Runner’s Monday Motivation Guest Post

Hi ya’ll! It’s officially 14 days after the New Year and that means that tomorrow will officially be two weeks into any New Year’s Resolutions or goals you may have identified for yourself. Which means you’ve only got 52 more days, according to behavioral scientist claims of 66 days before making anything become a habit. To help you hang in there and keep your eye on the prize I collaborated with a fellow runner from halfway across the globe to bring you today’s blog post and “Runner’s Monday Motivation“.

Guest Blog Post from Australia

A few weeks back I was reminded that running can connect people so randomly and evidently from halfway across the world. A fellow Australian runner by the name of Nicole Stirling, had reached out to me after reading my blog post called 6 Tips for Setting 2019 Running Goals.

Nicole, had been revamping her own “goals” from the usual runner’s targets of new PR’s or longer distances and focused more on consistency with her running. I do believe there is a huge lesson to be learned from her story as well. So, here is her story for your Monday Motivation with a prefatory self Bio from Nicole.

Bio: 

Nicole Stirling is an avid runner and the author of 366 Days of Running blog. Nicole started running in her 20s to get fit and lose a little weight. But her start was rocky; she ran irregularly and was prone to injury. To address her consistency, Nicole set herself a challenge: to run a minimum 3kms every day for 366 days. And she achieved her running streak!

Since then, Nicole has run 12 marathons, 9 half marathons and explored the US, Europe and Asia through running tours and races. She’s heading to Italy, Slovenia and Croatia later in the year to run a marathon and trails on a group tour. 

Link: www.366daysofrunning.com 

This is the author of 366daysofrunning.com blog – Nicole Stirling.

How running 3kms every day for 366 days was life changing – By Nicole Stirling

It was in 2011 that I signed up for my first half marathon. I gave myself plenty of time to train but I didn’t use that time wisely. I naively believed I could squeeze four months of training into two weeks and run the half marathon easily. All I did was run myself into an injury; shin splints! 

When race day arrived, I couldn’t hide the pain as I shuffled the few hundred metres from my hotel to the start line. But I wasn’t participating. I was there to support my friends and fellow runners. I was a spectator to the race I’d signed up for. When the gun fired, I fought back tears watching the pack leave me behind. 

This was an invaluable lesson for me in the importance of running consistently and regularly.  

How I became consistent

There I was an inconsistent runner who only had myself to blame for my injury. All I could do was wait for my shin splints to heal before I could run (and race) again. During the downtime, I planned. I knew I couldn’t repeat this mistake. I set myself a goal of a running streak. I was determined to run 3kms every day of 2012. That was 366 days of fitness. For me, that’s roughly 20 minutes of running plus another 10 minutes to put on my gear and running shoes. I needed only 2% of each day to make this goal happen. For those days where I needed a rest, I’d walk 6kms instead of running. 

This was a goal I was positive I could achieve. 

The benefits of running regularly

Like all fitness activities, running consistently has many, many benefits. Consistent running has been known to:

  • Prepare the body and mind for the effort required to push your limits: Have you noticed how regular running becomes easier and easier as time passes? It’s because your body and mind are being trained to know what to expect ahead of each run. As your training increases so too does your body and mind’s ability to accept longer runs. When it’s time to push your boundaries and achieve new limits it’s not nearly as tough because of the prep work that has been invested. 
  • Increase your body’s ability to recover quickly: In November 2012, 11 months into my challenge, I underwent surgery that required me to fast the few days prior and stay overnight in hospital. At my post-surgery appointment, my doctor was surprised and pleased to hear that I had returned to walking the day after my surgery. It was a very, very slow walk but I was out there still getting it done. And I was back to a slow jog within 2 weeks. My doctor was impressed with how quickly my body had recovered and put this down to the previous 11 months of daily running.
  • Take the pain out of race day by spreading it across training runs: I look at race day as 100% pain without training. Regular training runs steadily chip away and reduce race day pain. Consider it this way: instead of 1 day of pain and suffering, it’s spread across 4 months of training runs. It sounds terrible, but it makes race day far more enjoyable!
  • Reduce the risk of injury: Don’t I know this one! Running ad-hoc caused me shin splints which resulted in a DNS on race day. And as my massage therapist has pointed out, when I only run 2-3 times per week, my calves end up rock hard. I squeal when she touches them. I’ve found that by running regularly I reduce my injuries and any soreness and pain. 
  • Improve your mindset: Whether it is the running, sunshine or fresh air, getting some exercise in always resets my mind.I take my frustrations and problems to the pavement and usually finish happier and with solutions. I also use running as an opportunity to focus on the positives and to work through what I’m most grateful for. I find that a positive mindset helps improve my running performance too.

3 things I learned from running 3kms every day for a year

1. I can do anything! 

I learned that anything is possible including running 366 days in a row. I didn’t doubt myself, although I did sometimes question why I’d set such a long challenge. And I did have naysayers who said I couldn’t possibly achieve this goal because life always gets in the way of things we want. But instead of getting upset, I used their comments to feed my determination. 

And I did it! I ran 3kms every day for 366 days (actually, I went on to run a further 3kms the very next day!) and didn’t I just feel on top of the world. This challenge taught me that if I set my mind to a task then I can make it happen. I’ve carried that lesson with me into new jobs, a new home and 12 marathons!

2. To be organised

The distance I set for my goal wasn’t particularly difficult but finding time each day was often challenging. On one occasion, I had a 6 am flight from Sydney to Auckland. That day I woke at 2 am to fit my 3km run into the day and applied my makeup at the airport. A few months later, after driving 12 hours from Sydney to the Gold Coast, I found myself running 3kms at 11:30 pm. 

This challenge taught me organisation skills I don’t believe I had before. While out for a 3km run I was thinking ahead to the next day’s schedule. Where would I fit 3kms in? My preference was always to run in the morning but sometimes that wasn’t possible. I always knew at least 24 hours ahead when and where I’d be running next.

3. To prioritise myself

Self-care seems selfish but it’s vital to allot yourself some solo, reflection time each day to be your best self. I’m extremely open with my family, friends and colleagues about how I will be a crazy person if I don’t get a run in. And that has a little to do with needing the sense of achievement I get after each run and opportunity to work through any problems and just generally feel grateful for my life.

This challenge taught me that I have a right (and an obligation) to prioritise my own needs each day AND that I can find the time in what often seems like a busy schedule. 

In summary, a running streak can be a life changing experience. It’s also a great way to teach yourself to run regularly and to learn a lot about yourself along the way. 

http://www.366daysofrunning.com

Special Thanks to Nicole

I’ve always been a believer and supporter of sharing personal stories and the power of motivation and learning tools that can be drawn from it. Special thanks goes to Nicole Stirling for sharing her story to motivate others and to teach the importance of consistency.

In reciprocative collaboration, I will follow up her story with some simple tools to help address the reasonings, symptoms, and preventative measures related to the dreaded shin splints that so many runners like Nicole, suffer from.

Keep Em Coming People!!

Would you like to contribute and be able to inspire others with your own sources of motivation? Perhaps you’d like to submit a guest post as well? Don’t be shy! I love hearing from you all and so will others!! I encourage you to submit your Runner’s Monday Motivation material thru the short form below. Or reach out and contact me with your guest post ideas and submissions thru the Comment & Contact page located at the top of this post.

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2020 Olympic Marathon Trials Talk

On Monday of this week, I found a routine Runner’s World e-mail in my inbox. It seems that the organizers of the 2020 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials to be held in Atlanta, Georgia, released the qualifying course specifics. And I must say that reading the article got me clickity clacking on the keyboard like a Tasmanian Devil searching thru Google for more info regarding the Olympic Marathon race.

Initial Thoughts

The Runner’s World article – ‘The Olympic Marathon Trials Field Is Ginormous Already—And Qualifying Remains Open for Another Year’ – had me probing for more details regarding the rumored challenging course. It also got me curious about which other U.S. courses were considered, and how the Atlanta course will measure up against other proposed qualifying courses.

Of course as we know, only the top three finishers from the qualifier in each men’s and women’s class, will represent the U.S. at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. To reiterate, the qualifying times men must run a marathon in 2:19:00 or faster or a half marathon in 1:04:00 or faster. And for women, the times are 2:45 and 1:13.

Runner’s World has pointed out that the course will have an elevation gain of 1000 feet. Holy yikes! Guess, this is where all that additional strength work will pay off (especially, in the upper legs)?! To put things into perspective I plugged in a few of the other major marathons that tout elevation challenges during my Google rage.

U.S. Marathon Course Comparisons

Boston and New York City were a couple that made my cut for elevation comparisons. Boston with the overall “quad shredder” descent in elevation with the four Newton Hills between miles 18-21. And of course Heartbreak Hill with its horrible timing being 91 ft. of elevation climb at approximately mile 21 and after the 3 consecutive hills. I can personally attest to Boston’s deceiving first half descent and carrying a quicker pace, and the yang of loathing involved during Heartbreak Hill. Woof!

Boston Marathon Elevation Map

The New York City Marathon course is also known for its bridges transitioning runners to each of 5 boroughs. Allegedly, this course is also known for being challenging in terms of elevation because of the bridges that even the pros must strategize their race tactics accordingly.

New York City Marathon Elevation Map

With the USATF mandated course loops of the Atlanta trials course (4 to be exact), I’m suspecting that it will be not only challenging in terms of elevation, but also to find a general rhythm to maintain aspects like pace. I was aghast at reading Letsrun.com‘s report on the elevation after allegedly plotting it out on three different apps. They even challenged Runner’s World’s initial 1000 ft. gain claim to calculations of gain being more like 1500ft. Hoy! Take a look!

Letsrun.com Olympic Marathon Qualfier Map & Elevation Report

Other Trials Courses That Were in the Running

Apparently there were three other cities proposing to bid being the host for the olympic qualifier. Other trials contenders were Chattanooga, Austin, and Orlando. I’m sure there are many factors including some sport genre politics to take into account with each of these locations, but a few of the basic checklist items I’ve read about are;

  • Airport accessibility and functionality to host the influx in spectators and participants.
  • Size of the city or metro area. Can it’s commerce sustain the event with hotels, food options, etc.?
  • Course location itself and permit granting by the hosting city.
  • Race organizers tenure and experience with hosting such an elite event. (Reports of lacking support for heat induced DNFs after the last 2016 Los Angeles qualifier, probably haunts the USATF Olympic committee.)
  • Media coverage solid enough within the city to draw and fulfill the once every four years momentous occasion.

Since the trials are held in February, the 29th (which is a leap day) to be exact, it’s logical to prioritize a hosting city that requires a more temperate climate prediction. Not that Iowa is necessarily even equipped to host this caliber of marathon, but dang could you imagine elites like Shalane Flanagan or Galen Rupp lining up at the start line with blue lips and goose bumps from head to toe in their scant racing uniforms? Brrr-tastic….NOT!

Marathon Tidbits On Each Proposing City

From my gathering of Google articles, each city’s proposed course had unique features to take into account. For example; Austin has a reputation for one of the fastest net downhill courses that also loops around the Capital. Being a fast and loop routed course could forecast some speedy times all the while allowing for great spectatorship.

In terms of the Orlando course, I would have to assume it would be flat and also relatively fast. Some Disney fans might root for the course finding its way thru the theme park but…logistics of a start at o’dark thirty so that the park can still open for regular hours just wasn’t in the cards. Sorry Mickey Mouse lovers!

Chattanooga seems to boast plenty of outdoor enthusiast adventures according to the cities tourist page; like rock climbing (going on my personal list of places to take my daughter climbing), mountain biking, hiking, white water rafting and the list goes on. All of these things sound uber appealing to me as a nature lover and adventure dreamer but the city was purportedly just plain sucky for hosting a huge event such as the Olympic Qualifying Trials. And all of these outdoor enthusiast amenities have no relevance to bearing a fast trials course. Real bearing was given to the fact that Chattanooga’s airport was puny in comparison along with the minuscule size of the city compared to the other bidders.

Atlanta’s Course Notes

So in typical coach and runner’s mindset fashion, I immediately also started thinking about how one would perhaps tackle the 3 x 6 mile loops and the final 8.2 mile loop. With a top 3 finish target, I would forecast an overall time somewhere around 2:25:00 for women and a competitive 2:12:00 for men. Take a look at the USATF marathon trials qualifying field list.

Top 10 Men in Qualifying field. Shout out to Iowa’s Brogan Austin!! =)
Top 10 Women in Qualifying Field.

Forecasting times of course is like trying to play pin the tail on the donkey. Each of the qualifiers have qualifying times from varying courses, some fast, some not so fast. Also, let’s not forget the Atlanta course 1000 – 1500 foot elevation gain that throws in a few extra spins before trying pin that tail on the donkey (yeah,…horrible analogy I know). Even if we took the forecasted times of 2:25:00 and 2:12:00, which would mean running even splits of 5:32/ mi for 2:25:00 and 5:02 / mi for 2:12:00, you’d have the dark horse of the elevation challenge.

We know it’s seemingly unlikely already, but if you calculated those splits out (for a 2:25:00 women’s finish) for the 3 x 6 mile loops at 33:12 per loop, then the last 8.2 mile loop would have a target loop split of 45:22. For the men 30:12 per 6 mile loop and 41:16 for the 8.2 loop.

But here’s where the tiger in the cat plays in – how will each athlete handle the elevation challenge? How much competition grit will each athlete have to anty up and forego holding onto pacing targets to instead run to the competition and place in the top three. With the qualifying field times that are posted, the men’s field is looking like a shark tank. But both races will have us all sitting on pins and needles to see the completion of the third place finisher. My blood pressure is already rising!

What Would You Do?

Would you tackle each of 3 x 6 mile loops by just trying to maintain even pacing and get a feel for how others are handling the elevation grinds and then try and negative split the pace per mile on the last 8.2? Certainly you would find a course simulator that you could train on that would mimic not only the elevation intervals but also the mileage of each loop. Such competitive races always seem to come down to who can hold on the longest and who can out kick when everyone is staring at the dreaded “wall”.

With Atlanta’s Olympic Games hosting history, the trials marathon course will already be accessorized with a few 5 ring montages.

“The start line will be located just outside of Centennial Olympic Park in front of the College Football Hall of Fame on Marietta Street near Atlanta’s popular downtown attractions including Georgia Aquarium, The Center for Civil and Human Rights and the World of Coca Cola before heading toward the city’s best known thoroughfare – Peachtree Street. On Peachtree, the runners will pass the Fox Theatre and loop around the Margaret Mitchell House, a museum honoring the legendary author of “Gone with the Wind.” From Peachtree Street, the course takes the competitors into Atlanta’s Historic Old Fourth Ward where they will find the Martin Luther King National Historic Park, birthplace and burial site of the Civil Rights icon. 

The final loop will include a 2.2-mile section of the course, which will take the athletes by the Georgia State Capitol building and underneath the Olympic Rings and Cauldron structure outside Georgia State Stadium that served as the Olympic Stadium at the 1996 Atlanta Games. In the 26th mile, the race for a Tokyo Olympic berth will pass the homes of the Atlanta Falcons, Atlanta United FC and the Atlanta Hawks, and the Georgia World Congress Center before finishing inside Centennial Olympic Park, downtown’s transformational Olympic legacy green space.”

https://www.atlantatrackclub.org/news/atlanta-track-club-unveils-course-for-2020-us-olympic-team-trials-marathon

I’m such a geek for the marathon and absolutely drool over the strategy of racing the distance. Can’t wait to see some of the American distance running women that have helped to really put the U.S. on the map, throw down in Atlanta. Will Galen Rupp continue to lead the men’s field? How will our Iowa marathon hero, Brogan Austin, step up in the elite field? 2020 can’t come soon enough for me, but let’s not rush the training and build for the runners still working at qualifying before the January 19th, 2020 deadline. Best of luck to all!!

Why I’m So Distracted With Today’s Runnermomcoach Blog Post

I initially started doing some research to write a blog post about the release of the 2020 U.S. Olympic Marathon course being held in Atlanta. The difficulty of the course and it’s challenging elevation gain of 1000ft. has me already spinning mental cogs towards how the professional and elite runners might strategize their training and the race itself. But, there is something more urgent that has me distracted with today’s blog post and I’ve decided to push the pause button on olympic marathon talk.

A Nice Hump Day Distraction

Several weeks back on December 12th, I sat down with the voice and lead announcer of the Drake Relay, Mike Jay, for an RMC podcast interview. I’d venture to say that many runners even from around the world would recognize his voice and associate surging feelings of adrenaline with visions of eight white lanes of polyurethane and rubber granules when they hear him. And I have to admit, I’m eager for something happening this evening at Big Grove Brewery in Iowa City, for another chance to hear him speak.

If you didn’t already know Mike has a genuinely huge heart and undying passion for running, track and field, developing youth and prep athlete runners and paying it forward. You can read more in detail about his Track Guy initiative thru my initial blog post and podcast recap here – Drake Relays Announcer – Mike Jay and His Way of Paying It Forward.

This evening you can choose to sit down with a fresh brewski or my personal Big Grove menu favorite, Bibimbap, and hear Mike sit down for an interview and Q&A style discussion panel himself. For the rest of us runners and dreamers, I think it’ll be an intriguing dive into a couple of elite runners from our region. Mike dangled a little teaser carrot during our podcast chat together, that both of his guests will have their own unique story of “heartbreak and jubilation”

Direct from Mike’s Twitter Feed

Catalytic Inspiration

Mike is a true inspiration and his work of paying it forward now thru Track Guy USA t-shirt sales, is super rad! He’s already delegating t-shirt proceeds towards several pairs of free running shoes to two young budding runners.

I truly believe everyone involved and everyone present tonight will walk away feeling engaged in their sport, a fresh fuel for their running fire, and inspired to believe there is still value in putting good back into the world.

I think my ears will stay perked to hear if Eric speaks towards his personal training and what specific elements he’ll be working towards in order to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. It’ll also be a fascinating history account to hear Randy’s story of qualifying for the 1980 Olympics, which ended up being boycotted by America and many other countries.

What better distraction from this blistery January running weather and abrasive Hump Day?! If you’re down at Big Grove for this evenings panel discussion and read or follow my blog, please don’t be shy because I’d love to meet you. And Thanks Mike Jay and extended thanks to Eric Sowinksi, Randy Wilson and Blake Boldon!

Motivational Monday

New things will be coming to you thru my blog here in 2019. After attending the Iowa Running Companies Ladies Night as a guest speaker, I was pleased to meet and have the opportunity to get to know one of the ladies that attended that night. Her name was Emily Moffitt and she was gracious enough to let me interview her for my Iowa Runners Campaign – Iowa Runner Campaign Highlights Emily Moffitt. I asked Emily what a few of her favorite sources of motivation or inspiration are so that we can share and pass onto others. However, she was honest in telling me that she really doesn’t have any and would love to be enlightened with a few. I realized that I have the perfect platform to share and spread a few of my own sources of motivation and that maybe there are more of you out there like Emily that are searching for new sources. So unlike last year’s Mom Blog Mondays, I’m switching gears for 2019 and going to dub the first day of each week as ‘Motivational Monday’.

Other Running Blogs

Coincidentally, I had a runner and blogger from Australia by the name of Nicole Stirling, reach out to me as she is a follower of my own blog and asked to collaborate and submit a guest post. I thought it was so cool that runners could be united from across the world like this and am eager to let her share her guest post with you about her 366 days of running. In fact, this happens to also be the name of her blog website – http://www.366daysofrunning.com.

Nicole has a relatable and useful blog which offers some helpful tools such as printables you can download and Free Runner Giveaways to help other runners achieve running success.

She, like so many others has a humbling story of her journey into becoming a runner. Sometimes just listening to someone else’s story is motivation in itself to help someone struggling realize that although the struggle is real, they are not alone. Her journey is a teaser for not only the title of her blog website but also for her guest post, which I’ll be sharing with you in an upcoming post soon. For now, here is a link to Nicole’s Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/366daysofrunning/

What Can You Share With Others?

If you have a favorite website, blog, podcast, book, or other source of motivation that you think someone else could benefit from, please help me share it! You can also tag me with a Facebook, Twitter or Instagram suggestion @runnermomcoach.

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The Relationship Between Grit and Running

Last year after the cross country season was over, I spent some intentional efforts towards reading and studying sports psychology. I read books like The Mindful Athlete, The Yes Brian, Grit and and The Brave Athlete. My attention was drawn specifically to honing in on character attributes to help strengthen the distance runner. The one theme that seemed to really resonate with me was grit. This grit theme and its importance keeps ebbing and flowing in my mind in relation to varying aspects of being a distance runner. The relationship between grit and running has been consuming my brain waves with respect to personally defining running as I age, the relationship with grit when it comes to goal setting, and how grit can be somewhat relative to each person. Today’s blog post is going to be more of me sharing some open thoughts and not necessarily trying to educate per se. But as you read, maybe reflect some of my questions towards yourself.

*Disclaimer: This post has affiliate links, which means if you choose to buy through my links I receive a commission at no extra cost to you!  I support these links as products or media that I’ve personally used and enjoyed.

Grit and the Aging Runner

I listened to a podcast yesterday called RunBuzz – RB106 The Impact of Aging On Our Running. As I was listening to it and processing thru the point being made by Steve Carmichael about taking into consideration what your “running age” (meaning years of experience) is and how that correlation needs to ground one’s perspective with the aging runner, I couldn’t help but also carry that correlation into how our grit should be grounded with the same principles

For example if a 25 year old runner has just taken up running six months ago their running age would be considered to be six months. Another example; a 40 year old runner started running at 37 years of age, means that the 40 year old runner would be considered to have a “running age” of three years. Can we assume that there is also a natural progression of grit psychology from the running of the 40 year old vs. the 25 year old?

Let me explain further. Disregarding any specific times for specific race distances as a measure, if we consider that the 40 year old has grown their running experience, tenacity, and “grit” for three years, would they have had more of a progression of grit then the lesser experienced 25 year old runner? If so, perhaps the 40 year olds growth with grit has enabled them to endure hypothetically harder, tougher, and longer running distances or conditions. Or maybe this is just an assumption? But this is what leads me to my next point of the relationship between grit and goal setting.

The Relationship Between Grit and Goal Setting

I wrote a blog post around the first of the New Year called 6 Tips for Setting 2019 Running Goals. What does grit have to do with goal setting? Well, to me setting a goal means you’re challenging yourself to do something that you’ve never done before. And therefore if we’re challenging ourselves with new goals, or even ones that we had set before but never achieved, than it’s reasonable to also say that one of the necessary attributes to reaching it, is to have to be a little tougher, a little more determined, a little more persevering, a little more…gritty!

Defining grit for yourself is paramount first if you think you want to grow your own grit. So many runners come by goal setting naturally and the ongoing challenge of even the simplest principles of placing one foot in front of the other to get to the end of a route, time goal or race. Have you ever stopped to think about what your goals were when you first became a runner vs. maybe what they are now? Or if you’re a new runner, do you ever ask yourself where you might be ten years from now as a runner?

I used to think the marathon distance was so unrealistic and now after having done a few, I”m already questioning what my next goal is. Do I do an ultra? Do I try a trail marathon race? Do I continue to go after trying to qualify for New York? And will these new goals require more grit to reach?

My point is that, as we grow as human beings, runners, and people, so too does our grit and what it requires from us to reach new goals. This concept of grit growing is what has me realizing that perhaps grit is relative. Does grit continue to grow or is the goal what continues to evolve and change?

Is Grit Relative

I think of grit like I think of pain. One person’s pain isn’t necessarily worse than another persons. To say that I’m grittier than say the 25 year old who just started running six months ago, seems not only egotistical but mainly irrelevant. I’ve just lived longer and had more opportunities to display grit. But the value of grit and what it requires to be gritty is still the same. Right?!?

Grit to me requires certain characteristics like tenacity, ambition, determination, perseverance, the ability to continually pick yourself back up when the going gets rough. Sure a three year tenured runner may have done that more times than a 6 month beginner but doesn’t our perception of what feels ‘hard’, get skewed with the more experience we have? Do our ever changing and evolving goals to go after more, bigger, better, harder, longer require more grit than it did the first time we set a goal?

I’m trying to keep this all into perspective as I think about aging as a runner and going after new / old goals. It’s still gonna be just plain hard! I’ll have to continue to embrace new challenges and staying mentally in front of them, if I’m going to stay gritty and achieve them.

Defining Grit in 2019

I think it would be very interesting to ask all calibers of runners what their definition of grit means. I’d also find it interesting to ask if each runner can think of instances with their running where they either displayed grit or even grew their own grit. And then ask if one time felt harder or felt like it required more from them than the first time they had to be gritty. Does this support the statement that having grit can be relative? Do we become somewhat desensitized by what used to seem hard that is now just daily staples to our routine? Do we need to adjust our standards and baseline for what we consider hard, or long, or painful, etc.?

I’d love to hear your personal story of grit or of another runner you witnessed displaying what you would consider exceptional grit.

Key Questions to Reflect On

  • How do you define grit?
  • When have you displayed grit?
  • What was it that kept you from throwing in the towel?
  • Do you have a different definition now than you did when you first started showing and growing your grit?
  • How are you going to use grit or change your grit standards to go after those 2019 goals?

Please don’t be shy! Shoot me an e-mail with YOUR Grit Story to cemerunblog@gmail.com. Sharing your story may help inspire another runner to be gritty or go after new goals and continue to grow.

3 Race Finder Websites to Help You Go After Those 2019 Goals!

As a follow up to my most recent blog post, 6 Tips for Setting 2019 Running Goals, I wanted to share three great resources with you. Whether you’re looking to complete your first Couch to 5K or perhaps go after a new marathon PR, you can tap into these 3 Race Finder Websites to help you go after those 2019 goals!

The first website called Fitness Sports, offers a monthly calendar of local Iowa races. Additionally on this website you can find cross country, tri and road race results. Many of the listed races contain links next to their listings that will take you directly to the specific race website or online registration forms.

http://www.fitnesssports.com

The second race finder website called, Race-Find.com, allows you to find races listed within the entire United States, including Hawaii and Alaska. A perk to the website is its user friendly search parameters which allow you to search within date ranges, city or state, and specific desired race distance.

The only downfall to this website and the race links it lists, are that the links take you to another website called Running in the USA, and NOT the actual race website or race registration link. However, this leads me to my third race finder website.

The third race finder website is like I said, Running in the USA. Similar to the Race-find.com website, you can search for races within specific parameters of either state, city, date, race type or distance. Although, this website will take you thru a link directly to the race website or registration. Also, included on this website you can submit your own race or run club for listing. Lastly, one of my personal favorite features on this website is that each race listing includes a map link directly associated with the race location.

https://runningintheusa.com

Share your Race Pics!!

My mission is to help motivate, inspire and promote the running world. So please share with me your favorite races and race selfies via Facebook or Instagram and tag @runnermomcoach!!

If you have a race you’d like me to highlight or are the organizer, race director or have a specific role involvement with a local race that you’d like to see highlighted here, then please reach out to me via my Contact & Comment page tab at the top of this website home page.

Happy 2019 Race Calendar Planning!!

6 Tips for Setting 2019 Running Goals

Have you begun to circle race dates on your calendar for next year already? Maybe even counted back the weeks and circled another date for when you’ll start training for your goal race? Or, perhaps you’re thinking a bit broader with more generalized New Year’s Resolutions. Something less specific like – run more, complete a marathon, or sign up to volunteer at a race. I’ll share with you my personal strategies for setting New Year’s “resolutions” and goals.

Resolutions vs. Goals

I’ve evolved over the years in my thought process on what a resolution is vs. what a goal is. A resolution for me seems more like an ideal for betterment but also seems a bit arbitrary and non-specific on how to achieve. A few examples of some my previous resolutions were even in more of a mantra like form; invest in yourself, earn your own self respect, live simply and minimally, value quality and NOT quantity, be mindful and intentional, read more. Resolutions to me seem like they’re more aimed at lifestyle choices that reflect my overall well-being.

However when I set my yearly goals, they are much more specific. I believe you should take into account several key aspects when deciding on each goal to set. Key aspects include;

  1. Is the goal specific?
  2. Is it realistic and attainable?
  3. Is it measurable?
  4. Does it require a timeline?
  5. What are the action item in order to achieve the goal?
  6. Will it require involvement of others and not just myself?

6 Tips on How to Nail those Goals

Let’s break the key aspects down a bit more. The first aspect of asking “Is the goal specific?” will help give you definition to the goal itself and help you give aim or detail a desired result. For example if your goal is to complete your first marathon in 2019, you know that means running a race of 26.2 miles, some significant training, and perhaps some logistics to get to the race. Which leads me to the next key aspect.

The second tip I have for you is to be very completely and brutally honest with yourself on how realistic or attainable your goal is. If your goal is to run a marathon for the first time it might not be realistic to say that you want to win the marathon you’re going to run. Or you might want to ask yourself how attainable your goal is if you aren’t willing to commit to training and building your mileage up safely because you have a demanding job. Is your goal still attainable if your job requires that you travel a lot? Is it realistic if you’ve never run a step in your entire life? Not saying that it it’s completely impossible for a person to work heavily, travel a great deal, and not have any running history and achieve a goal of winning the first marathon they ever run. But is YOUR goal realistic and attainable for YOU?

The third aspect of goal setting is to ask yourself if your goal is measurable? Meaning, does it have a result with which you can achieve? This could be construed as a grey area with importance to goal setting. Some people prefer not to be results driven because it can correlate negative pressure or mindset. But perhaps a better consideration is how are we defining result? Does it mean a measure or relation to something written in black and white. If the example of running your first marathon is your goal, does that even mean it needs to be ran within an organized race? Maybe you just want to be able to physically accomplish running all the miles in one run. Regardless, most likely if your goal is specific it will have some way to be measurable as well. HOW you define your goals measure is up to you.

Fourth tip on setting your 2019 running goals kind of overlaps into the fifth aspect, “Does it require a timeline?” and “What are the action items in order to achieve the goal?”. Establishing a begin and end date to a specific goal, will help give you structure in knowing when you will implement your action items in order to achieve it which is also key aspect number five. It also helps to support the aspect of the goal being measurable. I’ve found that if the goal fails to be measurable or have a timeline, then it can kinda just starts to feel like an arbitrary statement or wishful thinking. Plus, it has been proven that when you map out how and when you’d like to achieve your goal, you’re much more invested and likely to commit to it fully.

The last thing I think any decent human being will ask themself when they’re thinking about going after any goal (not just running), is whether or not your goal will require involvement from others. Forms of involvement can include physical, emotional, time, and financial. I can guarantee you that unless you are a nomad that lives off the grid in solitary, your goals will affect someone around you. I encourage you to share your goals with your friends and family so that when (not ‘if’ cause lets be real) the going gets rough, you’ve got people to help support you. Not to mention, shared joy is the best kind of joy, assuming you reach your goal.

Take Action!

We’ve discussed some differences in resolutions or just kinda dreaming about change, and how you can turn those dreams into realistic goals for yourself. The only thing that’s left is to TAKE ACTION!!

Write your goals down and keep them in sight. Plan out small benchmarks within your process so that you can feel reward along the way. Think about how you might reward yourself, celebrate or at the very lest acknowledge achieving your goal. Because after all, if you decide that your goal is worthy, than it deserves acknowledgement and reinforcement.

Happy 2019 goal setting! Would love to be tagged in your social media posts with your pictures of putting in the work towards your goals, what your goals are, or highlight pics of your goals when you achieve them. =)

Christmas Thoughts from a Runner

It’s always this time of year that I try and reflect on the things from thru-out the year, for which I’ve been grateful. The yearly list of grateful for me still includes a few big ones like my family and friends, my physical health, and having the ability to be able to do the things I love which include of course running. As I was specifically thinking about being grateful, it occurred to me that having a gratefulness perspective to running has largely been in part to preventing my own burn out with it. And that even after times of disappointment say after a race not going like I had hoped and planned, or a workout seeming to get the best of me, I’ve still been able to find some way to bring my mental perspective back around. It takes some effort sometimes but usually, I’m able to realize that the sun is still going to come up tomorrow and that I have the ability to have another opportunity at keeping running as the best friend I’ve always honored and cherished. Here are a few candid highs and lows that I’ve discovered this year in running. These are my “Christmas Thoughts from a Runner”.

My Lows

It’s hard for me to even come back to rehash these mentally, as I had made peace with them and moved on. But I will for the sake of acknowledging my growth from the experiences probably more mentally and spiritually, than physically.

  • Training my a$$ off to try and qualify (for a 2nd time) with a time qualifying standard for the New York City Marathon. New York City Marathon time qualifying standards are almost 15 minutes faster than Boston, however you can qualify with a half or a full marathon time. I ran a 1:32:06 half marathon at the Sturgis Falls 1/2 Marathon, and after crossing the finish line came to find out that the course was only 12.25 miles and had to be un certified due to flooding in the area and course changes the night before.
  • Running and training for the Chicago Marathon with my old friend and running bestie, who had to run an unofficial race (only popping in and out for segments of the marathon) due to an extremely herniated disc, which ended up resulting in surgery shortly after the race. Running a marathon together was on our friends bucket list but ended up evolving a little differently than we had planned.
  • Experiencing an older 40 year old runner’s body and having to work even harder to go after the paces that used to seem much easier. Not to mention, recovery that seems to now take twice as long.
  • Being intimidated with starting this running blog and podcast. Going thru thoughts of self-doubt, legitimacy of feeling just in sharing my experiences and opinions, and the trepidation in finding my own truth thru sharing candid experiences and high and lows just like today’s post.

The Highs

  • Not gonna lie, I had experienced initial mourning after putting in all the hard work prior to my 2nd attempt at trying to qualify for NYC and having something so completely out of my control, get in the way of my goal. I had to do a serious self-check and bring myself back to some perspective. I had to figure out how to be grateful for the experience so that I could make peace with it, learn from it, and move on. What I came up with was an immense appreciation at having the physical ability to be able to even have the opportunity to go thru the process and journey of training. My appreciation made me realize that had I not had the physical ability to run, then perhaps I would not have an outlet that I can get lost in, find myself thru, and dream towards the future with. I was able to have being grateful for my physical ability to run completely humble me and help set me straight again on what truly matters in the world. Things like being physically healthy.
  • The Chicago Marathon – my friend and I’s first aim was to run a marathon together. The second goal which kinda came about secondarily was that we picked the Girls on the Run charity as a way to be able to run the Chicago Marathon last fall. As we progressed in the training and mileage, so too did her excruciating back pain and symptoms from a herniated disc. One thing snowballed into the next and we were confronted with a less than ideal race morning of trying to decide how to at least start and finish the first few miles of the marathon together. We were lucky to get in a few extra smaller stints in between too. The silver lining of all of it was that we each raised $1500 for the Girls on the Run charity and again were reminded that the gift of running can start at such a young age. At an age where girls need positive influences of character building coaches and lessons learned thru the metaphor of running and training for a 5k goal. Girls even in Chicago, that may really need the after-school program or are scholarship granted their registration costs to participate. We also, are so lucky to have even found that needle in a haystack running partner and opportunity to be able to experience the dream together. Again, self-check!
  • I turned 40 this year. I would say that my body has been showing me signs of needing more attention in terms of how to remain a healthy distance runner for the last couple of years, but this year seemed so poignant with the message of choosing intentions wisely with this next running chapter. The numbers 4-0 in my mind and matching with what my bodies been whispering to me, has forced me to research more information on how to combat inflammation with diet choices, the importance of stretching and yoga, how to appreciate cross training days when I’m not actively training for a race. Which brings me to the last bullet point high…blogging and podcasting.
  • As many of you know already, you tend to really get to know yourself and ask yourself some deeper philosophical questions when you’re logging lots of miles and spending lots of solitary time while running. I had spent some soul searching days, weeks, months after my experience with the Boston Marathon asking myself what running really means to me. And more importantly in what ways will I live myself as examples that I refuse not to take running for granted. What I came up with, albeit a little scary and intimidating for me, was to share what I could with others. I’ve been coaching young girls cross country for seven years now and have enjoyed giving back that way, but just as I learn so much from listening, learning about and observing other’s running relationships and journeys, I hope that by sharing my own others can find motivation, inspiration, and positive karma and meaning for their own experience. *(read “How to Be a Zen Runner”)
Coaches Corner Friday – How to Be a Zen Runner

What does this mean for 2019?

I will continue going after new and old goals! I will continue trying to find ways to pay it forward, give back, inspire others, share motivation, and just be grateful for running! And lastly, I will try to keep this old body chuggin’ along to find new experiences, continue learning thru the sport, and taking on new challenges. Cheers to 2018 and the hopes for what 2019 may be!!

Stocking Stuffers and Affordable Christmas Gifts for Runners

Alert!  Alert!! T-7 days until Christmas!  Do you have all your gifts in line and your favorite runner’s taken care of? I thought I’d share a quick list of a few ‘Stocking Stuffers and Affordable Christmas Gifts for Runners’, so you don’t have to stress with coming up with just the right thing for your favorite runner.

Top 5 Stocking Stuffers

  1. Merry Flocking Christmas Goodr Sunglasses – No, I’m not sponsored by Goodr company (wouldn’t hate it if I were) but am still in love with these very affordable and on point lightweight runner’s sunglasses.  BONUS – they even have a Christmas themed pair!
https://goodr.com/collections/all-models/products/merry-flocking-christmas

2)  SpiBelt Running Belt – This item is a MUST have for keeping your runner safe.  I use one myself for carrying my phone with me at all times and love it.  It packs easily if your runner is a traveler and likes to run while they’re on their travels.  It is also made of a stretchy material, so it will hold additional car keys, gels, cash or id.  

3)  Wool Running Socks – Total winter running game changer!!

4)  YakTrax – Slip these on right over a pair of existing running shoes for added safety in slippery running conditions. 

5)  Books – Because runner’s need motivation and many of us are just plain book nerds.  Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike is one of my most recent favorites.  Phil Knight tells his “crazy idea” of creating a shoe company, how it all got started, some of his own insight into his competition, and a few hiccups along the way that almost put him out of business.  Phil is somewhat a philanthropist and dreamer and his book, Shoe Dog, was a quick and inspiring read.  (other favorite reads can be found in the “My Library” tab at the top of this page. 

Affordable Gifts 

  1. Salomon Trail/Running Shoes – not only are these shoes weatherproof (water and wind repellent) but they are another great way of ensuring your running thru the winter months.  Since, I’ve begun running in Salomons thru out the winter I haven’t taken a single spill or fall.  The tread is a bit more aggressive, and the shoe has a bit more of a stable mid sole since it is ideally intended for trail running and craggy surfaces.  Here are a few examples, but MANY more colors are available on Amazon (including mens styles as well).

2)  Garmin Vivoactive 3 Music – My personal opinion of the new Garmin Vivoactive 3 Music, is that is is the best bang for it’s buck of the current GPS, wrist-based heart monitor, Garmin runner specific watches.  Some cool bonus features is that you can directly download music to it and bluetooth link earphones (listen to music with your own discretion for safety).  It also features Garmin Pay if your one that likes the ability to pay for purchases with a downloaded card. 

3)  NIKE Women’s Aeroloft Reflective Trim Running Vest – I think I have 4 different insulated vests in my closet.  May seem excessive, but I literally run thru 3 out of the 4 seasons in them. They transition from summer into cooler fall months with a light long sleeve layer underneath.  Yet, can also be worn over heavier underlayers as a core insulator thru the harsh winter months.  This particular vest includes some reflectivity which makes it nice during the winter, as many runners are running in the dark.

4)  Thermal Running Tights – Cold?  Windy??  Time to up your winter running tights game???  My theory is that as long as you’ve got the right gear, you can run in the winter thru just about anything.  I run all winter long but trust me when I say, I am the BIGGEST WIMP when it comes to being cold.  Thermal running tights can help retain heat in the fronts of your thighs and quads.  These are the biggest muscles in our bodies and ones that hold the most heat.  Don’t you want to preserve as much as heat as you can while you run?!

New Balance 83244 Women’s Winterwatch Tight – (WP83244)” target=”_blank”>New Balance Women’s Winterwatch Tight

5)  Under Armour Men’s ColdGear Infrared Balaclava – Old claims used to tout that the human body could lose up to 50% of it’s heat through the top of the head.  Science today tells us that this percentage is off base considering that the head is only represnts about 10% of our total body surface.  However, just like any other body part, when it’s exposed there is still significant heat loss.  After doing a poll thru Twitter (the only official means of polling, lol) the 2nd most voted “can’t do without winter gear” item was the Balaclava.

The head only represents about 10% of the body’s total surface area. So if the head were to lose even 75% of the body’s heat, it would have to lose about 40 times as much heat per square inch as every other part of your body.

https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/features/do-we-really-lose-most-of-our-heat-through-our-heads

Happy Holidays Runners!  If you like this list or want to give a gentle nudge, wink-wink, or heavy hint to your loved ones who might be curious for ideas of what to get you, then share the link to this page, or share this post thru your social media of choice.  Stay warm, stay safe, and stay running!!

Drake Relays Announcer – Mike Jay and His Way of Paying It Forward

I could’ve sat all afternoon and listened to Mike’s captivating voice and his unique stories!  Phenomenal stories collected from years of being a high school track and field and cross country coach at Columbus Junction, as well as the lead announcer for 16 years at the Drake Relays, and having a massive Iowa running culture presence.  In fact, Mike told me about his evolution from his time as a runner at Columbus Junction running under Coach Purdy and the irony of how he eventually came to coaching alongside Purdy and evolving into now having 16 years of being our Iowa Drake Relays announcer.  What might impress you the most is that Mike still remains a humble and gracious man, who still has a huge heart and undying passion for all things running.  Not only does it seem that he’s dedicated his life up to this point to keeping the fire burning for other runners, but hasn’t come up shy for new ways to pay it forward.  

Humble Roots

Mike’s stories are genuine and telltale supportive of his humble upbringing and the driving principles that his parents and own coaches drove into him.  Principles of “hard work” and just being “good people”.  The same principles that he describes during several stories of his own personal heroes found thru the relationships he’s developed with runners and the admiration that he finds and inspires to pay forward.  

A few stories of hard working good people that include a self-trained runner and neighbor of Mike’s who is now aspiring to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Marathon, and even an Olympic champion who returned to the Parapan Olympic games to selflessly help a blind 56-year-old woman go after goals of breaking seven minutes in the 1500 meter race.  These collections of memories and stories have fulfilled Mike over the years with inspiration and motivation for his announcing.  He claims that the “feel good” stories are the ones that stoke his passion.    

“It was such a feel good moment, above and beyond track and field!”

The Next Level Iowa

Proof of these principles is displayed with Mike and Jim Kirby’s co-creation and collaboration of the website The Next Level Iowa, which supports Iowa prep athletes.  Encompassed within our podcast recording session, Mike speaks towards some of the hugely impressive Iowa runners that have progressed onto the pro circuit such as Shelby Houlihan, Jenny Simpson, and a recent Next Level Iowa Podcast with Brogan Austin, to name just a few.   

You might like to read about a few of our Iowa elites on their website.  Mike believes that you don’t necessarily have to be a track and field fan to be able to come away with inspiration from his podcast session and runner highlight articles.   

Track Guy USA

After about three years of convincing and some assistance from his sons, Mike now has skyrocketed t-shirt sales under the website and alias TrackGuyUSA.  He and his sons use the proceeds from the Iowa based graphic designers and t shirt printers as a  method of giving back to Iowa’s youth running programs.  

Runnermomcoach Supporting Track Guy USA

In fact, he’s already planning a shoe give away to two needing recipients at an upcoming Olympic Track & Field Panel Discussion being held at Big Grove Brewery on January 9th, 2019.  Of course, Mike will be the MC and host of the discussion and plans to help Eric Sowinski and Randy Wilson share their individual journeys and stories of being Olympic hopefuls. 

Mike says the support that has already been pouring into his Track Guy USA mission has been humbling.  I’ve even seen a few of our local Iowa running stores posting boxes of his t-shirts to be sold in stores.  And I gotta say, it’s not hard to get behind principles that enable youth runners from any walks of life, to just be able to participate in the sport of running.  Way to go Track Guy!!

RMC Podcast with Mike Jay

I was so ecstatic at the opportunity to be able to sit down with Mike for my podcast!  Afterward, I had thought of a hundred and one more questions I had for him, and still eager to hear more of his anecdotal and inspiring experiences.  He’s traveled the world with his announcing and met all kinds of amazing runners.  From the high school athletes competing at the State meet to elite and pro athletes competing on national and international scales.   He’s a huge-hearted and genuine man that has filled his brain with athlete’s stats and individual accomplishments but has also gotten to know many athletes on a subsurface and more personal level.  

Mike Jay is someone to aspire to.  Notes to self include; be a hard worker, stay humble, give back, and just be a good person!!

RMC Podcast Interview with Mike Jay

RMC Podcast and Mike Jay’s Episode can be found on Apple iTunes Podcasts, Spotify, Anchor, Google podcasts and several other platforms, which can be found on the RMC Podcast & Music Playlist page linked via the tab at the top of this page. 

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