It’s been a little while since I interviewed someone for my Runners Inspiring Runners series, but this week, I will be posting an interview every day through Friday. Today, I’d like to introduce you to Chandra Sullivan. I saw her before and after picture online and read about her recent accomplishments and immediately thought about Runners Inspiring Runners. I just had to interview her!
SWIR: When did you decide to make healthy changes in your lifestyle?
Chandra: February 2010. After trying for a baby with my husband and miscarrying twice, and at the time having a 40-hour-a-week sit-down job and being driven crazy by my rolls of back fat touching each other, I’d had enough. I decided I wanted to get healthy, slim down and be a fit, healthy, active mother, wife and human being.
SWIR. When did you start running and why? Did someone or something inspire you, if so what or who?
Chandra: I started running in February 2010, using a Couch to 5K (C25K) app on my then-iPod Touch. My husband was a big inspiration for my start in running. He related stories of his cross country days and we occasionally run together, when we are able. He encourages me, helps keep me accountable and truly cares about my aims and goals.
SWIR. Tell me about your first race. How did you feel after you crossed the finish line?
Chandra: My first race was a local 4 miler (Fort4Fitness, Fort Wayne, IN) in September 2010. I ran it solo and didn’t stop once to walk. After I crossed the finish line, I saw my husband and mom waiting for me with huge beaming smiles, and I felt invincible! I had just accomplished something that just a few months prior I would never have even thought possible. I was hooked!
SWIR. Is there a particular distance that you are aiming for or have you found your favorite distance and are sticking do it?
Chandra: I’m becoming a fan of long distance running. I ran my first half marathon in September (2013), and am planning for my first full marathon in November 2014. Who knows where I’ll go from there!
SWIR. Do you cross train? If so, what else do you do and how often? Do you switch it up if you’re training for a specific race?
Chandra: I do cross train. My other loves are kickboxing and yoga. I love yoga for the flexibility and really feel it improves my run training. Since I don’t have a gym membership, I’ve relied on a lot of workout DVDs. Jillian Michaels and Bob Harper are two of my favorites. Currently, I’m doing my very first round of P90X, mixed in with a half marathon training plan to keep up on training through the winter.
SWIR. What about nutrition? Did that change when you started running?
Chandra: Oh yes! I started a full-on overhaul all at the same time in February 2010. I cleaned up my eating habits one-by-one. I signed up on www.myfitnesspal.com and began logging my calorie intake and exercise calories burned. It helped make me very aware of what I was eating, how much, and an avid nutrition label reader. I learned how to eat healthier, smarter, better.
SWIR. What’s the most challenging part of running?
Chandra: The mental aspect, staying disciplined. I set a plan but it’s up to me to stick to it, even on those days I’d rather not. I said recently to a friend that self-discipline is just like a muscle, a mental muscle, that has to be exercised regularly to be strengthened.
SWIR. How do you get through the really tough runs when you can’t find your motivation or your body just isn’t cooperating?
Chandra: I think of those who CAN’T run. I think about WHY I’m doing this in the first place. I slow down and go at my body’s pace, tune in to my music, dig deep and pull through as best I can. Throughout the years I’ve learned to not be so harsh or judgmental toward myself when I’m having an “off” day.
SWIR. Do you train with groups or by yourself?
Chandra: I mostly train solo. Occasionally my husband and I or my good friend, who is also a runner, and I will run together, and this past year, my mom just started running and I ran her first 5k right alongside her.
SWIR. Have you ever bonked during a race or a training run? If so, how did you get through it?
Chandra: OK, to be honest, I had to look up the term “bonking during running” to be able to answer this one. Thanks for the assistance, Google! Now that I’m better informed, I can say that yes, I believe I did kind of bonk during one race. Fort4Fitness, my third year, September 2012. I’d just had a baby in February 2012 (Yes! After losing 50lbs I got pregnant and carried to term!!) So, training was rather hit-or-miss that entire summer. Around Mile 3, I came to a dead stop. My body wouldn’t carry on and I experienced dry heaves. It was pretty terrible, but there was a pair of really nice race volunteers who made sure I got some water & Gatorade, stayed with me until I recovered, then I soldiered on toward the finish line.
SWIR. What nutrition do you use during your runs?
Chandra: I hydrate well before running. Other than that, I haven’t really gotten into the whole gel or chews or energy things during a run. Even through my first half marathon, I stuck with the water & Gatorade provided (alternating them every other station). Oh, and the beer shot at Mile 12! I suspect that I may have to alter this current method and do a little research on a plan for nutrition during a full marathon.
SWIR. What’s your typical pre-race meal?
Chandra: I usually do the carb-loading the night before. My husband often spoils me by making spaghetti with homemade noodles.
SWIR. What’s your favorite post-race meal?
Chandra: Immediately post race, usually a banana or something light. Later in the day, a big ol’ meal because I’m super hungry. An omelet, breakfast for dinner, something along those lines. 🙂
SWIR. Do you listen to music when you run? If so, what’s your go to song or songs?
Chandra: I do! Currently, my run playlist includes songs by Puscifer, Tool, Cynic, AWOLNATION, August Burns Red, and UKF Dubstep 2012.
SWIR. What is your most favorite piece of running gear?
Chandra: My shoes. I’m on my third pair of Asics. Next favorites would be my phone, armband and ear buds. 🙂
SWIR. How has running changed your life?
Chandra: It has made me much more confident in other areas of my life. If I can achieve and accomplish such laser-like focus in achieving my running, fitness and workout goals, then I can do the same with business, home, family, relationship and other goals, too. In May 2011, I started a Facebook page to “pay it forward”. I called it Motivation. (www.facebook.com/SparkYourMotivation) and love connecting with and helping to inspire and motivate others! I also, more recently, started a running-related Facebook page (www.facebook.com/RunningIsMyZen). My good friend has a health and fitness podcast that I co-host with her (www.facebook.com/healthy.everyday.lifestyle.podcast). I LOVE sharing my story and experiences with others!
SWIR. What advice would you give to a first time runner?
Chandra: Pace yourself. Expect it to be difficult at times and really amazing at other times; just know that you are strong enough to overcome any physical discomfort or mental blocks along the way. You will have great runs and you will have really crappy runs. Don’t be so hard on yourself but never give up!
SWIR. What’s the funniest thing that has ever happened to you during a run?
Chandra: In my really early running days, for some reason I thought it would be a good idea to run with a pair of those “slip on” sneakers without a back to them. It wasn’t funny at the time, as I went out on my run and came back thoroughly frustrated that they kept slipping off and I didn’t get my run in after all. Looking back now, it is pretty darn humorous. Rookie mistakes! I’ve come a long way…
SWIR. What did you accomplish that you thought was never possible?
Chandra: Many, many things. My first big milestone was running for 20 minutes straight. I thought I was dying toward the end of it but I pushed through and I did it. My first big race, 4 miles. My first 11 minute mile. My first 10 minute mile. Now I hit under-10-minute miles consistently. Achieving 7, 8, 9 and 10 mile training runs. My first half marathon. “Proper” push ups. Holding plank position for 2 whole minutes. Tree pose. Other yoga balance poses. And so on. That’s what it’s all about for me at present, setting goals for myself that at first seem nearly impossible and working toward achieving them. Next stop, full marathon!
SWIR. If there came a day when you couldn’t run anymore, what would you do?
Chandra: I would most definitely need to find myself some form of physical activity that would take running’s place. Running and working out in general are my stress relief. I would cheer on other runners and perhaps coach in some capacity. Maybe write a book reminiscing about my running days. 🙂
SWIR. If there was one thing that you would want the world to know about you, what would that be?
Chandra: I go my own way. I do my own thing. I live and let live. I’m adventurous and rebellious. Oh, and as a profession, I’m an independent virtual assistant and social media manager (www.sparkyourmotivation.com). And I LOVE my life. ———- (OK so that is technically more than one thing.. hope that is ok, lol)
I’d like to thank Chandra for spending the time with me and allowing us to get to know her. Please don’t forget to visit her Facebook pages to continue follow her on her journey and find inspiration!
I’d like to thank Chandra for taking the time for this interview and wish her continued success in her healthy living lifestyle.
Also, if you enjoyed this interview or think that someone else would be inspired by it, please feel free to share it.