Incentives that help me run through the cold

Summer Sanders

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.


I don't have just one mantra because every day is different.

Lately, I've realized more than ever that life is short, and though sometimes I want to give in to the temptation to stay inside and skip a run, I know I can push through it. Once I'm done, I always feel so much better.

I'm not a cold-weather runner, so I struggle with the elements this time of year. This is my first time training for a winter half, so I'm dealing with all of it right now.

I remind myself, especially at the end of a long run, that there is a warm shower waiting for me; it's my way of escaping cold Utah winters, and my motivation on particularly windy, icy days.

To be honest, I also love my favorite foods. There are times when all I'm thinking about when I walk in the door after a run is guacamole! That's the moment, though, when my kids want my attention most, because I've been out. Sometimes I'm able to make it happen. It works best if I've made the guacamole with them before my workout, and then we eat it together afterward.

Combining parenting with training is tiring -- you and I know that all too well; but they are both so rewarding and worth the effort. We get back even more than we put in.

When the going gets tough, I tell myself to change focus. I try to pick up my pace and take my mind off the pain by concentrating on something else. My trick is to check out my surroundings, which can be anything from a beautiful trail near my house to a good TV show. (When in doubt, if you're bored at the gym, change the channel for a surge of energy. Sometimes it's as simple as that.)

Racing in February is perfect for me. It's provides a goal, which I need to get through my winter workouts. Most of my marathons have been in the fall, so I've done heavy summer training. This is a new challenge. The more you know about your training, the more you appreciate your milestones. Some mornings, when I'm running along (remember, it's uphill on my way out), I feel like I'm "sucking" my first mile. We've all been there. Even if you're pushing through, running slower than you want, it is still OK because you're out there. And after that first mile, it usually gets better.

Whenever I race, I notice how fun it is to keep track of my pace. I get better and better at being able to tell how fast I'm going. I was taught to coach myself in swimming. In the pool, we'd do splits as a warm-up before switching to race pace. My coach wouldn't tell me my time for a 50 -- he'd make me guess. I was always within a tenth of the time I needed. I just got the feel of it, and running is like that too.

Running can be as technology free as you want it to be. I don't run with a heart-rate monitor -- I know my breathing well enough by now. I get a sense of satisfaction when I can feel my way through a workout like I did in my professional swimming days.

Summer is sure she can do anything she sets her mind to with her husband Erik, daughter Skye, son Spider and her best girlfriends by her side. This week's challenge: Run through the holidays without losing motivation and going into a food coma from eating chocolate and baking pies with the kids.

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