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Today is (most likely) going to be a rest day.  Wahoo!  I’m a week into ‘official’ half marathon training and feeling so great about things.  I’m really, really looking forward to the race, which I think the Husband and I are going to turn into an excuse to go on vacation (it’s in Florida).  Double wahoo!


I’ve decided to really give this race my all.  It’s been a long time since I actively trained hard for a race.  In fact, I think it was way back in September of 2011 when I did the Tri for Abbey Sprint Triathlon.  I was most likely a day or two pregnant during this race – of course, I didn’t know that yet!  But I did know that (hopefully) it was going to be my last hard race for a long time and, as a result, really gave it my all.

I’ve ran a half dozen or so races since that triathlon, but they’ve been for “fun” or with the “I just want to finish” goal in mind.   This has been working well for me… after all, I’m just now really getting back into post-baby shape.  But the other day, I was on a run and was thinking about how I can spend that 45 minutes.  I can do a slow, lazy job or I can put forth a little more effort.  


And I think I’m ready to put that extra oomph back into my workouts.


I’ve been trying to pick up the speed, drop unnecessary walking breaks, and be more purposeful with my running.  So far, so good.  I’ve also been doing a fun visualization at the end of my runs.  I really wanted to share this little trick with everyone because it’s helping me sooooo much.


At the end of my runs, I try to pick up my speed.  After all, if it was the race, I would be gunning towards the finish line, right?  Not stopping to walk!  To help me, I visualize what it will be like to finish strong at my half marathon.  I imagine the cheering crowds, music blasting over loudspeakers, maybe seeing Kristien and Henry waving at me as I run past. 

I also imagine a clock counting down the seconds to the two hour mark (a sub-two half would be incredible for me right now – my personal record is 1:58:45).   This really helps me pick it up and barrel towards my imaginary finish line, which is the end of the sidewalk at my street.  Then I walk the rest of the walk home as a cool-down.


Thanks to this fun little visualization, I end up feeling like every run is an awesome race in which I crushed my goals.  Winking smile  Not too shabby.


Do you visualize achieving goal while exercising?  Anyone else shifting from the ‘I just want to finish’  mindset to the ‘I want to kick butt’ outlook?



  • Cara @ I Don't Believe in Diets November 12, 2012, 12:26 pm

    Great strategy! Definitely something to think about as well. I tend to try to end with a sprint when training but not always.

  • Katie @ Peace Love & Oats November 12, 2012, 12:35 pm

    I had some serious visualization going on all last year – from the moment I knew I was going to register for the Chicago Marathon I was imagining myself running that race and crossing the finish line on almost every one of my runs! Haha I started tearing up on some of them!

    • Shauna@Pleasure, not Punishment November 12, 2012, 2:16 pm

      I love to hear this! I’m planning to do Chicago 2013 as my first and I’m already fantasizing about it during runs.

  • Kendra @ My Full-Thyme Life November 12, 2012, 12:46 pm

    Visualizing is a great tip! And who doesn’t love some extra oomph?!?!

  • Carolina John November 12, 2012, 12:46 pm

    Go for it! I’m trying to see the finish line at the ultra, but there are certainly those great races where you expect to put up a good time and train for it. Good luck!

  • Amber @ Busy, Bold, Blessed November 12, 2012, 12:48 pm

    I love pushing myself at the end of my runs… it always makes me feel like a champion!

  • Caroline November 12, 2012, 1:09 pm

    When I train I always try to visualize the finish line and the time on the clock. It always motivates me on the gross training runs!

  • Nicole@ livingthesweetlifestl.wordpress.com November 12, 2012, 1:24 pm

    I usually think about how awesome I will feel when I am done with a workout/run if I push it until the end instead of slacking a little and knowing in the back of my mind that I could have given it a little extra effort to finish strong! This usually helps me.

    Good luck with the training!

  • Anne Weber-Falk November 12, 2012, 1:26 pm

    What a fabulous tool for motivation. I’m big on visualization and I don’t know why I didn’t think of this for my regular workouts. Thanks so much. I’ll be using this to push myself harder and farther.

  • Lyn November 12, 2012, 1:35 pm

    I think visualization/mantras totally helps! I’m also training for my 3rd half marathon (which is actually this weekend in Philly, so actually at the end of my training and very excited!). My best time so far is 2:05 so I would LOVE to break 2 hours. I moved to Pittsburgh this summer so this time my training was with lots of hills (I’m sure you remember from your days at Pitt!). I’m starting to think about whether I may want to do a marathon (Pittsburgh in May)… will have done 3 halfs in the last few years so I guess it’s not totally out of the realm of possible but I’m a bit scared (scared of the time I would need to devote to it, scared of getting injured, scared of not being able to do it). Any comments about how/when you decided to do a marathon? (Or if you’ll ever do one again)?

  • Emily @ www.main-eats.com November 12, 2012, 1:40 pm

    I love it! Can’t wait to hear how you kick booty at this race!!! Hope your office move is going well!

  • Elyse November 12, 2012, 1:43 pm

    This is so great to keep in mind when training! I recently ran my first marathon, which slowed my pace a lot. Now that I’m about five weeks out from it, I’m finding my speed returning and it feels fun to train for quickness rather than distance again! Good luck. 🙂

  • Kristen November 12, 2012, 1:46 pm

    I used to do this all.the.time!

    In high school my softball coach would tell us that our ‘homework’ was to imagine ourselves (every night before bed) hitting home runs with perfect form. Since I am such a nerd, I always did! It totally helps confidence, and picturing yourself reaching a goal absolutely makes you believe you can do it! Who knows for sure, but I still swear it helped my hitting game that year!

  • Stellina @ My Yogurt Addiction.com November 12, 2012, 1:57 pm

    For my next race, I definitely want to get into kick but mode. I need to be careful though because I tend to go way to fast in the begining if I think like this!

  • Shauna@Pleasure, not Punishment November 12, 2012, 2:15 pm

    Excellent! I absolutely visualize. When I was half marathon training, I imagined how it would feel to see my dude along the course. When I ran the race, I had a tough time. Seeing him was the only thing that went the way I had visualized it and it was wonderful.

    Now that I have my sights set on a marathon, I imagine both the positive (crowds, finish line, that surge of pride) and the negative (bonking) so I can practice feeling both ends of the spectrum.

  • Megan November 12, 2012, 2:20 pm

    I always every run strong… it’s a throwback to my old track and field days, I feel guilty if I just cruise on into my driveway. 🙂

    Right now I just want to have time to train. 🙁 WAAAAAAHHH. It’s getting too cold to take my toddler in the stroller (high today is 46*). I can handle those temps bc I’ll be working up a sweat but that is too cold for her. And with the early evenings I can’t really go after my husband gets home from work. And then I also work 12 hour overnight shifts so getting up early isn’t really an option anyway. I need to stop making excuses but right now I really don’t feel like i have adequate time to do anything exercise related. 🙁

  • Laura November 12, 2012, 2:23 pm

    I always visualize myself finishing a race and I imagine myself breaking personal records too haha. What works to is imagining how great it feels to be done an awesome workout, which really helps me make each work out count. I start thinking about my post-workout snack and how good it will taste, the great feeling a my muscles feeling worked, and the energy I’ll have after, or even all the wonderful benefits that my body experiences while exercising lol
    Gets me to exercise often so it works! lol

  • Julia H. @ Live Young & Prosper November 12, 2012, 2:30 pm

    Your line about the “extra oomph” reminded me of a quote I think you might like: “The difference between ‘try’ & ‘triumph’ is a little UMPH.” 🙂

  • Sarah @ Yogi in Action November 12, 2012, 2:30 pm

    That’s an awesome trick! And they do say that people who visualize things happening are more likely to reach the goal they’re visualizing!

  • Carrie @ Fitness and Frozen Grapes November 12, 2012, 2:31 pm

    I love finishing my runs with a sprint–nothing’s better than a strong (and fast!) finish. When I used to play basketball, my coach wanted my teammates and me to practice self-visualization; if we could see ourselves executing plays, making freethrows, and ultimately winning the game, then doing those things seems much more feasible because we’ve “done them before.” In the weeks leading up to a triathlon, I did the same, and I would also visualize problems that could arise–like getting kicked during the swim, getting a flat on the bike, etc.–and would work through how I would respond. By going through these different scenarios, I felt much calmer on raceday.

  • jameil November 12, 2012, 2:38 pm

    I’ve been doing this since you wrote a few weeks ago about seeing your mailbox as a finish line and it’s awesome! My Thursday and sometimes Saturday routes have the same last mile as my upcoming half so I visualize coming in strong every time! This Saturday it worked so well that my last mile of my first 14-miler was my fastest of the entire run! GREAT way to end a workout!

  • Katie @ Talk Less, Say More November 12, 2012, 2:51 pm

    What’s the 1/2 marathon? I REALLY want to do the Disney Princess Half but I’m not sure my financial situation is quite ready for that…:-/

    • Caitlin November 12, 2012, 6:07 pm

      Zooma at Amelia island.

  • Natalie @ Free Range Human November 12, 2012, 2:52 pm

    On the hike I did over the weekend, I think the reverse happened. I started out strong and ready to conquer some major mileage. By the end, I definitely just wanted to finish!

  • Kristen L November 12, 2012, 4:00 pm

    Exciting to hear that you are ready to turn it up a notch on your training! And I like your visualization tip. It is pretty amazing how much visualizing what you want can benefit your training and racing.

  • Yolanda November 12, 2012, 4:49 pm

    I visualize the end of my run as a race too! It’s a lot more embarassing on the treadmill at the gym since I sometimes get caught up in the moment making faces and every now and then raising both hands in the air as if I’m the winner tearing the tape. Wonderful to hear that you’re feeling well and having fun!

  • Erica November 12, 2012, 5:07 pm

    Oh my goodness Caitlyn!! So I’ve been following your blog for about a year now and love it and then today I find out you’re coming to my university for a presentation!?! Holy awesome I am so there.

    • Caitlin November 12, 2012, 6:06 pm

      Yay!! I can’t wait to see you!

  • Emily November 12, 2012, 7:14 pm

    Caitlin, I read this post and immediately laced up my sneakers and went for my first run in months (I ran my first half in April and then just kind of stopped running). I reminded myself that running used to be such a great stress reliever for me, and I’m super stressed right now, so I POUNDED out 3 miles. I feel amazing. Thanks for the continued inspiration, and good luck with your training!

    • Caitlin November 12, 2012, 9:01 pm

      Dude nice work!!!!

  • Jillian November 12, 2012, 8:51 pm

    Reading your posts are always motivating! I’m currently struggling to balance work/famliy/exercise life.

    I have a nearly 4 month old baby, my husband is always more than happy to watch him while I go workout but the issue lies with me. I have such a hard time pulling myself away from him to go run/swim/yoga. I work 8-5 and by the time I get home with him from day care we have only about an hour together before it’s bed time so it is so hard to pull myself away. I could certainly workout afterwards but I keep making excuses.

    Not sure what the point of all my rambling was, kind of just a brain dump I suppose.

    Anyway, thank you for sharing your journey!

    • Caitlin November 12, 2012, 9:00 pm

      You are doing a great job! 🙂 thanks for reading.

  • Sarah @climbinvegan November 12, 2012, 10:54 pm

    Oh man! this hits home… I’m on the tri team here (and probably the slowest- but my shoulder is a nice excuse!) and I realized in all my practices I go… easy.. I push myself until it hurts, then back off t comfort. that is horrible!! I need to amp it up, hurt, sweat, breath hard, and train way harder. good luck 🙂

  • Sarah (The Simple Dietitian) November 13, 2012, 7:05 am

    So glad to hear that you’re getting back into training. My training has fallen by the wayside over this past year. Ever since getting injured during my last half, I’ve been slightly mopey, I’ve realized. But now I’m feeling stronger. And I’ve learned from my mistakes. Time to move forward.

    I can’t wait to read more about your training! 😀

  • Amanda November 13, 2012, 8:08 am

    I love reading your little snippets of advice for running. I’m just starting out my running dreams, I have horrible knees/asthma and have never been a runner but I’d really like to change that. I think visualization is key for most things, unmedicated childbirth for instance!

  • Kate @KateMovingForward November 13, 2012, 3:27 pm

    I definitely vizualize the finish line at the end. I also sometimes do a running race recap in my head for my blog…I never want to have anyone read “I starting walking again, I wasn’t really tired, but it felt good to quit and relax for a bit.” #fail. So I definitely use my blog/social media to propel me to a strong finish so I can tweet to the world that I had an awesome run! 🙂 Silly, but it works!

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