It doesn't matter if you're a casual runner or a competitive monster, it's hard to ignore the urge to want to push yourself to a personal best. Personally, I rarely run for time. Why? Because I hate running fast! It's painful! Running casually is way more fun than having your ass handed to you on the daily! I'm a lazy runner! I'll admit it! I'm not a fan of intervals, hill repeats and tempo runs! Most days I run to manage my stress and zone out. But this year I was itching for that tidal wave of satisfaction that accompanies a personal best which is why I spent the last 6 months in personal best marathon training mode. It wasn't easy but here's what I learned, it's 100% possible to have fun while you kick your ass! If you're looking for a way to push your limits without sacrificing your love for running, here are 9 steps to a personal best!
1. A Training Plan That Kicks Your Ass (In A Good Way).
In the three years since I've been running, I've blown through four GPS watches and I hated them all. Then I found the Adidas FitSmart and, I kid you not, this watch tricks you into kicking your ass! I ran a personal best at the Berlin Marathon and beat my previous marathon time by 8 minutes and 26 seconds because it made marathon training so easy! Here's what I love about it --
- You don't have to wait for a signal! It'll track my distance immediately or I can connect it to the miCoach app for GPS tracking. OPTIONS! I HAVE OPTIONS! (I LOVE HAVING OPTIONS!)
- Personalized training plans! I love stats but I never understand them! This watch is color coded so instead of going towards a number, it tells me to get to a color! (And looking back at your stats throughout your training makes you feel like a total bad ass.)
- It doesn't die after every use! I hate watches that need charging every day. I can barely keep my iPhone charged so add a watch into the mix and it's going to stay dead. I ran a marathon with my fitsmart and didn't have to charge it for 2 more days. That's a kick ass watch.
- It's user experience is effortless! It's just easy to use! You won't sit there going, "How do I work you!?!" That's worth it's weight in gold.
But regardless of what app, watch or training plan you use, you have to have one that makes sense to you, excites you and kicks your ass.
2. Don't Do It Alone!
When presented with the option of doing an easy 4-6 miles or a tempo run at the track, I'll choose the easy 4 miles every single time. Sometimes you just want to run to blow off steam and earn a cheeseburger, that's AOK! That's why I make it a point to run with a speedy group of friends who inadvertently motivate me to push my limits. Let the people around you inspire you!
3. Be Honest About What You Really Want!
It was really intimidating admitting that I wanted to break 4 hours because there was a very real possibility that I would fall short. (And I did). If you set a half ass goal, you're setting yourself for failure. It's OK to shoot for the stars and fall short! That's the best part about goals! They don't expire! The work doesn't disappear! You just keep going forwards and eventually you'll get there.
4. Take Care Of Your Body!
Get a physical therapist! Do your strength training and cross training! Don't be dumb and push yourself through pain! Put time aside to foam roll, stretch, warm up and cool down properly. We all think we're invincible until we get injured. PREHAB > REHAB! Don't get injured! Take care of your body!
5. Learn To Push Through Doubt.
This is probably the biggest hurdle you'll jump if you're chasing a personal best -- DOUBT. That little SOB creeps in when you're weak and convinces you to pump the breaks. When it starts to hurt, surprise yourself and see how for you can go. Just go a tiny bit further than you did yesterday. Don't doubt yourself, push through the pain which brings me to...
6. Get Uncomfortable.
Don't just get uncomfortable, get uncomfortable often! Running a personal best isn't going to be comfortable! It's going to hurt A LOT! But it's worth it! This is where you learn how to put pain into perspective. It's not fun but it makes race day infinitely less traumatizing. (OK it makes it a little less traumatizing...)
7. Believe In Yourself.
Pain is temporary. Instagram photos are forever. No in all seriousness, every time I cross a finish line I still can't believe I'm a runner. It was only three years ago that I couldn't run around my block and I was drowning in shame and embarrassment. So I started running away from my problems and now I'm running towards a happier and stronger me. Believe in yourself. We're so much stronger than we give ourselves credit for. Just be patient and take a leap of faith. Until tomorrow, #RunSelfieRepeat #FindYourMore #BerlinMarathon #berlinmarathon2015 #berlin
I'm going to make this short and sweet, positive affirmations all day everyday! The only person who needs to believe you in you. It's not going to be easy and it isn't going to happen overnight. And ready for this? Sometimes the end result isn't going to be what you set out to accomplish! That's why you have to enjoy the journey! Things change! Be ready to roll with the punches but first and foremost, believe in yourself.
8. Don't Half Ass It.
GUESS WHO RAN A 7:19, 7:20 and 7:29 3 mile progression today?!?! 🙋🏼🙋🏼🙋🏼🙋🏼 YOU GUYS turns out I can run fast if I try! God bless @chloebullets and her @lululemon Brooklyn run for making me try. WHO KNEW?!?! (PS Running fast is not fun. Anyone who says otherwise is a damn liar. Slow is 10x more fun. And there was no dancing just tons of F bombs. BUT it is cool to be like damn that was hard look what I just did.) #RunSelfieRepeat
Don't half ass your training so you can have an excuse if you fall short. That's not how this works! Commit! DON'T YOU DARE HALF ASS IT!
9. HAVE FUN!
If I'm not having fun, I won't show up. That's why I surround myself with people who distract me from the fact that my quads are burning and my lungs are on fire! Find ways to make your least favorite parts about training fun. If you can do that, your personal best is as good as yours.
I'm not always a fan of always running for a personal best. I think there's so much more to running than trying to beat the clock. But every once in a while, it's rewarding to take some time to push your limits. It's all about finding the balance. Until next time, #RunSelfieRepeat.