Some days it's not easy finding motivation to get up before the sun rises slip on layers of clothes and head out the door - to run.
For most of the past six weeks, finding motivation and energy to keep my marathon training on pace has difficult, if not impossible
It is cyclical as the cooler temperatures of late November and early December make it tempting to find an excuse, any excuse, to stay inside. But then I've learned a few tricks along the way.
One is to break down my training - and goals - into smaller segments. For instance, my next marathon is mid-January, and I know there's really not much time left to prepare. A running buddy visited this past weekend, and the courage and determination of group running helped pull us through a grueling 22-mile run.
As we ran around Lake Bemidji, the reality of training didn't seem so harsh: there are really only four long weekend runs left.
And as I sat on the couch Sunday, recovering from the tough run the day before, the second trick was just as apparent.
A friend of mine, Eric Loeffler, was gunning for a huge goal. He traveled from Fargo, N.D., to run the California International Marathon in hopes of qualifying for the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials next month in Houston.
He'd come close a few months ago in Chicago, and after a long cycle of quality training, was determined to give it another try.
And he did it.
Along my journey as a runner, I've had people mention that they find inspiration in what I do. Well, we all find inspiration in different forms, but seeing other people accomplish amazing feats motivates me. It inspires me to see others do well.
And while I'll never qualify for the Olympic Trials - I just hope one day to shave a few minutes off my marathon best - I can find inspiration all around me to push myself just a little bit more.
Bemidji Pioneer Editor Steve Wagner writes a running blog, which can be found online at runningspud.areavoices.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.