Need Motivation? Try an “Inspiration List”

One of the first things people learn about me is that I love running. I try not to be a “runnerd” (spewing splits, coaching advice and nutrition tips). I just love to run and am so energized about it that I have had many a friend or co-worker give it a try despite “not being a runner”. I have proudly helped many a friend train for and pace a first race (or first distance). I have many happy memories (and tons of friends) found on the run.

I have also run 250+ races in the last 18 or so years. Last winter, I was selected for a “real runner” campaign byFleet Feet Sports for their inaugural Women’s Half Marathon in June. They dubbed me “the Expert”! (I also got made up, put on cool posters and flyers, got free New Balance gear and shoes and 15 minutes of “fame”)


People always ask me what propels me to run. I completed my 35th marathon in December, 2012, in Dallas at theMetroPCS Dallas Marathon.

Last year was an interesting running year for me. I moved to Chicago in 2006. 2005 and 2006 were my fastest years with personal bests in the half marathon and marathon (and several other distances.) I was “unstoppable”. I ran 15 – 20 races each of those years and did well in all of them. In late 2006, I experienced some leg pain and did what most red blooded runners do, I ignored it and kept on running. Well, I ran 4 marathons in 2007 and they got progressively slower and more painful. As did every other distance. My confidence was shot and my streak of injury-free running was over. By the time I went to the doctor and PT in 2008, the recovery was slow and painful. It seemed like one step forward, two steps back. The desire was there, but I could not seem to get my mojo back. I won’t bore you with the long, painful detail, but things kept on that way until 2010 when I had a big health scare (I had a blood clot in my leg that caused small clots in my lungs and major breathing issues.) I finally gave myself enough time off and followed doctor’s orders to the letter! In the beginning of 2010, I started running less and cross training more. Between the rest and cross training, I felt that I was regaining some of my form and speed.

I trained extremely well for the NY Marathon in 2012. I did my three 20 milers, speed work and even paced a friend in the Indianapolis Marathon. I was READY! It was not to be. It seemed like a no-brainer to capitalize on the training and run in the MetroPCS Dallas Marathon on December 9th instead. In the mean time, we took a two week vacation. The date also extended the marathon training period five LONG weeks. With two weeks to go, it seemed like a crazy idea — or maybe just an overzealous one. I posted an idea on my blog.

As I was trying to pump myself back up, remember how well I have trained, and how much I have enjoyed running this year, I was reminded of an article I read in Runner’s World years ago. Kristin Armstrong (one of my favorite bloggers) wrote a post about dedicating each mile to someone she loved. She called it a “prayer list” and said the only thing she did not like about the idea was that she “hadn’t thought of it herself.” She said each person inspired her and the miles flew by. My friend, (and “engine”) Marie, also mentioned doing a similar thing in the Steamtown Marathon in October.


I asked my readers to help me find this smiling calm mojo!

I also saw this was first on the list of Self’s 20 Best Fitness Tips: Best Motivation: Make like Ironman world champion Chrissie Wellington and dedicate each mile you jog (or walk, bike, etc.) to an inspiring person in your life. You’ll never bonk midworkout again. “I’ll think of someone who reminds me that I can do more, like my mom, and I’ll push so much harder during that mile. When I get home, I’ll call or text all the people I thought of—and it turns into a productive workout and a lovefest.” —Marissa Stephenson, SELF fitness editor

I asked my friends, and readers, to nominate people who inspire them to “borrow” for my marathon. I compiled a list of 26.2 people to think of and honor in my run. These are people who have inspired me, or my friends, this year. I was not sure how well I would do with this exercise once I started running but I decided to give it a go!

On race day, my friend L. and I decided to run together and keep each other in check (we both have a tendency to start fast). We chatted up the Clif Bar pacer, Chris. At age 41, he was running his 106th marathon. Makes me look like a slacker at #35!!


Chris, the pacer, was running his 106th marathon!!

Our goal was to aim for 8:00 minute/mile for the first half and we started well on that goal. The first mile was a bit of a cluster due to a large half marathon and relay segment. After mile one, we were pretty evenly paced (except for a 7:32 mile 4-oops!)

I shared my list and stories with L. as we ran. (I wrote the names on a band and scotch taped it to keep it dry and taped it on- it worked! Not pretty but effective.)

I enjoyed this exercise – no pun intended! At a few points, I read all of the names again to stay positive. It really helped me to stay focused and motivated.

I finished in 3:36.36 (8:16 pace). I was shooting for 3:30-3:40 so I am pleased with the time. It is my best marathon since Boston in 2007. It caps off a great running comeback year for me. Dallas was fun and had good crowd support and other than the start being a cluster due to having a big half and relay, I would recommend it. (The new course is NOT downhill in the end though – I think the people are confused!) They also had nice finisher tech shirts from New Balance, a fun post party and L and I got hats for being in the top 100 women!

I do think that this is a cool way to stay motivated during a marathon. I recommend giving it a try! (For my full recap with 26.2 inspiring stories, you can read my full post HERE)


Top 100 finisher (women)!


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