I have a pretty concrete running schedule each week. I run five days a week, do at least one speed workout, one long run, and easy runs to fill in. I cross train on Mondays and take a rest day on Friday. This has been my running schedule every week since January. It gets old though and sometimes, especially when I’m not training for anything in particular, it gets boring. I’ll admit sometimes my runs are very un-inspiring. Yesterday I had planned to do a long-ish run, 8-10 miles. But I woke up, it was hot and very humid and I just wasn’t feeling it so I didn’t do it- and that’s OK. Sometimes it’s better to take a rest day when you’re not feeling it than to go out and slog through a run, especially when you aren’t training for something. Sometimes you need to start fresh to feel inspired again. That’s what I’m doing now and I think it’s working. Happy running!
I set a 5K PR today and I have my new running mantra to thank.
On Thursday, I set out for my usual 5-mile lunchtime loop run. I had done intervals the day before and wanted to take it easy to prep for my race this weekend, a 5K. So, I started the run around 9:04/mile pace and I was feeling pretty good.
It was an overcast day and it was one of those runs where I was able to just let my mind wander, not worry about the work waiting for me when I got back, and just enjoy the miles. My second mile pace dropped down to 8:37. Huh. I guess I’m feeling pretty good, I thought. I decided to try to just maintain the 8:30ish pace for the remainder of the run and finish feeling good and fresh for my race.
Third mile: 8:34/mile. Ok, not too far off the previous one but getting faster and still feeling good. Fourth mile: 8:24/mile. This mile gave me pause because I thought I was on my way to a pretty solid progression run so at that point I set the intention to finish strong and fast (hoping for a 7:?? for my fifth mile).
This is when I came up with my new run mantra- “Last mile, strong mile. Kick it in.”
I wanted the 7:?? For my last mile. I really wanted it. So I channeled my inner Mary Cain, known for her incredible final kick, and kicked it in… “Last mile, strong mile. Kick it in.”
When I finally went in for the last 200m of my run and heard the beep of my Garmin for mile 5, I looked down at my watch- 7:45/mile.
I was really proud of myself after this run and it truly taught me the importance of having a mantra that you can fall back on to help you kick it in during that last hard mile.
Saucon to Boston 5K
So today when I went to run the Saucon to Boston 5K, I told myself, if it starts to feel too hard and I’m beginning to feel too uncomfortable I’ll just remind myself of my mantra. Well, I used it today and it worked.
I went to the race with Megan and Kelsey. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with this race. It was local, we signed up last-minute, and it was very small but it meant a lot to me to be able to do a run dedicated to Boston and the victims of the bombings. It was a beautiful morning, a little warmer than I would’ve liked, but it just felt great to get outside with friends and the local running community.
We did an easy warmup mile and Megan told me if I wanted to PR she would pace me for the race. Secretly, I really wanted to set a new PR but I hadn’t really done my normal race day prep so I wasn’t sure if my body would cooperate. I was feeling pretty good on our warmup so I told Megan I was all in, let’s set this PR.
My previous 5K PR was set at the Boston Marathon B.A.A. 5K on April 14, the day before the Boston Marathon. My time there was 25:23, a 5K PR by more than 2 minutes. I knew my next PR wouldn’t be that big this time, but I really wanted to break the 25-minute mark.
This was a no-frills race- no chip time, about 100 people, no corrals- but I almost like those races better than the bigger ones. We lined up kind of close to the start and when the gun went off, Megan and I set off, dodging running strollers, people running with dogs, and little kids. Despite the obstacles, we were able to get into a break and ran the first mile in 7:56.
I wasn’t feeling 100 percent, my breathing was heavy, and my arms kept creeping up instead of staying in the optimal 90 degree position. But Megan, being the awesome pacer she was, kept reminding me to take a deep breathe and relax my arms. She said we’d run the next mile a little easier since we got a bit too excited at the start.
This was an out-and-back course on a gravel rail trail so when the turnaround point was in sight I could feel my body settle in- this is it. We kept trying to pick people off and Megan continued to remind me to keep my arms relaxed and ease my breathing. It all helped but by mile 3, I was starting to enter the pain zone. I had yet to look at my watch, I didn’t want to know where we were in the race or what my pace was, but at 2.58 miles, an 800 to go, I looked and saw we were on pace to PR. Megan yelled at me for looking but I feel like that’s when I was able to kick it into gear. I didn’t feel great but I reminded myself of my mantra: “Last mile, strong mile. Kick it in.”
The finish line was in sight and Megan turned to me and told me to open up my stride and that it was “balls to the wall here on out.” I did as I was told and gunned it to the finish coming in at 24:59, squeaking just under my goal of breaking 25-minutes. I was ecstatic and so proud of myself! Was it fun? No, not really, I felt like crap most of the time. But I did it, thanks to Megan and my mantra.
We walked through the finishing chute grabbed our waters and went to pick up our shirts. Not too long after Kelsey joined us. She set a PR too of 25:50, nearly a 3-minute PR! Her race strategy was the keep us in sight for as long as she could, and it clearly worked.
I never knew the benefit of having a mantra because I never had my own. I tried to use other people’s mantras but I truly believe a mantra is something that can only be manifested on a really tough run. Mantras are so deeply personal in that respect, but I think that’s why they work, right? “Last mile, strong mile. Kick it in.”
What is your running mantra and how has it helped you?
It’s been a VERY busy last couple of days with the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend I went to with Runner’s World but it was an amazing weekend. I ran the half-marathon (race recap to come later) and hit a HUGE PR! The race gave me the confidence to go forward with the 2013 run resolution a little sooner than I planned (again, post to follow) but I’m feeling good about it and can’t wait to start. Meanwhile, a little Monday Motivation is always good and I saw this graphic on Pinterest and had to share it. Run strong this week!
This is an important reminder for winter running. While it might feel better to sleep in and snuggle in your bed on a cold Saturday morning, you’ll feel much better when you come home after a nice long run. You can always warm up with a warm cup of hot chocolate for the rest of the day! Happy running this week!
Today I ran 12 miles to play out 2012. That’s 12 miles more than I could run less than a year ago. Honestly, it’s 12 miles more than I ever could have imagined running before last March. To say this year has transformed me would be the understatement of the century. 2012 did not start out as the easiest year for me, in fact, it may have been the roughest start of any year of my life, but I’m leaving this year stronger and more confident in myself than I’ve ever felt before.
I took my first running steps in the middle of last March. I was not in a good place emotionally at the time and needed to focus on something bigger. Little did I know within 10 months it would become my passion and play a huge role in my life.
As I write this, I’m still having a hard time putting to words how much running has changed my life this year. To non-runners this probably all sounds cliché- how could exercising make you a better person, find yourself even? Well, to my runner friends, they know more than anyone that running is one of those things that strips you down to your core. Makes you figure out what you’re truly made of. That’s true for most of my running friends and it has been true to me this whole year.
I started with a Couch-to-5K run/walk program last March and it took me weeks to get off the treadmill and out on the road. Slowly but surely, my confidence began to build and I felt comfortable on the road. Then I got runner’s knee and felt completely defeated. Just when I was starting to feel comfortable, I’m sidelined by injury? Well, that’s the thing about running. My dad always said running builds you up so high one minute and the next minute it can all be taken away. But I guess that’s part of the thrill and it’s what keeps us all coming back for more.
After my runner’s knee healed, I wanted more and decided to train for a half-marathon. Training was going flawlessly and my mileage continued to increase and then a month before the half-marathon I was struck with a terrible case of IT Band Syndrome. I remember the day in August like it was yesterday when I couldn’t even run a mile on the treadmill. I pressed the big red stop button fell to the ground and basically started crying.
After a week off, and complaining on Twitter, a fellow runner, Ryan Knapp, reached out to me and offered to help with my form because he said that was probably the root of the ITBS problem. He was 100 percent right and with three quick changes I was back on the road, running stronger and faster than ever and finished my first half-marathon at the Hampton Rockfest Half-Marathon in September.
That is another thing about running- the running community is so tight-knit, supportive and just plain awesome! I’ve met so many amazing people just through running and I haven’t even met many of them in person! It sounds weird to the non-running blogger but I’ve met some really amazing people through #runchat and other amazing networks and I can honestly call them my friends. I was also honored to be chosen as a Greatist and FitFluential ambassador, my blog was highlighted on the RunChat website during August for Running Blog Month and even nominated for a RunChat blogging award for best new running blog! The running community had supported me through injuries and congratulated me on running accomplishments and I’ve done the same for them. It is their support and motivation that keeps me going and inspires me to achieve more.
Running also did an amazing thing for me this year by landing me an unbelievable job at Runner’s World magazine as an editor. This is something I couldn’t have imagined in a million years but the experience of graduating from college, getting a job as a reporter and then only a few months later landing an editor job is unfathomable in and of itself. But, the fact that I get to write about running, something I’m so passionate about, is just icing on the cake!
This leads me to my final point and the thing that has brought me the most joy this year from running and that’s been connecting with other runners and helping them out. While I am definitely not an expert, I’m a self-proclaimed novice, I only hoped that my running escapades could help other people and now people are asking ME for advice! Some people start running or a new fitness routine to get in better shape. I started running to change my life and find myself and I’ve gotten that and so much more out of it. While my 2012 only consisted of 10 months of running I’m looking forward to what 2013 will bring. I don’t think this post does my year justice but it’s something I’ll continue to reflect on. I wish everyone the best in 2013 and Happy New Year!
Setting goals is always scary, especially when you tell people about them. It takes courage to set goals because if you try to achieve them but miss the mark, it’s disappointing, not just to you but to other people. But it’s important to be confident in yourself and even when you might miss your goal, take comfort in knowing you tried your best and gave it your all. I have some big goals for 2013 and they scare me but that’s okay because I believe I can do them and that’s what matters. Don’t be afraid to dream big!
Living in the northeast the weather come winter gets cold, dreary and very snowy. For some people, this is their favorite time of year. For others, it’s the worst. If you’re like me, you love the snow and holiday cheer in the beginning of the season but come January 1, I’m done!
It’s also hard to get through the winter if you are trying to stick to a relatively strict training program- especially if it involves running outdoors. But don’t fret! It’s not impossible. All you have to do is set some goals and guidelines to follow and you’ll cruise through the winter months with no problems!
- Set a short term AND long term goal- For me, my short term goal is to get faster. How am I going to accomplish this? Well I started a sub-50 10K training plan with a goal race at the beginning of February. This way, I’ll have a plan to follow throughout most of the winter months and I’ll also be working toward something I want for myself. My bigger picture long term goal is to run a full marathon in 2013!! (Ahhh!) To do so, I need to stay focused this winter and maintain my long runs.
- Buy some new gear- nothing gets me more motivated than scoring some flashy new running gear (like this Saucony top I bought on Black Friday!). Hit up your favorite local running store and buy yourself something nice. Think of it as a pre-reward for all the snowy, cold long runs you’ll need it for!
- Add in your favorite cross training you can’t do when you’re really training hard during racing season (i.e. Spring, Summer and Fall)- This week I added in a boot camp session instead of cross training on the elliptical and it was great! It’s good to switch it up a bit to exercise all muscles, not just the ones you need for running. So, go take a yoga class or maybe try CrossFit? Whatever it is, now is the time to do it!
- Register for a winter race- Winter races are really fun (even though they are VERY cold) and everyone is supportive because you’re all just as crazy as the next person!
- Run with friends- If you like running with a partner or a group, winter is the perfect time to take full advantage of this support. Running with a group or a friend will help to keep you motivated, especially on those mornings when you really, really, really want to stay in bed.
- Help someone else learn to run- I have to admit, I can become a bit self-centered during racing season, but I think that’s just because I am focusing on goals for myself. Winter is a great time to motivate a non-runner friend to run, especially if you’re not busy with a training plan or race schedule. Try to get a friend out with you at least once a week. Start off slow and make sure you run at whatever pace is most comfortable for them.
- Don’t be afraid to indulge a little- Winter is holiday season and it’s a time for great company of family and of course, delicious food, so don’t be the weirdo who skips out on the yummy cookies your Grandma makes every year. You run, you’ll burn it off! Also, be sure to spend time with your family as well. If you’re like me, my parents and sister (and my BFF Sydney!) are the ones who take the time to come to my races and support me, so it’s just that much more important to take the time during the holidays to enjoy their company. If that means cutting my long run short, so be it!
What are your favorite tips for staying motivated during the holidays?
Sometimes we forget that running is actually really fun! I was reminded of this when I had an utterly fantastic long run last Saturday. I felt so happy as I was running and I felt like I could go on forever. It was the best feeling I’ve had in a long time. Then I saw this graphic on Pinterest and I couldn’t help but share it. I remember running around outside when I was a little kid and there was nothing better. Especially in the fall, my little sister and I would run around our back yard through the leaves and we were just in complete bliss. It’s important to remember that running really is fun. Although we may train and really push ourselves to our limits, never forget why you fell in love with running in the first place. Run happy!
Yesterday as I was browsing through Twitter I came across a bunch of tweets about a virtual 5K and 10K dubbed the Race for Recovery to raise money for relief efforts for the destruction in NY and NJ caused by the monstrous storm, Hurricane Sandy.
As I started to read more about the virtual race, hosted by Michele, author of the running blog NYC Running Mama, I knew I had to take part. I have been looking for a way to get involved with some of the volunteer efforts but because I don’t live in New York or New Jersey, the only option was to simply donate money. While that’s a really good option, I wanted to do something a little more proactive to show my support.
I also felt a need to support Michele in her efforts. She decided last weekend to begin organizing this amazing effort and has been able to raise almost $5,000 already. Michele reached out to different running brands and running companies, including my amazing place of employment, Runner’s World, to donate prizes for race participants.
As soon as I finished reading her post, I was on her Crowdrise page before I knew it. Michelle has set it up so all of the money donated will go towards the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund, a foundation focusing on clean-up efforts on the NYC, Long Island and New Jersey coastlines- the areas most severely affected by Sandy.
All you have to do to register for the virtual race is as follows:
1. Make a donation here!
- Make a minimum donation (your race entry fee) of $20 on Michele’s Crowdrise page.
- This money will also be your entry into the more than 40 different giveaways.
2. Register for the virtual race here!
- Date- Saturday, Dec. 8 (Can’t run that day? No problem. Run whenever you want!)
- Where- Anywhere!
- Distance- Michele is asking people to run, walk, bike a 5K, 10K or both!
3. Download your race bib here!
- Oh yeah, this virtual race even has race bibs! Download yours and where it on your run to let everyone know you’re supporting the Race for Recovery
4. Complete a 5K and/or 10K- also don’t forget to snap a pic and tweet it to Michele (@NYCRunningMama)
5. Enter your race results here!
- Michele will use the results to randomly select winners of the giveaways.
- Finish time is not important. This is about raising money for a good cause and having a little fun while we’re at it!
6. Have fun!
Oh yeah and I forgot to mention, the grand prize is a dream visit to our very own Runner’s World headquarters in PA! We’ll give you a tour, go on a run, bring you to our test closet filled with goodies and so much more! According to Michele’s website, the grand prize will be awarded to whomever raises the most money. So, if you’re planning on running on Saturday, Dec. 8, or really any other time, why not do it for good? It’s only $20 (a lot less than many “formal” races) and you’ll be helping out countless people affected by Sandy.
I know I’ll be out there on December 8th running a 5K and a 10K, along with some other RW staffers and maybe a few folks from Men’s Health. If you need more details please visit www.nycrunningmama.com.
Have you ever done a virtual race? Will you do this one? (Pretty please!)