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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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?

Stop Lights & Running- It’s A Love/Hate Relationship

Last week I did one last final long(ish) run in Florida before we headed back north.  I started out feeling great.  I thought this was going to be the one where I took on the world.  Four miles into my 10 planned miles, I knew it was going to be another  struggle.

I spent the past few weeks really looking forward to my time in warm weather.  However, like clockwork, anytime my husband has to go away for work in the winter, we get hit with illness and a storm.  We got nailed with two of each!  With two sick kids and a driveway full of snow, I opted to shovel while they napped.  Unfortunately, the snow banks got so high that I had to kick the shovel up over the drifts to make any progress.  All of this culminated in a doozy of a tight glute/hamstring.

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Repeat picture.  I will continue to whine about it until it is gone!

My first few runs in Florida were frustratingly slow, not only due to the heat, but also because my right leg literally dragged on the ground with each stride.  My shoe was even worn down on the heel!  By the end of the trip I had stretched and worked the muscles out enough that most of my runs were endurable, but they still tightened up as my miles progressed.

On that last run, I was nearing the end when I saw a stop light up ahead.  In the past, I would normally plead with the light to stay green so I could keep going and maintain my pace.  This one was a little different.  I actually spent a quarter of a mile watching the light change, trying to figure out if I would be lucky enough to get the red light.

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I laughed at my whiney, miserable self.  Look at me here, begging my muscles to pound out a few more miles, pleading my sweaty self to go just a little further.  At the same time, I was hoping fate would force me into a break.

This made me think of marathons where courses run across train tracks.  There have been instances where runners have been forced to stop to allow a train to cross.  We have all heard of the runners who were on par for a PR or a BQ who were forced to stop and were furious with the race and their results.   But I had to question, how many runners secretly thought, “Thank goodness.  I’ve been dying for an excuse to stop!”  Then they can also later say they ran a X:XX marathon, but that would have been much faster had they not been forced to stop for a train crossing.

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This may have been more accurate.

Those stop lights can be a funny thing.  You can use them to your advantage, regardless of whether you want to keep going or you need an excuse to stop.  I have a new appreciation for those annoying red lights.  At least for now.

Red lights- nay or yay?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Warm Weather Running After A Cold Winter

Happy Monday!  Please excuse my absence.  We were hit with a nasty stomach bug. We are healthy now and took a 20 hour drive down to Florida to escape the ridiculous amounts of snow that we have been getting in Northern Michigan.  Quite honestly, our family is fed up with winter.

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Hopefully the last time I shovel the driveway this winter.

Last week we had a blizzard (literally) and another snow storm.  Large amounts of snow make running outside difficult.  The snowplows do a great job, but don’t always reach our neighborhood in time for a workout.  Running in heavy snow can be very difficult and can also change your gait, increasing your risk of injury.

On top of this, I have a toddler who still takes naps.  The combination of weather and young children means that I often have to schedule my runs during nap-time.

To be quite honest, I don’t mind the treadmill.  After years spent working outside in Central Park during the winter, I don’t particularly care for cold weather.  I’d much rather spend my time being warm and on a beach.

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That brings us to Florida!  I’ve spring vacationed in this state pretty much my entire life.  We enjoy the St. Augustine area for its history, cultural experiences, and long flat runs on the beach.

Our first few days here were chilly, and running was easy and breezy.  However, when we got our first hot day, I hit the struggle bus.  Every year this happens to me and this was the first year that I gave myself the grace to take walk breaks when necessary.  Because I had done some outside running in the days before, I knew that it was the weather and not me.  My body just needed to get acclimated.

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So what do you do when you visit a warm place after running in the cold for several months?  And what happens if you have been running inside on the treadmill all winter and find yourself on a hot and humid run?

With either scenario, you are going to experience some changes that might present some difficulty.  Both scenarios also present some advantages.

For the cold weather outdoor runner- you are going to be pleasantly pleased to see that your outdoor running has you somewhat acclimated.  Hills, wind, and other obstacles will be familiar territory.  You might also find that running feels easier with fewer layers and unobstructed ground.

On the flip-side, you are definitely going to notice the warm weather quite quickly.  Remember how awful it felt to run in the cold at first?  Then your body adjusted and 20 or 30 degrees suddenly “didn’t feel so bad.”  You will need to acclimate to the warmer temps and that is going to take a little patience.

For the inside treadmill runner- you might be pleasantly surprised to see that running in a warm and humid gym setting might give you an advantage with the weather changes.  While you will still need to adjust, it might not take you quite as long.

You may find that hills, wind, and other terrain changes will present other obstacles for you.  My quads were singing after a few days of running outside.  Muscles that were used less or in different ways were being asked to work again.

Most runners will need to make a few changes at first.  Whether you ran inside or outside during the winter, if you are going to be running somewhere warm and humid soon, you will need to make a few adjustments.

You definitely need to stay on top of hydration.  Warm weather means more sweat.  Excess sweating leads to dehydration.  Keep drinking water and consider adding some electrolytes to your hydration plan.  Nuun and Vitamin Water Zero are great examples that can help keep you hydrated and even retain some of that water when you get started.

Slow everything down!  Don’t worry about your pace.  Just because your body asks you to slow down as you adjust to the weather, doesn’t mean you are losing progress in your training.  Remember that slow running actually has great benefits and your body is just asking for a little help getting used to your new environment.

It’s okay to walk when you need to.  I will admit that this is the hardest rule for me, but when I remember that it’s okay to take walk breaks as my body is adjusting, everything gets a little easier.  Forcing myself to be miserable isn’t making me a better runner and it certainly doesn’t make the run enjoyable.  When you find the need to walk, turn it into a game and use landmarks to help get you through.

Just enjoy the sunshine and your ability to run and remember that in a few days, everything will feel easier.

How do you handle changes in weather and environments when you run?

Legs Feel Like Lead When Running- It’s Normal and Not

After blogging for over five years, the most viewed post on my website is about Legs Feeling Like Lead When Running.  Check out the link if you want to read some of my older content.  Then continue on for some updated information.

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I still remember the inspiration for that initial post.  It was our first winter in Chicago and I was determined to not let the weather get the best of my running.  I spent a few days trapped inside during our first Polar Vortex.  After one snow storm, I headed out for a nice long run.  I had to run through snow hills and many sidewalks that hadn’t been shoveled (shame on you non-shovelers!).  It was miserable.  After a few days of this my legs just felt so heavy.  The extra effort it took to get over hills or through slushy paths, reminded me of marathon training.

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At the same time, I had several runners training for various spring half and full marathons and they were asking me if it was normal for their legs to feel tired.

The answer is Yes.  And No.

The marathon, by nature, is meant to build you up and break you down.  You take your body to places you haven’t been before.  You run more miles than you normally would.  You often do training runs that push paces beyond what you are used to.  All of this will cause your legs to be tired.

Your legs will feel tired and heavy. That is normal at times.  But there are also ways to help combat that constant heavy feeling:

Run your slow runs slowly.  If your training plan calls for slow training runs, do these as planned.  They allow you to run faster and longer on your other training days.

By running faster on your planned slow days, you are not making yourself faster or stronger.  You are delaying recovery and defeating the purpose of your run.  Slow runs train you to become more aerobically efficient and allow your body to recover.  If you ignore these paces, you risk injury.

If you run too fast on your slow days, you also make it harder to run fast on the days when your training requires these paces.  By running slow on required slow pace days, you will be able to run faster on the days where workouts push the pace.

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Treat your body well.  Recovery is essential to training.  Fuel with carbohydrates 30 minutes after a training run.  If your body is aching, pull out the foam roller.  Take a soak with epsom salts.  Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

What do you do to combat those heavy legs?

Minutes Vs. Mileage In Training

To become better endurance runners, we need to utilize different types of runs.  One of the most important workouts is the long, slow run.  Obviously, if you are going to do a longer race like a half or full marathon, this is important for building up mileage.

However, we often neglect the most important factors of these long runs, that occur at the molecular level within our bodies.  The long run is where our bodies learn to utilize glycogen more efficiently.  We are only capable of holding small amounts of glycogen within our muscles and liver, but through long runs, we teach our bodies how to empty these reserves more efficiently.

The long run trains our bodies to use fat as fuel, which delays the need to use carbohydrates.  This allows you to run longer with less fuel.

Long runs break down muscle fibers and our bodies learn to rebuild, creating stronger and healthier muscles.  This is necessary for the demands of longer endurance races.

Running longer also trains our bodies to become more aerobically efficient.  As we create a greater demand for oxygen to be pumped through our bodies, our hearts become stronger.  Blood begins pumping harder and in larger quantities throughout our body.  Oxygen rich blood reaches our muscles and allows us to run longer, and faster.

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Our bodies comprehend time.  They do not comprehend miles.  Your body knows that you have been running for 60 minutes but it doesn’t recognize that you just ran 5 miles.  This important to understand, because your body needs that 60+ minute run to achieve all of the benefits of aerobic endurance training.  However, 5 miles is quite arbitrary.  Some runners can complete a 5 mile run in 40 minutes, while this might take over an hour for other runners.

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The point here is that it is important not to get caught up in the number of miles or your pace when you are working to become a more efficient endurance runner.  Your body needs time more than miles.  This is why you need to go slowly on your long runs.  When you run slowly, you allow your body to get through those longer miles.  When we try running too fast, we begin asking too much of our muscles and aerobic system, making it more difficult to complete your necessary miles/time.  If the number of miles seems daunting to you, aim for a time goal.  This is what your body is relying on anyway.

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The pace is not what creates these molecular changes.  Time is what creates change.  Allow yourself to slow down so that you can complete your longer runs and reap all the benefits.

Long Slow Runs = Fast Races

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?

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.