Eleven Steps to Success

I am not a natural distance runner. There I said it. So often, I have people tell me that running is easy for me, or that I am lucky I can run a certain pace. That is so far from the truth. Running is hard, but it does not have to be.

I often get asked how I make time to run 60-70 miles a week, with two young children, a husband, a household to take care of and working full time as an elementary PE Coach. The answer is simple. I vented to a friend one afternoon about how I did not have time to run because my husband worked non-traditional hours (he is a restaurant GM) and I did not have anyone to watch the kids. What she said to me lit a spark. She said, “if it mattered to you, you’d make time”.

Boom. There it was. The truth. She was absolutely right. Running DID matter to me, so I needed to make the time. What resulted was a much happier mom and wife, and I became a faster runner by putting in more miles. As I crossed the Houston Marathon finish line on January 19, 2020 in a new marathon PR of 2:58:25, I realized that ANY dream I have is possible if I make it a priority.

The following is what worked for me:

1. Run in the morning
Get it out of the way before work or anything else takes priority. This may require you to wake up an hour earlier than usual, but it will be worth it. Set your clothes out, coffee, breakfast, whatever you need to get out the door. You will be able to get more miles in and there is just something about seeing a sunrise all alone, while the rest of the world is asleep. If you wait to run, excuses are more likely to develop.
2. Have a goal
I like to have three goals. One that is lofty (think if all the stars were aligned on the right day), one that I would be happy with, and if all else fails, my third goal is to at least have fun.
3. Recover like a boss
You cannot expect to run your best if you are not taking adequate time to recover. Make that foam roller your best friend. I travel with “The Stick” and use it religiously to keep knots from forming. Epsom salt baths can help soothe sore muscles, and most importantly, stay hydrated! Sleep is also an important part of the recovery process. Do not cheat yourself on sleep.
4. Find a buddy
If you are lucky enough to have a running buddy, do not ever let them go. I do not run with anyone unfortunately, but I do have a friend who will gladly wake up before the sunrise to ride her bike alongside me. I am forever grateful for friends like her. Find another mom and swap babysitting for each other while you take turns working out. Make it a priority!
5. Have a support system
None of my running successes would be at all possible without my supportive husband. This is a guy who vacations around my marathons! Our trips to Chicago, Boston and NYC were all planned around my marathons. Voice your goals to your spouse. Chances are they will be cheering for you from the sidelines wanting you to crush your goals!
6. Save for a treadmill
It is not easy being a morning runner. Especially when the winter months bit. My advice, if you are really looking to take your running to the next level, is to invest in a treadmill. I have run long runs (read: 21 miles) on my treadmill when a thunderstorm has rolled through and switching my days were not an option. It has also become a lifesaver for when my husband has to work, and I am home with the kids. It really makes staying consistent easier since I have no excuses for not running.
7. Sign up and pay for your races in advance
If I have already spent the money, I feel like I am required to train and run it.
8. Break up your runs
I get it. Life can get very busy. If I slept in one morning, I run as many miles as I can in the morning and finish up the rest of the day’s mileage later on in the day. You will reap the aerobic benefits of two runs, and shorter runs may be easier than running one long run.
9. Have a running journal
I love my “Believe I Am” Journal by Lauren Fleshman. I set up my weekly goal and figure out my daily runs according to my goals. It has become a part of my morning routine to run, have my coffee, and then complete my journal. Journaling keeps you accountable and committed.
10. Set realistic goals
I did not run a 2:58 marathon overnight. In fact, I have been chipping away at my ultimate goal of a sub 3 marathon little by little. Enjoy the journey, you will learn so much along the way.
11. Take a break
Running can be exhausting. If you are starting to feel a burnout coming on, take a break for a while.
Make 2021 your year to conquer your goals!

Blog written by #houambassador Julia Vegas