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Does Running Ever Get Any Easier?

When I first started running, it felt hard.  Today, running feels hard.  Does running get easier?  Do veteran runners always feel good running? Do elites feel like they are cake walking every mile?  Why do so many runners make running look easy?

No, no and no

does running ever get easier

 

I love running and for the most part, I’ve had a lot of great runs.  However, like anyone I’ve also had some terrible runs.

There have been plenty of times I’ve woken up: thought, “nope, I’m not running today” and gone back to sleep.  Maybe I woke up later and ran or maybe I’ve just struggled to get to work on time.

From time to time, I get an email like “does running get any easier”. The answer is no. We go in waves.

Some days, you make running look easier. Some days, the last thing you want to do is run. If you run, you’ve probably had a time when running felt stale.  It’s boring; there isn’t anything to look forward too, and you’ve lost all of your motivation.  You’ve had several runs you’ve struggled get through, and it just seems like…ugh why to bother.  Whether you are training for your first 5k or running your 300 marathon, we’ve all had a running run.

We’ve all been there whether it’s training for your first race or 500th.

So what are some ideas to “switch it up”? 

Often change is the key to breaking out of a rut. 

Find a running partner:

Run with anyone you see, just don’t approach someone if you’re wearing all black and it’s midnight.  That could get awkward.  But seriously, change up who you are running with.  It makes the run feel completely different! Running with a training partner, listening to music, or podcasts, or finding a running group or run club can help make a run feel easier. These days run clubs are popping up all over the world. I know of at least 15 in the greater Philadelphia area.

dismal swamp 5k 1

Change the time of day you run:

Run at a different time.  It’s exhilarating!  Once again, don’t run in the middle of the night in all black (although it’s enough to pick up the pace and get your heart rate up).

jogging attire

Run different mileage:

Ideas include:

  • Decrease your mileage
  • Run two short runs versus one long run.
  • Commit to a different training plan or hire a running coach.
  • Add strength training or cross training (which can also make you stronger and is good for preventing injuries).

Treat Yourself to New Running Gear:

This might be the most costly but sometimes treating yourself to new running shoes makes all the difference. Have you ever noticed how running feels easier in new shoes? No, just me? If you don’t want or need new shoes something as simple as new socks or a foam roller could help you bust out of the rut.

Change where you run:

A change of scenery can be a good thing.  I know for me, racing in a different location each week keeps me from getting too bored. Plus sometimes if you run in a different area, running feels easier and goes by faster. Try running on the trails, different neighborhoods, or even the treadmill.  Sometimes catching up on trashy TV and running on the treadmill is what I want to do.

Maybe even try and find an AlterG! Those are neat.

Maybe even try and find an AlterG! Those are neat.

When all else fails and running is just not going well, take a break.  There is plenty more to life than running.  Even if you’re an elite runner, you still probably enjoy a few things outside of moving your feet. If you feel your mind consumed by negative thoughts related to running, it might be time for a break. 

A break never hurts and can help you come back stronger.

Finally, have you subscribed to the LOLZletter? It’s a free newsletter that comes out each Monday. In the newsletter, I share running industry trends and things relevant to the sport. 

Question for you: How do you break out of a rut?

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Long Run Mental Block

Long runs have always intimated me.  When I was first starting running for my colleges cross country team, my long run was 7 miles.  The night before for my first scheduled 7 mile run, I remember being nervous, scared and didn’t know if I could do it.  I was psyching myself out before the run started.

The morning before I ate breakfast, motivated myself and set out.  I was doing an out and back (out 3.5 for the local YMCA and back).  I made it the first half.  The second half really flew by.  Despite being terribly nervous beforehand, I finished my long run.  I had been nervous for nothing, I did it.

Fast forward to my first 10 mile long run.  I knew dad was going to do a 10 mile on Christmas Day in 2010.  I had never done ten miles before.  I remember hearing stories about how dad would just run for 10…15…even 20 miles!  Oh my stars!  I decided I was going to run this ten miles with dad.  On Christmas morning we set out together (for a typical run for him and my longest run).  Once again, I was nervous beforehand.  I psyched myself out and almost didn’t go.  Then I motivated myself.  The run itself went by quickly and before I knew it we were back at our driveway.  Once again, I had conquered the long run.

In April 2011, I ran my first half marathon (My first run over 10 miles).  I remember being terribly nervous.  I remember not knowing how it would go.  I had run 3, 10 mile runs beforehand (including the one previously mentioned).  I psyched myself out.  My mind raced with, what if I can’t?  What if my legs collapse?  How will I do this?

The answer was…just keep running.  I just kept running and eventually I finished.  I finished with a huge smile on my face.  13 miles of smiling.

After my half marathon I had a huge mental block with long runs.  I thought if I ran over a certain amount of time, I might peel over and just collapse.  For a while I had those feelings towards running more than 2 hours.  For a long time, I feared I just collapse on spot at 2:00.01.  There was never a need for me to run that long so I didn’t.  I stayed happy with training for half marathons.

Then I broke 1:25 in a half marathon and I decided to train for a full marathon.  I began running longer and further.  It was scary.  I had a huge mental block with running 20 miles.  I knew my marathon would take over 2 hours and knew I must conquer it. Once again, I knew it was a threshold I must cross to complete a marathon.  The night before my first 20 miler, I allowed myself to be nervous but I knew I was ready.

Toeing the line at NYCM, I knew I was going to run further than I ever had before. I was ready to run. Nerves got the bests of me the night before but I knew I was ready to run. I didn’t sleep a lot the night before (granted I also had to be up at 3:30) but I knew I was ready to run. The last few miles were questionable but I finished with the biggest smile on my face. I had completed my longest long run.

It was 100% mental.  Running itself is at least half mental.  Even if your body is physically ready to run, if you are not mentally, then you won’t go anywhere.  You could psych yourself out of a great run, race or life moment.

I guess now you could say I have that same mental block about running an ultra marathon.  Will I peel over at 26.3 miles?  Who knows, but there isn’t a need or a want for me to run that far right now.

Question for you: What mental blocks have you gotten over with running or with life?

Unprepared for College Part 2

Last Friday I posted an infographic about high school students not being prepared for college.  There were a lot of responses…some people agreed…some people didn’t.  Some people felt as though their high school prepared them enough and they easily graduated college (go you guys!) and some people felt they could have been more prepared. 

I just wanted to follow up with that one because it sparked a lot of commentary.  One of the main themes that people chattered about was that college is NOT for everyone (which I 100% agree with).

There are many jobs that do not need or require college.  We NEED people to do these jobs in society just as we need people to do college based jobs as well.  Without having all types of jobs, our society will fail to exist.   It is not possible for everyone is our society to go to college because of expenses or because of job opportunities in such fields.  Not everyone in this world can or needs to be a doctor or something that requires an extensive amount of schooling.

Let me give you an example that I’ve had a VERY hard time putting out there.  I don’t want to go to graduate school.  Not in the slightest, it doesn’t interest me and I could honestly go the rest of my life without going.  I don’t feel like I need too either.  The amount I have been told oh you’ll change your mind.  You’ll want to eventually is not only sad but obnoxious.  It’s almost as if it’s expected to go to college, graduate and then go to grad school in the culture I’m living in.  Graduating college for me, was A HUGE DEAL.  A HUGE DEAL.  I’m not belittling it, I’m not saying it was easy.  I’m not saying by any means that I got perfect grades (does it seem like a lot of graduates say that?) I’m saying I worked my butt off to get through college, had a good time and graduated.  I learned a lot in my studies but also about myself.

I changed (read about that here) majors after my junior year of college.  It took me three years to realize that math education was not for me.

A lot of people take college for granted…oh I was supposed to graduate college, it’s frowned upon in my family if we don’t…wasn’t bad… then they look at the infographic and they wonder…well why didn’t the other 46% of people who started college graduate.  When your parents are paying for it, you don’t realize that college is very expensive.

Question for you: Talk to me about your college thoughts. 

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