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How great can you be?

Need some inspiration? This video is amazing.

(They have disabled embedding into other websites,  but trust me,  it’s worth clicking through!)

26.2

There are certain moments in life that leave a mark.

I ran my first off-road marathon on Sunday, May 1. There is always a lesson to be learned in running a marathon; a lesson that can only be learned in the 26.2 miles. Many athletes, myself included, find it hard to get past the fear and doubt that creeps into your mind before and during a race— especially a marathon. However, I am learning; I am learning to trust my body, trust my training, trust my heart, and mostly trust God. I am learning that, instead of pushing so hard, I should focus on finding my rhythm, relaxing, listening, smiling and enjoying. I am learning not to be afraid to put myself out there without expectation. I am learning to be grateful to finish a race–any race–and know that it may not go the way I expect. I’m learning to embrace the challenges and use them to propel me forward. I’m learning that you don’t have to be afraid of pain. Because it hurts! I am learning that it’s okay if you’re not running the pace you planned. I’m learning that you never, never, never give up! Because, if you stay steady, stay alert and focus, you just may come home with that sweet victory!

Some friends and I ran the Potomac River Run Marathon on the first of May. It was a cool, clear day for running; we were excited with a few pre-race jitters. But we ran, we raced, and we persevered to the finish! All of us came home winners! I placed first overall in the women’s division. Alison, who’s been working with Coach Brenda at Peak Running, placed third overall, running a 4 minute PR.  Maribeth, another Peak Runner, placed third in her age group.

Race day is always a mystery unfolding; that’s what’s so humbling and exciting about it. The mystery is what keeps athletes coming back…because you never know what might happen.

Love,

~Coach BA

The Rope of Hope

Hills are challenging, but so is life. We know we have the strength and the endurance to get up the incline. But facing such a hurdle is intimidating—in running or in life.  So how do we overcome that mental block?  First, relax. It’s hard to do but crucial for success. Then think positively: remind yourself that you know you can do it. Breathe deeply. And take off!  Lift your legs, drive your knees and pump your arms while visualizing that you’re being pulled by an imaginary rope tied to your waist. Let’s face it: we’re hoping the rope will do most of the work and all we have to do is hang on. But we keep moving. We struggle to hold our shoulders back and keep our posture tall; we struggle to look far enough ahead to keep focus; we struggle not to panic; we try to keep the steady rhythm; we force our bodies not to stop and walk; we struggle with the thought of having to do it again.

However, despite all the doubts and pain of running hills, we know it helps make us a stronger athlete.

Some people attack a hill, while others run steady.  Some have a mantra while others just kick into auto-pilot.  It’s hard to find peace with hills as we’re gasping for air.  They often come in a race when we least expect them.  The more we practice the better we can handle them and the less we fear them.

I hope your rope pulls you along with ease and grace and occasionally with pleasure.  And know that if the situation requires it of us, we’re ready to haul a little ass.

Blessings to all of you!

Let’s Hear It for the Girls

It’s a tough world for a woman.  Society expects a lot from us.  We’re expected to work hard, run a household, and raise kids, all while magically maintaining a 24-inch waist and living up to an impossible standard of beauty.  There is, of course, equal pressure on men to succeed.  In celebration of the month that just passed, my article strays from the typical how-to approach to training.  As a woman, I’d like to address the issue of why we do what we do.

Men have always dominated the sports world.  As female athletes, we’re lucky to be able to compete on the same playing field.  This wasn’t always the case.  Forty years ago, people scoffed at the idea of a women’s cross-country team.  Then came Katherine Switzer, a pioneer of women’s running.  It was all by chance that Katherine ended up on Syracuse University’s men’s cross-country team:  there simply were no women’s athletics at Syracuse in the 1960s.  Although the coach wouldn’t allow her to be an official member of the team, he did allow her to practice with the team, which she did, every day.

Katherine went on to run the Boston Marathon when women weren’t allowed to run marathon–and she was almost kicked out mid-race when the race administrators discovered that the “K. Switzer” who had registered for the race was female! Katherine’s most celebrated feat may have been creating Avon International Running, the largest series of women’s athletic events.   These events attracted many more women around the world to athletics.  Most importantly, Avon was an integral force in getting the women’s marathon officially included in the 1984 Olympics.

She changed the world for all women and particularly for female athletes.  On a recent visit to New York City, I had the pleasure of meeting Katherine at a book signing for her new book Marathon Woman. I’d like to share an excerpt from her book with you:

“In 1967, few would have believed that marathon running would someday attract millions of women, become a glamour event in the Olympics and on the streets of major cities, help transform views of women’s physical ability and help redefine their economic roles in traditional cultures.

It happened because on a basic level, running empowers women and raises their self-esteem while promoting physical fitness easily and inexpensively…We learned that women are not deficient in endurance and stamina, and that running requires no fancy facilities or equipment.  Women’s marathoning has created a global legacy.”

We all have our own passions and drives—and thanks to people like Katherine Switzer, woman all over the world can follow their passions.  My passion is showing people that self-limitation is what holds us back.  This does not simply apply to athletics—believing in yourself helps all of us achieve peak performance in our business and personal lives too.

Exercising enables us to believe in ourselves more than we ever thought possible.  You’ll constantly be surprised by what your body can do.  Make it a priority.  It reduces stress, keeps your healthy, gives you energy, maintains your weight, increases your quality of life and, most importantly, gives you a good sense of self.  Eat well, seek balance and make time for yourself.  When you feel good, and feel good about yourself, you will perform better in all things in life.

Women have come so far as runners, athletes, and positive role models for the people in our lives.  There is no better time to take action, to be inspired by the women that have come before you, and to inspire all those that come after you.

Have the courage to believe in yourself. We can all be marathon women.

“There will always be something to strive for.  My hope is for the heart to strive forever.”  – Joan Benoit Samuleson, winner of the inaugural women’s marathon in the 1984 Olympic Games