Top 10 Things Helping Me To Get Faster!

If you have read my blog from the beginning (coming up on 9 years of blogging?!) then you will remember about 582 of my failures on the way to get to some of my running goals (I have some even crazier ones now;).  There were years of injuries and coming in WAY short of my goals.  I’m thankful for those years of growth and some of those mistakes made on the way because they made finally hitting a few goals feel so much cooler.

Theresa asked if I would share the top things that have helped me over the years so here they are.  PS some days are just bad days/races no matter what you are doing with your training… I’m just talking about some of the things I can control in this post:

*Brain training… and a lot of it.  I focus on working on cheering for myself now rather than being hard on myself during a race/run and it has made the world of difference.  I focus on gratitude when things get hard and stay in the mile rather than feeling anxiety over what is to come.  These two books HERE and HERE changed my running brain and I am so thankful for them.  This podcast and this podcast are two that also really helped!  I realized you have nothing to lose by telling yourself you WILL do something.  If you truly believe you can do something then when your body gets tired during the race you won’t slow down because you believe deep down in your core that you can do it.  And if you don’t hit your goal after telling yourself you WILL… who cares?  Your family and friends will love you all the same and you’ll just keep working until you do hit it.  Leading up to my sub 3 I only spoke about that race saying I would come under 3 and that was very different compared to previous years when I would talk/think about my upcoming marathon and say these types of things—> ‘I think I can, maybe, sort of, probably, if I’m lucky, if the stars align, someday.’  Tell yourself you WILL do it and your body will follow your head’s lead.

*I became stubborn with my goals.  Our brains want to quit way before our bodies have to and once we become stubborn with what we want out of life, we don’t settle anymore.  I used to fold every time I got tired and I finally decided that I wasn’t going to let fatigue take away what I wanted.

*I take my slow days a lot slower than I used to.  I think I used to only do fast days and medium-fast days.  And now on my easy runs if it doesn’t feel easy then it means I need to slow down and I do.  I have told my running partners many times that I need to slow down on my easy days.  I take a rest day each week and I really prioritize sleep.  If it comes between choosing to watch tv and going to bed early… I choose going to bed.  I’m in a place right now in life where I can get at least 8 hours of sleep each night and I choose that because I love how much better I feel (I know this is not possible for everyone and when my babies were younger I’m right there too with the lack of sleep)!  There are many nights I put the kids down and then put myself down for the night too ha but it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make (okay… not really a sacrifice because I love sleep) to improve my running.

*I eat a lot more food.  Sometimes I look back on old posts of mine and wonder what in the world I was thinking.  I survived off of salads, skittles, and sweet potatoes (which are all good things but I need much MORE).  I got injured every time I went above 55 miles per week when I was eating this way and I never properly recovered.  I feel like my running is SO much stronger now that I eat things like burgers at lunch or rice bowls for dinner.  The more calorie dense my meals are, the better I feel and run.  YES, salads are delicious and can include so many great nutrients and plenty of calories too… but for me, I run better with more dense meals (and way more fat than I ever used to eat) and I eat a lot less salads than I used to.

Who knows what is happening in this picture from 2010 but after this race my body completely crumbled because I was undereating and not taking care of myself.

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*Life is just different and that makes a big difference.  I feel like shortly after I started blogging, my life kind of exploded.  There were years of heartache and dealing with terrible issues and while yes I still have daily stressors/problems (like all of us do), my world is completely different now.  Realize that life stress/trials can really take it’s toll on us and go easy on ourselves.  When I look back at those years I wish I would have gone a little easier on myself, dealt with what I needed to deal with and realized that the sleepless nights, rivers of tears and large amounts of emotional stress really wiped me out and I was not in a place mentally to hit my running goals.  I was emotionally on empty.  We can train and hit our goals when life is hard too but sometimes life really takes over and running goals will always be there for you when you are ready to get back to them.

*Coaching.  I can’t even tell you how much of a difference having a good coach will make in our running.  They see the big picture much better than we do and can really help us make huge leaps in our speed and endurance.  I’ll never go for a big speed goal again without a coach!

*I took my race day nutrition a million times more serious.  I crashed in a lot of my races in the past simply because I ran out of gas.  We don’t expect our cars to run without gas so why in the world would we expect our bodies to go without glycogen?!  THIS BOOK helped me a ton with this all.  Taking gels during a run/race used to be a chore for me but with practice (a lot of it) they don’t bother me at all anymore.  I have actually turned pretty strict with my nutrition during races especially… I told myself during my ultra if I couldn’t make sure that I was taking in calories every 30 minutes then I had no right to be out there on the course.  I start the fueling early in the marathon now and it has changed racing for me.  PS you can read my marathon fueling post here.

*I cut ties with placing my worth on the clock.  Judging ourselves based upon how our running is going is a sure way to not enjoy running very much IMO.  My times used to really effect how I felt about who I was and I am sure that just put so much pressure on myself to perform well that I would explode when it was finally race day.  We have infinite worth because we are children of God and that has nothing to do with our running.  The good days or the bad days don’t change my worth because that worth is set in stone.  Realizing that my worth has nothing to do with my running makes the setbacks or bad running days easy to handle and bounce back from = getting faster!

*I race a lot more.  For me this has helped me a ton!  Races used to make me so nervous (I swear that is why I used to deal with IBS around big races so much more and now I never do) and now I do them so often that they are just another day to go out and do what I love to do.  This one kind of goes with the above one but once we stop tying our worth with our performance… we enjoy racing so much more.  The more races I do, the more I just go out and try my best and that’s all I can expect!

*I’ve heard/read (who knows if they are credible sources… I’m just going to keep believing it #placeboeffect) that women endurance athletes peak in their 30s and I won’t argue that.  The older I get the stronger I feel.

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And that was a whole lot of words so here is a short summary of our Sunday:

Brooke made a loaf of bread (with the bread machine) all by herself (I helped her by getting out the right measuring cups:)!

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Andrew made the honey butter and the combo was perfect.

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We went to church and Skye sat on my lap for 20 minutes during the first meeting which might be a new record for her since her infant days:)

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Lots of relaxation.

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Someone decided to skip her afternoon nap so bedtime was even earlier than normal for her.

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I love her love for stuffed animals (and can you see my lip gloss on her cheek from a goodnight kiss ha?)

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In case you want to check out the most popular posts from last week if you missed them:

*Timp 1/2 Race Recap + 26 Miles for TRAINING?!

*Things I Need to Tell You + My New Fitness Goal

*Anybody Else? + Friday Favorites!

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What are some things that have really helped you with your running?

What was the best part of your weekend?

Ever make bread?  Have a favorite brand of bread?

Anyone ever gotten injured DURING a race?

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54 comments

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Hey this post came to me at the perfect time! I haven’t ran in 8 months due to falling while walking the dogs & tearing my PCL off my tibia. 4 months of therapy & lots of walking & strength training & I feel ready to start running again so I’m going to get those books you mention to read while I’m starting to build my base back up.

I fell during a trail run years ago & tweaked my knee. I pushed through & just walked & slowly jogged the rest of the race. There was no short way back anyways unless I called for a cart to come get me. My pride never would’ve allowed that. Lol
Anyways after a few days rest, it was ok. Nothing too serious. I just love how we learn to really listen to our bodies to know when something is over use or an injury & how to recover from
Both!

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Becki. I am so so sorry about what you have been through over the last 8 months. PLEASE keep me updated with how you are doing and how your running is going. I bet you are so ready to be back! Ohhhhh that must have been painful during the race to have that happen… I probably would have done the same as you. Thanks Becki and congrats on being so patient and truly taking care of yourself after this injury… you will be rewarded for being so smart about your comeback!

I completely missed my goal during my first marathon & so I’ve tweaked my training by incorporating slower easy days, lots more brain training, & I’m still trying to get my nutrition down (my stomach always seems to start to ache at mile 13 during my long runs:/). Already I’ve been seeing & feeling such a difference!!!
I was so worried running significantly slower a couple days a week would make it so I couldn’t reach my goals, but instead I have found that it allows me to really show up & hit much faster paces during my workouts & long runs!

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Tatum, this is so great to hear. I am so happy that the brain training/easier easy days/nutrition are making such a big difference for you! It’s amazing how those slow days make us go so much faster on the fast days. You are doing great and please keep me updated with how you are doing… I’m cheering for you Tatum!

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I was so thinking about you a day earlier how you came to such a happy and lasting state from a state where you had difficulty to just function… I was thrilled you just mentioned it. I didn’t know it lasted a few years…and I see how you could go through hard times so it gives me hope when I don’t see the way out. I also use running and walkong as therapy, I do a bit too much of it now.
You’re an amazing woman with great family support (I lost almost all) and great faith (I don’t rely to God as often as I’d need to) and great personality in general, lots of loving friends… I know I can go through tough times too if I work harder. I’d love to have an outcome which is love and happiness… Thank you so much for this post, I loved it!

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Damjana…I’m always here if you need to talk. I am so so sorry you are struggling so much right now and it my heart hurts for you. I am so sorry that you lost your family support and I’m ALWAYS here if you need to talk. Always! I can be your internet email penpal. Thinking about you and praying for you. You are so strong!

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Thank you, this means so much to me! You have the kindest heart!

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Hi Janae!
I’ve been reading your blog for several years now, and want to thank you for being such a positive and inspirational person! You are amazing and I look forward to reading everyday. So thank you!😊

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Thank you SO much Kathryn… that means a lot to me… A LOT! Keep in touch and I hope you are having a great morning so far!

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Great, great post! I loved the fueling paragraph – and how you have changed your eating from salads to more calorically dense meals (even at lunch!!!) and more fat and how great that makes you feel. I wish more people preached your message!! You are doing such a service to all women (and especially your daughters) by showing us how you fuel and take care of yourself despite being in a culture which tells us to eat less. Also, and please please take this as a huge compliment: I think your photos in the past few posts have photos of you without your enhanced eyelashes (I could be wrong) but you are so naturally gorgeous and do not even need them! Obviously do whatever makes you happy, but I kept thinking…something is different, her eyes seem even kinder and softer or something, and was trying to figure out what it was that was different. Anyway, you are naturally beautiful inside and out!

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Thanks Alisha so much! That is really nice and I am so happy that we are all realizing how negative the diet industry has been on all of us and that women NEED FOOD and DENSE FOOD:) . Andrew said the same thing about my eyelashes and it sure saves some money:) . Thank you so much and I hope your day is a wonderful one, keep in touch!

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Thanks, Janae. You are such a good role model for all ages. I was out this morning thinking, wow, look at the impact Janae is making and she has no idea about. God is using you for great things.

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I didn’t even notice your eyebrows were different, Janae! I think everybody, but especially us girls focus way more on the way we look than anyone else does.

I also feel better eating calorie dense food, but I’m also about 5 lb. from my peak racing weight, and I would really like to get there. Any ideas on how to lose weight without compromising my health or running performance?

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Nice post!! You’ve earned all the confidence.

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Thanks so much Kaytlin! I hope you are having a really great day so far:)

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I love this post!!
Thank you for being such a positive inspiration!
I have been dealing with a hard family issue, and keep reminding myself that it’s ok to take some time off from pushing myself… To be kind and gentle to myself. So I have run when I have felt like it, for therapy, just to be outside, to think and clear my head… Like you have said so many times… Running will always be there for us!
Thank you Janae ❤️

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Wendy! I am truly so sorry that you are going through some hard things right now. This breaks my heart. I am so glad you are being kind with yourself and running when you need it… not because you have to! Keep in touch and I’m praying for you!

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Thank you!
My dad passed away last week, and although we knew this was coming, it is truly so hard! The blessing is that he is at peace and “home” now.
All of this has been a good reminder how precious life is. ❤️🙏

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Oh Wendy. That is so incredibly hard. My thoughts and prayers are with you all.

Much Love,
Janae

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Hi Janae! I just wanted to say thank you! for being a great role model for all of us! I have been reading your blog for the past few years (right before you met Andrew is when I joined you) and now I am pregnant with my first baby. For a lot of my life I heard having a baby will slow you down, you won’t be able to run fast afterwards, probably can’t run because you can’t leave your kids at home, etc. After following you for a while I totally don’t feel that way and I love talking to my other running friends about my “friend Janae” who is a badass and taught me that I can pursue my goals after having my baby! Your kids always seem to enjoy taking an interest in your goals so I remind myself that I just need to include my child in my life and they’ll love it too. Just wanted to give you a shout-out and thanks for the tips today!! Happy running!

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Emily, thank you so so much for your sweet comment.. it means a lot to me and CONGRATS on your pregnancy. I am thrilled for you and you have to keep me posted on everything (name, due date, gender, how are you feeling?!)… I really can say with each baby I feel like I am coming back stronger and it’s so good for our kiddos to see us doing hard things that we love:) . Have a wonderful Monday and I hope you are feeling great!

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Hiii! Thanks for all the tips, I loved hearing about them. You mentioned things that have definitely helped me. Racing more has really taken the pressure out of it. Also, being injured has given me so much more gratitude for the sport so I just enjoy it for what it is rather than putting my worth in a time.

I also appreciated you mentioning that different things are happening in life. I think sometimes we are going through a super tough season and expect our body to just perform the same and it’s unrealistic. That life stressor releases extra cortisol in our bodies and we have to recover from that physical stress it causes on our bodies. So we already need more sleep and then trying to recover from hard runs becomes more difficult. I think it’s important to check in with yourself and realize man, I’m in a hard season, let me be kinder to myself and not push after such a hard goal and maybe try for that next season. It’s a-ok to take a break and a step back when your mind and body needs it. I’m hoping to do my first half back in November as long as the build back from injury goes well, but with it being 2 wks after my wedding/honeymoon, I am not putting any time goal expectation on myself because working full-time and planning a wedding, then moving and having the wedding–>it’s all good stuff but it’s extra stress on my body and so it’s better to just enjoy it without pace expectations:)

We’ve gotta be kind to ourselves!

One thing I’m working super hard on right now is eating enough. I love what you said about fueling during race->being so strict that if you can’t take the fuel then you shouldn’t be out there. I think it’s the same outside of races too. If we aren’t gonna fuel our bodies well how can we be selfish and push them to workout everyday? SO I’m working on this hard right now:)

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Injuries really do make us even more grateful for the ability to move without pain! YES YES YES to everything you just said about the way stress affects our bodies. I just want to underline everything you said. You are being so smart about your half right after your wedding (I am just so thrilled for you!!) and you have so many other races in the future to add the time goal too… now you need to continue to handle all of the stress (good stress) that you have right now! So true, we shouldn’t be lacing up our shoes if we cannot get in enough calories. I hope you are having a beautiful day Eleanor and thanks again!

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I’m with you 100% on brain training your emotional strength!!!! If affects your life big time. I’m fascinated with reframing thinking patterns to improve how the body responds to stress, perceived stress, old memories. I’m working on this every day, and it’s not easy, but I tell myself “no matter what, I will be ok.”

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Oh I love this Emma. It really does change everything when we change the way we think. I love what you tell yourself… so important. Keep me updated with how you are doing with this Emma. Have a fabulous day!

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I feel like it’s great that you’re training “smarter” now… BUT, you also “influenced” thousands throughout the running and mom communities on your previous exercise/meal regiment whether it was the intention or not.

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Hey Sabrina! I have totally wondered that too and felt terrible but I think it actually did the opposite… I was able to show that running does not work out when you eat/train like that. Living like that did not make me fast… it made me injured with no period. So I guess if someone wanted to be injured then they would have copied my eating habits;) I have been able to help MANY many women that are suffering with amenorrhea to break that cycle and I’m grateful that I have been able to share my mistakes/failings online rather than present that I’m perfect and have life all figured out because it has helped others to feel less alone and that they can do what they can to gain weight to get their periods back etc. It would be one thing to have someone that has always eaten well tell people that it will make you fast and another thing to have someone tell you to do that when they have seen what happens themselves when they don’t… I think it’s a lot easier to believe! Thanks and have a fabulous Monday!

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Chiming in to say for me personally — and I can only speak for myself — as someone who has struggled with eating issues, it’s been helpful to read about how eating and running have evolved for you. I’ve been a reader for a long time and feel like, even when under fuelling, you were never trying to sell anyone on a diet regime. Seeing you discover what was healthy and best for you and be honest about times when you were not making those kinds of smart choices is really refreshing. It can be painfully easy to feel like we are being good to our bodies when we are in fact not — that’s part of the struggle with eating disorders — your normalcy bar is thrown way off! Being able to own that, acknowledge it and move on is sometimes all we can do. Being open and honest about that with others counts for a lot.

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Mary, I really appreciate you taking the time to comment. I hope you are doing well and PLEASE keep in touch!!!!

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I used to be so scared of doing speed workouts/hill repeats that I literally went about 10 years without ever doing it. I recently read a quote that said, “it’s okay to be afraid, it’s not okay to quit…” and that lit the fire to just go for it! I’ve added in two speed workouts a week and in just a month went from really struggling on these hot summer runs and running 13 minute pace, to 8:30 pace at my 5k this weekend. It’s definitely paying off!

Paige
http://thehappyflammily.com

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AHHH HUGE CONGRATS on your 5k this weekend! And that quote is just what I needed… THANK YOU Paige for sharing. You are rocking it and I love hearing about your improvements already. Keep me updated on all of it!

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Thanks for all of the info! I am trying to break 4 hours in my 3rd marathon this October. I know I can, because my 1st one was 4:04, but it will help if the weather is cool………..it can still be 80 in Tennessee in October.

My mom always used the bread machine to make our pizza dough………..she let it do the mixing and rising, then took it out before the baking cycle and we made our homemade pizza! I think she got 2 or 3 big pizzas out of one batch of dough!

And oh my goodness do I love bread. it’s amazing. My favorite is either the kings hawaiian or a local bakery that makes a sweet sourdough with soft crust. So good………….

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You absolutely can and YOU WILL break 4 in October. I’m cheering for you big time! Oh I need to try out the machine for pizza dough. I hope you get some great bread soon!

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Thank you for this post!! I’m running a marathon at the end of September and still trying to get my race plan down. My biggest issue is fueling since I have so much trouble eating early in the morning, and I tend to be too nervous to eat! Just read your race fueling post too. Thanks for all the info! Put some of your book recs on hold today :)

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I am SO excited for you! Which marathon is it? Your fueling will make the biggest difference on race day and I’m so excited for you. The more you practice it the better your stomach and nerves will handle it. Enjoy the rest of your day!

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I’m running Fox Valley (here in Illinois). I’m excited!

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Oh yay! That is so exciting!!!

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Does the bread come with recipes you use or you find them online? I’d like one but wonder if I’d use enough and then there’s the storage of another appliance too.

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It does come with the recipes and so far we’ve loved them all! Hope you have a great day!

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I absolutely love the two pictures of you at the top of the post – “then” and “now” of finishing a marathon. Great post, thank you!

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Thanks so much Jenny! So much has changed. I hope you have a fabulous day!

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Hi Janae! Thanks so much for sharing some tips for getting faster! I’m trying to break my half marathon PR from 3 years ago, so these tips are really helpful.
Do you have any specific stretches or exercises that you do for warm ups and cool downs?
Thank you for sharing and for being such an amazing role model for health and balance in training and fueling.

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Hey Annie! I can’t wait to hear about your new half marathon PR! You better tell me about it:) . These are the dynamic stretches that I like to do before a race/hard workout (and I need to get back to doing them before all runs):

https://hungryrunnergirl.com/2013/09/well-that-hurt.html

Here are a few of my favorite post-run stretches: https://hungryrunnergirl.com/2014/09/my-five-post-run-stretches-my-new-favorite-picture.html
I definitely need to be better at both but let’s work on that together:) . Hope you have a fabulous week and keep me updated!

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Thank you Janae! I’ll try these on my runs this week! Hope you have a great week too and your training continues to go well! :)

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HILARIOUS Brooke made her own loaf of bread for the 1st time because so did I on Saturday!!!!! Ummmm how will I ever buy bread from the store again?? Our house literally smelled like a bread factory!!!

XOXO

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Bahahaha way to go Jarrelle! It really is so hard to go back after you have fresh bread straight from the oven/machine:) . That smell…

Enjoy the rest of your day!

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Wow what a great post! I want to print it out and bookmark it and keep it handy as I go into my next year of training! I completed the Canada half ironman last month and missed my goals by quiet a bit (the swim and the bike went fantastic, but I bonked pretty hard on the run), but thats just fueled the fire for next year.

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Jade! I am SO sorry about how you bonked but HUGE congrats on your half ironman… that is beyond amazing to me! Keep me updated on what’s next for you!

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I love all these strategies. It sounds like a HUGE part of the change was mental. And I love that you linked THOSE two running books because they’re my favorite! This post gets me so fired up to go out and fight for my goals!!

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YESSSS so much mental! Life changing. YES YES YES KARI… go go go! And tell me about it all along the way please:) Have a great night!

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I love this post and your daily inspiration. I feel like I can apply some of these to my weight training as well. Mindset is definitely a big one and I love your reminders about it.

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I love everything about this post!!!!! i think what I’ve learned about myself through almost 30 years of running is that I don’t need to punish myself! It took a heap load of dedicated miles, hill repeats, long runs and speed drills to qualify for Boston 5 times and run 11 marathons (most of them in San Francisco)..and I don’t regret any of it because it’s made me the runner and person I am today. But I realize now that missing a few runs because of ‘life’ or NOT having to push to get that last .xx of a mile is not going to break me or make me less of a bada$$.
I can still push if/when I need to go after a goal, but it doesn’t have to cost me.

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Janae, I LOVE how determined and confident you look in your recent photos. What you wrote about in your post today is shining through and you have this fierce joy in your running that is truly inspiring. Yay for all you’ve learned and all you share!!

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Peter Reinhart bread recipes are the best! He’s a bread genius :)

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