Long Training Runs

Saturday morning’s run was to be a long training run. After a rough week, one where I only got two runs in of three miles, I was concerned that this run was going to end in failure. I didn’t know if I had the endurance to go past eight miles, even though I ran a half marathon in May. It’s funny how your doubts let you believe that you’ve lost everything you have built up.

After chatting with the iCan Running group and doing our stretches, we took off. My dear friend Kara and I were leading the pack, as most of the group was running slower due to the humidity. Kara and I just saw it as another hurdle to get over, to learn to deal with and push through it.

We chatted and laughed, which is all too common on our runs together. It’s our way of catching up with each other and making the most of this beautiful moment in time. There we were, in the early morning, two best friends enjoy a run and the beauty of the trails we were on. You really can’t ask for much more!

At one point we turned to see where the other runners were. Much to our surprise, they were nowhere to be seen. I knew we were running faster than they were, but I didn’t think we were that fast. We resumed our run and Kara said “Thank you for running with me, it would suck to run this far alone.” I thanked her too, and thought about how much easier the long runs are when you are with someone.

Most days, I run alone. It’s my Zen time, a chance to get away from everything and everyone, to clear my head and regroup. But, I love running with Kara and Stephanie, and the other runners in our group as well. Those are times to learn and teach, to help and to receive help.

But there is something magical when you have one or two running partners that know you so well, that are your closest of friends, that will always be there for you. These bonds develop over time, and countless miles covered together. And somewhere down the road you realize how special that is. Your pace is the same, you know when they will move a certain way, you look for the same things (we saw a deer watching us today). It becomes instinctive.

I would recommend to anyone starting out in running, especially distance running, to find a buddy to run with. Work together to assist one another in achieving each other’s goals, hold each other accountable when it comes to training, and hopefully you too can feel the magic of having a very special training partner.

We ended our run at 13.8 miles, and a total time of 2:22:31. It was hard to believe that I was worried about going eight miles. Kara sent me a note later saying “Thanks for the run. Just like old times.” Yes it was, and I hope the beginning of many more runs that are “just like old times.”

Forging Ahead

Pain is temporary. It may last for a minute, or an hour or a day, or even a year. But eventually, it will subside. And something else take its place. If I quit, however, it will last forever.”

-Lance Armstrong

The above quote is one I think of at times when I’m tired, or sore, or just want to stop running and go home.  It’s one I think of when my legs, my back, or those little voices of doubt try to get me to end my workout early.  I think about this quote, and how far I have grown in the last few years both mentally and physically, and I know I cannot quit.

Yesterday I went out on a 6 mile run.  I added a long hill incline (approximately 11 blocks) into the mix early, and started paying for it quickly.  My body wanted to stop, to walk and rest, but I knew that if I stopped, I would not start again that evening.  So I kept pushing, hearing this mantra in my head.

It really doesn’t matter what time you finish your distance in.  Some days you set a personal record, some days you won’t.  What does matter is that you didn’t give up on yourself, that you have the guts, the drive, the determination to forge ahead and continue.  You refused to take the easy way out, to quit, and because you refused to quit you become tougher, stronger, and more mentally focused.

When I finished, I thought “Wow, it really wasn’t so bad.  Why did I even consider quitting?”  Running is one of the few sports where the participants continue on long after the winner has crossed the finish line.  Why?  Because it was never against them in the first place; it was against those inner demons that want you to quit.  It’s a battle within, and one you can win …

If you continue to forge ahead.

Remember, pain is temporary, quitting is forever.


Live healthy, be happy.


Hills – The Training You Love to Hate

Hill training has a bad reputation. They are loathed by many a runner who would rather zip along on a flat surface than to face the challenge of a hill. Runners complain that hill training is too hard, that they are too sore afterwards, that it slows them down, etc., etc.

But hill training is an essential part of long distance training. You will likely never see a marathon, half-marathon, or even 10k without some sort of hill or incline in them. All sanctioned marathons that qualify as a Boston Marathon gateway race has to have a certain amount of elevation gain to them. Even the Des Moines IMT Marathon starts up a long hill and then into rolling hills before you ever reach the halfway point.

Tackling a hill does not have to be as daunting as it seems. You only need to prepare yourself physically and mentally to the challenge. Physically prepare yourself by adding some elevation gains in your daily runs. I like to switch between a few rolling hills along with some longer inclines, then on the next run find a bigger or steeper hill to work on. Build up your endurance to them and you will have them beat in no time.

Remember that it is ok to slow down going up hill in order to conserve energy. If you are running a 10 minute mile while on a flat area and you try to keep that 10 minute pace uphill, you will expend a lot of energy by attempting to maintain that pace. That is when you see runners throw up their arms in frustration and start walking. If you slow down, take your time, and stay steady, you will make it over the crest of the hill and your flat route pace will return … only it will feel like recovery! Pretty neat, isn’t it?

Everyone has their own way of mentally preparing to tackle a hill, so I will give you my way. You can try it or adapt it to fit your needs. First, I never look at the top of a hill. That only leads to the feeling of “I’ll never make it” which in it self spells defeat. I tip my head down (I wear a cap) and look approximately 5 feet past the bill of the cap. I will look up once and awhile periodically to make sure I am not going to run into someone.

While looking only a few feet ahead, I look for targets to pass. I tell myself “I have to make it to that mailbox” or “I have to make it to that telephone pole.” I keep breaking it into increments until I reach the top of the hill. That way I don’t get frustrated with the length of the hill at all.

I hope this helps you, and that the next time you run up on a hill you find a challenge waiting rather than a daunting or impossible task. Hills will make you stronger and quicker, so incorporating them into your weekly runs is a great idea.

Live healthy, be happy.


A Special Sunday Run

This Sunday was a special day. I went to Campbell Park to meet up with our running club, but the only ones that showed up was Stephanie, Kara, and myself. The other team members had ran on Saturday, so it was just the three of us for the long Sunday run.

It was like old times again, the three of us running together. Stephanie, Kara and I have put in many miles together. We have shared lots of laughter, some tears, and many cheers as we celebrated and consoled each other over the miles and over the past year. Don’t get me wrong, I love running with our club, but there is something special when the three of us run together. We seem to know each other so well, that we know when to push each other and when to be beside each other as one struggles. It is an amazing feeling to know your running partners that well, and that they know me that well.

Stephanie has been having trouble with an ankle, so she only wanted to run with us for the first hour. We planned a route so it would take us back to the park, then Kara and I could take off for the second hour. So off we went, and as usual we laughed the miles away. No topic was off limits, and people watching us probably wondered what we were up to since we were laughing so much. Before we knew it, we were at the halfway point, and just as quickly we were back where we started.

We walked Stephanie to her car, and she smiled and said “I don’t want to leave you guys.” She then pulled her bicycle out her car, strapped on her helmet, and proceeded to ride behind us! I asked if her ankle was ok and she said it was better on the bike then running. It was great to finish what we started together, and I always enjoy our time together.

I hope everyone gets the opportunity to have running partners such as I do. They fill my heart and soul with support, encouragement, love, and caring. I know that obligations limit our chances to run together as much as we did before, but I know that they are always there for me and that when we do get the chance for the three of us to run together, it will be awesome. As always! Love you ladies!

Live healthy, be happy!