Dixie Goes Running & What I’ve Learned So Far

After doing my longest run ever Sunday (14 miles), my legs were feeling a little stiff & tight yesterday. I decided to take Dixie for a short, slow run to loosen up so I could do some good stretching. We ended up doing 2.3 miles around town. I didn’t run with Dixie at all last week because I did my runs right after work without coming home first or at the track. She was sooooo excited when I got her harness out.

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It was over 80 degrees, so we got our first taste of summer running. The forecast here in NC says 80’s for the foreseeable future, so I’m assuming my half marathon will be pretty hot. I’m hoping for a cloudy day!

Sun’s out, tongue’s out!

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After our run, Dixie wanted to help me with my ab workout. AKA she wanted to lay on top of me and lick all the sweat off my face.

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With my first half marathon just 12 days away, I feel like I’ve gotten the hardest part of my training out of the way. When I started my training plan, the goal was to run the half marathon in under two hours. Then I changed that goal to 1:55. Now I’m shooting for 1:50. I’ve changed so much during my training, but I’ve also learned some big lessons about running that I want to share:

1. You are capable of more than you think. When I started training in February, I couldn’t imagine running 14 miles. At that point I could do about 5-6 miles. On Sunday, I ran 14 miles with ease. I changed my way of thinking so I only focused on the next long run, not the end goal. When I broke it down into “I just ran 6 miles, I can run 7,” then 8, then 9, then 10, each week’s goal became more realistic. As I tackled each long run I gained more and more confidence, which motivated me to work harder every week.

2. Stay focused, but don’t beat yourself up. It’s not the end of the world if you miss a workout. As long as you stay committed and don’t miss a full week of workouts, you are going to be fine. It’s crucial to have a training plan, but use it as a guide. Focus on the big milestones and don’t sweat it if you miss a short run during the week.

3. You can’t eat EVERYTHING. On my long run days, it’s like I can’t possibly eat enough food to feel full. Burning 1,500 calories in 2 hours will do that you. However, I’ve learned that I’m not invincible when it comes to fatty foods. I’m a lover of cheese, butter, sweets and beer. These things are fine, as long as they are in moderation and don’t make up 100% of your diet. With two weeks to go, I’m really focusing on nutrition that is going to fuel my body for race day instead of just pleasing my taste buds. Overall, I’ve lost 5 pounds since I started training, which has really helped improve my pace and has made long runs feel a lot easier.

4. Have fun. When it starts to feel like a chore, stop and think about why you’re really doing this. Is it for yourself or to please someone else? Are you trying to prove to yourself that you can do something or are you doing it so you can prove it to everyone else? I think a lot of runners struggle with these questions. If it doesn’t make you happy, you are setting yourself up for failure and disappointment.  Never lose sight of the reasons why you run!

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned while training for a race?

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36 Responses to Dixie Goes Running & What I’ve Learned So Far

  1. Jamie says:

    How did you train your dog to run with you!? Mine is an absolute maniac who either sprints the entire time or stops every 5 seconds to smell the grass. It’s always an absolute disaster haha.

    One of the most difficult lessons I learned, and I think what caused my injury while training for my second marathon, was that you don’t have to run every run hard. I used to run my long training runs at or near marathon goal pace. Now I run them at MGP + 45-90 seconds a mile. Not only does it help make me a mentally stronger runner, but it also allows my body to slowly adapt to the idea of spending more time on my feet.

    • Maddie @ Dixie Runs says:

      Dixie is a sniffer, so we do end up making a few stops along the way, but for the most part she is a good runner!

      I struggle with that too… I think once I see how it pays off in a race I will be more comfortable with my slower pace for long runs.

  2. Suzy says:

    You’re a smart girl! Isn’t it SO AMAZING how our bodies adapt to the distances? I led some running clinics and did personal running coaching and the one thing that would keep coming up is that people would look at the plan and be like NO WAY am I ever going to be able to run 20 miles. But each week that goes by, their bodies adapt and then when they do the 20 miler, I’m like, SEE?!?!?!? You did it. It will never cease to amaze me.

    • Maddie says:

      It really is amazing! 20 miles used to be totally out of the question. Now I think of it like “I’m ONLY 6 miles away” and that is SO crazy to me.

  3. Great lessons! I especially like #1 – so true!

    I think the biggest thing I’ve learned is to be patient and respect the process. “You can have it all…but not at once”, is a quote in my training journal. When I was first starting out and there was nowhere to go but up, it was just once success after another and I started to get greedy – I would set all these crazy goals for myself and want to have it all NOW. I wanted to improve my time by like 5 minutes at each race. But I’m learning that it takes a long time – months, even years – to become faster an run naturally at speedier paces, and that any big goal worth having is worth being patient for. Trying to train at a level I’m not yet at is not going to get me there any faster – I need to respect the process and be patient with myself. Once I realized this, I also found that the “wait” even has it’s own joy once I let it in. A guy I know just ran his first Boston and he said something I’ll never forget about qualifying: “the journey is half the fun.”

    • Maddie says:

      Yes, yes, yes! I remember reading a post you did about this. And this reminds me of a quote I read and I can’t remember where I read it.. It may have been in Meb for Mortals which I’m reading right now, but it said “distance running is not for those who enjoy instant gratification” or something along those lines. That one really hit home for me.

  4. #2 really resonated with me. When I first started training for my first half (19 days away!!!), I thought I needed to follow my training plan to a T, and when I missed workouts, I felt really discouraged. But then I realized, that is going to happen. I am going to miss workouts and it won’t be the end of the world. I was more likely to make myself crazy trying to stick to the plan exactly as it says, rather than personalize it and adapt it to me.
    I’m so excited to hear about your first experience!

  5. It is the little things that count. The little times you spend foam rolling, the extra servings of fat, those extra minutes of sleep, even chapstick. It is the little things that add up to something big!

  6. Great post! Remembering to have fun is so key! Training can begin to feel like a chore if you don’t remember to just have fun! I think the biggest thing I try to remember is to trust my training. When race day comes, knowing that I’m at the start line as prepared as I can be is the biggest comfort for race day nerves!

    • Maddie says:

      So true.. I’m nervous at every race no matter what, but I feel much more confident knowing I’ve put in the work!

  7. Salt says:

    I think it’s just about the coolest thing ever that Dixie runs with you. I wish I could teach my cat to do that. 😉
    Running has taught me so many of the same lessons that you have learned. Most importantly I have to remind myself that this is supposed to BE fun! (Obviously sometimes it’s not, but mostly it is haha.) You are going to do so great in your race! I’m excited to hear all about it. Enjoy the final prep, my friend!

    • Maddie says:

      She has an unlimited supply of energy… it helps to have a running partner who never wants to stop!! Thanks for the encouragement 🙂

  8. You’re going to smash that half marathon goal.! so exciting that your first half marathon is coming up.! I’m excited to see how great you’ll do.
    you can eat ALMOST everything though 😉 ha no..but running does help the eating bug.

  9. Karen says:

    You’ve had a great raining cycle from the sounds of it! 5 lbs. is a lot, it will make you feel lighter on your feet for sure 🙂
    You are so right, nutrition will the best thing you can for the next few weeks to make a big impact.
    It’s great you felt your 14 miler went with ease, that is a great encouragement that race day will feel even better. It’s the same temps here in VA, it’s too hot for me after work now 🙁

    • Maddie @ Dixie Runs says:

      Thank you!! It was 82 during my run yesterday… I’m going to have to ease into this summer running thing 🙂

  10. When I first started running, I had no idea that it would lead to so many incredible friendships! It makes it so much more fun! 🙂

    • Maddie @ Dixie Runs says:

      That’s one of the unexpected gifts that comes with running! You meet people that you never would otherwise. And all the bloggers I have “met” are pretty great too 🙂

  11. It sounds like you have learned so much and come so far in your training over the past few months! I remember how weird it was training for my first 1/2 marathon and thinking about doing double digit runs…but then as you progress it doesn’t seem so bad! You will do great in your race!

  12. Great lessons! You’re almost there – and you’re going to do awesome! I can’t wait to hear about it!!!

    The biggest lesson I’ve lea Ned while training is to fuel properly. You can’t run double digit mileage without eating breakfast first – I learned that the hard way. You also can’t eat a bunch of junk and then run – it also doesn’t work. Getting my fuel right before during and after long runs has helped me so much!

    • Maddie @ Dixie Runs says:

      I never understood the importance of fuel until the first time I ran 11 miles without breakfast and no gu… Lesson learned!

  13. GiGi Eats says:

    You’re not super human so if you truly feel as though you cannot do something, don’t force yourself! Listen to you gut!

  14. Kerry says:

    Great post! I love the pic of Dixie hanging out the window!

    I think running has really taught me a lot about being ok with being uncomfortable. I think often when I am in a situation or doing something that is uncomfortable, I try to get out of it. Running doesn’t really allow for that. I usually feel so much better after runs, but being ok with the discomfort of doing it (especially hard workouts) was really an important lesson for me.

    • Maddie @ Dixie Runs says:

      Yea, that’s so true! There have been so many really uncomfortable workouts that make me feel amazing as soon as I’m done.

  15. Funny enough one of my biggest lessons is that you can never stop learning! A few years ago I thought I knew it all and the more I run the more I realize there is infinite information out there. This year I have decided to read as much as possible and never stop learning and questioning things.

    • Maddie says:

      That is so true… I’ve just started reading a lot more books about running. I thought I knew it all but I was so wrong! Right now I’m reading Meb for Mortals… so good!

  16. Dixie is so precious! Charlie does the same thing after a run, he just wants to snuggle and lick sweat off of my face.
    One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from training is how much the little things count: sleep, drills, stretching, strength, hydration/nutrition, all of that. Running is about so much more than just running! I’m excited for you with your race coming up – you’re going to do great!

    • Maddie says:

      Why do dogs love the taste of sweat so much!? All the little things add up to a big difference.. I never realized how important they were until I actually started doing them!

  17. megabrooke says:

    Just came across your blog and pumped to read when people are training for their first big race! Sounds like you have learned so much and you’re clearly totally prepared for the big race! To me, one of the biggest things I learned with my training for marathons, half marathons, even shorter distances, is that the training is really the “marathon”– the race itself is more of a celebration for all of your hard work! Good luck!

    • Maddie says:

      Thanks! That is so true… I remember reading a quote that said something like “a marathon is hundreds of miles with a 26.2 sprint to the finish” which really resonated with me

  18. Awesome post today! And a big big congrats on your longest run yet! 🙂

    Dixie is sooo cute and look super happy to be out for a run!

    I think your running lessons are spot on. And having fun definitely tops the list! I (over)trained for the Disney marathon- 13 months. After we finished, I found myself in a slump. I was down because I no longer had a goal to fight for, and just wasn’t pushing myself to run. I have a new goal now and am so excited to start a new training cycle soon for Route 66 in November.

    • Maddie says:

      I’ve heard about that happening to a lot of runners… post race blues, especially when you put TOO much time into training

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