Advice for every woman conquering her next run.
It might start with a couch-to-5K.
Then it moves to 5K fun runs.
Then, a friend talks you into tackling a half-marathon. And if that distance isn’t crazy enough, your friend tells you it’s also a trail run in the mountains of Colorado.
After you finish that half-marathon, you realize what your mind and body can conquer.
My experience as a runner has been a journey.
Even though I’ve run multiple marathons and an ultra/50-mile run, I still don’t consider myself a runner.
I’m just a woman who needs an outlet, a mental escape, and free exercise.
Every time I go out for a run, I’ve got two things in mind:
- Go farther or faster than the last run (many times, neither happens).
- Finish with a clear mind (this always happens).
Going further and faster is about pushing outside your comfort zone.
Getting outside of your comfort zone is where growth occurs. It’s where you materialize that which makes you better. I heed this advice in my running, in my personal life, in my business – in everything. I know that “the hardness” is where I struggle and, subsequently, during the struggle, is when I grow the most.
Finishing a run with a clear mind is about using alone time to process your thoughts.
My mind wanders everywhere during a run. Sometimes, I replay conversations I’ve had that day – both good and bad. Other times, I mull over options that solve my challenges. Often, I brainstorm ideas of things I want to try, test, plan, or build.
When I finish a run faster or farther and with a clear mind, I gain a sense of accomplishment and a tiny feeling of relief, both of which contribute to transforming my attitude for the rest of the day.
My advice to every woman conquering a run is to focus less on how far you make it or how fast you finish.
Instead, focus on how your run makes you feel. Use running as a means to achieve liberation over your mind and body.
Admittedly, you need a good run to manifest these tiny moments of achievement. Good runs require mental prep before one foot hits the pavement.
Prepare yourself mentally and physically before you hit the streets, trail, or the treadmill:
Have the right gear.
I recommend running with a Nathan Hydration Pack.
No matter how far you’re running, you’ll want water at some point. This pack positions a straw right next to your face, so it’s easy to drink and run simultaneously.
It also has pockets, which I stuff with energy chews and salt tablets. When your body feels good, you run longer, and sometimes you need more fuel (insert an energy chew) or side cramps pop up (insert a salt tablet).
As a woman, my sports bra is single-handedly the most important gear on my body.
Decades ago, I’d jog 50 feet in a Champion sports bra from Dick’s and then quit because the bouncing hurt so much. Today, I thank myself for stopping those uncomfortable runs because that bouncing damages breast tissue, which leads to what we all fear as women: saggy, droopy boobs.
I have two go-to sports bras:
The Air Control Delta Pad sports bra is hands-down the best option on the market because it is so damn good at support during a run. My boobs literally never move in this bra, no matter how fast or slow I run. Plus, it’s incredibly comfortable, light and airy.
- In my moments of vanity – when I wear a tank top and don’t want to show my sports bra straps – I switch to the Panalp Delta Pad sports bra. This is a racerback style made with the same cup design as the Air Control, but just a bit more accommodating with tank tops. However, I still prefer the Air Control Delta Pad sports bra because the placement of the straps (set wide on my shoulders) makes me feel more supported.
As a woman who owns a lingerie boutique, I try every sports bra we carry. These two sports bra styles fit my body best, and that’s why I stick with them. Another style might fit your body structure and breast tissue better, so I encourage you to try all the options to ensure you run with the right sports bra style for your body.
Adding two simple physical preparations (hydration pack and supportive sports bra) has a powerful mental influence. Preparation jump-starts your mind into perseverance mode. You have no reason to quit or make excuses because you’re ready to take on farther or faster.
There are only two reasons you break down during a run:
- You get injured. When you have real physical pain, you should stop and assess your situation before continuing.
- Your mind gets weak. You can have fake physical pain because you’re tired or it’s hard. Everyone hits this threshold during a run because it is part of the running experience. This is why not everyone is a runner! It is hard!
I get a weak mind every single run. Every run.
Since every day is a new day with a new run, I decide every run how much I let my mind overtake me or how much I am going to overtake my mind.
On bad days, I take the run, shuffle, walk approach.
In this type of run, I’m physically running as far or fast as I can before slowing down into a shuffle, which is just another way to say ridiculously slow jogging. When I’m having a particularly bad run, that shuffle becomes a walk.
We all have bad run days. Sometimes, it’s because we let our minds win. Sometimes, I have really tough mental days and need to slow down to ensure I have time to air my thoughts and reset. Regardless of what is going on mentally, the goal of your run is to physically keep moving.
On good days, I run the entire duration of my route.
On these days, I come home feeling like Beyonce, literally physically and mentally running the world.
Even on good run days, your mind will try to overtake you.
My recommendation to win your mental battle during every run is to pick landmarks on your course and commit to running to each. Hit your first landmark, give yourself ten steps of walking to reset your mind, then pick it back up into running to your next landmark.
Breaking your course into chunks makes it easier to achieve mentally. Despite the physical effort required, running is so much more of a mental challenge because your brain is in control, telling your body what to do, not the other way around.
When I participated in the Leadville Race Series 50-mile run, my running partner broke the course into 10-mile chunks because that was how we trained. I knew I could run 10 miles, so mentally, I turned the experience into a 10-mile race. Every 10 miles, I transitioned into a walk to refuel my body with food, and then I picked it back up into my next 10-mile run.
If you’re running the Kansas City Marathon – or any other long-distance race – think about breaking your race into 5-mile stretches. This distance is both short enough and long enough to see momentum-building progress over a 24-mile course.
After every run, relish in your glory.
Seriously. Take a moment to appreciate yourself. Smile. You’re amazing and working hard to get where you want to be.
Running is designed to push yourself outside your comfort zone to become stronger mentally and physically. Use it as a tool to test your inner strength and your ability to remain outside your comfort zone.
Running has taught me more about who I want to be as a person in this world and how hard I’m willing to work to reach my goals. Let it be for you, too.