Thursday, October 15, 2015

Author interview: Confessions of An Unlikely Runner by Dana L Ayers


Have you read this month's book, Confessions of an Unlikely Runner by Dana L Ayers? Dana, a former blogger and now author, writes about her adventures and mishaps on the road and off. I'll be posting my review tomorrow, but first, enjoy this interview with this very funny and personable fellow runner. And if you want to learn more about Dana or read her blog, you can find her at dcdana.com. And if you haven't read the book, it's not too late to jump in! The linkup will be open for 2 weeks following the publication of the review. And comments stay open forever!

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TTLWH: I loved your book and your sense of humor! Any recently funny stories about a run or a race you want to share?

DA: Thank you! I guess the most recent mishap was a couple weeks ago. I’m coming up on the Army Ten Miler and, per usual, I didn’t start training as early as I should have. I’ve done 10-13 mile races before without really training much but I don’t recommend doing that so I try to be good and build up mileage beforehand. So a couple weeks ago I told myself I HAD to start to ramping up my runs. I set a mileage goal for a particular day that week to kick off my “let’s get serious” training.

The night I set aside for that first goal, I was wearing shoes that started giving me a terrible blister that tore on the back of one of my heels. But I was so determined to get through the goal I set that I just kept going anyway. (Like I mentioned in the book, sometimes I run if for nothing else than for mental reasons. I feel like I get to the point where I have to run - just to remind my brain that I’m a runner - before I fall so deep in the Lazy Hole that I never run again. This was one of those moments where I needed to prove something to myself mentally.)

I pushed it as long as I could and finally reached a point where I knew I needed to turn around and finish early. But I couldn’t stand the blister pain anymore and actually had to take off my shoe while I was still a good quarter mile from my apartment. I sheepishly had to limp past all my neighbors’ homes wearing only one shoe and looking slightly crazy.

But it didn’t end there. I was so angry that I still didn’t get to my goal even after trying so hard, that I then threw on flip flops and continued to run obsessively around the block until my running app told me I’d finished my goal. Tenacity - I have; discernment and sense of pride– apparently, not so much.

TTLWH: You’ve done all the big goal events—a marathon, a relay, a multi-day race, an obstacle race—what is your next challenge? A lot of people are doing ultras—I’ve heard that the ultra is the new marathon. Some of my friends are participating in triathlons. To both of which I say no thanks. What about you?

DA: Yeah, I don’t foresee doing an ultra either, but I definitely think I’ll do a sprint triathlon at some point. I don’t have a bike, though, so it’s not a near-term goal. (Well I do have a bike, but it’s a pink beach cruiser I found by my dumpster and while it’d be hilarious to ride it in a tri, I think I’ll wait until I have a “real” race bike). I’d also love to do one of those races where you run and then kayak or paddle board.

Honestly, my latest thing is ruck marches! I know that’s not really a running event, but they do include some running and it’s a great workout overall. I’ve done a couple with an org called GoRuck which is run by military special operations guys who take you through team-building endurance events that last anywhere from a few hours to several days. You wear a ruck sack (back pack) with weights in it and there’s walking, running, pushups, yelling – all kinds of things involved. Plus you get to work out with people who are so specially trained, so disciplined, and so patriotic – the military-loving side of me totally geeks out. It may sound terrible to some, but I love that kind of stuff and the energy is so great. People spur each other on and are really supportive – I’ve even seen people pick others up and carry them while running just to make sure no one got left behind. It’s refreshing to see that level of team work and it’s fun to push yourself like that.

And I just read that Ruck Marches are the hottest fitness trend of 2015! Who knew?
TTLWH: What was your all time favorite race and why?

DA: That’s tough! I love them all for different reasons, but probably either Tough Mudder or the relay events I’ve done have been my favorites. I love pushing myself in non-traditional ways so low crawling under barbed wire, climbing walls, and carrying logs while jogging around farmland in Mudder was fun. And the relays – with all the living in vans and no sleep and being part of a team like that – nothing else really compares to those experiences.

TTLWH: What about all women’s events? What do you think about those? 

DA: I ran the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in DC last year and I loved it! Granted, they do allow men to run that too, but I kind of like the idea of having all women around you in a race. It’s that “Go, Girl Power!” sentiment. Women can be hard on ourselves and on each other so it’s nice to be in something where there’s this feeling that we’re in it together and we’re cheering each other on. I don’t want to do them all the time, but I like that they exist.

TTLWH: What is your weekly training like? How many days per week do you run? Cross train? What is your favorite backup plan for when you can’t run?

DA: Here’s where my former physical therapist and all the coaches out there are going to cringe. I’m very inconsistent. I know it’s bad, but some weeks my time and energy gets pulled elsewhere and fitness falls by the wayside a little. There was a period of time where I was consistently running five miles a day, five days a week, but that’s no longer the case. Lately, I’m doing well if I run three days a week, 2-3 miles at a time.

I tend to run more than anything because it doesn’t require much: no planning, no schedules, no car, no equipment – just throw clothes on and walk out the door when the motivation hits me. But I do love classes at the gym (spinning, boot camps, Pilates reformer, Zumba – you name it) and I love being outside for anything (paddle boarding, hiking, tennis, etc.) But I don’t consistently do any one activity, it’s more when I’m in the mood or when friends are doing something. Gym classes are probably my number one backup plan if I can’t run.

TTLWH: Treadmill. Yes or no?

DA: Normally, I’m a No. I probably hadn’t been on one in a year until last week when it was so nasty and humid in D.C. that I just couldn’t make myself run outside so I gave into the ‘mill. I do like that I can see my speed on them, but overall I just love being outside so much better. I feel more free, I have things to look at which makes the time go by faster, and I don’t sound as much like an elephant when I run outside.

TTLWH: Finally, what one piece of advice (besides reading your hilarious and motivating book) would you give a non-runner who is thinking about taking up running?


DA: Start slower than you think, don’t give up in the first 10 minutes -it gets better after that- and pay attention to how you feel after you run. That awesome post-run feeling of accomplishment never goes away and it only gets better the longer you run and the more races you do. (That was more than one piece of advice but I just can’t help myself- I really want people to try running!)

And that's advice we can take to the starting line! Be sure to check out her book. 

Dana L Ayers
photo: amazon.com

Do you ruck? Know anyone who does? Did you know that ruck is also a rugby term? When they call out "ruck over" it means for the tackled ball carrier to get the ball to one of his players. The things I learn...

Be sure to check out the book review tomorrow and link up your review! And if you don't have a blog, please share your review in the comments! Let's get the word out and help a fellow blogger promote her book! Sharing is caring....


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37 comments :

  1. I honestly got really confused by "ruck" because I know it as a rugby term! This interview totally makes me want to read the book!

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    1. The book is hilarious. I'm posting my review tomorrow.

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    2. Haha, now I know that rucking means other things too! (Just like now I know that I apparently need to watch "A Christmas Story" to understand why I saw pink bunnies in the Jingle All the Way 8k I wrote about...haha)

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    3. I can't believe you've never seen it! It's not like you have a choice on Christmas Day since TBS shows it for 24 hours!

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  2. I downloaded the book and can't wait to read it.

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  3. I used to do ruck marches in the Army. Our packs were 35 pounds. It did not bother me at all, I would totally do a ruck adventure. This time I would put so much fun stuff in my ruck. Like candy, magazines, cool clothes, etc. Everything would be super colorful and not that ugly OD green. Thanks for a great review.
    bakingrunner.blogspot.com

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    1. I only knew about rucking from rugby, so this was a new term for me. I learn so much from blogging.

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    2. Love it! I'm a reservist in the Navy and I don't think the Navy ever rucks, haha. But I've loved these GoRuck events!

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  4. Cool! She's from DC!! I had no idea. I haven't read the book but sounds like a good one! I'll have to check it out!

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    1. She should be part of your DC bloggers group! :)

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    2. Yes! I'd love to connect, Sue!

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  5. I hadnt even heard of this book - sounds right up my ally!

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  6. This is the first time I've heard of this book! I'll be adding it to my list of reads!

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    1. This is a good book and you can download it from Amazon for 2.99 US.

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  7. Sounds like a good read. Now where's that run/kayak race?? Independence Grove used to have a Kayak/Bike/Run race and as soon as I got my kayak it was cancelled.

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    1. We'll have to find one for next year! There's a kayak marathon on the DesPlaines river in the spring!

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  8. Looks like an awesome read! I can't wait to check it out!

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  9. Sounds like a great read! I'll have to look into her book. Thanks for sharing!

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  10. Loved the interview! Dana has a great sense of humor, I'd love to learn more about her story.

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  11. Great interview! She definitely makes you want to pick up the book and read it! Looks like a good one!

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  12. This sounds like an awesome book! I need to get my hands on a copy. And I have definitely never "rucked", but it looks like it would be fun!

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    1. I'm surprised this book hasn't caught on--it's really funny and probably one of the best "running" books I've read!

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  13. Awesome read. I need to put this on my "To read" list which seems to be never ending.

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  14. Sounds like a good read. Great interview!

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  15. Great interview! My husband played Varsity Rugby and I was an Athletic Therapist for the Ajax Wanderers Rugby Club in my younger years so I'm very familiar with Rugby terminology (and Beer-ups) :)

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    1. I'm always happy to learn about other people who play rugby!

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  16. So fun doing this interview -- thank you so much again, Wendy! And now I know that rucking is also a rugby term! Bonus! haha

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    1. Thank you so much for playing along! Yep, when I first heard the team shouting "Ruck Over" I did a double take. Sounded obscene...until I found out what it meant...

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