5 Things to Remember at the Start Line

For those of you headed to Sweet Home Chicago this weekend, I wish you all the very best of luck (and sunshine!) on your 26.2 mile journey. (Go LeticiaBernadetteAliKrissy, & Jess!)

Do yourself a favor while you're in Chi-town, go to Portillo's and get a hot dog and a milkshake. Just do it and thank me later.

Do yourself a favor while you’re in Chi-town, go to Portillo’s and get a hot dog and a milkshake. Just do it and thank me later.

Quickly following Chicago are Marine Corps, New York, Philly, and California with dozens of smaller marathons sandwiched in and around the upcoming weekends. Translation: all my friends are getting into race mode!

Training for any race, especially a marathon, is an accomplishment in itself. And when you get to that start line, just remember just 5 things:

  1. You survived training (aka the hardest part!) & made it to the start line, ENJOY THE RACE!
  2. Today’s run is just a really, really long run, like any other weekend long run.
  3. It doesn’t matter what your time is, be proud of your accomplishment (I’m proud of you!).
  4. It’s going to hurt. Get over that and you’ll be ok.
  5. You are ready for this, trust your training and stick to your plan.

Good luck! Have a great race and be proud of yourself!

I'm cheering for all of you and I totally think you're all awesome!

I’m cheering for all of you and I totally think you’re all awesome!

Now go out and run.

Running Demons

We have reached that point during Fall training season when things start to sink in and (sometimes) go awry.

Nagging pains become full-blown injuries.

Long runs don’t just take up a weekend morning, but the entire day because you need an ice bath, massive amounts of food, a nap, and a shower or two. Maybe not necessarily in that order.

I fully assume the position once I am clean and fed.

I fully assume the position once I am clean and fed.

Your nighttime plans are based on whether you need to get up at the crack for a run.

And worst of all (in my estimate), you start questioning EVERYTHING. Your training, your ability to fuel properly, the location of bathrooms on a long run, your coach, your choice of shoes, whether or not you’ll be able to actually finish a marathon or this morning’s long run…

Probably not the best time to have this thought but it happens EVERY TIME!

Probably not the best time to have this thought but it happens EVERY TIME!

…the running demons.

Running demons come from a fear of failure. It’s totally normal. Races are hard, sometimes long, and “we are all cowards at the start line” (Alberto Salazar). The key is not to let those demons get the best of you.

Getting out of your head is a lot like getting out of the door for a run.

  1. Stop overanalyzing it: put your shoes on and just start running.
  2. Run somewhere new: nothing distracts like being in a completely foreign setting.
  3. Go with friends: best distraction everrrrrrr. Added bonus: falling into step and not having to maintain your own pace.

I have known people who are paralyzed by their running demons so much that they get sick the night before long runs. That’s silly. Running shouldn’t stress you out like that. Gain some perspective, get a grip, and try to enjoy it.

Try your hardest and then let it go.

Try your hardest and then let it go.

Stop caring if you PR your long run (why is that a thing?).

Stop panicking when you can’t find your Garmin/it’s not charged/it dies mid-run.

Stop obsessing about the run that sucked.

Stop telling yourself “THIS run is going to suck” (it definitely will if you do).

STOP judging your abilities by one workout.

Try not to spend your time worrying about if the next run will be perfect or if you will totally bonk and have to crawl home and collapse in a heap on your couch (what, has this only happened to me?). Go run. Have some fun.

And remember, it’s RUNNING and it’s supposed to be FUN.

True story.

True story.

Do you have running demons? Are they like Gremlins and they only come out if fed after midnight? I’m a little bit like this–can’t stay up too late or I start to get weird. How do you conquer your running demons?

Now go out and run!

Train Your Brain

A few weeks ago, I had the chance to bug the hell out of chat with my cousin’s boyfriend who happens to also be a med student at Brown headed for a very successful career in orthopedic surgery. I have high hopes for a very successful mutual business arrangement with him in the future. IF I can convince them to move to NYC, that is.

Never gonna happen, but we can have really nerdy conversation about tendons and stuff at family gatherings. That’s right. We’re the cool table.

Dear Anyone Else in Scrubs,
Beware of me. I will ask you questions all night long.
Soon-to-be Dr. Abby, DPT

I had about a million questions I wanted to ask him (I restrained myself) but he had one for me, too.

“How much of running a marathon is mental and how much is physical?”

JB’s answer was 80% mental, 20% physical. I disagree slightly with those numbers. For me, 20 miles is physical. For 20 miles, my training will show. My speed workouts, my long runs, my 13-16 weeks of training will be out there for everyone to see.

Game face. Kinda struggling.

Same spot, 3 years later. Feeling much better, wouldn’t you say?

My training makes all the difference when it comes to how I’m feeling at mile 20. After that, all bets are off.

Then mile 21 comes along. And 22. And here comes my mental game. Because, no matter how hard I’ve trained or how many miles I’ve logged, at mile 20, I am bored. I am tired. I am ready to be done. And yet, I have almost another whole hour of running to go.

Miles 20-26.2 is where the difference between a 3:45 and a 4:00 time happens.

Miles 20-26.2 is where I stop smiling and start hunkering down.

Miles 20-26.2 is where I remind myself that I’ve done this 9 times before and I will do it again.

Miles 20-26.2 is where I visualize finishing.

Miles 20-26.2 are my mental game.


I start to envision my familiar running routes so I don’t psych myself out about how much further I have to run. I think to myself, “Self, you know what 4 miles feels like in Central Park. Pretend you’re on that run, not this one.”

I’m dreaming of a finisher medal somewhere around mile 24.

And I count down. And I finish.

My workouts make me fast. My long runs make me fit. My gym time makes me strong. But it’s all bubkis if my mental game isn’t there. So don’t get all caught up in the runs and focus on keeping your head in the game.

If finishing 9 marathons has taught me anything it’s that if I just keep going, I will eventually reach the finish line.

Now go out and run!