Cheers to Spectators!

After months of training this past Sunday the BIG event had finally arrived … the marathon. My friend and I had both had a bit of a rough training cycle, so we had vowed to stick together through thick and thin. We both had our fears that the other would change the plan and decide not to run together. My friend thought I would slow her down, and after coming down with a cold a few days before the race I seriously questioned whether I could finish – and if I would have to tell her to leave me behind.

We had a plan to start slow and try to finsh strong. During the first few miles we were going a bit faster then planned but still slower than “race pace” so we felt pretty good. But over the miles things began to wear and we ran into a few challenges, and while taking a walk break I got a bit chilled and actually put my jacket back on.

I’ve always been thankful to the people who take time out of thier weekend to come and cheer for random strangers running by – but as I was feeling the chill in the air it struck me again. “Spectators are really awesome,” I told me friend as I looked around at the cheering crowds with colorful entertaining signs. “Keep going!”, “You’re doing great!” they yelled as we passed.

I’ve had the opportunity to cheer for others at races, and I have to say – it is no small task! To be out there for a few hours constantly clapping and cheering and shouting words of encouragement is DRAINING! During the colder months you are also enduring cold fingers and toes and faces! You expend loads of energy giving it to those passing by who snatch up every bit of encouragement they can to keep pushing forward.

As they say, energy is not created or lost, it just changes form. I’ve felt the boost from a cheering race fan or high-fiving kid! It can bring the smile back to your face and push you a bit further down the course to the next group of cheering supporters.

If you haven’t been to a race as a spectator I highly recommend you try it. It’s inspiring and uplifting AND you will make someone’s day as you make eye contact and tell them how awesome they are as the run by.

So to all the runners out there, respect and appreciate the spectators for all they do for us on race day!

And to the spectators, hats off to you! You ROCK!! The race wouldn’t be the same without you!

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Runners, Stay Motivated After Your Fall Races!

One of my favorite topics for my running training groups is motivation. We all struggle with motivation from time to time and the best way to boost your motivation is to inject some fun and inspiration into your routine!

I struggle the most with training through the winter months – I’ve run my fall marathon, the holidays are on the horizon, life gets busy, and the weather conditions get … er … I’ll just say less than ideal for me. I’m not the most graceful person and running when surfaces can be slippery is a recipe for disaster! Winter is when I often fall back on my back-up plan – the dreaded treadmill.

So with the end of summer in sight (*SIGH!*) and fall races soon to be history it may be time to start thinking about your winter training game plan. Use some ideas from this list to pump up the fun, keep you on track and keep you going while you’re out there!

1. Sign up for a race! I sign up for at least 1 winter race and 1 early spring race – I’m too stubborn to let the money go to waste so I have to train to be ready!
2. Schedule a run with friends – the camaraderie will give you a boost and you won’t want to stand them up!
3. Create a playlist with your favorite upbeat songs – add new songs in so you have new music to look forward to!
4. Be a mentor – run with a friend who is just learning to run
5. Buy a bright new pair of running shoes or some new traction gear like Yaktrax!
6. Read the Runner’s World “The Runner’s Body” – inspiration can come from learning more about the physiology or running!
7. Run for a charity you are passionate about
8. Use a mantra – good words to include are FAST, STRONG, POWER, etc.
9. Keep a running log and track your miles – try for a new monthly PR
10. Read “Once a Runner” and “Again to Carthage” by John L. Parker Jr
11. Buy a new running gadget – a watch, water belt, or pedometer
12. Volunteer for a local race – some may let you earn credit toward a future race entry!
13. Go for a run purely for fun – not for time or distance. If it’s snowing, enjoy the peacefulness and beauty of the falling snow!
14. Try a new route or have a friend drop you off a few miles from home so you have to run the distance to get back home!
15. Buy a cool new running outfit – winter means new running clothes!
16. Watch “Spirit of the Marathon” – inspirational stories from newbies to elites!
17. Try trail running – this can be very beautiful, but you’ll want traction gear for sure!
18. Run for those who can’t – be grateful for every run! We can take our running for granted so it’s good to remember how lucky we are to be out there!
19. Try a relay, triathlon, duathlon, mud run or obstacle run – winter is a good time to plan out your next season and determine how you need to train to be best prepared!
20. Make a funny sign and go cheer for other runners at a race!

And remember, it’s easier to continue running than to stop and have to start all over again. Use these motivators to remind yourself why you started running in the first place, whether it was to meet new friends, get healthier, improve your body, or just prove to yourself that you can do something amazing!

So keep being amazing! Now go lace up and have a great run! 🙂

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Are you a Real Runner??

I started running 5 years ago and I remember it took me some time before I felt comfortable calling myself a “runner”. Others would refer to me as a runner, or even as a *gasp!* ATHLETE and I would sheepishly shrug and look at the ground and answer their questions or tell them about my training or latest race. I didn’t want “real” runners to think I was taking liberties with their hard earned classification so would tell people, “I’m not a runner, I just like to run”. I even searched through well known running websites online trying to find a definition for the term so I would know when I officially qualified! Crazy, right?!?

“I often hear someone say I’m not a real runner. We are all runners, some just run faster than others. I never met a fake runner.”
-Bart Yasso

Now that I am comfortable with the term (after completing all of the milestones I had defined in my head) I see others who, like I once was, are so reluctant to declare themselves as runners. You shrug off the term and say things like, “I’m not a real runner – not like you.” You may even feel like a pretender when you encounter another runner on the street – I know I did!

So for all of you who doubt your runner status here’s what I have to say to you:

Do you pick up your pace to that which is quicker than a walk and have less than 2 feet on the ground while doing so? HELLO RUNNER!! Welcome to the club!

Running is not about how fast or slow you go, about running X number of races, or even any races! It’s not about hitting a certain threshold of miles per week or about having all the latest gadgets and gear (although that is fun 🙂 ).

Here’s a bit of insight for you: when I’m out driving in my car and I pass someone running along the street, I think, “Runner!” (In fact I usually tag you out loud. Just ask my husband – he can confirm.) I AM NOT thinking, “that person doesn’t LOOK like a runner”, or “that person is too slow to be a runner”, or even “that person doesn’t know how to run”. I’m thinking about how lucky you are to be out there running, and I’m wishing I was out there too! (OK, and sometimes I’m checking out your shoes…)

So next time you’re feeling some doubt about whether or not you’re a real runner, put on those running shoes and head out the door and prove it to yourself once again that you ARE, in fact, A RUNNER!

Now get out there and run!

Happy Running!

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