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Motivation’s a Killer: Second Time Around (Training for a Half Marathon)

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On a recent vacation to the island of Ocracoke, the prickly sun beat down on me as I ran down a lonely stretch of highway. It was 7:30 a.m., 85 degrees, with humidity at 100 percent. My body ached.


I stopped to catch my breath, only to be attacked by fierce green flies. Ouch! That stung. If you’ve ever been bitten by a greenfly, you know it makes a mosquito bite seem pleasant.


I got off the main road and ran along a nature trail under some pines. I stopped at a clearing to admire the marsh and distant bay. A pelican did a crash-landing while sea gulls chatted incessantly. “What a beautiful day!” I thought, “So, isn’t that enough strenuous activity for now? I am on vacation after all.”


Despite the fact that I’m excited to do another half marathon, I haven’t yet caught the bug that I had two years ago—that exhilarating feeling when my body takes over my mind and I keep going the distance. Where are the endorphins, I pray you, running gods?


By the end of July, I had hoped to be running three miles nonstop, but in fact, I’m not. Getting back into shape is harder than it once was.


I’m five weeks into this twenty-week program. I have fifteen weeks to get there. For the next few months, I need to get it together. Otherwise, I’m not makin’ it across the finish line!


Here’s my inspiration. If you’re a slacker like me, this might help you, too:


Buy new gear.

Yes, it may sound like a cliché, but it’s true. New gear can be a great motivator. These shorts got me smiling again.


Tell everyone about your goal.

Family and friends tend to be very supportive, so I keep telling them about the upcoming marathon in Raleigh, North Carolina. Every time I see them, they ask how I’m progressing. I find it’s easy to let myself down—but much harder to let down my family and friends!


Let others inspire you.

I was chatting with a friend on the phone who’d just finished a six-mile run. I congratulated her. This instantly got me thinking: “I, too, can complete that six-mile run!”


Find a change of scenery.

Instead of going the same old route, mix it up. There is a beautiful historic site called Lyndhurst open to the public nearby. Running here opened my eyes to a new trail and new things to see along the way. Once there, I got to walk the grounds and admire the views of the Hudson River.


Record it.

I started a journal devoted to running. When I remember, I plunk down my thoughts and log my runs—or check out Runner’s World for their free online Training Log. If you like gadgets, look into a personal training device, like the Forerunner 101 by Garmin. These devices let you compare your goal pace with your actual pace. You can also store and retrieve running history so you see how you’ve progressed. But for some, like me, a simple pedometer will do!


Savor the carbs.

I comfort myself with the idea that I can eat just like everyone else, though a few days before a race, I can load up on carbs. It’s not to say I should overeat, but my body actually needs cereal, bread (whole wheat), and pastas. When was the last time you were encouraged to load up on carbs?! As James Fixx points out in his infamous, The Complete Book of Running, though, “You should be careful to eat green and yellow vegetables and fresh fruits; they’re important sources of the vitamins needed to metabolize carbohydrates and fats.” Bring on the broccoli rabe!


Choose a mantra.

We all know fatigue can be overcome by actively using our brain. Instead of thoughts like “I’d rather not run today,” replace it with “I must run today.” Music can push you ahead, too. (The theme from Rocky works for me.) I also try to envision myself at the end of a race with people cheering me on, “You’re almost there! Go! Go! Go!” I hate to admit it, but it’s true: ad slogans like “Go, Do, Be” or “Just Do It” also work. If the last part of my run is especially hard, I say things over and over like “There is a hot turkey sandwich with cranberry sauce waiting for me at home. Don’t stop!”


Sign up for a race.

Once I do a race again, my running spirit will return! There are always races in cities and small towns across America—and globally if you’re on vacation. Many benefit charities. You’ll meet new people, get a cool t-shirt, and mentally ready yourself for future races.


 


MONTH 2


Week 6: (Week of July 22)


Monday: Stretch and rest


Tuesday: 3-mile run


Wednesday: 2-mile run or cross training (suggested cross training: cycling, swimming, yoga, or pilates)


Thursday: 3-mile run and strength training


Friday: Rest


Saturday: 30-minute cross training


Sunday: 4-mile run


 


Week 7: (Week of July 29)


Monday: Stretch and rest


Tuesday: 3-mile run


Wednesday: 2-mile run or cross train


Thursday: 3-mile run and strength train


Friday: Rest


Saturday: Focus on hills. Run up and down one hill five times or cross train if you like.


Sunday: 4-mile run. Sign up for a 10-K (6-mile) race for the upcoming month ahead.


 


Week 8: (Week of August 5)


Monday: Stretch and rest


Tuesday: 3.5-mile run


Wednesday: 2-mile run or cross train


Thursday: 4-mile run and strength train


Friday: Rest


Saturday: Focus on hills. Run up and down one hill five times or cross train if you like.


Sunday: 5-mile run


 


Week 9: (Week of August 12)


Monday: Stretch and rest


Tuesday: 4-mile run


Wednesday: 2-mile run or cross train


Thursday: 4-mile run and strength train


Friday: rest


Saturday: Focus on hills. Run up and down one hill five times or cross train if you like.


Sunday: 6-mile run


 


Week 10: (Week of August 19)


Monday: Stretch and rest


Tuesday: 4-mile run


Wednesday: 2-mile run or cross train


Thursday: 4-mile run and strength train


Friday: Rest


Saturday: Cross train or rest.


Sunday: Do a 10-K race. The excitement will bolster your ego!


 


Week 11: (Week of August 26)


Monday: Stretch and rest


Tuesday: 4-mile run


Wednesday: 2-mile run or cross train


Thursday: 4-mile run and strength train


Friday: Rest


Saturday: Cross train or rest.


Sunday: 6-mile run


 


Read the June Second Time Around Column


Second Time Around is published monthly. If you have a question, please send it to me in care of the editor at midori@realgirlsmedia.com. To make sure you never miss a Second Time Around column again, just click on the author’s name at the top of the story, then select “Be notified when writer publishes” at the top of the page. We’ll send you an email as soon as a new column is published.


Photo courtesy of author


 


 


 


 

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