Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Little by Little

A rare snow storm before it switched to non-stop rain
December in Oregon was full of at least three weeks of beautiful winter-like weather.  Crisp, clear and cold days were filled with blue skies and bright sunshine.  January roared in with a vengance though, bringing with it all the rain we didn't get in December and some extra just for good measure.  My training runs the past two weeks have been mostly wet and rainy, but I don't mind running in the rain as long as my visor keeps it out of my eyes.

I want to encourage all my friends tackling fitness goals in the new year to keep pushing forward.  This is about the time the excitement wears off and it's oh-so-tempting to look for excuses not to exercise.  The gray and the rain alone can suck the life out us, but don't quit.  I know it's tough.  But you can do it.  Here are a few things I've found helpful while I train.

GO ON A TREASURE HUNT.  When possible, run outside.  Make your run a treasure hunt for beauty. You don't have to look far to find beauty in the ordinary.  I've already experienced several miserable training runs.  They felt never-ending and horrendously difficult.  I decided to switch into treasure hunt mode just to survive the run.  When I saw something beautiful, I stopped (it gave me time to catch my breath) and took a picture.  Something about stopping to refocus improved my mood and my stamina.

rain can even be beautiful

FIND A TRAINING SCHEDULE.  As of today, I have successfully completed three weeks and four days of marathon training, but who's counting?  I never knew I could follow the rules so well AND be consistent.  There is definitely validity in following a training schedule.  I'm glad to finally be practicing what I preach.  
checking off those boxes...

FIND A RUNNING PARTNER.  I've loved having a running partner following the same training plan.  Knowing Carissa is crazy enough to make time to run each day or do speed drills is motivation for me to make sure I keep up with her stride for stride.  Since we live forty minutes away from each other, we started meeting in the middle to run together every Monday morning.  It's worth the effort and the drive time to start the week off with some encouragement, girlfriend time, and the extra push to tackle that dreaded Monday morning run.  
after the Eugene half-marathon last year.

STICK TO THE SCHEDULE.  I've been running for five years, but I've never followed a training schedule.  I've been tempted to skip or modify the scheduled workouts that are unfamiliar, but I decided I'm going to try them all.  The speed work provides diversity and has even been fun.  I surprised myself on today's tempo run by logging two miles in a row with the exact same pace - something I don't think I've ever done before.   Following the plan has also made the long, weekend runs less daunting and more doable. So far I've felt equipped to tackle each long run, but I may change my tune after Carissa runs me through 14 miles of hilly Forest Park this weekend.  

first time doing speed work on the track - so fun!
CHECK YOUR GEAR.  When I started this training plan, both my trail shoes and my street shoes still had some life in them.  But I've been running so much that now they're miled out.  I can feel the effects of shoes that are breaking down in my muscle soreness.  Good gear is crucial to not getting injured while you train.  A trip to the running store is on the agenda for me tomorrow.

LITTLE BY LITTLE - Carissa texted me this week and said, "Three weeks down.  Only 14 more to go."  Conquering three weeks of intense training felt great.  Seeing 14 more on the chart feels overwhelming.  I was tempted to be discouraged.  But I was reminded to tackle it little by little.  One box at a time on the chart.  One foot in front of the other.  Won't it feel great when that text reads, "14 weeks down.  Only three to go!"  Even better, when we have a finish time (hopefully Boston qualifying) after the marathon?

You can do it.  Put one foot in front of the other and watch yourself achieve that goal - little by little.

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