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Recently a friend asked how I stayed motivated in ultra training. It was bad enough when I just had a LOT of marathons to do with hard-- albeit shorter-- training in between. Now I have weekly double long runs as well as a LOT of training in between. Take this weekend...
Saturday 3/5/10 08:00 @ Flying Pig Start area
If you have ever run the Flying Pig Marathon you know it's just a LITTLE hilly (yes, that's sarcasm). I met up with Mojo Running's group training to do a long run. We started around the start area of the pig, but instead of wrapping into KY for some flat mileage, we jumped RIGHT to the huge hill climb you normally get around mile 7 of the marathon. We wrapped through the middle part of the course to the finish, bringing in 14 miles. Paul (the owner of Mojo) and I went back out another mile to get other runners in. After 15 *fun* but fast long run miles, I had another 10 to do by myself. So, I did the first part of the pig completing my LONGEST purely training run on my life. 25 miles done with no fanfare, no medal, no cheering, not even a water. Just the pride and my car for a ride home to take a long nap!
Sunday 3/6/10 11:00 @ KY side of the Flying Pig!
I met up with a couple of friends that are training for the half pig-- and 1 training for Chicago full!!!-- for a run. Wrapping around the first part of the pig, we ran 7 miles. I then went over to my hill repeat area for another 6 miles then weight lifting after. Woohoo quadzilla!
Weekends like this aren't so bad because I have buddies to take my mind off of running. However, when they go off to have lunch, relax, nap, and do FAR more entertaining things than run more... it definitely gets hard! Keeping myself motivated is NOT always easy. There are a lot of emotions that flood through you as you go mile after mile, especially when your head or heart aren't into it. I like to think of these emotions in the stages of grief....
Denial or Isolation-- "25 miles isn't THAT long.... it's really only 1 mile... then 1 mile... then 1 mile... then... etc." This will go by in NO time. This stage happens when I'm heading out to start my long run. If I tell myself 25 is short... it WILL be short, right?
Anger-- this usually happens around the time my running buddies are wrapping up their long runs and speeding up as they get toward the finish and I know I have to head out to do more. Thought: "Yeah cool, let's speed up for the last 4 miles then my legs can be jello for the extra 10 I get to add on... fun.
Depression-- The buddies are heading to a local bar/restaurant for lunch. I run away into the gloom and doom of the cloudy, rainy day all by myself. Thought "this kinda sucks... and I'm hungry."
Bargaining-- Around mile 20 I consider spacing out my runs. "If I stop at 22, then I can just do 16 tomorrow instead of 13."
Acceptance-- I'm finishing this thing up because it's making me stronger and well... it's 2 miles to my car so I don't have much of a choice.
We come full circle back to Denial: I'm at the finish with my first of 2 long runs done for the weekend. Thought "that wasn't bad at all! I did 25 in less than 3:40 for a training run and I feel good... 13 tomorrow is going to be a breeze!" (bahaha stupid girl...)
All kidding aside it isn't always easy before, during, or after to do so many miles in a week. I'm not one of those crazy people that just LOVES to run. I'm not a robot that can go mile after mile without a care. Some days I just DO NOT want to run and it's a struggle to get out of the house, let alone move my feet mile after mile. What do I do to keep myself motivated?
~ Goals! I remind myself of how importantly my goals are. I know I have WS100 in just a few short months. I try to think of every tough run as one more mile toward my goal. The more challenging the run that day (mentally or physically) the more I know it will help me at my race.
~ Races! As you know I enter a lot of races just as training runs. Even if I'm not running them hard, it keeps my mind off the miles to have people to run with, have a medal to look forward to, and have more races to add to my marathon maniac yearly total!
~Focus! I take regular inventories of my stride, posture, pace to keep my mind off the miles. Sometimes I try different forms or speeds and see how long I can hold it. One of the new things I'm trying out is the posture for Chi Running-- running tall and leaning forward slightly, focused on breathing.
~Mixing it up! Every run has a different focus and I know each of those are important, so missing one of them a week can be pretty critical. My short run day is a big speed day. The long runs will get me the endurance I need. My 2nd middle run day is a tempo run, which keeps me quick and my cross training day is going to build my legs for hills!
~Reading Up! During my XT day I like to bring my Runners World magazine or another running related book (Born to Run?). Having the weekly inspiration keeps my head in the game and makes me WANT to train.
~Blogging! Yep, you guys keep me going. Knowing that I have to come back to you all saying "I failed" has gotten me through some tough long runs that I would have quit otherwise. I also love hearing your stories of strength and determination!
What tricks do you use to stay motivated??
"Run to Win" -Meb