Oiselle Volee runner, Sarah McCartan, is back! Sarah is a full-time editor, writer, runner and vegan foodie. She shares her passion for a plant-based diet and dedication to an active lifestyle via her blog, Vegan on the Run, and she's an expert in saying sane and focused in your training despite whatever life throws your way. Soak it up.
FALL – ’tis the season of cooler temps, and more running! If you’re like me, you have specific races in your sights and goals you’re working toward, which calls for the return of a more regimented training schedule.
Whether an elite or not, we must all actively commit to keeping our relationship with running a major player in our day to day lives. And we must do so alongside a number of other relationships – spouses, significant others, friends, family, and work.
What I’ve learned through much failure and frustration is contrary to what many might tell you, things don’t just balance out over time. It’s up to you to bring the balance, decide what’s a priority in your life, and make what you want to see happen...happen. It all sounds straightforward enough on paper, right?
I can’t say I always succeed. It’s only thanks to many missteps and seasons of squandering that I’ve identified what helps me (and what hurts). That said, here are 10 tips to help you make running a driving force in your life, stay sane, and keep training, despite all the other ever-changing elements in your life.
Tell Yourself, “I’m an athlete first and foremost”
Although I’m not an elite runner, I’ve noticed that it’s when I tell myself I am an athlete first (everything else second), not only does my running get the attention it deserves, everything else doesn’t suffer. Instead, everything else gets stronger. The moment I put something else first in my head and try to “fit running in” around it, it all falls apart. But what about relationships? Being a stronger athlete, makes me a stronger support system for those I love and those who need me to be the best I can be.
Dress the Part
At work they say dressing the part helps you be more productive and successful. I say, dressing like a runner increases your chances of getting out the door without letting anything stand in your way. I realize that not everyone can get away with rocking #flystyle at work, but, if you can incorporate it, being dressed and ready is half the battle for anything. And if you can afford to rock ready-to-run attire, all day long, by all means wear it loud and proud.
TIP: If you can’t dress the part, make an effort to always have a shirt, shorts, and shoes in tow so that you can change and be ready anytime or place.
Start Early or Go Late
Whether you have set hours you work every single day that demand you show up and work (like I do currently), or have the responsibility of taking care of your family, chances are you’re not always at liberty to run when you please. This is where the “start early” or “go late” decision comes into play. By nature, most of us prefer one to the other. For me, I’m a late goer. I’d rather run after work and use it as a time to revive myself mentally and push myself physically before settling into the evening.
The key is to figure out what works for you and run with it. Likewise, don’t fight against what your body is capable of. My body will never be one that wakes willingly at 4 a.m. and is ready to roll. Instead of punishing myself for this, I simply go late when need be.
Redefine Social Time
Considering running an integral part of your social time is a game changer. This is where having close friends and family who double as running partners really helps. Currently, I’m thankful to have my #brobird by my side training this season. Yes, some nights we are so zonked from our days that nothing but rest happens. However, an ideal date night looks like heading off to our favorite nearby trails with the pup. Instantly my mindset goes from “I’ve had a long day and am exhausted but I’m going to try and get some miles in,” to, “I’ve had a long day, but now I get to go spend time with my favorites and do something I love most.”
Last fall, I dedicated a post to Fall Fuel Favorites for Plant-Based Runners. As important as it is to fuel your body with whole, seasonal, nutrient-dense food, it’s equally important to make sure you’re eating enough, and doing so frequently. I used to be someone who slaved away in her office, living off of coffee, then, not surprisingly, would suffer through my evening run attempts. Small, frequent healthy snacks throughout the day will keep your blood sugar stabilized and metabolism pumping, and will serve you well whether recovering from a morning workout or fueling for an evening run.
Stand Up...avoid sitting ALL day.
As someone who spends a lot of time in front of a screen for work, I’m motivated to break the whole sitting thing as a norm, at least in my own corner of the world. A couple of years ago, I saw what sitting was doing to my running and my enthusiasm for life. My glute muscles were weak, my energy was low. Even sitting on a yoga ball wouldn’t make up for it. Thankfully today, I am using a standing desk. Although it does grow tiring, it’s not nearly as tiring as sitting all day.
TIP: Because we also aren’t designed to stand up in one place all day, if you do stand, make sure you are wearing supportive, comfortable shoes, standing on a padded area, and taking both stretching and sitting/resting breaks every so often.
Stretch It Out
You know when I feel the least ready to get out and run? When I haven’t been stretching and getting my legs active and limber and ready to do their thing. Simply moving around and telling your body what is going to happen soon does wonders. Yoga is a great help with this. I recently was able to lead office yoga and it made a world of difference in my psyche and my energy. If you can’t swing yoga at work, maintaining a yoga practice at home at least 1-2 times a week helps to mentally prepare for all that you have on your plate, and allows you to be stronger physically.
Get Creative & Mix Things Up: #chasethebird!
Training doesn’t have to include a run every single day. In fact, cross training is key to a successful and well-rounded training regime. Yoga, swimming, kayaking, cycling, and stand up paddle boarding are just a few examples of cross-training activities. If the temps have cooled off where you are but there isn’t a blizzard outside, change into your running kicks and take a shake out jog on your lunch break. Or run to your favorite burrito joint for dinner, then take a brisk walk home.
Something I continue to struggle with in my current phase of life, is missing the support I had in my hometown running community, between blood relatives and longtime friends who care about running as much as I do. Along with the joy that comes from having my #brobird by my side and helping him with his training, being a part of the Oiselle run family, and knowing the battles and achievements taking place in the lives of runners across each and every state, helps me stay inspired. It helps me keep going. Running is an individual effort, but oh so community driven.
Remember to Fly
Each of our days is filled with countless elements. And there’s a good chance these elements will look totally different for you, as they do for me. As much as I try and tell myself athlete first, everything else second, life can get the best of us.
Sometimes we start new jobs and they wear us out mentally or physically. Sometimes we are on intense deadlines or have other responsibilities that win out. Sometimes we fall off our training plans.
It’s during these times I have to stop, forgive myself and then move forward. I remind myself that each day is a new beginning and a new opportunity. The moment I decide to move past whatever is thrown at me on a given day and step out the door to run, I have a renewed appreciation for what my body, mind and spirit are capable of. I remember I can fly.