Getting Into The Spirit of Running

Last night was pretty awesome around here.  As many of you know I have had the incredible opportunity this summer to coach MDA’s Team Momentum here in Chicago.  The people on this team are all incredible and the cause is something I believe to be truly special.  Over the past few months I have had the chance to get to know most of the members and it has been such a great experience to watch them transform into marathoners.  Most of them are first time marathoners and between those running their first and the others with a marathon already under their belt it has been so fun to watch them come together as a team.

For me it has been so awesome to watch this group transform since our first long run.  We met back on the first weekend of June to do a 5 mile run together.  Many struggled and as a coach I did wonder just a bit how we would all make it to the marathon in one piece.  Not only have they all made it, but pretty much every single one has surprised me with their strength to push through the rigors of training.  To top it all off we have had a really good time together.

As I mentioned in my post yesterday we met last night to have a pasta dinner as a team and watch The Spirit of The Marathon.  I did make a new crockpot Bolognese sauce and I will have to post the recipe on here soon because it turned out to be quite delicious.  If you are running any kind of race this fall I highly recommend checking this movie out.  I purchased it off of Amazon because our TV can connect to the internet but you can also watch it for free on hulu.


Look at that awesome team. I’m expecting some course records after this movie viewing!

There are a few quotes throughout the movie that really touched me and I had to share:

“Sometimes the moments that challenge us most, define us.”-Deena Kastor  I think that this is pretty much a metaphor for life.  Working with the MDA I believe this quote can go way beyond just our running and into many people’s lives.  Having the opportunity to run and work with a charity has allowed myself and the other team members to see that this is more than just about running and it is about life’s challenges.  Getting to the finish of just about any race is one huge, and often painful, hurdle.  There is no way you can come across the finish line without becoming a changed person.  This is a physical and mental challenge.

“No matter how fast or how slow, it will change your world.”- Dick Beardsley  It really doesn’t matter what your pace is.  If you run a race, if you walk a race, if you train your way to the starting line it will change your life.  I say this all the time and it is the honest truth, running is not easy.  It never gets easy.  It might get easier over time but generally speaking you just run faster or you run further and it continues to be challenging.  The mental and physical stamina that this sport requires builds you into a person you might never have believed you could become.

“It’s about people competing and completing.  The beauty of the sport is that it is big enough to embrace us all.”-Frank Shorter  There are not many sports that can allow you to pick it up at just about any age regardless of what shape you are in.  It will put you through the wringer, but you can truly start running at just about any point in your life.  There is a race for just about anybody and no doubt there will be someone out there on the course cheering you on whether you are in the lead or finishing at the very end.  That is a sport that I am pretty proud to be a part of!

To all of you training this fall and to all of you who endured running through the hot and steamy summer, congrats.  You should all be proud of yourselves.  Keep up the fantastic work!

How About Some Inspiration To Get You Going?

It’s cold, it’s dark, you ate your weight in holiday food, and you know you should go run but you lack the motivation.  How about some running inspiration kick in the pants?  Below are some of my favorite reads and flicks that get my blood pumping and keep my feet pounding the pavement.


Born To Run– Christopher McDougall


There is a very good chance that if you are already a runner you read this to help get you started or just for the love of running.  This is a National Bestseller and a modern running classic.  It started the barefoot running craze, but I personally took a lot more out of it than that.  This book contains several running stories within the main story as it takes you to the Copper Canyons of Mexico with a few awesome ultra runners.  The book takes you back to the basics and early history of running all while making you a true believer that each of has an inner running self.

Ultramarathon Man- Dean Karnazes


Some people love him, others hate him but Dean Karnazes can seriously run and for a long, long time.  This book follows his late start as a couch potato turned runner extreme.  He turned his life around and has become an incredibly successful ultra athlete.  This is a fun and quick read and will make even the laziest of us feel like we can get out there and run 100 miles.

The Long Run- Matt Long


This is by far one of my favorite books ever.  Matt Long was an accomplished triathlete and had just qualified for the Boston Marathon when he was run over by a bus during the NYC transit strike on his way to work with the FDNY.  After nearly dying and being severely mangled by the bus, Long documents his slow and arduous recovery and desire to become a runner again.  This book is full of inspiration not only for running but for life in general.  I shed many a tear of sadness and joy with this book.

Once a Runner- John L. Parker Jr.


This is a cult classic from the 1970’s.  Parker self-published this and sold it out of the back of his car at races.  This book follows a competitive athlete through his college years as he trains his body and mind in ways you wouldn’t imagine possible. This book embodies the personality of a typical Type A runner and wild, unruly male college athlete.  I thought a lot about the main character’s insane training during my own long runs.


“Spirit of the Marathon” I & II


I highly recommend these movies in anticipation of marathon training, right before a race or just to reignite your love of running.  Both of these documentaries follow several runners from beginner to elite during their training process for the Chicago (episode I) and Rome (episode II) marathons.  They are informative and amusing all in one.  You laugh, you tear up, and you leave feeling ready to take on any run.  I watched the first one years ago and just loved it. I recommended this to my husband before his first 20 mile training run.  He was hooked and really did think it helped get him through that first big hurdle.  We were lucky enough to see the national premier of “Spirit of the Marathon II” in theaters the week before we ran our marathon.  It was awesome!

“Running the Sahara”


And you thought getting out the door to do your daily 3 mile run was rough.  This documentary follows 3 elite runners as they trek across the Sahara Dessert for 111 days and over 4,300 miles.  It is an incredible journey documented by National Geographic.  This movie takes you through their highs and lows both mentally and physically.

“Unbreakable: The Western States 100″


The Western States 100 is the oldest and considered by many to be the most prestigious 100 mile mountain ultra run through the Sierra Nevada.  This race is so difficult to finish in the 30 hour time frame that it is famed for the prized belt buckle you earn if you can make it to the finish in time.  This documentary follows 4 of the top runners as they make their way through their race not only wanting to get their hands on the buckle but vying for the top spot.

This is by no means a complete list, but a good one to get you started.  Let me know if you have any favorites that I forgot.  Let’s keep the inspiration going!