I run for no one but myself

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.

We all have former and current versions of ourselves to contend with. I know nothing I do in the pool or around the track these days is elite. Honestly, I always found the fun in sports, even when I was swimming professionally.

The reason why I run (or swim, for that matter) hasn't changed. I've learned that I don't have to be the best at everything; as long as I'm enjoying what I'm doing, I should keep it up.

At this stage, I don't need more pressure or stress in my life. Don't we all have enough of that already? Running, swimming, whatever sport you choose, should be your release. It's your time. Sports are an outlet to unleash your emotions and energy.

Going for a run is a special moment in time when you can forget whatever has been bothering you at work or in the other serious parts of your life. I often return from a run with a problem solved or a new idea for something unrelated to running. There's something about those endorphins and time on my own that gets me charged up every time.

Before running in the Chicago Marathon, I trained alone for almost all of my big workouts. My race buddy lived in Colorado, so aside from some super phone chats, we didn't get to experience our ups and downs together, at least not in person. My mom even got on a bike to encourage me during one long run. I ended up running her back home and then doing another loop. It didn't matter whether she joined me for five minutes or five hours, I just felt so lucky to have her in my life.

Think about the supportive people around you and everything they've done to help you get through training. Make it a point to tell them how much they matter and include them in your training and racing plans whenever you can. Even if it means cutting a run short, take that good friend (or in my case, my mom!) out to show your appreciation. Go for coffee or lunch to celebrate what you're doing together.

Nothing is ever perfect, right? We encounter hiccups along the path to race day because they are unavoidable. Don't expect your training to go smoothly -- it never does. I have yet to experience an ideal training situation leading up to any of my biggest running or swimming events. But after the race is over, I'm so thankful for everything I've learned along the way that I can't wait to start down the path again.

Summer's scheduled days off from training are opportunities to spend more time with her kids. The perfect night together always involves popcorn. Though Summer is Ms. Moderation, she can't resist a good movie night with the perfect salty snack that the whole family can share.

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