One of the last things we wanted for 2017 was to interview two avid runners with a drive to be happy and have fun in life. We found Celeste Johnson. This bright, cheerful, and optimistic runner shared some very interesting stories with us, including how she over-ran a half-marathon because of a bib mishap!


The Compulsive Runner

An Interview with Celeste Johnson


1. How did you get into running, and why do you still do it?

Celeste2I have always enjoyed running as a form of exercise. I bought my treadmill in 2004. And ran like 40 to 50 miles a month. I liked to run at that point to just maintain my weight. But I didn't own a Garmin, I never ran outside. And I didn't even bother writing my mileage down for years. But then one day in 2015, my friend posted on Facebook that she had just run 100 miles. And I was like, if she can run 100 miles, I can run 100 miles. And then I wanted to run over 100 miles a month. And then over 150 miles a month. And I loved the challenge of running more miles. So I made a goal to to run 200 miles, every month in 2016. And I just started to love running! I loved how it cleared my mind and was amazed at what my body could do!!

2. Tell us about your HARDEST and most CHALLENGING race (or non-race). What was it and where?

Celeste4My hardest race was definitely the Ocean City Half Marathon, in Ocean City, Maryland. I was wearing the wrong running outfit and it was unexpectedly hot that day, so there weren't enough water stations along the way. I was absolutely dying of thirst, when I left every water station. To make it worse, I dropped my race bib around the 6.5 mile mark and figured it out around the 7 mile marker. So I had to turn around and go back to get my bib or DNF. So I went back and found it, and started running again. People kept telling me I was running the wrong way! Lol, I was like, I'm not that directionally challenged!  I even thought about calling my husband a few times, to tell him to come get me. But I couldn't let myself quit. I just kept running. My Garmin said I ran 13.91 miles that day from my fiasco!

3. We’ve been following you on IG and noticed you were injured. Tell us the story! What happened? Was it running related?

In October 2015, my lower back started hurting. I just kept thinking it was my sciatic nerve and that it would be alright. I just decided to keep running and in fact, increased my mileage around that time. So pain from my sciatic nerve continued and I continued with my high mileage for years. And then on September 16, 2017, I was out running with my friend, training for the Marine Corp Marathon, when I took a terrible fall. At the time, I didn't realize any major damage had been done. And I kept running that day. I ran the next week. And I even ran leg 12 (about 28 miles) of the DC Ragnar, 6 days after my fall. But a few days after that, I could no longer stand up straight. And so it was time to see a Dr. After a few months of Dr's and x-rays and an MRI, we figured out that I had a herniated disc. If you ask my family, they say my injury was caused by running. If you ask me, I say, some of it was caused by running. If you ask the Dr's, they agreed it was degenerative. But my fall during my run was definitely the catalyst.

4. How have you been recovering?

Celeste3I'm doing great! I had surgery on Monday, December 11th, and was up walking around the next day. I started using the elliptical the week after surgery.

And I have been walking on the treadmill too. I just learned that I can start lifting light weights again and I can use the leg press, which is great!  I am ready to run!! But physically, I'm not ready to run. I have to wait 5 to 9 more weeks to run. The problem is that I'm doing so well, that sometimes I forget that I just had spinal surgery, and that I have to recover slowly. 

5. What was your FAVORITE race?

My favorite race was the St. Michael's Half Marathon in St. Michael's, Maryland. It was FLAT!! I had been wanting to run a flat course so I could run really fast!  The weather was perfect! There was always a breeze blowing from the ocean. And I was absolutely ready to fly; especially after my last half marathon I told you about. I was in "fight" mode and it worked! I PR'd by 14 min and 10 seconds! And the town was so quaint! I want to go back and eat lunch at one of the little restaurants and walk around the town one day!

6. What are your current running goals?

Here are my running goals for 2018.

  1. Beat my best half marathon time of 1:51:02
  2. Run a full marathon under 4 hours.
  3. Run a 50 miler.

And I would love to beat my 5K time too!

7. How do you train for a run?

Celeste1I love to read books about running. So I often look at lots of training plans and choose the best one for me! Sometimes, I change the plan a little bit. But I'm used to running 50-60 miles a week. I like to run one tempo run, one long run, and one relaxing run a week. And the rest of the miles, can be any speed that I want.

8. What’s your immediate post-race food?

Lol. I should say something healthy like a Greek yogurt. But in reality, after a race, it's almost always a banana or an energy bar! And if it's a half or a full marathon, I'll race ya to the donuts!

9. What’s your next race?

I have my eye on The Sunset Beach Half Marathon in North Carolina, on May 19th (I'm planning to check with my surgeon at my next appt, Jan. 5th, to make sure that distance is ok). But I think it is! And I'm ready to start running long distances again! I have goals to beat!!


What the interview video below!

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Follow Celeste on her Instagram (@thecompulsiverunner) and keep on running!