I have been out on the road for 11 going on 12 weeks now of training for my half marathon and the big day is only 3 days away! Yowza. That went fast. I wanted to do a check in before the big day. But there is not a whole lot to report, other than I feel like I kicked it’s ass (I am so sorry, mom, but there really wasn’t a better way to say that.) Boom. So today, I want to bring back a popular post from a couple months ago, with a running twist. I bring you...
Confessions: The Running Edition.
I am not a fast runner. I am not a frequent runner. I am not in fact even in love with running. I do enjoy the way it makes me feel when I am done. And I very very very much enjoy the excuse to indulge in donuts, cheese fries, and a nice cold beer after a long run. But I would never put myself in the category of a crazy endurance runner. You will never see me lining up at the starting line of the Boston marathon. (Although you may see me at the finish line!)
So how do I do it? How do I stay motivated? A 3-4 miler in the middle of the week is one thing. But going out for a run that lasts 1-2 hours, even more when training for a marathon, that’s a long time to be out there, running your feet, mile after mile. Either way, I have discovered that running is an exercise I will forever return to. I get out of habit, especially after a long training season, but when I’m ready and I lace up those shoes again, it never takes me long to remember why I enjoy these long runs.
The secret to getting through it? Visualization. No, I do not mean visualizing yourself running effortlessly, crossing the finish line and standing on the champion’s podium with a medal around your neck. While probably a valuable strategy of its own, I am actually referring to the kind of visualization that transports you and distracts you from the current struggle to a place of peace, pride, and all out fun.
Visualization Strategy #1: Reminisce
I play this game a lot, particularly with Mike when we are drowning in the Land of Small Children. We reminisce about the vacations we took or the evenings out we had or the blissful and slow paced weekend morning. Not in a bitter sort of way but more in a relaxing fondness in the hopes to transport ourselves to anywhere else but in that sticky covered mess of whining and cheerios we might currently find ourselves. While I am running, I found it was particularly fun to scroll through some of the most epic memories I have of running or just being out in nature. Like the time we went for a run down the path that led to our Agroturismo in the countryside of Tuscany.
Or the time I was on my 18 mile long run in the middle of a Chicago winter and I found myself caught on a sheet of ice sliding into Lake Michigan and I had to hold hands with another runner out training for the Boston Marathon. Just a guy and a girl saving each other from drowning, and then continuing on with their runs.
Or the time I ran my first marathon with my little brother, who was quite a few miles ahead of me and just as I was hitting a wall at mile 19, I came around a corner at a point where runners were beginning to head back to finish line and we practically ran into each other. The smile and the hug and the high five from my virtual training partner was everything I needed to get me through the next 7 miles.
Those memories put me in such a happy place. It reminds me why I enjoy running. It puts a smile on my face and you can’t swear at yourself if you have a smile on your face.
But if there are not enough positive memories to reminisce about, there is always the next phase, which is my most favorite…
Visualization Strategy #2: Dance Dance Revolution
(P.S. Sometimes to have fun and make a point, you have to embarrass yourself a little. You are welcome. )
Early on in my training I was listening to podcasts when I went out for my run. I had generally only listened to music when training but podcasts were a new favorite so I thought I would introduce this to my running. However, I noticed one afternoon, when I did not have a podcast downloaded and I turned on Pandora instead, my running speeds, and overall impression of the run, improved dramatically. Ever since then, when it is time for a run, I put those ear buds in, I crank up Black Eyed Peas Pandora station, and I rock out each and every mile.
And I’m not talking just matching my running steps to the beat and humming along to the tunes. No friends. I’m talking choreographed dancing that rivals MTV Video awards. When I am running I play out each dance move. Sometimes it is a solo rock out, often it involves flash mob type entrances or Black Eyed Peas driving along on their sweet parade float singing to me. My brain is like a constant MTV channel back when MTV played videos and I would sneak away to the basement and watch all day and feel like I was way cooler than I was.
Also, I swear, Pandora knows exactly what I need exactly when I need it. Just the other day, I was rounding my turn around to head home and I hear Fergie crooning to me “Can you meet me halfway?” You betcha, Fergalicious, I will be there. Or as I made the last mile climb to our house and it is all uphill and I think each and every time “there is no way I will ever make 13 miles, I just cannot finish another mile” and then suddenly I hear Eminem “You better lose yourself in the music, the moment, you own it, you better never let it go. You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow, this opportunity comes once in a lifetime.” Sheesh. You are so right Eminem. I will never let it go.
Now before you think you better set yourself up with a lawn chair and a bag of popcorn on my running route so you can catch a glipse of these “Moves like Jagger,” you are mistaken. To the outside world, I am just another runner out there on the road, gliding along drawing no attention to myself. It is only inside my head, the place I am escaping to for an hour or so, where it is an all-night dance party and I am the special featured guest. Because, when was the last time you went to a club and paid attention to how long you were shaking your groove thing out on the dance floor (We do still call them “clubs” right? It has been far too long since I set foot in one.) I bet you could surely work it for a solid two hours before you took a drink break. So why not do that while running instead of worrying about your breathing methods or running posture? Way more fun, I say.
So there is my confession. Just two visualization techniques are all you need to make your way from starting line to finish line. Still not convinced running is your thing? That’s fine. Much like vocations and pizza toppings, you have to find what works for you. You prefer burpees and planking, Usher will get you there (but also, you are a CRAZY FOOL!) Power walking with the double stroller? How about a little Lady Gaga and Kanye mix tape. Are you one of THOSE people who cleans their house top to bottom on a regular basis? Well a marathon cleaning day requires a marathon dance session. You’ll want to stick with the tunes you know which is why I will forever be stuck in the NOW album from 2011, the last year I was able to enjoy music that didn’t involve a monkey or a duck. Whether you are ready to give long distance running another shot (Just do it! You’ll love it!) or you just need something to help you escape whatever rat race you find yourself in, with the great combo of time travel and dance dance revolution, you can make it happen.
And for all of you who cheered me on virtually or right here in my living room each morning (a million thanks to you, Babe!) you are the best. We need each other to get across the finish line of life. And I’m glad I have good people to dance with me!