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Runner of the month — May

Andrew McNeal

 

When and why did you start running?

Back in high school, I swam competitively, but then chose a college without a pool. In college I began running casually to try to stay in shape and help clear my mind. I really started running regularly after I graduated and moved to Philadelphia. In 2014, I joined my neighborhood run club called the West Philly Runners. Each Wednesday we would run 2, 4, or 6 miles and finish at a local bar to hang out afterwards. They’re an amazing group of people and I loved exploring Philadelphia with them.

What inspires or motivates you to keep running?

In part, I still run for fitness. I also enjoy seeing what my mind and body are capable of, whether I’m trying to run a little faster or a little farther. My friends at WeRunSF are definitely my biggest inspiration and motivators. I’m always amazed by their running exploits, dedication to training, and how they always manage to have fun while doing it!   

How many miles do you run each week and what’s your favorite workout?

Right now I try to run 3 days a week for a total of 20-30 miles. Each week, I try to fit in a speed workout, the WeRunSF Wednesday night run, and a longer run on the weekends. Two mornings a week, I also try to do some strength training at the gym. My favorite workout is definitely the WeRunSF mid-week run. I love the social aspect and energy of running with the group. It’s also a great opportunity to run with people who are faster than me and it takes me through parts of the city that I wouldn’t normally run in.

What’s your favorite race distance? And what was your most memorable race and tell us why.

I haven’t done many races and I’m still trying out different distances. I tend to pick my races based on their history rather than their distance. For example, I try to make it back to my hometown of Cumberland, Rhode Island for the town’s annual 4 mile 4th of July road race each summer. I’ve also run San Francisco’s own historic Bay to Breaker’s, which is a quirky race with an unusual distance. My favorite race so far has been Philadelphia’s Broad Street Run, which is a 10 miler spanning the distance of the city from north to south. The race takes you through many of Philly’s unique neighborhoods and the crowd energy is amazing!

What running goals do you have for the future?

I’ve always wanted to try running a marathon, so my immediate goal is to complete the SF marathon this summer. After that, I’ll have to see.

What do you like to do when you’re not running?

When I’m not running I like to explore the city, play board games with friends, and find divey out-of-the-way venues to listen to live music.

What advice would you like to offer your fellow runners, especially the newer ones?

For me, running has been a process of trial and error. When I first started running regularly, I was all about time and pace. I was a little disappointed if I couldn’t improve my time from the previous run. As you probably guessed, I pretty quickly plateaued and got frustrated. These days, I’m less concerned with time. I still love the feeling of finishing a route faster than before, but I try to concentrate on effort rather than doggedly attempting to run each mile at a particular pace. I had a similar experience when I decided to up my mileage to train for a half marathon. I found a training plan on the internet and dove right in to running 5-6 days per week. Although I felt accomplished when I completed progressively more mileage per week, by the end of the 12-week program I had a nasty case of shin splints and I was limping around between runs. Running 5-6 days a week just didn’t work for me and I find 3 days of running much more sustainable. My advice is to try new training plans, race distances, and running routes to find what makes you feel happy, strong, and motivates you to lace up your running shoes again. Oh, and I’ve heard that every once in while it’s probably a good idea to stretch :)

 

Thank you Andrew for being a part of the WeRunSF family and good luck with your goals.

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