Interview with Helen Erwin

Helen is an author of historical novels by day, and a foodie and exercise blogger in her spare time. She’s been a runner since 2012, preferring to cycle prior to then. It was when her mother died that she began to take running more seriously. Running helped her get through the grieving process, and was an amazing way for her to calm down and work through issues. Now running is a big part of her life and she loves it. Sometimes she thinks of it as her mother’s last gift.

What is your proudest running achievement?

I don’t have a specific achievement. But I feel very good when I have one of those runs that are effortless, when I feel like I could run forever.

What has running taught you about yourself?

It has taught me that my body can do a lot more than I ever expected. I’m able to use it if I have to run to catch a bus, or hurry up stairs instead of taking a crowded escalator in the subway. It has taught me that when it’s a nice day, my body can take me to places that I would otherwise have to drive or bike to, that would take too long to walk to.

What is the most ambitious running goal you’ve ever considered?

I’ve considered a marathon, but I don’t like racing, so for now it’s just an idea.

How far in advance do you plan your running races?

I don’t usually race. I prefer to run by myself and sometimes with a group just for fun.

What is the most miles you’ve ever run in a week?

I don’t generally count my miles. But I’m estimating that 20-22 miles in a week might be the most. The weeks I’ve run more than usual have been because the weather has been perfect, or because I’ve been in a particularly nice area.

What has been your most serious running injury?

I had a neuroma. I couldn’t run for at least six months. When I first went back to running, neuroma kept coming back as well. I tried many different brands of shoes but it wasn’t until I found Altra’s that I could run without pain. My neuroma developed from ignoring the pain I experienced when I ran in the wrong shoe that was too tight.

What cross-training exercises do you commit to?

I lift weights, cycle (especially hill biking) and I do foot strengthening exercises.

What would persuade you to work with a running coach?

I worked with a running coach when I had recovered from my neuroma. I wanted to work on my form to make sure I didn’t have any bad habits that could cause other injuries, or bring back my neuroma. I’m injury free now, but I would love to work with a coach again. It was fun and I learned a lot.

In one sentence, what does running mean to you?

A feeling of power and freedom that I love more than almost anything else.