Pain Tunnel

A year ago, in the hills of upstate New York, I was in a big van, talking to my new best friend Jennifer, who I just met for the first time in real life. We bounced and bopped around to all the 80’s music that was coming out of the radio. We had 2 hours to talk before we got to our destination and us shared stories about parenting, running, and what’s it’s like to be a bishop for an episcopal church. She was kind of expert on this since she was one, and I was not. We got back on the subject of running and training, and she was telling a story of one her triathlons and how the pain tunnel she was in was unrelenting. 
I casually asked her what a pain tunnel was like I knew what it was, but wanted to see if she knew. (I had no idea what she was talking about)

“You never heard of the pain tunnel?” 
“Well, no, I mean, no…no I haven’t.”
“It’s the hard part of the event, where you know, it gets hard.”

Oh, that pain tunnel. Yes, yes, I know that. I had never heard of it called that, and I actually thought it happened just to me. It’s the part of the race/run/event where I remember all the times I didn’t train and now regret. It’s about the time I am good at hating myself and cursing past Beth for what current Beth is going through. 

But when I had this vocabulary in my head, it all made sense, and maybe I should start thinking of ways to help me through these times besides cussing at my ghost of Christmas past. Especially when I do hard things, obstacles come up and need to be looked at, figured out so I can move past them. And of course, the parallels to everyday life are limitless. This is why I love running because of these life lessons. Here are some tips to help me get thought pain tunnels of running and life. 

Ask! Ask for help. Look up to see if someone who has been in the same boat can help you out.

Question: We all tell ourselves stories, and when the shit hits the fan and those stories are usually riding the same fan airflow. Some stories I have told myself before, and sometimes I still do are: 
 *I am too tired. *I didn’t train enough. *I always quit when it gets hard. *I hate running and everyone who runs. 
This is just your brain trying to win, and these stories are not true. 

Take A Break! Not stop altogether, but just take a moment so you can calm down, and see the problem from a different angle. Or maybe just check your body to make sure you have what you need. Maybe you need a drink of water, a walk break, or something to eat. Maybe all of the above. When you are tired and depleted, your brain will always win and then you turn into a toddler who is 5 days past on his nap and is on his 5th tantrum. I feel you, buddy. You’ll be ok. 

Self Fake News

 I put up a new episode of Why We Run. This one is called The Late Bloomers Run Club, where I talk to 3 runners who didn’t start running till the halfway mark of life, then went on to do incredible things. 
  I started to think of when I started running and why it took me so long to get to my first 3 miles. (It took me a year to do my first 5k)
I narrowed it down to three different stories I told myself that I needed to question, put them under a microscope to see if they were true, and then discard them as a piece of self fake news. 
Self Fake News #1: I am broken. When I was 14, my boyfriend at the time told me I needed to take track, cause I was getting fat. So I did. (this was before I knew where to tell jerks where to stick it.) My knees hurt like crazy and when I went to the doctor and he said that my knee caps were tilted, and I probably shouldn’t run anymore. So, I stopped, and felt like I was broken, and fat. I learned later that I wasn’t broken, and I was probably going through a growth spurt, and I was fine. I believed that doctor and boyfriend for years. I am glad I dumped them both. 
Self Fake News #2: I won’t fit in.  When I was in my 20’s, I didn’t know anyone who ran, and it wasn’t something my friends did. No one in my family did either, and I was so hesitant to start running out of fear of not fitting in. Which in hindsight is dumb, but it was that feeling of separating myself was a huge subconscious that it was a huge hurdle to get over. 
Self Fake News #3Quitting is easier.  Even before started running, I wanted to do a marathon. I am not sure where I came up with that particular goal, but it seemed like something I NEEDED to do. What drove me was wanting to know the feeling of accomplishing something feels like. I honestly had no idea how that felt. But when I got close to the end of my training, my head kicked in and was like, “ok, this is hard, this is the part when you quit.” That feeling I knew very well. But something in me wanted to taste of that finishing, and I did. But if I didn’t question that knee jerk reaction, I would not be the marathoner I am, and my life would be very different. 

So, I invite you to be curious about what your head is telling you and investigate the patterns that keep popping up for you when you are trying to reach your goal. Or maybe your story isn’t even allowing you to set goals. Everyone has these “fake news stories” in their head and it is important not to just take it for the gospel, but open them up and take a look at if they are really true. Here are a few that I hear in my head, and from my runners: 
I don’t have a runner’s body
I am too tired. 
I don’t have time.
I don’t know how to _______. 
I don’t have enough money. 

These are just a few. If you have one that I don’t have that you have told yourself, I would love to hear it.

Go get it, tiger! 
Coach Beth

Fun With Fear

*Pre-note. I am afraid of everything. I try to get past all the fear via running, and that helps push me past a few of my 10,000 fears. I have learned more about getting over my fear by trail running than anything else. OK, read on. *
A few years ago, my legs and I were flying along an amazing trail next to the Deschutes River, and we were all having a blast! I felt like a 10-year-old on a roller coaster. My whole body was just giddy and I felt completely alive. Then, all of a sudden, the party stopped and a little weird feeling knocked on the door like a cop breaking up a kegger on prom night. Dammit! I was just falling in love with this moment and then YOU show up. Fear, you see, was pointing out to me that I was maybe going a wee bit too fast, and that those rocks that I was effortlessly navigating not two minutes before, were all aiming for me now; all poised to pull me down and mess up my face. So, what did I do? I slowed down and my feet started to shuffle. Then a pencil size tree root found my toe, pulled my foot under my body, and I went like in all slow-motion action. Of course, it didn’t hurt…I even started laughing because it was so transparent. If you are having fun and totally at the moment, fear is going to whisper something sweet and scary to you and it will push you down if you let it drive your mind.

A wise man once told me, “tramps like us, baby we were born to run.” Well, sorry Boss, but some of us were not born to run. I had to learn how to do it over a long and agonizing year of cussing, crying, and a few tantrums on my way to my first 5k. It took me so long because I was scared. I was scared I was going to die, or that I looked dumb. I worried that if I was a runner, I wouldn’t be cool anymore (I was never cool by the way). Or I freaked out that I would have to start actually taking care of my body and not feed it garbage wrapped in beer cans anymore. I eventually got over it, and upon doing this and talking to people, I realized that the biggest hurdle inhibiting people from running was that they were afraid. Yep, our buddy and sometimes a jerk, fear. I kept hearing from people that they were afraid of being chased, afraid of feeling alone and vulnerable, and my favorite (because I remember this very well), looking weird and getting made fun of. It all comes down to fight or flight. And when we first start running as adults, these fears turn our lizard brains on and we feel like, well… We are going to die. But, as you all know, we aren’t going to die from running. Not today at least.

So, slingshot forward to many years of running dozens of full and half marathons, and now I coach people on running their first 5k’s and other races to come. This is great, but I get bored with road running. So, I got a coach and started trail running. Day one, up up up we went, and that familiar little panicky fear friend showed up yelling really loudly in my head. But this time it had a whole new tactic. “You are in the woods? You’re going way too slow, you are going to get left behind. I do believe that was bear scat you just stepped over. Oh my God! You are going to fall and hurt yourself!” It was all of those things at the same time, and loud. I thanked that choir of quitters for sharing and went on my lovely run. And I am so happy I stuck to it. Trail running brings my heart and soul together and fills up every empty bucket I have in my body. It also reminds me that fear will always be with you, it’s just how you use it. Jess Mullen, one of my coach friends who runs 100 milers for funsies, told me this, “I love fear. It drives me and let’s me know I’m on the right path. If I’m not facing some level of fear, I’m not living life as richly as I could.” I so love this, and I feel it changes the paradigm of fear to fuel for the fire. So, with all my grand wisdom of being a scared little newbie of a runner and getting over myself, and then starting trail running and being new at that, I have collected a trifecta of Go’s to get past fear and get your badass running on.

*Go Slow: Being out of the normal element of your go-to running track will elevate your nerves and get your heart rate going. So, when you start out, know this is going on, and be kind to yourself by slowing down your normal pace a bit. And with trail running, there are fun obstacles like mud, hidden rocks and tree roots that will jump out of taking you down.

*Go with a buddy who gets you going. Being out on a trail is a little daunting, and when the thought of, “who is going to call 911 when I fall off that cliff” creeps into your head, you will have another person there. It’s also nice to share the scenery and loveliness of it all.

*Go fall. Just do it. The anticipation of the fall is so much worse than the actual fall. Usually, the ground is soft, or muddy, and you’ll have the badass bruise for bragging rights.

Why Race?

Why Race?
Ladies and gentleman of the jury, I would like to defend the case of why runners should try on a race from time to time. I’m arguing on behalf of my past self, who was apprehensive on running a 5k when I started running. I was in the mindset that just the running to run was just fine. I had nothing to prove to anyone, therefore did not need to spend money to run the same route I did every other day. But you see my sweet jury, I was wrong, and I would like to educate you on why running races not only needed for runners, but is actually fun, and adds so much more to your passion and dare I say…to your life.  

Exhibit 1: Accountabilty
Let’s face it, races are not cheap, and are not getting cheaper. But if you need some motivation for a scary goal, I HIGHLY recommend throwing down part of a car payment on a race that makes you wanna barf a little. If it scares you, then you will train for it, and do everything to get to that start line and hopefully the finish line.

Exhibit 2: Bling
This is not my thing, but there are a lot of people who LOVE the pretty finisher medal at the end of a race. This also might start the collection of medals which is fun to hang up and compare to each other when you need a push of motivation. (Wait, maybe it IS my thing.) There is a special feeling of someone placing a big hunk of achievement around your neck after a long run. It feels pretty good. 

Exhibit 3: Measuring stick
I still get goose pimples when I see a big ol start line. Then there is a crowd of people, water stops and of course a glorious finish line that makes me kick ass. Running races does add an extra push to your pace. If you are motivated by going fast, this is the best way to show yourself of your potential and it’s a great marker of how far you have come. 

Exhibit 4: Destination/Vacation
Imagine a bunch of your friends, sharing a house in a lovely destination and spending the weekend together. Then imagine at the end of your weekend, you all take to the roads and explore your locale with a bunch of other people for 3-50 miles. On top of that, at the end of that run, you celebrate yourselves with cheers of something frosty, sweaty hugs and a heart full of memories. Sounds pretty wonderful huh. Well, it is, and this is one of my favorite reasons to run races; to surround yourself with a beautiful place, with lovely friends to top off your full heart. 

On your mark, Get Set. GO!
Coach Beth

p.s. here is an old blog of my favorite races. 
p.p.s. For a good racing time, check out Snohomish Running Company

Upcoming Stuff! 

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Goal: Failing

On an island off the coast of Europe, I was hunched over on a curb, crying. I had just got pulled off a course for a marathon and pocketed my very first DNF, Did Not Finish, and it broke my heart. I had really trained for this race and put in the work. It was an extremely challenging race, and at mile 9, I was already negotiating my exit plan. ‘Just make it to the next aid station, just make it to the next mile, just make it to the next volcano, just make it.’ But the ‘just make it to the finish’ wasn’t even on my mind. It took me 9 hours to complete 19 miles. Yep, that’s not a blazing 5-minute mile. I had not anticipated the continuous muddy and precarious stairs, (up and down 7,000 feet) my lack if technical trail knowledge and a surprise visit from the hormone fairy, which left me weeping and just a sad sack of a person.  So, at mile 19, I got a “ride of shame” to the finish and was done. At the finish line, I was trying my best to be curious with my new found heartbreak.

   “Why was I so upset?” “Why does this sting?” “What could I have done better?” 

 I realized it just wasn’t my day, that I really REALLY hate quitting and I sure love the feeling of crossing finish lines. So, was this a fail? Yes, but a good fail to find out what’s true, and what to do better next time and try to get over myself so I could celebrate my teammates who did amazing. Little pockets of knowledge in that little DNF. 
  Back to the Tuesday Tip is a review of why to have goals for any race, event or big deal thing you have to do. It helps to break it down to 3 different scenario’s. 
Pie in the Sky Goal: All the angles are with you with all the good mojo, the weather is perfect, and you knock it OUT OF THE PARK! This could look like a PR, placing, or a specific time goal that you are after. I like these goals to be specific so it takes out any kind of negotiation when things go bad. 
Attainable & Realistic Goal: This is the most logical outcome that you have trained for and you are pretty sure you can do it. It could also be a time goal or a heart rate you want to maintain that you have practiced before and are comfy with maintaining. 
Let’s Just Finish Upright Goal: This is the one that you pick when things go bad. Your stomach is screwed up from the Indian food you tried last night, and your cat threw up in your shoe, and you are wearing different shoes. Your baby kept you up all week, and your husband snored all night and you got no sleep. (All of the above has happened to me before marathons) And despite all of it,  you still show up and do your best, reset your goal to “Let’s Just Finish Upright” plan. It helps keep the mojo of racing still fun so you will stay motivated and not keep crying on the curb in another country.

Go Get It!
Coach Beth
Upcoming Stuff! NEW! Summer Half Marathon Training! Starts July 19th! Registration opens June 14th. Training for Bellingham Bay in September. Adventure Trail Retreat! Details up on this Friday! Summer Couch to 5k is starting next month!! Special price for returners! Sign Up Here!

How to do Hard Things

(My personal process)

I am on a roll of doing hard things. I mean, the last few months, I have been hyperventilating, crying, cussing and smiling like a goon. Because I have training for an epic run, played an instrument on stage, sent out pitches to national magazines and reached out to my heroes for interviews for my podcast. Oh, and started a podcast.

It’s been scary, but so worth it. The funny part for me is the scary parts are so small, like asking for help, or the fear of looking like an idiot. It’s not the fear of dying or anything life-threatening. So, while I am on this wave of fun, I thought that I would jot down some advice while I am all high and mighty…just kidding, I am still a scared little bunny.  

Why do things that are hard? I mean, really? Why? Well, for one thing, it gets results. Good or bad, it definitely moves the needle over from the endless loop that life can sometimes fall into. So, if you are tired of going around and around, you might need to do a hard thing to jump the rut and start another song. 
*Also, I have found if I don’t do something hard, life will throw me something rough, and I’d much rather pick my own medicine. 
What: This is the part where I can get stuck. Identifying the thing that keeps tripping me up, and that I cannot seem to achieve. It doesn’t have to be climbing mountains or running a marathon. It can be something simple like standing up for myself, asking for forgiveness, having a hard conversation, getting support, or start to thinking differently. It’s something that I don’t normally do, and can be very simple. 
When: My test is when I should start dipping my feet in the pool of discomfort is when my vices take over and want to continually comfort myself. I’ll eat too much, run too much, do all the things too much. It’s then when I pause and realize that I need to face something that’s brewing and get over myself and jump. 

But how?
1. Look Up. “When setting out on a journey, do not seek advice from those who have never left home”- Rumi.
I have 4-5 people I look to who are always doing hard things and now the drill. I go to them to freak out, cry and hold me accountable. If you go to people aren’t challenging themselves, they won’t be helpful when things get tough. 
2. Keep a journal. Writing things down when things get rocky is super helpful to see patterns, truths, and mental blocks. (Also, for me, keeping a journal was a HUGE hard thing I did)
3. Self-talk (mantra). Find a phrase that will help balance out the negative chatter in your head. Mine is “You’ll be fine.”  
4. Always Ask. What’s the worst that can happen? I always go back to this question when my heart starts racing, and I start to spiral. ‘Will I fail? Get laughed at? Die? Will people not like me anymore?’
I usually question each one and keep going forward, unless death is an option. Or caves, I hate caves.

If you want to ask me a question or want to write down something scary you want to do, I invite you to e-mail me here.

Go forth!


I want to talk about your butt.
Caboose, derrière, hiney, rear end, biscuits, peach, glutes, patootie, bum, fanny, badonkadonk.

You may not know it, but your butt is very important to running. Lack of strong butt muscles, or as your physical therapist calls it, “lazy glutes” can cause all kinds of issues from shin splints, hip injuries to knee pain. Those glutes are the glue, and having strong glutes will keep your running body in good shape, and away from that jerk who just called your ass lazy. 

Here’s the problem: Fitting in another set of exercises on top of your busy day. Of course, I have your answer right here! If you can attach these booty exercises to all the things you are already doing in your day, your butt will get stronger and make your body happier. And you’ll look even better in those jeans. 

Stop Light Glute Fires:
When you are at a red light, fire your left glute, then your right glute, back and forth till the light turns green. Bonus: It’s safer than reaching for your phone. 

In Bed Leg Bridge:
Done in bed. Leg bridge is when you lay on your back, bend your knees, and keep your feet on the bed… Lift up your butt up in the air, and keep it there for 2 minutes. Make sure you tighten those glute muscles the whole time. Do it before you go to bed, cause hopefully, you do that every day.  

Brushing You Teeth Leg Lifts: 
Standing at the counter, while your toothbrush is doing its thing, raise and lower your left leg for 1 minute. Then change legs for the next minute like this. Bonus points for doing these in the morning and evening. 

Running Up That Hill:
Do your booty some good, plus get some extra cardio love by running up hills. You have to use your butt to get up hills. And going downhill works your quads which supports your knees. And going downhill makes you feel like this.

 Coach Beth

Hold My Cookies

 I went to a women’s only Rain City Rock Camp this weekend. Basically, they take women who never played an instrument, (or maybe new to it) and stick them with other new people, put them into a band. We had 3 days to learn an instrument, write a song, learn the song, and play it in front of a packed house. No big deal. It was awesome. 

In the middle of band practice on Sunday, there was this one part that wasn’t jelling for me, but everyone else had got it. I needed a little more time with it, but I didn’t want to hold people back. I said,
“I just need to get that down better.” 

“Oh, sure, we’ll loop around the same part while you get it. It’s called ‘holding the cookie‘. We’ll hold your cookie”

They did, and I did, and I got back the cookie. 

What a great metaphor for doing hard things in life. Do it with cool people who support you while you figure your shit out. I feel like our runners hold each other up, and hold the cookies.
Personally, I have a hard time asking for help, cause I feel like I have a whole cookie jar that needs to be held. But I have learned, people are usually happy to help, and support me and each other. I am so grateful for those people. 

5 Ways To Be A Good Cookie Holder. 
Congratulate people on their success: Cheer, shout, make a freaking big deal about big accomplishments. Remember when you did something that was hard, and cheer from that place. 

Show Up! Show up when you say you’ll be there. It’s that easy. 

High 5’s: Simple, easy, fast, and makes people feel great. 

Bring extra goodies: Great for on the run or afterward. If you see someone struggling, offer them a snack or water. It makes a difference, and you’ll have a happier running buddy. 

Know when to give the cookie back: Set boundaries if you are a person who holds all the cookies. Find out how many cookies you can hold, and for how long. Find language that lets you relinquish your load, and gracefully send the cookie jar back to the rightful owner. (If you are new or curious about setting boundaries, please check out my go-to Brene Brown. )

Thanks for holding my cookies!
 Coach Beth

Vocab Lesson:

Tuesday Tip! 
Running Vocab!

In the beginning, there was just running. It was running away from something, like from a saber tooth tiger, or a tsunami. Or chasing after something, like dinner that had four legs. And that was pretty much the end it. Running; going away or towards something using your legs, and moving at a fast speed. Fast forward on your 8 track player to the 70’s when jogging became a thing, (or asRon Burgandy calls it, “yogging”) and that just meant, running, but not all out, trying not to die, pace. 

After that, it just got all kinds of gummed up with descriptions and vocabulary to basically describe the same thing we are all doing, running from something scary, or something that we want. 

So, I have devised a tongue in cheek vocab list for running vernacular. Enjoy!

Race Pace: The goal pace you want to run for the next race you are entered in that you have a time goal for. But if your goal is to finish upright, then your race pace is not falling down. 
Fartleks: It’s a Swedish word for meatball.  No wait, that’s not right. I just am craving meatballs right now. It means speed play in Sweedish and makes me giggle when I say it. Any kind of fast/slow/fast interval work out can be a Fartleck. 
Tempo pace: A faster pace that is continued over a longer period of time, like 3-8 miles. It’s can be a race pace, but not sprinting. 
Sprint: This is an anaerobic pace that you only sustain for a short period of time. It’s an all out, run as fast as you can at 100% effort. Also might wanna barf by the end. 
Marathon: 26.2
Half marathon: 26.2 divided by 2. 
10k: 6.2 miles
5k: 6.2 miles divided by 2.
Ultra: Don’t worry about it. 
Endorphins: What to chase after, and sometimes catch. 
Runners trot: You ate something bad, and need to find a bathroom 5 minutes ago, and you can’t quite run. 
Junk miles: After eating junk food, you run junk miles, unless you get the runners trots. 
Chafing: When your inner thighs love each other very much and want to rub on each other for miles and miles, they will leave a mark that makes you scream when you get in the shower. 

The gravity of pain.

I will always tell you my story, I will tell it all day long, that is if you’re ready for it. If are willing to listen, and hold the story in your soul, and be available to open your heart for it to go in and steep there. I will do that with you. I can do that because I have heard many other stories from people who did not expect to share their stories, but they do. A kind of river pours out that sometimes just happens when you run with someone. It happens when the time is right, and there is no eye contact, the breathing is heavy and the pounding pushes up the weight from the chest to the windpipes and pours out the mouth. I have heard everything, and I can’t imagine something I could be told at this point that would be shocking. Yet, with all of this, I am not weathered or hardened, but the opposite. I feel with all these songs that have set into my ears, I have been beautifully cracked open to the agony of peoples lives and really be able to see them on a very real level. It’s a gift, and I don’t take it lightly. It also gives me grace for myself to know that it’s hard for everyone and that your hard, and just as valid and painful as hers, his and mine. We all are hurting on some level and I feel so heavy and light at the same time with the gravity of living on this earth.