Allie Walters started running in junior high at her mother’s encouragement to continue on with some form of exercise after becoming dissatisfied with soccer and dance. “’You you have to do something,” Walters recounts her mother saying. “A friend ran cross country,” so Walters joined up and “in retrospect it worked out.”
Indeed it did work out for Walters, who claimed her first half marathon victory in 2014 at Fox Valley and turned in a PR performance at Grandma’s Half Marathon in Duluth.
“I really like the half marathon distance,” Walters says. “Marathons are tough, but I was a grinder. Shorter distances are about speed and natural talent; longer distances are more about dealing with the pain for a long time and if you’re willing to put in the training.”
Grandma’s and Fox Valley, as well as running at the Morton Arboretum for the hilly conditions, helped prepare Walters for the New York City Marathon. Despite the wind and course conditions, Walters improved her PR by three minutes with a 3:05:44.
“I was hurting early in that race,” Walters says. “You want to be feeling easy early, no pain until 18 or 20 [miles]. I felt in over my head with the hills and wind.”
Though the course and weather proved to be a challenge, the difficulties of that race make Walters particularly proud of her achievement. “It’s the first time I felt like I belonged with the girls, competing above my level,” she says.
It doesn’t hurt to have a husband that’s a running coach. “I’m lucky to have a lot of influences, such as my husband [Dan Walters] coaching me,” Walters says. “When someone holds you accountable, that’s a big thing. Also my father-in-law, a successful runner: he was state champion in high school and now in his late 50s he is still competitive.”
Like Giuliano—who she has known since she was 14, as they both attended the same high school and college—Walters has found less running can yield positive returns.
“I run less mileage than most women,” Walters says. “You want to be in tune with what makes sense physiologically, be more than a runner. It’s being an athlete: do core work, weight training and being consistent year after year.” Walters also practices yoga and does Pilates to help her stay agile.
Winning is great, but the desire for personal improvement pushes Walters.
“There’s a huge internal piece to it. You push yourself to the limits,” she says. “What you get out of it depends on how much work you want to put into it. Fortunately I’ve never had any injuries.”
Although she’s proud of her race results thus far, she’s most proud of her consistency and commitment to the sport.
“I tried to run in college,” Walters says. “It didn’t go well. It would have been easy to stop altogether. Coming out and gradually building back into it, that’s what’s been cool to me.”
This year, Walters plans to continue her pursuit of personal gains.
“For me, it’s pushing my limits,” she says. “I have no big goals to qualify for the [Olympic Marathon] Trials, but would like to break three [hours] in a marathon for the first time.”
She plans to run shorter events in the spring to train in order to shorten her marathon PR in the fall of 2015. She also intends to participate in several Fleet Feet competitions, one of the things she enjoys most, as part of the Fleet Feet Sports Racing Team.