Do you know anyone who’s run 704 consecutive days in a row? I do. And her name is Dana Tomc – of Dana Caroline Bakes (a delicious dessert blog). As if that’s not impressive enough, she’s also a graduate student at Harvard. And to top it off, she’s drop dead gorge – (jealous yet?)
It was a no-brainer to interview this dime piece because she’s the epitome of a balanced lifestyle. She balances her passions (running, baking, her fiancé, friends and family) with the craziness we call life. As a fellow runner, I was stoked to get the skinny on her experience, tips, and of course the gear she uses!
Miss Dana! Tell me about yourself:
Dana: I’m from Middletown, CT, received my undergraduate degree at U.S. Coast Guard Academy in 2009 and now I’m currently working on my Masters in Statistics at Harvard University.
My blog is called Dana Caroline Bakes. I started blogging about two years ago just for fun. I have such a sweet tooth and so it’s mainly sweets… I like to think my love for sweets is balanced out by my love for running ☺.
My love for running goes way back to high school where I ran track and cross country. In undergrad I ran track, mostly mid-distance. After college, I just started doing 5ks and half marathons.
You ran for 500 days in a row. Amazing! What motivated you to do this?
Dana: I started my running streak after a random conversation with a stranger on the ferry. We started talking about fitness, which led to running. He then told me about his running streak and how on that day he had run somewhere around 400 days in a row. I’m used to setting a goal for a race or improving my time, but I really liked the thought of setting a goal of consistency. As of today, I will have run 704 consecutive days! It’s been great for me to plan each day to find the time to get a run in. If you’re curious about it, search the internet, there are runners that have gone over 40 years without missing a day of running – it’s pretty amazing.
Your pace time is impressive. How did you get so fast?
Thank you! It was nice once I took the pressure off myself. Once I realized I have nobody to answer to but myself, it made training and races more enjoyable and in turn I was able to focus on my own fitness goals.
I like that! I think many of us need to gain that same mentality. What would you say are some of the best running tips?
Dana: Some tips that work for me…
+ Get some running clothes you are comfortable in. If something doesn’t fit just right or those shorts keep riding up, it messes with your focus and you’ll become more fixated on that than your run.
+ Get a good running hat. I hate when the sun is in my eyes, and sunglasses always bounce around. Running hats are light, keep the sun out of your eyes, and keep your hair out of your face.
+ Hydrate during a long run. It can be challenging to figure out a good way to hydrate during a run and it’s absolutely necessary to perform at a high level. A few helpful hints:
- Create a loop that goes by your house. To avoid the temptation to sit around before heading back out, try putting your water bottle in the mailbox…no need to go inside!
- Bring some cash with you and make your loop go by a gas station.
- Invest in a water bottle belt. If you know stopping at your house or gas station will make it harder for you to start back up again, this is a great alternative.
I get periodic side stitches when I run. Help! Do you have any remedies? How can I prevent these?!
Dana: Those are the worst! I find some temporary relief when I just pinch my side, where the stitch is. As far as prevention goes, try adjusting your breathing (taking deep breaths rather than short quick breaths).
What’s the best way to recover after a long run?
Dana: After a long run, I like to stretch out, foam roll, and ice (my shins/knees).
How many half and full marathons have you run?
Dana: I’ve run five half marathons and my goal is to run a full one in the near future.
Well, there’s not a doubt in my mind that you will make that happen! Which was your favorite half marathon one and why?
Dana: Definitely the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in Washington, DC that I ran earlier this year. The setting was amazing… running through the streets of the Capital and seeing all the famous monuments. The amount of spectators was incredible… you had people cheering for you the whole way!
Describe the training process for a half/full marathon. How do you prepare both physically and mentally?
Dana: I usually start training for a half about 2-3 months out. It really depends on what my starting point is, but I’ll run easy throughout the week (2-3 miles/day) and then a long run (7+ miles) on the weekend. I mainly structure my week like that simply because I don’t have time to run more than that during the week. I increase the long run by ½-1 mile a week. There are a lot of great training programs out there for people to follow. I base my training off of what works with my schedule.
When I’m training for a race, I mentally prepare myself all week for my long run on the weekend. I know what the weather is going to be like and dress appropriately, I hydrate the night before, I get a good night’s sleep, I eat a good breakfast. By mentally preparing, I feel excited and ready to go for a nice long run.
In addition to running, what do you do to stay fit?
Dana: In addition to running, I lift weights. I enjoy strength training, but I also believe it’s helped with my running/preventing injuries. Typically I strength train about four days a week. I usually do my run before lifting (I’m sure many people think I should be doing it in the reverse order) …but to me, my running is more important and I’d rather get in a good run. I think with any fitness program you just have to find what works for you.
^that stomach though (!!!)
What is your go-to strength training exercise?
Dana: My go to strength-training exercise… walking lunges. I put a bar on my back and pick a distance, and lunge there and back. I always feel it the next day… which I love because that means I worked hard!
What’s your favorite brand of running kicks and why?
Dana: Asics DS Trainers. I’ve been running in them for probably 10 years. They are light and easy to break in. I would recommend them to anyone! But I also say, once you find running sneaks you like, there’s no reason to look any further.
How do you juggle school and staying fit?
Dana: It’s been challenging to find the right balance and I’m still trying to figure it out. I’m never certain I’ll be able to come home and go for a run/go to the gym, so I go first thing in the morning to be certain I can get a workout in. To me, it’s important to make the time to get a sweat in because it’s stress-relieving and makes me more productive when I go back and hit the books.
You’ve got flawless skin. Give us the details on your skin care regimen?
Dana: Thanks! I am very consistent with washing my face first thing in the morning and before I go to bed I make sure all my make up is off. Right now I’m using Aveeno Positively Radiant cleanser and Clean & Clear Dual Action moisturizer. I also use BB cream which I love because it’s light and evens out my skin tone.
What is the beauty product you just can’t live without and why?
Dana: NARS Bronzer in Laguna. It’s the only beauty product I’ll splurge on. I use it everyday to give my face some color.
Favorite healthy snack?
Dana: Chobani Greek yogurt! I love the mango and steel cut oat (apple cinnamon) flavors.
Favorite Dana Caroline Bakes dessert recipe?
Dana: The Italian Rainbow Cake that I made for my sister’s birthday. We used to love going to the Italian bakery and bringing home Italian Rainbow cookies… the cake was reminiscent of our favorite cookie growing up… not to mention, it’s delicious!
+ Don’t forget to keep up with Dana on Insta!