Monday, April 11, 2016

Guest Blog Post: Melissa Butler from Marathon Mom

I am very pleased to have Melissa Butler from “Marathon Mom” write a guest blog post for us.  She is from the Sacramento area and races a lot of the same races I do.  Melissa has some great things to share, is a certified Running Coach, and shows that it’s more about loving the sport than anything else.  Please take a second and follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

--I can’t run, I’m not fast like you.
--I’m not built like you.
--You make it look so easy.
--I get too nervous, I can’t do that.
--It’s so easy for you to just go run a marathon.
--I can’t wake up early to run.
--I don’t have time like you do.

These are just a few of the comments I’ve heard about my running.  The truth is I am not naturally fast or athletic; I have doubts at every race I’ve done; sometimes I don’t want to get up at 4:45 am and run 20 miles in the dark. The one thing I do want is the feeling of crossing the finish line, knowing that all the dark mornings, hard workouts, and long runs paid off. 

Last year, I ran the Boston Marathon, this past January I set a new marathon PR (3:28), and in March I set a new half marathon PR (1:35). None of these things came easy, they were years of hard work, and days of telling myself I could do it when it seemed too hard. I’ve had my share of injuries, and failed races that didn’t go as planned.  I’ve learned a thing or two, and I still have more to learn from my 20+ years of running, from my 15 marathons, and countless other races.  I’ve come up with list of tips, hopefully they can help any runners trying to reach a goal or just getting started.
  1. Don’t compare yourself to others and where they are; it took me years to get to where I am and you can get to your best too, but it is YOUR journey.
  2. Never, ever give up. There will be some races and runs that make you ask yourself, “why am I doing this?” Use it to work harder, and keep your goal in mind.
  3. Don’t start out trying to run a marathon. Take it slow, enjoy the journey, and always remember where you started.
  4. Don’t expect results too fast or get discouraged when it doesn’t happen like you think it should. If you try to do too much, too soon, you will get injured. I have learned this too many times.  You have to put in the work and chip away slowly at your times.  It won’t happen overnight. Be patient, and listen to your body, but also know when to push.
  5. Don’t expect your body to perform its best if you eat bad food.  Fuel your body with good food.  I often get asked about my diet. I tell people to eat healthy, but if you want a piece of cake have a piece of cake (just don’t have half the cake).  I eat mostly healthy vegetables and food, but I do occasionally eat fries, ice cream, and cookies.
  6. Get good shoes, and replace them every 400-500 miles of running. There’s no shortcut, get fitted at a running store and replace them when needed – it will prevent injury and make your feet happier.
  7. Races will hurt, especially marathons. There will be moments when your entire body and mind is screaming at you to stop, but you must stay strong. It may look easy when you watch a race, but they are all pushing through some level of discomfort.  Nothing great comes easy.
  8. Never tell yourself that something is impossible. My latest half marathon pace used to be my 5k pace, I used to compare my times to my friends and think that would never be me, but I have learned that if I work hard and put in my best effort, it will pay off. Nothing is impossible.
  9. Take your rest days and easy days. I struggle with this one, but after having stress fractures and pulled hamstrings, I am trying to be better at it. 
  10. This one may not be for everyone, but I add yoga into my training schedule regularly.  At least give it a try, the benefits it will give you are amazing; it’s also a great recovery from hard running and racing. I practice Bikram Yoga and yin yoga (at Bikram Yoga Natomas in Sacramento), but just find something and try it out (more than once)!
  11. Have fun!  Ultimately, if you don’t love it, don’t do it. Yes, there will be days that are bad you don’t love it. In the end, I truly enjoy my runs and the races. I do. It teaches me that I am capable of so much more than I think I am and that I am stronger that I thought.
A few things about me: I grew up in Arizona where I ran cross country and track in high school.  I moved to Sacramento, CA fourteen years ago, where I live now with my husband and three kids. My two daughters are new runners, and my son has been running with me for about three years and can smoke me at all the races we do together. I have completed 15 full marathons, including Boston 2015, and countless other race distances.  I’m an assistant cross country/track coach, and I’m also a certified adult coach. You can find me on Facebook at “Marathon Mom” and on Instagram @aspiredrunning

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