The Year Our School Closed In March-We Survived!

By now, most schools have shuttered their doors for a few weeks.  Many others have already closed for the rest of the year.  Such a strange time we are living in.  Kids are stuck at home, parents are trying to work amidst this chaos.  No one is really sure what they are doing.

In many ways, I’ve been experiencing this with a bit of deja vu.  Minus the virus, my entire hometown survived watching our school doors close and lockdown in March of 1993, not to open again until the fall.  We made national news.  There were tears.  Events were missed.  Graduations weren’t the same.  My 6th grade year came to a halt without the usual end of the school year fanfare.

After years of failed votes to approve raising taxes for operational costs of the school system, they were essentially broke.  It was a terrible scenario.  Teachers lost their jobs until the following September.  My own parents who were educators, were suddenly unemployed.

KPS1

Credit NYTimes.com

Today, we are left with the uncertainty of when things will go back to normal.  Hopefully sooner than later.  Back in 1993, we knew that there wouldn’t be any school for six months, and mom and dad were no longer employed.  It was a reality that they protected us from, as much as they possibly could.  I remember sitting in the parking lot of the unemployment office, as each of them took their turns going inside.  It was boring, but I recall excitedly waving to our teachers as we waited.

KPS2

Credit: Interlochen Public Radio

Homeschooling was a nightmare.  Despite the fact that my parents were teachers, they weren’t prepared to deal with 6th grade math lessons, annoyed reading sessions, and the anxiousness to get outside with our friends.  Let me tell you, homeschooling is never easy, even when parents are teachers.

One reminder of my 6th grade year after school closed was our family working to carefully live on a budget.  There was the shift to generic products.  There was the reliance on staples like canned goods and pasta.  Meat became less of an essential and there was definitely a time when we realized our stomachs were upset because mom tried to feed us on way too many tubes of ground generic turkey.

We learned to be savvy and resourceful.  Those leftover snacks when the girls go to bed?  I don’t just toss them.  They get set aside for tomorrow.  Knowing that we are doing our job by staying home as much as possible, we are focusing on wasting as little as possible.  Less grocery runs help slow that curve!

In the end, we made it out okay.  I went ahead into 7th grade doing just fine.  Some of my classmates didn’t have the luxury of having parents who could homeschool them.  My 10th grade Earth Science teacher recently pointed out that the following fall, our school had their highest standardized test scores and it was likely not due to homeschooling.

KPS3

Mary and I recently worked on a recipe together to share on the blog.

The other night, Mary expressed her sadness that school would be closing early and she wouldn’t get to finish preschool.  Her disappointment was understood but I pointed out that this was something very rare that hasn’t happened in over 100 years.  The last time this happened her grandparents weren’t even born.  In fact, their parents lived during a pandemic. They social distanced, and they lived to tell about it.

It was sad to leave my 6th grade year behind. It wasn’t delightful having my parents homeschool us.  Living on a tight budget wasn’t easy but we learned from it.  In fact, those lessons I learned have been helpful in our current situation.

KPS4

What I told Mary was that in the end, my favorite memories were the extra family time.  We did our best.  We embraced our love for each other.  It was such a celebration to come back to our friends in the end.  I don’t recall missing moments at school.  What I remember most is that extra long summer when I got to play outside more and have my family with me.

I don’t recall any of my friends reminiscing about the missed days of school in a sad way.  In fact, most of them are posting about how their families made the best of these extra days.  This is going to be the longest summer break ever and we are going to make it great.

KPS5

 

Social Distancing-The Benefits

Hello from Northern Michigan!  Almost two weeks ago we decided it was best to get out of Florida and back to our home to hunker down.  I was certainly sad to leave sunny weather, but I have never been so happy to be home!

While I was in Florida, I was training for the Traverse City Bayshore Marathon.  I had some good runs and some pretty awful ones too.  The weather in Florida was the best I can recall in years.  Fun for the beach, but rough for adjusting to the heat.  I made it through my 18 mile run, but the following week’s 15 miles was miserable.  I stopped at mile 11 and bought two water bottles and quickly downed the first.  I hate carrying anything in my hands when I run but decided to ration the last bottle for my final 4 miles.  I made it a half a mile before I finished that bottle and then ran/walked the rest.

Home6

I made it!

During those final miles, I decided my heart was no longer into training for a marathon.  I was worried about the uncertainty of everything that is going on right now and my fears for my family.  I wanted to get us home to Michigan and just throw in the towel.  I’m a perfectionist and never want to quit, but I just didn’t feel now was the time to be training for an endurance race.  You can imagine my relief when I received my e-mail that the race has been cancelled.  Even better, I could choose to defer my bib to next year.  Kudos to the race director for allowing this generous option!

Now that I am home and we have been inside for the majority of the past week, I’m trying to sort out my feelings about our current situation.  I have moments where I enjoy the quite times and moments where I feel anxious and scared with all of the uncertainty.  I’m happy to be with my family, but sad to see what is going on.  I decided on my run yesterday to compile a list of all of the benefits to social distancing.

Home5

Benefits Of Social Distancing:

Sleep-ish:  When you have two young children and school/work schedules, sleep is never certain.  Our schedules are now wide open and somedays, the kids allow a little extra rest.

Extra Family Time:  I read that most families only get 30-60 minutes of one-on-one family time each day.  Right now, we are able to spend unlimited moments together.  Sure, it isn’t always perfect.  When we try to make the most of it, there are fun experiences to be had.

The Road To Yourself:  We live in a rural area, but we definitely have neighbors.  Now that non-essential Michigan residents have been asked to stay home, I basically have the road to myself.  I’m enjoying my cooler runs, now that I am home.

Creative cooking:  We are trying to avoid going to the store as much as we possibly can.  We’ve been working to be creative and resourceful with meals.  Last night we even made this super easy chocolate cake that requires no butter or eggs!

Home2

Time To Relax:  I rarely give myself a chance to just sit down and do nothing.  Now I have nothing but time.  I still get my daily run in and try to spend some time focusing on work, but I also have time to watch TV, read magazines and books, and just be present.

Home7

Try New Workouts: I usually focus my workout time on running with a bit of time set aside for free weights.  Now that I am not training for a marathon and my schedule has opened up a bit, I have shortened my runs and added kettle bell workouts.  It’s so fun to change things up.

Family Workouts:  We are taking advantage of our smart TV and adding in kid’s yoga workouts.  The girls love Cosmic Yoga on YouTube.  We especially like the Trolls, Frozen, and Moana sessions.  Namaste!

Home1

Things are definitely up in the air and very different.  It can be easy to let these changes get to you.  But, I encourage you to look for the positive changes when you can.

Challenging Long Runs And A New Favorite Smoothie

Hello from Sunny Florida!  It feels so great to be here after a few months of gloomy winter.  I absolutely love that feeling of being in the car for hours and stepping out into warmer air.  It reminds me of childhood Spring Breaks.

Florida5

It’s so nice seeing the sunset again!

This year, I am even more excited to be here right now because I’m currently in week 6 of marathon training.  Michigan has had a relatively mild winter, but that still hasn’t helped my long run game.  It has either been too cold or too snowy to get long workouts in outside.  We live in a rural area, and the roads don’t always get plowed in the timeliest manner.  To be quite honest, I don’t love winter running and I find that snowy conditions mess with my gait, putting me at risk for injury.

The treadmill has been my friend this winter.  So far I have done my weekly 8 mile speed workouts, 10 mile moderate pace runs and long, slow distances ranging from 12-16 miles on the treadmill.  I was really looking forward to taking these outside in Florida.

That isn’t to say that I don’t realize the challenges of running in warm weather immediately after leaving Northern Michigan.  My body always takes awhile to adjust to the warmer weather and that often messes with my head.  This time around, I was mentally prepared to slow the paces down and just fit in whatever I can.

First, I needed a trip to the Asics store to get some new shoes because I’ve logged upwards of 500 miles in my last pair.  On Wednesday, I was so excited to lace up my new Kayano 25’s and do a slow 10 miles to St. Augustine Beach.  Things didn’t go quite as I had planned.  Around mile 4, the ball of my foot began to feel like it was chafing.  I soon had to stop every mile and let me foot stop stinging.  I was so frustrated and in a lot of pain.

To say that I was nervous about Friday’s 18 mile run, would be a major understatement.  My stomach was sick with fear.  How should I approach the run?  Do I run 4 out and 4 back with the option of switching into my old shoes?   The idea of 18 miles suddenly seemed enormous with this fear about my shoes.  I headed out into the wind and just kept going.  I took deep breaths and reminded myself that every mile is different.  First you have to calm your mind or you will never make it through the entire run.

It wasn’t until I stopped for water at mile 14 that my feet started to ache again.   At that point I was pretty sweaty and a bit dehydrated.  I gave myself the option to stop every mile or so for the last 4 miles, and to be honest, I was totally okay with that.  I made it through a big mental and physical challenge and that is a huge takeaway in endurance training.

Florida6

Then I headed back home for a shower and some recovery time, which includes both rest and fuel.  I have a new favorite dairy-free smoothie that my girls and I can’t get enough of.  Every time I make one after a run, the girls insist that they get one too.  Some evenings at snack time, they even request this.  It is super easy and full of antioxidants.

We generally limit our dairy, so we usually get our calcium from orange juice and almond milk,  We always have Tropicana Trop 50 No Pulp on hand,  along with Minute Maid Sugar Free Lemonade to mix with sparkling water or even dilute with water.  Both of these are the key to a really great smoothie!

Dairy Free Cherry Mango Recovery Smoothie!

Florida1

Ingredients:

1/2 cup Tropicana Trop 50 Orange Juice (or any citrus juice)

1/2 cup Minute Maid Sugar Free Lemonade

I cup frozen cherries

1 cup frozen mango

Directions:

Pour everything into a blender and blend well.  Serve and enjoy.  It doesn’t get any easier than that!

What do you like putting in your smoothies?

Spring Race Training=Delicious Recovery Smoothie

Happy New Year!  I hope this year brings you plenty of happy mileage and health.

Despite the fact that we are just now getting deep into winter, we are also entering Spring Race Training Season.  I’ve been keeping quiet, but I definitely caught the spring racing bug and signed up for a race.  I will be running the Bayshore Marathon in Traverse City, MI on May 23, 2020

To be quite honest, I am pretty nervous.  This will be my sixth marathon, and up until my last one, I had nothing but great experiences with the 26.2 mile distance.  I qualified twice for the Boston Marathon and spent two other times running well over 26 miles as a running coach for a charity at the Chicago Marathon.  Nine months after I had our first daughter, I ran a marathon PR at the Run for the Red Poconos Marathon.  Four weeks later, I ran Grandma’s Marathon and had the worst experience of my life.  I went from an absolute high to an absolute low.  That left me completely deflated.

To be honest, I was so relieved to be 15 weeks pregnant the following spring and have an excuse not to run Boston.  I just wasn’t mentally ready to do another and that was okay!

I’ve definitely had some time to clear my head.   I would also like to think that I have grown as a runner and know that not every race has to be a PR.  This race for me, is a way to look 26.2 miles in the eye, and go back after it.  It also helps that it is basically in my backyard.

As an ACE Certified Health Coach, I also have a new approach to my training.  I still love all food and any dessert.  But I also know the power food has to work as both fuel and a recovery system.  I’m using this tool to take me into training and keep me healthy.

I recently added a delicious new smoothie to my post workout regimen.  I am loving it and so are my kids!  It can also work as a great breakfast to take to work or school as you run out the door in the morning (hint, you can also blend some oatmeal or granola into this!).

Smoothie3

Mary Approved!

The key is blueberries.  Rich in fiber, Vitamins K and C, and antioxidants, it is the perfect potion to refuel your muscles and help repair damage done during a workout.  Your muscles are only as good as you treat them.  Long runs require plenty of repair and antioxidants are key to this recovery.

Blueberries also contain 85% water.  Hydration is essential to sustaining a training session, and is also vital for getting your muscles back into working order.  If you don’t rehydrate after a workout, your body isn’t going to function at it’s best.

This smoothie only requires 4 simple ingredients and can be whipped up in a flash before or after a workout.

Smoothie4

Ingredients:

1/2 cup frozen blueberries

1/2 cup Greek or vanilla Light and Fit yogurt

1/4 cup almond milk

1 tbsp honey

Smoothie1

Directions:

Simply place all ingredients in a blender and pulse on smoothie mode.  Pour into a glass and enjoy.

Smoothie2

The great thing about frozen blueberries is that you can get them year round at an affordable price.  The freezing process also maintains the fruit at it’s freshest point so you don’t miss out on any of the vital nutrients.

Happy Running!

“I Don’t Think I Can Finish The Race”-But You Will!

Happy holidays!  I’m adding a quick post that I have been meaning to do for a few weeks now.  Our family joined several cousins, aunts, and uncles in a Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning and I’m finally sitting down to share a special moment from that day.

For weeks our family had been talking about doing a Turkey Trot and we finally signed up the day before Thanksgiving.  Several family members had said they would be doing the kids run/walk and our 4 year old thought that would be a lot of fun.  Only after we had talked about it for several days, did we find out that the kids race was a 5k!

This past summer Rock completed his first Half Ironman and Mary was disappointed to find out that she missed out on the opportunity to do a kid’s race.  When she knew that everyone else was doing the 5k, she insisted she needed to do it.  We decided that Rock would run the race and push Lucy in the stroller and I would do the kid’s race with Mary.

TurkeyTrot2

We literally showed up as the gun went off and Mary hopped out of the stroller and began running.  For the first mile, she actually ran the entire time.  I was really impressed by her endurance and speedy little legs!  Then things began to slow down.

Somewhere between mile 1 and 2 she needed a drink.  I explained that there was only one way to get refreshments and that was to press on until we found an aid station.  At mile 2 we found our oasis and after downing a cup, she shrugged and said, “That wasn’t the best water ever but it will do.”  She knows how to make me laugh.

Things began to go downhill from there.  She started to feel tired and her feet were hurting.  We had discussed this before the race and the rule was that if she was going to do this with her cousins, I wasn’t going to carry her.

“I don’t think I am going to make it, mom.”

I looked around me and several older runners were also struggling and beginning to walk.  I could tell that many people were doing this for the first time, together.

I squeezed Mary’s hand and explained that this happens to every runner at every distance.  Part of the reason people do races is for the challenge it presents.  Regardless of how fast or how far you are going, you are always going to have a moment in a race where you question if you are going to be able to do this.  Pushing past that point is the way to reach your goal.

I reminded her of our afternoon a few weeks before, cheering runners on at the NYC Marathon.  “Remember how we saw people walking and some people were crying?  They didn’t think they were going to finish.  But they kept on going.”

We held hands and continued our run/walk to the end where she flew through the finish chute and grabbed some bananas and water.  The smile stayed on her face the rest of the day.  She proudly had finished her first 5k.  I was incredibly proud of her.  The mental barriers of running are often more difficult to overcome than the physical challenges.

TurkeyTrot3

This was a good reminder for me.  If you continue to run, you will continue to face challenges.  They come when you aren’t expecting them.  If you fight through and stay confident, the reward on the other side of that challenge is bigger than you can imagine.

She also reminded me the next day as she came shuffling down the stairs, that your legs will always be sore the morning after a race!  Happy Running and Happy Holidays.

TurkeyTrot1

No Boring Salads Here & Kid’s Deconstructed Salad

You might think this is boring, but I love salads in the summer.  Sure I am a Health Coach, and you would assume that I love all things healthy.  However, my family would tell you I have a deep love for Cool Ranch Doritos and Crunchy Cheetos.  In fact, a few days ago, Mary and I took a date day and went out to the lake to enjoy these treats on the dock.  It was a special moment for this mom!

SummerSalad1

Back to the salads.  As soon as the warm weather arrives, I crave a fresh pile of greens and toppings.  Over the years, I have learned there are so many ways to spice up a simple salad and save a ton of time in the kitchen, leaving you more time to play outside with your family.  Even better, most of the simple ingredients you use, can be plated for kids (or salad hating adults) to enjoy as their meal.

Grab a few ingredients, and you can easily switch things up throughout the week for a different dinner every night.  You can also throw leftovers together for lunch the next day.

It’s all about the base.  These days, there are so many types of pre-washed greens.  You can buy these by the bag or container.  You can also buy salad kits.  I discovered last year that my 2 year old loved Caesar Salad kits and now she loves the kale and Brussels sprout with poppyseed dressing.  The cool thing about kits is that you can use the fixings, or skip their dressing and add your own favorites.  I personally love the kale kit, but usually just use the greens and then make my own creation.

Veggies are great, but think beyond the produce section.  Sure, cucumbers, peppers, radishes, and carrots are great.  But don’t forget about canned and frozen veggies.  Canned black beans, corn, and chickpeas can easily be rinsed and thrown into the mix.  They are also budget friendly!

Frozen veggies are picked at their ripest and flash frozen.  You can often find them in steam packets that go directly into the microwave.  Warm them up and then pop some onto your plate.

It’s okay to add a touch of carbs to the mix.  One of my favorite meals is the Caesar salad from a place called The Noodle.  As you might guess, they are known for their homemade fresh pasta and even the salad comes topped with noodles.  It is a delicious addition.

Orzo is easy to make and let cool off in a colander.  Rice packets are another great addition.  Toast some day old bread and break into croutons.  

You can always add dairy.  Add this for some extra flavor and protein.  There are so many delicious options from shredded cheddar and parmesan, to bleu cheese, feta, and crumbled goat cheese.

Maybe you protein.  Maybe you don’t.  I do love meat, but I have been making a conscious effort to eat more plant based meals.  By adding a bunch of other flavors and textures to my plate, I don’t always need meat.  But when I do, I sometimes think beyond the traditional chicken, steak, or salmon.  You can find tuna packets, which are a lower calorie protein with high Omega 3 healthy fats.

Morning Star farms offers traditional black bean and Mediterranean chickpea burgers.  I also really like their veggie “chicken” patties.  Boca Burgers have a surprisingly great texture and taste pretty darn similar to a regular burger.

SummerSalad2

Meat free “chicken” patties with BBQ and ranch.  So good!

 

SummerSalad3

The girls had a taco.

Deconstruct your salad and please even the pickiest eaters.  Before I go further, I urge you not to underestimate your kids.  I never thought my oldest would love Caesar salads at 2 years old.  I didn’t know my one year old would beg for bites of cabbage.  Try adding a small salad to a plate.  Don’t make a big deal about it.  Don’t refer to it as “healthy.”  Just make it part of the meal.  If they decide they don’t like it, no big deal.

SummerSalad4

Whatever “tools” you use to build your salad, plate them out on your kids’ dishes.  For example, if you decide to make a Mexican salad, add cheese, beans, meat, and peppers to your little ones’ plates.  Add some dip or salsa and a tortilla.  Let them roll theirs into a taco or burrito.

SummerSalad6

I can’t pass on some Annie’s mac and cheese shells!

What I love about this approach is that you are never eating a salad while the rest of your family eats something different.  This isn’t about healthy vs. unhealthy or one person eating healthy while others are eating a different dinner.  You are eating together as a family.  When you put together ingredients for the week, you can easily whip up a meal in minutes for everyone.

What is your favorite way to eat a salad?

Incorporating Running Into Vacations & Work Trips

One of the biggest hurdles many of the runners I work with, is getting training runs in during vacations and travel.  Whether you are away on a trip, out of town for work, or at a wedding, there are usually ways to get your runs in.  Research is almost always your best bet to make this process easier.

Plan ahead:  The internet is your friend.  Get on Google and Google Maps and take a look at what the area will be like.  Is it safe to run?  Are there sidewalks or running paths?  Many area websites offer advice on great places to run.  I research hotels and resorts based on their gyms.  When we took a trip to Punta Cana, I made sure there was a good indoor space to run, knowing that outside wouldn’t be a safe option.

Grandmas5

Super pregnant me, made sure our hotel at Grandma’s Marathon had room for me to run!

Get on the phone:  Call your hotel concierge and ask about their gym and recommendations for places to run.  Make sure you tell them how far you are looking to go!  Did you know that some Westin’s offer Running Concierges?

Contact the local running stores.  Many offer weekly and weekend group runs.  Fleet Feet in Chicago has a fantastic Chick’s Night and a variety of group runs throughout the week.  These are great ways to meet people and learn about other fun places to run, eat, or drink in the city you are visiting.

Lagoon

This was recommended by the concierge during my visit to Cleveland for a wedding.

Find a local gym:  If you know that the place you are visiting won’t be great for outdoor running or the weather is looking questionable, call local gyms and find out what type of day passes they offer.  Some will give you one day for free.  I recently got a day pass at a beautiful new L.A. Fitness for $15.  When I went to pay, they reminded me to keep my receipt because it was valid for 24 hours!

Try something different:  When we took a weekend trip to Boston, I had read about a local running tour that visitors often use.  We booked our tour and added on the Harpoon Brewery tour option.  City Running tours made our visit to Boston one of the best memories of our vacation.  Our guide was fun and knowledgeable.  We were able to visit far more places than most tourists get to do on foot in one day, let alone in two hours.  Plus, we got to visit a brewery and enjoy unlimited sips for awhile.

Find an event:  Whenever we visit a place for more than a few days, I go on Running In The USA to see if the area we are staying in has any events going on.  It doesn’t always work, but we’ve been lucky enough to find a few races during our stays.  We once found a really fun 10k at a golf resort near where we were staying in Florida.  It was such a great way to start a Saturday morning of vacation.

If you are staying somewhere safe, go explore:  When we went on our honeymoon to Aruba, we chose our vacation because the island is incredibly safe.  It is also conveniently small and basically experiences the same weather every day, year round.  Knowing that it was okay to run around the island, allowed us to log 70 miles over the course of a week.  We took time to stop in shops and wandered through neighborhoods and touristy areas.  We left feeling like we really got a great understanding of what Aruba was like.

It might take a little research to find a place to run.  But if you take some time to plan ahead, running during a vacation or other events, can really be a great way to enjoy your time in a new place.

How do you like to get a run in when you are out of town?

Stop Questioning, You Are A Runner

A few weeks ago I had a chance to run with a client I have worked with for several years.  She started from scratch with me and has completed several marathons, half marathons, and other distances.  She’s worked hard and the improvements I have watched her make are nothing short of impressive.

She took a hiatus for awhile and is making a fierce comeback.  We all know how hard this can be.  When we discussed how to approach getting back into running, she said something that I totally understood but also had me shaking my head.  She said, “I feel like a fraud.”

I asked how she could possibly feel like a fraud and she said that she didn’t grow up a runner, or even an athlete.  There’s been obstacles in life that should have sidelined her.  Everything in life, leading up to adulthood said she shouldn’t be a runner.

Let me be the first to say,  she is a runner.  She ran not one but two full marathons.  She started from the very beginning and pushed herself through every difficult moment along the way.  Running is hard!  She didn’t let that stop her.

Fraud1

Here’s the deal:  Sure you look at your television and see tiny and toned elite runners sprinting to the finish of the Boston Marathon.  You come across any running path and see people cruising by, breathing effortlessly.  They are no more a runner than anyone who chooses to step outside and log any number of miles.

Every “real” runner, anyone who truly works to get through miles, appreciates anyone  who attempts to run.  There’s no rulebook about how to become a runner, how far you must run, or what you must weigh.  There is no start date, or expiration for becoming a runner.  You could be 90 and choose to lace up your shoes!  Being a runner isn’t about a certain pace, age, or look.  Running is about putting one foot in front of the other and pushing yourself to new limits.

Fraud2

Let me emphasize that we celebrate all kinds of runners for their accomplishments.  How can she be a fraud if we cry tears as we watch an injured athlete cross the finish line, or the 80 year old who completed their first endurance event?  Is her ability to overcome obstacles and push her body any less admirable?  These examples are certainly remarkable for many reasons.  However, they also show that a real runner isn’t always someone who is born with the gift of natural athletic ability.  Real running is tying up your shoes, pushing on, and moving forward when your mind and body tell you to stop.

Fraud3

If you choose to run, you are a runner.  Don’t apologize for your pace or the number of miles you run.  This is your journey.  You own this experience.  Be proud of your accomplishments.  Know that what you are doing is nothing short of remarkable.

You are a runner and you are real.  No doubt about it!

Learning To Go Long-Tackling Your Long Runs

Years ago, I traveled from NYC to Chicago to cheer on a friend in the marathon.  I had been getting back into running and everything about that day and the event had me so inspired.  My husband and I later discussed how it gave us all of the feels, but that we would never be so crazy as to run a full marathon.  You either had to be insane to endure 26.2 miles, a super athlete, or both!

ChicagoMarathon

Carrying balloons so I could be spotted on the sidelines!

I tracked their training over the summer.  My husband rode his bike on a 20 mile run, handing over water bottles and making an emergency run for Vaseline (side note: who wants to voluntarily chafe?!).

Let’s be honest, while the 26.2 miles seems daunting, the entire concept of marathon training and those long training runs sounds downright frightening.  So how is it that I went from scared of the distance to becoming a marathon coach and Boston Qualifier myself?  The answer: I learned to get inside my head.

It started slowly.  Seriously.  I started out running 3 mile several days a week one summer.  As I got more comfortable, I started testing the waters with 5 miles.  Then one day that turned into 7, and then 10 miles.  One day I set out to do 10 miles, but at some point I started to wonder if I could complete a half marathon.  And so it began.

As my mileage started to increase, I began noticing a few things:

You’ve must be incredibly kind to yourself.  In order to complete long training runs, you have to be your best friend.  Long runs are hard.  If you start the negative self-talk, your mind is going to give up way before your body does.  On the flip-side, if you coach yourself and begin saying all of the incredible things you see yourself doing, you will notice an amazing change.  You are going to see these changes, and you are going to like yourself….a lot.  When things get tough, it’s essential that you guide yourself through those difficult times.

MRD_2425

Before our first marathon

You need to know that every mile is different.  Long runs are a rollercoaster of feelings and emotions.  There are ups and downs.  Some miles will feel fantastic, while others are going to be very difficult.  It is during those difficult miles that you must remind yourself that if you keep going, the good miles are yet to come.  Just as in life, when times get hard, you can’t give up.  You have to find a way to move forward.

You need to slow it all down.  Long runs are not about pace.  They are not a dress rehearsal for race day.  Your splits are not indicative of race day performance.  Long runs are about time on your feet, preparing your body for a long event.  It is about learning to fuel properly and mentally endure hours of running.  When you slow down and stop worrying about pace, it is much easier to complete these longer runs.

Find motivation in a variety of places.  Never underestimate the power of a good playlist.  Look everywhere for musical inspiration.  My playlist is a plethora of random songs that have a great beat.

The power of thirst and hunger are also excellent motivators.  Near the end of a long run, my husband starts dreaming up what feast he will enjoy for dinner.  We once even planned a 22 mile run to finish at a brewery, because a nice IPA is a great way to quench your thirst!

RiceKrispie

Mix it up.  When we lived in NYC, we tried doing long runs all over Manhattan.  Although you will find millions of people on that busy island, you will also notice that it really isn’t that large.  Routes were quickly getting boring and we were tired of weaving in and out of crowds.  We researched rail trails in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.  We then spent an awesome spring trying out different trails and finding new places we grew to love.  I will never forget a sweaty run along the Saddle Brook River in New Jersey where we saw fly fishing, camping, and the worst allergy attack I’ve ever had.  It was a blast!

The long run can be mentally challenging, but it can also be a wonderful time exploring and learning how strong you are.  Slow it down, mix it up, and always be kind to yourself.  When you learn to incorporate these techniques, you will find that it might possibly be the most enjoyable portion of your training!

How do you survive long distances?

The 5 Minute Rule

We all know the 5 second rule, but in our house well follow the 5 minute rule.  As a mom of two, this even goes for food on the floor!

Do you love running but have those guilty days where you just dread your workout?  Then the cycle begins where you feel even more guilty because you love running or feel like you should love running.  The fact is, you’re just not feeling your run that day or at that moment.

treadmill3

This happens to me a lot on the weekends.   During the week, most of us are bound to a schedule.  If you are like me, your alarm goes off and the coffee pot immediately turns on.  The rest of the day is played out like every other day during the week.  Whether you have kids or not, being an adult is busy times and that means you have to plan everything out.  You probably have to schedule in time to work out.  If you don’t go during your lunch break, first thing in the morning, or right after work, you don’t get the opportunity to get in your run.  Like clockwork, your workouts and everything else during the week, gets a slot in your schedule.

Weekends often play out a little differently.  If you are lucky, you get to sleep in a bit later.  You can linger over that cup of coffee and the news or a good book.  The day unfolds slowly and your sense of urgency to get a run in is lessened.  While this feels nice, it can also make the idea of running, feel a little less enjoyable.

restday4

My idea of a weekend!

We all have those days where we just don’t want to run.  At the same time, we do want to go for a run and we feel that guilt.  This is a frustrating predicament.

On these days, I encourage myself and other runners to use the 5 minute rule.  When you find yourself making excuses or questioning your workout, throw on some running clothes and tell yourself to just go for 5 minutes. Go nice and slow and don’t think about anything past those 5 minutes.

If you hit that 5 minute mark and you are still feeling miserable, stop.  Throw in the towel and acknowledge that today was just not meant to be.

However, after 5 minutes, you will most likely find that endorphins are pumping through you and that great sweaty feel of a run is starting to feel like it’s old self.  If this is the case, just roll with it.  Let yourself keep going and enjoy the run.

I have found that some of my best running has occurred on the days when I least felt like running.  It is a magical surprise.  Sometimes we just need to give ourselves a kick in the pants to get up and get moving.

What do you do on the days when you just can’t get yourself going?