Tag Archives: Motivation

Carrot and stick, part deux

I just didn’t feel like running last night.

A burrito bol fueled my run last night.

Steve and I have both been fighting off a weird “maybe it’s a cold, maybe it’s not” throat-scratchiness, and running into the chilly darkness just didn’t seem appealing.

Then, we got an e-mail from our group-run organizer announcing we’d be going to Chipotle after the run. Chipotle changes everything.

We could have skipped the run and gone to Chipotle ourselves, but it wouldn’t have seemed right. So we headed out, more excited for the food than the run.

Of course, we had a great time once we got out there. It was a hilly route, but my pace group held a solid 8:10 pace for the 5.26-mile out-and-back — possibly fueled by the promise of yummy food after (plus, sports nutritionists say you can count on a 10-percent increase in calories burned for each degree of incline. This means running on a 10-percent incline actually doubles your calorie-burn, meaning I more than earned my veggie burrito bol).

This made me wonder why I don’t dangle carrots like these to incentivize workouts more often. My new goal, in line with my new run-happy philosophy, is to promise myself something for every workout. A month ago, I wrote about some running toys I’ve got my eye on. These are fine and good for long-term goals, but I need some rewards for micro-goals: a nice bath, an hour with a book, or some other cheap, sustainable carrot I can dangle in front of my eyes on a daily basis. I can think of lots of food-related rewards, but it would be nice to mix that up a little.

How do you reward yourself for hard workouts?

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Motivation Monday: The “run happy” edition

I never thought I’d be one of those runners who obsesses about split times and speedwork and PRs. In my short high school cross-country career, I was never fast enough to really give that stuff much thought. Swimming provided my competitive fix, and even after I graduated high school and quit swimming, I was happy to keep my running in slow-and-steady mode.

Then, I started running longer distances, and simply running a 5K or 10K wasn’t enough. I had to run them faster than I’d run before, and the need for (relative) speed started to seep into the longer races, too. This can be exhilarating — the transformative power of the clock can make us realize that if we can run a half-marathon faster than we imagined we could previously, we can do just about anything we put our minds to.

But right now, I need to do the opposite, and my motivation this week comes from easing up on the pre-run pressure. I am pulling back from time goals, and trying to go back to a time when running was more about the joy of motion. I am running how I feel, and marveling that “running how I feel” often yields the same pace as when I’m consciously pushing it.

Here’s what else is motivating me this week:

Brooks’ Run Happy ad campaign fits perfectly into my new, chilled-out approach.

The Bethesda-Chevy Chase Turkey Trot 10K on Thanksgiving morning does, too. Is it possible to take yourself too seriously when the word “trot” is involved?

A runner-friendly Thanksgiving later that day. My contributions to dinner: a roasted turkey breast, sweet-potato stuffing (made with whole-grain bread), lemon-orange cranberry sauce, roasted butternut squash and a harvest salad with pears, dried cranberries, and blue cheese. And a pumpkin pie. All homemade, mostly from goodies procured at the farmers market. Since I enjoy the cooking, I’m deeply excited about this (recipes to follow …). Looking for Thanksgiving inspiration? Check out Deena Kastor’s Thanksgiving recipes here. (Thanks to Heather, a runner and nutritionist, for pointing them out!)

Our amazing trip yesterday to Sugarloaf Mountain, a lovely landmark less than an hour from our apartment in Silver Spring, Md. If there is a better way to spend a sunny fall Sunday than by running up and down a mountain a couple times (literally, a couple — it was so much fun, we ran the paved part twice!), then hitting up the vineyard at the bottom of the mountain for a wine tasting, I’m not sure what it is.

Post-run wine tasting.

Finally, I’m motivated by all my friends who ran the Philadelphia Marathon over the weekend. Marci and Jenn in particular ran gutsy races that had nothing to do with the transformative power of the clock, and everything to do with the power of finding out who you are as a human being.

What’s motivating you this week?

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Motivation Monday: Chilled-out edition

This week, in many different ways, I’m finding motivation by letting go and chilling out.

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Motivating me this week: time off from marathon-training lets me do stuff like hike Old Rag.

This started last Thursday, when my usual 8-minute-mile pace group with Pacers Silver Spring headed out for a relaxed, chatty run, saying we’d do 8:30 to 9-minute miles. I failed to start my watch, and at first, I was annoyed by my lack of pace-finding mechanisms. But then, I just sort of went with it. We cut about a block off of the end of the run and walked it in for a cool-down, and immediately tried to figure out our pace. We ran about 5.5 miles, and finished our run in about 44 minutes. Which equates to … 8-minute miles? Really? What we just did? Go figure …

Taking a lax approach to a low-key Candy Cane City 5K on Saturday had the same effect. We decided we’d be doing the race on Friday, and all I did to prep for it was take Friday off. We ate enchiladas (thanks for the recipe, Heather!) and chilled out at home on Friday night. That morning, I dug some running clothes out of the dryer, ate a Luna bar and headed to the starting line with absolutely no pace or time expectations. I just ran how I felt, and ended up with a 23:32 — 7:34-minute miles. That’s a good time for me – not a PR, but well within my “good race” range. The race itself was low-key and laid-back — no chip timing, only a couple hundred local runners racing — and that proved to be exactly what I needed after the hoopla of the Marine Corps Marathon.

Other motivations this week:

A few new songs. I am in love with “This Year” by the Mountain Goats. It was the first song on my 5K playlist, and I now have a lovely race-day memory attached to it. Also, the Yankees’ win last week has me newly in love with “Empire State” by Jay-Z and Alicia Keyes. I’ve even attached a personal motivational message to it: If the Yankees can rebound from several rough years with a beautiful season like this past one, certainly, I can overcome a single bad marathon.

The Bethesda-Chevy Chase Turkey Chase 10K on Thanksgiving. This looks to be the same kind of low-key, just-for-fun race as the Candy Cane City 5K. Though the Turkey Chase will undoubtedly be larger — roughly 7,000 people ran it last year — turkey trots always foster an atmosphere of fun rather than competition. Plus, the relatively short distance (compared to, say, tacking on 20 miles to the start) eases my mind about race-day prep. With a 10K, you can sort of just pick up and go.

A Quadballer on its way to my apartment. This fits right into the chill-out spirit of motivation — it’s a hard-core version of a foam-roller, and I can’t wait to treat myself to a pseudo-massage with it when it arrives!

Finally, this week, I’m motivated by all the stuff I feel like I can do now that I’m in between marathons. I hiked Old Rag in the Shenandoah with Steve and some friends on Sunday, and didn’t worry a bit about potential ankle twists/hip strains/workouts missed. At an amazing dinner at the Thornton River Grille in Sperryville, Va., I didn’t hesitate before ordering a glass of really awesome-looking local Chardonnay aged in steel barrels. And I actually had the time to mess around with my Web site to change the domain name, update my clips, etc.

What’s motivating you this week? Any fabulous new songs to help round out my in-progress turkey-trot playlist? Let me know by posting a comment!

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Carrot and stick

An assignment took me to the mall the other day, where my job was to talk to shoppers about why they like that particular mall,

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One of the "carrots" I'm dangling in front of my nose.

then get out of there.

Instead, I found myself wandering through Sephora, lusting after a Philosophy bubble bath that would be the perfect addition to my recent addiction to Epsom-salt baths. But since I’m saving up for several big-ticket items — new ski boots, a $250 race registration for the Great Chesapeake Bay Swim in June that’s seriously making me think about doing the cheaper 1-mile swim instead, $90 for the National Marathon — I held back.

After safely driving away from the temptation, it occurred to me that I have a golden opportunity to bribe myself. Losing my regular pool has left me unmotivated to go through the annoyance of finding a new place to swim, then actually making that first workout happen. But here’s my new promise to myself: After logging five good swims, I can buy myself the $12 bubble bath.

This got me thinking: I can do the same thing with the other stuff I want, using my wish-list items as carrots dangling in front of my nose as motivations to work out. Here’s the short list:

A few new sports bras — maybe two cheap ones from Target and one of my favorite Mizuno-brand ones. I’m letting myself buy the Target sports bras, about $15 a pop, once I log five good core workouts.

The Quadballer is apparently a hard-core version of my beloved foam roller. It’s $68.63 with shipping costs, but apparently, the Chevy Chase Running Company sells it locally. This might just be a reward for holding off on actual massages, which I love but really can’t afford.

A Garmin Forerunner. Not the new fancy one, just a trusty old 205 or 305, which retails around $125-$150 right now. My Nike + only cost $30, but after the latest malfunction (it told me I ran 2.5 miles at 14-minute-mile pace), I’m beginning to realize you get what you pay for.

And finally … a race registration for the YMCA Bethesda-Chevy Chase Turkey Chase on Thanksgiving. This, along with other holiday races in the Washington area, will serve as a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy: I’ll reward myself for workouts by registering for the race, which will motivate me to work out to train for said race. Come to think of it, all of these wish-list items will motivate me to work out. What sweet rewards! I’m hoping these motivate me sufficiently, so I don’t have to resort to a stick (not to be confused with The Stick).

What’s on your training wish list? How do you reward yourself for completing tough workouts?

 

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Motivation Monday, part tres

A week after crossing the finish line at the Marine Corps Marathon, my motivation abounds. I think it’s tied to a blessed break in

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Motivating me this week: New shoes, a tech tee from a good friend's running store!

my running, which I’m appreciating for maybe the first time in my life. I had an easy run with my running group at Pacers Silver Spring on Thursday, but mostly, I’m enjoying long rides on the stationary bike, during which I read the morning’s Washington Post, and getting back into rowing and strength-training (swimming, I’m coming back to you soon! Promise!). I’m eating Mexican food on Thursdays and Fridays, because I know I have no long runs to prep my sensitive stomach for. On Friday, at a Halloween party Steve and I hosted, I didn’t obsess about every little thing I ate, drank and breathed — amazing! I can appreciate the lull because I know training will start up soon enough – I’ve got my eye on the National Marathon March 20, and my first 10-miler comes Dec. 5. Here’s what else is motivating me this week:

Some new songs to add to the playlist, via Brittany’s awesome suggestions. Funny — she made her list using many of mine, and yet I found some new ones on hers! For example, how did this Jersey girl fail to include “Living on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi at the halfway point? She who screams “We’re halfway there” with her fist pumped in the air at wedding receptions did not have that on her marathon playlist — imagine!

I signed up for dailymile.com. I need a new training log, and I figure I might as well give this one a try. Not sold yet. Just curious. Planning on inputting my first workout today.

I got new shoes! I ordered from my friend Chris’ running store, the Gingerbread Man Running Co., which is maybe the coolest name ever (Fast as fast can be, you’ll never catch me? Get it?). He’s all the way out in Indiana, Penn., now. But he worked at Pacers Silver Spring prior to opening his store, and we enjoyed many a post-run happy hour with him. I should note that Steve and I never actually shared a run with Chris — he runs races to win them, and his cooldown pace is literally hard for me to keep up with. Anyway, I have a brand-new pair of Brooks Adrenalines to get all dirty again, which is always exciting. I also have a super-cool technical T with his store’s logo on it, which I plan to wear to Pacers on Thursday. If you’re in Western Pennsylvania, please stop in his store, if only to chat about running!

A solution to the tail fro, courtesy of my runner-friend Laura, who organizes our Pacers Silver SpringFun Runs every Tuesday and Thursday at 7 p.m. She spotted my tail fro photo taken after the

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Could it be? There's a fix for my tail-fro?

Marine Corps Marathon, and during a long conversation about our upcoming race schedule, she asked if I knew about Redken Smooth Out Butter Treat. I bought some on my way home. This truly makes me want to go do a long run to get my hair all tail-froey to test it out!

What’s motivating you this week? Let me know by posing a comment below!

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A positive spin

All week, I’ve been riding on a post-marathon high, viewing my miserable Marine Corps Marathon experience through the lens

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Victorious at the finish line. THIS photo depicts exactly how I felt!

of inspiration rather than disappointment. That is, until my second post-marathon workout, a 45-minute spin on the stationary bike yesterday, when I accidentally selected my marathon playlist on my iPod. The one I’d spent hours fine-tuning, but ultimately got to listen to only in disjointed chunks thanks to both my frequent porta-potty stops and iPod malfunctions.

“Percussion Gun” by the White Rabbits was supposed to remind me of race-day victory. Yesterday, though I still felt my life was changed for the better by this race, it kind of fell flat. “Run this Town” by Jay-Z was supposed to make me feel like I owned this town on race day. Instead, it reminded me that I actually crept through town, with my most embarrassing moment coming right on the National Mall.

Just as I was slipping into a serious funk, “So What” by P!nk came on. I listened to this song while training for the National Half-Marathon last March, at the suggestion of my friend Sarah, a running rock star in her own right. I’d overplayed the song to the point that I had to give it a rest, but here it was, reminding me during this rough moment that I have good days as well as bad ones. P!ink reminded me that, though I had a bad running day: So what? I’m still a rock star.

Then, it occurred to me: I need to go make some new memories for my new playlist picks! The good memory of the National Half-Marathon last year fueled the fire for the National Marathon in March to be my “revenge race.” The Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach has also entered the competition. It’s the same weekend, and while it’s not right in Washington, it’s still close to home — and it’s flat! The National Marathon stays at the same price until the end of the year, so I have some time to decide.

After my easy bike ride, I relaxed in an Epsom-salt bath, reading the latest issue of Running Times. I zeroed in  on a story about pain — how professionals cope with it during races, and how it can be sort of a beautiful thing. The editor’s note explaining the story hit home for me: “Serious runners don’t shy away from pain, either emotionally or physically. It’s not that we are masochists; we don’t enjoy pain for its own sake, but rather for what it reveals … there’s beauty here as well, in learning how to suffer nobly.”

Wow. Perfect timing. I’ve been seriously puzzling about how my race-day photos look so awesome when I felt so unbelievably bad. In my memory, I spent most of the race hunched over in pain, or openly weeping in humiliation and self-pity.

But I got the marathon warm fuzzies all over again when I started thinking about all the things that made me not only smile through my pain and humiliation, but sometimes laugh out loud in glee. Georgetown, the memorials, the National Mall and loads of other spots were packed with spectators — packed! Seeing so many people like my husband, who are willing to support their loved ones through this crazy distance-running thing out of sheer love, overwhelmed me.

The Marines like to say that pain is weakness leaving the body (though I would note that pain could also indicate a stress fracture, which means you should maybe stop). The following posters I spotted sported slogans that did a better job of pumping me up:

“That’s not sweat; it’s just your fat cells crying.”

“If it were easy, we’d do it!”

“If it were easy, they’d call it your mom.”

No wonder I was grinning like an idiot in every picture! Even in the last one, in which I seem to be half-smiling, half-weeping. Now, I know it’s not that I was having a great race day. I was just teaching myself on the fly how to suffer nobly.

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Race report: Marine Corps Marathon (what motivated me to finish)

I won’t bury the lede: I finished the Marine Corps Marathon in 4:39. This was 40 minutes behind the goal time I knew I could accomplish on a good day. It was also four minutes slower than my first marathon in 2007. Though my first marathon was tough in all the obvious ways, was also a lot of fun, and at no point did I wonder whether I’d finish. This morning, finishing was never, at any point, a certain thing.

Grinning ear-to-ear before the race.

The reason: near-constant vomiting and, erm, porta potty stops throughout the race. I have a sensitive stomach, and I made the mistake of eating a (very plain!) grilled chicken sandwich at a restaurant I’d never been to for lunch yesterday. It immediately didn’t sit well in my stomach, and I started the race this morning feeling not-quite-right. Starting at about the 5-mile mark, I spent more time hunched over than upright. My legs feel pretty great right now, considering, but my torso feels like I spent the morning in the plank position.

Most race reports focus on a mile-by-mile breakdown. And I feel fairly certain that if you read those details, you’d be impressed, and would think I was pretty hard-core for simply finishing. Instead, I’d like to tell you about some of the amazing, inspiring things that motivated me to keep going.

There are lots of amazing moments on this race course, including the unforgettable throng of spectators at the Lincoln Memorial. After miles of nonstop cheering crowds through Georgetown, seeing the steps of the Lincoln Memorial literally packed with people cheering at what sounded like the top of their lungs made me tear up a little (for the first, but not the last time today).

Around the 13-mile mark, I started to panic. Two thoughts ran through my mind: Should I be worried, medically?  And : How could I have trained so hard, and then fail to live up to what I know my body is capable of on race day? Then, I saw a man who was covered with scars, walking with the aid of arm braces. Behind him, a friend in military fatigues followed — with a wheelchair. I was too floored to even utter words of encouragement. My friend Jen pointed out something amazing: If I were running faster, I never would have seen this incredible man.

Around the 19-mile mark, I ran about 200 yards backwards on the race course to get to the nearest available porta potties. I ran up, bawling, hunched over, and asked the line of about a dozen or so people if I could cut them, explaining that if I did not, I would need to go behind a tree. We were on the National Mall. Everyone sympathetically agreed I should go. One woman rubbed my back to comfort me. Another woman even saw me on the race course after and asked if I was OK. I thanked them profusely and tearfully, then let their kindness carry me through another few miles.

I met up with Steve at about the 20-mile marker. I will not share details about this (and there are details) other than to say that he found me after I emerged from taking care of business behind a low concrete wall. I tearfully apologized that he had to see me like that. “I didn’t see anything!” he said brightly. “You look great, by the way!” Some women get emotional when their husbands bring home flowers, or buy them jewelry. I was so overcome with love for him at that moment, I knew I could finish the race if he stayed by my side.

Feeling a little better after the race, smiling with my Mile 20 hero.

I ran the race with a lot of people in mind, but some people got specific miles. For every race from now on, I will dedicate each mile to a specific person, because when all else fails, you can simply repeat that person’s name.

My friend Kaveh had registered for this year’s MCM, but got hurt and couldn’t run. He was the most amazing and positive spectator! Not only was his overall demeanor encouraging and awesome to see on the race course, he brought The Stick with him. He tells me multiple runners actually stopped to use it. I ran the hills for him, because they hurt, but I knew he’d love to be lucky enough to feel that pain.

My friend Melissa, who is training for a half-marathon, recently wrote a blog post about how I inspired her in training. About how I inspired her! I was so touched by this, I dedicated mile 10 to her, as this was the distance of a long run she recently kicked butt on.

My friend Sarah is a super-fast marathoner, but that’s not what makes her inspiring. She races with guts, so I dedicated the middle miles around Hains Point to her. When I considered stopping during that part of the race, I thought: Sarah wouldn’t. Neither did I.

My friend Courtney has been an incredible supporter who I hoped to run a fast mile 17 for. Instead, to make myself keep going, I simply repeated: Courtney. Courtney. Courtney. I would not quit during her mile.

Most of all, I ran the last 10K for my dad, Ed Reinink, a lifelong outdoors enthusiast who’s been sidelined by Parkinson’s Disease, not to mention a host of other serious health complications. Activity is his default mode. Even while he was hospitalized a few months ago, he couldn’t stop talking about what he was going to do once he was back home, from tiling the bathroom to water skiing. At the 25-mile mark, I took a cup of water, and almost vomited. Once the episode passed, Steve said: “Let’s go finish this for Ed.” I almost lost it.

Finally, the finish line. I was so filled with disappointment that the race, which I expected to be so much fun, was the polar opposite. But I was so joyful that I had finished at all, challenging myself in ways I never dreamed of. The simultaneous burst of emotions overcame me, and I was already weepy when I got to the medals.

The Marine who presented my medal was ceremonial in the act, taking his time and looking at me solemnly as he slowly put it around my neck. Then, he smiled, and said: “Congratulations, ma’am.” I thanked him, then burst into tears.

I truly felt I had come full-circle, from the woman running through depression to cope with deployments to the one who understands that when we do things that feel impossible — deployments, rough marathons — we are forever better people for it.

I’m grateful I had this race experience for all the reasons above. Also, when it comes down to it, I don’t set time goals for the thrill of running fast, or to impress anyone. I set time goals to challenge myself to do, as Eleanor Roosevelt put it, “the thing you think you cannot do.” Today, I truly did the thing I thought I could not do. I couldn’t be prouder of myself for it.

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Motivation Monday: Marine Corps Marathon edition

There’s a little tag on my keychain that looks from afar like any grocery-store or bookstore discount card. I first clipped it on in

My keychain: one of several things motivating me this week.

My keychain: one of several things motivating me this week.

July, to remind myself there was a reason I was suffering through hour-long core- and hip-strengthening workouts a few times a week, and kept it on when I started my training plan a month late thanks to a flareup of an old hip injury.

It reads, simply, “Motivated,” and bears the Marine Corps Marathon logo. Cheesy as it is, that keychain has reminded me why it was important to get out the door for a long run, stop at the pool on my way home to cross-train, skip the glass of wine at dinner and accomplish a number of other small tasks on my way to the starting line.

With less than a week to go, I’m motivated my what the keychain represents to me now: a symbol of the hard work I’ve put in over the past six months or so, all of which has prepared me to tackle the marathon this coming weekend.

Here’s a roundup of the other stuff that’s motivating me this week:

  • Remembering all the hard workouts I’ve done in the past few months. I routinely train at 8-minute mile pace, and that’s conversational now (until the end, of course, when I can converse only in gasps and wheezes). My first marathon wasn’t such a speedy one, but I can run faster now because I train faster. Simple, right? I also train to run faster at the end of a run than before, even on long runs. I feel confident I can do the same in the marathon. Most importantly, I’ve focused on making myself a stronger overall athlete, withstanding months of boring leg lifts and humiliating BOSU balance work to make my core and hips less flimsy.
  • Knowing “Spirit of the Marathon” is waiting for me on hulu.com. I’ve been saving this one for the week before the race, and I’m anxious to finally dig into it.
  • The amazing comments from my friends and family, who are so confident — more so than I am — that I’m gonna kick butt next weekend. My mom told me recently she thinks of me, then adds extra minutes to her morning walk. My friend Courtney asked me to think of her in mile 17, and to imagine her reminding me that whole mile that I OWN this race. Ron, who publishes the highly entertaining and very insightful blog, Punk Rock Tri Guy, told me this marathon should merely serve as a victory lap – my reward for months of hard training. What a wonderful reminder of the sentiment George Sheehan expressed this way: “Some think guts is sprinting at the end of a race. But guts is what got you there to begin with.  Guts start back in the hills with 6 miles to go and you’re thinking of how you can get out of this race without anyone noticing.”
  • Continuing to visualize the miles of the Marine Corps Marathon on training runs and during cross-training workouts. Last week, I went through miles one through five. Today, I’m imagining miles five through 10. Check out my visualization techniques, borrowed from Runner’s World’s “Guide to Running,” here.

Finally, there was my 10-miler at marathon goal pace on Sunday, my one last “long” run before the real taper for the Marine Corps Marathon began. Though I’ve been winding down for the past two weeks, the real rest comes this week. I’ve got nothing but two easy 3-milers on my training schedule for the week, plus a few chilled-out cross-training days, so this last 10-miler at marathon goal pace, roughly 9-minute miles, was the last item to cross of my training calendar.

Nailed it!

Despite forecasts warning of a 100 percent chance of rain this morning, I got a blessed break, and it was cool and dry when I headed out – perfect running weather. I was shocked to find it really, truly difficult to stick to 9-minute-mile pace for the first few miles, and I had to remind myself that I’ll have the long uphills in the first miles of the marathon will hold me back on race day. I also reminded myself that amazingly, it will take all the willpower I’ve got to try to stick with that goal pace in the last miles of the marathon.

So on the 10-miler, I exercised patience, holding back in the beginning, and finishing with 1.5 miles at 8-minute-mile pace or faster, despite a long, slow uphill the last mile and a quad-burner of a steep hill before it. The hard work is done. Let the true taper begin!

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The countdown continues: motivation for MCM, eight days out

This time next week, I’m going to be taking the Metro to downtown DC, where I’ll pick up my packet for the Marine Corps Marathon. In that packet will be my bib, lucky No. 5345. I’m so excited just thinking about it!

Until then, I’m feeding myself a constant stream of motivation to keep myself from less-helpful tasks. My pre-race phantoms this time are worrying that I’ll emerge from the marathon with serious, nightmarish injuries, and worrying that I’ll slow to a despairingly awful pace the second half of the race.I’m writing those down here not because I’m obsessing, but because this is an honest blog, and I feel it’s appropriate to confess that it’s not all roses and finishers’ medals sprouting in my mind.

That said, here are a few of the things motivating me today:

My last speed workout yesterday. Steve and I skipped our group run on account of the cold rain pelting the DC area, which I’m guessing would not be the best way to protect my immune system before Oct. 25. I headed for the treadmill instead and knocked out three 1-mile repeats at 7:15-minute mile pace, making sure to crank it down below the 7-minute-mile mark for the last minute or so of each repeat. I felt sort of awesome! Those miles, in addition to my 8-minute-mile tempo run Tuesday night, will be major confidence-boosters as I head into the final week of my taper.

Some new tunes. In addition to “B.O.B” by Outkast, which I recently rediscovered as a running song, I’m loving “Percussion Gun” by the White Rabbits. The song is self-explanatory – like “B.O.B,” it’s got a persistent drumbeat that just begs you to move faster.

New socks! Yes, that was exclamation-point worthy. I wore Wrightsock anti-blister socks during the only other marathon I’ve run, and I truly believe their double-layered awesomeness is responsible for my feet escaping the dreaded hamburger syndrome. Problem is, my trusty pair from 2007 sprouted a giant hole in one toe during a long run this year, and I haven’t been able to find them in my size anywhere. I special-ordered a pair from Wrightsock’s Web site. They arrived yesterday. Given my reaction when I opened the box, you woulda thought I’d won something.

Did I just do Motivation Monday on a Friday? I think I did.

I’ve only got one more “long” run, a 10-miler on Sunday, before I start the real tapering. Eight days to go!

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Motivation Monday

I’m not sure whether this is going to be a recurring feature, or a one-Monday-only special, but I wanted to share some of the little

My weekend purchases are motivating me this week — especially the awesome, cheapo technical T's!

My weekend purchases are motivating me this week — especially the awesome, cheapo technical T's!

things that are firing me up this week. The alliteration comes courtesy of a lack of motivation to think up anything more clever on a Monday morning.

  • Retail therapy after my almost-16 miler on Saturday. You know you’re a runner when “retail therapy” means a new pair of socks, some Body Glide and Sports Beans. I stopped in Pacers after my almost-16-miler to purchase all of the above, and it felt just as awesome and self-indulgent as buying myself flowers.
  • Some great new long-run songs. I literally cannot place “The View” by Modest Mouse and “Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth” by Clap You Hands Say Yeah too early on my marathon playlist, because they’ll inspire me to run too fast, too soon. They’re perfect for a long run, when you’re looking for something with a great beat that’s also sort of meditative.
  • Knowing what works. I bought two technical T-shirts from the Reebok outlet store in Jacksonville, Fla., while I was training for the Nashville Country Music Marathon in 2007. These random shirts ended up being my favorites to run in: They’re not too tight, not too loose, have amazing sweat-wicking properties and have a slight V-neck to prevent chafing (who knew this was possible with a shirt?). I’ve worn them to death, and they’re now so permanently smelly, the stench distracts even me. When we stopped at the Hagerstown, Md., outlets on our way back from West Virginia over the weekend, I stopped in the Reebok store. Just to see. I bought two new shirts in bright pink and purple for $12 a pop. Tested the purple one on my long run Saturday. Great success! This will be my marathon shirt!
  • Renewing my commitment to swimming. As I whined about in a post last week, my beloved pool closes this Friday. But I found the most amazing Web site to help me find a new one. Details to follow. For now, the closure of my old haunt is inspiring me to swim for all my cross-training days this week. A sort of farewell tour to the pool that’s served me so well.
  • Focusing on the journey. This is getting even tougher as the Marine Corps Marathon draws closer, and other friends running fall marathons are hounding Boston qualifying times — 3:40 for women in my age group. Most conversion charts say based on my most recent half-marathon time (1:49), I should be able to run a 3:50 marathon, making it tempting to wonder: What would it take for me to qualify? But I’m pretty sure the answer involves me training much harder than I am now, which might just shove me off the don’t-get-injured tightrope I already feel like I’m walking on. So I’m shooting for something like a four-hour marathon — nine-minute miles — and I’m trying to not even focus on that time, beyond using it to know what pace I should start the race at. I’m reminded of the saying: “You don’t sing to get to the end of a song.” We don’t run because we want to see some numbers on a clock. We run because it brings us peace and joy and a zenned-out feeling that only comes from meditation in motion.

What’s motivating you this week?

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