Why Races Aren’t About Being Competitive (and Why They Are)

Years ago when I got back into running, I signed up for a local 15k.  I “trained” for it and had an absolute blast on race day.  There was no pressure, because I had no idea what to expect.  I was just excited to be out on the course with other runners and to see what the experience would be like.  I got hooked.

I was dating my, now husband, at the time and suggested that we sign up to do a spring race together.  Having been a high school and collegiate athlete, he had no desire to go back to those competitive days.  He just wanted to enjoy his running.

I absolutely understood this sentiment, but tried to explain that races aren’t necessarily about the “racing.”  It took some convincing, but he signed up for his first two races, a 15k road race and a 10k mountain trail run.  Not the best choices to ease him into the sport, but after his first race, he told me to start finding more.

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Our first race together!

My First Race!

Why Racing Isn’t About Being Competitive

It wasn’t the “race” that hooked us.  It was the experience, the opportunity to find that inner athlete we had tucked away after our competitive days in sports.  Being among other runners, pushing ourselves to see what was our very best, and having strangers cheer for us on the side of the road, only made the experience better.

While I have had some varied success in my running, I’m almost always behind many runners who are far faster than me.  More often than not, I am not there trying to win the race, but instead to run for myself.

Part of what makes races exciting is the process.  From choosing which race and event you will be doing, to finding the right plan, it is the total package before the race even starts that makes it so fun.

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When I was competing in track and field, my dad was my coach.  One thing I will never forget was him telling me that I wouldn’t remember most of my races.  Instead, what I would remember most was the training.  He was 100% right and that still holds true today.

The process of preparing for your event, the excitement of the process, and the experience of the race itself is what makes “racing” fun.  People will be cheering you on, and they certainly don’t care what place you finish.  In fact, most people will be far more inspired by the person who finishes last than the speedster that came in first.

Why Running Is About Being Competitive

I’m not talking about coming in first.  The competition is rarely between you and the person who will win.  Instead, it is about setting goals and seeing what you can do.  Maybe you want to simply finish the 5k, or perhaps your goal is to finish without taking walking breaks.   You might have a time goal that you are working for.

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The great thing about races is that you can always set a goal, whether it is something really lofty or a smaller goal to get you through an event.  These goals can be for any distance.  The possibilities are endless, and this is what can help you to find a little competitiveness in your running at any level without taking the fun out of the sport.

Having an event or a goal to look forward to can be an extra motivation for your running.  It’s not always about getting faster.  It can simply be to make your experience better.

Why do you like to race?

Are you hesitant to try a race?  If so, I’d love to hear what holds you back.

Be Kind To Yourself- Running Edition

We have one big rule in our house.  “Be Kind.”  We emphasize this rule with each other, when we are heading to school or the sitters, and even when we watch TV.  As parents, our biggest goal is to raise kind human beings.  I truly believe that the world could use a lot more kindness, and I hope to start by helping my two little ones to learn to treat others with love.

Several of my friends are training for the Boston Marathon and I have been enjoying watching their progress on social media.  One of my friends mentioned how she had been really struggling with her training but on one particular run, she embraced being kind to herself.  She mentioned that she had forgotten this important rule for running and by bringing this back into her training, everything changed.

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I discuss this a lot.  It isn’t something revolutionary.  We all know that running is hard.  Many people don’t run because it can be difficult.  Even seasoned runners have moments of struggle.  This is an essential part of the sport.  To become a distance runner you have to embrace these struggles.

If you choose to be negative, your runs will likely be hard.  Negativity will also impact your perceived exertion.

On the flip side, when we become kind and positive minded runners, everything gets a little better.  Perceived exertion lessens and longer runs can feel less daunting.

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Can you imagine spending a long run beating yourself up?  I certainly would want to quit after a few miles of contemplating all that was going wrong.  But with endorphins from exercise pumping through your body and some kind thoughts about yourself and your activity, time spent running can actually be enjoyable.

Even better, the feeling lasts beyond your run.  When you spend miles thinking positive thoughts and keeping a kind inner dialogue, you will leave the run with a positive outlook.  More endorphins and happy feelings will carry you through the day and even into the night.

It is so great to think that even when the world can be less than kind, you can take positive action and be kind to yourself on a run.  The kindness will pour over into the rest of your day and it might just rub off on those around you.

It’s Contagious- Try This If You Are Struggling With Running

I’m not going to lie, running has been a drag for me lately.  During the two months we were in NYC, I was using running as a means to get back and forth from work.  I often ran four miles home from work in the morning, walked with the stroller back for four miles in the afternoon, and then ran home again each evening while pushing the stroller.  Running became more of a means to get from Point A to Point B and less about exercise or enjoyment.

Once I was home again, I was looking forward to just running.  But I was bummed when I got on the treadmill and realized I had lost my motivation.   It was frustrating.

As a coach, I often discuss with runners how there are times during the year when running will be less appealing.  It is normal to fall in and out of love with the sport.

Winter is often a time when running becomes more difficult.  If you live somewhere like we do, it is freezing outside and at times too dangerous to head outside.  Running on ice and snow can be difficult, scary, and can even change your gait which might cause injury.  Treadmills can be a great alternative, but sometimes monotonous.

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When you find that you go for several days or weeks without motivation to run, it can weigh heavily on your mind.  I have to remind myself that this too shall pass.  It really will.  Often, changes in the weather can bring new light and warmth to push you out the door.  Or perhaps a little break can make things more exciting.

Last weekend we took a trip to Chicago to visit family.  We had been locked inside during the Polar Vortex in Michigan, and Chicago had it even worse.  Fortunately, by the time we arrived in Chicago, temperatures had risen by 60 degrees and we were able to get outside for a run.

Saturday I logged 8 miles on snowy sidewalks.  It was a bit of a struggle, but it also felt so great to be running outside again without dozens of layers.

As I got deeper into my run, more and more runners were flocking to the sidewalks.  It was a lovely scene.  Everyone looked both relieved and so happy to be outside again.  In fact, every time I ran by someone, we locked eyes and smiled.  It felt great!  We were sharing a happy moment with each other, even if we were struggling with our miles.

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With every smile, my feet felt a little lighter.  I noticed that I wasn’t just smiling as I passed by another runner, but instead I was just smiling for the sake of running.  It was contagious and I felt happy!

It makes sense, when we smile we send chemical signals up to our brains that we are happy.  Our muscles relax and endorphins start pouring through our body.  When our muscles relax, our running economy improves.  This actually makes you a better and more efficient runner.  Endorphins make you feel good and can lessen your perceived exertion.

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I find that smiling when pushing the stroller makes things MUCH easier!

Isn’t it crazy to think that all you need to do to become a better runner is put a smile on your face?  Take a few moments to smile during your run and you will likely enjoy your exercise more and even find it to be a bit easier.

I’m (Finally) Back!

Where do I begin?  Happy New Year?!  My apologies for the delayed return.  I had planned to get back to blogging earlier, but as usual there were some unexpected twists.

Our late fall/early winter in New York was absolutely wonderful.  The weather cooperated for the most part and our family had great adventures in the city; a big change from our very rural life in the off season.

Our 3 year old, Mary, figured out how to get up off of the ice on her own and that was a huge game changer.  While I taught lessons every day at the ice rink in Central Park, she was able to skate around and join classes with us.  She decided that she was going to be both a figure skater and a hockey player!

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Helping mom string a hockey net for class.

Lucy, our now 16 month old, even got in on the fun and tried marching around in skates that were much too big for her.  She only wants to do what big sister does and I can’t blame her.

Where Did I Disappear To?

I had big plans to get back to blogging and running adventures in the New Year, but I kept seeing information about a very intriguing certification course for running coaches.  I decided to skip the blogging (and basically anything else) for the next few weeks to pursue a new coaching certification.

Revo2lution Running is a 4 week training course that delves deeply into the science of running.  While I have my RRCA certification along with my ACE Health Coaching Certification, I am always looking to learn more about running and health and wellness.

What I loved about this course was that it combined these two areas of interest on a deeper level that I have been looking for.  Understanding more of the science behind running as well as the differences in training for men and women was exactly what I wanted.  By passing this test, I also received certification to teach treadmill classes in facilities.  I’m really looking forward to starting these classes up soon.

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As a coach, I am always interested in broadening my knowledge of running and coaching.  I enjoy listening to other coaches and experts and bringing these new tools to runners who choose to work with me.  I’m looking forward to sharing some of the information I have learned and posting more in the next few weeks.

What are you goals for 2019?

Brings Me Back-NYC Marathon

Hello from New York City!  You may have noticed my absence the past few weeks, or perhaps not.  I know that I have been pretty quiet around here lately.  The reason for silence is because I have been busy working 7 days a week for the past few weeks at the ice rink in Central Park.  I used to work there years ago.  It was how I worked my way through college when I first arrived in New York and where I met my husband, on my first day of work.

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Six years ago, we left New York and moved to Chicago and later to Michigan.  We continue to work here in the spring and fall and last winter I got a text from a co-worker asking if I could work her maternity leave this winter.  Knowing the struggles of becoming a mom and then the next struggle of being a working mom, I gladly obliged to a return to Wollman Rink for a few weeks.

The work isn’t easy.  The hours are rough.  I’m up well before the sun rises each morning and I run home to meet the girls after a few hours on the ice.  I return to the ice later in the day to work some more, before running the 4 miles back to get our children fed and to bed.  We’ve suffered colds, sinus infections, and ear infections.  But we are finally on the mend and despite being exhausted, we are having a  great time in the city.  So please excuse my absence over the next few weeks, I have great plans for a big return after the holidays.

Until then, I want to offer a huge congratulations and thank you to all of the runners of the New York City Marathon.  Anyone who dares to run and anybody who dares to train and finish a marathon is a super hero.  It is an incredible process that requires months, and weeks, and hours of diligence.  There are days of exhaustion and times of injury.  But there is nothing more incredible than crossing that finish line.

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That time Mary was a few weeks old and we went to cheer on the last of the runners on their way through Brooklyn!

I ran for many years leading up to the first time I really had a chance to admire the New York City Marathon.  It is always hectic trying to get in and out of the rink in Central Park, as it is very close to the finish line.  Most years I worked all morning and afternoon and missed much of the race.  When I finally got my own apartment situated in East Harlem, right by the 19 mile mark, I had a sunny afternoon to myself and I went to watch the runners.

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Spectating a marathon will change even the hardest of souls.  You will witness humans at their absolute greatest.  People are drenched in sweat and struggling.  Some are beaming and smiling.  Others are grimacing and crying.  Along the sidelines you will find people of all backgrounds, coming together to cheer on family and friends, and strangers.  It is amazing!

Watching those runners who spent months training for this big event, that year, touched me.  I felt chills listening to a band up the street, and the cowbells ringing.  There were dozens of languages being spoken around me and people were calling out names of strangers whose names were taped across their bibs.

The marathon was a uniting force!

I went home feeling like a changed person.  I commented on what an incredible experience it appeared to be, but that I would never do something so crazy.  Yet, that moment stuck with me, and was the reason I have run several marathons and helped hundreds of others cross their own finish lines.

There is something very special about the New York City Marathon.  A city that can be so busy rushing to and from work and other occasions, finds the time to slow down to cheer for tens of thousands of strangers for one magical day.

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This year was extra magical because I got to take my girls to cheer on the runners near that same place that forever changed me.  Mary made a sign and was quite the hit waving and cheering on the runners.  At one moment she asked me why people were “stopping.”  I tried my best to explain to her how hard those last few miles are for so many of us.  I choked back tears as I held her and watched people passing by and said, “You run when you can and walk if you have to.  We all just keep going.”

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Congrats to everyone who ran New York and Indianapolis this weekend!

Post Race Recovery-Avoid Injury And Sedentary Craziness

Many runners just completed some major races this last weekend.  Others are getting ready to complete their final big races for the year.  What do you do after the race?  When do you come back?  How do you properly recover?  Remember that old rule that said you should take a day off for every mile you ran?  That is now a thing of the past and for many runners that is great news.  Can you imagine taking 26 days off after a marathon? Then again, maybe you can!

While there is quite a bit of science to running, there isn’t a set plan for recovery after an event.  There are several important factors to consider with your recovery:

How Long Was Your Race and Training Cycle:

Did you just complete an 18 week training cycle leading up to your marathon?  Were you running 50-60 miles per week during your plan?  You will likely require more rest than a runner who did a 12 week plan for a 10K.  The longer your training plan and the more miles completed might take a harder toll on your body and mind than a shorter race and mileage.

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How About a 5K to Couch Plan!

How Do You Feel?

This is a two part question.  While you need to consider how your legs and muscles are responding, you also need to assess how you are feeling mentally.  If you are experiencing tiredness and a loss of interest in running, go ahead and give yourself some time to fall back in love.  What is the point of hitting the pavement if it is no longer enjoyable?  This can be a normal feeling as you come off of training and the excitement of your event.  All runners go through this.  We need a break at times from all things we love and running is no different.

Some of the mental symptoms of Overtraining Syndrome are feeling sluggish, emotional, overly tried, sad, and just plain down in the dumps.  We all know that running is 90% mental, so it makes sense that we might need a break in this arena as well.

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Are You Dealing With Any Injuries?:

One of the hardest parts of any training cycle is avoiding injuries.  They are almost inevitable.  Most often, we train through these injuries.  Or perhaps you sustained an injury during the race.  It goes without saying that you need to give your body time to fully heal.  Sure, you can push through an injury to some extent to get through training.  But after the race is over, it would be unwise to continue with this approach.  Now is the time to rest and recover before you return.

There are so many different ways to approach injuries and I recommend you find what is most helpful for you and your needs.  Options range from traditional doctors and physical therapists to massage, acupuncture, yoga, and cupping.  Many facilities offer an array of different recovery techniques.  When you find an approach that you feel most comfortable and confident with, you are more likely to stick to a prescribed plan.

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Take Some Time To Reflect:

How do you feel your training went?  Are there things you would change?  What about the race?  Was it enjoyable?  Did the experience ignite a fire or inspire you to do something else?  Do you feel like this was a negative experience?

All of these questions are important to consider for your future.  Maybe you need a revenge race.  If that is the case you need to consider what went wrong and how you will change things moving forward.  Perhaps something went wrong in training.  The actual race might not have been the right one for you.

If you had a great experience and are ready to repeat or up the ante, you need to think about what went right in your training and how you can repeat that or make it even better.  Will you repeat the race or find another one that is similar?

Is is time to put racing to the side and just run for fun?  That is okay.  Some people love running for the sake of running and don’t need races or events to keep them content.  Think of different ways to help keep things exciting and motivating.

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Races and endurance events can be a great experience.  It can also take a mental and physical toll.  Your first goal should be to take care of you.  Rest and recovery are important.  This doesn’t mean you need to become a couch potato.  Active rest can be a perfect way to get back in the game healthy and happy.  Go for a walk, bike ride, swim, or play with the family.  Keep moving and take care of you!

Did you race this past weekend?  How was your experience?

The Plan Is, There Doesn’t Always Have To Be A Plan

Many people often mention to me that they are interested in getting started with running but don’t know where to start and aren’t quite ready to hire a coach.  This is totally understandable.  There is an abundance of information available on the internet about how to get started, such as Couch to 5k Plans.  While these can be very useful, it is often difficult to read through everything and know what is actually helpful and what might not be such great advice.

The truth is, running doesn’t always have to be a science.  Sure, if you are looking to improve your speed or increase your distance for a longer endurance race, having a set plan or a coach to guide you can make the process much easier.  However, if you are simply looking to begin running, you can make it just that: running simple.

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As I have mentioned in other posts, running isn’t always easy.  It gets easier, but there will always be an element of challenge in nearly every run.  This is what makes you feel so invigorated and accomplished when you finish!

To make the process easier, it is often helpful to start with shorter distances and use run/walk intervals.  Set a goal of doing 10 minutes your first time.  Try running for a minute and walking for two.  You can gradually increase the duration over time, as your body begins to adjust.  If you prefer, the run/walk intervals can also lengthen out.  However, I have many clients and friends who use the run/walk method exclusively for all distances from 5k’s through the marathon.

A helpful tool to decrease your risk of injury is to follow the 10% rule.  When you feel that you have comfortably accomplished a certain amount of time or distance, increase that amount by 10%.  You should also start your run intervals at a shorter amount than your walking intervals.  Follow a 1:3 or 1:2 run/walk at first and lengthen or decrease as necessary.

Remember any amount of running is running.  There is no rule that states how fast, how far, or how often you need to run to be a runner.  If you run, you are a runner!

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Running is your own personal journey.  This is about you feeling good about you and the experience.  Remember that it will be challenging.  It will take time for your body to adjust and become more comfortable.  Give yourself the freedom to make it work for you.

With some time and patience, you might find that you are ready to start looking for an appropriate plan for you or to hire a coach.  Until then, just run as you wish.

How do you like to approach your running?

Holding On To Uncomfortable: The Key To My Running

I recently realized why I am able to endure distance running.  It is often said that running requires a unique mindset.  My realization might just add proof to that theory.

The other day I was out for a run in the warm summer heat.  Lately I’ve had a few struggle runs and whenever it gets warmer, I tend to feel nervous about how things will go.  On this particular run, I made it to the halfway point and turned around feeling stronger than I had anticipated.  That is always a good feeling when you are uncertain of the outcome.

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I started thinking about upcoming races that I haven’t signed up for.  There are two marathons this fall that had been on my radar, but due to work schedules, they aren’t going to happen.  There are also a few shorter races that I have been considering but the thought of them made me a bit anxious.
I started questioning why shorter distances make me so nervous compared to the half and full marathon.  I’m not ashamed to admit that the 5k is a distance I avoid.  I despise that race.  To me, it is a sprint.  I have a competitive mind when it comes to races (my husband would tell you that is also the case with many things in life).  As much as I try, it is incredibly difficult for me to just “run” a race.  I’ve attempted this during a 5k and the moment I start getting passed by young kids, I can’t help myself.
To race a 5k is in my mind, a mad dash.  It is 3.1 miles of fast running and feeling absolutely awful at the finish.  A 10k has a slightly better pace for me.
The half and full marathons are mentally easier for me because you can slow that pace a bit and settle in.  The key, I realized is that I’ve learned to learn to hold onto uncomfortable at that distance.
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Running, in general, is an uncomfortable experience.  As you begin moving, your lungs work harder, you heart has to pump blood more efficiently, your muscles must do more.  Every cell in your body has to push more.  It is a taxing situation and it is uncomfortable.  It is hard!  
 
Learning to deal with the uncomfortable, to hold onto that feeling, and to move your mind away from that feeling is the key to enduring any distance.  You will likely always feel uncomfortable to some extent during running, but it will get easier.  That uncomfortable becomes more manageable.
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Our minds are a vital tool in the sport of running.  Finding ways to hold onto that uncomfortable is the key to enduring.
How do you hold onto uncomfortable?

Training Doesn’t Always Have To Be Perfect + Riding The Wave

This summer has already been a whirlwind for us.  The first half of June was spent preparing for our 2 year old’s first dance recital.  That was a crazy foretaste of what our lives will like be in a few years as our kids grow, and sports and other activities take over.  Rock was in NYC until the end of June and that meant the majority of my runs were on the treadmill while children took naps.

Every summer for the past few years Rock and I have participated in Traverse City’s National Cherry Festival of Races.  I realized this year that of all the races we have done, this is the only one we make a point to sign up for.  The Cherry Festival is a really fun event for all ages and their races are beautiful and well organized.  Despite the fact that Rock had been logging 30,000-40,000 steps each day in NYC but not always having a chance to get in a run and my lack of hitting the pavement, we decided we would do the half marathon again.

We also convinced my brother-in-law to come join us.  He had done his first half marathon in May and finished just under 2 hours.  Shortly after, we discussed his goal of aiming for a 1:50 half and decided that with some smart training, it could be a potential A goal for this particular race.  I created a plan for him and we worked out some game plans to get him through race day.

The week before the race, Rock and I decided that regardless of how little actual training we had done, we needed to get at least 10 miles in before race day.  I had been logging daily 7 mile runs, but hadn’t set foot in the hot summer conditions yet.  Obviously, we picked a day when the temps were to hit the mid 90’s.  By the time we dropped the girls off at daycare and started, the air was already soupy.  I knew it was only a matter of time before things fell apart.

Fell apart they did.  At mile 5 we stopped for a water break and by mile 6, I was down to taking a break every half mile.  I was dehydrated and felt ill.  I made it home, but was left feeling pretty defeated.

Then we left for our annual week in Northern Wisconsin where just about everything I ate was fried and every run was done pushing our double stroller up and down hills in the hot summer heat.  Things were not looking good!

Friday night we arrived home with our bellies full of the only fast food we could find along the interstate, leaving me up at 3:30am with heartburn.  Not exactly the ideal pre-race dinner!

An hour later we were up and fueling again, ready to hit the high school where buses were waiting to ship us out to the Old Mission Peninsula where the race would start at a winery.

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I would be lying if I didn’t say I was nervous.  I was beyond nervous.  I knew that my body could handle 13 miles.  I love double digit runs.  However, that 10 miler the week before was really playing hard in the back of my mind and race day was going to be relatively warm.  While it was 50 degrees when we started, I knew it was going to climb by 20 degrees over the next two hours.

The first two and a half miles wove up and down through dirt paths of local cherry orchards, before spitting us out on the road that runs along West Grand Traverse Bay.  From here we followed the bay for the next several miles.  The view is beautiful and the homes along the water are quite spectacular.

I felt good, but noticed that the heat was getting to me and I was waiting to see when my body would fall apart like before.  I had a mile where I started to feel like I was fading and feared the end was near.  Then I began to feel a renewed strength in my legs and my pace slowly increased.

I kept assessing how I was feeling, but at times I was reading into it too much.  I was trying to find the negativity.  Once I realized this, I worked to clear my head.  I turned my music up and just let my body settle in.  I had done this distance many times.  In the past, I was in better shape or more prepared, but my body and mind knew how to do this.

I forgot that every mile can be so different.  Some miles will feel great.  Other miles, your body will struggle.  There will be miles where your mind tries to fool you into giving up.  And there will be miles where you are ready to tackle just about anything.  The key is, you can’t let any particular mile take over your race.  You have to remember that things will change.  The good will come with bad.  The bad will eventually wash away.

When I remembered this, my mind gave my body renewed strength.  I had no idea where I was in the pack of runners, but I knew I would be okay and I decided to stop worrying about everyone else around me, and just run the rest of that race.

I crossed the finish line surprisingly better than I had expected.  When the results were posted I was walking to the car and happened to look on my phone.  I was shocked to see that I had finished 26th for the women and 3rd in my age group.  What a pleasant surprise!

You never know what might come of your training.  There might be injuries or other setbacks.  Life can get in the way.  The key is to do the best with what you have.  Make it work and then go forward on race day and trust your body.  Let your mind trust you.  Training will rarely be ideal.  That doesn’t mean that your race can’t have great results.  Roll with the wave and you never know where you will come out at the end.

 

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I also have to give a huge congrats to my brother-in-law who finished with a 12 minute PR in his second half marathon ever.  He’s seriously a rockstar!

Stick With It

I love training runners for races.  I also love training runners and athletes in general.  It is common for me to get e-mails from people looking to prepare for an upcoming race and I also have several who train year round.

Lately I have been noticing a trend.  Someone gets super excited about an event they registered for and we sit down and create a plan.  They dive in head first, and often times fall in love with the process.  It can be time consuming, but there are ways to make life work around training and vice versa.

Race day comes and the excitement builds.  Some races go well, others don’t, but most often the person finishes the race feeling really good about what they accomplished.  They celebrate with a necessary post race beer (or a few) and indulge in some delicious food.

Then they kick their feet up and rest for a few days.  I would of course recommend this.  Everyone needs to recover after a race and training cycle.

Sometimes though, that rest and relaxation phase feels a little too good.  We tell ourselves we will get back out there tomorrow and then tomorrow becomes next week.  Time goes by and next thing you know, it has been several weeks or months.  Suddenly, you’ve been gone so long you don’t know how you could possibly return.  You want to, but you feel a bit lost.

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Years ago I remember Oprah discussing her ups and downs with weight.  She said that sometimes as you gain weight you start to look at yourself and you’ve suddenly gained so much, it feels hopeless.  You don’t even know where to start or how it could possibly make a difference at this point.  Stepping away from exercise can feel a bit like this too.

A few months later I will get a desperate e-mail.  “I want to run a race that is coming up, but I don’t even know where to start.”  So we start the process all over again.

However, this time around things feel extremely frustrating.  Running used to be difficult, and then you built up that aerobic base, you learned how to get through the struggles, and it started to feel easier.  This time, you know what that felt like, but it is hard again.  It stinks to know how great it used to feel and be back in that difficult beginning situation again.  It makes getting started even more difficult, not only physically but also mentally.

Sometimes when we dive into a training plan, it can be exciting.  There is an end point and we are striving to reach that goal.  Once that goal has been met, it can feel great to breathe a sigh of relief and sit back for a few.  It can also seem a bit overwhelming.  Where do you go from here?  What is the next goal?

Keep in mind that there doesn’t always have to be a next goal.  There could be a distant goal such as, “Next year I want to do another half marathon.”  But that doesn’t mean you have to start training for a half marathon right now.

At the same time, keep in mind the progress you have made.  You don’t always have to be in marathon shape, or race shape.  That’s practically impossible.  Trying to do so would likely lead to an overuse injury.  On the other hand, you can stay in shape.  You can keep some of that endurance and forward momentum that you have made at a much smaller scale.  Your goal could just simply be to maintain your aerobic base and enjoy some easy mileage each week.

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Maybe you were doing double digit runs for several weekends leading up to an event.  Now you could do a few three mile runs during the week and enjoy a slow and long five mile Saturday.  There’s no set rules as to how far you need to go or even how fast you must be.

Not only will you maintain that ability to run that you gained from your training, you will be keeping your heart and whole body healthy.  Remember how much time you used to have to devote to training.  Now you only need to devote a fraction of that time.

Sometimes the idea of carving out time for a workout can seem overwhelming.  It’s easy to want to push it to the back burner.  But I also know that once you start doing this for a few weeks and make it a routine, that routine becomes a habit and a running habit is hard to break.  You will notice that it becomes easier and you might even start to crave your miles.  Make the time at first and eventually it will become second nature.

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Then the next time you see an event that is calling your name, you can sit down and figure out a plan, and know that you already are prepared to keep going.

One thing I always try to instill in my clients is that once you are a runner, you are always a runner.  It’s always there for you.  Take it and make it yours!  Even if you do end up taking a break from running, it will always be there when you are ready to return.