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?

Are You Ready For National Running Day?

Tomorrow, June 1, is National Running Day. And since I like to think of myself as an ambassador of running (casual, non-pro level, conversational pace, out here for the smiles and the miles), I would like to officially welcome you to participate.

All you have to do is run. Seriously, it’s that easy.

Sure you could sign up for a fancy event (get $26 off a Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon; $13 off a Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon; $10 off a Rock ‘n’ Roll 10k; $5 off a Rock ‘n’ Roll 5k; $20 off a Muddy Buddy; and $20 off a TriRock event if you register for one on June 1, 2011), but if that seems too complicated to you, just run down your driveway, to the next mailbox, or to the end of the block.

I’ll be driving from NYC to VA for my baby sister’s wedding, so I won’t be anywhere near my favorite place to run—Central Park. Still, I’m planning to stop in every rest area and jog a lap around the parking lot. Yes, it’s going to make my travel time a heck of a lot longer, but I’ll do anything to be able to take part in this glorious holiday!

Tell me, how will you be celebrating National Running Day?

Originally posted in Running With It on Shape.com.

My New Four-Legged Friend Isn’t A Runner

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you may have noticed that I often use stock images featuring adorable dogs to illustrate my posts. Clearly, I love the pups. This past weekend I took a step toward owning a tail wagger of my own—I became a foster mom to an adorable 8-year-old, German shepherd mix. He’ll be hanging with me for the next three months, which will give me a taste of what it’s like to care for (wo)man’s best friend 24-7.

It’s definitely a full-time job and this sweet creature has already put a cramp in my morning routine. Thanks to his walks, I no longer have time to run in the a.m. Sure I could get out of bed even earlier, but I hate being up before the sun and I get nervous running in the dark alone. Sadly, he can’t run with me—he’s completely out of shape after months of living in a cage at a shelter. (He also has sores on his front legs that he needs to stop licking and scratching—hence his crazy outfit in this photo.)

I packed clothes and sneakers with me today and plan to run home from work (about 7 miles). But running in the evening just isn’t as satisfying for me. I’m curious, how do other pet-loving morning runners fit it all in?

Got any scheduling advice? Do you run with your dog?

Originally posted in Running With It on Shape.com.