So you're feeling inspired...

In the age of McDonalds' Coffee-is-hot-so-I'll-sue-you, I need to first say, I am not a certified athletic trainer.  Although I used to get sat on and had that suspended-spit-slurp-it-back-in game played on me by one...  (read: older brother.)  I'm not a medical doctor, but I sleep with one.  I am a mom, who has run, gleaned advice and tips from every source possible, and wants to share what I know.  So don't sue me if you roll an ankle or pull a hamstring please. :)

That out of the way, let's pretend you have been inspired to "run Fargo" this year. That may mean a 5k, a 10K, the half marathon or the full. But this is all new to you, where do you start?? First, register for an event.  Nothing seems to motivate me faster than money I've spent! There is no set and fast rule about having to first run 5ks, then 10ks, then half-marathons.   A lot of people jump right to a half.  Personally, I don't like 5ks, just because I'm only getting in my groove at around 3 miles. I am envious of people that can bust from a start line and sprint 3 miles, because I sure can't!  And yes, there is plenty of time to train for one. Most programs are 12 week programs, some are 10, so that means you don't need to start until February.  To be realistic, if this is your first race, you are not attempting to set a course record, but rather finish. And there is plenty of time to train to finish.  So decide, and register!

From now until your training schedule begins (that is like your daily 'to-do' list) focus on fitness, cleaning up your diet, and maybe shedding a few holiday pounds.  What training schedule to use? There are many many out there, some are free (Hal Higdon) and some are fee-based and give you very specific, tailored workouts.  Ask around (or me) and I can help you find one!

What will you need for this process? First off, shoes. What running shoes are best? That is like asking which spice is best. Every recipe calls for different spices, and different running styles require different shoes. My advice is go to a shoe store that is knowledgeable in running shoes and have them watch you walk, and see what they recommend. Also bring in any shoes you have run in. If you have never run, bring a pair of shoes that you have worn a lot.  Any of my boot heels would show that I walk on the outside of my feet, and thus run this way too.  Shoes are important.  They also should be a half size bigger than your normal shoe size to allow room for your toes.  Black toenails are not pretty, and are pretty painful, but are a right of passage for some runners.

Men, you can skip this paragraph, though I am sure you have your own issues.  

 Women, you need a good sports bra.  I can't stress this enough. The one you lift weights in, or ride bike, or pull weeds, is not going to cut it, well, that is if you are any bigger than probably a C cup.  If you are "blessed," you need the girls locked and loaded, not bouncing around.  From experience, chaffing HURTS.  Motion plus sweat can really take its toll if they are not securely fastened down.  Try on a lot of styles, jump, wiggle, jump some more when you are trying them on. Sadly, a good bra is going to run you on the upwards of $50, but to prevent chaffing, it is worth it. 

Music. While my brother (not the spit-slurping one, a different one), an 8 time marathoner, has the rare gift of being able to run without tunes (ie: freak of nature), I need them.  I get way too tired of my own voice in my head.  For me, an iPod shuffle is awesome, because I don't need the music in any particular order. If you are extremely Type A, this probably won't work for you.  Music isn't a necessity, but for me, and many, it sure helps.

Finally, you just need the desire, and commitment to complete this goal.  Anyone can do it, I firmly believe that. The Biggest Loser Contestants run a full marathon! It won't be easy,  but when was the last time you accomplished something outstanding that wasn’t?   It doesn't matter what your finishing time is or your pace.  What does matter is you set out to finish a race, and you did!

The Voices in my head

ChAoS in MOtiOn
The Voices in my Head.

            While at the Twin Cities Marathon Expo, the night before the race, I wandered by the Fargo Marathon booth and registered for a free Mini (half) marathon registration.  The following Tuesday, I learned I had won the free registration! It was probably rigged, since while chit chatting with them I hid my true colors and feigned excitement of the Bison’s win earlier that day… Nonetheless, I had to decide whether or not I would run a half marathon (that’s 13.1 miles) 13 days after running 26.51.
            I thought, “What the heck, this should be half as hard, and mentally way easier than the full!”  I opted for going in on “rested legs” (I didn’t run in 13 days) and “well nourished” (I ate everything in sight for 13 days) for this run.  By the 12th day post marathon, this idea of running a half seemed better in theory, especially since my belly was sore from laughing non-stop for 2 hours at the VCSU Rendezvous the night before the run.
            Saturday morning my fabulous hubby got up before the sun to drive me over to Fargo for the run.  If the Twin Cities Marathon is the most beautiful urban course, the Fargo Mini would be the most boring urban course. 13.1 miles of cul-de-sacs, big homes, bigger home, homes being built, concrete trucks in the middle of the street, homes that were just down right ridiculously big, and mud.  Hoping against hope that my memory of this route previously run was somehow mistaken, I was mentally prepared to rock this race.  I brought along my running partner, Wonder Woman who is only audible to me, inside my head.  She had been telling me all week that this will be a no- brainer. That I had this. That a new Personal Record was just waiting for me to take it.  She had me built up! The weather was cool, but would be fine, if the wind didn’t blow (like it always does in Fargo. Always.) I toed the line with my brother, wished him luck, and set my sights on a new PR.
            Miles 1-8 were awesome, right on pace. Previous nights rain mixed with the dirty roads made for what felt like running on slime, but I was managing.  I was focused, trying to pick off runners in front of me.  I kept busy looking for my spectators who were freezing but willing to stand out in the cold to cheer on my brother and me.  Wonder Woman just kept encouraging me. “You got this! You go girl! Easy, Smooth, Light!”  I felt great!
            Then mile 9 hit.  I had crossed paths with my brother who was a half hour ahead of me, and I’d have sworn I had already done that cul-de-sac 3 times already. Wonder Woman took a left turn and headed for Starbucks, not to be heard from again.    And then SHE showed up.  Negative Nelly appeared and perched comfortably in my head for the remainder of the race.  “This stinks. Just quit. You’re out of reach of your PR. WHY didn’t you stay in bed this morning? It is freezing out here!! Oh great, the next 3 miles into a headwind?  Where ARE we? Now really, does someone need THAT big of a house?”  No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t silence her.  I was getting so frustrated with myself because I have done this long enough to know that at this point, I needed to get out of my head and think about ANYTHING else than what was rolling around in my brain.  At this point, it is almost entirely a mental fight, not a physical one.    And for the life of me I couldn’t shush her.   I had feeble moments of success when Alicia told me I was a Girl on Fire, and Eminem told me to Lose Myself. But even with Florence and her Machine telling me to Shake It Out, I couldn’t string together more than a couple minutes of quieting her nagging. 
            In the end, I finished with my 3rd fastest time, and got my hockey puck.  Not a finisher’s medal, but a puck.  Negative Nelly had a lot to say about that too…  And now after a few days I’ve given myself a break; I was still in recovery from the full marathon and I didn’t just run this race, but raced it. It wasn’t the time, wind or cold that was most annoying, it was the negative voice I couldn’t silence. What does your voice nag you about? The one thing you need to know is Nelly is a compulsive liar.  What she says is not true, and don’t believe her.  Sometimes it is really hard to ignore her.  But usually with the help of some good friends by your side, like I had at the Marathon, and even more so in life, she usually isn’t allowed to say much.   If all else fails, look in the mirror and tell Wonder Woman to finish her coffee already and that you need her.   She’s there. Trust me.
            *Disclaimer: The voices are metaphorical. I do not really hear voices. Yet.  If I should start to hear voices, don’t worry, I know a good doctor who will get me the help I need.