Category Archives: Motivation

First Run in Over a Month!

Slush in NYC

That’s all slushy water at that crosswalk. Deep and delicious.

Today I went for my first run in over a month (breaking my “opposite run streak,” as it were).  It was only 2 miles, but it felt ok, so I’m pretty sure my marathon in a little over a week will be no problem.


Ok, not really.  The idea of going to Little Rock and covering 26.2 miles under my own power sounds insane.  After terrible pain after a short run in mid-January, I wanted to take some time off, but I didn’t think it would be this long, and I didn’t think I wouldn’t run a single step during my long trip out west.  I also didn’t think I’d gain even more weight during the cruise… Ok, I thought that was definitely possible, but those 3 extra pounds on top of the 10 extra pounds I’m already carrying do not fit into my marathon plans, much less my pants.


Luckily, I wear tights, not pants, when I run.  When I got back to NYC, I kept waiting for it to warm up enough so I could run outside and not crack my tailbone on black ice, or drown in a river of slush dammed up by mountains of dirty snow.  Today it finally hit 40, and after a rainy morning I headed out to Central Park.  I was about to run the carriage trail to the reservoir when I saw it was still fully covered in slushy white snow.  (I don’t know why I was expecting it to be clear.)  Instead of soaking my feet I ran the short, paved lower loop of the park.  Not surprisingly, it felt like I hadn’t run in over a month.


I still hope to get a longer (at least 6?  maybe 8?  even 10?) mile run/walk in this week before making the final decision on Little Rock, but all signs point to me flying out there and at least attempting to walk it.  The time limit is 6 hours for a normal start, which means I’d have to average 13:43 per mile, which sounds do-able until I realize I’ll be walking the majority of the race, and I can’t walk that fast, especially if I need to stop for any reason.


At any rate, it was nice to be able to run today, even if it was for only 2 miles, and I hope to get back into this whole bizarre running thing again.  And when it’s humid and 95 this summer, I will remember this terrible winter and be even more annoyed at the continuing bad weather.


How’s your training going?  Are you watching the TV show Opposite Worlds?  Did you think I was going to say I’d be ok with horribly hot weather because of the cold winter?  Share in the comments!

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Day 19 of Holiday Run Streak – I also did not want to run today

Yesterday was the day after my 15K, and I was tired, and my calves were sore, and I was playing Candy Crush, and I really didn’t want to go for a run.  But I did.  And then today came around, and after an unpleasant (and expensive, contentious, and ongoing) plumber experience this morning, I was in a bad mood, plus my calves were still sore, plus it was really cold outside, and yet again I didn’t want to go for a run.  But I did.  I’d like to say the run drastically improved my mood, but mostly I’m happier because it means my run for the day is done, and I don’t have to do another 11 minutes of running until tomorrow.


But in the spirit of learning (because learning is what it’s all about!), I will say I’ve learned that 30 degree weather isn’t very cold.  I originally thought I felt that way because I was only outside for such a brief period of time, and that helps, too, but even the almost 2 hours I spent in the snowy mid-20s on Saturday wasn’t too bad (save my cold fingers, which was my fault for not wearing proper gloves).  I’m sure you’ve heard the saying that there is no bad weather, only bad clothing, and I’m starting to think that’s true, at least for down to the 20s.  I might change my mind if it ever drops into the teens or single digits, since I think breathing might get difficult then.  But if it’s the cold weather holding you back from your run today (or every day…), don’t let it.  Just use it as an excuse to buy more clothes with all the money you’re saving on sunblock.  And taxi fare.


Quick apology to subscribers – the emailed posts sometimes always have messed up photo-formatting, which I hope to fix someday, but until then, if you notice messed up/sideways photos in the email, just visit the site for (hopefully) more properly-oriented photos.  


How’s your RWRunStreak going?  Did you have an Inception dream-within-a-dream about Ragnar last night like I did?  What will you do when you win Mega Millions?  Do you have a good plumber in the NYC area to recommend?  Share in the comments!

Day 1 of Holiday Run Streak – Feliz Thanksgiving!



Today I am thankful that I did not break the first day of the holiday run streak challenge. It was also the first day I exercised my “one mile” option, and it certainly won’t be the last.


Because of travel and a family dinner, I had only a 35 minute window in which to unpack, change, find the hotel gym, run, relay a message to my sister, find my room, shower, change for dinner, and find dinner. It was an exceedingly frantic 35 minutes in which I probably moved the slowest when I was running the actual mile, but I made it in time for a big turkey dinner, sopping wet hair and all.


We got to the hotel a little later than expected, and were told that the only turkey dinner was served at 6 pm and no later (this turned out to be false). So I only had an hour to fit in my run before dinner. No problem, right? But I had to wait for my luggage to be delivered (first world problems) since I had no running clothes otherwise. I had finally decided to run after dinner (yuck full stomach, but ok) and just go find my sister (who had arrived earlier) and have a relaxing drink with her – when my luggage showed up. Dilemma! Must decide immediately! Ok, 35 minutes, go go go!


I tore through my ineptly packed luggage to gather my running things, scraped my hair into a braid, and hustled down to the gym. I jumped on a treadmill and started running, when immediately my knee hurt and I realized I was stone cold and all summer long had been doing dynamic stretching before running. Oh well, no time for that now! Increase the incline and power through this!


Knee warmed up after a bit and I listened to music for the first time in ages, and I started to really enjoy it. This is what I should be doing all the time! Usually when I get to a hotel or get home after a long day of travel I park myself in front of the TV and snack on something. But knowing I only had to do one mile was incredibly freeing, and yet that one mile was also horribly compulsory, which turns out to be the perfect combination to get me off my butt.


I would have run longer (ok, maybe only like a half mile longer) but I was short on time so I jumped off, pounded a bottle of water, and went to find my sister to tell her what the dinner plan was. I quickly found her and she already knew about dinner, plus she shamed me into taking a shower (since I was only moderately sweaty from one mile, I was considering just mopping off and changing). But when the crazy hotel toilet splashed me upon flushing, I was ready to boil myself in disinfectant before dinner.


I even had time to do my makeup (such as it is) and put on jewelry for our Thanksgiving feast. I ate 5 mini desserts – since I ran today.


I hope you and yours had a wonderful Thanksgiving to remember, and that none of you got splashed with any toilet water. But if you did, share in the comments!

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Challenge: Streaking Through the Holidays

I’m a procrastinator when it comes to running (and other things… but let’s just focus on the running).  I often do my morning run at 5 pm, or the next day, or never.  This makes me fatter, slower, and probably more injured than I should be if I had more discipline about my runs.  But it’s a difficult habit to give up, since there’s no immediate downside to skipping a run, and a very immediate upside of sitting on the couch, drinking tea, and watching The Mindy Project.


While I’m a procrastinator, I also have a bit of the type-A challenge-lover in me, and that challenge-lover has always wanted to try streaking.  Streaking is when you run every day, at least one mile, for a set period of time (or forever).  It has nothing to do with being naked.  Last week a former Ragnar teammate sent me info about the Runner’s World Holiday Running Streak, including Marc Parent’s article about his Holiday Streak last year, and I loved the idea – run every day, at least one mile per day, from Thanksgiving until New Year’s Day.  Totally do-able!  Right?  Right!  #RWRunStreak!


I have two international trips between Thanksgiving and New Year’s (Mexico and Canada, but still!) and multiple family obligations, but committing to a streak during the holidays would most certainly teach me something about my procrastination habit (you can’t procrastinate a run when you only have a tiny window in which to get it in), and hopefully improve my fitness as well.  I think I’ll need every bit of motivation I can get to actually run this December when it’s painfully cold outside and there’s a lot of tea to be drunk inside.


Just one mile a day is freeing, also.  It will still allow me to rest my body and is a lot less intimidating than my typical marathon training plans, and will also give me “permission” to lower my other scheduled runs since I’m only 14 weeks away from my next marathon (Little Rock) and already have double-digit long runs scheduled starting this week (that I’m already planning on lowering so I can recover from this fall).


So as I sit here, procrastinating my run for today (that maybe I could just do tomorrow?  yeah, that sounds good…), I’m also committing to my first streaking challenge.  Good thing it doesn’t start until this Thursday…


Have you ever done a streak?  Can you tell I’m already sorta regretting this decision?  Would you like to join me in this regrettable decision?  Share in the comments!

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Why I’m Firing My Coach

My first great coaching experiment has failed.  After being dissatisfied by my running coach for many weeks now, I finally officially “fired” him today (by telling him I’m taking a break from running, not renewing my monthly payment to him, and wishing him the best).


I initially hired a coach to get private attention and a personalized plan, and to learn from someone who actually knows about running and physiology rather than me just winging it as I’ve been doing all these years, especially since I had two marathons within 3 weeks of each other.  I also needed a boost of motivation – knowing that I’d have to report whether or not I did my runs and my strength training made me stick to my weekly plan even when I’d rather laze about on the couch.


Initially it was motivating, in the sense that in the beginning of the summer, I stuck to my running plan better than I would have on my own.  But any personalized help or advice seemed absent.  I repeatedly would report injury problems to him and ask for his advice (with detailed but not overwhelmingly long emails), and I’d get a grammatically incorrect, curt response to “ice and stretch.”  He never seemed to answer direct questions like, “Should I keep running even if my knee hurts?” or “Can I cause increasing damage if I keep running if my knee hurts?” or “How much pain is normal, and how much is too much pain to run?”


Beyond the neglect, he then messed up my training schedule and taper.  I had emailed him my marathon and race schedule (more than once – although why someone would need the exact same info emailed to them more than once, especially when their job is to coach you, is beyond me) but he still got the dates wrong, and haphazardly changed my running schedule at the last minute to accomodate.  I always noticed the training schedule looked pasted together, like he was pulling it from somewhere else or just changing a number here and there as the weeks went by.


The final straw came last week, when he sent me my training schedule that included the NYC marathon.  I was never scheduled to run NYC.  I could not have been more clear about that.  In fact, the crucial time between MDI and West Virginia is one of the main reasons I hired him to begin with – what should I do in the three weeks between marathons?  I didn’t bother responding to correct his mistake, because at that point I wasn’t following his training schedule anyway, and because I thought it would give him a chance to correct it himself.  But then today he emailed me one line “how was the NYC marathon?”  I told him I was never scheduled to run NYC, that I’m running West Virginia in 6 days, and have a nice life.  Ok, I was much nicer than that, but I didn’t need to be.


I’m not going to let this experience sour me on all coaching – I think there are great coaches out there, and I hope to someday find one.  But for now, I’m going back to self-coaching.


Do you have experience using a coach?  Do you have a coach you’d recommend?  Share in the comments!

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Procrastinating Every Run

I’m back from my Maine marathon & vacation (still working on the recap which I promise will be up soon), and I’ve only run a single, solitary time since the marathon.  It was an easy 3-miler on Friday, and it hurt.


As I was walking to the park, I was marveling at how great I felt – nothing was sore, I felt rested, a little bloated from indulging in too many treats, but overall I was feeling great.  Then I started running, and everything fell apart.  After only a few blocks my knees started to hurt.  That’s right, kneeS, plural.  And my feet.  And just everything about my body felt terrible.  I took a lot of walk breaks, and eventually my body warmed up but my knees kept hurting.  And that’s when it finally hit me – why I’ve been procrastinating running so much since the marathon (and before) – every time I run, it hurts.  Sometimes a little, sometimes a lot.  Sometimes immediately, sometimes only after several miles.  But every time it’s a little bit of torture.  And while my conscious brain says “I love running!  I love writing about running!  Running is great!” my subconscious tells me “This is going to hurt – let’s not do this.”


On that short, terrible run, I realized I need to take some time off from marathons and distance running.  Granted, it won’t be a lot of time – not only do I have another marathon in less than two weeks, I have my first marathon for 2014 in early March.  But I do plan on taking the rest of November off (after my West Virginia marathon) and spend December only running as much as I want (which probably won’t be much).  That will give me two months to get ready for Little Rock, which isn’t a lot of time, but it’s do-able.  I think I just need a break, for my body and my psyche, and I’m going to shelve any time or fitness goals for now.


I will, of course, keep posting, and I will keep running (just not as much).  Hopefully, the rest will finally fix my knee woes, or at the very least give me a fresh start on this whole running business.  This is all a bit of a downer, and I’m sitting here (icing my knee) realizing I will probably not try running again today, either, and am trying not to worry what that will mean for my fitness in two weeks, but it is what it is.  With any sport or activity you hope to do for your lifetime, you can expect ups and downs.  This is one of my downs.  I look forward to the up.

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Runner Kino makes me think 50 States is do-able!

I had the privilege of meeting runner Hideki Kinoshita last night and for the first time I feel like running a marathon in all 50 states might actually be possible for me.  Hideki (or “Kino” as he’s known in the running community) is a sub-3:30 marathoner who is running his 150th marathon this weekend.  He has not only completed the 50 States and DC, he’s completed them sub-4 (that is, all 50 states with a time under 4 hours in each of them).  He’s also raised almost $70,000 for charity while doing all this – and all the money he raises for charity goes directly to the charities, none of it supports his running or travel expenses.  All this, plus he’s super friendly and was willing to spend his night discussing which marathons I should do, providing general running and training tips, and generally letting me geek out about running.  Even though he’s so accomplished, he didn’t make me feel uncomfortable or too slow to be worthy.  Instead, he made me feel like I, too, could run the 50 states, that it was mostly about scheduling and simply running the races, and he made me believe that I would get to a point where I could run a marathon each month, which sounds like heaven to me (he has stretches where he runs a marathon each week).


We spent much of our dinner going over my potential marathon list state-by-state, with Kino telling me what he thought of the ones I had listed and giving me suggestions (or warnings against) other ones in each and every state.  I’ll post that updated marathon list when I finish updating it – it’s a big job as I’m adding more info to make it more helpful for you, the reader (and me, the runner!).


Also, I’ve been thinking about joining a running club or at least trying out some of the free group runs that different stores offer, and Kino agreed that joining a running club or running with friends can really help (with accountability, not skiping workouts, increasing speed, developing community).  I feel so slow right now (10:00 min miles being my “fast” pace right now, 10:30 my standard pace, 11:00+ my marathon pace), but he assured me most groups had runners at all speeds.  I’m putting “do a group run” on my to-do list post-MDI.


Overall, meeting Kino was a true delight, especially after this past weekend/week, as I came down with a sudden cold and was in bed for most of Sunday.  I’m feeling better now, but also have that slow, bloated, out-of-shape feeling that many tapers produce, but it’s heightened because of the extra fatigue my cold and lack of any exercise has wrought.  The four cups of pasta I just ate probably doesn’t help, but I’m nothing if not a good carbo loader.


I pack up tomorrow and leave early Friday morning for Maine!  I hope my phone works out there so I can give you an update from the road.  If it doesn’t, I won’t be posting until late Wednesday, since I’m staying in Bar Harbor so I can do some whale watching and kayaking and such.  (“Such” being “eat Maine blueberry ice cream and stroll down the beach.”)  The forecast has shifted to no rain (yay!) and I’m predicting a finishing time of just shy of 6 hours, but who knows.  Cross your fingers my knees hold out, my cold completely disappears, and other good running things.  MDI, ho!

"Full tilt" long sleeve running top by Lululemon

Lululemon made my day

"Full tilt" long sleeve running top by Lululemon

“Full tilt” long sleeve running top by Lululemon (apologies for the poor photo – they have much nicer ones at their site)

I wasn’t having the best day today, but I decided to make a stop at Lululemon to get a cute top I had seen in the window, with the justification that I could use it for my upcoming (forecasted) 50 degree marathon.  I also browsed the sale racks and picked up two other tops there, and headed to the checkout.


The very nice woman working the cashier asked me if I was a runner.  She told me about the free group run the store hosts every Wednesday at 7 pm, and asked if I was training for a specific race.  I told her yes, I was running the Mount Desert Island Marathon in less than two weeks.  She lit up – her brother was running the same race!  She punched some buttons and said, “I’m going to give you this top, no charge.”  She was gifting me the full-priced, long-sleeved “Full tilt” top with wicking, 4-way stretch Rulu fabric, a lace mesh back panel and under the arms, thumbholes, reflective details, and a small zippered pocket, worth $88!  She said it was because training for a race should be rewarded, and it was a fun thing they sometimes got to do.  Amazing.  That kind of thing never happens to me.


I know Lululemon has gotten some bad press recently, and I’ve noticed more negative reviews on their website than in the past, but they know how to make a loyal customer out of me.  Yes, you can buy my loyalty with a fancy running top.  Keep this in mind around Christmastime (I wear a size large).


What do you think of Lululemon?  Where’s your favorite place to shop for athletic gear?  Share in the comments!

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Keep going!

I feel like I’ve been a bit of a Debbie Downer recently, so I wanted to share some encouragement I heard on my short run today.  I was shuffling around the reservoir when I heard a guy behind me say, “keep going!  keep going!  keep going!”  I turned my head to see an adult with a high-school-aged kid.  The duo breezed past me and quickly started up the hill.  “Keep going!  That’s it!  Keep going!” said the older guy to the kid.  “Keep going!  Keep going!” he kept encouraging.  “Keep going!” I echoed in my head.  “Keep going!” he shouted again.


“Keep going!” is basically all it took.  The kid charged up the hill and his coach at the top ticked off his stopwatch.  They exchanged high-fives and the guy who was shouting “keep going” kept going.  In fact, he continued on until I lost him in the south of the park, while the kid and the coach stayed at the reservoir.  I assume Mr. Keep Going was another coach, but part of me likes to think he was just some random guy cheering for this kid.  Either way, I really liked his simple encouragement.


“Keep going” applies to all of us, fast or slow, young or old.  It’s a privilege and a struggle to keep going, but that’s all running is.  As long as you keep going, you’ll find the finish.  Even when I feel like I’m not making any progress (in my training, in my speed), if I keep going, eventually I’ll reach a point I wouldn’t have if I stopped.  I’m going to need a lot of “keep going” for the 18-miler on Sunday, and for my other upcoming races.  Luckily, “keep going” is free.

Where's the Finish peeking at StrideBox September 2013

My StrideBox arrived!

Where's the Finish peeking at StrideBox September 2013

A peek inside September’s StrideBox.

My StrideBox arrived last night and I was so excited I had to share the contents with you.  I haven’t tried anything yet, but when I do I’ll detail it in another post.


On an unrelated note, I achieved a minor miracle by completing my scheduled mileage for the week (24 miles), although 23 of those miles were painful and slow and overall pretty terrible, despite the amazingly perfect weather we’ve been having.  The one good mile was my last mile today, and that was only because it was downhill and I knew it was my last mile this week.  In six days I have the 18-mile “tune up” run in Central Park (3 full loops), and I’m already dreading it.  My 12-mile LSR on Friday was such a slog for no good reason, and I’m wondering why my body has been feeling so sluggish the past couple weeks.  My overall running motivation is pretty low right now, but I hope getting back to a normal non-tennis schedule next week will put me right again.  Till then, I have a lot of StrideBox goodies to try…


Do you subscribe to StrideBox?  What do you do when you face waning motivation?  Share in the comments!