Put some fun in your run

Summer Sanders shares tips on proper nutrition as she trains 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 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.

A great way to remind yourself why you love to train and race is to act like a kid again. Do something new that spices up your routine.

For me, it's a cannonball -- that's right, I do a cannonball jump into the pool! I start every swim that way to remind myself that life shouldn't be taken too seriously, especially not the recreational parts.

When I get the latest issue of Runner's World each month, I also feel renewed. Checking out the accomplishments of other runners in so many kinds of races all over the globe inspires me. I read about someone else training for a half, and I get stoked for Disney all over again.

Nowadays, I get a huge kick out of pulling up my calendar and counting the days until my race. When I see how close it is, I remind my son, Spider, how much fun we're going to have in Orlando. Then, I look at the Boston Marathon entry on my bulletin board and think about the adventures I'll have between now and April. It is exciting to have my next two goals planned out so I can work toward them one step at a time.

Sometimes, you start doubting yourself in the midst of training. Running takes up a lot of time, so there is often a tradeoff between training and doing other things, but I couldn't picture my life without it! If you want to get out there and make it a real part of your life, it will happen.

I've been running consistently, without a break, since 1995, and it feels so good every time I cross the finish line. When I see the tape, I get that goofy grin and can't think about anything else.

There's nothing like that sense of accomplishment at the finish. And when you have that medal around your neck and grab for a bagel and some water, you don't want to be anywhere else. I can't wait for Spider to experience that for the first time in Orlando; I get to do it once with him Saturday and then for a second time Sunday at the half.

Spider has no idea when our race really is. At his age (5 years old), he knows the days of the week and months of the year, but he can't put together the concept of time yet. I can tell him about the race (and we've gone out for runs together), but he doesn't know how much time is involved in a 5K. He can't get what 45 minutes feels like. I tell him it's like two episodes of his favorite show, without commercials.

It's so fun to experience the little moments with him and hear him talking about our race over breakfast or when we go out for a bike ride. It doesn't matter how long it takes us to do his race, just that he has fun. As he learns how amazing it feels to finish what you started, I will be there, the proud mama, taking it all in.

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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