Pittsburgh Marathon Runner Profile: Jen C.

This Pittsburgh Marathon Runner profile features Jen C., who lives in Pittsburgh. She is training for the full marathon using the FIRST method featured in the Run Less, Run Faster book.
Jen after the Columbus Marathon.
Note: Cute race outfit!

1. How long have you been running and how did you start?
I have been running for about 3 years. I got into running when my youngest son turned 1, and I wanted to get back into shape. My husband and I agreed to train for a 5k…but for me that quickly turned into a 10k and then my first half marathon within the same year.

2. You many marathons have you done?

2. Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco in October 2013, and Columbus Marathon in October 2014.
Jen after the Nike Women's Marathon in 2013

3. Are you trying for a specific goal for the marathon?
I hope to enjoy the run, finish strong, and if all goes well, slightly beat my time from Columbus.
4. Why did you decide on using the Run Less, Run Faster (RLRF) method for Columbus? I assume it worked well for you if you're using it again?
I used a Higdon plan for my first marathon, but with the high number of running days per week I didn’t feel like I had enough recovery time between runs and also didn’t do enough cross training. At the end I was so tired, and felt that overall that I had lost strength and fitness. RLRF was the answer to those problems for me. Runs are only 3 days a week so I feel like I have enough recovery time in between. Plus the plan requires cross training, so I’m keeping up my upper body strength, core strength and flexibility.

5. What types of runners do you think would benefit from the RLRF approach (for example, experienced runners, those prone to injury, etc.) and why?
I think for runners who are either prone to injury or who need more recovery time between runs, RLRF is a good option since there are only 3 run days a week and the cross training days help you keep up your fitness while taking a break from the running motion. I think it’s also a good option for any runner who likes some variety in their workouts. I know there are plenty of runners out there who love running 5 days a week and wouldn’t have it any other way. But for runners who want some diversity, RLRF would be worth a look.

6. I read the RLRF book and was intimidated by how intense the workouts were. Is hitting the prescribed paces as difficult as it sounds in the book?
Yes. If you’re honest about your fastest 5k time, the target paces will be challenging. For sure, the weekday runs are intense and if you are following the plan you are doing a tough track workout on Tuesdays and a strenuous tempo run on Thursdays. The upside is that you are faster than you think and fitter than you give yourself credit for; this plan pushed me and made me realize that I was capable of much more than I thought. Plus, the reward is cutting out junk miles, getting plenty of recovery time, and when you actually complete one of the prescribed runs you feel amazing!


I love her response to #6. When I read the RLRF book, I doubted that I could do the plan because it seemed so hard. Basically, my mind gave up before I even tried. When she committed to the plan, even though it was hard, Jen learned that she was faster, fitter, and capable of more than she thought. That's a great lesson for all of us. Thanks, and good luck, Jen!