|espnW.com: Athlete's Life|
Summer on the Run is a 12-week blog and video series that follows former Olympic swimmer and avid runner Summer Sanders on her journey to train for Disney's Princess Half Marathon on Feb. 24.
Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, she will share training tips, and a little inspiration, as she gears up for the main event. Use hashtag #GoRun on Twitter to follow Summer and be part of the ongoing conversation.
Training goes so quickly when you take it day by day. There's no reason to get anxious or upset about any of it, especially when you fit in what you can with the rest of your priorities. Running is never going to be the only thing in your life.
I always keep in mind that I'm a mama first and a runner second; that's how I put it all in perspective.
I also don't use running as my excuse to go crazy. Running itself is part of the fun, so I don't use it as my reason to eat an entire pie when I get back. Going for a run makes me feel good and more likely to eat well and take care of my body. I crave a huge salad when I get back from a good workout, and I make sure to add protein to it to get all the nutrients I need. If I feel like a piece of chocolate, too, I eat it; I'm not entitled to eat an entire batch of cookies or a tub of ice cream. Doing something good for your body doesn't mean you should immediately do something bad for it. That's not the type of balance I'm looking for. Are you?
I am the first to admit that I have a sweet tooth. I used to eat dessert every night when I competed, but I was working off so many calories at a high level of training, and I was so young then. The rules of the game have changed. I've learned that I feel better when I give in to my cravings a little at a time. It's also a great lesson for my kids, who will get a stomachache (just like any of us) if they overdo it with the sweets. I can't pig out in front of them and then expect them to listen to me when I say they can't do it.
There are the best-laid plans, and then there's life and all of its surprises! I started my training program with a schedule of workouts and a grand idea to get my best time for 13.1 miles. A 1:34 would be my best, and I did that right after I had Spider in 2008. I'd be excited to hit the 1:30s this time around, but I have no idea how I'll feel on race day. This is my fifth half; we'll just have to see how it goes.
This is my experience to own and earn this time around. I run races because I love to. I hope it goes smoothly, but you just never know. I have to be ready for anything. Part of the excitement is dealing with the unexpected; it means every race is different. And without a doubt, every race is more interesting because you never know what you're going to get on any particular day. I have never done a really flat half, so the Disney's Princess Half Marathon will be my shot.
For Spider's sake, I hope they're getting ready for us in Florida. We're leaving our winter clothes behind and bringing our summer finest, along with our best attitudes, to make it the greatest mother-son weekend we can imagine, and then some!
This week is Summer's opportunity to look back at all she has accomplished and think ahead to her race, which is just three weeks away. It's time to focus, home in on what works and set a race weekend plan. For Summer and Spider, that's making sure their Disney weekend is packed full of fun, family-focused events, such as the Pasta in the Park Party on Friday, to get them ready for their races.