Be Your Own Runner

Yesterday’s workout didn’t happen until 6pm.  I guilted my husband into taking yesterday off (a rarity for him) after his hockey weekend (his team lost in the semi-finals btw).  When he’s home, my desire to run disappears because I’d rather spend time with him and the boys.

Between his being home, our contractor beginning work on the moulding in our house (YAY!), and my mom and niece coming over for a few hours, the day totally slipped away from me.

I knew that if I waited until after the boys went to sleep for the night, I would 100% NOT be running.  And I would 100% regret it.  So at 6pm, I nursed the little guy and then headed downstairs for a planned easy 6-7 miler.  I took Sunday off – not because I was tired or sore but because my heart wasn’t in it. Ever have days like that?  I just didn’t want to think about running or goals or the marathon.  Just a day sans running.

Yesterday’s run was exactly what I needed.  I started off slow and easy – 8:27 pace and kept increasing the pace.  I kept telling myself that I would stop picking up the pace at the end of that mile, but I felt comfortable at the end of each one, so I kept speeding up.  7 miles in 52:12 – 7:27 pace:

  • Mile 1: 8:27
  • Mile 2: 7:53
  • Mile 3: 7:36
  • Mile 4: 7:27
  • Mile 5: 7:13
  • Mile 6: 7:01
  • Mile 7: 6:35


One thing I’ve learned about marathon training, and really training for any distance, is that there is no right answer.  I post my workouts on here as a way to share what I’m doing…that’s not to say that what I’m doing will work for you.

Through years of running, I’ve learned what I like and don’t like and what works and doesn’t work for ME.  I do things differently from some very successful runners:

– I like to listen to music when I run – outside, track, treadmill…If you talk to EMZ (a serious bad-a$$ runner who logged 4,000 miles – LAST year), she often does runs of 20-25 miles on the treadmill with no music or tv.

– I prefer taking my rest day before my long run.  Some believe in taking the day after a long run off.  Others, like Amanda, are experimenting with a hard run the day before a long run.

– I don’t bring water or fuel with me on runs less than 16-18 miles.  I like my long runs to be tougher conditions then they will be on race day (and I hate carrying water bottles).  Some amazing runners I know use water on all of their runs.

– I keep my treadmill on a .5% incline ALL the time.  I’ve never had any injuries. I like there to be just a tad bit of resistance.  Some runners (Skinny Runner) keep the treadmill on 1.0-1.5%.

– I like to do long training runs of 24+ miles (I did a 30 miler on my 30th birthday in 2011 as a training run for the NYC Marathon).  Some well-known and popular training plans top off at 16 miles.

Are any of the above better than the other?  

Talk to five elite runners and I guarantee you will find five different training plans.

Just because  I follow a certain methodology or someone who runs fast or who blogs does something a certain way, DOESN’T mean that it will necessarily work for you.

Every. Single. Runner. Is. Different.  

There is no golden egg that will have us all running Kara Goucher-esque times.  (Trust me, I’ve been looking and haven’t found it).

Experiment with things.  Try different fueling strategies, different training plans.

See what works for YOU.

See what you LIKE (because at the end of the day, running should be FUN).

But don’t just read what I write here or another blogger you like writes and think “Hey, I need to do that.”


What’s one thing that works for you??

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    41 thoughts on “Be Your Own Runner

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    3. I love your attitude! I don’t think that blogs have proliferated unhelpful comparisons – I think it’s just human nature. As a slow, fat newbie triathlete I came to your blog last year for tips on nursing while doing endurance sports, and sometimes I get frustrated comparing my tiny, slow runs with yours (you are nearly twice as fast as me) but that’s just silly. Growing and progressing and learning (and slimming down) are so rewarding. And being part of a supportive online community of people who love to get off the couch and challenge themselves is awesome.

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    5. I couldn’t agree more with so many of your points. Each person and runner is different. There’s no “right way” to do anything really. I also don’t run with water, ever, even when it’s hot because I just hate carrying it. Some people have heavily criticized me for this, but I am fine and hydrate plenty before/after. I’ve never felt like I was dying without my water either. Glad to know I’m not the only one!
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    8. this is sooooo true! And i want to be that 92 year old lady in the nike ads because I genuinely enjoy running–I don’t want to injure myself or burn myself out. It is difficult sometimes seeing what others are running/accomplishing. Great post!!!

    9. Absolutely perfect. You are so right… you always say what I need to read!

    10. SO TRUE. Love this post! Blogs are great for inspiration and motivation but like you said we are all different. I enjoy experimenting and I love seeing new ideas. After 4 years I’ve finally got the basics sussed but my journey doesn’t end here. Constantly wanting to evolve . Great run by the way and how awesome are you for taking your mental cues and enjoying a day free of running… Look at the result! :)

    11. AMEN!
      I don’t wear my watch during races. It works for me. Instead of looking at my wrist every 3 minutes I’m listening to my body more and push it where I can. I find on the longer runs when I don’t look at my watch I feel much better than the ones I’m hawk eyeing it every quarter mile.
      I am still looking for that “right” plan, but I’m also still so very new to running and have a lot to learn and a lot of different methods to experiment with.
      beka @ rebecca roams recently posted..I’m T-Rexy! My 1st #WODMy Profile

    12. SO true! When people ask me for advise I always start with .. “everyone is different” but this works for me. With that said, I am still trying to find the perfect training plan for me. I hope that this current one will work, we shall see on April 15! Hope you and the boys are well! xoxo
      Lisa @ RunWiki recently posted..Running… My Life ManualMy Profile

    13. The one constant I have learned through running is that there is no constant. Even for myself, things have changed throughout the years. I still don’t run with music (my mind is loud enough), but I have adapted to water and some energy on my runs of 15 miles and up recently. We all need to find out what works for us on any given day. If it’s a rest day, then so be it. Just gotta hit it harder the next day! Another great post, Michele, keep running strong!
      Steve (@steverunner21) recently posted..Socks and OJMy Profile

    14. Great post- all SOOO true. Love it when runs that you aren’t motivated to do turn into a great workout after all. So hard to get started once you’ve waited that long in the day.

      One thing that works for me is giving myself some wiggle room on my paces. If my long run is supposed to be 7:30-8:30 min miles, or my mile repeat 6:20-6:45 I don’t feel huge pressure to run them super fast if I’m having an off day, it’s less stressful… and I usually end up usually running closer to the fast end. (not always though!! :))

      Great job on your workout- awesome pace.
      Lindsey Hein recently posted..Meal Planning Actually Happened.My Profile

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    16. The one thing that I have to keep working, isn’t really mechanical, like form or footstrike, or even gear related. I have to keep reminding myself that my running is supposed to be fun for me and when it starts getting too much like work, it isn’t doing me any good. I know that many would consider that I am a bit sick when I say that, but at the same time – gotta keep running fun.
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    17. This is just what I needed to read today, thank you! I feel like I really need a plan, so have a hard time adjusting when my plan doesn’t fit my life on a certain day. I would be totally lost without a plan though! I have water for any runs greater than 6 miles, just in case, but don’t always drink it. I have the treadmill on a 1% incline, all the time. I really need to start working on some hills on the treadmill!
      Amy @Honey Badger Runs recently posted..New pace freakoutMy Profile

    18. I love that you say every runner is different! It’s so hard to get caught up in the mindset that to be fast or run a certain pace or finish in a certain time that you have to be like so-and-so and do this workout just like this, but it’s true, you have to learn from your body and learn what works. I am currently 6 weeks into marathon training and I’m having a couple of days like you had on Sunday, but instead of stressing out that I’m missing a run or two I’ve found it’s better for me to just let the lack of motivation ride sometimes instead of forcing it and I will be much happier in a day or two.
      Nice run last night by the way! :)
      Lauren @ The Unlikely Runners recently posted..The One With Land Of Oz Training {Week 6}My Profile

    19. Look at that last mile- you were flying, Michele! I love your thoughts on the many different ways we choose to train. Like you, I’ve found what works for me… I also like to take off the day before a long run, and don’t use fuel until about 16 miles. But I do not run well on the treadmill at all… it always makes me want to cut my run short, or slow down my pace, I have a hard time pushing my speed on there. Amazed that you can!
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    20. Such an important reminder Michele. It’s so easy to get caught up in what everyone else is doing and how other people’s training plans are scheduled, etc. But only you know what will work for YOU. I LOVE that picture of you and the boys. That put a huge smile on my face :-)
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    21. I love the bottom line to this post: it’s OK to be yourself, and don’t compare yourself to others. I think with all the blogs out there people can’t help but find themselves comparing themselves to others. It is important to realize that everyone is different – we run for different reasons with different paces and different training plans. I evolved as a runner in the last year by finding what works for me and me alone. Comparing myself to someone “better” would wash all of that hard work away.
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    22. Nice run, indeed!!

      I usually carry water with me for anything over 5 miles. Although, I hate carrying a bottle and/or Camelbak, I need the hydration.
      Natalie recently posted..I gave in.My Profile

    23. I’m noticing a trend with me, and that is that I don’t have a plan. I have races, but no real disciplined training plan. My pace/times are slowly improving, so just making sure I get in at least 4 runs during the week has helped me enjoy running rather than getting wrapped up on where I “should” be with mileage.

      I do meet with a group on Saturday mornings for our long runs, so there’s at least a little plan brewing for me. :)
      Melissa @ Melissa Running It recently posted..Carlsbad Half Marathon Recap and a New PR?My Profile

    24. Love this post! I tell myself this all the time. Its so easy to compare yourself to other runners, but everyone is so different! I personally always take water with me, even if I don’t drink it, I just like knowing that I have the option. I listen to music during short training runs, but start to phase it out when I get to 9/10 miles. I prefer to run first thing in the morning, but lately its been impossible to get up early! For the NYC half my schedule is a hard 4 miler the day before the long run and I LOVE it! Hope all of your training is going well!

    25. I agree:) So many different types of runners with so many different types of needs. And I find that I am always changing as a runner too, in big ways and little ways – it keeps the whole running thing alive and interesting. Awesome progression run – another reason I LOVE treadmill running, speedwork and progression runs. Awesome. Great work, mama:)
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    26. I love this post! I like to look at training plans to get an idea of where to start but then I tailor it to fit my schedule, my attention level (super long runs in the week usually don’t go well for me) and my fitness level. I also like to add more cross training and weight training than most marathon or half marathon training plans include.

      I know to each their own, but it drives me nuts when people find a plan and just do it without deciding if it’s really right for them or if it even works with their schedules. It’s a sure fire way to set yourself up for failure.
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    27. I don’t take water with me unless I’m going longer than 15 and I hate carrying it so I usually stash it in my neighbors mailboxes :-)

      I like going hard taking a rest day then going long and that usually means my long run is the first run on my week instead of the last. I don’t like waitin all week for my long run I like it out of the way.

      I love runnin with music on the mill

    28. This is great! I have totally noticed from reading several blogs that all runners are different and I have really enjoyed taking a look into other people’s running strategies and likes and dislikes! I really have never had a training plan and go into most runs just running what I feel like doing that day! As I have started trying to become faster I have tried to do some progressive runs and have a speedy day a week. I have never done more than 12 miles on the treadmill and do not think I could do more than two without some sort of entertainment (even if it is the news or something)! When I do the treadmill I tend to do a couple miles and then check my email or throw in a load of laundry and get back on again (b/c I can) or my kids interrupt (this happens all the time).
      I pretty much always take Sunday off completely. I have never run more than 20 miles in training. I am not totally comfortable with hydrating and fuel on long runs. I usually plan my run so I can stop by my house for water or I put a water bottle at the track. I don’t like gels but want to learn to!
      I like to listen to music or a good audio book when I run outside :).
      I love that my daughter wants to go running with me!!!!! :) She can’t go super far so I take her for a run when I get home sometimes. It is a nice cool down for me and a good chance to spend time with her.

    29. Yay!! Love this!! It is so true everyone is different, every body is different, and different types of training works for different people.

      You just gotta run YOUR race! That I’d what is so amazing about running! It’s just for you!
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    30. I’ve learned to embrace the fact that I’m a slower runner than a lot of my blog friends. It used to bug me but now I focus on pushing myself to my limits and no one else’s.

      I need distraction on the treadmill but I can run music-free outside. Sometimes I prefer the quiet :)
      Jenny @ simply be me recently posted..Marathon Training UpdateMy Profile

    31. First, that was a killer run you did. Second, thanks for the shoutout. And third–YES to this post! I think with all the blogs out there these days it’s so easy for people to get caught up in what others are doing and make the mistake of trying it themselves. We are all so different–different speeds, different methods, different goals and different breaking points. I hope people take this all to heart!
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    32. Lately all my runs are progressive like yours where I start off mid 8’s and end up in the 7’s. For me, it makes it more fun. And I am impressed with such an awesome run at 6pm. I can make it through roughly 4pm before my run suffering from waiting too long. My body does not run well at night.

      I can’t imagine being on the treadmill with no entertainment. I have the TV and am always trying to find something motivating to keep me occupied for my treadmill runs and trainer rides.

      Nice pace!!!
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