Door County undoubtedly offers a remarkable variety of outdoor activities and, in turn, is a community that embraces living an active and healthy lifestyle. Whether it’s through local running clubs, spin classes, kayak tours, family snowshoe outings or guided hikes, there is no shortage of ways to take advantage of this beautiful, natural playground.
Annie Bley, a 20-year-old Egg Harbor resident, finished 5th among women in last year’s Door County Half Marathon, where she set a personal record of 1:36:09. Now a junior at the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay majoring in human biology, Bley is a member of the cross-country team. She sprinkles in several Door County area runs into her training, like the Fish Creek Hairpin Run, the Maifest Run, and for the last two years, the Door County Sprint Triathlon. Our Laura Goetzke caught up with her to talk about running, training, and how living a healthy lifestyle is about more than exercise and diet.
When did you first become interested in running?
I have always been active, but it wasn’t until my freshman year of high school track that I became serious about running. My coach encouraged me to go out for track, and it’s been an essential in my life ever since. He always pushed me to do my best and definitely commit to my passion for running.
What motivates you the most to get out there and run…..and keep running?
I try to motivate myself with long-term goals. Signing up for races always keeps me going, but a big factor is also training with fellow runners.
What is a typical week like for you while training?
Right now, it varies but I run six days a week. I usually have one long run a week. I’m not a super high-mileage person but I like to stay efficient and throw in a short fast run.
What is your advice for those just starting out in the sport or training for their first half marathon?
Running with a group of people is a big motivator and helps me stay motivated. Talk with other people and go to group runs; it’s kind of like a confidence booster. Relax, run your race, and you’ll know in your heart that you did your best. Even if running isn’t your favorite, find some cross training that you are passionate about when you’re not putting in a lot of miles.
What is the best running advice you’ve received?
Simply stated, I’ve always been told to run my race and do my best. Although, there is something that always sticks out in my mind. My former high school teammate would always tell me “Just run.” It sounds silly but sometimes the simplest thing could calm my nerves.
Besides staying physically active, how else do you maintain a healthy lifestyle?
A healthy lifestyle is more than just exercise and good nutrition. I think it’s being involved and helping other people. My parents are always doing things for other people and they always stress teamwork, and that has helped me a great deal. Taking time out of your day for someone else is humbling. Also, I love my family more than anything. They keep me healthy and grounded when all else fails. My family, friends, faith, and community are my healthy lifestyle.
Fitness/Running Goals: Run a marathon next year and finish my running career at Green Bay with my best season.
Personal Record: 1:36:09 in the Door County Half Marathon last year (hopefully I can break that this year!)
Favorite Courses: Anything in Door County, of course. I love living here and having the opportunity to be a part of the atmosphere. The Hairpin on the 4th of July is a favorite because it’s short, fast, and my dad and I have made a tradition of going together every year. Another favorite is the Door County Half Marathon; it’s challenging and attracts a wide variety of runners. Also, it’s spring at Peninsula State Park and definitely a beautiful sight to see!