Member Spotlight with Sarah D.

Running Her Race

Over the past decade, Sarah has run twenty half marathons and twelve full marathons. A slow pace run for Sarah is an 8:30 pace. In 2016 she ran a sub three-hour marathon when she crossed the Mohawk Hudson River Marathon finish line at 2:53:50. “I worked for a long time trying to break three hours in a marathon,” Sarah said. 

For decades, Sarah’s main form of training for a race day was running. Her weekly average was fifty miles per week. She prioritized training alongside all the other stuff of life, which is a balancing act for anyone, but especially Sarah who is a practicing lawyer. Mile after mile her mind and body pushed further toward her goals. Until, eventually, Sarah’s body started to feel the negative pressure of high mileage running without strength training and she ran herself into an injury cycle. 

Training with Purpose

Almost one year to the day of her sub three-hour marathon finish, Sarah crossed the finish line at an indoor race. She said that was when her chronic injury started. Eventually the external stress of just running caught up with her. Sarah hit pause on her next level goals, then cut back on her high mileage running. “2017, 2018 and 2019 were all filled with injuries,” Sarah said. 

Sarah developed a chronic injury that may or may not go away. “I get pain up and down my left hamstring and glute muscles,” said Sarah, which has been the biggest issue. The issue may reside in an imbalance of muscle or her form or the way her left foot strikes the ground. Regardless of the cause, one thing helped Sarah during a season of repeat injuries: strength training at OPEX Fitness Lancaster. 

A running friend recommended OPEX Lancaster Fitness, because balancing strength training and running while managing her injuries might be beneficial. Sarah walked toward the recommendation and began sharing her running journey and future athletic goals with Coach Jeremiah Williams. Sarah began, like all OPEX Fitness members, a consultation with a coach to talk through physical, lifestyle, and nutritional goals. Coach Jeremiah, and the team of coaches view each OPEX member as an individual then begins a holistic coaching approach. 

For Sarah, her injuries were her motivation to begin working out at OPEX. Once she began her monthly consultations and daily individually programmed workouts, she began realizing running again was a possibility. That is because Coach Jeremiah and Sarah would talk about more than running. There were the basic lifestyle guidelines: rest, hydration, and food hygiene combined with the injury specific strength training, sprinkling in road runs and in-gym rowing along with other cardio. It is a mind and body approach because Sarah is more than just a runner. 

Collaboration and Consistency

Slowly, with intention and consistency, Sarah trained her way to the starting line of her first post-injury marathon. In December of 2021, four years after her break from competing and one year after joining OPEX Fitness Lancaster, Sarah crossed the finish line with her second sub three-hour time, when she crossed the finish line at the California International Marathon with a time of 2:56:53. 

Looking back on her experience, Sarah said she learned gym work is a priority. If there is a week when her schedule was full, and she needed to choose between the gym or a run, she prioritized the gym. That is a major behavior switch from 2019. Back then Sarah said she would have chosen more mileage over gym time. She proved that achieving goals rest in between the moments when choices are made. 

Sarah found value in consistency and community during a season in her running career when her body and mind needed it most. She values the collaborative approach provided by Coach Jeremiah and the team of coaches at OPEX Fitness Lancaster. It is a uniquely different gym experience, Sarah said. 

Sarah has races on her calendar for 2022, and she knows just running hard towards the starting line is not her mode of operation anymore. Running smart, with intentions to run for years into the future, is how she is pursuing her passion for racing.

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