The lessons of a snowy run

I thought of each of you as I ran through the snowy streets of northern New Jersey on Sunday.  As I piled on layer after layer to prepare for the early morning cold, I decided to ignore the little voice in my head that was complaining about how much I hate the cold and counting the hours until I could get back to the warmth of Southern California.  I decided to focus instead on trying to enjoy a run in the brisk morning air. As I stepped out the door, I realized that it was way too cold to start slow, so I forced myself to start strong, and keep up a good pace the entire time.  I paid close attention to the beauty of the fresh snow on the trees. It was the first sunny days after 3 days of gray skies, so I also remembered to take special note of how happy I was to see the sun.  Then, I let my mind go blank and concentrated on how good my body felt as I challenged myself and took in all that fresh air.  It actually turned out to be a nice run.

So, why am I telling you all this? What can be learned from this story? 

The mental side of running is at least as important as the physical side, just like in the rest of your life.  Sure, running and walking long distances is hard physically, but with consistent effort you’ll get stronger and it will no longer seem difficult. That’s the easy part.  The hardest part is controlling what goes on in your head, and what you do as a result of those thoughts.  As much as I’d like to tell you that you’ll be excited about every run, the reality is that there will be days when, for whatever reason, you just don’t want to get started. That’s okay. What matters most is how you respond to that feeling. 

Always remember that you have the power to change the message in your head, and you have the free will to harness that power.  You have the power to motivate yourself to do what’s best for you in the long run, to do what helps you achieve your long term goals.  And, as you harness that power to show up and do your best for each training session, you’ll be learning to apply that same power to the rest of your life.  You will be proud of yourself for what you are accomplishing.


And now you have a second new silent running buddy…

Last week’s Coaches Corner talked about the value of letting gravity be your friend whether you are running uphill, downhill, or on flat ground.  I hope you are all remembering to lean forward slightly, with your body aligned and not bent at the waist, so that gravity helps you move forward.  Another “friend” that becomes increasingly important as the distances get longer is a breakfast consisting of good carbs.  (We’ll be sending out the slides from David Wiss’ nutrition talk, with much more detailed info, in a separate email.)

I’m sure you have a number of reasons for wanting to be on the Marathon Team, and I hope that at least one of them involves honoring yourself.  One way to treat yourself well is to set yourself up to do your best at whatever you do. You can practice this by not just showing up on Sundays and for midweek runs, but by also showing up prepared. 

Most people who didn’t eat breakfast before a morning run start to run out of steam after about 5-6 miles.  Energy levels drop and those last few miles seem so much harder than the first few.  Everybody is different, so how much you need to eat and how soon before will vary from person to person.  A Clif bar about 30-60 minutes before a long morning run works for me, but that may not be right for you.  I encourage you to start experimenting with different good carb breakfasts at different times until you figure out what works best for you. 

As our distances get longer, you’ll be ready. You’ll be doing your best to honor yourself and your commitment. And, you’ll be able to feel like a superhero by finishing strong!