"The best comments I have gotten are from fathers who have read my ED series. I get emails and comments fairly regularly from fathers whose daughters or sons are suffering from eating disorders that they have been unable to understand until finding my blog. The relief in their comments is palpable."
I have a HUGE surprise for you, dear readers: an interview with the one-and-only T Rex Runner blogger, Danielle Cemprola.
I am trying my hardest not to gush like a 13-year-old at a Justin Bieber concert, but I can't even tell you how excited I was when Danielle agreed to the interview. I found her blog a few years ago while looking for a new marathon to run, and came across her race reports. She embodies all things I love about great bloggers: witty, open, and authentic. While I enjoyed her race reports, I was blown away by her series about her history with anorexia and bulimia.
So, grab a cup of coffee (or a gluten-free beer in honor of Danielle) and read this interview all the way through. And if you're not already a subscriber to her fantastic blog, do yourself a favor and sign up.
I know you said you used to hate running. When did you first find your love of running?
I'd say I first found my love of running about 2 months after I started. Ha! Just kidding.
No, but seriously, running sucks when you first start out and are out of shape. I started running regularly in late 2009. It was a welcome respite from my crumbling first marriage and provided me with some much needed clarity and an outlet for my energy at a difficult time. I really fell in love with it after my first half marathon in December, 2009. I felt like I could do anything after I crossed that finish line!
Do you have any advice for people who are thinking of running their first marathon?
Don't! You'll become addicted and start spending all your money on race entry fees and travel expenses.
But, if you insist, then my number one recommendation would be to take the training one day at a time. If you have a training plan, only print out each week. Resist the temptation to look ahead—it can feel extremely intimidating at first. If you take it day by day and resolve to at least TRY each workout, you'll realize that you are progressing steadily and can do more than you think!
Other than that, talk to a new person each mile during your race. You'll be amazed how quickly the time flies by! I started doing that in my fourth marathon and have met some of my best lifelong friends that way.
You have an incredible resolve to get back into fitness after each of your surgeries. What advice would you give people about getting back in to a fitness routine after an injury or surgery?
I'm not going to say "be patient," because that's annoying. What I'll say instead is "listen to what your body is telling you." The thing about recovery is that everyone is different—both for better and for worse. If you were in great shape before your surgery, you may recover faster than your doctor believes is possible. For example, my doctor cleared me to run 12 days after a major stomach surgery, and the soonest he had ever previously cleared anyone for activity was 4 weeks. You know what your body is capable of. That said, if you feel more tired than usual, are in a lot of pain, or aren't recovering from your workouts like normal, try and be patient. Your body is recovering from multiple things at once! The traditional advice is to take it slow, but I'll say to take it smart—only you know what that means.
Your ED series is amazing. What motivated you to tell your story about your history with eating disorders?
The thing that motivated me was the comment I received from the "burrito guys" that inspired my first post. Basically, it was a fairly mild joke about me having an eating disorder when I actually did have one. At that moment, I knew that I wanted to use the platform of my blog to educate people so that no one else would have to experience the pain I did at that moment. I never intended to share my story—very few people in my life were aware I had an eating disorder—but at that moment, the greater good seemed a lot more important than the embarrassment I felt. Ultimately, that series is among my favorite things that I have ever written; not because I think it's so well done, but more because I know it has changed people's lives. I get emails about it all the time!
What's the best comment you've received on your blog in response to a post?
Easily, the best comments I have gotten are from fathers who have read my ED series. I get emails and comments fairly regularly from fathers whose daughters or sons are suffering from eating disorders that they have been unable to understand until finding my blog. The relief in their comments is palpable. I know what a hard time my dad had when I was extremely sick, and giving peace to those fathers is the most worthwhile thing my blog has done, at least from my perspective.
Have you ever gotten any feedback on the blog that was difficult to respond to?
Well, I did have this one reader—an older gentleman—who really hated when I used animated GIFs in my posts. He used to send me emails that said, "I love your blog, but I get too distracted by all of those damn moving pictures and I can't read it!" I didn't really know what to say to that because my GIFs are amazing. Other than that, no, not really. I've been extremely lucky to have very supportive readers. I do post every comment I receive on my blog, but they're almost never negative.
I love your travel stories. What would you say is the oddest thing that's happened to you on a trip?
Oh, I have lots of weird things happen! The one that comes to mind at the moment happened on my recent trip when I was in Lisbon. I was walking along the river at sunset and lots of couples were walking along, cuddling, or watching the sunset. I walked past one couple and the guy was very passionately serenading his girlfriend with "Hotline Bling" and the girl was staring up at him with just the utmost love and admiration. It was clear to me that she must not speak English because otherwise, you'd have to be laughing. I silent-laughed so hard that I cried.
One of my favorites out of your travel posts is the story about meeting Dave Matthews while you were in Abu Dhabi, especially when he says, "I'm David, by the way." What's it like when the shoe is on the other foot, where readers recognize you and want their picture with you? I know you always say you feel awkward, but has it gotten easier?
Ha! It has definitely gotten easier. I love meeting readers! I think I just feel a little awkward that people are nervous to meet me. I'm just a person who happens to occupy a little space on the internet! But I think it's great and I try to make people feel comfortable as quickly as possible, because I know how nervous I get when I meet other bloggers that I admire!
I'd like to know more about your work with the school in Jamaica. Do you have plans to keep fundraising for them? Are you going back to see them?
I met the student-athletes and the coach at Rhodes Hall High School in Hanover, Jamaica on my trip to cover the Reggae Marathon for Women's Running magazine. I was immediately impressed by their coach, a wonderful 27-year-old guy. He puts his heart, soul, and his own money into this team, as many of the students cannot afford basic running gear like shoes and clothing. When I met them, I knew I had to help any way I could! I do plan to continue my efforts to fundraise for them in the future. I'd like to do a gear drive each year for sure—everyone has extra running gear that they can stand to get rid of! I hope to go back this year to cover the race again and visit the students.
I love that you're now a Barre instructor—I'm a huge fan of Barre classes. What do you think the benefits are of adding a few Barre classes to your fitness regime when you're a runner?
Barre has been a total game changer for my running! The biggest benefits are the core strengthening aspects of the workout. We always hear as runners that we need to do core work, but how many people actually commit to doing it regularly? Barre provides a great no-impact workout that works your core the entire time. For me, the glute and hip strengthening has been especially important and has definitely improved how I feel at the end of races.
One last question. You inspire a lot of people through your blog. Who inspires you?
My dad! He's my hero. He taught me to never take no for an answer, always do my best, and dream big. I think my life has taken a different path than he probably expected, but he's proud of me.
About Danielle Cemprola, aka The T Rex Runner
Danielle has run 50 marathons and many half marathons in 37 states and 3 countries. Her blog, www.trexrunner.com, documents her races and other adventures around the planet as she seeks to run a marathon or half marathon in every state and visit as many countries as possible along the way. Her passions include tacos, travel, sarcasm, and strong margaritas. Danielle lives in Greenville, South Carolina in the U.S. with her husband A.J. and their rescued Rottweiler, Rocket.