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Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Reasons to get out there and run

By Summer Sanders

Summer on the Run is a 12-week blog and video series that follows former Olympic swimmer and avid runner Summer Sanders on her journey to train for Disney's Princess Half Marathon on Feb. 24. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, she will share training tips, and a little inspiration, as she gears up for the main event. Use hashtag #GoRun on Twitter to follow Summer and be part of the ongoing conversation.


I run because it opens me up. It's me time, and every moment I'm out there is a challenge that I have to meet.

It's not easy. It reminds me of when I was swimming -- it's freeing, it relieves my stress and it gives me focus. Those good feelings are not tied to one sport. They are part of athletes' universal language.

Running also opens up my creativity.

I always have my smartphone on me, which is crucial when I run. I think of all kinds of ideas while I'm out there. I write them down in the notes section of my phone. It's just like working through feelings in your dreams or writing down your thoughts before you go to bed at night.

I also get back in the pool all the time. It's so normal for me. If I go for a 40-minute run, I'll get in the pool afterward for another 20 minutes. I use swimming like people use yoga -- it complements my training and allows me to continue to run as often as I want. I stop at the wall and stretch. I love having swimming in my back pocket.

I also have a girlfriend yoga night. Twice a month, we do sweaty, hot Vinyasa yoga and then go to dinner. I look forward to that night -- to the workout and time with my friends; it makes working out more social, just like it was in college.

I feel the way everyone else does in the winter, but we can't let it stop our training.

When it's cold and dark outside, we all want to curl up in bed. I say, stick with it. Give yourself a chance by getting out of bed, even if you feel tired. Take that step to get up, and then reevaluate how tired you really are. You can back off on your pace if you're feeling exhausted, go shorter or slower. You can even move your workout inside to avoid the elements. You'll surprise yourself. You'll feel awake and refreshed after you get out the door and complete that first mile. Sometimes all it takes is getting started.

Don't start going down the path of skipping workouts or slacking off. It will only make you feel worse -- more stressed, less prepared. The more you give in, the easier it will be to keep caving.

Once you've earned some extra sleep, save that for a special morning and relish it. You'll sleep better and have another reason to get out the door next time.

Stick to the positive cycle you've begun and then remember how good it feels.

Summer is sure she can do anything she sets her mind to with her husband Erik, daughter Skye, son Spider and her best girlfriends by her side. This week's challenge: Run through the holidays without losing motivation and going into a food coma from eating chocolate and baking pies with the kids.