Finding Inspiration in Books

I’m a bit of a bookworm at heart. I really like finding solace and comfort in a good novel and I try to learn as much as I can, especially when it relates to both work and running. After a disappointing race at Rock ‘n Roll Chicago, I felt compelled to pick up a book or two. I felt like I needed something to “get my head on straight” and shake me out of feeling like my goals were insurmountable. I know I’m not alone in thinking these kinds of negative thoughts, judging by the number of books related to mental training in sports (trust me, there are quite a few out there) available on Amazon.

This morning, I finished Amby Burfoot’s The Runner’s Guide to the Meaning of Life. I started it a few weeks ago and finally found a quiet morning and a giant cup of coffee to get through it. I found myself highlighting at least a few passages in each chapter and I really like how it’s divided into sections that focus on a certain “philosophy”, like Connections and Courage and Goals. This quote struck me:

2013-07-31 07.54.19

And passionate, we are.

I’m also in the middle of reading Fitzgerald’s The New Rules of Marathon and Half Marathon Nutrition. I’ve never really felt like I’ve had a “problem” with my nutrition. (I mean, more than a few slices of pizza and a couple beers does the body good…right?!) I don’t seem to have fueling issues for my long runs or races but that doesn’t mean that I can’t learn something that will help me push harder and run faster.

Marathon Nutrition

I had already picked up these two books before Rock ‘n Roll. The next two books on my list really focus on mental stamina. In the Runner’s Guide to the Meaning of Life, Burfoot writes: “While running…appears to depend on great physical strength & endurance, it is, in fact, based almost entirely on strength of the mind”.

Looking forward to a bit of a mental training jolt with the help of these two books:

Coach recommended In Pursuit of Excellence by Terry Orlick.

After posting my thoughts on RnR, a few of you recommended Run: The Mind-Body Method of Running by Feel by Matt Fitzgerald.

And, finally, if you’ve never seen this TED talk by Tim Noakes on the mindset to succeed, you really must:

If I don’t have enough inspiration after reading all of these books and watching that TED talk 10+ times, it’s likely my own fault.

(Btw, I’m a major Goodreads addict and Saucony’s summer reading list for the well-read runner caused me to add some MORE books onto my To Read list.)

What resources have helped you either mentally or physically in your training? Are you as “bookish” as me? The last time you were in a “mental rut”, what did you do to get out of it?


Grand Rapids Training: 12 Weeks Out

12 weeks out from my goal race this training cycle. How did *that* happen? I returned to base training at the end of May and I can’t believe it’s already been 8 weeks since my return to 4-5 days of running a week. The 12-week mark creeped up on me!

I’ve been putting in the work. Speed, endurance, and stamina all seem to be improving. I’m excited for the mileage to begin increasing again. I feel stronger now than I did a few months ago and I know that, by the end of this cycle, I’ll be even stronger. Putting in the work!

Putting together weekly training recaps helped me keep perspective while training for Boston so I figure it’s time to pick that up again!

This Week’s Training:

Grand Rapids Training Week 13


Easy 4, 8:18 pace. I was sleepy after the weekend (more mentally than physically) and didn’t feel like battling the heat so I went to the gym for an easy treadmill run. Nice to “set it and forget it” every once in awhile.


Easy 6, 8:05 average pace. Morning run before work on a much cooler morning. This felt really refreshing. It was slow going the first mile as my legs were forced to wake up but I felt like I found a nice easy rhythm. Great start to the day!

PM- All the CARBZ in Little Italy for the second time in 4 days. Sadly, dinner plans were made with a friend as a goodbye dinner. Delicious food, sad occasion!


Rest Day & Strength Day. Short strength drill and core circuit while catching up on TV shows after dinner (Newsroom? Pretty boring. Dexter? Interestingggggg.)

Happy to sleep in and have the morning to gently ease into the work day. Went to Fleet Feet in the evening so the Man could pick up his packet for the BTN 5k this weekend and purchase some new shoes (he went with the new Brooks Ghost). I think it was the first time going to a packet pick-up for a race that I am not running. Excited to spectate on Saturday morning after my long run!


8 miles, including 5 mile progressive tempo from 7:15-6:45. Average pace: 7:26 min/mile. When I woke up, the temperature was sixty-freakin-two degrees! I thought my sleepy eyes weren’t seeing clearly but after rubbing them for a solid minute, I realized they didn’t deceive me. It’s amazing what 10 degrees can do for us runners. Ran to the lakefront for my warm-up and focused on pushing each mile. Splits: 7:10, 7:00, 6:58, 6:47, 6:45. DEAD LEGS by the end. The short drill circuit the night before actually made me pretty sore (most likely because I haven’t done side lunges in a few weeks) and it took a lot of energy just to hold it together and keep the legs moving.

The ladies will sympathize with this next part (ahem…stop reading guys!). Cramps started during the warm-up. Yeah, not ideal. Debated between turning around and going home (2 more miles) or sucking it up and committing to the workout. Luckily, there’s a drugstore on the way to the lakefront from my place. Logistics were tough. Bought the essentials, used their restroom (which was graciously allowed by the cashier when she realized what I was buying), and then carried what I had just bought to the lakefront and stashed it in a bush. Pushed my achey body through the miles, recovered my bag of lady products, and took the bus home. The day could really only improve from there…. 


Easy 3 miles, 8:34 pace. Legs were still locked up! The first mile felt rough but my muscles gradually relaxed and I felt so much better when I returned home to stretch.


15 miles, 8:05 average pace. Earliest long run probably since last fall. Woke up at 5 to get the miles in before spectating the BTN10k and 5k. Most of my long runs for Boston started around 9 or 10 AM because of the cold. The last time I consistently woke up early for Saturday morning long runs was for Twin Cities last fall. I thought I could time it perfectly to see Hillary finish the 10k but I left the house 10 min later than I hoped to. (That girl PR’d like I knew she would). Man. ran like a freaking badass this morning. His goal was to break 27 in the 5k and he ran a 25:46! Watch out world, he runs well when fueled by beer and chocolate. (That creme brulee stout and dark chocolate last night worked well for us both, I’d say.)

An old couple on bikes sabotaged the perfect set up of a side-5 with Tim R. . They clearly don’t know how serious we are about our side-5 execution. The 15 ticked by pretty quickly. Hips and glutes felt better today than they did the past few days. Foam rolling and stretching is in order later today and tomorrow. Happy to start increasing the mileage again.

This also happened this week….

Nuun Ambassador Jenny Poore

I saw a fellow #NuunHTC teammate post a link to their Nuun Ambassador profile on Facebook, clicked over to the website, and was surprised to see my pic! I submitted the information a few weeks ago and totally forgot about it. :LOOK MA, IT’S ME!:

There have been little things happening all week that have made me think more about what happened at Rock ‘n Roll. True, I bonked. But there’s a lesson to be learned in that. On Monday night before bed, I picked up my Kindle and clicked over to the next page in Amby Burfoot’s The Runner’s Guide to the Meaning of Life. (Nice, quick read for anyone looking for a good book on running “philosophy”!)

This chapter was more than appropriate:

The Runner's Guide to the Meaning of LIfe

My favorite line in the short chapter is:

We equate losing with failure, and we let ourselves be defeated. Instead of becoming experts who bounce back, we become victims who don’t try again…Instead of viewing my losing efforts as dead ends, I turn them into detours, and I keep moving forward.

Little dose of reality and resolve to use in the next 12 weeks of training for Grand Rapids.

If you have 5-10 minutes and a lot of opinions about the running shorts you own or have worn in the past, mind filling out a short survey for a friend of mine? She’s doing a research project and it would help her out a lot. (Feel free to share with other runners who are notoriously opinionated! :))

To everyone who submitted an entry to my Nuun 4-pack Giveaway last week, THANKS!

I was surprised to have so many entries for my first giveaway, but really, who can resist electrolytes? 🙂 The winner is Jesse N. and he’s already chosen the flavor that he will be receiving directly from Nuun. Congrats Jesse!

I placed an order for three flavors of Nuun that I hadn’t yet tried last week: Cherry Limeade, Lemonade (I am on Team Lemonade for Hood to Coast afterall!), and Orange. The fact that Cherry Limeade is “caffeine enhanced” easily makes it the winner out of the three but I like them all! (Citrus Fruit will always have a special place in my heart as my first Nuun Love.)

Another week down, 12 more to go.

Pics o’ the Week:

British Barklee

Infinity scarves. The next big thing in dog fashion, people.

Davanti Enoteca

All the CARBZ at Davanti Enoteca.

Marathon Nutrition

Picked up a new book.

Runner's Fuel = Beer + Chocolate

Runner Fuel. Clearly.

2013 BTN 5k

The Man before his PR

– J

Thoughts on RnRChi

Yesterday didn’t go the way I envisioned it.

First bonk. I resigned to just getting to the finish line from mile 8 on. 5+ miles is a long way to go just knowing that it wasn’t your day and you didn’t meet your goal. It wasn’t so much the physical work to get to the finish line, it was the mental beating I gave myself as I ran. I stopped looking at my watch or caring about my mile splits. They didn’t matter anyway.

I knew pretty early on that 1:32:xx was an aggressive goal in those conditions. The forecast fluctuated a lot in the days leading up to the race but I hoped that the clouds would stick around and provide some kind of relief in the heat and humidity. I thought it was going to be 68 and cloudy (although still humid) but when I woke up at 4:15 AM, it was already 74 degrees outside.

By mile 4 I looked like I had jumped in the lake. I wasn’t dehydrated, but I was overheating. Each time I poured water over my head, I was surprised how cold it felt.

When I saw Tim and Jeff at mile 6, I told them “it’s too hot, guys”. Side-5s were appreciated but they seemed so silly considering I knew it wasn’t going to happen.

Rock 'n Roll Chicago 2013

Thanks for capturing a strong moment, Britt! (near mile 7?) 

I know that 1:40:xx is not indicative of my ability. I’m stronger that that. After a pity-fest and too many tears when I went home yesterday, I forced myself to spend time with the gang and grab a few beers with Kristy, who ran like a BEAST with a 1:24 PR and 9th female finish overall (!!!!). The running community never fails to provide a dose of reality and positive thoughts. Coach told me to “let disappointment turn into resolve and move forward”.

I’m good at the resolve part. I proved that to myself after the Chi Women’s 5k and the redemption PR at Bastille Day.

The weather conditions were out of control but I’m in control of my own thoughts.

I’m going to try not to linger on disappointment for too long and look forward to the rest of the training cycle. There’s too much progress already in this cycle to let this one race consume me. Lately it’s a matter of getting back to my mental game than lack of physical toughness. I used to let my mind wander more. I spent a lot of time just dreaming about the “what ifs”. And it always led to results. Instead of finding reasons why something won’t happen, I need to focus on reasons why it will. I want to be able to think “how cool would that be if ______?!” again.

I’m going to pick up this book and start dreaming a little bit more.

I’ll have more fun that way.


Bastille Day 5k + Race Redemption

Spoiler alert! : I raced another 5k. And this time I had fun and ran fast. 🙂

I signed up for the Bastille Day 5k about two months ago. I didn’t have any intention of racing. I was looking forward to running it for fun with the Man as part of his training for his first half marathon. (eeek!) I told Coach about it when I signed up and we agreed that it would just be an easy day of running in order to focus on racing hard at the Rock ‘n Roll half next weekend.

On Monday I was comfortable with just running the 5k for fun.

On Tuesday I texted Coach to ask if I could run 2 miles of the 5k up tempo.

On Wednesday I texted him and told him I wanted to race it.

On Thursday I RACED.

My legs were not fresh. On Tuesday, I ran mile repeats that felt easier than they ever have before, at a pace faster than I ran them last cycle. The speed is coming back to my legs!

Unlike the Chicago Women’s 5k, I was excited and anxious to race this time around. I was nervous in a good way. I knew I was going to PR–it was just that kind of night. At the Chi Women’s 5k I was lethargic, apathetic, and generally “meh” about the whole idea of racing. I wasn’t nervous about racing because I just didn’t want to be there. It felt good to turn that attitude around and get to the start line with confidence.

I talked with Britt and Annabelle before we started. I knew I’d be chasing these speedy ladies for the next +/- 20 minutes 🙂 Hillary, Chanthana, and I ran a 2 mi warm-up and arrived at the start line about 2 seconds before their 8k started. Derp!

I don’t really have many thoughts on the race because I literally just RAN and tried not to over-think things.






What I Did Differently:

  • wrote in my moment journal the night before & gave myself a pep talk
  • ran with my iPod – tunes tunes tunes!
  • focused on running in the moment with *km splits instead of mile splits
  • ran a longer warm-up – 2 miles rather than 1 mile
*Can’t seem to view km splits on my watch or in Garmin Connect now. Would like to know them!

Bastille Day 5k PR

New, 33 second PR 20:05

The course felt lucky because my previous PR was on the same course last year.

A nice little confidence boost heading into the Rock ‘n Roll Half, I’d say!

Bastille Day 5k 2013 Results

I was chasing those speedy girls the entire time.

…Notice something? I’m not listed in the race results. I would have placed 6th female finisher overall and 2nd place in my AG if my chip time had been recorded. I sent an email to the race director on Friday along with my Garmin data to ask them if I can be entered into the results. Hoping they do and I can “officially” claim the PR.

2013-07-11 20.16.02


Quad selfies

Taking selfies to a whole new level, one Michelob Ultra at a time.



#NuunHTC & Some Free Tubes!

Rock ‘n Roll Chi is just days away now, but I’m really excited about some of my other races this cycle.

And one of those races is Hood to Coast with Nuun! FORTY DAYS AWAY, DUDES!

Hood to Coast with Nuun!

I fell in love with Nuun after seeing several people tweet about it when I first started running regularly. I was training for my first marathon and knew I needed something with more electrolytes during the hot summer. The small tubes are easy to throw in your gym bag or purse. And adding a tablet to a glass of water and waiting for it to fizz is fun. I bought my first few tubes at Fleet Feet and gave them a try, without realizing how addictive they’d be. I’m pretty sure it would be impossible for me to be dehydrated during my training this summer because I can’t go a day without it (it’s that tasty.) I’m not a particularly “salty sweater” but I know it’s important to keep my electrolytes balanced while training in the heat.

I had a tough workout on Tuesday morning. 1 mile repeats in 93% humidity and 72 degrees at 6 AM (it wouldn’t have been much better if I ran at 4 AM or 5 AM…). I’m not sure how I managed to do this but I ran 4 x 1 mile faster than I did during my last training cycle. 6:19, 6:26, 6:21, 6:20….in those conditions. I managed to end each mile near a water fountain to splash cold water on my face but I was struggling even during the cooldown to hold it together.

Nuun Hydration after 1 Mile Repeats

I felt like I might has well have gone swimming instead of running because it was so muggy out there. (And if you saw me afterward, you probably would have though I did go swimming!)

Within 3 hours post-workout, I drank at least 36 ounces of water and Nuun. No rest for the weary!

After trying almost all of their flavors, my favorites are citrus fruit and watermelon. (I have yet to try the caffeinated Cherry Limeade! I’ll be making a purchase soon…) I consistently drank Nuun before my first marathon and didn’t have any hydration issues despite high temps the last 10 miles or so. I will take Nuun over Gatorade any day, especially because you don’t have to deal with that lingering sugary taste in your mouth. Nuun sells single tubes or 4-packs.

Hood to Coast will be my first official relay.

I’m already having visions of naps in vans, makeshift showers (AKA baby wipes), and handoffs with my teammates.

NuunHTC Leg Assignments

I’m Runner 11 in Van #2 for Team Lemonade, so I’ll run a total of 16+ miles (which will be perfect to slot into my marathon training cycle). Jesica D will hand off to me and I’ll hand off to Holly.

{For those of who you have run Hood to Coast before, what tips do you have for me? Which leg was most difficult for you? Is there anything you would have done to make your experience more enjoyable?}

Have you tried Nuun before? Have you struggled with hydration in your training? What’s your favorite Nuun flavor?

FREE TUBES! 4 Pack Giveaway

Nuun is providing a 4-pack of any flavor to the winner of the giveaway. Just a click away! (and you can enter to win everyday until July 18th when a winner is chosen!)

If you don’t see “Enter Here” above, you can enter by clicking this link—>  a Rafflecopter giveaway

You can continue to enter the giveaway until Friday, July 19th. I’ll be contacting the winner by Saturday, July 20th! 

And if you don’t want to bother with the giveaway or you want to buy some this instant, Nuun is offering a 15% discount with Code: hydrateHTC valid on all purchases (so you can use it multiple times) through September. All product information and flavors are here!

Nuun is providing the 4-pack free of charge to the winner of the giveaway. All opinions are my own.

A “Moment” Journal

Motivational Running Thoughts

Last night after dinner, I sat down to think. After my last 5k I lost a bit of my motivational mojo. But on Tuesday, I had a bit of a breakthrough. I ran mile repeats faster than I did last cycle in conditions that were far from ideal. 73 degrees and 93% humidity at 6 AM is no joke. It was the first workout in awhile that I can remember positive thoughts. Thoughts like “I can do this. Only  a little bit more. Just keep the legs moving”, rather than “man, am I done yet?! This feels harder than it should. I can’t wait to be finished.”

Those thoughts bring about two drastically different results.

I write in a journal from time to time. I realized last year that my journal was turning into a place of complaint and anxiety, as opposed to one of motivation and happiness. Now, whenever I feel like I need to take stock of the good things in life, I write down a “moment”. My journal is now a collection of “moments”. They can be as small as that moment in the early morning when it’s just me, my thoughts, and a cup of coffee. Enjoying a new book or a lazy Sunday afternoon are small moments I try to remember. Or the moments can be as big as a new addition to the family, an exciting breakthrough at work, or a kickass race time.

Last night’s journal entry was like a personal pep talk–all of the reasons why I am motivated to keep going and keep pushing.

Do you keep a journal, for running thoughts or otherwise? Do you think it helps with your “mental game”?

{If you haven’t thought about the difference between “in spite of” and “because of”, Hillary has some words of wisdom for you: “That’s some bullshit”.}

The Mental Game

Losing the Mental Game

Lately I’ve been feeling like my running is more of a mental than physical game. After last weekend’s 5k, I was pretty disappointed. There are two kinds of thoughts that I’ve been going back and forth on in the past week or so.

The first: “Come on, Jenny. Give yourself a break! It was hot and humid and a tough day to all-out race a 5k. You almost PR’d and you’re still so early in this training cycle!”.

The second: “No excuses. You weren’t mentally prepared. You weren’t even nervous or excited about the possibility of running a PR.”

To be fair, both of these thoughts are legitimate, but running and all of the emotions that go along with it aren never black and white. I’m too stubborn to accept the first thought (so stubborn, I suppose, that I feel like I can conquer anything weather throws at me.) And I’m too scared to accept the second thought as true because this is the one that I have control over.

The truth is that there are things that I can do in the future to make sure that I’m mentally prepared for a race that is supposed to be uncomfortable.

When I started running regularly I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into or how addicting that feeling of crossing the finish line with a PR would be. Lemme tell ya, we all want to get back to that feeling as soon as humanly possible once it happens. And that’s probably why training and racing long distances is so tough. The payoff doesn’t come until months and months down the road. It’s really easy to get greedy.

I wanted that instantaneous hit of “I did it! I PR’d a race I wasn’t really that prepared for!” and I didn’t get it.

I don’t think I internalized my goal last weekend. My legs forgot what it felt like to run consistent 6:30s and I crossed the finish line feeling like they were going to fall off. I let myself get distracted enough to not care about the time on the clock. And that’s a sad thought.

It wasn’t my body that failed me, it was my brain. And that thought still hurts.

I’m planning on slotting another 5k into my training before Grand Rapids to see if redemption is possible. Even if I don’t PR the next one, my goal is to arrive at the start line with a “quiet confidence” that I can push myself for +/- 20 minutes because that’s what my head, my heart, and body are capable of.

Training, Lately:

I started consistently training again at the end of May, with a 21-week plan to the Grand Rapids Marathon from Coach. Between mid-April and early June, I was really lazy. I was all too happy to accept that and I’m so glad that I allowed myself the time off. I’ve never been the type of runner to jump into another training cycle immediately following a race. And like most people, the mental and physical rest was necessary after Boston.

I just finished up Week 5 of the 21-week cycle. Back to base-building and a slow progression to speed and stamina workouts:

Week 1: 30 miles

Happy to run 5 x per week again & surprised to find I hadn’t lost much fitness in sloth-mode!

Week 2: 33 miles

Highlights included consistent 400 m splits under 1:30 and two tempo miles faster than I expected

Week 3: 34 miles

11 miles through the “wilderness”

Week 4: 32 miles

Highlights included tough 800s into a massive headwind, beer run, and 5k race

Week 5: 34 miles 

First strength training class at my gym in months, some heat training, and a weekend of anniversary celebration

There’s no reason to be unhappy with my training so far this cycle. I remember when I used to dream of running the paces I run on a consistent basis now. I just have to be patient and work hard.

What do you do to get mentally prepared for a race? Have you ever “raced greedy” before?

– J