This weeks Art of Convo offers an interview with Marathoner DeAnna Cooper, a Tulsa Native. DeAnna has ran numerous marathons and assisted motivating and running with many first time marathoners as they attempted their first. We asked DeAnna about what inspired her to begin running, and how she stays energized through those long runs.
What led you to being a runner and joining into the marathon way of life….
I first started walking/running while I was an elementary teacher in Broken Arrow. After school, a group of teachers would either walk around the playground or if it was cold outside we would walk the hallways. We started signing up for 5k’s and just walking them. This was a great way to get to know each other and a great way to get some exercise. We even walked the entire Tulsa Run! Then I believe it was the St Patrick’s Day 5K about 10 years ago that I saw my friend Dawn Knight-Rice and she was going to run. it I am a little competitive so I thought if she can run it so can I! I started running 5k’s and then had a friend who was leading a marathon training group with Fleet Feet. She suggested that I train for a marathon and so I signed up and ran the Oklahoma City Marathon. I have had several people ask if I attempted a half marathon before doing the marathon distance. I did not, but I do know that some people prefer to try a half first. My personality, however, is to just jump in and try any adventure and therefore I didn’t even think about doing the half distance first! It really helped having a good coach, Katherine White aka Captain InsaneO, who taught me all about listening to my body and at the same time to challenge and push myself.
How many marathons have you participated in?
I have ran 11 marathon, New York will be my 12th. I always said that I would only do 10 marathons, but then a few friends encouraged me to do Chicago with them last year and then when you get the opportunity to New York you pretty much just have to do it.
I also have completed several half marathons and a handful of duathlons.
What are some of the benefits you have witnessed personally with running?
Mentally: Running has helped me set goals and then stay motivated and dedicated to accomplish them. I think this carries over into my everyday life and also my career.I have learned that anything is possible with hard work.
Physically: It definitely helps to keep my body tight and firm.
For new runners, what advice do you offer in implementing running into their lifestyle practice?
I would say to try to do some form of exercise at least 5 times per week. I always tell people that I am not really a person who loves to run. I do , however, love the benefits that come with running and also the way I feel when I finish. I would tell a new runner to start out slow and to set a schedule. When I first started running, I would run until it was not enjoyable and then I would walk….. basically just keep moving! As for my schedule, I run at lunch, because it is a nice break to the workday and it allows me to get to run without the hassle of pushing a stroller. I would also tell a new runner to sign up for any local 5k’s. They happen every weekend and the money usually goes to a charity or local organization. I think sometimes people are nervous to sign up for races, but new runners need to keep remember that IT IS OK TO WALK! Last year, I also incorporated Crossfit into my weekly workouts and even though I was not interested in increasing my time (I am just interested in finishing) it has helped me be a faster and stronger runner.
Tips on hydration/stretching/best practices for foods that assist with energy….what works for you?
The last couple of years I have been more cautious about what I eat. I generally always buy organic. People in my office say that I eat constantly. Some of my favorite items include: Greek yogurt, granola, hummus, pita chips, bean burritos, any type of grilled or baked chicken. I try (let me emphasize try) to stay away from bread, cheese and milk products. When I am training for a marathon, I have to really watch my diet. I have a tendency to think that I should reward myself for successfully completing my long runs. My reward typically involves food (ice cream, cookies, chocolate, etc.). If I am not cautious, I can GAIN weight during my marathon training!
As for hydration, I just make sure to drink plenty of water and I love Honey Stingers (an electrolyte replenisher). I will often take a granola bar with me on a long run too.
A favorite running quote or mantra while you run?
I really do not have one. I did say to this girl one time when we were running at lunch: “Always cut corners when you can, but be careful because there is a chance you could step in some crap.”
Mostly, when I get really tired or I want to quit, I usually think about people who would love to run but physically can’t. I also think about people who are excited about me running the NYC marathon and how I would disappoint them if I quit. I like to please people.