PR Spotlight – Sarah (Run Far Girl)

Happy Friday!! Thank you so much for all of your comments and words of encouragement on yesterday’s post!  I’m getting ready to head up to West Point for the weekend – it’s my 10 year reunion and I will be spending quality time with some of my closest girl friends ! There is a dinner/social tonight followed by a parade, lunch in the mess hall, and football game on Saturday.  Sunday morning I will be racing the SI Half Marathon – I’ve done this race twice before and am excited to be running in my hometown again. I’m hoping for a PR, but it’s not the easiest course, so will be satisfied with a steady effort and strong finish!

Lots of racing going on this weekend – including my triathlon coach, Marni and running coach, Katie who will be tackling Kona (the race I discussed yesterday) and the Hartford Marathon, respectfully.  Are you racing this weekend??

Marni and Katie

Marni and Katie


I am excited to share my good friend, Sarah’s, running story with you. We became acquainted through twitter/blogs a couple of years ago and became really close last year. We were due on the same day with our second baby and shared pregnancy, postpartum, and running stories. She has always been a speedy runner, but has begun crushing her previous PRs the last several months due to some changes in her training approach. Read below to find out how! =)

Name: Sarah
Age: 31
Hometown: Dover, NH
Blog: RunFarGirl
Twitter: @runfargirl

The Canney Family

The Canney Family

How long have you been running?  On and off since 2002 when I trained for my first marathon. I stopped racing and running for three years from 2007 to 2010. And more seriously since 2011

Why did you start running? I wanted to run a marathon. It was a “bucket list” thing and it stuck. I loved it. I’d always been athletic in high school, I played basketball and was competitive in AAU so the running was a new outlet for the competitive side. Plus I loved the solitude and peace of long runs. Running became a place where I went to think and pray and just be.

Favorite race distance/why? It’s kind of a toss up between the 5K and the half marathon. I love the short, hard effort of the 5K but it can be brutal in that last mile if you’re going all out. I also love the half marathon because it’s long enough to feel like you’ve accomplished something, but the training is really manageable in terms of time commitment. I race these distances the most, so I feel confident in my pacing during these races…which is probably why I like them.

10k - Sep 2013

10k – Sep 2013

5k:20:22 (September 2013)
10k: 43:35 (in this weeks tempo run); 44:20 (September 2013)
Half:1:45 (May 2011)
Marathon:3:48 (October 2011)

Spring 5k Time:  22:25 – April 8th, 2013
Fall 5k Time: 20:22 – September 2nd, 2013

5k - Fall 2013

5k – Fall 2013

What did you do differently to drop so much time?  I’ve always hovered around the 22/23 minute mark. My PR prior to this year was 21:45, but that was on an uncertified course which I think was short by (.1). I’ve always ‘wanted’ to be more competitive at the 5K time but the difference this year is that I actually put in the work. I think my approach to training has been much more systematic: I have specific workouts that I run on specific days in specific pace ranges. Before I mostly just followed training plans I’d print up off the internet, which is a great place to start. But to get better you have to understand the purpose of speed work, tempo runs, intervals, recovery run etc and execute them. I spent a lot of time reading, I became a USA Track and Field Certified Coach (Level 1) and basically just learned as much as I could from other ‘veteran runners’ I know. My running club is a great resource to me.

What do you attribute most to you PR’ing:  I think it has been a combination of several different things: increased weekly mileage, building a strong speed base in short distances (200-600m) on the track, and including weekly tempo runs. I upped my weekly mileage and probably averaged from June through September about 45 miles a week, my spring/early summer training cycle peaked at 59 miles and this late summer/early fall training cycle will peak at 57. In previous years a high mileage week for me would have been 30 or 35. So I know the added time on the road has made a huge difference.The other big difference is that when I started track (I run workouts with my run club every Wednesday) in April we started with short distances, for the first two months we never did a repeat longer than 600m. At first I was a little worried because I am more accustomed to running half mile repeats, I mean that is what most marathoners and half marathoners ‘seem’ to run. But running those short repeats really built up my speed and made the tempo runs feel easier. Now we are into longer repeats mostly 800’s, 1K, 2K and mile repeats. That systematic building was what I needed and has really given me a strong kick. My tempo runs have also been significant in my improvement. I’ve never run tempo runs before and they have made a huge difference, not just in my physical fitness but also in my confidence. I used to go into races “hoping” to run certain paces and of course I’d fall apart and not be able to partly due to lack of training and partly due to lack of confidence. The tempo runs are a great place to practice running on the edge of  “uncomfortable” which is where you are during a race. Conquering that “place” in my training makes me feel much more assured come race day I know I can run fast and sustain it because I’ve done it before.

Track Practice

Track Practice

When is your next race/goal?  My next race is the CHaD Hero Half Marathon on October 20th. My goal is to run 1:35 (which would be a 10min PR from my previous half marathon PR time of 1:45). But this is more than just a goal race for me. Earlier this year my young son, Jack had two surgeries at CHaD (The Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth) to help remove a melanocytic nevus (a very large, potentially cancerous congenital mole on his back. The CHaD HERO Half Marathon is the primary fundraising tool of the children’s hospital. I knew early on in our experience at CHaD that I wanted to give back in some way to other families like ours who’s children will be helped by the kind people at CHaD Which is why I decided that instead of running a marathon this would be my race this fall. But I’m not just running I’m raising money too, trying to have the biggest positive impact that I can have. I am just shy of my fundraising goal of $7000.

What piece of advice would you give to someone who is looking to PR? Get a coach or go through a coaching certification class, if you can. Read as much as you can. Learn from others who are doing what you want to do. And be willing to do the work.


I don’t post here every day, but I post all of my workouts (and other happenings) on Instagram on a daily basis {NYCRunningMama}.

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    6 thoughts on “PR Spotlight – Sarah (Run Far Girl)

    1. Pingback: Training Update

    2. I Am so excited for your krona goal! Way to reach for the stars!
      I love reading runfargirls blog too! You are both awesome women and runners!