I Did Not DNF

I ran my sixth full marathon yesterday (MEC race series #7)… And it was brutal. I’m not going to sugar coat it, it really sucked. Like, so bad that I’m not going to even bother checking my official time. I cried approximately twice and wanted nothing more than for someone to pick me up on the route because the distance between me and the finish line just felt so overwhelmingly huge.

I’m not exactly sure what happened. I trained, albeit not super hard but I got the necessary mileage for my program in. I tapered, rested, and carbo loaded. I was in a good mood at the start, no big goals, just focused on having a solid run on a beautiful day, however the universe decided that I needed to work a little harder for that to happen.

The day started out innocently enough. I slept well, saw a beautiful sunrise on the way to the start line at the Telus Science Centre. I met up with my Oiselle teammates Leana and Ange, who were both running the half marathon. The full went off first at 9am, and with Leana and Ange cheering for me, I left the start all smiles.

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Being my first home city marathon, my mom promised to meet me at the 5k aid station, and my dad said he would cheer me on along the way, and ended up station at the 16/27ish aid station. Seeing them on the course was the best experience. Seriously. It was the first marathon that my Dad has seen me run, and he stuck it out for a good long time to see me both ways. I had a huge smile on my face each time, even though the second time I was feeling significantly less optimistic.

I felt pretty solid up until km 20. I was right on track for running a cool 4-hour run. The course was generally very flat but around that point we entered Bowmont park and started heading up. And up and up. And I think it was somewhere around here the wheels fell off.

I had to really pee, and had been holding it for a while, then my Achilles (a little on and off niggle) started getting angry, and the hill up to the 22.5km turn around point/aid station kicked my ass. I decided I would plod out until then, hit the bathroom and regroup. I did just than, and head back down the hill. I noticed a weird ache in my tailbone. TAILBONE. Seriously, wtf. It made running downhill very uncomfortable, but then over time (a long time) it did go away. But my legs were done. Everything just generally cramped up and hurt.

When I was at about 25km, my mind took a one-way express train to negative town. I started feeling incredibly overwhelmed. My energy felt good, but my legs ached SO BAD. It felt like I should have been 35km in, not 25. And I was on the opposite side of Calgary from the finish line. This was the first time I texted Dan.

I somewhat employed a 10/1 run/walk routine, until I saw my dad again at the aid station. He gave me a hug and ensured me I was looking good and that everyone was looking rather tired coming back. We walked for about 5 min together towards his car (which was the direction I was headed in anyway) and chatted. I was able to gather myself for a while after that for the next 3ish km, then the reality of how far I still had to go sunk in. I texted Dan for the second time, whilst bawling. I sincerely hoped he would offer to pick me up so I could throw in the towel. But all I got was encouragement to keep going. Damnit.

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The next aid station informed me that I was just about 10k from the finish (oh ya, I forgot to mention there were no km markers, and I didn’t properly sync my watch to satellites so I was essentially running blind to distance), and that seemed still far, but slightly more doable. I kept running at 10/1 as best as I could, but sometimes my legs hurt too bad, or there would be small hills near bridges that I would have to walk.

I kept plodding along, picking points in the distance to run to then typically kept running past them. A lady on a bike (who was cheering her friend along) was particularly encouraging and chatted with me for a while, following me on her bike. Then about 5km from the finish, everything went numb. Although it didn’t last, it was a nice break from the sore everything I was experiencing.

Those last 5k would just not quit. When I got to the section that went along the zoo, the undulating hills were impossible for me to run. I walked a good section, and ran when I could (aka when it was flat). Then, a switch went off in my brain and I just stopped caring, and started feeling almost happy and enjoying myself, despite the pain. I sang along to George Micheal, complete with hand motions, while bike lady rode past me again, giving me a thumbs up (I was slightly embarrassed).

I turned out of the zoo area and aimed north towards the start/finish a the Science Centre. Plodding up, I saw two figures on a bridge, one waving at me. It was my Mom and Dan.

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Check out that form.

I “sprinted” (lolz) as hard as I could to them, got hugs and cheers to carry me to the end. I kept as strong as possible, knowing my next spectator, my friend Meghan, would be there.

Right around the very last bend I felt something “go” in my toe (blister related), hobbled a bit, but pushed through the last bit of pain. Meghan spotted me, ran towards me and we both crossed the finish line holding hands. It was a truly magical friendship moment!

Meg took good care of me until Dan and Mom arrived back from their post on the bridge. She helped me get my bag and presented me with a selection of beer to choose from (FUN FACT: Oiselle arm sleeves make effective beer cozies in a pinch when drinking in public post-race). I had a quick free massage, relaxed on the grass as Dan and our friend Andrew played on a nearby swing set. Later we feasted on BBQ and beer, followed by an ice bath and early bedtime.

Would I liked this run to go better? Of course. Am I upset? Not at all. I wanted to quit, I want to so very very bad, but I didn’t. And not only am I grateful (although surprised) by my own perseverance, I am grateful for those who who stuck it out with me that day. My dad for being the best mid way pick-me-up/photographer. (Dad, you’ll have to come out to another one soon so you can catch me on a “good” day :). My boyfriend Dan for always making sure I follow through on what I set out to do, and always with a smile on his face. My Mom for always being a great cheerleader, and Meghan for being a great new cheerleader (you can bring me beer at the end of any race!). And of course my Oiselle ladies, Ange and Leana, for sending me off with a great start and knowing you were rooting for me. I can’t wait for our Spirit of the Marathon/wine night/cry fest. (And for the pictures I stole from you for this post).

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Sometimes even with the best laid plans shit goes south and you end up getting what you need out of a race instead of what you want. I guess I needed a kick in the butt to get training a bit harder (and smarter) if I want to get back to where I was a year ago. I had my time building back after last years “shinjury” (like that, mom?), so now it’s time to get serious. And I also needed the experience of having so many positives happen in a day that it outweighs one seemingly catastrophic negative. I got to run on a beautiful fall day, along the river, in a race I only paid $25 for, with some incredible friends and family, and I finished one of the hardest races of my life. What could I possibly feel sad about?

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Get L.O.W. (Part 1)

Hi! Hello!

For those of you who follow me on twitter or instagram, you may have noticed that I have been rather silent (spare for the past three days). That is because last week I went for a much needed social-media detox while on vacation. Where was I, you may ask? I was at the step-family’s cottage on Lake of the Woods, Ontario. It was a marvelous, relaxing week of fishing, reading, running and relaxing.

Lake of the Woods is HUGE. It’s full of islands and peninsulas, so while you’re on it it’s hard to grasp its size. But I suppose if you had a big enough boat with enough fuel, you could roam this lake for quite some time before you see it all.

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The cottage was located way up on the top just west of Kenora, nestled into the Canadian Shield. I have little experience with rural Ontario (aside from my uncle’s farm), so I was thoroughly impressed. Being a Rockies’ girl, this was almost like being in the Rockies (forested, rocky, hilly) without any mountains and much warmer lakes. Something I can live with.

The water was unusually high this year, causing most of the boathouses and docks to be a bit under water. This didn’t have any impact on our enjoyment however, and everyone managed to avoid eating shit while navigating the wet, algae-y submerged dock.

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Don’t be fooled by the British Columbia flag, this was most definitely in Ontario.

The photo above is of the boathouse, where we’d spend most of our afternoons alternating reading, napping in the sun and cooling off in the lake. Most would jump off the boathouse. I would not, because I greatly dislike jumping off things.

photo 20photo 19If you look closely in the reflection in my sunglasses, you can see the book I (finally) finished while on my trip. It’s Joseph Boyden’s “The Orenda“. What a powerful book, and definitely not an easy read. It haunted me for several days after I finished. Yet it was the perfect book for the trip. It’s set in the early eeeaaarrrllly days of Canada (before it was Canada) so I could easily imagine the characters set in a surrounding similar to my current location. Very good book. Much recommended (but not for the faint of heart).

In the early mornings and evenings (actually, only evenings for me) we’d take the little power boat out and go fishing. I caught three fish! Two walleye and one bass, all released. Here is me and my bass:

photo 2The sunsets off the boat were stunning:

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hi Dad!

Hi Dad!

We (collectively, not me) even caught a couple keepers that turned into lunch/dinner. I am grateful for these fish providing us with delicious sustenance.

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Dan and our lunch

photo 17A couple days we drove into Kenora and both times had lunch at the Lake of the Woods Brewing Company. BEST FRIES and tasty beer. They also have a shop where you can buy growlers, apparel, skatedecks, etc. Their logo is cute so I bought a mug and sweatshirt.

Tasty things here.

Tasty things here.

Running wise, I did a few runs on the road leading the cottage, which were hilly, hot and humid. On the Saturday, I found some trails in Kenora to explore while Dan checked out the skatepark. More on that later, as it was a really cool experience that I’d like to go more in depth.

From my run on Tunnel Island, to be continued!

photo 13 From my run on Tunnel Island, to be continued in part 2!

Unless you live in Winnipeg, Manitoba, it seems that this area of Canada is fairly unknown. It’s a wonderful place to go if you like fishing, nature, and general relaxing (who doesn’t). It’s not difficult to get to, just a straight two hour drive East from Winnipeg, and it’s an interesting drive at that as you see the prairies morph into the Shield.

I returned from this trip feeling refreshed and relaxed, which is new for me. Usually I’m so busy doing things that I need another vacation after my vacation. But we rested, exercised and ate healthy so I felt great. I had three days at work and I’m off tonight to Vancouver with my best gals to run the SeaWheeze half! I can’t believe it’s actually here. I get to also meet some Oiselle birds from Seattle and have dinner with some other bloggers and the Vega team. Hoooly. So much stuff.

See you on the other side!

Glenbow Ranch 5Peaks Enduro Race Recap

As I’ve mentioned in some of my previous posts (and in great detail in the post that got deleted, grr) I’ve been dipping my toes into some trail running this summer. There are a few reasons for this:

1) It’s a great way to develop yourself as a run and prevent some of the overuse injuries that plague road runners by the variations in pace and terrain that trails provide.

2) I have some friends who are into trail running (and ultra running) and it looks neat. Ultra running has recently started to intrigue me since I’m always looking for new ways to inflict pain on myself.

3) Because I live in Calgary and have all this basically in my back yard:

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This summer we’ve had some great weather and I’ve been taking advantage of it and getting out of the city almost every weekend. It may mean that my apartment is messier than usual, but so worth it.

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Last year I did a couple 5Peaks races, and loved the courses and general vibe. They’re perfect for those looking to get into trail running since they are relatively short, and have at least two race lengths for each event. This year I decided to try the longer of the two courses, the “Enduro”, for my next two 5Peaks. A few weeks ago (July 19) one was held at the Glenbow Ranch, just Northwest of Calgary outside the town of Cochrane. It was to be my maiden voyage in my Oiselle Flock singlet, and to commemorate the occasion, Ashes helped me lay out my race outfit.

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This was going to be my longest trail race yet (13.5km, a mere drop in the bucket for trail race lengths) and I was nervous so I convinced my mom to come along and cheer me on. That Saturday morning, we drove out together to the Ranch.

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The Glenbow Ranch is located in the Bow River valley and full of beautiful rolling hills and a few trees.

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As I was checking in, I said hi to Tina and Angela who both volunteered and ran the Sport (shorter) distance. Another benefit to the 5Peaks series are the amount of Cliff Bar samples and various other tents to check out while you wait to run. We hung out for a bit and snacked on mini Cliff bars.

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Rocking the Oiselle Stride shorts, Nathan pack, ProCompression socks, Saucony Trail Kinvaras, and Thrasher hat.

After the kid’s race, we lined up for action. Tina, Ange and I started together then soon lost one another.

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The course was lead us up a paved pathway and up a hill before we dropped down a rocky path through the trees and back into the valley. I ran (slowly) up this hill, but planned to walk most of the other hills, especially during the first loop (of two loop course).

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The course was a mix of paved trail and gravel path, which made it less trail-y than other 5Peaks, but still had some seriously hills making it just ask challenging. While walking up a hill, Ange passed me but I shortly caught up again and we ran most of the first loop together. This was nice because it was quite exposed and hot, and we both wanted to focus on taking it easy and enjoying ourselves. Neither of us were out to prove anything that day. We walked the larger hills and talked about our cats. The final hill, before the Sport people head back down to the start line, was an intense switchback in the hot sun. Ange left me and I was dreading running the whole course again.

Just ask she took off, my mom appeared! She walked along the course with me for a while as I complained about how hot and hard this was and munched on a gel. When we arrived at the gravel downhill again, she let me go and off I went for lap 2.

Thankfully, it clouded over slightly and I got my head into the game and a good rhythm. Lap 2 was generally peaceful and comfortable.

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Walking hills means you have time to take pictures

photo 1A tall guy and myself kept passing one another, and he commented on how speedy I would get on the downhill. We were close at the end and walked together up the switchback. Coming back down the hill leading to the finish he had more gas in the tank (and significantly more gravity-aided momentum) and left me in the dust. My mom cheered me on and took photos as a nearby child threw grass on the pathway.

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And I crossed the finish in 1:36!

As the awards started, it clouded over and started raining lightly. My mom and I made motions to leave, but Tina convinced me to check out my placement just in case. And turns out…

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I got second (out of 3, still counting it)! Maybe if I didn’t stop and walk after Lap 1 I could’ve gotten 1st (we weren’t too far apart), but it was worth it, I needed a little mental break with my mom.

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3rd place left before the awards, I swear.

So there you have it! 5Peaks, always a good time. In fact, I’m running another one tomorrow! 16.5k, crap. Wish me luck!

Angus Cattle Run 5k Recap

Don’t you love it when you write a whole post then it doesn’t post and your draft is deleted forever? Me too and that’s exactly what happened the first time around I wrote this post. Then I got lazy and never rewrote it and just neglected my poor little blog. Moving on.

For those of you who don’t live in Calgary and don’t know much about this little metropolis on the base of the Rockies, beside our awesome mayor, the other thing Calgary is known for is its annual week of rodeo and celebration of agriculture (and debauchery) called the Calgary Stampede. I have participated in a wide variety of Stampede activities throughout the years, but having lived three blocks from the grounds for four years, I generally feel like this during this time of year unless I have something fun specifically planned:

kill all humansThroughout town there is no limit of western-themed events, and one particular one is the Angus Cattle Run 5k which happens to be a fundraiser for Calgary’s Food Bank. I was registered to run it last year, but my body didn’t feel like cooperating (re: I woke up with incapacitating cramps. TMI? Oh well that’s a part of life). I figured that since 100% of my race entry had already gone to the Food Bank, I already sort of did my part and stayed in bed. This year the stars (ovaries?) aligned and I woke up bright and early Friday morning and hauled my ass out for a run (I think it’s safe to say that most people won’t do that during Stampede).

I convinced a friend from work to run with me, so Jen met me at the start (Eau Claire Market). We grabbed our “bibs” (which instead of numbers, had facts about the Food Bank and hunger. Clever!) and cowbells.

photo 5This race also marks the first time I’ve run a race while holding a cowbell. Everyone was doing it! It was actually kind of neat running in a group of people with cowbells all with Food Bank facts donned on their fronts. Kind of like they planned it that way. I digress.

Although this was a untimed “fun run”, I still wanted to push it for a few reasons:

1. I have only ever run one other 5k “race”

2. I wanted to see where my fitness was at

3. Because I felt like it

The race began and I crossed the start line 10 seconds after. We were to run west along the Bow River, across 14th Street bridge (a hill), east on the other side of the river, up Prince’s Island bridge (another hill) and down to the finish.

angusMy “plan” (using that term loosely) was to run as hard as I could for the whole thing. So I did. After the first mile passed, the thoughts circulating through my head alternated between “This is hard. Why is this so hard?”, “Don’t worry, it’ll be over soon”, and “I might puke”. You think hills are hard on a long distance race? They’re just as hard on a short one, IMO.

As I came up Prince’s Island bridge, the finish was nearly in sight and I put the pedal to the metal. The clock read 24:17 as I crossed, which equates to a 24:07 finish time, a PR! Weeee!

Afterwards I ran into Tina and we got some quick massages from a nearby tent. There was also a marching band and pancake breakfast (both staples for any Stampede event). Unfortunately I had a dr’s appointment to get to so I couldn’t wait in line to get any pancakes or wait for door prize draws, but I hear they’re both great.

photo 1 photo 3This was a fun event for a great cause, and I will definitely try to keep it in the yearly rotation (they also have a run in December). I suggest you try it too if you’re in Cowtown!

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Lots of other things have happened lately, mostly trail running including one trail race (recap to come) and my dear ladyfriend Chelsea’s birthday! I made her a flower crown. Let’s all take a moment to appreciate how cute she is.

bday flower princess

plastic bag princess (and homemade slip and slide in the background)

I’ll update you on the rest later. Off to enjoy the summer! Peace!

Breakdown and Rebuilding

HAYYYOOO. How are you guys? I am well.

It’s been a while since I’ve talked about running. And not because it’s going bad, mostly because I was feeling pretty “meh” about it.

Since we (I) last spoke, I have kept up with weights and cross training while easing myself back into running. While rebuilding my mileage base, I’ve focused doing so on trails. This gives me a softer, more variable surface to train on, gets my head out of the pace obsession (because trails are MUCH different), and will get me set up for future trail races (which I’d like to do more of). All this and I get to take advantage of all the beauty my province and city have to offer. Like Nose Hill Park, a short 20 minute drive from my house:

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Lived in Calgary most of my life and have never been here before this day. Whooops.

Not Alberta (I was visiting my grandparents in Saskatoon at the time), but still a trail

Not Alberta (I was visiting my grandparents in Saskatoon at the time), but still a trail

Upper Kananaskis Lake. A flat yet exciting 16.5km trail complete with a river crossing due to a washed out bridge (thanks flood)

(source)

And since I’m on the trailporn roll already, here’s a couple hikes I’ve done recently:

Ha Ling peak, which overlooks Canmore.

Ha Ling peak, which overlooks Canmore.

And last weekend’s trip to Elk Lakes Provincial Park (hiked from Alberta to BC, camped and did a little fishing at Lower Elk Lake)

elk lake 2elk lake 3 elk lake 1 elk lake 4

Aside from all that, SeaWheeze training is going fine. Like I said, base building and keeping it mellow. I was fine with it for a while but started to feel like something was missing.

Sunday night when we got home after Elk Lakes I had a little meltdown. While I had just hiked 20km between two days with a weekend’s worth of provisions on my back, the mental toll of dealing with injury and other problems resulted in me feeling overly conscious and upset with my body. Through my injury I kept up my fitness, and since I have been working on increasing it, but I was feeling a little scared of pushing myself again in fear that I won’t be able to achieve the results I want (running wise), or that other parts of my health will take a toll. I felt frustrated, helpless and confused.

I had a good cry, a good meal and a good sleep. The next day the idea of running an October marathon started blossoming in my head. It would be enough time to train, and it just so happened that MEC is putting on their first full marathon this year, on October 19th. Their races are great because while they’re well organized and draw a good group of people, they are CHEAP and not a qualifier for anything so the pressure that I like to put on myself to run/get a specific time would be completely off. So I went for it.

mec race

And that started a chain of events…

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13.5km of trails…

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16.5km of trails…!

And a little 5k this Friday, because why not?

And a little 5k this Friday, because why not?

After I was done signing up for all the races, I got anemail from Oiselle regarding a new branch of their team called the Flock. It’s a first come, first serve membership in which you pay a fee which goes towards their athlete development fund, and in return receive a singlet, special deals, and a spot in their team. I jumped on this, obviously.

:)

:)

And while I honestly had my sights set on joining the Vollee team (which they are not expanding this year), I have zero problem in helping them support their elite athletes. Travel costs are expensive, and Oiselle is a small company doing great things for women’s running. I have already connected to so many other amazing women running with the Flock, and if you’re reading this, I’m looking forward to getting to know you and following your journey!

My attitude from last week to this week has done a complete 180. I had to look deep and take some chances (long trail races, marathon), but setting those goals have given me some purpose and something rewarding to look forward to. In my experience, if you’re unhappy it is 100% your responsibility to make the moves to change the tide, and nothing has ever been changed by self pity.

I’ll leave you now with my new favorite song from my new favorite album:

And this one because it’s weird and I like weird:

Ciao!

One Year Ago.

One year ago today, I got this notice:

evac notice

And then this happened:

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bench

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the bench from above is under there somewhere

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zoo

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The lobby of my building

Actually taken on the Monday, the first day we could access any part of the parkade. This is going down to the first parkade floor.

The entrance to my parkade (days after)

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Then this happened, not just in my neighborhood, but all across town:

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The best people.

<3

 

And let’s not forget….

#floodbrows - you have to entertain yourself somehow when the city shuts down

#floodbrows

It’s surreal and almost hard to believe that this all happened a year ago. Living in one of the hardest hit areas, it was one of the most stressful and difficult times of my life. But from that I have seen the beauty and true colors of my friends and family. It gave me faith that no matter what hard times fall my way, I have them as my safety net. Too all of them, I love you. I’m forever grateful to have you in my life.

And the city of Calgary, and all of its residents who banded together to help those who lost everything, thanks for restoring my faith in humanity. I hope everyone is lucky enough to experience the goodness people have to offer. It’s fucking beautiful.

Be good to each other. Not just in times of need, but always.

Motivation

There are lots of reasons why we lose momentum. Sometimes it’s an injury, changes to routine, you’re not seeing enough progress, you’re seeing progress and think you can afford to take some (lots?) of time off, burn out, distractions, etc. Whatever the reason, it can be difficult to get back in the saddle and keep on going.

For myself, being in recovery mode can get me lazy since I’m not specifically training for anything, but I need to keep up be strong to hit the ground running when I’m able to. For others (wink and wave! hehe), you have to jump on the training-for-a-race train and hang on. Whatever your situation, I thought I would share what Ipersonally do to help motivate myself through a race training cycle (complete with loads of inspirational quotes from Pinterest, but of course).

Get pumped. Watch the promotional video for the race. These videos are designed to get you pumped for the race, so it will be a good starting point for the items below. Also watching videos of people you admire doing great things will get you stoked to do the same.

How can you not be motivated by the Flyer? (source)

Also read this article by The Oatmeal. It’s hilarious, realistic and strangely motivating.

Set goals. Write the reasons why you are running the particular race. It could be a time, a new distance, fun with friends, etc. But write down the feelings you expect to experience.

Visualize. Remember the feelings you wrote down, close your eyes and imagine running, crossing the finish line, etc. Do this again while running. During hard workouts, like tempo or long runs, imagine you are in a tough part of the race, then imagine the finish line and how you will feel crossing it. Relating the two will help you when you are in that pain zone, as your mind will go to the reasons you listed.

that finish line elation

Triggers. Come up with some key phrases that kick your butt into gear and repeat them to yourself when you find you’re having trouble getting out the door or struggling during a run. Some of my personal favorites (don’t laugh) are:
- Dig deep
- Break on through to the other side
- Want the results? Do the work
- You better work, bitch
- Relax. Inhale. Exhale.
- It’s not supposed to be easy
- Don’t give up
- You got this
Think about past experiences that make you feel accomplished or happy. It doesn’t even have to be running related, any positive thought will help.

Rewards. Another tip to trick yourself into staying consistent is to think about what you like to buy or do and use them as motivators. This takes some willpower and focus, but so does anything worthwhile in life.

For example, there was a time where I wanted to buy all the new clothes and risked going overboard with the spending, so I told myself that I would buy one clothing item a week if and only if I met all my workouts. If clothes ain’t yo thang, but maybe going out for dinner/drinks is, and let that be a reward. The only catch is that you and ONLY YOU are responsible for ensuring you don’t get your reward without completing your goals. It’s a practice in willpower but that’s not a bad thing! Practice makes perfect and it will get easier.

Celebrate.Celebrate your achievements, no matter how small. Bad days come from any number of factors, but your best days are indicative of your abilities, you cannot fake those. This is why I advocate keeping a training log. Looking back to previous weeks/months/years you will see a gradual improvement, and if you keep on keepin-on then think of where you can go!

Adapting. If you find that your certain motivational triggers are becoming ineffective and stale, take a step back (not longer than a few days to a week) and repeat the above steps again. Don’t be afraid to try different angles as your brain will try to trick you into becoming lazy and complacent. It will get easier, however, to push through these tough times and re-motivate yourself.

7. Keep your eyes on the prize. Giving up or putting in minimal effort is easy, but warrants few rewards. Make the most of your training and see what you can do when you dedicate yourself to something, chances are you will surprise yourself. Sure, it’s going to be hard, but as I said earlier, it’s not supposed to be easy. It’s when we challenge ourselves we grow stronger, build confidence, and refine us to become the best we can be.

Be determined to find a way.