By Dana Mays
Motivation only knocks on the door of achievement after discipline first takes you there.
It happens to the best of us – diminishing motivation that threatens our training progress. At the beginning of our journey, we may eagerly embark with energy to spare. We enthusiastically choose a goal and pick a race. We sign up, pay the race fees, hire a coach, buy the right gear, and carve out time in our busy schedules. We watch inspirational videos, envisioning ourselves crossing the finish line to receive the medal. With this, we feel a great deal of motivation, and we train with optimism.
But as the miles begin to build, monotony sets in… and our motivation starts to dwindle. Perhaps we aren’t moving as fast or as efficiently as we want. Maybe we struggle with aches and pains, desperately trying to avoid injury while still increasing in fitness. Maybe the weather isn’t ideal, or work/family life becomes overwhelming or stressful.
Whatever our reasons for dwindling motivation, in order to continue building, we must develop and maintain DISCIPLINE to drive our efforts. But how exactly does one do that?
Here are a few tips from my own experience to help foster the type of discipline which promotes motivation and keeps us on track:
Anticipate your Excuses & Remove Potential Roadblocks.
Calendar More than Enough Time for Workouts.
Share your Goals… and your Struggles… with Important People in your Life.
Dana is a marathoner, a yogi, a triathlete, and a former D1 Cheerleader.
My First Full Marathon – 4 Tips to Lessen the Pain
In December 2022, after 20+ years of competitive running, I finally finished my first full marathon! Not gonna lie, it was VERY painful – I didn’t finish in the time I expected due to acute knee pain that hit me hard about halfway through. This was especially disappointing given that Robert’s expert-level coaching and training plan had thoroughly prepared me for the distance. I truly felt stronger than ever, both physically and mentally! Sadly, my stubborn old knee pain flared up at precisely the wrong time. Not only did this bring me physical discomfort, but I really beat myself up mentally because I felt like I could’ve done so much better. This race has taught me 4 very specific, helpful things that I want to pass along to other athletes who may be training for longer races to help lessen the pain, both physically and mentally.
1) Fall in Love with a Foam Roller on Day 1 of Training.
If I could go back and train all over again, I would religiously roll my quads, hamstrings, and calves at least twice a day, every day. When I began rehabbing my knee post-race, my physical therapist recommended using a foam roller (I had never used one before). I started rolling out my quads before my runs, and to my complete surprise, my knee pain has almost completely subsided just from that one change to my routine! I learned that, while training for longer races, our muscles and tendons tense up and start to put strain on our bones and joints. Rolling helps keep those muscles loose by releasing tension. In addition to icing and compression, rolling after workouts is key to injury prevention and recovery. (For more information, talk to Robert about foam roller recommendations and techniques specific to your personal needs!)
2) Don’t Race with New or Untested Accessories (Duh)!
This is a “duh” for me because every semi-experienced runner should know better. That being said, the day before the marathon, I decided that I needed a new race belt with an extra pocket so I could carry more Honey Stinger gels. (These are delicious – talk to Robert about where to find them if you haven’t already!) Well of course, the belt didn’t quite fit right – it moved around too much on my waist and kept falling down. Even though I had put on the belt, tightened it all the way, and jumped around in it the day before, it wasn’t fully evident that it didn’t fit until I started actually running in it. Had I trained with the new belt, I would’ve known that it wasn’t going to work. I ended up having to take off the belt and hold it (and my phone) in my hand during the entire marathon. This was not fun! Bottom line: no matter how much you’re convinced it’ll work, don’t try to race in new clothes/shoes/accessories!
3) Thoughtfully Plan Your Race Fuel.
Although I LOVE LOVE LOVE Honey Stinger gels, I didn’t really need the 8 of them I tried to carry (in the belt that didn’t work, see above). Turns out, the marathon I ran had an endless supply of energy gels and other random snacks throughout. If you are uncertain about what types of fuel will be offered for free on race day, check with the race director or look on the website before you weigh yourself down with “all the things.” Of course, Robert can help you make sure you’re planning your race fuel correctly and efficiently as well – he helps you calculate your caloric/sugar intake needs according to your body composition in the weeks before the race. Also, if you plan on using the free race fuel, it’s a good idea to try out the different types of gels/powders that will be available on race day to make sure they sit well with you digestively (I will spare you the horror stories I’ve heard)!
4) Lower your Expectations a Little and Be Proud of Yourself for Showing Up!
This was the MOST IMPORTANT LESSON for me. Indeed, most of the psychological pain I experienced during the marathon was due to my expectations not being met. It really is just like they say; when you lower your expectations, you limit your disappointment. Don’t get me wrong; it’s important that you set goals for yourself. Realistic goals are empowering and motivating! But you should be fully aware that your goals can be derailed at any moment. Unforeseen circumstances sideline even the most experienced athletes. Speaking from my own experience: if your sense of self-worth is often defined by your achievements, you are particularly vulnerable to disappointment if you do not live up to the expectations you set for yourself. Awareness of this is the first step to showing yourself kindness if or when you don’t meet your goals. Give yourself some grace and be proud that you undertook the journey in the first place!
Written by Dana Mays
The Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 was released in August 2023. Obviously the third iteration of the popular shoe, I was reluctant to try it, though I did give it a shot as part of my ongoing effort to find the "perfect" running shoe. Read on to find out how it went...
A little background. I was a huge fan of a now ancient seeming pair of Nike runners called the Pegasus Turbo and Turbo 2 which were released in 2018 and 2019, respectively. See, I'm an injury prone runner. I was fine growing up, then I took many years off of running regularly as I finished school, and when I re-entered the fitness world I immediately started having issues. The main culprit has been "shin splints", but knee, ankle, and IT band issues pop up from time to time as well. I should note at this point that I don't believe the right shoe will cure all ailments, which is why I have also become a huge believer in continual strength training regardless of your endurance goals, but that's a different blog post. Regardless, the right shoe choice is very important to overall running health and performance. Unfortunately, Nike discontinued the Pegasus Turbo line (though the name has recently been brought back in a new, sustainable, shoe which I'm not sure has the same intent as the old ones). Thus began my four year search for a suitable replacement.
I like a soft shoe, but it also should be responsive. Soft because more firm shoes feel jarring to my, apparently, delicate structure. But responsive because I notice a quicker turnover and more comfortable gait when the shoe helps me get back off the pavement. And of course being light helps too.. The Turbos felt like that. They were very light, soft, and responsive. It seemed like a breakthrough that Nike alone had stumbled on at the time, but, thankfully, there are many companies that are developing similar materials, though it has taken a few years. Also, I'm not sure why Nike bailed on that with the newest Turbos, as reviews say they are firm..
Back to the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 and why I was reluctant to give it a shot. It looks good on paper, Saucony claims each shoe weighs 8.1 ounces (229 grams), I'm guessing that's a size 9 or 10, but either way that is great! Saucony also claims the following benefits and specs:
Nice right? So why was I skeptical? I tried the original Saucony Endorphin Speed and Pro in 2021 as I was building up for an Ironman 70.3. I don't recall them being super soft, but they did feel softer and lighter than the Nike Infinity Reacts I had been running in. They were also more responsive with the nylon and carbon plates, respectively. My issue, though, was the upper and toe box. The material was fine, but I got some rubbing on the outside of both feet, in both the Speed and the Pro. An aside, Saucony has marketed the Speed as more of a daily trainer, even though it does have a nylon plate, and the Pro as the race shoe. To be fair, I rub on the outside of my feet in lots and lots of shoes, but I judge shoes based on how long it takes for the rubbing to start. With both Sauconies, I only made it about 30 minutes before I felt the burn. I think the rubbing had to do with the shoes being a little too narrow for me, and the fact that the shoes didn't feel super stable, so my feet rolled to the outside more. I don't know for sure, but regardless, I had to bail. I continued to try other shoes and most recently came across the Hoka Mach 5.
Now that was a nice feeling shoe for me! In fact, I still use the Mach 5 for shorter distance training and even some racing. They are very light, they are soft, and they are responsive. But, as I tried to do longer mileage in them, an hour plus of running, they didn't seem as supportive as I needed them to be. Don't get me wrong, I still really like the Mach 5, but I needed more. Back to the drawing board I went. I tried Hoka Cliftons and Bondi's during 2022, and both felt firm and heavy to me. I have some Nike Infinities and some On's, both of which I like to walk and sometimes work out in, but neither of which are what I'm looking for in a long distance shoe. One day I was browsing and ran across a review of the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3. People were saying it was light, soft, responsive, the plate was new, and, most importantly, it was roomier! Some reviewers complain about this, and, let's face it, all of our feet are shaped differently, but for me they were perfect. SOOOO soft, but also responsive. I can run a 10 min pace comfortably, but it's very easy to pick up the pace. The nylon plate is definitely not like running in a carbon plated shoe, the propulsion isn't that obvious, but I'm also not fast enough over long distance to truly take advantage of a carbon plate (in my opinion). The nylon plate for sure helps me pick up the pace, though, often surprising me with faster paces than I intend with less effort. In addition to the added room, Saucony also added a heel counter and added width, which seems to make the shoes feel more stable. As I mentioned earlier, I still get some rubbing on the outside of my feet, but it doesn't start until closer to two hours in, and that is great for me. I'm definitely a fan! I haven't tried the new Endorphin Pro, and I'm not sure I will with it costing some $50 USD more than the Endorphin Speeds. I'm a happy customer.
I am not affiliated with Saucony in any way, and I paid for all the shoes mentioned in this post.
Does that bike saddle hurt? Are you fed up with cycling because of the seat? Do you wish you could be more comfortable on the bike? Don't know what to do about that infected sore from your bike saddle? Read on...
So you got a new bike, or you’re increasing training, and you’re spending more time on that tiny bike saddle than normal. Let’s face it, these things aren’t super comfortable. They cause soreness, irritation, and even sometimes the dreaded saddle sore (infected spots). So why don’t most bikes come with big, thick, comfy seats? Problem solved!
If you had a plush, beach cruiser, type seat you would chafe and it would actually make you sore from the loose material pinching and rubbing over long distance. Those things are great for a bit, but not for real riding. For that, you need something smaller that doesn’t get in the way, and which doesn’t compress very much. And yes, I know, a harder saddle being more comfortable is counterintuitive, but it is, when used properly.
What are some things we can do to make bike saddles more bearable? Here’s a little list:
Btw, I am not sponsored by, or affiliated with, any of the products mentioned on this page. I hope this helps if you are struggling with saddle soreness, and as always, let me know any questions you have!
On August 15, 2021 I had a unique opportunity. After trying for a few years, I finally got selected in the lottery drawing to be allowed to race Escape from Alcatraz. What an opportunity! The race begins by jumping off a ferry bait next to Alcatraz island, and athletes swim into San Francisco where they will transition to the bike and run. As race distances go, Escape from Alcatraz is only half as long (roughly) as my longest races, but the challenges of swimming the the San Francisco Bay, and riding and running up and down San Francisco’s hills make it a very tough race. I was pretty well prepared since I had already raced an Ironman 70.3 (in Galveston) and an Xterra triathlon earlier this year, and I have trained pretty consistently since, but the race still felt at least nearly as difficult as any other race I’ve done. Though the swim was about 1000m longer than expected and there was wind and chop, the water was also warmer than typical and I made it out in about 53 minutes. My sighting/navigation wasn’t great due to the chop and fog, which likely added some time and distance, but it wasn’t bad overall. My transitions were a little slow as well, but my bike and run went about as expected. I finished each in a about 80 minutes. Given the morning I had, I forgot my wetsuit and had to borrow one.. I’ll take it. More in preparation for races later, but this was a fun race and I’ll consider it a win!