Push ahead, but learn your limit

Summer Sanders talks about getting her kids involved as she continues her training for the Disney Princess Half Marathon.

Summer on the Run is a 12-week blog and video series that follows former Olympic swimmer and avid runner Summe 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.


Since I'm not a novice, getting ready for this half marathon is not something completely foreign to me. It's more of a growing and learning experience. After training for, and finishing, marathons in New York and Chicago, I felt more in tune with myself. That's what I'm looking forward to over the next two months, and in Orlando on race weekend.

Each day is different. It's been this way my whole career: Some days, I feel awesome doing more than 10 miles (20-plus during marathon training); others, I feel really tired on a short loop around the block. Usually I can tell what kind of energy I will have when I wake up in the morning. Sometimes I just have to deal with being tired and work through it.

The hardest thing for those of us in training is recognizing when to push through. If you push too hard and you're not feeling right, it won't help. It may even hurt. You have to really get to know yourself during training. You also have to understand your limits, so you can push toward them. It's a fine balance.

You may need to switch your schedule during some weeks. You can adjust your long-run day, but remember, it will affect your other workouts, too. You have to be willing to change plans as you go. Looking a week ahead can help you set up a working plan and make adjustments before you have to think about cutting something out. There is always guilt that comes with skipping a workout, so try to avoid it.

I hear about complements to training (some of those things I did when I was a pro swimmer), but since I'm a busy mom now, I don't have time for everything I'd like to do.

I've had to learn to be a social competitor, and an imperfect one at that. I dream about being able to fit in extras like ice baths or massages. If I have an hour and a half free after a long run, I will go to the grocery store, make dinner, pick up the kids -- any number of activities on my long list of things to do!

If you can squeeze in something like an ice bath or a long stretch after your run, it's hugely beneficial. Remember, the window is short for these extras; if you're going to do them, make time right after your run to get the most benefit.

If you haven't noticed me hinting at it in my previous blog posts, I'll say it outright: Parenting is so incredibly different from living the life of an athlete. You're just trying to do the best you can. It's so difficult, especially when your kids need you the most. It's hard to be consistent and always there, but it's so important.

Sometimes you have to do the difficult things that don't feel great. It's nice to talk with your friends because they're living it, too. Parenting is just like training in that way. My girlfriends and I tell each other to stick with it. We inspire each other. Being present as a parent is just like being present in your training: You can't say, "I don't feel like doing it today."

Summer can't stop singing this week, whether it's Elton John's "Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters," or her kids' favorite Fun album, "Some Nights." Her favorite weekend tune to carry you through your upcoming tough workouts: Eminem's "Lose Yourself."

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