Three more weekends before the big race is here in Savannah.
The Savannah Striders started their training program for the Rock N Roll Full and Half Marathon in early Spring, when temperatures were so chilly it was uncomfortable to wear shorts.
Many people who started the program were only running a few miles a week or none at all.
Those who stuck with the program were amazed at how quickly they improved, though some struggled to maintain the miles and almost everyone dealt with some sort of illness, injury or minor setback that made them back off from multiple miles for a while.
As the race approaches ever closer, it is tempting to push the body further and faster and some feel as if they have not gotten in the miles or aren’t as fast as they should be or would like to be, but coach and Doctor of Physical Therapy, Ivan Levinrad warns it is too late in the game to push harder and actually recommends cutting back on the miles just a few weeks before the race to prevent injuries.
Marty Healy, who also works with the Striders agreed and said that he sees more running injuries in marathon runners than he does in Tri-athletes, primarily because the latter cross train and use different sets of muscles and not are not always weight bearing on the lower body.
It’s easier to stay motivated this close to the race, but in the months leading up to this point many people were struggling to get out of bed and out on the road to put in those long and repetitive miles.
To keep everyone motivated, Fleet Feet Sports and Savannah Striders have been posting motivational quotes on their Facebook pages.
Many started out something like this: “The will to win means nothing without the will to prepare”, or “If you ask yourself if you can give more, the answer is probably, “yes””.
My theory is that if we had the will to run ten miles a day five days a week and 15- 20 on the weekends, we’d also have the will to lose those extra 10 -20 pounds around our middles, write that book or song we always planned to write, start our own companies and become millionaires and have spotlessly clean and organized homes with perfect children who were so well mannered everyone praised us as the perfect parents.
If the truth be known, most of us don’t have the will power to turn the TV off and go to bed on time, much less stick with a running plan to get us in shape to run a marathon.
Still, what motivates some just seems like guilt ridden propaganda to others.
The quotes that got me thinking the most went something like this: “Running is 20 percent physical and 80 percent mental;” and “The more you repeat something the stronger you get”.
Like many my de-motivational quotes went more like this, “the more you repeat something the greater the likelihood it will bore you to tears or you will incur a stress injury that takes a minimum of two weeks of not running in order to recover,” and “You are mentally and physically incompetent to run more than 8 miles without falling apart, so who are you fooling?”.
It didn’t help that the last few weeks nothing seemed to be going as planned. The weather had turned cooler, but my body was so sluggish and unresponsive. My knees ached, my heel hurt, my back was stiff and my stomach stayed upset and the more water I drank to rehydrate, the faster my body flushed it out of my system, making bathroom stops along the running route almost more important than the run itself.
So, here we were a month away from the race. It was 5 a.m. on Saturday morning and the striders were leaving Lake Mayer at 6 a.m. I was awake but my bowels did not kick into gear until I pulled onto Truman Parkway just minutes from the Lake, with no bathrooms open at that time of morning.
Thank goodness for Walmart across the way and 24 hours of shopping, though the place looked closed when I pulled up.
I hesitantly walked up to the doors praying they would open. I am sure I looked silly in my short shorts, ankle brace, bright orange Mueller knee strap, and men’s reflective sweat wicking T (the women’s were too flimsy, form fitting and neonly blinding for my taste, plus $5 more expensive!)
Still, when you gotta go, you gotta go and better to go in the Walmart bathroom at 5:55 in the morning than in the middle of the Skidaway and Montgomery Cross Road at 6:05.
As I grabbed the headlamp from the truck and headed toward the highway, hoping to catch up and not be too far behind, I heard the group coming. White and red orbs and reflective piping bounced like a loosely strung set of Christmas tree lights.
It was kind of neat. For a few minutes I was running with the faster group on the opposite side of the street. I had not been able to do that in a long time.
Last week’s 12 minute mile pace was about all I could handle, but today the pace felt faster, even though the group was now pulling out ahead. With no GPS and no watch, I had no idea if I was running a nine minute mile pace or an eleven one, but it oddly felt good for a change.
There was a strong cool breeze and the stars were brilliant overhead. The moon had already disappeared from the sky, and outside of far off voices and running feet, it seemed really quiet.
My usual running group was not out, so ended up running on my own, at my own pace, intermittently staring up at the stars and out over the marsh. When the wind blew strong enough and you stared up at the stars, it almost felt as if you were flying, but then it was dark and there was that pesky pot holed road, which apparently had two clumps of Spanish moss blown down with the wind and blocking the path of my oncoming feet. Oddly, the clumps seemed to absorb the light from the flashlight rather than reflect it.
A few feet away, the moss started to move. It turns out it was two raccoons! That was a close one!
As the raccoons went one way and I went the other, I turned around hoping someone had seen, but no one was there. Still, I felt motivated. Maybe I should make a quote and post it on Facebook; “When running in the darkness and feeling left behind, shine your light before you and leap gray boundaries and your spirit will carry you on…” or some such.
It was good for a laugh and a lift anyway.
I knew Mark and his group were not too far behind so jogged down Parkersburg to Hopecrest and back around, but by then they had passed me and there I was running on my own again. How had that happened?
My bowels were behaving, but the bladder was on the verge of having its own spasm, so skipped the Dutch Island turn off and headed to the Marina as another motivational quote ran through my mind, “You’ll always run faster when your destination is determined by your inner desire to seek it with all your might.”
It didn’t help or maybe it didn’t hurt, that everyone seemed to have their lawn sprinklers turned on or a trickling fountain in the front yard.
I never did catch up to anyone, but kept passing people going in the opposite direction! When I saw two women up ahead in the dark at Dutch Island I sped up to catch them thinking maybe it was Julie and Sherry. It wasn’t and I soon realized that Crew was out running the course with us, another motivating factor for me.
I always seem to run faster when I feel challenged. In part I guess it is “showing off”, but in part I think I want to prove that I am a real runner and not just someone out for a jog. I don’t know, but if I am ever running and a track team passes me or a military group, I always find myself running faster and putting in more effort. Maybe it is herd instinct?
I’ve talked to a lot people to see what motivates them to run and keep running and the answers all differ.
Some run to stay fit. Some run so they can eat more food and not feel guilty. Some want to prove something to themselves or a significant other and some are almost addicted to running and couldn’t stop if they had to.
I guess my top ten motivational running tips would look something like this:
1. Run to remind yourself that you are still a child, still free, still alive and active.
2. Run to quiet your racing thoughts and make some sense of order from them.
3. Run for fun, so if you have to run to save a life, you can do it and not feel helpless.
4. Run because it’s an excuse to buy cute running shorts, you otherwise should not be seen in at your age.
5. Run because it helps you meet neat people who feel the same way you do about things.
6. Run because you can attend a lot of events to help charity and get some really cool T-shirts that no one else but runners and volunteers get to wear.
7. Run for others who can’t, and bring awareness to their cause.
8. Run to feel the wind rush through your hair and the blood pound through your veins. It’s the closest thing to freedom you can have as a civilized being.
9. Run to stay strong and healthy.
10. Run to be part of a group. It’s one of the few sports where you can become part of team without actually competing with anyone if that is your desire.
No matter what motivates you to run, there is something intrinsically rewarding about being able to cover large areas of ground on foot without tiring. There is something primitive about running, despite all the high tech gadgets, gels and goos, and with so many people training for the big race on November 5th, it is almost like being part of your own little Woodstock; something you can share with others for as long as you live.
Just think, anyone who runs or walks the Rock N Roll Marathon or Half can say that they ran in the largest race ever held in Savannah, Georgia and the first Rock n Roll in Savannah’s history!
Will we make it there? Will we come home with the medal and the T-Shirt? Will we survive the crowds? Will we find a place to park? Will we not pass out? Will the weather be nice? Will the bands be good? Will we party with friends or feel lost in the crowd?
At this point in the training, I don’t need any more motivation than knowing I may actually make it there and finish my first half marathon ever.
Here’s hoping everyone does a personal best and all goes well for racers and volunteers.
Feel free to post your motivational tips for sticking with a running plan in the comment section below and happy race day everyone!