forward and letting momentum carry his weight downhill.  There are still routes around Portland that I run a particular way because it is how my dad and I always did it. 

What is your favorite running route? Why?
Forest Park anytime of the year, any day.  During the summer it is always cooler and more refreshing than the pavement and in the winter the tree canopy provides protection (some) from the rain).  The minute you step foot on the trails you feel far away from the city.

Favorite post-run meal?
Toast + two scrambled eggs + avocado + sea salt... and coffee.  

Best piece of running advice?
My first coach told me to keep my arms relaxed but strong.  I still think of this when I'm dead tired in the final miles of a race and use my arms to pull my legs through. 

Who would you love to run with and why?
I'd love to go for a run with Joan Benoit Samuelson.  She pioneered the way for female runners and is still kicking ass.

Are you running for fun or sport? 
Both!  I love competing at races but keep it fun running with close girlfriends. 

Favorite way to sweat other than run?
Yoga sculpt class at Core Power and road biking. 

Running from Behind: Adjusting Expectations

When it's finally time to head to the start of a race, what happens if something goes wrong and you realize mid-race (or even at the beginning) that your original race goals are unattainable that day? Similar to the importance of setting race goals (whether for time or fun), it is equally important to know what it takes for you to feel a sense of accomplishment regardless of what happens on race day. One of our favorite west coast runners, Maren Elliott, shares her strategy after she was forced to adjust her own race expectations midstride last week while running the Bridge to Brews 10k in Portland, Oregon. 

by Maren Elliott

Races don’t always go as planned . . . even when you’ve run hundreds of them.  

I am one of the runners at the front of the start – not on the start line, just far enough behind it that I can keep the leaders in sight.  I like to know where I am in a race, keeping count of how many women are in front of me knowing where I stand in relation to the competition.  This morning, my race did not go as planned.

Even before I showed up to the course things were off.  I missed the packet pick-up yesterday so I had to arrive earlier than I normally do the morning of a race so I could claim my number. 

Clothing was also an issue.  Tank top, short sleeves… I couldn’t choose so I compromised with myself and decided on a long-sleeve over a tank top, which I expected to check at the start.  In the midst of locating the bag check and then realizing that I didn’t bring a bag to put my clothing in, I heard the announcement for the first wave of runners to start. 

I looked over my shoulder toward the starting line and saw the first group of runners, my group of runners, sprinting away from me.  So I chased after them.  Dodging left and right to avoid the people waiting for their start, I crossed the start line alone scrambling to tie the unnecessary long-sleeve shirt around my waist.  Things were not looking good.

At the first mile mark I realized that I didn’t start my watch so I had no idea what pace I was running.  Mild panic set in. Was I going too fast?  Too slow?  Where was I in the pack?  Should I be further up? I might hit the wall. 

It wasn’t until I hit the second mile marker that I started to find my rhythm.  We were on the downhill slope of a hard climb and I had a spectacular view of Portland.   I realized that I felt fantastic.  Without a clue of how fast I was running or what my current place was, my body had gone into its zone and I was racing.   

The final four miles were challenging and I ran hard crossing the finish line with every last ounce of energy.  Even now sitting on the couch with ice on my quads I don’t know what my final time was or how I ranked against the other women.  But I know that I gave it everything.  

Marathon Recovery

By Maren Elliott

We've asked Maren Elliott to follow-up her inspiration post last week, The Final Miles, with a little insight into the recovery during the weeks after those final miles.  

The morning after finishing a marathon I wake up depressed – without fail.  It always seems so silly; I’ve accomplished something great so I should be elated.  Not to mention I’m free of long training runs, foam-rolling sessions, and painful massages.  But somehow the extra time and less regulated schedule doesn’t bring the relief I always anticipate.  I’m antsy, feel out of shape, and generally pretty grumpy.  The emotional recovery from a marathon is typically the hardest for me, but there is also the physical recovery.

Depending on the marathon I may be unable to walk or take stairs without grasping a hand-railing for fear that my legs will buckle and quit working.  Then there are those inexplicable marathons when I feel great the next day, like I could go for a run (and I usually desperately want to).  It can be hard to know exactly how to approach the recovery period especially when you feel out of sync physically and emotionally.

The general rule of thumb is to give yourself as many days to recover as miles you ran.  So for a marathon, you’d take 26 days for recovery.  There have been times when my legs needed twice that before I could even think about lacing up running shoes again.  And there have been times when I’m ready to run a week later.  In both cases the important thing to remember is to listen to your body and not force anything – it is different for everyone.

Taking walks and doing an easy bike ride in the first days after the marathon helps relieve the soreness a bit, and can provide some of the mental release I need in the absence of running.  Regardless of how long it takes, I constantly remind myself to “be nice to myself” during the awkward transition weeks after the marathon.  This sounds easy enough but can be hard when things feel off balance.  If you give yourself the time you need to recover and heal, the first run back will bring the endorphin rush you crave and all will feel right again.