How do you prepare to run?

Find Motivation

Wishing I was still in bed this morning. I need to sign up for a race.

January 11th

After each race or at the beginning of the year, I struggle with motivation to push myself. It is straightforward to get out the door each day when a race has me terrified about being able to finish. I find it incredibly difficult to run consistently when there are few stakes involved. Have to remind myself that I am happier mentally and physically when I force myself to meet goals. My running journal is a way to track miles, pace, time, weather, etc, but more importantly it is an opportunity to write a snippet of my thoughts and interactions on each outing.

A few hours on the city streets or down the trails allow time to process my thoughts. If I can overcome the ten minutes of dread before each run, I am rarely disappointed walking back into the house. All that said, my simple brain is easily tricked into training when there is a target on the horizon. This time it happens to be the Shawnee 50. I use this when my mind wanders to visualize finishing or how difficult it will be if I do not complete today’s scheduled run.

Plan Your Runs

Today was a failed run. Supposed to do 20+ and gave up. Onward.

April 7th

A large percentage of the thinking I do about running is in the scheming. Runners, especially ultra-runners, adore plotting races and training blocks. The amount of excel documents created is only exceeded by the number of miles that are idealistically run months in advance. There are a plethora of schedules that you can find to match your skill level, race distance, terrain, or goal time. I find a certain cathartic feeling in master planning summer milestones and even more satisfaction when I can add that same number of miles to my training diary.

It is important to not be eternally tied to your schedule however. All of our appetites for miles are massive when sitting at our computers four months out from a 50 mile race. Some of the benefits are accountability and having a purpose behind each run. Conversely, I find that I cannot beat myself up when life disrupts the flow of a training block or a sinus infection impacts a long run.

Train Specific

Excited to put in some parking garage time, then I started up and was less excited.

August 30th

Matching your goal with training is important but not critical to success. If qualifying for Boston is the ultimate achievement, then speed work and downhill training will be most beneficial to take on the specifics of that course. Target races for me tend to be mountainous (by Ohio standards) so ideally I would do hill repeats regularly to simulate the terrain that my goal race or project will be traversing. Though these modifications are not always available and staying consistent in mileage has typically worked in my case.

Living downtown has many advantages but access to mountains is limited in Columbus, Ohio. My workaround is to run parking garages. There are some unique views at the tops of these ultra-engineered structures, but for the most part it is just as exciting as it sounds. They force me to stay focused on the goal of the run because the identical floors make visual progress difficult. The point is, make the best of what’s around you to replicate conditions.

Be Consistent

I feel accomplished with today’s effort. Turned into a nice little progression run.

September 5th

In recent years I have seen my mileage ebb and flow. Adding a member to our family has changed the importance of running. I used to scoff at the idea of getting out for just 30 minutes, was it even worth the shower? Now that my training schedule is far down the list of priorities, I find that squeezing in a run at 9pm after a 14 hour workday is exactly what I need. Pushing myself to not get discouraged by the lack of multi-hour adventures and to be proud of running 10 days in a row.

An increase in consistency has given me confidence and I have seen my annual mileages rise even though average distance per run is down. Introducing other tools like parking garage repeats or stroller runs have added complexity to my training and break up some of the monotony. I am also learning that by minimizing the peaks and valleys in training, I get burnt out less frequently. In past years I would have a month or two break (typically winter when it sucks in Ohio). This makes starting up again that much harder. Turns out, quitting is easy but tricking myself into keeping a streak alive or building on last week’s runs is a valuable tool.

These training thoughts and quotes from my running journal are specific to me but are an example of the range of emotions that we all go through. Running is a personal endeavor.
Everyone has a different reason to lace up, maybe this has helped you find yours. What gets out the door? I would love to start a conversation. Below are a couple runs that I am proud of, let’s cheer each other on.
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