Training Tips to Keep You Motivated

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In November I will be celebrating a milestone birthday. This has stirred up a desire to arrive at that date with an accomplishment under my belt.

Truthfully, this urge started last year when I trained for and completed my first Tough Mudder race. I need to prove to myself that this birthday number has nothing to do with what I can achieve with some hard work and desire. This year I will run my second half marathon. It will take me over two bridges and by the downtown waterfront of one of my favorite cities, Wilmington, NC. I will be in the company of good friends and that makes the 13.1 miles easier.

I have been a runner since my college years and can honestly say I truly love it. When I am running on a long gravel road in the beautiful countryside early in the morning, the sights, sounds and smells of the earth waking up is nearly meditative. While finishing with a respectable time or “PR” — personal record — is never my ultimate objective, I do train for my best race possible. This time around, I have enjoyed the training more than ever and have discovered why it is working for me.

Train with others
Running alone can be easier with a good iTunes playlist, but knowing that I am joining two others (and a good pace dog) throughout the week makes me get out of bed for early morning runs. We run and chat and time flies. I have made friends who have shared their wisdom about such things as selling gold, the best furniture deals and the ins and outs of car buying! We join a local training group for our long runs on the weekend. Despite the muscle soreness and heat of summer, this has been my favorite part of this race preparation. I have company for the increasing mileage while discovering amazing places of beauty that have been in my back yard all along.

Eat to run
Training makes me more attentive to how I eat in order to feel better during my runs and to avoid injury. Staying hydrated every day is a priority of mine to avoid side stitches and muscle cramps. I eat half of a banana and drink some chocolate soy milk before my long runs. This gives me the fuel I need to run the miles and satisfies my early morning hunger. Making a protein rich smoothie with Greek yogurt, soy milk, lots of spinach and fruit following my long runs has helped get in important recovery nutrients when my stomach isn’t quite ready for a big meal. One of my favorite snacks is one or two Medjool dates stuffed with almond butter. Just enough of a healthy, whole food snack to hold me until my next meal.

Choose your next goal now
As the date of this half marathon approaches, I realize that fall is quickly leading to winter. My motivation to stay active disappears like the early morning daylight of summer. This year, my training buddies and I are already talking about another race we can do either in winter or early spring. This will compel us to continue our training. We agree to fight the desire to hibernate and brave the chillier temperatures on the way to our next PR.

Carole Havrila on Twitter
Carole Havrila
Carole Havrila, RD, CSO, is an oncology nutrition specialist at the University of Virginia's Emily Couric Cancer Center. Follow her on Twitter.