I’m so excited to introduce you to my guest writer today – Tina Muir, an English elite runner living here in the US. While her specialty is the half marathon, Tina has recently been attacking the marathon distance. This year, she ran the London Marathon and had a brilliant race with a blazing fast time of 2:41:10, finishing in 7th place at the London Marathon (25th woman across the line, 10th British, 120th British Runner of All-Time). If you’ve read Tina’s blog, Fuel Your Future with Tina Muir, you know that as well as being a talented, dedicated runner, she is also one of the sweetest, most down-to-earth people you’ll ever meet. Originally, Tina thought she’d be too pressed for time to be able to write a guest post for me, then I had an email from her after the London Marathon, with her post attached. She explained she’d had some time on the plane on the way back to write and she wanted to do this for me. She’s THAT kind of generous, lovely person. Without further ado, here’s Tina:
Nice to “meet” you. I am not sure how many of us have connected before, but I would love to get to know more of you. If you are a friend of Carly, you are a friend of mine. Honored to be posting here today, and hopefully I can give you something interesting to read.
When I guest post for friends, the ones that seem to be the most popular are the ones that give a glimpse into life as an elite runner. I think that is also the reason others enjoy reading my blog. I am honest, I over-share, and I don’t mind putting myself out there. Hopefully that makes me relatable. 🙂
Today I thought I would share with you 9 things elite runners do that you would not expect, so here goes!
I know what you are thinking: I already knew that! Everyone gets nervous before races, but did you know that we also get nervous before smaller, almost guaranteed victories/scoring races? Even as elites, we scan around the start line looking for people to potentially get us if we are having a bad day. We may look confident, but it doesn’t mean on the inside we aren’t going over the “what if’s”.
Want to get some runs over with
This is one of the things I get asked about most; how do you always enjoy running so much? The answer is that often, I don’t. We all have those runs where we just feel sore, tired, distracted, or even just unmotivated, and even though we run a lot of miles, it does not mean some days are not just a total drag. Sometimes I have to force myself out the door, but isn’t it amazing how much better you feel after you do?
You would think that with all the support elites have, that we would be able to jump on any pains immediately to get them taken care of. That is true to an extent, we do have a lot more resources than most runners (even though I do pay for most of them), and I am very thankful for that. However, we often fall into the same trap as everyone else by ignoring sharp pain, even after you know in your heart that it is not going to get better. When your career is on the line, it can be even harder to step back, even when you know deep down this could put you out for months.
Eat unhealthy food
This is my biggest one. If you read my blog, you will know that I have a wicked sweet tooth. Not only do I allow that sweet tooth to be satisfied (and not with berries or yogurt) on a daily basis, but I also love to enjoy burgers, pizza, and other foods that most people think runners do not have. Especially after a big race, we indulge; a lot! The day after the London Marathon, I had a cupcake, white chocolate and raspberry cookie, a slice of cheesecake, and numerous pieces of chocolate. It is not just after a race, we do allow ourselves to eat things that are unhealthy throughout training too. Of course overall we are healthy, but that does not mean you have to be obsessive about it. In my experience, when I tried to cut out bad foods completely, I ended up miserable and gaining weight as a result of trying to “fill the void.”
Worry about weight
I actually wrote about this in a recent post, and it is something I am passionate about. People often think that elites are these chiseled machines who look like the airbrushed magazines, but we worry about our weight just as much as everyone else – in fact probably more as we know our bodies are going to be on show. This makes it hard not to fall into the disordered eating trap, and many elites do, but the ones who stay in the sport realize it is not sustainable if you want to have a long career. Either way, it is still in our minds, just the same as you!
In the same way, we are always comparing ourselves to others. We are happy for our other friends who are running well, but at the same time, we are wondering…..well, if they ran this….then I must be able to do that. We look to one another, and although we are supportive when each other has success, that does not mean you won’t look at things you are doing, and wonder if you would be more successful if you copied your friend. It can be a hard balance to find.
Cry if you have a bad day
Or is that just me? 😉 I have been guilty of doubting my entire season if I have had a few bad workouts or felt bad for a few days in a row. Because we put so much energy, love, and time into our training, we expect it to go right for us every day, but the reality is, that often it doesn. Everyone has bad days, and sometimes we don’t handle it very well…..well, I don’t, anyway! 🙂
Doubt yourself in a race
You know that little gremlin voice that pops up in a hard workout or race? The one that tells you that you can’t do this, or that you need to slow down? Well, that gremlin is still there in our minds every single day. Even though it may seem as though elites are strong and invincible, we can just as easily listen to that voice, especially if we are not feeling good, and back off the pace. We do learn little tips and tricks for combatting that, but at the end of the day, there is no easy way around it, it is a constant battle against that little voice. Unfortunately, it never goes away.
Hurt at the end of a race
Many elite runners look like they are gliding, even at the end of a race when they are tired and battling for that win. It may look easy, but I promise you it is not. Part of being successful at a very high level is making sure that you are not giving any sign of weakness to your competitors. Even though it hurts, it is important to retain composure and hang in there. I am not someone who typically does make it look effortless, but it is something I am working on, as it is almost like a “fake it till you make it” scenario. If you let your body show your discomfort, your mind starts to believe it.
Hopefully that gave you a little insight into life as an elite and you can see that we have a lot of the same concerns as everyone else. That is what is so wonderful about running – no matter who you are, everyone is going through the same things. It’s very special!
Tina Muir is an elite, Saucony sponsored runner chasing her dreams of representing her country in a major World Championship. Her blog is devoted to helping others with their healthy lifestyle and training goals, so her readers can have the opportunity to “do the little things” to be the best they can be. Tina shares her favorite meals, snacks and experiences that have helped her become the runner she is today.