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Taking the Plunge into Ultras…

Well, not so much of a plunge as it is a baby step. If you didn’t catch it on Instagram or Twitter, yesterday I signed up for my first Ultra! 

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If you haven’t heard of the Bullet Creek50, I highly recommend checking it out. You can visit their website, sign up on Ultrasignup, or find the latest info on Facebook.

There are three distances – half marathon, 50k, and 50 miles. I signed up for the 50k! The swag at this race is unbelievable. .. at the packet pickup they’re giving ALL runners a Camelbak hydration pack, Petzl headlamp,  and Under Armour tech tee!

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Bullet Creek50 swag

With such awesome “goody bags,” the hubster even decided to sign up for his first half marathon!

I signed up for the 50k thinking I just may not be ready for a 50 miler so soon from now (I have about 3.5 months to recover and train), BUT there is NO CUTOFF time, AND if a runner can’t finish the distance they signed up for, they WILL get a belt buckle if they finish one of the shorter distances! So, I’m seriously considering emailing the race director to see if I can pay the extra $20 to upgrade to the 50 miler. If it turns out I’m not fit to finish it, I’m confident I can finish the 50k.

Is giddiness normal after completing a marathon? I’ve been overwhelmingly giddy ALL WEEK LONG. My very soul is sparkling and bubbling, like overflowing champagne! Is it due to the completion of an enormous goal? Is it due to how well I felt during, and after, the run? Maybe getting an awesome deal on my first pair of trail running shoes? (Used my REI dividend to partially pay for them, AND my order qualified for a $20 gift card! That deal is going till April 29 – check it out!)

Or maybe it’s due to the fact that the completion of that goal was not an end unto itself, but rather one big step towards a series of goals. I’m on my way towards making my dreams a reality, and learning that I am so much stronger than I ever believed possible!

What are you learning about yourself as you work towards, and beyond, your goals?

Maintaining Motivation: 5 Tips To Keep You Running

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A recent comment and post from a fellow blogger, Ryan, over atRunning For Change, got me to thinking about some of the best ways that I have personally found to stay motivated to run. I’ve been through recent dry spells, and after analyzing what kept me humming along in the past, what led to my dry spells, and what got me going again, I’ve come up with 5 essential keys to success.

1. Enter a Race
This can’t be just any race. This race needs to be local, or at least within a short enough distance that an unexpected shortage of funds won’t be a hindrance. That doesn’t mean “destination races” are out of the question. It simply means that there needs to be enough local races on the race schedule to keep the momentum going.

Another important consideration for this race is that it needs to have a goal attached to it that is achievable, but requires focused effort in order to reach it. (i.e. longer distance, faster time, or obstacles to conquer)

2. Use A Training Plan
Whether you use a free one, a purchased one, or hire a personal trainer to develop a customized one, a training plan will keep you on track and help you reach your goal injury-free.

For my first three half marathons, I tailored my own training plan after researching plans and tips for several weeks. This got me to my first half under-trained (a good thing) and injury-free, to a PR in my second, followed by another PR in my third. Currently, I’m sticking to a free marathon training plan that I downloaded on my RunKeeper app, and I’m really feeling great about it. If I get the results I’m looking for, I’ll try a second one when I push for that sub 2 hour half marathon later this year.

3. Fuel The Fire
In everything, you get out what you put in. Trash in = trash out. The better you eat, the more you will FEEL like being active. Plus, the more active you are, the more you will WANT to eat right. It’s a wonderfully upward spiral.

4. Social Media
Most people will encourage you to join a running group. My schedule has never really allowed for that. What I have found helpful is using social media to connect with the running community at large.

A combination of blogging about running, following other running blogs, connecting with runners on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, etc, and entering sweepstakes for running gear keeps running at, or very near, the forefront of my mind. I’m encouraged by the trials that are overcome by others like myself, and I’m inspired by their victories. I learn from them how to do what I’ve never before done, and I sometimes even get a virtual pat on the back along the way.

5. Mix It Up
Prevent boredom and burnout by mixing some variety into your training runs and even races. Have you been running the same route for weeks? Explore a new route. Tired of the treadmill? Wake up earlier and hit the roads. Still not doing it for you? Find a trail. Not enough trails near you? Turn your run into a game. Go on a “treasure hunt” – make a list of items to find and snap pics along the way (this is basically what I did on these two posts: The Long Run: Here’s Your sign and The Long Run, A Photographic Journey).

There you have it – a handful of my personal secrets for maintaining motivation. How do you stay motivated? Do you play games while you run? What games do you play?