What’s The Plan, Stan?

I’m training for Grete’s Great Gallop half marathon on 1 October and I’d like to do well. Of course, well is relative. My last half marathon was in January—it was 14 degrees outside and I finished in a respectable 1:57:02. This time, I’d like to push myself harder and cross the finish line in 1:49:00.

I’ve learned that when you set a goal (in running and in life) it helps to have a solid plan to get there. Figuring out that plan can be a challenge. Do you ask Google for one? Get it from a magazine? Hire a coach? I’ve tried all of those routes and they’ve all gotten the job done… when I’ve stuck with them.  That’s the key: A training program can’t tie your shoes for you—it only works if you’re dedicated to seeing it through.

Today my plan had me knock out three easy miles. But for some reason getting started was tough. I didn’t feel like getting out of my pajamas. I didn’t feel like going to the park. And I questioned whether a slow, low mileage run was really worth my time. (Clearly I woke up on the wrong side of the bed!) So I thought about my goal and I visualized what it would be like to look up at the finish line clock and see those numbers. Suddenly, snoozing for an extra 30 minutes just didn’t seem worth it.

What keeps you dedicated to your plan? What motivates you to run?

Off And Running!

I recently left a full-time staff writer job, and now I work from home. Which is great because I can finally finish a couple of big projects that I started (what feels like) forever ago. And I can pick up more freelance writing gigs. (Assigning editors, feel free to contact me!)

But what’s not so great is that setting my own schedule means I’m free to do whatever I want, and I’m not always motivated to sit down and work during business hours. To give my day more structure, I’ve started to rethink the purpose of my morning runs. I used to run whenever I could find the time—usually in the a.m., but sometimes squeezed into a lunch hour or after work. Now, a daily workout anchors my 9 to 5 existence.

I get up, pull on some shorts, and head to the park for a loop. Once I’ve pounded out a few miles, I’m ready to focus on the other tasks I have planned. On days that I don’t workout first thing, I move aimlessly from one ultra-important activity (scrubbing the tub) to the next (watching yet another awkward date on The Millionaire Matchmaker). So in an effort to prevent myself from cheating or skipping runs, I signed up for Grete’s Great Gallop half marathon on 1 October in Central Park. Here’s to a focused fall!

Does running give your day structure, too? Do you run before or after work?

My Legs Are In A Funk

The Boston Marathon was over a month ago, but my legs still haven’t completely bounced back. They feel heavy and achy after an easy run, and I’m just not getting quality miles out of them. Maybe I didn’t give them enough rest post 26.2, or maybe it’s all in my head, but I’m feeling a little burnt out.

In her book Run Your First Marathon: Everything You Need to Know to Reach the Finish Line, the late pro-marathoner Grete Waitz wrote, “Recovery from a marathon is both physical and mental.” She went on to say, “If burnout [strikes], take an easy week or two to recover your energy and enthusiasm.” And, “Run some different courses, with different scenery and new people, or, if you feel you can, mix up the times of day when you run. Sometimes even a simple change in a routine can be refreshing.”

I’m taking Grete’s advice—switching it up between pavement and dirt paths, hitting the streets after work instead of in the morning, running with friends, and waiting for the blahs to pass. Until then, I’ll try to gain a little perspective. I run for fun, not for a paycheck. I run for that happy feeling that comes with tackling a tough course. I don’t need to PR every workout; I just need to keep moving. And, even more important, I need to keep smiling.

Are you smiling today? How are your legs feeling? 

Originally posted in Running With It on Shape.com.