16 miles. How to keep running when you feel like stopping.

  • 16 miles
  • 3:07:45

This Is How We Do It!

When I tell people that I am running um-teen miles on Saturday morning, they look at me like I am nuts. I get asked the same question without fail. “Sheree, how do you get through it?”

If I said it were easy, I’d be telling a big fat lie. It isn’t easy. It’s really hard, actually. But, as Coach Rick says, if it were easy, everyone would be running marathons.

It doesn’t need to be easy. It just needs to be POSSIBLE. You know how the saying goes: if I can do it, anyone can. Well I can assure you, I am not just blowing smoke up your behind. I completed a marathon last year as a beginner runner whose longest distance run before training was 3 miles.

What got me to that finish line last year was not my fitness. I was physically dunzo by mile 20. It was my mind that got me to the finish line. Mental strength, to me, is so much more important than the physical. And as someone who isn’t the most experienced of runners, I need to sometimes trick my mind into letting my body do what I want it to do. So I’m going to let you in on a few of my little secrets. And if you’ve ever set out on a run and wanted to give up– 5K, 10K, whatever!– I urge you to try them! You will see that running can be fun if you can get through that mental barrier!

Musical Chairs Miles

Here is a little game I play with myself on a long run, especially when the going gets really tough. I use my music to set small goals. A couple examples:

  • “I will not stop until I have listened to 3 more songs.” Using this method, 3 songs could easily last for 9-12 minutes. That is about a mile you have just convinced yourself to run while having some awesome music to entertain yourself. If 3 songs seems long, do it one song at a time. I constantly say “just one more song.”
  • “I am going to run through the verses and walk through the choruses up this next hill.” I do this one ALL THE TIME. Before I ascend a hill, I designate a pattern and stick to it up the entire hill. Maybe it’s walk 8 counts, run 8 counts. Maybe it’s walk through all the guitar solos and run whenever the singer comes in. By breaking it up, you keep your mind affixed to this “game” instead of how difficult this hill is.

Tick Tock

This is the game Kate and I played on Saturday for our 16 mile run. We planned to run 9 minutes and walk 1 minute the entire way. But making adjustments as you go is important (AND FUN) to keep the run feeling fresh.

  • At the end of our 9 minutes, we reached a downhill section. Now, it seems a waste to spend a walk break on a downhill, doesn’t it? So we extended our run to enjoy the downhill and deducted that extra time from our next run section. By doing this, you find yourself looking forward to the next time you run because now, instead of 9 minutes, you will only be running 7 minutes before your next walk break.
  • We walked on the 4’s. For example, 14 minutes, 24 minutes, 34 minutes, etc. Here’s where the game came in: there are situations that will set you off of that schedule like pee breaks, hills, wedgies to pick… So once you are off that schedule of 4’s, spend the next few run sections trying to get back to it (running an extra minute here and there). In doing that, you will spend at least 20 minutes playing this game of “catch up”– it’s a great distraction!

Promises, Promises

Make yourself promises while on your run. And look forward to keeping them.

  • I will not sip my Gatorade until I have finished this mile.
  • I will allow myself a piece of licorice once I reach mile 6.
  • I am going to stop in that Dunkin Donuts at mile 9 and buy some munchkins. **A MUST TRY** : )
  • When I finish, I get to drink that chocolate milk. (YUM!)

So there you have it. I have more games and things that I think I will continue to integrate into my weekly blogs. But this should be more than enough games to get you through some runs for a while. Go try them out! And tell me how you do : )

P.S. More than 50% to my goal… πŸ™‚ For anyone who donates at least $26, I will perform a dare of their choosing and document on video. This offer is extended to only the first 26 people who do this…

Online fundraising for Sheree Dunwell for the 2012 Mass Mentoring Boston Marathon Team