Staying Motivated

Third Time Is A Charm

Thanks again for the notes and support for us as we settle back into the Lounge.  I have had some notes about why I was away so here is a quick overview of what kept me away.  A least one of the reasons....

Over the last few months, my husband Jim has been waging a battle against Crohn's disease, an intestinal disorder.  It isn't a new battle, he has been fighting it for over 20 years now.   And he has used just about every tool and weapon know to man.   And for a while, he was ahead.  Of course it took a few surgeries and a wickedly strict diet to get a point ahead of the disease, but at least he was winning for a while.

And then late in 2009, his luck changed and his Crohn's was fully active again and he is back on the defensive trying to manage the pain and all the other issues that come with it.  I won't overload you with details, but it wasn't pretty.   He didn't eat or drink for many, many days.  A few months ago he started on a treatment of Remicade, a biological infusion which suppresses a very specific part of the immune system, as a way to manage the inflammation of his intestines.  It is like a low level chemo treatment.  It's a treatment toward the end of good options for Crohn's patients.

Tomorrow is infusion #3.  Which will probably bring round 3 of the 2+ weeks of side effects.   We are crossing our fingers that third time is the charm.  And hope this is the trick that will make the difference for him.  Cause he is really not feeling good again.

When I am tired and achy and don't feel like running, I can't help but think about those who can't run right now or at all.   Our health is one of the most important things we have and can make choices everyday to make it the best we can be.   I hope you have the chance today to get out there and run just because you can.

Joy From A Run

This holiday season, while enjoyable, has been packed with many events - leaving little time for consistent runs.   But even with all the hustle and bustle, I was true to myself and made time for my traditional Christmas day run.

It was in the 10's with windchill, the north wind was bone chilling, freezing rain and sleet pelted me with every step and the roadway was hazardous at best.   And it was wonderful!   Each Christmas day run is a present for myself as well as the chance to test out my new Christmas present.  This year, the lucky gift was a hatphone.   This piece of gear is the best thing invented since the iPod.  The speakers in the hat eliminate the need to squish earbuds in your stocking cap or the constant wrestling with them during your run.   Thank to coachkoo for mentioning them in her blog in November (and republishing her review Buddy after run in the Lounge) so I had the perfect item for my Christmas list. 

Amy and buddy For the first time in my tradition, I added a running partner instead of running solo.  My dog Buddy joined  me and I do believe that he enjoyed himself even more than I.   I caught him in the photo on the right.  Look at his complete joy and contentment!  His face showed exactly what I was feeling - but he wore it right up front on his big drippy tongue.

As we tick another day closer to a new year, I wish you many runs which leave you as joyful and with a sense of contentment as Buddy and I had on Christmas day.

A Running Year In Review - The Short Story*

The winter was brutal - too much icey-snow & cold.

I found myself battling Newtons' first law - inertia.

But then, I got moving & kept going.

Running friends made the difference!

I was lucky & did all my favorite races

No DNF/DNS - plenty lessons learned!

Running is easier when you just keep doing it.

*Tell your story and recap your running year in 52 words or less as part of TIaRT!

My Running Dream

It is running dream and wishes week in the Lounge.  IMG_0785

Have you ever noticed that your running dreams are biggest while running?  I think rationally about my running when I am not running.  But as soon as I am back in running mode, my thoughts about "what's next" for my running always seem to push the envelope.  I can still remember the spot on each run when I came up with they idea to run my first marathon, my first triathlon, my first half marathon  ....  my 12th triathlon, etc, etc.   Running gets my dreaming juices flowing.

So I wasn't surprised when my latest running dream came together in a recent run.   I was about half way through a run when it came to me.  But for the first time it wasn't about a running a race or distance and certainly never about speed.  This dream had a twist.  It seems a little silly to tell you when I am not running.  It seems more appropriate to just slip it into conversation while we were running together.   And then you would give me a little sideways glance, a silent pause, and go, "well, ok....".   So if you could just hop up and jog in place for a moment....  :}

Ok, ready for it?  I have decided my running dream is to be on the cover of Runners World.   Not because I have one of THOSE bodies or because I ran an amazing string of marathons or I am someone famous.  My wish is to grace the cover as a representative of all the ordinary runners out there in the world.  I know that I look at the covers each month and *sigh* and wonder what miracle of science it would take to have me look like the cover runner.   I think it would almost a public service to put me on the cover.   Other ordinary runners would take a look and say, "wow, if she can do - I know I can to". 

I have already decided my terms.  No belly button or abs shot and only spandex that makes me look 20 pounds lighter and 15 years younger.  (But just in case I have no bargaining power I have started my situps and ab work again.  Even if it is 20 years away, that is just not enough time to get my body in shape to be photographed in spandex.)  And second, since I really don't like having pictures taken of me, I would need at least 20-30 other runners on the cover with me.    It would be so nice to have all of you on the cover with me too!

So there it is.  My dream.  I know it seems crazy, but I have never let one of these dreams hatched during a run fizzle out.  I have found a way to make them happen. 

I am looking forward to hearing about your running wishes and dreams this week.   Mostly because I love hearing about running stuff but also now because I will look like a complete idiot if I am the only one who shares something nutty.  :}

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I am so thankful!

  I skipped out of work a little bit earlier today for just one reason - to get inIMG_0806 a run.  I had planned to do just a few miles, but found myself in the midst of a perfect Thanksgiving Eve day and a perfect run so I did 5 instead.  Look at that sky!  Man we live in a big beautiful world.  See those little building in the background.  That is where I spend much of my daylight - I think I like it on the trails much better.  Heck with getting Thanksgiving Dinner #1 on the table on time - this run was just what I needed.

And as I ran, in the back of my head, I had my son's "I am thankful" picture he had brought home from school.  He is thankful for family, friends, food, water and shelter - pretty basic stuff.   But pretty profound.  Because as I ran today, I was reminded not to take those things for granted.   At mile 1, I passed by a husband and wife who were obviously living in their car.  And between miles 2 1/2 and 4, I passed by a growing homeless camp.   Years ago I remember seeing a few tents but today I saw at least a half mile worth of campsites.

IMG_0813  I am so thankful for my own home.  And humbled.   And reminded to continue to find ways to help those in our community.  And with that my thoughts shifted to our Runners' Lounge community.

I am so thankful for the Lounge.   Not the physical web site or blog or podcasts - but more so the friendships, the support and the knowledge.  I had someone ask me a pointed question a few days ago about when I thought the Lounge would be "successful" or "popular".   They were looking for me to give them answer in terms of Google search results, traffic, page rank, twitter rankings, podcast popularity in iTunes, number of members - they wanted something specific.  

And while I am so thankful that those measures continue to grow, that is not what makes me thankful (nor will it make it successful).  I am thankful that runners are connecting with other runners.   Everyday I am lucky enough to get an email from a runner - most I haven't met - who asks a question, needs to connect with someone or something.  I am thankful that I know all of you and can point them in the right direction.   I am thrilled out of my mind to read a current thread and hear the connections you have made with other runners and know some of that was because you met them through the Lounge.

A nonrunning friend sent me a quote this week related to my nonrunning work life.  It should be a cheer for the Lounge.  It is an African proverb:

If you want to get there fast, run alone.

If you want to go far, run together.

Today I was able to run 5 miles instead of 2 because of you. 

I am so thankful to have the constant inspiration, support from you.  And I am thankful that the Lounge is providing a way for others who want to "go far" have a way to "run together" even though we may never be on the same physical road, path or race.

Have a great Thanksgiving! 

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Running Through Change

One of my most favorite sayings (wish I could remember the author) is, "It's not the change that is hard, it is the transition."   or on some days I like to say, "It's not the change that will kill you, it is the transition."   And when it comes to running, I find this saying is easily adaptable and applicable when said as, "It's not a change that will ruin your running, its the transition."

Right now my life is full of change which also means I am in a mess of transition.  I Speed_bumps am coming off of my main race/goal of the year, a half marathon, and transitioning back into running for fun.  Coupled with that change is also a change in seasons from warm weather running to cold weather running.  And the daylight savings time has worked its instant magic and so now I am also trying to plan around a daylight running hour or running on the treadmill.   And to keep life challenging, I also just switched jobs and careers.   And I can't forget that we flipped to an entirely new way of eating for our family.   And my husband's work schedule changed, again.  And we are still working through a changing routine for Tucker as he rehabs from his foot reconstruction.

Lots and lots of transition.    Which has translated to not much running.   When I have a routine and a plan, I can do a lot.  But when my planned routine gets throw into a blender, my running suffers instantly.   I find it hard to find time or make time.  Motivation for running is redirected to motivation to find a rythym for life.   Excuses of why I shouldn't run become overly abundant.  And its not because I don't like to run or want to run, but it feels like there is so much noise going on in my life that I can't find the mental focus to plan or complete a run. 

The good news is that I have been through transitions like these so many times over the last few years that I am expert at recognizing the "transition ick zone".   It's a crappy place for my running.  I know I should run and (mostly) want to run but I can't seem to actually run.   It seems like the reasons not to run come at me faster than the opportunities to just get out there and do it.

To get me through this transition ick zone, here is my plan:Transition_sign

  • Guilt free "running break" for 3 weeks.   No silent mental inquisitions, no guilt, no rehash of shoulda, woulda, coulda.    Run if I can but be quiet about it if I can't. 
  • 30 minutes a day.   Just because I am not running, doesn't mean I am letting myself off the hook completely.   I am still trying to get in 30 minutes of any kind of exercise each day.   Walking is a good filler for me because I can do walking meetings or grab a walk over lunch and not get sweaty in the process.  I also like grabbing a bike and catching up on my reading.
  • Finite end date.  I have a day on the calendar of when I need to return to a more normal schedule - about 3 weeks out.   It should be plenty of time to get my feet under me and figure out what routine will look like moving ahead.  It also gives me a few more weeks to decide what my next goal will be.
  • My next goal.  I have given it some thought and I am toying with the idea of a virtual 10 mile or 1/2 marathon challenge over the winter.  My end in mind is to be in 1/2 marathon shape for spring so I would like to challenge myself to run either a 10 mile or 1/2 marathon every month between November and April.   Each year I let my 1/2 marathon training fizzle out after my October race and then need to start up again in the spring.  This year, I would really like to avoid the rebuilding.   Anyone interested in joining me in a challenge like this?
  • Gathering tips and motivation.  Hanging around all of you and listening to your race reports and tips for cold weather running keeps me motivated and energized about my own running.

I am looking forward to hearing your tips on running through transitions as part of tomorrow's Take It and Run Thursday.

Picture of transition sign on Flickr by kriegsman

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If I Only Had This Super Power...

When Runatthemouth suggested we share our dream super power for Take It and Run Thursday - I was stumped.  There are so many things I don't have with my running - super speed, super endurance, super strength....a long list rambled in my mind.   How would I pick only one?

But then, inspiration struck!  My photos from the Des Moines Half Marathon arrived in my Img_0785 email.  And then in mail.  Staring back at me was the picture of a red faced, sweaty, mom runner who didn't nearly look like the Runners World cover pose that I tried to strike in front of the marathon photo evil photographers.

It then became obvious.   My super power and identify would be....  Super Spandex.   I would have the power to transform from a regular mom runner in conservative running pants and running shirts to .... tra la la... Super Spandex!  A "cover model" like runner who could make even spandex look good!   My power would be held in my snazzy spandex outfit.   And when I put it on....

Gone would be the flabby middle to be covered up with long running shirts.  Wisked away would be less than lean legs and character building dimples.   Kaboom would go the under arm flapping.   Woosh would go the extra chin.   Zip would go the extra layer of warmth protection on my back side.

In in the place of my everyday runner body would be come to-die-for-6 pack abs, tear Paula_r dropped shaped quads, long and lean arms, and a hard as nails butt.   

Oh yes, my transformation from average Amy runner to Super Spandex would allow me to now look like even Paula even when I still ran like average Amy.'s such a nice dream.

We are looking forward to hearing about your running super powers tomorrow in Take It and Run Thursday.

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Running Quotes

When we were building the Lounge, one of the "must-have" spaces in the Lounge was a place to put quotes and sayings.   Both Tom and I like quotes and inspirational sayings, but in the past had relied on sticky notes, scribbles on the side of pages of a magazine or notebook, or even worse - belief we would remember the profound words we just read.

To keep them organized and easy to find, we added a "Quotes and Sayings" section in the Staying Motivated category in Running KnowHow.   We add quotes as we see them and hope you will as well. 

Surfing around the Lounge and blogosphere in the last week, here are a few of my favorite finds:

From Nat's Open Mic Interview:  When asked what she always runs with, her response was, "....cookies or oxygen, it is a toss up."

From the blog "Train Run Hope Cure":  a great list of quotes and sayings, a few of my favorites:  After this, I can have a cupcake. After this, I can have a cupcake. After this, I can have a cupcake. Make that ten cupcakes. (Courtesy of her friend, Mary.)  AND  Have you hit a brick wall? Aim higher and jump over it.    She also included a link to which has some great quotes.

From the blog, Sportminded:  "The body does not want you to do this. As you run, it tells you to stop but the mind must be strong. You always go too far for your body. You must handle the pain with strategy...It is not age; it is not diet. It is the will to succeed."  --Jacqueline Gareau, 1980 Boston Marathon champ

From "NC mom on the run" came a fabulous quote from a local sports magazine:  "There's a secret, a secret that every runner knows.  I start at point 'A.' I end at point 'A.' And somewhere in between point 'A' and point 'A' is where I find ... the point."   ~Amy Kidder-Hayes

From Runner Mom a few months ago:  "Running isn't about how far you go, but how far you've come."   -- Bart Yasso

From the OfficeDiet - a series of great quotes including:  True life is lived when tiny changes occur.  - Leo Tolstoy

From The Laminator's blog:  I run because I used to be envious of people that could run, and now I am that person.  -– Kendra Thompson

We are looking forward to hearing your quotes and sayings as part of Take It and Run Thursday.  And remember, you don't have to wait for a special reason, add your quotes anytime to the "Quotes and Sayings" page on the Lounge.

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Life Lessons From Running With My Son

Today was my son's first, official 5K race.  And he finished! 

We were dead last but we were also the happiest, proudest pair of 5K runners in the world Img_0726 this morning.

If you have been reading along the last few months, you may remember that my 8 year old handsome prince has been very determinedly training for his first 5K.   He did a 2 mile race in June and couldn't wait to again experience the feeling he got from racing.

As we have trained together the last few months, I have tried to teach him what I have learned over my 13 years of running.  Things about pace, form, training schedules, what to eat, what to wear...just the basics.   But what I have learned and been reminded of in return through this experience was been priceless. 

Here are a few of the lessons running with my son has taught me:

1.  As adults, we think too much about running.  We think too much about why we can't, shouldn't, won't, or don't. are still programmed to think about how and why they can.   We need to be more like kids when we think about running- and life.

It was June of 200Img_07237 when he told me that he wanted to run a 5K with me.   It was right after finishing his kids run at the end of one of my races.  I was really excited to hear those  words - words I have waited for since he was born.  It was one of my greatest dreams to run with my kids.   And of course I said "That would be great!"  But in the back of my head, I was thinking, "you are too young", "you won't stick with it", "you're built like me - not like a runner", "you have too many problems with your feet", and on and on.  Because at this same time, we realized that Tucker's feet problems weren't some passing phase, the pain and issues were serious.  At that moment in June 2007, I truly didn't believe he would run, any distance, for many, many years.  And even though he was the one dealing with that real pain daily, he never once thought it would keep him from running a 5K.

This experience has really shown me how many times I count myself, or my running out, before I even give it a chance. 

2.  The phrase "I can and I will..." can get you through more than a few miles in life.

In June when we started our training, he was fresh off his left foot reconstruction surgery and trying to get it stronger.  On those first "long runs" of only a mile or so, he was veryImg_0724 tired, very sore.  In addition, the right foot which hadn't been fixed, still carried a continual case of Plantar Facitis and tendonitis.  It was a pretty ugly site at times to see him running down the trail.   But as we did our walk/run training, in the run parts he would be in total concentration and he would tell me later that he would just keep chanting in is head, "I can and I will".   His attitude has driven him through all of his training miles.  Since then, I have pulled that trick out of my box more than a few times in long runs (and in life) and it has amazing power.

3.  Being able to "see" where you are going is very motivating.

When we started training, I used the Couch to 5K program.  Great program!  The only issue for him was that he couldn't "see" the end of 60 seconds or 90 seconds.   He wanted to know where we were starting and ending, he would get frustrated at every interval because he didn't know what to expect.  After a few runs, I switched tactics and we ran telephone pole to telephone pole.   This was a turning point for him.  He found that when he could help choose the milestones and he could see where we were going, he could run longer than before.   I find that this is true with running and life,  when I choose and visualize my goals clearly and keep them in view, it is much easier then when my goals are unclear.

4.  "Run your own race", is one of my favorite sayings.  I think the nonrunning translation is "Be your own person".

You just can't be good at all things.  You can't be like other people.  And who would want to be anyway?!?  :}  Sure, there is a part of me (and Tucker) who would love to be like the other kids in the race today who easily pulled away and finished the race with good times and with no pain.   As a parent, I can't help but sometimes wish that Tucker was as fortunate as other boys and ran carefree and happy down the street.   But what he lacks on the physical side he makes up for with heart and determination.  Through this training, I have seen him already understand the power of dedicated effort, working through challenges, and understanding his god given strengths.   I couldn't ask for more from my 8 year old.

Img_0720 And so tomorrow, we take these life lessons with us on his next adventure.  It's "righties" (right foot) turn for surgery.  It's been just long enough to forget most of the last 7 months and for the left foot to gain strength back.    And if you ask him about his surgery and hospital stay, he's not worried.  In fact, he will tell you that he's done it once, he knows what to expect and he is looking to get through the rehab faster and stronger. 

In fact, last night while we were out for a quick bite, a Des Moines Marathon advertisement was sitting on our table.  He looked at for a few minutes and noticed that is was favorable for walkers and it had a relay.  Without missing a beat, he asked if he could do a 10K in the summer and then if I could help him find a relay team.   He told me it was an important step if he was going to run a half marathon by 10 and marathon by 13.   

I just smiled and said, "That would be great!".    Lesson #1 strikes again.

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The Great Community of Blogging Runners

More than the GPS, high-end running shoes, GU, MP3, the Champion Chip or even Under Armour, the arrival of blogging has done more for runners than any other technology.

I think back on the days of waiting excitedly for the arrival of my monthly issue of Runners’ World. I read it cover-to-cover, followed by the disappointment of closing the back cover and wait for next month’s issue.  Joe Henderson, George Shehan, Jeff Galloway, Hal Higdon, Kenny Moore—the list of writing running greats was fabulous, but they only made it to my mailbox once a month.

Nowadays I can read amazing race reports, rants about runs, inquiries about injuries, and some of the best humor and writing by just breezing through my Google Reader.  And my closest running friends are in neighborhoods, cities, states and countries I've never seen.

What I most appreciate about running blogs is how they unite ordinary runners.  Blogging runners share openly about their running and non-running lives.  It’s hard not to take in interest in perfect strangers because of what we have in common as runners.   

It’s dang near impossible to capture the greatness of running blogs.   Reading about a newcomer’s beginning experiences with running  takes me back to my early days of running when the newness was exhilarating.   Reading of a runner’s triumph over—or even current challenge—with weight is an inspiration.  Following a runner’s preparation for her first race, or an injured running comrade come back from an injury makes me want to be right there with them.

What else do I get from the running blogs?  Well, for sure I get a healthy dose of new information that enriches my running.  I’ve learned about more unique, fun, out-of-the-way great races in communities across the continent that I’ve put on my list of destination races.

But above all, the greatest power of running blogs comes across in one word.  Encouragement

Meeting other runners through their blogs is one of the most natural ways to extend, observe, and receive encouragement for everything runners accomplish or attempt.  Beyond “way to go” and “great race report!’  bloggers leave thoughts, prayers, quotes, humor, and expressions of hope for runners we’re highly unlikely to ever meet. 

And the encouragement is real.  I’ve carried with me during my long runs and marathons the words, support, and concern from friendly running bloggers. And when running struggles get harder, I draw on their comments and sincere wishes even more.  I tell my wife they’re the nicest running friends I’ve never met. 

Finally, leaving uplifting comments is more than half the fun of being part of the running blogging community.   A comment left at the right time with the right message will stay with a blogging running friend long after we’ve forgotten the words we dropped off.

I don’t know if I’ve become a better runner through blogging about running, but I’ve come to appreciate the greatness of people who also happen to be runners.

To our BFRs (Blogging Running Friends), thanks for opening your running lives plus so much more. To those not yet blogging and considering it, jump in.  The runners, their stories, and the conversations are awesome!

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