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.
As my life started to change and I began to work and travel, running was such an easy way to exercise. I could just tie my sneakers to my bag when I traveled for work with the NBA for nearly 10 years.
Every city I visited had cool running paths that someone knew about. My coworkers and I would run together. It was the best way to get to know a place immediately; that's something swimming didn't offer. When I swam, I could get a beautiful sunrise or sunset, but never the look and feel of city.
My schedule is crazy. For example, I could leave for Minneapolis tomorrow, and then my day will start at 7:15 a.m. It will be too dark to explore the city, but I can get up at 5:30 a.m. and run on the treadmill. With the holidays coming up, I will be knee-deep in chocolate soon, too. It's important I fit in my run before my day takes off.
My mom always says, "Count your friends, not your calories" on holidays. I love that.
I struggle with nutrition because, if I'm home, as soon as I get back from a run, I have to return to mom mode, especially if I go out for a long run.
I think some people eat too much when they're training. My girlfriends and I, when we start training, we encourage each other to stay away from the prepackaged bars at the beginning. I see people eating way too many of those, and too early. "You don't need those yet," I tell them. "We're just starting our training."
Another struggle I have is altitude. When I was swimming and trained at altitude, the hardest part was climbing stairs. I was in Olympic shape, and I still got out of breath. For me, here in Salt Lake City, it's just normal training. I run at 7,500 feet above sea level, so I'm psyched to get to run at close to sea level in Orlando for my race. Humidity is the hardest environment for me, so that may affect my race in February.
Altitude is tough on the uphill. My friends and I call it annoying, but we have to put up with it. Here, I am constantly reminding myself to stick with it and push through the uphill; I know the downhill is coming on my way home. If people visit altitude during training, or when they travel, they should take it easy at first -- even try the walk/run method. You don't go to altitude and go all out right away. You don't want to feel like your lungs are going to explode, believe me.
People give treadmills a bum rap, but I'm OK with it. I've been known to watch a couple of movies like "Bridget Jones's Diary" and run 15 miles. With all the vices we have -- iPads, Netflix, DVRs -- you can always make it happen on the treadmill; if not, I want to come help you. You really should make that your own time and catch up on the shows you've missed.
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