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January 2008

Take It and Run Thursday

Take_it_and_run_thursday_3 Welcome to Take It and Run Thursday!

It's our way to bring together the knowledge of all of us ordinary runners.  It's the virtual equivalent to putting our virtual heads together.  Even though many of us aren't elite athletes, coaches or authors, it doesn't mean that we haven't earned a well deserved PhD in running.   Whether you are starting out, have 50 years of running under your belt or somewhere in between - all of us have lessons learned that make us wiser and better runners.  

Today's theme is .... Motivation. 

It's quick and easy!   Just post your name and the title/topic of your post in the first spot and the link to your post in the second spot.     And then read and enjoy!

Next Week's Theme is ... Half Marathons.  Share your training plans, tricks, racing secrets, fuel and hydration plans, recovery, favorite songs, favorite races, or any advice on half marathons.    There are so many Loungers who have run or would like to run the half marathon  - so share until it hurts.

Click here for a link to all the great posts submitted on Motivation.

Plan = Motivation

I am a planner.   I plan everything.  Part of this is necessity and part driven by personality quirk.  I know that my loonngg nagging injury in 2007 is a result of too little planning and too much cramming and ad hoc running.   Tom's post yesterday on running plans was just the push I need to make a plan.   It's time to commit and get a plan.

I have been pretty quiet on the topic.   Which is unusual.  Usually, within a day of my last race of the year, I have my race schedule mapped out, the training runs laid out on the calendar and I am set.   The only exception was in 2007, at just about this time, that I scrapped the entire calendar and plan and ran "planless" for a year.   Skipping all my favorite races and runs to make time for other important things in my life.   11 years of calculated, well planned running schedules swapped out by an open calendar of nothingness.   But the year "off" taught me alot of things about running including how beneficial it is to run for fun, the pure enjoyment of running socially with friends...and...how desparately I need a schedule.

For my planning, I have been debating which platform to jump on: "get faster" or "go longer".  As I have considered this, I have rolled around Vanilla's "Shave your 5K challenge."   Getting faster would be a pretty cool thing to do.   Do you remember that scene in the Spirit of the Marathon where the guy tries to show us how fast elite runners actually run and his treadmill doesn't go that fast?   Come on...speed is so cool!

And then, of course, I have seriously considered going long.   Maybe it is time to break out my marathon mind and body again.   And do it right this time.   The Spirt of the Marathon movie really, really made me think about give it another go.

But after alot of consideration, I know that to stay motivated and engaged in my running plan this year, neither "platform" feels right - they wouldn't be the right goals.  My heart isn't into either goal now.   Which has been perplexing to me.  I kept thinking to myself - if I don't run for speed or distance - what the heck other goals are there?   And then it hit me - it's another year of running for fun.   I really enjoyed the social, no pressure aspect of just heading out alone or with others and running.   

So, I am going back to my old loves, my favorite races of Red Flannel 5K in February, and Drake Relays 8K in April, Dam to Dam 25K in June, Cyman Triathlon in August, Living History Farms 7 miles in November.   My only goal for each one is to run it with a friend.  No time goals, no pressure - just run it for fun.

On top of these races, I have three more goals

1)  I want to be a stronger runner by the end of this year.   I want to train and run for all these races injury free.   By end of this year, this nagging back/hip issue will be such a distant memory that I will think I dreamed it.

2) I want to run two races, not in Iowa, that I have never run before - and with a running friend.  I want to break out of my routine and try something new and see some new running sites.   Of all the goals - this will be the most challenging for me to find the time - but I know it will be the most motivating thing I can do for my running this year.

3)  I want to help two people start their running career.

Ahhh...I feel better.   I feel the motivation pouring in.  A little direction and commitment is a good thing!

In Praise of Running Plans

Tuesday posts are focused on back-to-the-basics of running for beginners and experienced runners.

People with a plan do better than people without a plan

I’ve fumbled through January, getting in my runs here and there, missing or falling short on more runs than I care to admit.  Looking ahead, I’m reminded of the usefulness of creating and following a plan for my running. 

Plan_2 Whether we call it a running plan or training plan doesn’t matter.  Makes no difference whether we design the plan ourselves or take it straight from a web site or book. The point is a good plan is worth its weight in gold—or Gu packs, or doughnuts, or pizza.

During marathon season, I map out a 16–18 week schedule detailing my training to include the right blend of easy, speed, pace, and long runs.   When not training for a race, I usually get good results planning 3–4 weeks out, even if most of my running is low mileage and slow.  The point is not having it all right and perfect with the certainty of a TV evangelist.  Instead, a plan gives me a road map to where I’m heading.

I’ve learned the hard way about being a slave to a running plan.  Following a running plan too rigidly feels more like boot camp and can wind up getting us injured, disinterested, and without enjoyment and satisfaction.  Instead, I’ve identified a few advantages to using a plan to guide our running.

A plan motivates me to take action.  Even when the conditions are imperfect, my plan cajoles me to get out there and accomplish something for me.

A plan shows possibilities
.  Reviewing a plan reveals when to ramp up, back down, rest, peak, cross train, taper, race, and not race.  A plan captures my best applied thinking about what I know about running and training well.

Plan_book It’s an agreement with yourself. Training plans aren’t binding.  But a good running plan reminds me I have this partnership with myself and helps me hold up my end of the deal.

A plan is like a running partner but without the sweaty smell.  It increases the likelihood I’ll get in the running that I planned when I planned it.  A good running plan helps us prioritize and make the best use of our limited time.

Takes the mystery out of day-to-day planning.  Without a plan, I’m scratching my head each day wondering what to run.  This by-the-seat-of-my-pants planning and wondering often leads to repeating the same-old-same-old or even procrastinating my running.

Gives me purpose and milestones. With a running plan, the stage is set to accomplishing something.   Without a plan running my goals are good intentions wrapped in vapor.  I find my running plan sets the stage for improvement.   It’s how the good stuff builds on the good stuff.

Finally, a running plan gives me something to cheat on.
  You can’t play hooky from school on Saturday.  Similarly, not running when there isn’t a planned run isn’t nearly as fun.  The greatest escapes start with a plan.

Don’t get me wrong, I love spontaneity in running.  Just like a friend who drops by unexpected or a weekend afternoon that turns into a nap, some of the best runs are not planned.  Those are gems, but we can’t count on them.  So a running plan gives us more predictability about our running.

There have been plenty of stretches in my running life when I’ve wandered care free and without a plan for my running.  Those have a time and a place too.  But consistently and predictably I’ve learned the timeless lesson...

...that those who have a plan do better than those who don’t have a plan.

Plan on Flickr by PibeFision

Planning book on Flicker by wsox23 

50 ways to find time to run (well, almost)

Am I the only one still having a hard time finding time to run?  The holidays are over...way Run_sign over.  No excuse there anymore.  We have pushed past the really cold, really dark part of winter.  Can't count that as a reason.   But work and home is very busy.  Very, very busy.  Over-the-top crazy.   It always seem very difficult to squeeze one in.

But, still, come on Amy, enough.   The run isn't asking for hours a day.  30 minutes would do just fine.   Out of the 1440 minutes in a day, the run just needs 30 of them, which is a measly 2% sliver of your entire time for each God given day.   Certainly you can these few minutes.

As I was pondering the math and my dilemna, Paul Simon came on the radio singing "50 ways to leave your lover..."    And it that moment, I found myself singing along to one of my most favorite songs in the world, but with a renewed mission.   To leave the excuses and to find 50 ways to find time to run.

You know, good ole Paul had some of them already figured out with a few of the original lyrics with the classic Just slip out the back Jack , Make a new plan Stan, and Just get yourself free.

I think I will count them as three of my fifty ways, and here are a few I came up with:

4.   Cut back on a few of those long hour + meetings and take the time saved to run on the way home from work.

5.  Schedule, schedule, schedule.   A bit more mamba action in front of the family calendar to find the chunk of time.  It isn't going to happen if it isn't scheduled.

6.  Break down and get the babysitter.  Time to bring in the reinforcements again.  Babysitters aren't just for the few times we head out each year, they are just as useful in watching kids to go for a much needed run.

7.  The treadmill.   It's right there in the basement.  Safe, well lit, warm and always ready.  Time to break down and use it some more.  Only 5 weeks until the time change.

8.  Wake up call.  Set the alarm 32 minutes early, have your clothes ready and run downstairs to get in your run.   You will appreciate they day so much more if you have one under your belt.   And what is 32 minutes - its not going to be the difference of a good and bad nights sleep for you.

End of the day wrap up.  What a better way to have some time to pull together your thoughts than a nice gentle run at the end of the day.  Yes, I know you are tired and just want to sit, but a run can be more relaxing than couch time.

10.  Give yourself a reason.  Instead of treating it as a luxurious use of time, make it a requirement.   Call a few friends and commit to a time you will meet them to run and then follow through.

11.  Adjust, go with the flow.  On the days when 30 minutes won't work, then try for 25, 20, 15, heck - even 10.   It is better to get out and move a little than none at all. 

12.  Lunchtime.   With an hour lunch, you could do 30 minutes run and still be cleaned up and back at it in an hour.  Yes, it may be a pain - but which is more painful?

13.  Really desparate solution.  If you have a shorter lunch or find yourself with 30 minutes free at work, walk and work.   Do a walking meeting or a walk at lunch.  Just keep moving.

14.  Find a few more races.  Outside of the races you normally do, add a few more on your calendar.  Not only will you be more commited to train and stick to your runs, but on race day, you know you will show up and get some miles in. 

15.  Pay yourself to run.  Give yourself a dollar for every mile you run either literally or on paper.  Save the dollars for some running gadget or gear thing that you are really looking forward to.

Ok...by the time I got to 15 in my head, the song was over.   And so was my list.  Anyone have any really good ways they find time and motivate themselves to make time to run?

Photo on Flickr by Kris Kros

Around the Lounge

Traditionally, the third week of January is the coldest week of the year.  We enjoyed -13 degrees on Wednesday, so let’s hope the worst is behind us.

While it was cold outside, matters were warm and very busy at the Lounge.  Sixty new friends joined the  community you are part of and building.  They represent every running interest from all over.  Let us introduce you to a few new members:

Dodie, who is committed to running to deal with diabetes and other health issues.  SJTony also is battling the Hulk he calls diabetes.

RoadRunnerChick loves what she’s learned about running and now is enjoying ultra running.

EERunner is a club leader and is inviting his friends and members to join the lounge to better communicate with each other.  He’s set up a Lounge Group just for his Long Island running club

Mjjimenez is Mary who enjoys the shorter distances and last year set PRs in several races from 5 miles to the half marathon

Tonymaniac,  Tony is aiming to run 1000 marathons and he has completed 156 already!

julief01 Just started running this past summer and is planning to run her first half marathon this summer

Jcasselman doesn’t consider himself a runner, yet he is out the there enjoying and challenged by some of the same experiences the rest of us are

Carmen, a massage therapist, who ran her first marathon at the roast in Chicago last year.  She’s looking for a better experience and also to connect with other runners

These are just a few of the new members we’re meeting at the Lounge.  Stop by to visit them and introduce yourselves as well as to other new members. You can never have too many running friends!

New Articles For Runners

This week we added several articles to the Know-How section of the Lounge.  One author is anew Lounger, Annette, who lives and runs in Colorado and has written about How To Set and Achieve Your Running Goals.

Other new articles this week are about:


Selecting Shoes

Tips for a Healthier Core

Vitamin Power

By the way, one collection of Loungers have formed a  Lounge Group based on what they have in common--they're all employed by the same company and training for the San Diego Rock 'N Roll Marathon.  Way to go!  That's what the Lounge Groups are for!

Finally, Thursday was the first in an ongoing series of Take-It-And-Run-Thursday, which was a rich collaboration of advice by twenty runners on the topic of The Basics of Running.   Check out what others say is important to getting started running.   

This coming week's Take-it-and-Run-Thursday topic is Motivation.  Please join us to add some of your best advice.

It’s Super Bowl week, so hope everyone makes it a super week and may your team win!

Open Mic Friday: It's a thin thin line

Hi everyone, I'm Nat. Amy and Tom were kind enough to let me ramble on here for a bit. Open_mic_friday Hope you enjoy.

I was having a good but hard run last Tuesday night. I knew it would be hard. I'd been psyching myself up all day. Not like Monday. Monday was amazing. It was one of those right from the start super easy, run forever kind of runs. I don't get runs like that often. But Tuesday it snowed all day. The sidewalks weren't clear. And I had to watch my step. At a guess, we got about six inches. It was a slow run. I watched my form. I had to think about the steps. It's a hard slog. Only two intervals left, 10 minutes. I can do this. Still the mind wanders from the task at hand from time to time.

I was slow and worn out. But I hate treadmills (a lot) but I love winter. I live in Ottawa, I'd rather a winter like this, than rain for six months. Not much keeps me indoors. Tuesday was on the iffy side. There was a lot of snow and the sidewalks weren't clear. But I'd had a politically difficult day at work (I hate office politics.) I needed the run to wash off the stress of day. The run is where I find the calm and the solitude. But I only had 10 minutes to go, time to think about reverting from runner to mother. Too bad really. I was enjoying the solitude. Maybe I should tack on another mile. But it's marathon training. I will stick to the program. Save my legs for 16 on the weekend.

It's a quiet place the last mile, it's the one where I get emotional. Really doesn't matter how long the run is. I was thinking about this post, and running, and motivation. The warm (dry) house and supper almost being on the table. The Shamrock Marathon I'll be running in March -- and the fear.

Springsteen, Tougher Than the Rest comes on the Shuffle. Possibly one of the best love songs ever. (Seriously go read the lyrics.) I always feel that Springsteen is The Man singing to me. Really it should be our song.

I am amazed at how life has changed for us since we started running. Those 10ks in Off-the-beaten-path New York and in rural Ontario, the ones hosted in small communities, where the after race treats are homemade. The wonderful dinners where the pancakes are bigger than your head, the sandwich shop run by stoners. I love these little road trips. It's the three of us meeting the world. I call it exploring the world in our own backyard. Let's pack up the car and go. And I play with the concept of freedom and the open road in my mind.

My boss turned to me the other day and said "You know you can just go somewhere and not run?" It stopped me dead in my tracks. I turned to her and said "Then what would be the point." I've seen parts of these towns and cities I never would have otherwise. (My race times are always slow because I like to take it all in and then I don't really want it to end.) The amazing stories in the back of the pack, I think I have started collecting them and should write them all down. Where else would I get such an exclusive tour and interesting tour? And why would I want to pass that up...

Thanks Nat!  Next week, get ready for the smooth stylings of Coffee Betsy!  If you would like to share your running advice, favorite running resources, a tip or tool, or just chat about running, drop me a note and we will get you in front of the mic.   

Take It and Run Thursday: Basics of Running

Take_it_and_run_thursday_2 Welcome to our first Take It and Run Thursday

It's our way to bring together the knowledge of all of us ordinary runners.  It's the virtual equivalent to putting our virtual heads together.  Even though many of us aren't elite athletes, coaches or authors, it doesn't mean that we haven't earned a well deserved PhD in running.   Whether you are starting out, have 50 years of running under your belt or somewhere in between - all of us have lessons learned that make us wiser and better runners.  

Today's theme is .... the Basics of Running.   

Talk about the tried and true truths and lessons about running that you have learned over many a mile.  Look back at today's post, your last few posts or last year of posts, and drop off your link to share with other runners.   It can be a few phrases or a whole laundry list - your choice.

Here's how to do it:  At the end of this post is a cool little program (Mr Linky) that allows you to automatically post your link within this post.  You don't have to wait for me to finish eating my cookies and dusting the crumbs off the keyboard to get some link love.   You can link up right now!  It's quick and easy!   Just post your name and the title/topic of your post in the first spot and the link to your post in the second spot.  That's it!   And the best part....when the day is done, all of us will have a list of posts on this topic that we can learn from.   

And a little incentive:  Tom and I will select two of the links to feature this week and the owners will receive a pair of DryMax socks, compliments of Gus at DryMax.  If you haven't tried these little pieces of sock heaven, you are in for a huge treat!

Drop off a comment and let me know what you think of this experiment.  If you want to play...

Next Week's Theme is ... Motivation.   Inspired by Rob's recent post about motivation.  What gets you motivated?  Takes away your motivation?  What do you tell yourself?  How do you keep going when it is cold, dark, windy, cold....or hot, humid, windy, hilly?

January 25th update:

And the winners of a pair of completely-awesome-will-make-you-want-to-run-longer SOCKS are....

  • Nat - for her rousing, deeply spiritual running version of the 10 commandments.   You gotta' love commandments that start with Thou Shall Not Be a Pansy-Ass.....
  • Heidi - for her list of 9 things to remember as a runner

Thank you to DryMax Socks for sharing the socks with the Lounge!

Click here for a list of great posts about the Basics of Running.

7 Truths of Running

I have been recently tagged by Angela and Art to tell 7 things about me.   I did this in November and really don't know if there are 7 more things I could tell you about myself that I would want to admit to ... outloud ... in public.  So, I decided to combine that great theme with Basics of Running theme for our first Take it and Run Thursday and share with you 7 truths I have learned about running.

It's taken me almost 13 years to learn these lessons.   These lessons are not so much about the nuts and bolts of training runs, or hydration, or hill repeats.  They touch on the harder parts of running that derail us from our goals, make it hard to start, impossible to stay with it, or somedays make us wonder if we were really cut out for running.

7 Basic Truths of Running....learned the hard way:

1.  There are many right ways to run.   Early on, I truly believed that there was a right wayTruth  to train for a race and run.  A perfect pace, the right distance, the right trail or track, even certain clothes.   After a few years of reading many books, trying the "right" plans, I found out that many of the plans were right - just at different times and for different people.  Play around with them until you find one right for you.

2.  Just Try It.  Starting is the hardest part.  No one wants to fail or come up short.   But you really never know if you can do a 5K, 10K or a marathon if you don't try.  Andria recently posted this quote that she saw on a group of runners at the Disney Marathon - I think it sums it up perfectly - Dead Last Finish beats Did Not Finish which trumps Did Not Start.   What is the worst thing that can happen?

3.  Lots of Little Things Turn into Many Big Changes.   Especially if you are a later in life new runner - you know the power of evolution.  For the first few runs you think you will die or want to die and wonder if it will get easier.   And then over weeks and months the distances get longer or faster.  You find your eating and sleeping habits changing to match your goals.  Over the next few years, you find a hobby has become a lifestyle.   It happens gradually but with lasting impacts.

4.  Life and Running don't always mix.  Expect training plans to be derailed and kicked off course because of work, family, sickness, weather, celebrations, holidays, friends, tragedy, celebration.... heck, just about everything.  The key word is "plans".  Adjust them, plan something different.  Be flexible and adapt.

5.  Speed and endurance can be obtained, but rarely at the same time.   For us average runners, trying to get faster while running longer is a too much to mix.  It can be done - but you need to be in a really good zone.  Which can be hard due to #4.

6.  Perfection is completely relative.  While almost every run is enjoyable, very few are perfect.  There have been only a handful of races that have had near perfect conditions.   And training runs...well, using the last 10 as a judge - the weather is never perfect.   And add to that the complexity of our own physical readiness, mental capability, and challenging schedules - somedays it amazes even me I can finish a run.  Don't bank on perfect - bank on reality.

7.  Talk to other runners to learn the good stuff.   The runner on the trail with you, the runner you work with, the runner you live with....they are all experts in their own rights.  I have learned the realities and possibilities of running from ordinary runners.  They tell me the really good stuff.

Flickr picture by kxlly

The body can do amazing things

This weekly Tuesday post is being devoted to beginning running.

So if you experienced runners are now planning to excuse yourselves from reading here, please don’t. Supporting beginning runners is the privilege and responsibility of experienced runners, and this blog needs your abundance of ideas, training plans, advice, stories, and inspiration to support new runners.

Youre_amazing But where does beginning running begin?  How do experienced runners, who are some of the most helpful, wisest, and selfless people on earth, begin to pass along the wisdom of getting started running?  Rather than start with a list of tips about how far, how fast, what shoes, stretching, form, hydration, injuries, racing, and so on, I think getting started running begins with something more foundational.

Above all the vast information to be learned about running, there is one timeless lesson about running that comes first.  This lesson is uplifting and miraculous.  It’s consistent and predictable.  The number one lesson that I would share with a beginning runner is that the body can do amazing things!

The sports scientists call it the Law of Adaptation.  When we apply an effort or a stress to our body, we’re creating new capacity and capability.  Literally as soon as we finish a run, the body is already adapting to the stress and getting ready to recover and increase what it can do. 

But in my mind—which is filled with every bias imaginable about running—the number one way we can advance the enjoyment and success of our sport is to help beginning runners with their mindset.

Whether beginning runners are embracing a new sport, managing stress, transforming a lifestyle away from inactivity, managing weight challenges, seeking new direction, or building confidence, (whew, that’s a mouthful), my first getting-started message is the same to all.  The single-most important message I want beginning runners to understand and believe is the phenomenon that the running body can do amazing things!

While each of us would scoff at saying we’re impressed with our own running, I’d guess all of us deep down have been amazed with what our running bodies can achieve.  That’s what we need to pass along to beginning runners.

Be sure to drop off some advice on Take It and Run Thursday.

Pay it forward with a beginning runner and assure them how much they can accomplish with their bodies and with their running.

You're Amazing! on Flickr by Skonen Blades

Around the Lounge

This is a weekly update of what is going on in and around the Lounge.

Say Hello to Some of the New Loungers

I was reminded of the power of the running community while listening to the January 13th (#130) podcast of Pheddipations by Steve Runner.  Steve was covering the benefits of running, taking the first half to talk about the extensive physical and spiritual benefits of running.  And then, after the musical interlude, he hit the biggee.  A major benefit of running is the fact that once you start running, you become part of a large community that is there to support you and see you through your most difficult challenges. 

He went on to challenge each of us to take the message of running to nonrunners and recruit a new runner this year.  I would take his challenge one step farther.  Take the time to make a new runner feel welcome our big running community.  Help them through those bumps and worries of a new runner.  Take a minute to search the profiles and say hi to someone you haven't yet met.

And speaking of the running community, another 70 Loungers joined the Lounge this week!  We are almost 500 strong!   On an interesting side note, the Lounge is now 4 times larger than my hometown that I grew up in.   I think our little Lounge is growing up to be a small city. 

Here are a few Loungers that you may find as interesting as I do:

  • Annette - A Colorado trail runner training for a marathon in July.  Check out her recent post on "why do you run"
  • howtobefit - Rich tells his story of how running helped him come back from a major medical condition.
  • Girlgonemiled - a running mom of who homeschools her four children.  She runs for quiet time.
  • chloepink - A runner who also serves other runners by creating very cool pottery for runners.
  • HenryPretzer - a 47 year old runner from CA getting ready to run his 17th marathon
  • HeleneAugusta - a recent running addict - just overtaken by running in September

Don't Forget

Spirit of the Marathon Showing Thursday

Grab a friend or family member and hit the theatres on Thursday night for Spirit of the Marathon.  It is just the little burst of inspiration you need to make your training schedule seems all worth it.

Take It And Run Thursday

Hey - all you running scientists  (see Up for an experiment?" post) - don't forget to stop by on January 24th and tell us about your post on the...  Basics of Running

Open Mic Fridays

Open Mic Friday is an open format!  Author a post, let me interview you  :} , drop off a monologue, heck - tape yourself singing in the shower.    It's a chance for us to learn more about you!  If you would like to be a guest author, please drop me a note by email (amy@runnerslounge.com) or leave a comment. 

About Runners' Lounge

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