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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If you hate The Gym consider Activities!

I learned an important lesson the other day. I was chatting with a client about gym workouts and how it can be such a struggle to find the motivation to get to the gym, and I asked, “Is there another activity that you would enjoy more?” We talked about the idea of working out and going to the gym vs. going for a walk or bike ride, and how going to the gym can have negative feelings associated while we may not recognize other activities as acceptable ways to exercise our bodies.

Consider the common phrases “I need to work out” and “I need to go to the gym”. We don’t often express excitement about these activities and we use words that indicate this is a chore, but when we talk about going for a bike ride or going to play volleyball with friends we usually feel anticipation and joy.

When we say “workout” or “the gym” certain thoughts and feelings may spring to mind:
CHORE, bummer, no fun, so hard, too much time, dread, frustration

But when we talk about activities like going for a walk or bike ride, playing a game of volleyball, or playing badminton in the yard other more positive images may spring to mind:
JOY, fun, time with friends / family, play, freedom, happiness

Some people do love going to the gym, but if you find that negative thoughts are deterring you from getting the exercise your body needs, consider whether or not the gym is the right solution for you.

As a runner I have many people ask me if I think everyone should run. While I very much enjoy running and I love watching and helping others discover a passion for running, I don’t believe it is the right activity for everyone. I believe you should do whatever activity YOU enjoy whether it be running, walking, hiking, yoga, biking, spinning, CrossFit, basketball, volleyball, Zumba, tennis, or WHATEVER, because it is the joy in YOUR activity that will keep you engaged and active.

Find YOUR passion and get active!

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#5 Tip for Better Health

Move your body!  Remember that old saying “Move it or lose it”?  That applies to your body as well!  If you want to stay mobile, be mobile!

Exercise has so many great benefits – it improves your mood, reduces stress, strengthens your heart, helps control your weight, and more!

What is the best exercise for you?  One that you ENJOY!  Some people like the solitude of running or walking alone, while some like to join clubs to meet other people.  Some enjoy the group atmosphere of an organized class like spinning, Zumba, or yoga.  And some prefer sports or activities like softball, basketball, ice skating, or gardening.  Whatever it is that motivates you to get active and stay active – THAT is the right activity for you!

How often should you exercise?  There are so many varying opinions on this.  Ideally you should aim for 30-60 minutes per day of some type of activity.  Often life gets in the way of our ideal goals, so set your minimum expectation to 30 minutes every other day.  If you can’t fit a full 30 minutes into your day in one chunk try breaking it up – 10 minutes 3 times per day or 15 minutes twice a day.  Take a walk around the block during your lunch break and then do some strength exercises before dinner – crunches, push-ups, squats, lunges, bicep curls and shoulder presses with weights.

Get creative!  Too cold outside?  Do laps around inside your office building!  Don’t have any hand weights?  Use soup cans or water jugs!

Make it fun for the whole family!  Turn on music and get everyone dancing!  Go sledding!  Play badminton in the yard!

Make exercise a part of your life and you will reap the rewards in you health and your happiness.

So, how are you planning to get active today?

Get Active

Runner’s World The Runner’s Body

An in-depth look at how the runner’s body works including an explanation of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), different theories on what causes cramping and how your body uses different types of fuel. A great read for anyone looking to improve their running performance or anyone trying to resolve nagging injuries or other issues. Includes tips, exercises and detailed scientific information that is present in a very user-friendly way.

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Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen

In this inspiring book Christopher McDougall recounts his journey to Mexico to find the legendary Caballo Blanco (Micah True 1953-2012) as he seeks answers about how to overcome a nagging injury. True was a quiet man who enjoyed running great distances and seemed to have many qualities in common with the Tarahumara Indians of the Copper Canyon, and was the only outsider who had been accepted by the tribe. Known as the Running People, the Tarahumara regularly run extremely long distances as part of their daily routine. McDougall eventually meets many tribe members, and with Caballo Blanco organizes a 50 mile race where tribe members compete side by side with non tribe members.

Now an annual event, this race formerly known as the Copper Canyon Ultramarathon is now named Caballo Blanco Ultra, honoring the man who has inspired so many. Learn more about the ultra here: http://www.ultracb.com/

UPDATE: Please see the comments on this post for corrections and additional information. Many thanks to Maria Walton, Race Director, UltraMarathon, Caballo Blanco!!

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The Runner’s Book of Daily Inspiration

This is a great one for all you runners out there — or for those of you with a special runner in your life, this makes a great gift! This book reminds us why we love running on those days when we sometimes forget. Kevin Nelson has compiled a wonderful selection of quotes, anecdotes, and resolutions, such as, “I define myself as a runner and, in doing so, find myself.” Love it! 🙂 The page a day format makes it easy to use as either a daily source of inspiration, or as a fun way to get a bit of inspiration here and there as needed – just flip to today’s page!

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Spirit of the Marathon

This inspiring documentary follows 6 runners from first-timer to elite as they train for the Chicago Marathon. We hear their stories of why they run and what drove them to want to run the marathon. We watch as they prepare for race day and run the race that has been the center of their focus for the last 4 months and the emotions it evokes as they reach their goals. A must see for anyone who has ever run a marathon, is currently training for one, or dreams of someday running one.

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