How I am learning from experience

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.

Doing the same route after you've been training for so many weeks gets boring. Changing it up is like discovering a jar of chewy, delicious Swedish Fish. Now that's what I'm talking about!

I just did a speed workout last week and have 11 long, slow miles for this week. I'm hunting for a new trail so I can enjoy the scenery instead of counting the miles. All of us who have been training for months have a great foundation now; next week, it's time to taper.

This time around, as a more seasoned runner, I feel good about what I know I can do. When I have an 8x800 workout planned, I don't kill myself on it. Instead, I get those fast-twitch muscles moving. I feel my legs turn over quickly. I am growing accustomed to pushing the pace to get the right kind of workout without making myself exhausted for the rest of the day.

As you train, remember who you are. Most of us are not out there to break world records. Pull back when you need to, and be proud of yourself. Recognize your hard work after each and every workout. The most important part is congratulating yourself at different moments along the way. It feels good to train and grow as a runner.

Don't forget the warm-up and cool down, especially this late in the game. I love to do two miles before and after my run to stretch and iron out any sore spots. You don't want to risk injury now. If you have to cut that mileage down to only a mile on each end (to allow enough time for your workout), that's fine. Just don't skip the front and back end completely.

Honestly, we all get hurt at some point. Everyone has dealt with some sort of ache or pain, or even worse. Most people don't talk about it. When you meet other folks at a race or on the roads, remember they've been hurt and probably even dealt with time off due to injury. Don't give yourself a hard time if you have something to get over, as well.

Now is the best time to heal completely before your race. I've had my share of injuries. Going into the Olympic trials to earn my spot for Barcelona in 1992, I had a shoulder injury. I knew it was my chance, my only chance, for the Olympics. I was so hurt, I had to use the kickboard and watch as my teammates raced by me each day in the pool. I had to keep kicking in the lane next to them. It was torture for me, but it was all for a reason. It led to some of my best performances, my four medals in 1992 and, more important, it taught me to push through the mental rough patches.

When my injury got me down, my coach and teammates helped to lift me up. I needed to learn how to deal with those moments. Now I realize I can get through anything that comes at me, and I've learned to trust my body to dodge some of the bigger obstacles.

Football Sundays are family time, so Super Bowl weekend was no different. Summer and her family caught all the action together with friends as the Baltimore Ravens earned their spot in history. Watching sports together is one way they get motivated to hit the slopes, pool and roads, just not while the game is on!

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