A Spark of (Invisible) Potential

photo“The weird thing about running is how people keep running faster and faster. Take the great example of the four-minute mile. One guy breaks it, then all of a sudden everyone breaks it. And they break it in such a short period of time that it can’t be because they were training harder. It’s purely that it was a psychological barrier and someone had to show them that they could do it. It’s the same thing if you’re a runner and you’re around older runners, you just get a sense of what’s possible. You have no clue, if you’re by yourself, how fast you can run. You have no sense of what your limits are.” – Malcolm Gladwell, September 2013 issue of Runner’s World 

I read this earlier in the week, and though the realization Gladwell discusses here–that the runners already had the ability to break four minutes, they just needed to learn that it was indeed possible–wasn’t necessarily new to me, for the first time it got me thinking. This summer brought with it the re-ignition of my desire to truly train again after a year’s run-for-fun hiatus post college. (Hallelujah!) That means I want to go to the gym, I want to do speedwork, I want to log more mileage. And now I want to run fast.

Now it’s not lost on me that I’m still very much a marathon newbie. It’s a distance that just doesn’t mess around. You have to respect it. And since it’s still so new, I’m pulling numbers out of thin air when it comes to goal times and potential race paces. Yes, I have my first four marathons as benchmarks, but I’m learning from experience that those first few cracks at any distance aren’t worth fussing over when it comes to what you can do down the road.

Screen shot 2013-08-03 at 1.43.40 PMCase in point: My freshman year of college, I decided to try my hand at the steeplechase. I’m (embarrassingly) uncoordinated–this is why I run–but the challenge was exciting and new. (Trust me, when you’ve spent the last six years running in circles, mixing in a few hurdles is a welcome distraction, intimidating as they might be.) I was the lone freshman on a squad of water pit pros who could leap over the water in fluid, powerful bounds. I, on the other hand, was a pencil-diving pro. I remember thinking, Wow, I will absolutely never run as fast as those girls. I know I’ll improve, but I can’t imagine ever touching their times. This was a game of gazelles vs. baby giraffes.

3274_539101569066_5984858_nI ran my first steeple (above, laughing because I was soaked head to toe) in 12:08 and dropped it down to 11:45 by the end of the season. My teammates were running in the high 11:20s (that’s them on the left!). Dang they were quick. It might not seem like much, but over a 3K, seconds are like months. It’s tough to shave off time.

Fast forward to my junior year when one of my all-time favorite running moments happened. I won our dual meet and ran 11:23 (below). I dropped it to 11:17 at the league championships. I honestly still can’t really believe it. No, the pencil diving never improved. I don’t remember feeling like I had done anything different to get there. Sure, I had gained experience by then. But it felt more like a miracle rather than months of work paying off. Finally a good race in a sea of crappy ones.

But those magical races were few and far between in college because my head was so far up my own a** (pardon my French) most of the time no thanks to unnecessary nerves and pressure. I know my brain held me back more than I care to admit.

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Looking back on those races, I think they were hints at my true potential. But since I didn’t really see them that way, or at least fully believe that I really could run faster, I never did. I was stuck running 11:52s my senior year.

A (ridiculously fast) alum told me then and still tells me now that I could go sub-11 in the steeplechase. That’s like telling me I could run in the 3:0Xs in a marathon. (Which she reminded me of again last weekend). To me, that’s crazy talk.

In fact, one of my coworkers truly believes I have the potential to make it to the Trials if I set my mind to it. Again, say what?

Every time both of them say it without hesitation. They genuinely believe I could do it if I wanted to. She’s watched me pencil dive dozens of times, yet she still thinks I can go sub-11. He’s spent hundreds of miles watching my knees knock together, but he still thinks I can run close to a 3-hour marathon. Their faith in my potential is both unsetting and…inspiring?

I’ve spent my whole running career looking at people that spoke of my potential incredulously, like, Hey, that’s great and all, but let’s come back down to earth. Thanks. So far that mindset hasn’t really gotten me anywhere.

But what I’m starting to realize is that they have the ability to spot those sparks of potential. They have a clear view of them without all of the negative self-talk that fogs it up in my brain. Maybe it’s my year-long hiatus that’s helped me see this, who knows? I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m finally getting a sense of what’s possible. And possibly believing in it, too?

So from now on, here’s why I’m going to do to try to help me reach my potential:

  • Keep an eye out for those successful workouts or runs. I remember doing a solo 20-miler in January, and I ran every mile under 8 minutes. I’ll never forget it because when I finished I couldn’t believe I’d done it. I want to remember that run (and the other good ones) when I get to the starting line in October. 
  • Keep an open mind when it comes to race goals. That means not feeling restricted to a specific time goal or pace. I want to run by feel and go from there. If I feel good, I’ll pick it up. If not, there’s always another race.
  • Quit writing off my support group when they’re encouraging me to aim higher. Rather than putting up a barrier, I want to use those opportunities to think about what more I could do to run better.

A 7:30/mile marathon (or 7:00/mile marathon for that matter) seems crazy now. But who knows? It might not seem crazy a year or two from now! I want to leave the doors open for those opportunities rather than locking ’em shut and waiting for something to seep through the keyhole. I want to listen to the people telling me I can break through my own four-minute barrier, rather than telling them that it’s impossible. I know I can trust them since I bet they’ve been in my shoes in one way or another.

QUOTE OF THE POST:  “You have to know your body. It’s part of the beauty of the training process, and once you’ve determined how much your body and mind can take, you can then begin to reach your potential.” – Frank Shorter

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What a Whirlwind of a Year

photoA couple weeks ago was my alma mater’s graduation day, and a couple weeks before that was my one-year “run-iversary” (I consider mine May 4, the day of my last collegiate race, because I couldn’t tell you what day I started running!). And somewhere in there was my official one-year anniversary at Runner’s World. Seriously, say what? It’s been a whole year?!?

The last time I spoke with my Dad, he said, “Can you believe how much you’ve experienced in just one year?”

After falling right back in sync with my college teammates like nothing had changed, like the year had been shortened to maybe a month, I genuinely can’t believe how different a runner I am today. I’m thankful to report that I’m still just as in love with the sport as I was a year ago. I’d even venture to say that that passion has grown deeper. Career-wise, to say it’s been eye-opening is an understatement.

So here’s what happened this year and a bit of what I learned along the way:

  • I helped cover two major marathons that (unexpectedly) turned into major nationwide events: At the New York City Marathon press conference, I sat beside one of my professional and running idols Amby Burfoot as NYRR CEO Mary Wittenburg announced the cancellation of one of the world’s most famous marathons. After the Boston Marathon, my post was published on runnersworld.com, and the positive feedback I received played an essential role in the healing process. Interviewing witnesses of the tragedy further helped me process all that had happened. After both events, I watched the stellar RW staff pull together two of the most powerful issues I’ll likely ever be a part of in my career. They are the very definition of professionals. I can only aspire to be even a little bit like them in the future. And in both instances, I witnessed the running community unite to support each other and complete strangers. All around, very powerful experiences.      
  • I ran FOUR marathons! I still remember the spring of last year when I registered for my first marathon. I spent the rest of the day in sheer disbelief that I’d just paid $80 to run 26.2 miles…voluntarily. Turns out, it became one of my all-time favorite experiences so far in life. 104.8 miles later, I can say I learned: that following my veteran colleagues’ advice will more than pay off, to respect the distance (feeling like crap at mile 10 sucks) but then discover that mystical “marathon magic,” that the running community is far greater and more awe-inspiring that I ever imagined, and that runners can endure far more than the 26.2 miles in front of them.
  • I started this blog! Beyond helping me grow as a writer, this digital diary has introduced me to SO many incredible runners. Having a platform to share experiences with others and compare notes on all things running has been way too much fun. (I now understand why y’all do it! =) ) I get totally engrossed reading blogs, virtually taking part in your running world. I’ve learned so much, and I’ve grown as a runner and person. I really can’t thank y’all enough for the words of support and encouragement. I hope you know that you have inspired me, too!   
  • I took up running naked (meaning sans watch, not actually naked, hah) most days and adopted what my boss calls “secondhand training.” It’s been a pretty drastic, but freeing change that’s helped me enjoy running for what it is, plain and simple. Rather that worrying over my paces or what workout is coming up on the calendar, I’ve embraced the spontaneity and learned how to love racing again. Let me put it this way: I PR’d after a day (and night’s) worth of St. Patrick’s Day shenanigans, just four hours of sleep, and arriving to the race maybe five minutes before the gun. Compare that to my college self who would hyper-worry over every pre-race meal and warmup drill. Personally, I like modern-day, let’s-just-have-fun-and-see-what-the-day-brings Megan.

And for some not-nearly-as-life-changing, but still pretty sweet highlights:

  • I ran up the Empire State Building and got my butt whooped by Kelly Ripa along the way.
  • I ran my first long-distance, over-night road relay and learned what it’s like not to shower or sleep for 30 hours straight.
  • I met the U.S. women’s marathoning trifecta: I ate Dunkin’ doughnut-holes with Shalane Flanagan, told Colt that his mommy Kara Goucher is one of my running heroes, and ran into (and probably scared the s*** out of) Desi Davila at our hotel at the Walt Disney World Marathon.
  • My current track record for throwing up after a marathon is 50/50. So there’s that.
  • I won the media heat of the 5th Avenue Mile. (It’s not as impressive at it sounds, honestly).
  • I got Nick Symmonds’ sweat on my jacket when he hugged me at the Millrose Games. He’s an incredibly nice guy, and it was very cool getting to meet him in person. (And seriously, where can I sign up to be a contestant on The Bachelor if he ends up being on the show?)
  • I lost whatever upper-body strength that I once had (and likely–hopefully?–channeled that “strength” toward those absurdly long marathon training runs).
  • I ran over the Golden Gate Bridge at midnight and through a closed-down Times Square.
  • I learned how to snot-rocket in motion.
  • I freaked out my 10-year-old self when I met “Figure it Out” (from Nickelodeon, remember that 90s kids?) host Summer Sanders and was meters away N’SYNC member Joey Fatone.
  • I’ve held an Olympic gold medal. Literally made my heart race.
  • I can now run or race at all hours of the day or night, thanks to Disney’s 5:30 a.m. race starts and the midnight relay legs.
  • I’ve done a lunch run in a tutu and did a (totally legit) stair-climb race at RW HQ.
  • I began blogging for–and therefore became friends with–Lauren Fleshman. Love this girl and everything she represents. ‘Nuff said.
  • I’ve almost gotten over being star-struck around elites. This past year, I’ve met or been in the presence of: Bernard Lagat, Meb Keflezighi, Evan Jager, Kim Smith, Alysia Montaño, Hannah England, Anna Pierce, Matt Centrowitz, Leo Manzano, Stephanie Rothstein-Bruce, Jenny Simpson, Brenda Martinez, Mary Cain, Jordan Hasay, Molly Huddle, Amy Hastings, Derrick Adkins, Dean Karnazes, (…and I’m sure a few more) and the legends Frank Shorter, Bill Rodgers, Joan Benoit Samuelson, and Katherine Switzer. Crazy.

Since it was such a whirlwind of a first year in the “real world,” I wanted to take the time to collect all that happened in one place so future me can go back and remember it. Looking back on this year, all I can say is that I couldn’t be more thankful for the opportunities my work has given me and the people who I work with who have made me a better, happier runner. It’s opened my eyes to how truly unique the running community is, and I’m reminded every day of how lucky I am to be a part of it. Runners are a different, but brilliant breed. This year–maybe more than any in at least my life time–this fact was all the more apparent. And I got a front-row seat. What a whirlwind.

Here’s to another incredible year!

QUOTE OF THE POST: “Keep your head up, keep your heart strong.” – Shalane Flanagan

Sisters in Sport | March Madness + Gearing Up For April

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PR! – A high point from my March training.

Simply put, March was just madness: every smokin’ fast long run was countered with a crappy one, my get-serious-for-Boston training plan probably got more views from y’all than from me (but I ran a half-marathon PR, so I must be doing something right…right?), my confidence level was more wobbly than my yoga poses, and speaking of yoga (and core), yeah, that didn’t happen much this month either. My butt was much happier on my couch than on my mat. Not okay.

Today, I’m in the midst of the infamous “taper crazies.” Mentally, I’m equally freaking out about this cold I can’t seem to shake, but confident that come April 15th, those 60ish vertical long run miles with pay off. Heck, my half PR proved that I am in shape. Deep down, I believe I’m going to have a good race. Just get me to the line. Now. Please.

Because there’s literally no rhyme or reason to my March training, here’s a rundown of what went down:

  • I learned that I’m still apparently NOT ready for any sort of structured training plan. Bummer. The stress I felt trying to fit in each and every workout was simply not worth it. What I actually ended up doing was probably pretty close to the plan, but I ran on my own terms. And I was a happier runner because of it. I haven’t given up on trying (and actually sticking to) a plan yet, but this marathon build-up just wasn’t the right time.
  • That being said, I PR’d in the half by exactly a minute and a half…after maybe three hours of sleep. That means I’m in as good as (if not better) shape than I was in college when I ran my old PR. I think I averaged 7:09 pace, which is well below my hypothetical, probably-far-off-in-the-future marathon goal pace of 7:30s. It wasn’t easy, but I certainly wasn’t dying. This sparked a huge pre-Boston confidence boost…
  • …that quickly came crashing down on the following Monday when I got a killer cold. I took it easy all week and consumed more Vitamin C than chocolate (which says a lot with all that Easter candy at my fingertips), but the darn thing is still lingering around today. It made for one incredibly slow long run, too. It’s amazing how one weekend you can power up every hill with ease, and then two weeks later you might as well be carrying a 50-pound weight on your back because the pace feels like a death march. The wind was effectively sucked out of my sails.
  • I dabbled in three (Yay!) potential cross-training activities this month: (1) I did a flow yoga class at work, which was the perfect balance of strength, stretching, and relaxation. Perfection, especially for runners. This needs to become a weekly thing for sure. (2) I did a strength routine with some of the guys from work, and afterward I was sore in all the right places, meaning my (weaker than my arms) glutes. I think it’ll become my much-needed strength routine come summer. And (3) I rode a legit road bike! I haven’t ridden a bike in 5+ years, so this was a true test of that “It’s like riding a bike, you never forget” saying. A friend and I rode four laps around Prospect Park in NYC (about 14 miles), and it was equal parts terrifying and exhilarating. I was focused on every bump in the road and crossing pedestrian–I was, again, very wobbly–while I tried to maintain some sort of consistent pace (or in the cycling world, “cadence”). I was amazed by how my quads screamed going up any hill (big or small), but my breathing remained steady and in control. Talk about using different muscles! Overall, it was a very fun, but very different experience than running. But, I bought a cycling kit this week, so I’m game for trying it again! Maybe this could turn into something a bit more serious! (Gotta figure out how to turn the thing first though…hmmm.)
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    Yeah, I RODE this. Pretty intense, huh?

    To legit to quit!

    Too legit to quit!

  • I participated in the “Second (Not Quite) Annual Jeff Dengate Hill Challenge” >> A race that’s one mile up, then one mile down a huge hill by RW HQ. (I think it’s about a 450-foot elevation gain.) It’s an unofficial competition we do during lunch, and we stagger our starts from slowest to fastest so you’re always chasing (and being chased by) someone. As expected, it hurt like hell, but it was SO much fun! I beat my old record by about 15 seconds, running the mile up in 8:28 and the mile down in 5:57. Why we do this to ourselves, I have no idea. (BUT Heartbreak Hill/Hurricane Point, I’m ready for you!)

Looking forward to April a.k.a. my crazy/ridiculous/epic spring racing month, the overall goal for the month is confidence in all aspects of my life from work to relationships to racing. There are SO many exciting things happening this month, and I don’t want to ruin them with blah lapses in focus like I had in March. So this month, I want to:

  • Soak in every second at Boston. I want to get in some solid reporting for work, spend some quality time with my Dad, meet as many of my virtual twitter friends as possible, get inspired by just being at Boston, and then most of all, run the race to the best of my abilities and simply be happy with the result. If the uncontrollables work in my favor, a PR would be perfect.
  • Be smart with my post-Boston recovery so that Big Sur doesn’t kill me. I want to use the week-and-a-half break to catch up on work and most importantly rest, rest, rest.
  • Embrace running Big Sur. Hopefully I won’t still be out of commission after Boston so I can cruise through Big Sur watchless, iPhone in hand ready to take photos of the gorgeousness. I want to go into it with the same mindset I had before Disney–have fun.
  • Stay healthy. Sleep as much as I can–I have to master sleeping on planes–and remember to pop those Vitamin C pills!
  • Still have something left for the cherry on top of the cake: the Golden Gate Relay. It’ll be my first relay, and I want to enjoy it!

So without further ado, here goes nothing! Keep an eye out for race reports. I’ll do my best to write them as soon as I can!

QUOTE OF THE POST: “In my experience, there’s one constant to every marathon: fear. You stand on the starting line, and you wonder: Am I going to make it today? The marathon makes you feel naked—a runner in only the sheerest clothing. It can strip you, it can humble you, it will extract a harsh penalty if you don’t treat it with high regard. The day I stop fearing the marathon will be the day I stop running them.” – Amby Burfoot, 1968 Boston Marathon winner (and probably one of the coolest people I know.)

That’s It, I’m Putting My Foot Down!

It’s a bit early for my February recap, but…

This month has been too darn full of excuses – I forgot to plan ahead, I’m tired from yesterday’s trip to NYC, I’d rather do an easy run than that scheduled workout, I need the extra rest day, I’ll do it tomor…ENOUGH! Enough, enough, enough.

Whenever I bail on a workout or a core session, I get this bitter taste in my mouth and it lingers until I get myself back on the road again. Yuck. It never fails. February was my first month trying to follow a training plan to prepare for Boston, and I’ll admit, I’ve done an absolutely crappy job following it so far. Rather than finding ways to fit in each key workout, I’ve found excuses to justify skipping them. It has been an unusual month, but just because I’ve been thrown a few curveballs doesn’t give me a free pass to let my training go all willy nilly. What happened to getting serious about Boston?

Not to mention my February Believe I Am goal is to get into the habit of doing more core. To make it more obvious in my journal, I’ve decided to highlight any core/yoga session in pink.

Do you see much pink this month?picstitch

No? Yeah, I don’t see much either. Grrrrrr…

So, because it worked so well last December, I’m self-imposing a “run streak” to get myself back on track. Since I’m in marathon training, I’m modifying it because rest is important: rather than running at least a mile every day, I’m requiring myself to do at minimum 15 minutes of core on every rest day and (at the very least) a plank session 5 times per week. I’m not allowed to take two rest days in a row – that’s when the laziness really starts to kick in – and ALL scheduled workouts need to happen. Period.

I’m not giving up all hope on my ability to follow a training plan, and I have an itching suspicion that the structure itself has me rebelling against it. But that doesn’t mean I can’t work find a happy medium. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again, right?

Here’s to a strong finish to February and an even stronger March!

QUOTE OF THE POST: “The only thing standing between you and your goal is the bullshit story you keep telling yourself as to why you can’t achieve it.” –  Jordan Belfort 

The Game Plan: Getting Serious About Boston

photoHere we are just TEN weeks away from the Boston Marathon, and I can’t believe it’s already so soon! A couple of goals (via my Believe I Am training journal) that I hope to attain this year (and maybe by Boston) are: reintroducing some structure to my training and breaking into the 3:1X’s in the marathon. If the stars can align come April 15–in other words, no blazing hot temps and a healthy me at the starting line–I’d like to give myself a shot at a PR. Regardless of the outcome on that day, I hope to use this build-up as my first attempt at checking those two goals off my list and start turning things like core and yoga into habits.

Which brings me to the training plan below, created by my coworker Budd Coates, a 4-time Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier and Senior Director of Health and Fitness at Rodale. I plan to use this as a framework for my training, modifying a tweaking things as I go, especially because this is my first venture into structured running since graduation. (In other words, I might flip-flop days or adjust paces here or there.) Without further ado, here’s the game plan!

(Approximate Paces //  Long Distance: 7:30-8:10, Easy: 8:00+, Moderate: 7:30-8:00, Tempo: 7:00-7:15, Hard Interval: 6:30-7:00)

Week of February 3 – February 9

Sunday: 12 miles

Monday: 0-20 min easy

Tuesday: 30-40 min moderate

Wednesday: W/O intervals – 10-15 min warmup // 2 x 2 min hard, 2 min easy, 4 min hard, 2 min easy, 6 min hard, 3 min easy // 10-15 min cooldown

Thursday: 0-20 min easy

Friday: 30-40 min

Saturday: 0-20 min easy

Week of February 10 – February 16

Sunday: 14 miles

Monday: 0-20 min easy

Tuesday: 30-40 min moderate

Wednesday: W/O intervals – 10-15 min warmup // 2 x 4 min hard, 2 min easy; 1 x 6 min hard, 3 min easy; 2 x 4 min hard, 2 min easy  // 10-15 min cooldown

Thursday: 0-20 min easy

Friday: 30-40 min moderate

Saturday: W/O tempo – 10-15 min warmup // 15 min tempo, 5 min easy, 5 min tempo // 10-15 min cooldown

Week of February 17 – February 23

Sunday: 0-20 min easy

Monday: 30-40 min moderate

Tuesday: W/O intervals – 10-15 min warmup // 3-4 x 3 min hard, 2 min easy, 1.5 min hard, 1 min easy // 10-15 min cooldown

Wednesday: 0-20 min easy

Thursday: 30-40 min moderate

Friday: W/O short intervals – 10 min warmup // 8-10 x 1 min hard, 1 min easy // 10 min cooldown

Saturday: rest day

Week of February 24 – March 2

Sunday: 16-18 miles

Monday: 0-20 min easy

Tuesday: 30-40 min moderate

Wednesday: W/O intervals – 10-15 min warmup // 4 min hard, 2 min easy, 6 min hard; 1-2 x 3 min easy, 8 min hard // 10-15 min cooldown

Thursday: 0-20 min easy

Friday: 30-40 min moderate

Saturday: W/O tempo – 10-15 min warmup // 30-35 min tempo // 10-15 min cooldown

Week of March 3 – March 9

Sunday: 0-20 min easy

Monday: 30-40 min moderate

Tuesday: W/O intervals – 10-15 min warmup // 3-5 x 4 min hard, 3 min easy // 10-15 min cooldown

Wednesday: 0-20 min easy

Thursday: 30-40 min moderate

Friday: W/O short intervals – 10 min warmup // 5-10 x 1 min hard, 1 min easy // 10 min cooldown

Saturday: rest day

Week of March 10 – March 16

Sunday: 20-22 miles

Monday: 0-20 min easy

Tuesday: 30-40 min moderate

Wednesday: W/O intervals – 10-15 min warmup // 4 min hard, 2 min easy, 6 min hard; 1-2 x 3 min easy, 8 min hard // 10-15 min cooldown

Thursday: 0-20 min easy

Friday: 30-40 min moderate

Saturday: W/O tempo – 10-15 min warmup // 30-35 min tempo // 10-15 min cooldown

Week of March 17 – March 23

Sunday: 0-20 min easy

Monday: 30-40 min moderate

Tuesday: W/O intervals – 10-15 min warmup // 3-5 x 4 min hard, 3 min easy // 10-15 min cooldown

Wednesday: 0-20 min easy

Thursday: 30-40 min moderate

Friday: W/O short intervals – 10 min warmup // 5-10 x 1 min hard, 1 min easy // 10 min cooldown

Saturday: rest day

Week of March 24 – March 30

Sunday: 18 miles

Monday: 0-20 min easy

Tuesday: 30-40 min moderate

Wednesday: W/O intervals – 10-15 min warmup // 2 x 6 min hard, 3 min easy, 8 min hard // 10 min cooldown

Thursday: 0-20 min easy

Friday: 30-40 min moderate

Saturday: W/O tempo – 10-15 min warmup // 20 min tempo // 10 min cooldown

Week of March 31 – April 6

Sunday: 0-20 min easy

Monday: 30-40 min moderate

Tuesday: W/O intervals – 10-15 min warmup // 2 x 2 min hard, 2 min easy, 3 min hard, 3 min easy, 2 min hard, 2 min easy // 10-15 min cooldown

Wednesday: 0-20 min easy

Thursday: 30-40 min moderate

Friday: W/O short intervals – 10 min warmup // 5-10 x 1 min hard, 1 min easy // 10 min cooldown

Saturday: rest day

Week(s) of April 7 – April 15 

Sunday: 40-50 min easy

Monday: rest day

Tuesday: 20-30 min easy

Wednesday: light W/O – 10 min warmup // 3-5 x 1.5 hard, 1.5 easy // 10 min cooldown

Thursday: 0-15 min easy 

Friday: rest day

Saturday: 15-20 min easy

Sunday: 0-20 min easy

Monday: BOSTON!

 

QUOTE OF THE POST: “I’ve learned that finishing a marathon isn’t just an athletic achievement. It’s a state of mind; a state of mind that says anything is possible.” – John Hanc

Sisters in Sport | On the Starting Line!

Nearly nine months ago, the running rut that had been dangerously brewing during the final few months of my collegiate career had reached its boiling point. Over ten years of competitive running had taken its toll on me mentally and physically, so I was eager for the fresh start and squeaky clean slate that graduation would bring. I knew I hadn’t fallen out of love with the sport, and I couldn’t wait for the chance to shake off the negative mojo and redefine who I am as a runner.

Come summer, I dove head-first into the uncharted territory of running just for me. I hit the refresh button by shedding structure and embracing spontaneity with my training and tried my hand at a new racing distance…the marathon. Though the build-up was far from perfect, the race itself was absolute perfection. Talk about a tidal wave’s worth of positive energy!

I’ve been riding that wave since that day last October. In (lucky!) 2013, I want to take full advantage of this empowering feeling and run with it!

photo 1-1Enter… the Sisters In Sport bloggers and the Believe I Am training journal, both created by Lauren Fleshman and Ro McGettigan.

One inspiring and compelling discovery I’ve made post-college is the online running community. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been drawn in by a runner’s post or motivated to hit the road myself because of Sunday morning’s inevitable stream of long run-related tweets. I started this blog as a means to join in on the conversation, and you can imagine my surprise (and excitement!) when I was asked to be part of a group of female bloggers dubbed the Sisters in Sport. (Check out the link above to find out what these lovely ladies are all about!) Using Lo and Ro’s Believe I Am training journal as a guide, I want to home in on what truly makes me a happy, healthy runner, and my hope is that some part of my journey will resonate with you, too!

photo 2-1Because this is my inaugural #SistersInSport/@BelieveIAm post, I want to share with you my goals for this year:

  • Keep up this streak of positivity: Whether it be a good or bad run or race, find something that went well and focus on that! (Exhibit A: The super-slow, but incredibly enlightening Walt Disney World Marathon.) 
  • Reintroduce some structure to my training: I want to find a way to love doing workouts again because I flat-out need to get faster. The key? Sticking to a schedule that’ll help me get there. Since college, I’ve rejected any sort of pre-determined plan, so I know I’ll need to up my commitment level and make sure I get in some proper training. (Creating a training plan for April’s Boston Marathon is actually my January goal of the month!)
  • Get fitter from head to toe: That means lots of core (I seriously need to improve my pitiful plank PR), lifting sessions and yoga. I plan to keep track of how often I hit the gym/studio each month to I make sure I actually do it.
  • Break into the 3:1X’s in the marathon: I don’t care if this happens at Boston or Marine Corps this year, but I would be SO stoked to be able to run an entire marathon around 7:30 pace. I know and believe I can do it!
  • Eat healthier in general: This translates into actually cooking more often. I won’t lie, my workplace’s super duper organic environment is starting to rub off on me!    

Between actually writing down these goals down in my journal and having y’all keep me accountable via this blog (the game plan is to write a post per month that’ll recap the previous month and discuss my goals for the upcoming month), I have a feeling I’ll be able to tackle most (if not all) of these goals. I know it won’t be easy, but that’s what keeps things interesting, right? =) Now, let’s get this year-long race underway!

QUOTE OF THE POST: “When you put yourself on the line in a race and expose yourself to the unknown, you learn things about yourself that are very exciting.” – Doris Brown Heritage

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If you’re interested, here are the other super-sweet Sister in Sport bloggers! Check ’em out:

Sarah
Laura
Larissa
Jessica
Jen
Laura
Jocelyn
Jennifer
Nicole
Morgan
Mollie
Jennifer
Sarah
Meggie
Bethany
Lisa
Dorothy
Kaitlin
Jane
Shannyn

Read my other Sisters in Sport posts here