Keeping The Dream Alive

So first, I want to give a special CONGRATS to one of the runners I coach – Joe D (from Staten Island) who ran a 6+ minute PR at the Fred Lebow Half Marathon this past weekend! Despite super frigid temperatures and a tough course (two+ loops of Central Park including Harlem Hill), he ran a steady, strong race.  His slowest mile was his first (!!) and his three fastest miles were miles 9, 10 and 13! Congratulations, Joe!! =)


I found out on Wednesday that I was selected by Daily Burn as a Fitstagrammie. Dailyburn created a list of the 25 Best Instagram Accounts to Follow and somehow I made the list amidst names like Lauren Fleshman, Lindsey Vonn, Nike, ToneItUp and Blogilates. I feel a bit out of my league but grateful and honored to be selected.

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I go through love-hate relationships with the long run. I feel like it’s a pendulum that is frequently moving back and forth. I’ve had some terrific periods where I looked forward to my 2-3 hour workout each weekend. But I’ve had my share of stretches where I dread it and spend the whole run counting down the miles rather than actually enjoying them.

Long runs, for me, seem to be a cycle. A good long run makes me excited about my next one. Which usually results in a great run the following weekend.  And the cycle tends to continue that way for weeks. But the same can be said for the reverse. A bad long run usually hangs around in my head (I need to work on this) and results in my dreading the upcoming one. And this typically causes a less-than-happy run. So it’s either a beautiful cycle or a vicious one – just depends on which one I’m in.

During my training cycle for Philly, I had almost all wonderful long runs. Each run seemed to build on the previous one and I kept riding the long run high during most of the training cycle.

I’m really excited to be training for the LA Marathon right now…but the long runs have been my least favorite run of the week. It’s not that they’ve been awful – I’ve mostly hit the paces and distances I set out for. But it’s more that they just haven’t been enjoyable. A few weeks ago, I did 16 on the treadmill and was bored out of my mind. Last week I ran 18 miles in the cold and was miserable for most of it. My pace was where I wanted it to be but I never got that runner’s high and really never felt great. The runs have felt more forced than anything else. (This is likely also a result of training during the winter since I am not a fan of cold weather.)

I knew I needed to find a way to pull myself out of the cycle I had fallen into. And then I saw this quote from Kara Goucher:

“Never underestimate the power that one good workout will have on your mind.
Keeping the dream alive is half the battle”

I knew that there had to be a shift in my mind…that I needed just one good workout to get things moving in the direction I wanted.

My goal this past weekend was 20 miles (the LA Marathon is just 6 weeks away!) but the roads (shoulders on the road) where I live are not completely clear for running. So the treadmill was my only option. Less than ideal, but I’m grateful I have a treadmill in my basement so I can rely on it when necessary.

My plan was to run some warmup/easy miles, then get a large stretch of goal pace miles in and then cooldown for the remainder of the run.

I ended with:

  • 5 warmup: 8:33, 8:08, 7:56, 7:54, 7:54
  • 10 goal pace: 7:22, 7:23, 7:21, 7:21, 7:22, 7:21, 7:22, 7:15, 7:16, 7:14
  • 3 easy: 8:04, 7:48, 7:43
  • 2 fast finish: 7:10, 6:58

20 miles in 2:31:25 (7:34 average)

(*Note: I don’t use a steady incline for long runs on the treadmill – during the 8 “easy” miles, I had a handful of 60-90 sec stretches where I increased incline to simulate rolling hills. But during the MGP miles, I kept it at 0.0, so the pace is a bit faster than I would have been shooting for outside.)

It was one of those great runs when you feel in control and strong from start to finish. A run like this also really makes me want to get better at starting SLOW and gradually picking up the pace on race day. All of my best and fastest long runs have been run this way…so why not race the same way?

This all just further shows how important it is to be not just physically strong – but mentally strong.  I know I was physically prepared for the marathons I raced last year. But what was lacking was that mental aspect. The moment things started to get tough in the race, I felt like my mind quit. And once that happens, there’s no way your body is going to do anything differently.

Training your mind to not give up is a lot harder than physically training your body.  That’s what I’m working on this training cycle. Regardless of what goal time I’m after for LA, my biggest goal is to not have my mind quit on me. And I’m going to use Kara’s quote as motivation:

“Keeping the dream alive is half the battle.”

Do you do anything to strengthen your mind? Any books you recommend?

Did you run long this weekend? Treadmill or outside?

I don’t post here every day, but I post all of my workouts (and other happenings) on Instagram on a daily basis {NYCRunningMama}.

For More NYC Running Mama training updates, pictures and ramblings, check out:

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    26 thoughts on “Keeping The Dream Alive

    1. I became suggested this website through my own relation. My business is not specified no matter whether this particular organize is definitely created by them while who else realize these kinds of specific around the difficulty. You will be remarkable! Thanks a lot!

    2. Pingback: Update on Training -> Be Smarter Than Me

    3. I love following you on instagram, you are one my favorite bloggers and instagram accounts. There really is no need to sell yourself short, I follow Lauren Fleshman and hers is not as exciting as yours! Your kids are adorable, and you have a great spirit to you! I hope to meet you one of these days, keep on inspiring the fitfam!
      Dana Welch
      Instagram @dkwelch87

    4. Congratulations that is awesome! Wow, you are fast! I am excited when I hit 9 minutes for my miles. I am running my first half this spring and 9 minute miles is my goal. If you haven’t read the Divergent series read those as well as the series by Marie Lu (first book is Legend). I have been running outside, including after snowstorms and in 12 degree weather. Awesome blog!

    5. Congrats on the Instagram shout out – that is pretty serious company! Of course, I started following you :-) It’s tough doing those long runs on the treadmill and I absolutely work on my mental game every time I run! Right now I’m wearing a bracelet with one word “believe” and it has gotten me though some tough stretches in my workouts. Reading? The Champion’s Mind! great read…
      Allie recently posted..The Rundown: Hell WeekMy Profile

    6. I could never run that long on a treadmill, or that fast anywhere, so that sounds like an amazing workout to me.
      It’s hard to do something on a regular basis and always enjoy it.. no matter how great running is sometimes, it’s going to be boring/tough/I’mjustnotinterested some other times.
      For me what works is to think of the short/long term goal “I’m bored the heck out of my mind running right now, because I want to stay healthy / because I want to PR in that 10K 3 months away / because I have that dinner tonight and I’d better burn some calories now”.
      Good luck!

    7. Congrats on an awesome 20-mile run. It was as perfect as a long run could be! I know you are going to do great in LA. During 2013, I finally started to figure out the mental part of my training. (And I totally hear you on the cycle a bad run can create!) A good friend of mine and 2:40 marathoner really helped me start to believe in myself more and focus on the positives vs. all the things I should have done/could have done/wish was different. She recently shared these tips with me on my blog that I read before every big race. Hope they help you too!
      Jesica @rUnladylike recently posted..Recovery Week: Running in CaliforniaMy Profile

    8. Oh man do I feel ya on this one (I mean I dont run marathons but I kinda get it). I have had so many great long runs lately then this week it came to a crashing halt with a really bad run. I’m hoping I can snap out of it and not do a repeat performance.
      Ashley @ Brocblog recently posted..Lessons LearnedMy Profile

    9. I think hard, strong workouts keep the dream alive for me. And the track. I really love the track. I think its hard for me to stay motivated in the winter because I don’t have track practice. There’s just something about running around that oval that keeps me hungry for more.
      Sarah @RunFarGirl recently posted..Great Spring Races in New HampshireMy Profile

    10. Congrats to Joe! What a great PR! I ran also and it was really hard for me to stay in the game. I was grateful my friend ran with me the entire time. We just focused on keeping a respectable and even pace. No PRs. Although it was really just supposed to be a 10 mile long training run for me so I can’t complain.

      Oh yes, the mental aspect. It’s totally a downward spiral if you let it be. Perhaps all long distance runners should include some “mental cross training” days into their plan. When I do long runs alone I like to go somewhere scenic, I’ll go to Gateway and run by the ocean or to Clove Lakes and enjoy watching the ducks or happy little families. The boardwalk is fun too…treadmills can be mentally tough. I give you credit for logging so many long runs on one. Hang in there….
      sally @ sweat out the small stuff recently posted..Fred Lebow Manhattan Half and the perfect pillow combinationMy Profile

    11. So much about running in general is a mental battle! I think that we all have our weakness, an area of our training that is hard and that we dread. I really try to keep my attitude positive – I always tell myself ‘fake it till you make it’ – so even if I’m just pretending to have a positive attitude, that’s better than letting the demons surface.

      I run most of my long runs with a running partner, which really really helps. It means I don’t bail on runs, or shorten them, it also keeps me entertained chatting with her. I also try to remind myself that **THIS** is the easiest part of my day.. that going home and looking after my daughters is in many ways more challenging. When I do have to long run alone, or during midweek runs, I almost always listen to a podcast or audiobook. I pick something that I look forward to listening to, so that it seems like a treat to spend 3 hrs with my iPhone.

      My RP and I ran 20k yesterday on icy paths, we’re both ramping up again for a June marathon, for some reason it felt long!
      Terry recently posted..Soup-er SundayMy Profile

    12. This is such a great post for me to read! The weather in Geneva has been great this winter but it’s starting to get wet, cold and icy especially in the mornings. I don’t want to risk injury so treadmill is the best option. I have 6 miles tomorrow and plan to watch tv on iPad! I love the idea of simulating rolling hills with the incline!

    13. I love this! I had a pretty big set back of a femoral stress fracture about 5 months ago and if weren’t for keeping my dream alive some days I don’t know how I would have pushed through. Even when it seems like everything is going wrong, I keep pushing!
      Sara @ LovingOnTheRun recently posted..Motivation Monday: ConfidenceMy Profile

    14. You’re def one of my IG favs! Congrats :) I have my first half this Saturday and my only goal is to start slow and finish less slow (I’m not fast at all!). And to enjoy it! I’ve had a lot of fun training and no matter what I’ll PR 😉
      Runner Girl Eats recently posted..Buff BrideMy Profile