health

Running is not cancelled

Part II: Let me be your motivation

Visualize the finish line you want to cross!

I heard a great quote a while back that has always stuck with me,

“a good runner starts between the ears.”

Sounds a bit strange, but that brain between your ears, it controls everything from what you eat, like to listen to, and when you get off the couch and go run. While there is no doubt a physical aspect to be a runner, having a strong mental relationship with running is just as impactful and might even give you a leg up on those who don’t.

I didn’t pick up a love of running until later in life. I started by joining Team in Training through the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society when I was a senior in college with the goal to run a marathon. They provide the coaching and training with group runs and you raise money and do the work.

I’ll be very honest, I didn’t like it at all at first. I dreaded the weekend long runs, and couldn’t figure out how people stuck to it. Since I wasn’t awesome at it right away, I believed I wasn’t meant to run.

When I realized my negative attitude was holding me back and I started cheering myself on and not feeling defeated when I wasn’t the best, I quickly grew as a runner and started to really enjoy it. It became about the community, support, and positive impact on my health, rather than immediately being the best. 

I wouldn’t even call myself a runner, I thought that meant I had to have ran a big race or run my whole life. News flash, when you run, you are a runner. If only I could go back and teach my 22-year-old self the things I have learned.

I took some time off from running when I had my two boys, but over the last couple years I discovered a new “love” of running and it has become more than just something I do to stay fit. I equate this evolving relationship to changes that my thirties have presented: mental clarity, self awareness/acceptance, and patience….all things that make a good runner. While I am not saying that you have to be 30 to be a good runner, I am saying that focusing on the mental aspect of running might give you a better appreciation for the sport and help you on your journey to the Runner’s High.

My sons, seeing me run, now love to run with me!

The following are a collection of tips I have gathered over the years that give me motivation before, during, and after my runs. I hope they help you as well:

  • Just like you never know how your day is going to turn out, each run is unique and you must give yourself grace to be awesome or sometimes suck….it happens to the best of the best.
  • Today’s pain equals tomorrow’s strength. When you make yourself uncomfortable, you grow!
  • Any forward motion is a pace, so be proud of it.
  • Feeling drained or like you want to quit…my easy solution: a SMILE. It is almost impossible to want to quit with a smile on your face. Try it.
  • Run YOUR race (once you start comparing yourself to others you will let yourself down)
  • When you feel out of breath, try breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth (like through a straw). This will slow your heart and help you from ever feeling like you are hyperventilating. I practice while I walk as well. Here are more breathing tips: https://www.runnersworld.com/training/a20822091/running-on-air-breathing-technique/
  • Miss a training run? Forget it and move on. Focusing on it, takes away from your progress and can make you feel like a failure. Instead use it as a rest day to take care of your body.
  • Learn how to blow snot rockets, I promise you will need this in colder weather and/or allergy season. Might sound gross but just like spitting it will get the junk out to help you breathe better
  • Start with minutes over miles. Focus on the duration of your run rather than the miles when you first start (do 10 minutes, then increase to 12, and before you know it you will be able to run an hour or even two!)
  • Three things that will supplement and enhance the work you put in…Sleep (at least 8 hours), Nutrition, and Hydration. Bonus things I never miss are stretching and cool downs!
  • having a tough time getting through a run? I always remember all I have endured in life and remind myself that “I have survived much harder things.” I am strong and I am capable. One example…Any moms out there? If you have endured pregnancy and childbirth, you can most certainly overcome a run.

I really encourage you to find someone (my boys!) or something that motivates you. A run buddy or running group can keep you on track even when you don’t want to. A running journal is a great motivator to help you reflect on your progress or weak areas, and to look pack on and celebrate your journey. 

With running being completely personalized to the athlete there is never going to be a one-size-fits-all approach. It takes experimenting and adjusting, but once you find that sweet spot that fits you, you might just start loving running too!

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