Staying Motivated

Momentum = Great Running

This week I was flipping through blogs of some of my favorite running friends who have done reviews of The Ultimate Runner.   One house I stopped at was A Viking Running who is also known as Ed H.  Ed was nice enough to post his thoughts of the book but that wasn't what caught my attention. 

It was actually a post after his review which was titled, "Stuff I need to Remember".  I won't give away all his insights, but the gist was he wrote a public note to his private running self to remind him of running knowledge he shouldn't forget. 

Things like, "I feel better when I run.  I feel worse when I don't.  It's so simple; why I do I forget it so quickly?"   (Why do us runners have such short memories...)

Or the reminder than when you run consistently your running gets better, which he sums up in the last line of his post as, "When I run consistently, my brain is freed from guilt-clutter, and I am creative again [with my running]."

I have had similar thoughts (see similar thoughts in this 2008 post on the topic), but not chained together so eloquently over the last few weeks.   Tom has a time honored saying that the key to running is consistency.  Much easier said than done, but nonetheless very true.   I know the more diligent I am with my running, the better my running which then in turn opens new doors in my running.

And the principle is so simple.  Momentum is caused by forward motion.  Energy is transferred forward.

That's why running is so addictive.  Once you find your groove, the momentum keeps carrying you forward-pushing you on to do more, run more, become more of a runner.

This wonderful, natural phenomenon awaits the runner patient enough to last through the "gathering momentum" period.  It is a dark, tough time where runs feel hard.  Even if you have felt the bliss of being in the groove before, when you are not, you wonder why you do it. Cause its not comfortable.  It feels like work.  It is damn hard.

But if you persist, waiting on the other side is a reward for the body and soul.  Free floating, happy running that will keep you going.

So take a lesson from runners who keep forgetting.   Keep running - don't lose your momentum.

Run for those who can't today.

(Postscript:  Today is surgery day in the Van Gundy household. So my priority will rightly be with my husband as he gets through surgery, a week in the hospital and a long recovery.  So, like many of you, I will be trying to figure out keep the momentum in my running while tending to the urgency of everyday life.  One of my other favorite lines from Ed's post was, "I can talk to people, but in the back of my head, I wish I was talking to them about running."  Amen Ed - wish it was all about running...what a happy life it would be.)

Share Your Joy For Running

Do you have to run today?

Or, are you lucky enough to run today?

While out on a run, when you meet another runner, do they feel your joy for running?

Or, do they run by with a subtle side glance and return the "just-focus-and-endure" look of the "have to" runner?

Do me a favor and try a little experiment on your next run.

Take 30 seconds before your run and remind yourself why you run, why you are lucky to run, and why you wouldn't want to be doing anything else.

And then, remember your most recent running accomplishment.

Now, wear those feelings on your face.  For the whole run.

When you meet another runner - fast or slow, male or female, young or old, sleek or raggy- look up, look over, smile and say hi.   And behind that "hi!", pass along the "can-you-believe-we-get-to-
come-out-here-and-do-this-today" vibe.  Include a sprinkle of "Wow.  We are lucky."   And a dash of, "All-those-nonrunners-have-no-idea-what-they-are-missing."

An interesting thing will occur.  The other runner will pass the same smile and vibe back - about 90% of the time versus the 25% of the time with the subtle grunt glance.  As runners, our joy for running is always present, but sometimes we keep it hidden.  Bringing it to the surface helps our running and others. 

Not only will you remind other runners of how much fun we are having, your run will feel better!

I have tried this experiment multiple times over the last few months.  I would love to know how your results are the same or different.    Give it a try and let me know your results!

More Runners...More Stories...More Inspiration

Just because The Ultimate Runner is out on the shelves, it doesn't mean Tom and I think we are done collecting runners' stories.  We will never be done because every runner has a story.  Every runner is an inspiration to us.

While I was taking some time off from the Lounge, I missed the daily stories I heard from runners.  Many runners have dropped me a note to tell me their amazing tales.  Other runners have taken the time to drop them off in the Inspirational Stories section of the Lounge.   If you need a pick me up for your running, a bit of motivation of what running can do, take a moment and read these stories by ExtraOrdinary runners like you.   They will get you running and keep you moving!

RichBear - Rich shares his tale of his battle with weight, dropping from 350 lbs to 170 lbs and becoming a runner in the process.  It is a fabulous testament to what we can do when we put our minds to it.

RunMania - She shares her story of getting through a very difficult marathon.   For those who wonder if they can do a marathon or should do a her story.

RunIntoShape - He shares a story of how running transformed him into a...well....a runner.   It is amazing how a little running changes our lives, isn't it?  If your life has changed, read this story and nod along to his story.

A Salute to Running Moms

Here is a rerun of our annual Salute to Running Moms.....

A salute to the running moms who make running a priority and have the discipline to plan and stick with their training even when real life doesn't cooperate.   And also for the moms who don't.  A salute to the running moms who opt to sleep in an extra 30 minutes after being up all night or skip their run to help with a last minute school project because they know right then something else is more important.Dscn2829

A salute to the running moms who have the strength to eat the right foods at the right times to make sure they have the fuel they need to power their running.  And also the moms who rely on a PB & J sandwich as a prerun staple and left over mac n cheese for a little pick me up.

A salute to the moms who look great in spandex and sport tops - without a coverup - because they are runners.  And also the moms who don't, but wear it anyway because running makes them feel good enough to wear running clothes in public.

A salute to the moms who dig down deep to run hard and competitively in their races and set the bar higher for all women.  And also the moms who run their own race and race to finish just to show their kids it isn't always about winning - it is about finishing what you started.

A salute to the running moms that squeeze in a short run here and a long run there between errands, practices, work and kid crisises and don't miss a beat.  And the moms who also squeeze them in and show up at work, at school, or at home red faced, sweaty, stinky but happy because they got their run in.

A salute to the moms who run so her favorite pair of $100+ designer heels Dscn2831 match the priceless look of great running legs.  And also the moms whose only pairs of $100+ shoes are her favorite running shoes.

A salute to all running moms who could just as easily stop running because it would make life a little easier, but don't, because they know it makes them a better person.  It keeps them healthy when their kids aren't.  It keeps them sane when life is crazy.  It keeps them out of their fat clothes.   And, it gives them personal challenges that are uniquely their own.

A salute to all running moms, regardless of age, speed, ability, or goals who are proud to tell their family and friends they are a runner.   We salute them because they are a role model for their daughters, sisters, and the next generation of running mothers. 

For these running moms, we say thank you for being a runner.

Ten Things Running Mom's Really Want For Mother's Day That Cost (Almost) Nothing

Tom and I have been providing lists for friends and families of runners off and on over the last few years as a Gifts runners really want public service to runners.  Runners have a tendency to be somewhat reserved in just asking for what they want - we can be be an enigma to our friends and family - must be that all that "alone time" with our thoughts while running makes us weird.   So we have taken it upon ourselves to collect gift ideas and share with others. (Hey - There is a whole category in the Lounge on gift ideas for runners!)

I have been a runner for more years than being mom.  And now that I have been a mom for 10 years, I really can't remember not being a mom.   Put those two facts together and I can't remember the time when I wasn't a running mom.   So, in my mind, that makes me a near expert on the topic of what mom's really want for Mother's Day.  

But, I could be off base so if you haven't had the chance, drop by the forum today or Wednesday and leave your idea on what running moms really want for Mother's Day to make your self eligible for the chance to win the book, The Ultimate Runner, for you and a friend.

Here's my list....feel free to add on....

1.  Things that make us smell good after running.    Yes, we know we smell funky after a run and we can almost stink after a long run in the summer.   In fact, sometimes we can downright offend even ourselves.  So give us some of the good soaps, bubble baths, mists, and sprays for us to use to pamper ourselves after the runs.   If you don't know what we like, we love a chance to go shopping for it ourselves if given some time.  Regardless of what the kids tell you, they don't really know what fragrances we like best as they have a tendency to pick out stuff that smells like Great Aunt Mildred or Great Grammie Vivian.   Both who smell like fake flowers from Walgreens drenched in $1 perfume. 

2.  Time to use the good stuff you bought us.   Ok moms out there, raise your hand for the number of times you have been fully able to shower and clean up after runs.  Hold 'em up high....let me count them.   Looks like it is a 1 in 10 chance.   You complain about us stinking, but it is because we rarely have enough time to run AND shower.  There's soccer, gymnastics, baseball, school pickup, groceries, and on and on.   So the gift of time would be great.  And if that breaks the bank to give us time - splurge on a box of baby wipes for our car.  And the good ones - no skimping.

3.  A good book to read or video to watch after a long run.   So many choices, where to start....oh, I know, I know...  The Ultimate Runner.  Come on, you had to see that one coming.  But seriously, most runners are readers and do like something to do to after a run to relax the legs and body.   You can go with the classic running books (see this list the Lounge built ) or go with my favorite Once a Runner.  Pure runner bliss!   And another book shout out for running gardeners - Easy Container Combos - fantastico!  Videos are great too!  Grab a favorite movie, or a Instant Download Netflix subscription so your runner doesn't even need to get up from the couch.

4.  Time to read the book or watch the movie.  We are so well aware of the amount of time we spend My red reading chair running that we hate to take more time for ourselves when we get home.   So help us relax.  Give us some time to crash and read the book or watch the movie.   Get us an extra comfy pillow, blanket or chair.   See this handsome red devil on the right... That's my reading chair for just such an rare as it happens...I still live for those moments when I can sit in it and read something besides Dr Seuss.

5.  A place to celebrate our running memories.  Look closely above the chair - that is my small space in the house devoted to my running.  My lovely husband mounted my old medals in a frame last year.  And the picture is a one time only signature print from my god daughter a few years ago.  And when it is cold, I drag out of the footrest a running t-shirt quilt.  I am in running memory heaven.  Give the mom runner in your life a place to look back and remember what they have done.  It doesn't need to be fancy - but it does need to be about her.

6.  Drinks and snacks.   Runners are usually creatures of habit. They like about the same things to eat or drink before or after a race.  They go to about the same trails or clubs.  So treat them to a gift certificate to make it easy for them to stop and pick up their favorite drink or snack before or after their run.  My kids treated me to a $10 gift certificate a while back.  It took me 8 long runs to use it up - that was nice!

7.  Listen to our race report.  We know that after the first major run or race in our life, our race reports started to sound about the same to you.  We are pretty keen to your level of actual listening when we prepare to respond to the question, "How was your run?"  which we can interpret to mean "So glad you didn't kill yourself out there, good to see you home, now let's get on with the day."  For the next race, listen to our stories.  They are really good ones.  Even the ones about the porty potty's, the big guy with the little spandex shorts, and the 8 year old girl and old lady who out sprinted us to the finish.

8. Give us a field trip.  Before we were moms we ventured out to some really cool trails, out of the way of our daily chores and commute.   After motherhood, our runs have had a tendency to be scheduled in more convenient places and times.   Give us the gift of a field trip to go run on our favorite out of the way trails.  And even better - join us or send us with a friend we never have a chance to run with anymore.

9.  Become our personal fan club and cheerleader for race day.  We appreciate when you come to races.  And we appreciate when you stay home with kids so we can race.  Really, we do.  But for mothers day, step it up a notch and do the unexpected.  Make a big dorky sign.   Have the cute kid hold the ultimate "I love my mom cause she is a runner." which will make all the other running moms start to blubber like babies while they run by and mutter, "wish my kids and husband were out there."   Give us flowers at the finish.  Offer to hold our sweaty socks or extra shirt.  Or even better, have ready our absolute favorite food we stopped eating weeks ago in the name of a PR. (what were we thinking!)  And if you are going for "best husband/friend ever" - send us a card or note when we are still training - for no reason at all - but to encourage us to keep running.  (Here is a card we sell a lot of on line!)

10.  Let us take a nap.  Lordy, the granddaddy of all wishes of running moms.  Especially of those moms training for any kind of race.  We get dog tired.   If we get to take a shower, I guarantee many of us wish we could crawl into bed for just a few minutes after we are in our clean, comfy clothes.  Just a few winks...a little shuteye...close our eyes for a few minutes....What a dreamy thought.

Which hurts more - running or not running?

On the running schedule last week was 3 medium runs and 1 long run.   All in preparation for my favorite annual event of Dam 2 Dam in June.  (Hey you - if you every wanted to do it but worried about finishing - they just extended the course to 3 1/2 hours!  Dam to Dam race organizers - you are my hero for ordinary runners!) 

Earlier in April, my running had been almost....dare I say it....consistent.   I had really worked hard to get in my runs.

But life over the last few weeks has been topsy turvy again.

Last week instead of 3 medium runs and 1 long run, my running schedule looked more like:

  • 3 dozen cookies (for boy scout bake sale) and 100 cake balls.
  • 55 hours at work
  • 8 hours in the ER with Jim and many other hours worrying
  • Countless kid activities

The only running I did was to run kids to activities, or run to get them to or from school, or run after chickens who tried to escape their pen.

So today, I am creaky and achy.  My hips hurt from sitting all week.  My legs are feeling flabbing and weak.  My back is sore from hunching over a computer.  My mental files are in complete disarray.

Sure, I have a few aches and pains after running.  But I am starting to believe that not running actually hurts more. Ok, I know that not running hurts more.

Crossing my fingers that running stays in my plans this week!


Was able to get in 10 miles this morning!  And it was fabulous!

My husband insisted that I get in my run around the other things planned.  It was the I'm-trying-to-be-nice-about-it-but-you-really-need-to-go-on-a-run-because-your-nonrunning-mood sucks conversation.

I guess my lack of running has spilled over to my attitude at home.

Whew - feel better now!

A Salute to Ultimate Runner Moms

With Mother's Day just 10 days away, it seems fitting to kick off our annual Salute to Running Moms (recite The ultimate runner mom award with us now...annual salute to proclaim).  Each year (look back at 2008 and 2009) we pause for the cause to celebrate all mom's out there who are starting to run, continue to run, return to running or run better while fulfilling their motherly duties.

This year we would like to honor moms in a couple of ways:

  • Collect stories of ExtraOrdinary running moms who deserve a shout out - we think they deserve some recognition and you deserve more running stories to read.  What makes a running mom an ExtraOrdinary Ultimate Runner Mom?  The fact that they run and they are a mom.  Both are hard.
  • Help those families and friends who are clueless when it comes to Mother's Day gifts.  Yeah sure, the day isn't about gifts.  But there is bound to be something, so we might as well give husbands and kids a hand and point them in the right direction.

If you know of a mom who deserves her story told and her running celebrated, drop by the Lounge (The Ultimate Runner section) and take a few minutes to pen her story.  Don't forget links to her blog or site so we know who she is!   Sometimes there is no greater present to a mom than recognition of all that she does!

But for those times when there SHOULD BE a greater present.....

Drop by the forum and leave your two cents on the Ultimate Runner gift for a mom.  You can be serious or have some fun with it!    Tell us what you think running moms really want or need for Mother's Day.

We will choose a winner for each category on Wednesday, May 5 and gift them with a copy of our new book, The Ultimate Runner.   So act fast!  The storyteller and ultimate running mom will both receive the book as will the person with the great running mom gift ideas and the significant mom in their life.

We are serious about our salute and would love it if you could spread the word - the more chatter about moms the better!

Why Run?

Why should I start running?

I have been asked that question more than a few times in the last few months.  I originally resort to some typical, text book answers including, "Its good for you.", "it's so much fun.". "there is nothing like it" , "it's easy", "it's addictive" ,"try it and find out for yourself" ,"you don't know what you are missing".

And each time I answered I found myself disappointed in my own response.  I could never seem to adequately convey the passion, the emotion, or the wondrous feeling of the accomplishment running brings to the runner.

With each short phrase, what I was trying to say:  You should run if:

  • You want to feel the absolute high of achievement.  The elapsed time, speed, or distance is completely irrelevant to the level of pride.  The first time you run farther, faster, or longer than you thought you could, I can guarantee you will pump your fist, smile to others around you and whisper a silent "yes!". There are very few sports or activities which provide such an immediate sense of accomplishment.  Do you walk off a soccer or baseball field after a practice with a renewed sense of belief in what you are capable of?  Generally, no.  With running, yes.  It might not be the first run or every run, but if you persist, it will come often but not lose the power of the emotion.
  • Because running forces you to evaluate what you are capable of doing.   Most of us sell ourselves short in terms of we think we can do.  And in everyday life, we don't know any different because we aren't tested on it in a measurable way.  But running..ahhh running... It provides the ruler for our personal measurement of what we can do. And again, it's not about the absolutes of time or distance, it is personal limitations that hold us back.  And it is running which shows us that there is still more we can do. I have yet to find a runner who overestimated what they could do when they believed they could do it.

That is why you should try running. 

Do it to remind yourself of all that you are capable.

Inspiration From The Blue Oval

My kids love to play the game , "If you could have any superpower what would it be?" Usually my answer is power of no need for sleep, on demand cloning, or teleportation.

But after a few days at the Drake Relays, my answer is extreme speed and time travel.  Spending a few days watching high school, college, and elite athletes run their hearts out my only thought has been, "I want to do that!"

It was hard to contain the urge to get out there and run.  They made it look so easy, fluid, fun and rewarding.DSCN4801

 All kinds of records were made and broken.  Many personal bests were achieved.  It was an awesome day in the running world.

I was lucky enough to snap this picture of world class high jumper and performer extraordinare Chaunte Lowe as she cleared a new record of 6'5".

  I was also at the finish line to see the awesome showdown in the 100m hurdles with LoLo Jones and Damu Cherry.  The determination on their faces were clear.  And they DSCN4808 were separated at the finish by .02 of a second.  Wow.

Even as an amateur, recreational, slow, plodding, love the long run, mom runner I was inspired by the incredible feats on the blue oval.

In watching I was reminded of two things:

First, to take some time and watch more running events - they are fuel for my own running.  And second, as runners we all have the potential to inspire others to run just by getting out there and giving it all we've got.

Who might you inspire today by getting out there and running?

Grand Experience at the Grand Blue Mile

I mentioned the Grand Blue Mile in my Sunday post.  It is the first running of the one mile street run as part of the Tucker and rebecca at grand blue mile Drake Relays.

My son Tucker and my niece Rebecca had a ball running the mile.   The smiles in the picture on the right show their emotion.   These are some happy runners!

My favorite moment of the evening with the two of them wasn't the start or run or finish.  But instead when I caught them hanging out with another runner after the race and doing a blow by blow of their race and then ASKING the other runner about her race.   For a good 15 minutes they chatted about the run and then...... it happened......the two runner kids and the big grown up runner started planning their next race event.

The three were all so excited about what they had done that they were ready to do it again.   I hear their next race destination is May 8 - The 1 and 3 mile mud run.   Hum....I think I am in!  Who doesn't love a good mud run.  

Outside of our experience, the evening was fantastic!  The competitive and elite divisions were amazing to watch.   A 13 year old girl won the women's competitive division.   And the invitational men all finished under 4:00.   Isn't it amazing that not that many years ago it was thought impossible to break 4:00 in the mile but yet last night we watched 6 men run under that number in little ole Des Moines Iowa.  

And the most memorable story (outside my little clan) was seeing the son of a coworker finish in the Top 10 competitive men's race.  Which means, he tells me, that he gets to run in the actual Drake Relays.   And what's so cool about that?  Because he says, that this kid didn't make it to the Relays in high school or college but know he realized his dream and is going run in the Relays now.   How cool is that?   It just shows you anything is possible with our running if we keep trying and believe.    As Rebecca said at the end of race (when asked for advice), "Always do your best and believe in what you do."  

Well said little runner.

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