Run Long Run Strong | Personalized Endurance Coaching

Chandra O - Run Long Run Strong

Chandra O.

Tell us a little about yourself (kids, married, job)?
I’m a Professor at UMass Dartmouth. My work mostly involves teaching doctoral students about research in STEM Education and doing research on how middle school teachers understand the math they teach and how to help them teach better. I’m married and have 2 cats and a parrot.

When and why did you start running?
I started running in my late 30s because I hated my gym and needed to do something to stay in shape while I waited for the membership to run out. I never thought I’d be a runner – it just happened because walking was too slow.

What keeps you motivated to train?
I like feeling strong and knowing that I could run a half marathon at any time. I also like to see what my body can do. Running has given me so much mentally and physically that I know I don’t want to let it go.

What are your hobbies outside of running?
In non-COVID times, I play double bass in our community symphony. I also do some cosplaying. During COVID, I’ve been making masks (almost 1700 to date). Some have gone to friends, but most have been donated to people in the community.

What is your favorite race?
I have a soft spot for the Disney Princess Half Marathon because it’s a girls’ weekend event with one of my best friends.

What is your bucket list event?
I’m not really sure. I expanded from road half marathons to trails during COVID, so I need to learn more about the great trail races and make a plan!

What is the funniest thing to happen to you during a race?
All kinds of things have happened to me during races that may be funny later but not in the moment. Like the race where they ran out of cups at the aid station and I had to drink water from my hands. In that same race, they changed the course signs somewhere around mile 9 (this was a half marathon). Before that, the signs were branded with the race company name, then suddenly they were just arrows on white backgrounds. Because I was not having a good race (started getting blisters at mile 3 – ouch!), and because there were a lot of turns near the end of the race, there weren’t always people in front of me where I could see them. I just kept following the arrows hoping that I was headed to the finish line and not some new coffee shop opening or car wash or something. I was SO happy to finish that race! Then, I found out that what they were feeding us at the finish line was tomato bisque or some kind of seafood chowder and red wine. Ick! I don’t know about funny, but it was definitely strange!

What is your proudest race moment?
When I finished the Rock’n’Roll Half Marathon in Washington, D. C. I had been going through a lot of stuff at work and finishing that race taught me so much about perseverance and determination and how much of each I have. It’s one of the only times I’ve cried at the finish line – and it was tears of joy for overcoming all of the stuff going on in my life to finish the race.

What is the one thing you wish you knew when you first started running?
I need to work with a running coach. Regular gyms don’t prepare you for running long distances (even “just” half marathons). You will end up broken and frustrated. I wish I had known what amazing things I was capable of that I am learning since I got a coach. By having a running coach, I can run further than I ever thought I would and hurt less than I used to on much shorter runs.

What is your best piece of advice for new runners?
Get good shoes. They will make all the difference! But, don’t get entangled in the drama around shoes. There are lots of perfectly good shoes.

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